The parking lot is 15 miles outside town. You lock your Geo and lead Lou toward your secret entrance.
"This way!" you say, gesturing her toward a hole in the chain-link fence. Lou adjusts her purse around her shoulder.
"Virtually nothing about this seems like a good idea," she says. "There's no one around for miles, right?"
"Not since the accident!"
Lou rocks back and forth on the balls of her feet. Then she shrugs.
"All right, fuck it. You only live once, right?" she says.
Once through the fence, you lead her across the grounds, through another hole in the concrete wall, and toward the reactor's center.
"It's really romantic in here," Lou says, looking around the interior of the reactor's core. "This is definitely weirder than I expected this night to go."
"Just wait until I finish turning everything on!" you say. You have your back to her, and you're flipping a series of switches along the control panel. The door closes silently behind Lou, and she doesn't seem to notice. Then the reactor begins to hum. In a few short seconds, you'll never be alone again.
"Nnnoooo, this is about where we stop," Lou says. "I'm gonna need your wallet and cellphone. And your car keys."
You turn around. Lou is smiling and pointing a largish pistol at you. You'd be able to identify it if you knew anything at all about pistols. You frown.
"Oh, come on, dude. No woman is going to follow some guy she just met into an abandoned building unless she has her own plan," Lou says to you. "I don't think you were planning anything weird; I think you're just kind of a dumbass, so I'm not even gonna hurt you. I'll just take your shoes. That should give me enough of a head start."
"Wait a minute -- does this mean you lied about liking Monopoly and scuffed-up sneakers?"
"You're kinda dumb, huh? Well, yeah, I don't much like Monopoly and I don't care about sneakers, because nobody actually likes scuffing up sneakers. You're lying to yourself if you think that's a real hobby. My name isn't even really Lou."
This is no good. This is the last kind of person you want to be fused to. But the emergency stop button is behind her, and you have only seconds.
"Listen: Do you hear that hum? We only have a couple seconds, and I need to hit the button on the wall behind you, or this is going to go badly."
"Oh, come on, man, you think I was born yesterday? Just give me your shit."
"Seriously, Lou, listen: There isn't time. You can hit the button, I don't care, but somebody has to." You take a step forward. The hum has turned into a high-pitched whine.
"Back up, fuck-o. This is loaded, and I do know how to shoot it."
The room begins to shake and glow. There's no time left. You lunge for the button. Lou shoots you in the face. The reactor overloads and floods the room with white light.
We All Find Happiness Eventually
The worst part of sharing a physical presence and consciousness with Lou is that you're both fused to the rotting corpse that used to be your body. But you find a way to make it work. Maybe you're not so into late-night cons, and maybe she doesn't share your love of demented 1980s horror/special effects masterpieces, and maybe the constant agony of living in a twisted abomination of flesh and that exists simultaneously in the physical world and a hell dimension that is itself the source of human suffering is sorta inconvenient, but what relationship doesn't have its problems?
The point is, the companionship is nice. Even the unfathomable limits of pain and sorrow that course through your existence are somehow bearable just because you have someone to share it with. And even though you're dead, you do get to live on in her heart, both literally and figuratively. And sharing your every secret thought, every memory, and every dream with another person is wonderfully fulfilling, even if you are forced to do so because your brain occupies the same physical space.
And because you can see all of eternity at once, a sensation that the human consciousness could never hope to endure, and yet, impossibly, yours is forced to, you know that you're going to grow old together. And you know the precise date that you will both die. It is a long fucking time from now.
JF Sargent has some commitment issues and is an editor and columnist for Cracked. Check him out on Twitter and Facebook.
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