Ginnie’s sitting on my lap in this claustrophobic ship as we leave 1967 and head forward a couple of hundred years. Stretched taut like a rubber sheet, smacking us together and then accelerating her to the edge of the universe where she reaches out to me but we are in an impossibly constructed cosmos. Sailing bright eternity thru an ocean of night to a furious gulf of dark matter that keeps us apart until her distorted image grows bigger and moves across a sea of suns until we are face to face and she screams and the ship makes a nice little pop and materializes wherewhen i left. It shudders and shakes itself like a dog shaking off water and is finally still and quiet. There is no crowd as we land in the blue circle on a shadowy empty deck. I see a shadow of a figure in an obscure corner that i think is Dillon.
You can stop screaming Ginnie, i say.
Whaa…i’mm dying, she says.
Not any more, i say. Pull yourself together fast. Act subservient to me and follow my lead and do whatever i say. I think this is going to be alright.
The man who looks like Saddaam Hussein comes out of the dark and walks leisurely over to the ship as i raise the canopy and stretch and try to help Ginnie sit up. I stumble out of the craft and finally Ginnie gets out and stumbles and lands on her feet. Her eyes are those of a wild animal. I smile at her and pull her hair out of her eyes.
Dillon stops ten feet away and says cautiously, How was the game?
Cold, i say indifferently. I was never cold in my life until that day. Did i succeed?
What do you think?
Dont fuck with me.
There was no WWIII, he says. Not this time.
I have to congratulate Hoggins’ math for that. It was exquisitely thin but it got the job done. Just. Where is he?
Dr. Hoggins is taking a very long sabbatical, he says. On my orders.
OMG. You didnt throw him in a gulag?
Certainly not, he says with studied indignation. He needed a rest.
Did you throw him in a lunatic asylum?
We dont have those anymore.
A reeducation camp?
Dillon smiles frostily and says, now you’re getting warm
I’m surprised he isnt here.
You and he dont get along. He thought as soon as you’d gotten out of the ship you’d try to kill him.
I probably would have, i say and yawn and stretch. I look around at the empty hangar and say, Where is everybody? Oh…maybe not everybody needed to know. Those time paradoxes…
There’s no such thing as a temporal paradox, he says contemptuously. Only archaic notions about what time is. Not everybody needed to know. What do you want, anyway? A parade?
Is she er…he says as he looks crossways at Ginnie like strange animal. Is she er…
The woman is mine, i say.
Well…can she do anything?
Nothing you’d want to do for money.
I see. Well, we can train her and get her a job or…or she can be a housewife, IDC.
Whatever she wants, i say indifferently.
Perhaps she’d like to er…
A couple of women that look like nurses appear at the door.
Why dont you go with them, Ginnie? I say. I’ll see you later.
Get on, now.
They lead her away with cautious roughness while i stare at the floor and Dillon stares at the ceiling. When they are gone he says, She’ll go out on you, you know.
I know it, i say.
Is it that good?
Better. I want a month off. At one of those Cumberland Island hotels, just drinking and fucking.
That’s the least i can do, he says. But arent you forgetting something?
That you’re dying of cancer.
I forgot that.
Would you like to live? We can arrange it.
You can cure me?
Yes, but it wont be much fun.