The Implicit Door

rating: +126+x

"We left nearly a minute ago," said the god in the casket.

Anvi was sitting in a plush chair in what appeared to be a large reading room. Bookshelves towered like skyscrapers around her. All was quiet, save for the hushed voices of library patrons in distant stacks.

It wasn't that Anvi had been suddenly teleported to this strange place. There was no jolt of surprise when she became aware of these surroundings. It was like being in a dream; one moment she was there, the next moment she had always been here. The transition from one state to the other was hard to grasp.

Across from her was another plush chair, in which a hooded figure sat. They were garbed in a red robe that shrouded most of their body, but she could see a pair of insectoid limbs sticking out from their sleeves and an equally chitinous head, half-covered by their hood. The figure in the robe gazed back at her with two sets of eyes, each sparkling with ancient intelligence and private humor. They shook slightly, in a way that reminded Anvi of her grandmother. It was as though simply sitting upright was a significant exertion for them.

A'nuht winked.

Anvi suddenly felt very distant from herself, submerged in a sort of icy, calm fear. She was completely at A'nuht's mercy. Killing Anvi, to a thing like A'nuht, would require less than a thought. Anvi began vividly imagining A'nuht's claws materializing inside her chest to caress her heart with horrible tenderness. It would take only the slightest squeeze to pop it like a balloon.

"I only noticed just now," said Anvi, still feeling very far away from herself. "But you probably already knew that."

"I did," nodded A'nuht. Another chill ran down Anvi, this time with more of a kick.

"Oh, shit. The bomb," murmured Anvi, more to herself than anyone. A'nuht tilted her head to the left, slightly.

"What bomb?" asked the goddess. "Did you mean this bomb?" A second set of arms emerged from inside her robes, these more human than the first. Sitting in her left palm was a small sphere of glass wound in wires and bits of metal. The sphere was full of a murky yellow liquid. Something indistinct floated inside; Anvi's clearance hadn't been high enough for her to know what. A'nuht held it up to the light, arm trembling slightly, to admire it. "I'm rather impressed with your people; it would be difficult for even an individual of my talents to obtain such a fascinating toy."

"That's Foundation property," Anvi said automatically, then winced. A'nuht barked a laugh, seemingly surprised by her audacity.

"I have a suspicion that your 'Foundation' considers me to be much the same— it's only fitting that I hold on to it, wouldn't you say?" A'nuht's hand closed around it, then, like a cheap magic trick, opened to reveal empty air.

For a moment, there was silence between the scientist and the goddess. Not far behind A'nuht, Anvi could see what appeared to be a sapient colony of mice discuss the pros and cons of Maya Angelou's prose style with an energy vortex in a turtleneck sweater. She was in the Library, wasn't she? She'd dreamed of coming here ever since she had first read its file; this felt more like a nightmare.

"We played right into your hands, didn't we?" Anvi finally said. "We were doomed the moment we decided to interview you, weren't we?" A'nuht tilted her head to the right, contemplative for a short, terrifying moment.

"I shall give you a parting gift, I think," said A'nuht. "A reward for your assistance." Anvi said nothing; she'd been working at the Foundation long enough to know better than to turn down a divine reward. Gods often took such actions as grave insults.

"Here is information that your 'Foundation' will likely find quite interesting, should you find your way back to them: my sisters have many flaws, but it should never be said that they are not resourceful. If I have escaped my bonds, it is likely that they have recently done the same, or will be doing so in the days to come." Chitinous plates folded up in what appeared to be a sort of humorless smile. "Very few of them are as… courteous as I am. Now." A'nuht clicked her claws on the edge of her chair and space began to fold around it, pressing itself into fractals that shifted and shrank. "I must be going. I've left a… friend of mine waiting for long enough, I think."

Anvi watched as space continued to fold around the chair like a set of jaws waiting to close. Then, on some stupid, half-baked impulse, she spoke.

"What happens to the girl in your story?" blurted Anvi. "Where does she go, in the end?"

The fractals paused for a fraction of a moment, pulling the contorted space taut before returning to their folding. Something flickered across A'nuht's face. Not an emotion, exactly, but its shadow. The imprint of a body in dark waters.

"She goes home," said A'nuht. "The girl finally goes home."

Then the sky bit down and she was gone.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License