Journey to the Centre of the Couch, Part 8

Agent Wesson continued to study the couch for a long moment, then seemed to snap out of it. He turned to me.

“You’re going in,” I said. “Right?”

“Believe me, I’d rather not,” he replied, “but the boffins have instructed me to get readings and visual confirmation from as close to it as possible. Plus there’s your friends to pull out of the fire.”

“Two thoughts,” I raised a finger. “One, if they could get out they probably would have by now, so what’s to stop us getting stuck in the same way? Two,” I raised a second finger, making sure to keep the resulting rude gesture pointed inoffensively away from the possibly-armed man. Maybe the CSIRO only gave their agents pepper spray, or maybe not. “You can get about as close as possible to the couch right here, without actually touching it.”

“Not close to the couch. Close to the non-event horizon,” I squinted, so Wesson elaborated. “From what we’ve been able to gather – this was still all just theory until we saw this thing, remember – a drop in the pattern density register is due to an area of null, or even negative density. We nicknamed it ‘the non-event horizon’ because it’s a singular point of such immense null-activity that it exerts effects on the universe around it, like a black hole sucking in matter and energy and light and all,” Wesson pointed. “Your couch,” he said, “is a space-time anticlimax of such incredible density, it’s begun drawing in more complex space-time events like people.”

“Why our couch?”

“Well, at a glance, I’d say it’s a fair bet that nothing much ever happens on it,” Wesson said. “I mean nothing. And that set up a resonance loop, feeding on itself and the general background eventfulness of the universe until a vacuum formed.”

“Hold on just one cotton-pickin’ minute here,” I said. “We sit on this couch for extended periods, snacking and watching movies. We talk and argue and…” and occasionally even do battle with things I’m not sure even the hoity-toity CSIRO are ready to hear about, I almost said, but didn’t. “We channel-hop and take phone calls and throw the pillows at the television in moments of extreme emotion. It’s used for basically exactly what a living room couch is for. I fail to see how that counts as nothing. And if it is, I dare say you’d be seeing a lot more of these pattern density register problems.”

“Don’t take it so personally, but … what about interrelationships, character development, variety and diversity and exploration?”

I wasn’t entirely sure how much ‘exploration’ I wanted to think about doing with Creepy, and the few more literally exploration-themed anecdotes I could have related to Agent Wesson were hardly likely to be believed. “One time, Creepy was writing a screenplay and we brainstormed a few character ideas right there,” I said. “That was character development. It turned out the character was essentially Smurfette, so the screenplay didn’t really go anywhere, but that’s beside the point. Look, you say not to take it personally but isn’t this whole thing a bit insulting? What, so if nobody’s snogged or had sex or a life-changing epiphany on a couch, it becomes a wasteland of inconsequence so extreme that it breaks the laws of physics?”

“I can only tell you what the instruments are saying,” Wesson spread his hands. “Maybe it’s just a complete coincidence that it happened in your couch.”



“So what’s the next move?” I asked.

“Well, going in,” Wesson replied. “Like you said.”

“Just you, or me as well? I mean, doesn’t wilderness law apply, with someone needing to stay behind with the injured party – or in this case, stay behind in a position to call for more help or whatever?”

“I have an entire team monitoring events and prepped for immediate extraction,” Wesson said, “you don’t need to stay behind for that. Don’t get me wrong, I assumed you’d want to come and help find your … sidekick … and your hapless visitor, and this is your house and your couch, but I’d be just as happy without your interference at all…”

“Yeah yeah, I’ll come. But this brings me back to my first thought. How are we going to get out?” I asked, admittedly hrumphing just a little. “I’m not sure I’m entirely comfortable kissing you…”

“Would you let that go for a second? We get out by collapsing the non-event horizon, or at least counter-nullifying it for long enough to get to a safe distance.”

“And I suppose you have some sort of highly-advanced electronic bullplopulator that will allow you to do that?”

Wesson smiled.

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy.
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