Many people think I am a manipulative bitch but that is only because I am much, much more attractive than they are. Those people think that I only got my well-paid job in a design-and-decoration firm because I am sleeping with Jared, the CEO. Well, maybe. But I would point out that I also have a degree. It’s in, um, well, I forget exactly, something designy.
Jared, of course, has a wife, Helena. I’ve met her a few times. I didn’t like her, she didn’t like me, see above.
The company is ludicrously successful, mainly due to Dr Pandapaws, who is as close as you can get to a genius in the area of furniture design. He largely keeps to himself, until some piece of overpriced must-have rolls out of his studio/laboratory. I’m about the only one he deals with, perhaps because I do him little favours of a certain type. It’s a living.
Anyway, this is all back story. What I have to say really begins when I got a call from Dr Pandapaws saying that he wanted to show me something. What, again? I sighed and went to his lab.
But what he had wasn’t what I thought it would be. It was a new chair. Only about a foot high. Odd-looking hole in it.
“It’s a bit small, isn’t it?” I said.
“It’s a scale model,” he said. “I call it the Möbiuseat.”
“Huh. Might catch on. Umlauts are big this year.”
He sighed. “Where did you do your degree again?” he said.
“Uh, somewhere reputable, I think.”
He stared at me. “Your superficiality goes down for miles,” he said. “Anyway, a Möbius strip is a surface with only one side and only one boundary component. I’ll show you.”
He picked up a strip of paper. Then he turned one end over. Then he linked up the two ends and stapled them together into a kinky-looking loop. He ran his finger around the inside, and then his finger moved to the outside without going over an edge.
“When I turned it into a three-dimensional construct, I found that it had a very unusual property,” he continued.
He picked up an eraser and placed it on the model. It began to slide sideways. Then, suddenly, it vanished. Down the odd-looking hole. I looked behind the model, thinking it would be there. Nope.
“Do that again,” I said.
“Can’t,” he said. “I’m out of erasers.”
“Do they come out the other side?”
“As far as I can tell, there is no other side. Well, there might be. Not here, though. Or there might not be.”
I took a closer look at the model. To tell the truth, it was kind of hard to focus on.
“It’s a miracle of design science,” he proclaimed.
“Humph. Well, now for the full-scale prototype.” He picked up his tools and started to do whatever it was he did.
I returned to my office, slightly bemused. Then I sent a memo directing someone to send Dr Pandapaws a new box of erasers.
It was a few days later. When I breezed into the office, there was some sort of commotion going on. I asked Manager Maggie what was happening.
“It’s Dr Pandapaws,” she said. “We can’t find him anywhere.” She looked at me with a certain degree of suspicion. “Say, you wouldn’t know anything about it, would you?”
“Why should I?” I said innocently. Not a no, exactly.
Later, I went to the lab. Yes, there was a full-size Möbiuseat there, in a quite acceptable Alternate Sienna fabric. No Dr Pandapaws. Not here, in a very literal way.
I told the muscle guys to deliver it to my apartment. He would have wanted me to have it, I told them.
I took the model back to my office. Then I spent the afternoon making paperclips disappear. And thinking.
It actually didn’t go too badly in my apartment, although whenever you looked at it it seemed to have changed position slightly.
I needed a test subject. Damned if I was going to stick my hand into it. Might not get it back.
And then my cat came up to me, with that awful feed-me meowing noise they make.
Let me say that I have never really liked this cat. I only got it because women in sex-and-shopping novels usually have one. Of course, their cats don’t leave a trail of disgusting hair behind them.
The cat glanced at the Möbiuseat. It gave a little hiss.
I picked it up by the scruff of its neck. It began to snarl. Stupid cat.
“Don’t be such a pussy,” I said.
Then it was on the chair. The cat stared at me for a moment, with an expression of feline puzzlement. It began to slide sideways. Going, going, gone.
“Bye,” I said.
The next day was Wednesday. Jared and I usually got together on Wednesday night. I took the day off work.
I called Helena. We need to talk, I said. Come over.
When she arrived, she was clearly not a happy camper.
“Did you know that I am banging your husband?” I said. Just to get the conversational ball rolling.
She started. “Uh … I suspected … that is … sort of,” she said. “Do you … love him?”
“Oh. Well, I don’t dislike him. He seems to be a pretty good fellow. Aside from the unfaithfulness thing, of course. Anyway, he wants us to be together. On a permanent basis. I’m alright with that.”
“Ha! Some hope, bitch! I have a pre-nup that says if he divorces me he loses everything, the money, the company, the lot.”
Ah. The pre-nup. Bimbo kryptonite. Although I will have to ensure I have one when I marry Jared – which is to say, marry Jared’s money. To ensure that any of my, you know, little transgressions are forgiven.
Helena was getting antsy now, pacing in angry circles.
“You should sit down,” I said.
“I don’t want to sit down!” she shouted. Then she looked around. “Do you have a cat?” she said.
“Not any more. Really, you should sit down. How about here?”
“I don’t want to sit down!”
“Yes you do.”
“No I don’t!”
I put two fingers on her chest and pushed. “Sure you do,” I said.
She sat down on the Möbiuseat.
She looked up at me with the same quizzical expression I had seen on the cat.
“What … ?” she started to say.
“Search me,” I said.
She started to slide. Funny, she didn’t try to get up. Now I thought about it, neither had the cat.
“And there you go,” I said.
In the evening, Jared came over. We did some pretty good sex, and then we were going to go out for dinner. I went into the bathroom to fix my lipstick.
“Say, what’s this?” he called from the living room.
“This brown thing. Looks comfortable.”
I ran back.
He was not there.
Son of a bitch.
I sat down on the couch opposite the Möbiuseat.
What a shame. Oh well, plenty more where he came from.
It occurred to me that there might be some official questions, what with several non-existent people around. I could imagine a policeman saying: do you know where they might be? And me saying, with complete honesty, I have no idea. Could be anywhere.
I collected Jared’s things. They went onto the Möbiuseat, and then they were no longer a problem. Damn, this thing is handy.
Anything else? Ah, Dr Pandapaws’ model. Could be a little incriminating, if you had a really suspicious mind. Which reminds me, I must invite Manager Maggie around for coffee sometime.
I put the model onto the Möbiuseat. As usual, it began to slide sideways. Then there was an odd little pause. Then it continued to slide. It vanished.
From somewhere, there was a strange rumbling sound. I looked around. Everything in the apartment seemed to have changed position, moving closer to the Möbiuseat. Furniture, walls, even me. And it was continuing.
Possibly, putting one Möbiuseat into another was not such a good idea. Like dividing by zero.
Yes, some sort of weird sucking vibe was definitely under way. I had a feeling that trying to run would be pretty useless. Like it or not, I was going … somewhere. Maybe a galaxy far, far away. Maybe nowhere.
Now I was close enough to the Möbiuseat to see into the hole. But there was nothing to see. You looked in, you saw the floor on the other side. Except that there was no other side. I thought: is this just my apartment? Or was everything on its way down … there? Okay, so I’ve destroyed the planet. Well, damn, I’m sorry. Not my fault, really. Or maybe it’s not just the planet. Maybe I’ve screwed up the entire univ