“Ms. Sharp is out of the office,” Melody explained into a cellphone while she walked into her boss’s office. “I can make an an appointment.” She flipped on the light switch and strode across the glassy floor toy to the large, dark glass desk. “I’m sorry, no. She has a standing appointment from 2-4. Okay, yes that’s available. Thank you.”
Melody hung up the phone as she sat in her boss’s high back leather office chair. She grabbed a yellow notepad from the neatly organized desk and scribbled the appointment out. She peeled off the bright square to stick it to Dana’s monitor, but before the sticky side made contact a freezing chill ran down her spine. The surprise caused her arm to flail across the desk; she wiped a set of folders off the desk.
“Damnit,” she complained to herself. She kneeled, full of anger at herself about losing track of time, to pick up the mess of strewn papers. Melody noticed a number in the corner of one of the sheets and realized they were numbered; then she started to collate them. Finally, she stood with the papers in the proper order to put them back into their folder, but she caught sight of her name on the front page.
“Melody Klink: Zero Attunement Project. 2:43 p.m. Earth 1 timezone.” She dropped the papers, let herself fall into the plush office chair, then took a deep breath.
“I’m sure she would have told you eventually,” a woman’s voice called Melody’s attention. She sat up straighter in the chair and looked for the source. Janet, a short, bald woman, sat in a chair in front of the desk. She appeared without making a sound.
“What’s she doing to me?” Melody asked. Janet shrugged.
“Exactly what she does; testing every single possibility. She’s been killing your Zeroes on the nearest 1000 Earths to see if you’d notice,” Janet explained. Everything made sense to Melody in that moment. 10 years ago Dana Sharp perfected a way to track soul signatures. The next day was the first time Melody felt chills the next day for the first time. She wiped away a tear that escaped her eye, and gave Janet a half-hearted nod.
“I did. I didn’t think anything of it, but I did feel it.” Melody heard Janet release a heavy sigh.
“I know you’re going to tell her,” Janet stood from her seat to approach the desk. She leaned on it and looked at Melody right in the eye. “Love is stupid. All I can do is tell you to think about the repercussions a bit before you do. She’s been at it 10 years, you know she’s close to calling it a dead end. If she finds out she’s right,… ” Janet shrugged, and grabbed Melody’s file from the desk. “… she’ll go through countless Zeroes and Uniques to learn all she can. I won’t even mention your own suffering because I know you’ll bear it for her.”
“She loves me too!” Melody felt the need to defend their relationship, and Janet nodded in understanding.
“She does, I don’t doubt that. You’re the one Zero she won’t kill.” Janet wiggled a hand in the air next to her to open a pitch black portal.
“But, for your sake, you need to realize that no matter how much she loves you you’re not her goal. I’ve only been working with her for about a century, but even I see it. You’ve been with her long enough to know: if you’re not Dana Sharp’s goal, then you’re a step to it.” Janet shook the file folder at Melody. “You’re just another experiment to document,” she said, then disappeared into the portal. It closed behind her to leave Melody alone in the office with her thoughts.