The girl makes scribbled adjustments to the formula which has consumed her for the past few days. The pencil in her fingers cannot match the speed of the chemical reactions racing the labyrinthine corridors of her mind, so she begins writing in improvised shorthand in order to retain the thoughts before they slip the net.
It is a futile task, wholly absurd, like trying to write a diary on LSD. Even if there were words to express what she perceived, the actual formation of the blackened graphite symbols on the white page creates a rainbow vapour trail. It alters her reality further, forcing her tumbling into the letters themselves.
She knows what she must do, she knows that the bubble waits to be burst, but all her theorizing has little to offer for practical application and in truth she fears the consequences. She writes the final line and in doing so accepts the challenge.
She checks on her sleeping husband and gently kisses her two daughters, smiling at their tranquil sleep-blessed faces. Returning downstairs, she checks the time out of habit more than necessity and settles on the sofa. The disk already waits in the drive, she presses the button and forty five minutes later she hears a faint pop from inside her cranium. She slumps forward as blood pours from her nose and stains the page on her lap.
The secret of life resides in pulp fiction.
In the critical nanosecond before her heart flatlines, time is stopped. Two cloaked figures emerge from the shadowy corners of the room. One walks straight up to the limp body and pulls a black box from the depths of its robes. The other lingers nervously behind.
‘Is she dead?’ The Second questions.
‘Clearly not. Otherwise our purpose of being here would be entirely futile. Hurry we do not have much time. Open this. I can never remember the sequence.’
The First tosses the cube across the room and it is caught by shaking hands which immediately begin twisting and rotating the cube’s faces. Shades of black, barely perceptible but clearly present like the sheen of a raven’s wing, begin to realign.
The Second looks up from his work, ‘How is it possible that we do not have much time, if we have stopped time?’
The First sighs, ‘Have you been paying the slightest bit of attention? We have stopped time for her and ipso facto the rest of the world. The earth has stopped turning. It will not be long until that is noticed so hurry up!’
The last combination is executed and the cube begins to unfold itself. The Second emits a faint whimper and lets the developing creature fall to the floor onto its newly emerged feet. It narrows its blackened eyes focusing on the inert figure before it, before inhaling deep the surrounding air. Its appetite whetted, it lunges at the motionless girl. It catches the droplet of blood suspended mid-air between her chin and chest and then growls in a sub-sonic pitch. From its groin what appears to be a fern leaf uncurls.
‘Is this strictly necessary?’ The Second asks.
‘Not strictly but I felt that it was appropriate. Activation is such a messy job and he so enjoys his work. It is nothing she has not experienced before.’
‘It is something I have not experienced before,’ The Second declares, watching in fascinated horror as the beast enters the girl. Her lips part as his tip exists through her mouth. The Second begins to gag but cannot avert his eyes from the scene.
‘We are not here for your personal gratification demon!’ Fulfil your orders and get out!’ The First commands the beast and then turns to the Second. ‘What is wrong with you? If either of us succumb to sentimentality we’re fucked. Even more fucked than she is right now. She won’t even remember it, the R.A.T. will take care of that’.
‘It wasn’t her memory I was concerned with,’ The Second says feebly.
The tattooed skin on the nape of the girl’s neck is lifted. A demonic digit is inserted, piercing the vertebrae and travelling up the spinal fluid into the base of her brain. The slumbering rodent is located and awakened. The beast sneers in satisfaction and withdraws from her.
Quickly the First hits the button on the beast’s back and the demon reconfigures into the original cube, emitting shrieks and gas like a deflated doll. The girl enters cardiac arrest.
‘Time has been restarted, we must go.’
The First picks up the smoking cube, grabs the shaking Second and they disappear.