“Thank you for coming,” he said, “I didn’t think you were going to.”
“I almost didn’t. You’ve been in a spiral and I was afraid of what you might do to yourself. You sounded really out of it on the phone. I’m worried about you.”
My words were kind but came out in icy whispers. I sounded distant and more heartless than I had when I practiced this in the car on the way here.
“See that’s just the thing,” he said, “I’m worried about you. I’m worried about you worrying about me. You want me to leave you alone but I don’t know how.”
I sighed, “what does that mean, Daniel? What does that even mean? You just stop. You just do what I’m asking you to and leave me alone. We had a good run and it was fun, but we’re wrong for each other and this ended in March. You need to move on.”
“But what I did to you…it’s torturing me.”
“I don’t need you to apologize. I just need to be away from you. What is so hard about that to understand? Frankly I only came here because the way that you were crying I was worried you might do something if I didn’t.”
“Something like what?”
I sighed long and hard deciding if I was going to sugar coat this for him or not, “something like kill yourself you fucking asshole.”
The words came out louder than I intended them to, reverberating off the warehouse walls as though we were standing in an empty room, but the room was far from empty. The lights were out but I could see his face clearly in the pale glow of the moonlight that filtered in through the high windows. His face, streaked with tears, pulsed between the pale clear moonlight and the blinking indicators of the LED lights on the machine behind me. The last time I was in this warehouse, that machine wasn’t here.
It was something new.
In the center of the room, cobbled together out of spare parts, stood a centrifuge like you might see at a carnival…this thing, three sets of concentric rings with a chair at the center was more industrial than the spinning ride that the carnie might strap you into. It looked like the product of one of the manic episodes that he was prone to. Wires trailed from it in three directions to three computer banks set apart from each other in a triangle with the centrifuge at the center. Not a centrifuge. What was this thing called?
The name came to me.
It’s called a gyroscope.
“Look, I’ve asked you to leave me alone, but you keep doing this. You keep pulling this bullshit and frankly, I know it’s because you don’t respect me and I keep putting up with it, I keep coming when you call and I keep worrying about you because I don’t respect myself.” I said, “it’s over Daniel. It’s been over for months and this is literally killing me inside. Why can’t you just leave me alone and let me move on?”
“That’s the whole point. That’s why I’ve brought you here. I respect you. I just can’t leave you alone because I don’t know how to do that… Or at least I didn’t. That’s why I built this. It’s for you.” He paused and licked his lips and walked toward the machine with his arms outstretched, presenting it. “It’s for us. It’s the solution.”
“This is fucking bullshit, I’m out of here.” I turned and started making my way to the door of the studio warehouse where Daniel made his art. He was never very good and had only sold a few pieces in the years that we were together.
“Wait! No!” He wined, “come back. I need to show you what it does.”
“I don’t care.” I said without looking over my shoulder.
I put my hand on the door handle and pulled. It didn’t budge.
“I had to! I had to! I knew you would leave before I could show you! I’m sorry!”
“Daniel. Unlock. This. Fucking. Door.” I said through gritted teeth. “Now!”
“Just let me show you…” he said, closer than I expected him to be. I could hear the rage of my blood pumping through my ears. He touched my shoulder and I flinched and ducked away from him.
“You want me to let you go. And to leave you alone. That’s what you said.”
Turning to face him, I pursed my lips together and didn’t reply. His green eyes shimmered with tears in the darkness.
“Remember I said I don’t know how to do that on my own?” He said with a bashful grin spreading across his face…a grin I found so charming once but now it only seems wicked and tortured.
He continued: “It’s called an aerotrim and I built it myself. They use them to train pilots. This one is different though because it’s quantum. A quantum aerotrim. I can’t leave you alone but I want to. I want to do like you’re asking me to, but I can’t. It’s too hard. So I built this…so I can go away. It’s going to send me to another dimension.”
Before I knew what I was doing, I’d begun laughing. I’d seen him manic before but this thing was going to send him to another dimension? It was held together with duct tape and thoughts and prayers. He’d begun moving toward one of the banks of computers and flipping switches. The circles of the machine lit up with a harsh white light and the room was slowly filled with the sound of humming.
“Please, come down from that thing and unlock this fucking door! I want to fucking go, Daniel.”
He was mounting the steps and taking a place in the seat. With the addition of the bright lights, I realized how dangerous this thing looked. The circles of the gyroscope were flecked with rust. The pilot’s chair was the passenger seat from his Toyota. I recognized the rip on the head rest. Between his legs, he’d mounted a joystick. He pressed the button at the top of it and the machine began spinning.
“I’m going now.” He said, taking the key from his shirt pocket and throwing it to me. It fell about 8 feet shy from where I stood and clattered to the floor, a noise barely heard against the whirring and whooshing of the machine which was growing louder and louder each moment.
“I’m not going to bother you again. I only wanted you to be here so you’d know. So you’d be the last person I saw before I went. I’m doing this for you. For us. So you can have peace, finally.” All of the rings were spinning now and finally the chair began to spin as well.
The rings of the gyroscope slowly built speed. The lights began to flicker as the machine accelerated. Then at the center, near the level of his heart, a ball of plasma began to slowly flicker into existence and pulse with electricity as it grew.
I was dumbfounded. Could this machine actually be capable of doing the thing he claimed? It was out of science fiction. Unheard of.
The machine picked up speed and he began to scream. Uncontrollable, horrified wails and as his shirt began to smoke, I realized he’d caught fire. He spun and did backflips belted to the chair from his Corolla as he slapped at the flames bursting from the level of his heart.
When the chair came loose it threw him violently to the left. The gyroscope was spinning so quickly that it broke apart and as it scattered itself in all directions I cowered away from it on the floor.
Daniel kept his word. He was gone…and he was everywhere.
His blood splattered every wall and I pulled one of his teeth out of my hair before I began to hear the screaming.
At first I thought it was the sound of Daniel’s horrified wails, still echoing on the warehouse walls.
But then I realized the screaming was my own.