This is End

— Marianne Villanueva

Engage cornea slips. Again.
“Nature,” Fire Lizard begins, “will vindicate her laws.”
LAWS.
New word. What does it mean?
“The domains of human experience require laws.”
Fire Lizard greener than usual, looks straight at me. “Dislocate,” he says. I tilt my head. One, two, three.
“Missed Loudhailer?” Fire Lizard asks.
“Must have snagged on an eyelash,” I say. He sticks out a green finger, tilts my head. Back and forth. Back and forth.
“Better?” Fire Lizard says.
I give thumbs up.
How long have we been sitting here? 84 years, feels like.
“How do you FEEEEL?” Fire Lizard says, looking at me.
Doesn’t matter. As Her used to say, too little, too late.
Big’s seat empty, Fire Lizard pays no mind.
He’s on again about LAWS. I move the toe of my right boot, it just grazes a leg of Big’s empty desk. Gives me great satisfaction.
Knot moves up a row. Twirls curl of hair around finger. Smiles. I look away.
Drinker says, low, “Big’s not Big. He ghosted.”
I answer: “Fucker. He’s Big XXX. Mark it.” I slash three quick XXX’s across my screen. “I’d drink to it.”
Drinker looks to the side quickly, fearful, then looks away.
Knot whispers, “Is it true? Tumor he had?”
We spot-check each other for tumors. We’re so afraid of it.
I shrug.
“Ecchymosis?” Knot persists.
“Ecchymosis the All-Powerful, the Everlasting,” I start to sing, lowly.
Drinker shudders, pulls slightly out of his seat.
“You!” Fire Lizard screams, pointing at Drinker. “What’s your issue?”
“Obscure,” Drinker mutters.
Fire Lizard’s eyes almost bug out of his head. “Who remembers rain?” he shouts. “Last rain? Who remembers?”
I hold up my hand. “Ghost of,” I say. “443 days since.”

 

I fall asleep. Right in the middle of something. I want it so much. It’s the only time I see Her.
Her, do you see this? Do you know? Today, we learned about the Radius of Planets. Saturn is 37,449 miles. And its distance from the sun is 885,904,700 miles.
I don’t want to talk about planets, Her says.
No? But you can see it with your naked eye. Fire Lizard says it’s slow and creaky. Fire Lizard calls it ‘Old Sheep.’
Fire Lizard is so old. Big on the floor. How’d he get there?
Natural selection.
You toss him, Dragon?  I don’t believe it. You tossed the fucker.
Her looking at me with those eyes. Eyes like spiral galaxies, gas clouds in her pupils.
I say, You’re dead, right?
He ended me, Her says. Big ended me.

 

Where are you, Her? I ask.
She curls her lip.
Somewhere.
You’re dead, right?
Dragon, I do not like the dark. I do not like the cold.
I saw you the other day floating past.
It’s so dark here. So cold. Do not go out there. Ever.

 

“Space has a thousand milky eyes,” Fire Lizard says. “Each one a galaxy, waiting to be birthed.”
I think of Her’s eyes.
Calculate trajectory to Omega-H3823. How many light jumps?

 

S[1] = F[2] + f(F[3]+PGF[4])

 

“All of you: stand on one foot,” Fire Lizard instructs.
Drinker gets up. Knot gets up. I get up.
“Three louts will march,” Fire Lizard mutters. “Who will make four?”

 

Travel is distribution.
What do you make of it, Her?

 

E [F[5]S[6] – F[7] – M] = 0

 

Like you and me. How we shared.
You’re right. Share(d).

 

A spire is a tapering conical. Like a wormhole. Sometimes spelled spier.
Same thing.
Only not.

 

Losing time, that’s the worst of it.
Time spirals like a worm hole.
What ended us was a bacterium. Found in a mollusk shell.
Mollusk = gastropod.
I write: G.A.S.T.R.O.P.O.D.
Look over at Knot. She spelled it: C.A.S.T.R.O.P.O.D.
I don’t say anything.

 

Floating, off to the right: the remains of the last space station, the Kobayashi Maru.
It caught fire. The wreckage drifted, was lost. Then found. Then lost, and found again.
Ghost ship. It comes and it goes.
And we are the afterthought.
Our bodies, wreckage too. We will be lost.

 

I don’t look out port window. That’s where Her stares back at me. Sometimes I can’t help it, though. I think I see Her waving.
After the Kobayashi Maru went lost they made another one, called it the Mohenjo Daro.

 

Why do the names always have two words, Her?
Because. You have to say the names slow, like. Flowing, like.

 

It’s Simulation Day.
“Which planet?”
“Does it matter,” Knot says.

 

“Yes. It matters,” I say.
“Let’s have Australia,” Drinker says.
“Australia,” Fire Lizard says, “is not a planet. If you had taken the trouble.” His fingers claw at his tablet. “Shields up. Dragon goes first.”
Just get to the next level, I think. Or let me sleep.

 

Her sings in my ear: The green raft, in the green room . . .
Fire Lizard says, “Increase oxygen flow, if you would, Dragon. There’s a good lad. Now, the shields.”

 

End

 

[1] Effect

[2] Function

[3] Term

[4] Yield

[5] System

[6] Regressor

[7] Moment

 


 

Marianne Villanueva’s fiction has been published in Bellingham Review, Quarterly West, Potomac Review, decomP Magazine, Juked, Crab Orchard Review, Your Impossible Voice and many other anthologies and literary journals. She has been nominated for the Pushcart, shortlisted for the O. Henry Literature Prize, and was a 2017 semi-finalist for the American Short(er) Fiction Award. She is currently completing a collection of short stories as well as her first novel, about an 18th century Spanish priest who is sent to a Philippine island to fight demons.