Chapter

3

Yes, something feels very different.

Dirk’s hands begin to shake, so violently that he drops his screwdriver into the chassis of the battle bot he’s working on. It clangs around for a bit, landing somewhere that will doubtlessly be very inconvenient to retrieve. It doesn’t matter. There’s no more time for rap battles, or politics, or wacky hijinks of an adventurous nature. There’s no time left for anything.

Moisture beading at his temples, Dirk staggers away from his workbench and braces himself against the wall. His knees are weak, head spinning, palms so sweaty that the concrete feels smooth under them. He nearly drops his phone while attempting to dramatically autodial Jane’s number through the haze of his trembling, sudorific stupor.

DIRK: Hey, Jane. Bad news.

DIRK: Cancel everything.

JANE: Excuse me, what?

DIRK: All plans.

DIRK: Cancel them.

DIRK: It’s over.

JANE: What’s over, Dirk?

DIRK: I just told you. Everything.

DIRK: Because we’re canceling it.

JANE: Dirk, are you quite okay?

DIRK: Yeah, I’m cool.

JANE: You sound terrible.

JANE: It’s unlike you to call quits on a caper like this without offering a lengthy diatribe on it.

DIRK: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention.

DIRK: Lengthy diatribes are over too.

DIRK: They’re canceled.

Jane gasps loudly, without a hint of irony.

JANE: I don’t understand.

DIRK: Don’t worry about it.

DIRK: Just do what I say.

He hangs up on her and brings up his contacts so that he can text Jake and cancel all their televised fights for the foreseeable forever. He then blocks Jake’s number, because if it’s not worth explaining to Jane, it’s definitely not worth explaining to Jake. Then again, nothing is ever really worth explaining to Jake. Jake’s number is barely even worth storing in his phone, if Dirk is being perfectly honest.

Through the workshop window, Dirk can see the sun touching the horizon. Ah, exquisite: he takes a moment to appreciate the sublime synthesis of the atmosphere and the existential crisis he is currently experiencing. The sun is setting both physically and metaphorically right now. Not bad, he thinks, then corrects himself, because while there is always time to delight in the volatility of causality, the whole situation is actually and for real astonishingly bad.

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