She drummed her fingers against the table, resting her chin against the side of the box. Her eyes flicked lazily, left and right. Suddenly, she sat up with interest. She reached into the box, touching one of the tiny buildings in the corner. “Expand.”
It blew up. The roof disappeared and gave her a clear look at the inside. She stood up, leaning forward to see over the edge.The floors were see-through, allowing her a clear view. Blue and pink figures moved around everywhere, many with spots of grey. Underneath all the bustling activity, motionless black figures rested all lined up in rows.“Zoom. Level four.” Parts of the hospital melted away. The fourth floor enlarged, the characters growing bigger.Her head was practically in the box. She reached out a hand and touched the door to one of the many rooms. “Zoom. Focus. Sound.”The room was now all she saw. Its occupants were no longer merely pink or blue. The color of their skin, their clothes, and the features of the faces showed just as clearly as if she watched a TV. Voices came out of invisible speakers. They were soft.“Is she getting any better?” The man who spoke had wrinkles all across his forehead and around his lips. They weren’t etched deep; they were still fresh.There was a deep sigh from the other man. “I’m afraid she’s taken a turn for the worst.”“How bad is it?” The question was so low she almost didn’t catch it.“Up volume. Twenty,” she commanded.The voices swirled around her head, blocking out everything else.“She may leave us at any moment,” the second man boomed.Sobs traveled through her ears. She brushed them off as easily as cobwebs. Her eyes stayed rooted to the scene.The second man, the doctor, placed his hand on the griever’s shoulder, squeezed. “I’ll leave you alone.”She straightened up and placed her hands on either side of the box. “Expand full.”She blinked and the box and the table disappeared. Bright, sanitary lights crashed down on her eyes and she squinted. The smell of sickness covered with orange hit her nose. She was in the hospital room.The man scooted closer to his wife, taking her hand in his. Her breath wheezed from her lungs as she slept.She stepped forward, touching the invalid’s arm. “Analyze.”Colors flashed over the woman’s body before settling. Gray grouped around her brain, with the occasional black speck making its appearance. Blue surrounded her barely beating heart. The rest of her flamed red.She removed her hand. “Present possible outcomes for option one.”Events fast forwarded around her. The heart monitor stopped. Nurses and doctors rushed in. The surroundings changed. A casket was being put into the ground. Everyone cried. One man stood in the shadows, a smile on his face.“Stop.” She was back on the deathbed. The man laid his head against the side of the bed.“Present possible outcomes for option two.”Again the colors and people moved quickly around her. The woman’s eyes opened. She sat up. A doctor appeared at the man’s cry, frantically checking her vitals. The background changed rapidly as their lives were played out.“Stop. Contract.”The box was back, the room placed neatly inside it. She sat back in her chair, her fingers gripping the edge of the table. A hologram appeared in front of her. Two boxes. Two options.She twined her fingers together, resting her chin upon them. “Review outcomes for option one. Forward to example twelve.”The setting of the box flashed to the smiling man. He was featured in the next slide, sliding a letter into a mailbox. And then there was another man, an important man, laid up in a hospital bed. Just like the woman.“Stop.”She reached her hand up and lightly touched the second box. The hologram disappeared.She leaned forward, watching the results of her choice. The heart monitor picked up, the regular beeps increasing. The man raised his head. The woman opened her eyes. Her husband sprang up, getting firm grip of her hand, and called for a doctor. The woman sat up, looking around in wonder.“Contract full.” The room and hospital shrunk, her usual view restored.She set her chin against the side of the box.