by Nyki Blatchley
"Let me get this straight, young man," says Ms. Dawson, tapping one toe of her red Jimmy Choos in that numinously ominous way of hers. "You claim to have spent the research grant we gave you on constructing a phased portal into quasi-quantum meta-reality, whatever exactly that is. And it looks exactly like a patio door."
"Not just a patio door," I explain. I tend to gabble when I'm nervous. "A five-panel, triple-glazed bifold door with a traffic door to the right, and--"
"The design is immaterial," Ms. Dawson informs me, and I shut up. She's probably right.
She gazes around the messy room. I have a sudden twinge of panic, hoping I haven't left any porn visible on the computer, but she barely glances at the screen, which is just showing lots of stars rushing away at great speed. Her eyes finally return to the door.
"It's a patio door," she informs me. "Nothing more, nothing less. What's on the other side of it is your garden. I can see it from here."
I have to admit this tends to make my creation difficult to explain. I try.
"That's because we're looking through it from this side. If we were to open it and walk through, we'd be in a reality so unlike this one that... that, well, there aren't words to describe it."
"Really?" She adjusts her small, rectangular designer glasses--I'm sure she had the lenses ground specially to make her eyes look scarier--and glances at the door again, before returning her gaze to me. "And you know this because? How many trips have you made through it?"
"Well... none," I have to confess. "But all the math checks out. There's no way I'm wrong."
"I see." For a moment, I think she's said icy, which would fit her tone of voice. "So are you planning on giving a demonstration? Or am I supposed just to be bowled over by your equations and give you the extra money you want?"
That was the idea, but her expression suggests I'd better revise my plan.
"You mean, go through it now?"
"Why not?" Her foot's tapping again. "If it's everything you claim, that won't be a problem, will it?"
I try to think about this, through my mind's usual jumble. There definitely is a problem, but her presence makes it difficult to concentrate. I know I should really stick to my guns, but then for sure I won't get the follow-on grant. Come to think of it, doesn't that have something to do with the problem?
I need to answer her, before she gives up and leaves. "I suppose not," I say.