Phyllis Esposito: Interdimensional Private-Eye #146

It was a good thing that I’d asked Fox for cash, because it turns out I left my wallet in another dimension.

Also, interdimensional exchange rates can get complicated, but I’m pretty sure that forty-seven dollars for two large pepperoni pizzas is outrageous anywhere in the multiverse.

Maybe the money was for the extra-thick insulated cardboard boxes intended to keep them warm.

In any event, I was soon on my way back to the motel with dinner. I had no gloves, but just enough heat leaked out of the bottom of the pizza boxes to make up the difference. I also ate one slice on the go.

I’ve had better, but it wasn’t bad.

When I made my way back to the workshop, the tech team had made progress in one area at least. Henricks now wore a properly-fitting containment suit, and was thus able to contribute to the experimentation without falling on their face. It occurred to me that it would still be difficult for them to eat pizza or… utilize the facilities, so to speak.

“How long does Henricks have to wear that suit?” I asked. “Do you really think the internal nanobots are still a threat for contamination here?”

“Not for much longer,” said Fox. “We’ve nearly got a prototype for the helmet.”

“Helmet?” I asked. “Wait, seriously? I thought you were kidding about that.”

Henricks folded their arms. “It is, of course, an interim measure. The helmet will act as a Faraday cage, isolating the nanobots in my brain from receiving any electromagnetic signals. This will protect me from Alurian’s control if we encounter him before developing our final solution.”

I grimaced. “Please don’t call it that.”

They cocked their head, raising an eyebrow in confusion. “Why not?”

“I’ve been in a few slices where so-called ‘final solutions’ weren’t pretty. I would also request avoiding ‘modest proposals’, and maybe just euphemisms in general. None of them are really final anyway, in the long run.”

“Well,” harrumphed Henricks. “If it doesn’t work, I highly doubt that we will be able to try another, so in that sense at least, it would be final.”

“But not a solution,” I said.

Fox winced and placed his hands on his enormous forehead. “Why are we still talking about what to call it? It’s a selective electromagnetic frequency pulse-modulated signal generator! Just call it that!”

I nodded. “Bug Zapper it is.”

Both scientists grumbled but offered no superior alternatives, so I settled in for more pizza, deeply pleased with myself.

Fox also grabbed a slice and ate it in a single swallow without even looking away from the screen.

Henricks had to wait, but not for long. Less than a half-hour later, Fox was 3D-printing something from his fabricator, which to my eye, looked like a top-loading washing machine.

When the churning finished, Fox reached in and lifted out something that should have belonged to a comic-book supervillain. A small one, at any rate.

“What is that?” asked Henricks. “The wire mesh is sufficient for function. Why have you added the outer layer?”

“Protection!” crowed Fox. “And also to look cool!”

Henricks retreated to within a transparent plastic tent before removing their containment hood and trying on the helmet. The visor bore a point that descended between Henricks’ eyes, conveying the impression of angry eyebrows. I gave them a thumbs up and their real eyebrows shifted to match.