Gage was looking at Charlotte, entranced by the way the wisps of hair from behind her ear drew delicate lines over her slender neck. But she was looking at the Quant.
“Do you know what this is?” she asked.
The underlit glass structure before them loomed heavy. Gage followed the etched tracks within the main column up to where they disappeared in the high ceiling and then brought his eyes back to Charlotte, but she still was not looking at him. “Of course,” he said. “It’s the most advanced machine ever imagined; a computer that operates across ten dimensions.”
The colored lights of the Quant shifted slowly, casting geometric lines across the otherwise darkened room in the heart of this colossal glass maze.
“No,” she said, the disappointment in her voice stinging like bleach fumes. It was now, when she wanted him to know how little she thought of him, that she returned his gaze. “It’s the end of all things.”
Charlotte walked across the platform toward the Quant’s base, leaving Gage to wonder. Leaving him behind. As usual.
She put her hands on her hips and stood before the Quant like she was standing her ground against an invader. She was talking, but Gage was barely listening anymore; he was too busy seething. Charlotte was always operating eleven steps ahead, keeping him in the dark on purpose and then acting surprised and talking down when he couldn’t keep up.
To hell with it! He’d give her something to be surprised about.
“…suppose they interface with the curved microstructures without having to…”
He wasn’t listening. She wasn’t talking for his benefit anyway. Gage clenched his jaw as he strode up behind her, and before she could turn around he clubbed her skull with his sidefist and then he was squeezing. She stopped moving, but there was still someone screaming The end of all things?! over and over until he realized it was himself.
He replaced the screaming with panting. What had he done? Hell, why’d she have to push me so hard? Dammit Charlotte, you did this to me on purpose, didn’t you?!
He was alone with the Quant. The lights continued their slow dance, and suddenly he didn’t feel alone at all. He felt terribly, hopelessly exposed.
Notes: I used an image as a writing prompt for this piece. You may be able to find the image on the artist’s ArtStation page. Image by Thomas Dubois, used with permission.