This attempt may have failed.
Nevertheless, please attempt to enjoy this short story, "A Small Chance".
Well, almost. For within the deepest brassy recesses of the spinning, sliding, whirring machine, there is a single small sphere, perhaps a metre across, and formed from the purest silver. It is not connected to the rest of the universe-spanning contraption; indeed, there are so many axles and driveshafts here, it almost seems that the system is avoiding it. The little globe just sits perfectly still, unmoving in this universe without gravity. Its perfect form is marred only by a single, tiny inscription on one side. It reads "CHAOS".
And somewhere, far away in the distant reaches of the vast gleaming construction, a tiny gear stops dead, then begins to spin backwards. And the world below obeys.
'All those things I always called you? That's not you.'
Lucy struggled to hold down her rising anxiety. He was gonna know, he was gonna know, he was gonna know. But honesty was what she wanted right now, she had to be true to that. Had to be. She clutched her binder closer to her for whatever comfort it could offer, and tried to reassert herself.
'Maybe the bits about you being a wuss are true, and maybe how annoying you can be... and I guess you're stupid someti...'
'Lucy.' Lucy's gaze flicked over at Mike's interruption. Her eyes rapidly played over his features. Grade 3 Irritation, tending to Grade 3 or 2 Annoyance. After all these years, she was pretty confident in predicting the Korat's responses. She had to be - the dummy was too good natured to start an argument without prompting, and it was always more fun to argue. Matching wits, countering insults with smart rejoinders, facing each other in a fierce battle of minds - nothing could compare with the thrill, the challenge, the wonderf-
'Just get to the point!'
Ah. Lucy forced her thoughts back to the matter they were so desperately avoiding. She opened her mouth a fraction, but felt it close again. Her fur began to feel hot, and in the back of her mind long-forgotten worries of curls gnawed at her. Her claws itched for freedom, as the adrenaline recklessly forced its way through her body; her muscles involuntarily clenched, digging the side of her binder deep into her arm.
The pain was sudden and intense, but it was good. The clarity of the pain opened a gap through the blur of worry and uncertainty. She opened her mouth once more.
The blood was pounding in her good ear, drowning her own voice. But it had to come out, had to break free. She felt, rather than heard, her own voice, forcing out the syllables she should have used years ago, years ago.
It was done, said, out there. One way or another, things couldn't be the same again. Never one to cry, Lucy still felt a warm film start to seep over her eyes, and struggled to keep them suppressed. Through her not-tears, Mike was utterly unreadable. They were off the map of the last 13 years; she was adrift, and could only wait for his response.
Eons passed in that frozen second.
Mike spoke at last. '...What?'
'I love you.' She could hear the words this time, their unstoppable force belied by their simplicity.
Lucy waited. Her natural resilience began to return, little by little, and as she finally forced back the frightened tears blinding her, she was able to look her childhood friend in the eye. His body language was a standard Grade 1 Angst (Variation #7), but behind those emeralds there was something else, something built of anger and fear and hopelessness. And through it all, a bitterness, and she knew that it was to Sandy his thoughts had turned. If he chose her, if he chose that girl, then everything would be over. She would have lost him.
Mike took a breath. And in the distance, the faintest whirring noise passed by on the breeze, entirely unheard by the two cats in their private silence.
And Mike smiled.
This post has been edited by Yappy: 28 February 2011 - 02:34 AM