I screwed the invisible saw tightly into its sheath. I unlocked his apartment door. A thick green sludge trapped my key and I was forced to abandon it. I tiptoed across the threshold. The lights were off, the curtains drawn. I had expected this. I switched on my lantern. I saw tiny mirrors lined up on his counter. I heard a bubbling emanating from his windows.
I glanced down the hall and there it was—the machine—humming in the center of his living room, antenna spinning, orange lights blinking, door ajar.
I had expected this. I put on the monocle I showed you earlier and scanned the ceiling. I took off my boots, balanced them on my back, and recited the machine’s binary coding. Of course, I was forced to recite it in Latin due to the lack of proper lighting.
I placed my hands against the bookshelf and pushed until there was an inch of clearance. I adhered a strip of finder-tape to the space as illustrated in my report. I waited several minutes, but the tape failed to change colors. So I closed my eyes, spit into my palms, and felt beneath the rugs. I discovered only dust. Nothing seemed to be working. I had expected this. I sat in his kitchen and fixed myself a martini.
Approximately one half-hour later I ventured upstairs. All of the lights were on. The curtains had been seared away. The hall was dense with the odor of the machine’s molecular correlater, which I assumed was somewhere nearby, though it had no doubt lost all visible form by now. The fumes, however, were still highly toxic. I had expected this. I put on my gas mask.
Before going any further, I had to urinate. I stepped carefully into his bathroom. That’s when it dawned on me. It was obvious. How could I have missed it? Slowly, cautiously, I opened his medicine cabinet—“Zone 7” as I refer to it in my report.
That’s when I heard the sonic boom. I had not expected this. It shattered the mirror into my face, cutting through the gas mask’s seal. The fumes penetrated my nostrils and paralyzed me. I had no choice but to watch as he materialized over the pill bottles.
The first thing I noticed was his hair. It floated beneath him in the form of a vehicle. A pair of handlebars extended from the follicles. A motor rumbled in the roots. His eyes were superimposed over his fingers. His pupils orbited each other. His fingers themselves supported steel blades hooked around his teeth. His neck was a mosaic of droplets which appeared to be liquid nitrogen. Below his neck it was all the same: amorphous blobs of green sludge, the same substance I had discovered in his keyhole.
His expression, nonetheless, looked normal. Then I squinted my eyes and realized his lower jaw had fallen into the void between the two universes.
I had expected this. I knew what would happen if I didn’t act. I acknowledge your disagreement, doctor, but I stand by my conviction: I took the only course of action available. If I had dawdled one moment longer, I would have been displaced in space-time. There was no choice. I unscrewed the invisible saw and removed my face.