The Length of a Moment

“You know, if you were to add up all of the cells in your body that contain your DNA, and then compare it to the number of cells without your DNA—gut bacteria, microbes on your skin and in your mouth, that sort of thing—the cells with your DNA would be outnumbered two to one.”

Lillian turned away from the teal glow of the monitor. “What the hell are you talking about?”

Levi shrugged and the twisted scores of electrode cables and IV tubes all clacked together. “I’m just saying that most of your body isn’t you, so there’s really nothing to be scared of.”

She turned back to the monitor and continued entering in her commands. “I’m not the one going in. Why would I be scared?”

“Well I’m not scared either. I’ll be fine.”

Lillian sighed, turned to fully face him, and leaned back against the terminal. She half smiled—it was as much as she could manage these days—and looked pityingly into Levi’s big brown eyes. “If you’re having doubts, it’s not too late to back out.”

He swallowed and half smiled back. “No. I want to do this,” he said, but the breathiness of his voice hinted at a deep unease.

“You want to do it for you? Or for me?”

Levi looked away. “Lillian…”

She held her breath. “Yes, Levi?” The thrumming of the cooling fans all around them made her feel like she was locked in the heart of a titanium giant.

“Just run the program.”

Her half smiled faded to none and she allowed her heart to skip but a single beat before hiding her face in front of the monitor again. She started the recording. “This is Dr. Lillian Gatterly recording trial three of Project Tumbleweed. Subject November-Zero-Zero is prepped, consenting, and standing by. Initiating upload sequence in three, two, one…”

Her finger hesitated, frozen for a moment. A moment could be over in a flash, or it could stretch to eternity. She knew that better than anyone. Well, almost anyone.

She pressed the button, and Levi’s mind left his body behind. But he didn’t need it. As he’d pointed out, most of it didn’t really belong to him anyway.

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