The Space Cadet Science Fiction Review, Spring 2022 (issue #1)

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Pg. 33

Flash Fiction by Nick Hartland

Accident Prone

Trathia settled herself into her chair and looked at Ameilta and Max. She’d never interviewed a three-dimensional being before, but her audience we always looking for new angles, so her producers had lined up this unlikely couple.

“Wow, you two look happy together,” she said. Ameilta and Max smiled. “Tell me how you met.”

“It was a funny thing,” said Ameilta, “he literally bumped into me, and…”

“Yeah, so I was mowing the lawn,” Max said talking over her, “and one of the wheels was jammed. I reached down to unjam it, it was a Saturday and I wanted to get the job done quickly so I could go down to the pub for a beer, and suddenly my hand just seemed to slip in the air…”

“That was a bit of me he touched,” laughed Ameilta. “Total accident, I was just looking around the garden, and happened…”

“And anyway,” Max continued, frowning at Ameilta who had interrupted his story, “what happened was that the middle finger of my right hand slipped into the blade of the lawnmower.” He held up the middle finger of his right hand, with his left hand wrapped around the right so that only the middle finger was visible. Half of the nail of the middle finger was gone leaving a messy, albeit healed, rough stub.

“Not many people know what it’s like to have the blade of a lawnmower take the top of your finger off,” said Max. “I bet your audience would like to know what it was like.” He looked up expectantly at the vaguely human three-dimensional projections he could see facing him. Trathia rolled her eyes, none of the four-dimensional beings that made up her audience would have even the slightest interest in a mundane three-dimensional accident. The laws of three-dimensional forces simply didn’t apply to them in the same way that it did to Max. A three-dimensional object couldn’t cut them, just as a two-dimensional object with only length and depth couldn’t harm Max.

“There’s no pain at first, you can feel the blade go through your finger, and there’s pain later of course.” Trathia and Ameilta made a show of nodding in sympathy in three-dimensional space. “But you know it’s like,” he paused searching for words, “it’s like a wave of energy passing through you. You just feel the force of blade, not the cut, like, like you were connected to a wave coming from the universe itself.”

Trathia looked around her audience. Some had stopped projecting into three-dimensional space. Others were moving uneasily in the fourth dimension. None of this made any sense to them. Ameilta knew it too, but didn’t want Max to feel awkward, so she kept projecting a smile into his three-dimensional space.

“And Ameilta, what did you do next?”

“Oh, I knew that he’d been hurt in his dimensions. I saw him call an ambulance, and then paramedics came to look at the wound on his finger and what damage had been done to the bones, nerves and blood vessels on the inside of his skin.” There was a collective in-take of breath from Trathia’s audience. If three-dimensional forces lacked interest, the idea of a being with an inside and an outside was strange and exciting.

“So long story short…” continued Ameilta. Trathia sighed, she’d have liked more details on what the inside of a three-dimensional body looked like. “…I went back a couple of weeks later to check in on him.”

“And,” said Max. “That’s when I knew I’d found the one. I was walking down the corridor of my house to the kitchen, still feeling a bit sorry for myself, and I held up my hand to look at the bandage. And it was just like, like a force I couldn’t see gently pushed on my hand.”

“That was me,” laughed Ameilta.

“And now you’re in love,” said Trathia.

“And now we’re in love,” said Ameilta.

“Yes,” said Max.

“I’m sorry, but my audience will hate me if I don’t ask this,” said Trathia. “How’s the love life? How do you two love birds get cosy?”

“We don’t get together as often as we’d like,” said Ameilta. “Max had taught me a lot about three-dimensional beings, and I’ve got my own little business now, is it okay to say the name?”

“Sure,” said Trathia, not really knowing what else she could say on the spot. She’d have to get her producer to brief the guests better next time about unauthorised product placement.

“It’s 3-Ds for 4-Ds,” said Ameilta. “I show people like your audience around Max’s world. We go to some famous place like Paris, New York, and Sydney. But my clients like to see simple things too like the houses people live in and their workplaces. The hard bit is training people how to behave around three-Ds. You’ve got to be careful that you don’t touch them, and that they don’t bump into you. That can cause accidents you know.”

Trathia and the audience laugh.

“And how is this for you Max?” Trathia asked.

“It’s great,” said Max holding up both of his hands. The audience gasped. Three of his fingers were their original length. The other seven were either completely gone, or stumps of varying length. “We play these little games that I like, that make me feel part of the universe.”

Nick Hartland

Nick Hartland lives and works in Canberra, where regular drives between the city and the coast give him lots of time to wonder about how things really work. He has a lifelong love of speculative fiction of all genres. His fiction has been published in Cicerone Journal and Antipodean SF.