Junior technician Clarence Tanner smiled and pushed both hands against the airlock, sealing the over-pressure room shut. He let out a shaky breath, zipped his clean room suit (more padded than usual) all the way up, and started down the hall.
Just like that, his nerves melted away, and he believed.
It was going to work.
He hummed softly and tugged the white cap from his head. He kept humming and smiling as he traded his white fabric uniform for jeans and polo shirt in the dressing room, grabbed his (more padded than usual) laptop bag and headed out for the day.
He shared nervous smiles with co-workers on the way to the lobby, and then with security guards at the keycard turnstile and out into the parking lot.
His humming got a little higher out in the lot, as he unplugged and racked his car’s charger. Once past the main gate, it got downright shrill.
Clarence made it halfway home before the hum turned into a giggle. He gave up and let it out as a high-pitched laugh.
He laughed the rest of the way home.
That night, he stoked his backyard fire pit up like the ceremonial viking’s funeral it was.
Well. Valkyrie’s funeral.
Okay, Shrew’s funeral.
He sat his laptop bag in the ex-wife’s chair beside the fire, dragged out piece after piece of foam and fabric and tossed them into the flames.
He saved one small piece to bring to work the next day. One scrap he could rub between thumb and forefinger as he chanted the countdown with his co-workers and company elites.
He’d done it. He was finally rid of her…and rid of all the evidence too.
What was left of her would have to wait until the sun went nova, but then the Valkyrie Shrew would have the funeral she deserved.
The room cheered as what looked like a crash test dummy, wired to the first car to orbit the sun, appeared on the giant screen on the wall.
Clarence smiled, and hummed, and rubbed the souvenir between his fingers.
The sign on the dashboard was right. No need to panic at all.