Sometimes I wish there wasn’t a unique property in our personal space-time signatures that altered our living room furniture to dampen the effect of non-event horizon and nongularity technology. But then, I’m sure everyone has one or two niggling little things they’d like to change about themselves. And all was well that ended well.
Michael had departed happy, escorting the sullen renegade Gabriel “Agent” Wesson to whatever authorities rogue alien conservationists went up in front of for judgement. He hadn’t been able to recover the bomb as the couch folded back in on itself, but he had scanned the area and declared the TC count to be back to “near-infinite levels”, and had taken the bowling ball with him to use in safely transporting other warheads.
“In fact, we could use this space to store more TC armaments,” he’d told us enthusiastically before leaving. “The more we place together, the more stable they will become. And with your containment tape, we have no fear of further fallout or critical mass events.”
He hadn’t, I noted, bothered to take any of the tape with him. Nor had he bothered, as far as I could tell, to decontaminate us.
Later, during a commercial break halfway through Women Are From AWOOGAH, I turned to Creepy.
“Dare I ask how you knew gaffa was going to work?” I asked him.
“Oh, that was easy. The whole thing was about observation and the inherent information within matter and energy. When I realised we’d created our own pocket of nullifying anti-cancellation around the bomb just by being there, it was a simple step to the gaffa tape.”
“Of course, Hatboy,” Creepy seemed disappointed in me. “Perhaps the most defining characteristic of gaffa – aside from the fact that it fixes anything – is that once you’ve wrapped something in gaffa it’s automatically assumed that there’s nothing of interest underneath. A broken thing that is no longer broken, nothing more. The problem, as it were, is solved – even if temporarily. Out of sight, out of mind, problem gone, thing itself gone.”
“Conscious observation was the key. That which is beneath gaffa tape cannot be observed, and the conscious mind considers it resolved, no longer of any importance. It’s a physical manifestation of not caring. What would be more likely to counteract the effects of a TC warhead than an existential vacuum? It’s like a firebreak.”
I considered objecting that Michael’s conscious mind had been quite capable of penetrating this illusion, since he had no idea what gaffa tape was and had been highly suspicious about the whole thing. Indeed, it had only been the abrupt collapse of the nongularity fallout field – obliging us to beat a hasty retreat from the re-couch-ulating region around the bomb and simultaneously do battle with the suddenly-visible Wesson – that had dissuaded him from asking more questions, and maybe doing a bit of choice probing.
 It was a scene that I believed would stay with me for some time. Especially when the wrestling aliens began damaging one another’s human disguises to the point where they began coming off.
I realised, however, that whatever field Creepy and I were throwing up around the couch, it was – as ever – powered and sustained by our consciousnesses, and in spite of Michael’s cultural bias (and indeed in spite of the rest of the so-called rational universe). That was us, in a nutshell, and Michael was right – it was unique. We were super-sidekicks. I, personally, could pass the whole contradiction by, detour around this new sinkhole in my mind. It was just one more among many. But questioning it too much might make Creepy wonder, might convince him that his plan had been pure, uncut, nasal-cavity-mucous-membrane-dissolving baloney from beginning to end, and this quantum-level observation of fact might collapse the miraculous containment tape and our bubble of confidence. And also the solar system.
A single interjection of sanity could doom us all.
In fact, the more I thought about it, the more I wondered if maybe Michael had realised this, after all.
“Well played,” I raised my glass, but noticed Creepy was still looked disgruntled. “Something still bothering you?”
“Which one was the bad guy?” he demanded. “I need closure.”
“They were aliens,” I shrugged. “There are no good guys or bad guys, that whole good-guy-and-bad-guy thing is just … just…” I paused for a moment, thinking about what Michael had said during one of his more confusing spiels about the bombs. He wouldn’t, would he? Chances are pretty good that he and I aren’t even from the same galaxy … If people got along that well, they’d never be used in the first place. “…just terminology that humans use,” I concluded.
Creepy glanced at me askance. “Careful, Hatboy,” he said. “That sounds suspiciously like a moral to me.”
“We can do without that sort of thing.”
“We wouldn’t want unnecessary plot and character growth to jeopardise the very fabric of reality itself,” I agreed.
“Exactly,” we toasted, and sipped our victory cokes. On the television, an ad about unfeasibly physically flawless people dancing while washing their hair without getting shampoo in their eyes and cursing stalled our quiet contemplation for a moment. “Something still bothering you, old chum?” he asked, when it was over.
“I never did ask why Mars was protected,” I said.
“Culinary cultural hotspot.”
“Sure,” Creepy sipped his coke. “Well known fact, Hatboy.”
The show resumed.