"I don't know what you're talking about," Milo protested, feebly.

"Ja. Right," said Furlonger, cocking an eyebrow that might have been ironic if he'd had more control over it. "And you ain't been seeing the same hordes of them funny little freakshow critters that run back and forth through all the rips we made in the fabric, as I see, have you? You ain't been getting dead drunk as much as possible because that's the only thing that seems to stop 'em jabbering. And my old friend Kali, the erotic blue goddess with a buncha arms, didn't just frog-march you onto that barstool."

Milo felt shivers starting to run up and down his spine, nowhere near as much fun as the ones that Lenore had caused so recently. Suddenly, he was sweating and shaking like a bad case of malaria.

"Oh yeah. I thought not," Furlonger slurred sardonically. "Now, because what we did caused this, you and are I kinda stuck with the job of fixing it. I, obviously, am in no fit condition to do the legwork. I'm the brains of this exclusive oufit, God help both of us. Ergo, you are the brawn. Ya gotta do it. Otherwise, we' will have destroyed the cosmos. "

"I can't," whispered Milo, feeling sick. "I've thought about it all the way down here, and I don't know how."

"If fixing it was entirely up to you -- or me for that matter -- we'd already be pulling our limp dead putzes im himmel... er, in heaven," muttered Furlonger. "You'll get quite a lot of help. There are a bunch of-- um, let's call 'em interested parties -- that have a lot riding on this. But the nature of the rips we've made between dimensions mean that they need a physical, human instrument that's already here in the plane from which we made those rips, to do the actual work. That's you."

"What interested parties?" Milo asked.

"Ooooh, let's call 'em gods and angels," Furlonger said. "Works for me. Better, I hafta say, than all that scientific scheissen I useta blather, back when I was a physicist, and thought I knew what was going on. Bartender!

More drinks slid down the long polished bar. Milo, suddenly parched, tossed his back in unison with Furlonger.

Carl's eyes glazed over for a bit, then fluttered involuntarily and welled up. A single tear trailed slowly down his deeply wrinkled cheek.

"They wouldn't listen. Atom bomb this, atom bomb that, kaboom, kaboom, kaboom, the verdammt Fermi would say. Futze." He spat suddenly, violently.

Milo ducked the spray and almost tipped his barstool trying to recover from the whiplash. The globule hit the floor near Milo's foot. Callie, scowled at Furlonger disapprovingly, and flicked the middle finger of a free hand to brushing away a drop of saliva that had landed on her cheek. Carl ignored her.

"They didn't want to know any more about Heisenberg than what they didn't want to believe in the first place. Goddam futzes!" He began working his mouth to pool saliva onto his tongue again, obviously intending again to launch another loogie into space. As Milo and Callie ducked involuntarily, he seemed to think better of it.

"So that's when I decided I had to build it. Einstein, Heisenberg, Planck und Bohr, all geniuses. But none of those schmendricks could do anything but write fancy shit on a blackboard. Proofs! Hah! Pikers! Futzes!"

One more time he drew his tongue across his ravaged teeth, gathering scum as the raspberried, coated appendage licked black, bleeding gums. He paused again when he registered Milo's obvious disgust.

"I built a little device -- size of, oh, a coupla iceboxes -- to actually demonstrate the instantaneous effect between two bodies that are too distant from one another to interact physically. "

"Quantum theory," Milo offered.

"Sure, that's right. Quantum theory. You ain't so dumb," slurred Furlonger, "But I made a little miscalculation. Well, a big one. When ya get down to it, it would've demonstrated instantaneous, ummm, effects between every lousy point in the universe and every other one. I was lucky to hit only two. You, my friend, managed to hit two as well... worse luck one of 'em was about dead center in the core of a star. "

"The trim potentiometers... you , too?" Milo's whisper trailed off.

Furlonger regarded him with a long, bleary, jaundiced stare. "Ja, das ist korrekt... du verdammt... we're all just lucky I -- and you -- didn't get 'em tweaked completely right before we stopped. Or it woulda stopped us! FUTZE!!!"

Milo and Callie ducked together automatically.