And so we stood in front of the couch.
I hadn’t taken as long to prepare as Creepy had, for the twofold reason of a) being reasonably sure that nothing was going to happen and I would end up knee-deep in a couch while Creepy and Michael stepped in from the next room where they’d somehow managed to spirit themselves and then they and Wesson would have a good laugh at my expense because they were all in cahoots, and b) that if Agent Wesson was for real and the non-event horizon was an actual thing, we would die instantly and preparation would only mean I died after spending my last precious minutes of life wasting my time.
So instead, I’d spent my last precious minutes of life eating the last bag of cheezles and drinking the last of the spearmint milk and iced coffee from the fridge, as well as setting my assortment of in-case-of-death countermeasures and booby-traps in place. This didn’t take long, as it was mostly a matter of flicking a few switches, putting a sheaf of letters into the plastic tube under our letterbox for an associate of ours to deliver if I didn’t take them back within forty-eight hours, and putting a battered old Christmas LP on the player. I’d rigged the player to start up the next time someone came into the living room. It would surge gradually up to normal speed in the middle of Let It Snow before coming to a deliberately-placed scratch, and beginning to loop repeatedly over the line “we’re still good-bye-in’ / we’re still good-bye-in’ / we’re still good-bye-in’ / we’re still good-bye-in’”, which I figured was nice and spooky even if the next people in through the living room door were the members of Wesson’s mythical ‘team’ and they would know why there was a gutted couch slanted across the living room with a rope attaching it to the television. Also the song had a pleasantly soothing effect on Yool, the anxiety-inducingly buff Christmas tree who has been here the whole time.
I won’t bore you with all the details of my preparations, but I calculated it had still only been about twenty-two minutes since Michael had disappeared. I didn’t like to prepare unduly for death anyway, since it put forth an expectant vibe into the universe. Plus, worry about it too much and you end up setting your in-case-of-death traps every time you have a shower or walk down to the corner store.
“Now,” Wesson said, pocketing his not-really-a-phone, “the closer we get to the non-event horizon, we can reasonably expect less things to happen.”
“Less, or fewer?” I felt compelled to ask.
“Both, actually. Things will happen less frequently, as well as with less impact on cause and effect. The laws of physics, the spaces between atoms and their behaviour, it doesn’t so much break down as run down. To put it simply, your buddies fit into the couch and are no longer tangible because they’re so close to the non-event horizon that they’re essentially compressed into a nongularity and the external universe literally can no longer be bothered to express them as multi-dimensional objects.”
“Actually only one of them is really what you’d call a buddy, and even then-”
“We can probably start by using the rope that’s already there.”
Wesson grabbed the rope – it had remained taut even when I’d moved the couch across the floor, pulling as if something in there was winding it tight – seated himself on the edge of the frame, and swung his legs over into the springs and beams.
“So why hasn’t the couch collapsed?” I asked, stepping up beside him. “Or ceased to exist as a multi-dimensional wossname?”
“Well – and we’re still very much in the realm of theory here – at a guess I’d say it’s because it has a resistance to the non-event horizon’s effects, for reasons that you’d probably get insulted about,” he glanced up at me. “Again.”
We went in.