Sam sat in a chair in the corner of the bedroom where Lachlan slept, arranging his magnets into a cube shape with his good hand, idly picking clumps of blood from his hair with the intact fingers from his other hand, and trying to keep his eyes open.
Sam’s and Lachlan’s bodies were adjusted to different time zones, and given the danger around them, it made sense for them to trade off sleeping shifts. Still, after the day’s unbelievable and terrifying events, and without someone to talk to, Sam was finding it harder and harder to keep his eyes open.
Sam had taken off his blood-saturated pants and undershirt as soon as Lachlan had fallen asleep, so now he just wore his boxers and the aviator jacket Nancy had given him. His legs were cold and he was sure he looked ridiculous, especially given that he’d chosen today of all days to wear his glow-in-the-dark dinosaur underpants, but he’d hated the idea of staying in those bloody clothes any longer than he had to. He never wanted to see or smell those clothes ever again.
Lachlan had passed out almost the second his head had hit the pillow. He was fast asleep now, with the blankets snuggled up to his chin in a way that seemed very at odds with his waking personality.
Man, he looked comfortable.
Sam checked his watch. 6:02 PM. Lachlan had been asleep for less than an hour.
“Guess I’ve still got a long night ahead of me,” Sam mumbled.
It wasn’t really night, though, he remembered. This place didn’t seem have a sun, or a day-night cycle. They probably weren’t even on a planet.
The thought made him wonder about how this place worked. Was it a planet, or a flat plane, or something else? If it was a planet, was it orbiting around a star? Maybe there was a day-night cycle, and it was just longer than the Earth’s. If it was a flat plane, did it go on infinitely, or was there some kind of boundary? If it was finite, what was beyond the edge or boundary?
He wanted to mention it to Lachlan when they were both awake. Lachlan would probably have some pretty interesting ideas about it. It was unusual for Sam to meet people he could have intelligent conversations with, and he always had great respect for those people when he found them. Not that he’d ever admit to Lachlan that he respected him.
Lachlan stirred, blinking his eyes open. His face knitted with confusion for a moment as he looked around the room, then he seemed to remember where he was.
“Awesome dinosaur undies,” he said.
“Not one word about my underwear.”
“Hey, I said they were awesome,” said Lachlan. “I have some like that, but they’re briefs.”
Sam wasn’t sure how to respond to that. He didn’t want to keep talking about underwear, so he changed the subject.
“Can’t sleep?” he said.
“Nope.” Lachlan’s voice was a low, drowsy mumble. “How long’ve I been out?”
“Not quite an hour.”
“Ughhh,” groaned Lachlan. “Ugh.”
“You were completely knocked out for a while there.”
Lachlan rolled over to face Sam, then closed his eyes again.
“Ugh,” mumbled Lachlan. “Sleep.”
“You still seem like you’re half-asleep to me.”
“Well, I wanna be wholly asleep.”
“Maybe you could try doing math problems in your head,” said Sam. “It’s what I do when I can’t sleep.”
“‘Course it is.”
“I’d offer to see if I could find you a sleep aid or an antihistamine or something, but we need to be able to stay alert if something breaks into the house and tries to kill us.”
“Thanks for bringing that up, Samurai. You really know how to help a guy relax.”
“Well, what would help you relax?”
“You want to help me relax? Awwww.”
“I want you to be well-rested so you don’t get us killed,” said Sam. “Don’t be weird about it.”
“Tell me a story, Samurai,” mumbled Lachlan.
Apparently, he was going to keep being weird.
“What?” said Sam.
“Tell me a story to help me sleep.”
“Seriously?” said Sam. “Are you five years old?”
“Story,” said Lachlan.
“I don’t know any stories,” said Sam.
“You can’t not know any stories,” said Lachlan. “Everyone knows stories. Didn’t your mum read to you before bed?”
Sam shook his head.
“No. She disappeared when I was a baby.”
“Oh, fuck,” said Lachlan. “Fuck, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.”
“It’s okay. You couldn’t have known.” Sam decided to shift the subject back to something easier. “My dad tried to read to me a few times, but he gave up when I kept correcting inaccuracies in The Berenstain Bears.”
Lachlan chuckled. “What?”
“Male bears don’t participate in the rearing of their offspring. Everyone knows that,” said Sam. “Sometimes, my grandma would sit by my bed and tell me scientific facts until I fell asleep, though.”
Lachlan smiled sleepily. “That explains a lot about you.”
“I’ll choose to take that as a compliment even though it most likely wasn’t intended as one.”
“If you don’t know any fictional stories, tell me something that happened to you,” said Lachlan. “Your dull existence is bound to lull me back to sleepy-land.”
“Sleepy-land?” said Sam. “You really are basically a five-year-old, aren’t you?”
“I like to think I’m young at heart.”
Sam scooted his chair closer to the bed.
“I’ll give you something better than a story. A saga of scientific advancement–“
“Yawn. I think I’m asleep already.”
“–the fascinating history of the dimmer switch.”
“Now, a lot of people think the dimmer switch was invented in 1959, but that’s actually a common misconception. While Spira was the first person to introduce the dimmer switch for home use, it’s actually been around for much longer–“
Sam continued his story. It seemed to be working; Lachlan looked like he was slowly drifting off to sleep as Sam spoke. Sam talking for a while, getting off on more than a few tangents and changing subjects several times. By the time he finished talking, Lachlan was snoring softly.
“–and that’s why Thomas Edison was a fraud and a disgrace.”
Sam leaned back in the chair and picked up his magnets again.
In his general ed psychology class, the professor had told the class that love was a chemical reaction in the brain–that any two people, no matter who they were, could fall madly in love with one another if they were isolated together. At the time, he’d believed it was true of most people, but he’d been certain it wouldn’t apply to him. He’d been sure he was smart enough to overcome any chemical tricks his brain played on him.
Sitting here with Lachlan, he realized he wasn’t.