Phyllis Esposito: Interdimensional-Private-Eye #145

With Henricks and Fox hard at work on their nanobot-blocker, I was eager to help in whatever way I could.

That is how I ended up going for pizza.

I borrowed Fox’s fur coat, and after smelling it up close, I decided to wear it over the containment suit, rather than allow it to contact my own clothes. I looked a bit ridiculous, with the bright-orange fur coat up top, a safety mask hanging from my back like a hood, and what looked like white feety-pajamas below. Then again, Fox was the only person I knew in this dimension, so what did I care?

Silly-looking or not, the coat was plenty warm enough for walking the chilly streets of Slice 32F-17. This slice had been depopulated a bit since their ecological disaster, but not so much that you couldn’t still get a pizza delivered. Just the same, I had been looking for an excuse to get some alone time, so I volunteered to go pick it up instead.

I knew that, if I just sat around at Fox’s place with nothing to do, I’d be drowning in anxiety and second-guesses. A small, achievable mission could forestall that, and still give me the time to think through the bigger picture stuff.

For starters, we were dealing with potentially world-ending disaster material. Not just one world, but as many different slices as Alurian could reach. I had to consider the possibility that I was in over my head. Maybe this was all too big for us, and I should be notifying the authorities. Police, government, whoever I could find. To be sure, nanobot infestations were not taken lightly. I could probably get someone to listen.

Further, Henricks was the golden goose in this scenario. Maybe we should just be finding a way to hide them so well that neither Alurian nor the original Nanobot Intelligence could ever find them?

I shivered, even under Fox’s coat, and huddled my arms around myself. The motel where Fox made his home was on the outskirts of a small town, about two miles out from the city center. A little closer for the pizza place, but the intersections still had stop signs, rather than traffic lights. I walked past gas stations, half-empty strip malls and a few boarded-up houses.

It occurred to me that, in all the times I’d come to visit Fox, I had never ventured further than the edge of the parking lot. That’s what portal travel did to you. Entire worlds, full of people and places and wonders get reduced to one snarky alien in a retrofitted motel. Infinite variations of infinite landmass, reduced to a cosmic archipelago. We puddle-jump around tiny island-chains, surrounded by a sea of the unknown. We get so hyper-focused on the few people and places we know that it’s easy to diminish the importance of the ones we don’t.

I reached the pizza place, a well-maintained joint by the name of: “Romo-rama Pizza.”  I didn’t recognize the branding, but from their sophisticated signage, I guessed that it was a slice-specific chain. It was starting to get dark, and through the restaurant windows, I could see inside. They had a few tables, one occupied by a family having dinner. Behind the counter, I saw a couple of uniformed teenagers chatting and laughing.

I just watched them for a moment, and that’s when I decided. Or re-decided, because I hadn’t actually changed my mind.

These people may have been strangers to me, but they weren’t to each other. We are all finite beings, constantly trying and failing to comprehend the infinite. Try to think big picture all the time and you’ll go mad. You have to focus on the things that matter to you, or what’s the point?

Besides… Passing the buck’s never been my style.


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