Sharp Moon

“Prove it,” Norma said. She smirked at Aurelio, a chubby, curly-haired boy sitting across the table from her. Norma glanced left and right at the students around them. They sat outside in the school’s courtyard waiting for the morning bell. It was a cool, crisp Monday morning, and Aurelio had been excited to tell Norma about his weekend. “Or, let me guess,” she added, then filled her voice with sarcasm: ‘They’re too many people around’. Right?” she giggled.

Aurelio shook his head and pulled out a small glass card. It was completely transparent until he tapped on it, then a display lit up. He continued to tap and swipe the screen, slowly. He took a moment here and there to check he was tapping the right icons; he only owned the node for a couple of days.

“What’s that?” Norma asked. Aurelio shrugged without looking up, he was still navigating the menus trying to find the right sort of proof.

“It’s called a node. It’s like a phone, but better; she gave it to me. Ah, how about this,” Aurelio grinned, he looked up at Norma.

“Pause,” he tapped the node at the same time.

“Pause what?” Norma asked.

“I paused everything,” he turned and pointed at the flow of students; they were all frozen in time.

“No way….,” Norma stood slowly from the bench and made her way to the nearest group of students. Aurelio split his attention between watching her poke and prod them; and, navigating through the node. “You really can….,” Norma was amazed. Aurelio smiled and tapped the node one more time.

“You like snow, right?” he asked. Then, Norma noticed snowflakes fluttering down; her eyes shot even wider.

“Are you going to see her again!? Can you get me one!?” she asked. Aurelio shook his head; the jungle of dark brown curls on his head bounced with the motion.

“She said I’d probably never see her again,” Aurelio replied.

“But, you can find her, right? I mean, how many people can there be in the world named ‘Vanilla’?”

“She wasn’t from this Earth,” Aurelio replied.

“You didn’t tell me she was an alien!” Norma said with slight annoyance in her voice. Aurelio shook his head.

“Not an alien; from an alternate Earth. That was the other thing I was going to tell you about,” he said. But, Norma wasn’t listening.

“Didn’t you stop time?” she asked. Her eyes focused on something behind Aurelio. He grew suspicious and turned around to see a woman wearing what appeared to be a formal white coat with tails. He clearly saw a red vest under her coat, with another layer of white beneath it when she walked through the time-locked students.

“Oh no! Pretend you’re frozen!” he turned around to face forward, then tried to remain still. He was glad to see that Norma at least listened to him, even though she was clearly confused.

“Why?” Norma tried exhaling the question without moving her lips.

“Sh!” Aurelio replied. The pair of 8th-graders sat still for several minutes. All around them they heard the strange woman in white walking through the students, seemingly searching for something.  She walked to where Aurelio could see her better; he spotted a red sun embroidered on the left side of her coat. He hoped he knew what it meant, and relaxed slightly. But, he wasn’t going to make any moves just yet. Then, she headed straight for him.

“Gotcha,” she said with a smile once she reached their table. “Hola, Luna…,” Aurelio couldn’t help it; his eyes made contact with hers and her smile grew broader. “…how did you do this?” she asked. He knew he was caught, but she did not seem to be angry. He shrugged his shoulders, then relaxed. Norma followed his lead and relaxed too, but the woman didn’t take her eyes off Aurelio.

“With a node,” he replied. He held up the glass card to show her.

“You did this with a node?” she asked and gestured at the still students. Aurelio nodded. Sol raised a blonde eyebrow. “May I see it?” she asked.

“No,” Norma answered for Aurelio; but, he was already handing it over. Sol accepted the clear card. She made a sweeping gesture with her arm and a larger, smokey-grey glass pane appeared hovering in front of her. She set the node down on its surface, then began moving her fingers along the lower portion of the square to type.

“This node didn’t have timeframe access initially,…,,” she mumbled to herself. Aurelio stood from his seat to look at the glass slate next to her, but he could only see the same smokey grey glass.

“Yeah, I thought that was weird. I saw Vanilla control time, so I knew it could be done; I had to program my own workaround,” he said.

“You met a Muerte?” Sol asked. She looked down at Aurelio and brilliant golden suns glowed in her eyes for a moment. “But, you didn’t touch her?” Aurelio shook his head.

“No, she told me about Lunas.” Sol smiled.

“Okay, this is why I’m here,” she said, then gave Aurelio his node back. 

“Why?” Norma asked once Aurelio held the node again.

“Muertes can stop time, nodes can usually only slow it down to near stopping. But, suddenly this server started using a lot of resources so I came to find out why,” she smiled at Aurelio. “Because some genius little hacker accidentally tripled the power draw for the nanos here. I believe my boss, Ms. Sharp, would very much like to meet you,” she said.

“Am I in trouble?” he asked. For some reason, Aurelio trusted Sol; she gave off a pleasant vibe that he found comforting.

“Not at all,” Sol said. “You’re being offered a job.”

Sharp Universe

Molly was terrified and awestruck at the same time. She sat in a bright white office-setting in front of God. She knew why she was there. She was probably about to be damned to Hell, but the awe-inspiring truth remained. Dana Sharp was real and sitting across from her. 

“I’m busy, and you’re a smart woman,” Dana Sharp said. “I expect you know why you’re here?” Molly nodded; her blond curls bounced with the movement.

“Earth…,” Molly said. Everyone on Mars knew that God took a dim view of anyone setting their sights on the stars. Things like orbits, meteors and eclipses; basic scientific information was allowed. Any further exploration, or a closer look at any of the planets was expressly forbidden in the Sharp bible. There had been plenty of evidence that God herself stepped in whenever anyone grew too curious. Before she woke up in Ms. Sharp’s office, Molly had serious doubts about God and religion in general. Now she was going to spend the rest of eternity in Hell for being curious. She didn’t think it was fair and she knew she’d never have the opportunity to talk to God again.

“…but why?” Molly asked. “Why can’t we know what’s out there?” Ms. Sharp smiled at Molly.

“Who said you can’t?” she asked. 

“YOU!” Molly yelled. “YOUR bible specifically says not to be curious about the other planets.” 

“Well, that didn’t stop you, did it?” Ms. Sharp asked. “It didn’t stop you from pointing your telescope at Earth every night for the past three years.” 

“You .. knew?” Molly asked. She’d only been recently brave enough to share some of her findings with a close friend that she decided not to trust any more the second she woke up. She assumed her friend was the one to turn her in; the timing was too suspicious. 

“I think you forget my position and duties in the universe,” Ms. Sharp said. “As long as you didn’t share your hobby with anyone, it wasn’t noteworthy. However, the moment you were willing to share your curiosity is why you’re here now.” Molly felt instant regret for blaming her close friend. 

“But just me, right?” She asked. “Please don’t send Allan to Hell too!” she said. 

“Do you think you’re going to Hell?” Dana asked. 

“I broke the rules…,” Molly said. “That’s why you brought me here, right?” 

“Your curiosity is why you’re here, but I’m not sending you to Hell. I’m going to give you the answers you’re looking for. Your curiosity is being rewarded.” 

“What? Why? That doesn’t make any sense,” Molly said. “If you wanted us to be curious, why didn’t you put that in the bible?” Ms. Sharp shook her head.

“I don’t want people to be curious to please me. I want people that are curious, no matter what. People willing to explore and experience the unknown. Consider it a test of sorts. You passed and I’d like you to come work for me.”

“Work… for God? Like, as an angel?” Dana Sharp shook her head. “The first thing you’re going to learn is I’m not God. I’m human, like you. I just have the technology to create my own universes like the one you came from. My company is named Sharp Development and has branch locations on several hundred Earths.”

“EARTHS!?” Molly perked up. “I can go to Earth!?” 

“I’m originally from an Earth in an alternate universe. You can visit as many Earths as you like, travel between universes will be required as part of the company.”

“Can I.. make universes too? Like you?” 

“I think you’d do well in that department,” Ms. Sharp nodded and tapped the screen of her computer. “Allow me to introduce your new boss, Sol.”  Ms. Sharp gestured to the spot next to Molly. As Molly turned around she saw a woman step out of a pitch black portal. She wore what resembled a formal coat with tails but it was crisp white. A red sun was embroidered on her left breast and it matched the red vest under her coat. 

“Hey, welcome to the team,” Sol said with a smile. 

“That’s it? No interview? No paperwork?” Molly asked. She was ready and eager to get to work, but she did not want to accidentally miss any steps. 

“You already passed the test,” Ms. Sharp said. “If you want to do the job, I know it’s in you to do it. And as far as paperwork,” Ms. Sharp smiled. “Traditionally, joining my company requires a signature. But, you’re from my universe,” she said. “I already own your soul.”