The gate to anywhere else but here pulses in syncopated rhythm. Male models in kilts and heavy boots stand on either side, enticing passersby.
The gate beguiles Trina, whose unease with her life presents as clothing that does not fit, hair that is always untidy, makeup that runs from misapplied to absent. Her anxiety sets her apart from the crush of commuters and workers. She is not one of them. The kaleidoscope of fractal shapes and prismatic colors shining from the pulsing gate stops her cold in the midst of the jumbled mad rush of the crowd. The models flex their muscles — the word ‘preen’ runs through her mind — and the colors flash and she stands still.
Someone shoves her.
She stumbles. The expensive coffee drink (cappuccino or latte or macchiato, she can’t remember which) splashes her already-stained blouse, a deep-space-blue silk/linen blend frayed with overuse. She drops the cardboard coffee cup and the remains of the tan drink spray her skirt and hose. Instead of sobbing, her usual reply to disaster, she regains her balance and gazes into the oddly organic gate. Again someone jostles her.
She falls against the gate and sinks into the pulsing color.
The models smile at each other knowingly. Bystanders blink but Trina doesn’t come back.
She is gone.
Her infinity is the color of fresh-brewed free trade coffee, organic, liberally weakened with half-and-half and a dash of vanilla.
The gate pops up two blocks away in a different demographic. The models, a man and a woman, wear silver jumpsuits and fur-cuffed plastic go-go boots. Students wandering by on the way to City College assume the pair engages in performance art.
Except for Artie. He ignores the models as window dressing, which they quite literally are, and examines the pulsing colors of the gate. Artie is a maths major and knows the physics of color inside and out. He groks all the levels of information held in wavelengths of light. He groks that the gate is speaking and he can almost hear the silent sounds of light.
Someone yells, “Feed me, Seymour!” and someone else shoves Artie. He’s whip-thin and appears to be a 98 pound weakling but Artie works out. He doesn’t budge and doesn’t turn to confront the shover. He edges closer to the gate.
The silver-suited models stare at Artie. He wonders if they are trying to communicate telepathically. He doesn’t think they can. If telepathy is ever proven, using scientific methods and peer-review, he is certain it won’t be the kind of psychic mucky muck astrologers push.
He thinks telepathy will prove to be light waves.
In other words, color.
He concentrates on the gate’s color show and someone shoves him again. His shoulder falls into a shade of puce that feels like shadow. He videos his arm half in and half out of the gate which has stopped pulsing and settles on a color that reminds him of hamburger secret sauce.
In the spirit of scientific inquiry he steps through the gate.
He is gone.
Students gathered around the gate wait for the act’s finale. The models shrug.
Artie’s infinity is the color of cloth-bound physics texts brim-full of color graphs and sigma equations.
The gate arrives at an elementary school playground. The models, two women dressed in gingham aprons, high heel shoes, and pearls, with their hair stacked on their heads in varnished bouffant beehives, smile and smell vaguely of chocolate chip cookies.
The gate pulses, entices, throws sparkling designs meant for incompletely-formed minds. The students ignore the light show, accepting the unfamiliar as another new thing to learn about. But children know what mom should be and these models are not any kind of adult figure they understand.
The children cry, all of them. It’s the appropriate reaction. Playground supervisors don’t question the models because surely someone in admin gave permission for a children’s show. They herd the children away. A bell rings and the youngsters, trained to return to classrooms at the sound, abandon the gate and the terrifying models.
Except for Bobbi. Bobbi is a six-year-old first-grader. Her hair is long and curly and she has rebellion in her bones. She ducks away from the adults and returns to the gate.
The gate pulses with attractive organic color. The models stoop down to the little girl’s level.
Someone pushes her and she takes a giant step forward, too close to those empty faces. She skitters backwards.
She is a little scared and a little ticked off, like her dad would say. She likes her recess time and that was interrupted. She likes her friends and they were crying. Someone taps her shoulder, a tiny shove. She knows she has to do something now.
She bounces a big red rubber ball, enjoying the hollow sound as it hits the playground’s concrete. She waits while the gate pulses through a prism of color, waits until the shades match exactly, then throws the ball hard at the gate when it mimics the bubbly orange red shade of the rubber ball.
The gate has absorbed an enormous catalog of items in its journeys and a playground ball won’t hurt it. But in that bit of kinetic motion the gate registers its defeat in this venue and vanishes, taking the failed models with it.
Bobbi is not satisfied with the outcome but can’t pursue the gate. She wanders back to her classroom, where she’ll be punished for being tardy and probably fined for losing the red ball. No one will care that she sent the gate away.
Bobbi’s infinity is not yet decided but it will contain the color of strength.
Jude-Marie Green writes, lives, and loves in Southern California. She drinks too much coffee, reads physics texts, and bounces balls with her grandson. Her work has appeared in online magazines, anthologies, and twitter. Meet her at a convention near you.