The flashing arrows turned left, as expected, and when Cadmus and Lonesome turned the corner and saw the door of the hyper-vator flashing exactly where he expected it to be, he didn’t know whether to be amused or irritated. “They must think we’re half-blind fools or clueless children with these flashing arrows and doors,” he thought.
He tapped “0” on the keyboard and before he knew it the hyper-vator door opened for them. They stepped inside the cabin. He had the same funny feeling in his intestines going down but in reverse. The door opened and they stepped out into the lobby.
He spotted the restaurant off to his right. It wasn’t too hard because the sign was flashing. They walked over, looked for a spare table, and sat down, Cadmus on a glass chair and Lonesome under the glass table by his companion’s feet. The surface of his table flashed a slowly rolling menu with today’s fare. He touched a fresh local fruit and vegetable salad, hot bread, and mildly spiced tea on the menu for himself and synthetic meat and water for Lonesome.
A glass cart rolled up to him with the food he’d ordered. He laid the glass dish with meat and the water dish down on the floor beside the dagu and pointed at the food. Lonesome started nibbling at his food and then began to eat more enthusiastically. Cadmus ate his food. It wasn’t bad, but he’d tasted better on 4g, his home moon. He ate his salad and sipped his tea. He finished off with the hot bread desert and downed the last of his tea.
They left the restaurant and walked to the large glass doors of the hotel. On the way, he glanced at the name of the hotel on the wall behind the check-in counter. It was “x5 − x4 − x + 1 = (x2 + 1) (x + 1) (x − 1)2“. Catchy name. He knew it was a quintic function but he had no idea whether it was solvable with real roots or not. He kept on walking without giving it another thought, the tall doors opened for them, and they stepped outside.
Cadmus looked around him. He saw the base of the hotel he’d seen from his room. He followed the parallel lines of its outer walls until the seemed to meet in infinity in the high clouds above.
He looked up and down the street. He knew better than to cross the street not in a crosswalk. He wasn’t thinking of a law officer giving him a ticket so much as some crazy driver coming out of some higher dimension he couldn’t see and running over him.
They started walking down the sidewalk and he noticed a pretty little park situated in the space between his hotel and the next hotel own the street. There were trees with green-gold leaves, exotic red and blue flowers, and lush green-blue grasses waving in the breeze beside inviting wooden benches. He saw a young Rational couple sitting together on one of the benches. They seemed to be immersed in each other, smiling and holding hands. Lonesome pulled toward the entry gate. He probably wanted to sniff something more alive than glass. They approached the gate where Cadmus noticed an unobtrusive sign warning “Rationals Only”. “What could be the risk?” he thought to himself. I can see the whole park. “This is ridiculous,” he persuaded himself. Lonesome looked up at him expectantly. The couple on the bench didn’t seem to be paying attention to them. He opened the gate and stepped inside with the dagu.
Nothing happened with his first step but the second step was … Suddenly he found himself falling, flailing his arms wildly, and someone else inside him was howling insanely. He saw Lonesome standing on the edge of a precipice high above him smaller and smaller cautiously peeking down over the edge at him. The flowers, trees, and bench with the couple sitting at an impossible angle flashed past him. He was falling towards a tall tree at the end of the path. The sky around him was quickly turning dark cobalt and the planet above filled his entire sky. His howling became thinner and softer, more distant. He couldn’t breathe anymore. His eyes felt like they were going to pop out and his lungs were bursting. “Goodbye my heart” were the last words he managed to think.
Finally, mercifully, he blacked out …
from Out of Time