Minerva stared in horror at the box of rocks and tried to calculate exactly where her desk was in relation to where the box had been sitting. Had she really been sitting under a pile of uranium for the entire time she’d been working at the museum?
“You know that can’t really hurt you, right?”
Minerva looked up. “Who said that?”
“Who are you?” Minerva frowned.
“Your author, Minerva. You’re me, but you do dumb things that get you injured or killed. Things I’d never actually do, most of the time.”
Minerva clutched at her head. “Oh god, I’ve finally lost it. Now I’m hearing authorial voices.”
“Oh come on, admit it, you’ve always suspected. All the dying and the lack of any appreciable supporting cast… it was pretty obvious.”
Minerva pointed at the box of rocks. “Uranium? Am I dying in alphabetical order or something?”
“Pretty much. Though it turns out it’s pretty hard to die from uranium samples. There’s a reason they have to enrich the stuff to turn it into fuel. The radiation doesn’t travel very far and it’s effectively blocked by the box, let alone the floor and tin ceiling between you and it. Though, in my reality there is a box of uranium I’m not actually sure exactly where it is being stored.”
Minerva sat down on a folding chair. “So I’m safe?”
“I wouldn’t say that. You are fictional.”
Minerva shrugged. “But I’m you.”
“Well, yeah. It didn’t feel right to kill off friends and loved ones in flash fiction. Killing or injuring myself with
museum hazards has proven kind of therapeutic. I’ve had to research all of the things that I’ve assumed could kill me, and several of them are actually much less deadly than I thought. Though I really should get that tetanus shot…”
Minerva dusted off her hands and squinted up at the disembodied authorial voice. “Like the uranium?”
“I’m pretty disappointed about it.”
Minerva turned over her hands. “Guess I’ll just have to live this time.” She looked up and scrambled back out of the chair, crab-walking backward across the attic floor. “What’s that cursor doing here?!”
“Unexpected authorial interference.” The Author repeatedly backspaced until Minerva was erased entirely.