Walt was famished and though anxious to inspect and perform any necessary repairs to the bag, he stopped at Arturo’s for anchovies with mozzarella pizza. The anchovy fascinated him, repulsive, yet savory, ill-textured for the tongue, but somehow irresistable when combined with a crispy thin coal oven pizza base.
He quickly downed the baked clams and garlic bread appetizer. Moments later, when the anchovy and mozzarella was served, he pre-sliced the pizza into small isosceles triangles in which the two equal sides were exactly three inches long. He stacked the triangles three high, stabbed them with a fork and removed them with his teeth one at a time, chewing each piece topping side down while holding the fork vertically, the next piece poised to be devoured as soon as the one in progress was finished.
In this method he efficiently devoured the pizza in eight minutes, downing a swallow of Peroni between triangles. He ordered a second pizza to go. By the time he arrived at his shop on Canal, auxiliary pizza in hand, he had already begun to feel better and belched to announce his entrance. He nodded to the woman and man who tended his storefront, and told himself that one day he would commit their names to memory.
In his haste to get Susannah Fontaine-Williams medical attention, he had not examined the scene following the energy pulse. Walt took the stairs down to his workshop two at a time, forgetting the nail on the 27th step. He hit it full force and the nail penetrated the arch of his left All-Star and the foot it contained, which he grabbed, stopping his momentum and causing him to trip down the remaining few steps. After crash-landing, foot in hand, he removed his sneaker and looked at the small puncture in his foot. “Not so bad,” he said.
The extra-dimensional bag was on the floor where it had landed, just a few feet from the pod door. It was on its side and some of the contents had spilled out onto the floor. This was a bad sign as nothing should come out of the bag unless removed by hand. But there, in a fan-shaped array, were the objects Susannah Fontaine-Williams used move often: hairbrush, toothbrush, wallet, keys, mirror, pepper spray, various makeup and accessories, a paperback book, and so on. Everything appeared to have been singed and indeed, the odor of burned plastic and paper hovered in the air. He reached to pick up the nearest object – the hairbrush, yet it had fused to the floor, along with everything else that had spilt. He grabbed for the bag handle, and a small spark arced from it to his hand.
Reaching again, this time slowly, he was able to touch it without getting a shock. The bag itself had not fused to the floor and he picked it up and carried it over to his workbench. He shook the bag, listening for the sounds of anything that was still inside. He heard nothing. He put his hand inside and it appeared to be empty.
He walked over to the storage pod and entered. There were still plenty of items inside, although a few had fallen out of the bins, including the floppy hat which was upside on the floor. He put the hat on top of a bin and returned to the bag on his workbench. Reaching inside again, he again felt nothing.
The bag must have malfunctioned.
He considered his assorted tools, meters, flibnars and nurjles, removed the articulating flibnar and inserted one pronged end under the lip of the bag’s opening. He was met with a shrieking, piercing shock that knocked him backward onto the ground. Though his entire body seemed to be vibrating, he stood and approached the bag. As he extended an arm to pick up the bag, another pulse met him and knocked him to the floor again. Tendrils of smoke rose from his sleeve.
Walt stayed put this time and thought two alternating thoughts: one was a blank, the other was about the pizza box resting on the table next to the extra-dimensional bag. A third thought crossed his mind. It doesn’t seem to like me anymore.