“They can’t possibly lead nowhere,” the new guy chuckled.
The old guy sighed, slashing the air with his palm. He was holding his lunch in the other hand, a warm burrito. “I’m telling you, we’ve tried everything!”
“Tried it.”
“Scout drone-“
“Tried it.”
“Small animal-“
“Tried it, mate!” Old Guy threw his burrito in anger right into the portal’s shimmering light. It simply fell inside, vanishing. “See? We’ve sent everything we could possibly imagine through the damn portal sort of an actual human being. Nothing gets through. It might as well be a disintegrator disk, for all the good it does.” The old guy breathed deep and sat back down on the crate.
The new guy looked up at the massive portal. It was massive, the ring around it, the technical part was far bigger than the iris. It wasn’t like the portals you saw in movies, with a thin frame and the important bits in the shimmering middle. No, the frame was flat and very big, and the iris, the portal itself, was less than a third of the radius. The bottom half of the massive structure was buried in the ground, keeping it upright. It was the biggest discovery ever, and it was absolutely, positively useless.
The new guy opened his mouth, thought about something with his index finger in the air, then shut his mouth. “Yeah, you’ve tried everything.”
“I know!” the old guy whined. “Look, we’ve been here two years, alright? I get the excitement, trust me, I do. I was exactly like you when I first came here, giddy, wanting to research it, perhaps go exploring. Why not? But the damn thing leads to nowhere.” He said the last words with an emphasis, pointing at the aforementioned damn thing looming over them.
“That sucks…” the new guy sighed.
The old guy snorted. “You have no idea! Look, I’ll send you my notes on the research, have a go at them tonight at your leisure. The radiation it emits is what we’d expect, the alien hieroglyphics around the rim say it should be a portal, we figured out how to turn it on, we built and entire geothermal power station to keep it running, and it still. Leads. Nowhere.”
New Guy sat down on the ground, rubbing his nose. “There has to be something, man…”
“I know.”
“Okay, let’s think about it. If you take a step back, it looks like an eyeball, right?” New Guy said, framing his view with his hands like a movie director.
Old Guy turned his head towards the research station and waved him away. “Yeah, whatever.”
“I’m going for another snack. Want anything?” Old Guy stood up, pressing his knees with his hands with a grunt.
“No, I’m not hungry…” New Guy said, frowning at the portal.
“Suit yourself,” Old Guy said and started walking away.

It took him no more than five minutes to get back with a freshly microwaved burrito in his hands. He was gonna sit there and eat it all alone, but he didn’t wanna be impolite to the new guy on the very first day. His mother would tear his ear away if he didn’t sit and provide a warm welcome to his new friend. And he was his new friend, the ships coming in this part of the quadrant wouldn’t be coming back for at least six standard months.
He raised his burrito to his open mouth and looked up at the shimmering portal, ready for a bite.
He dropped his burrito on the ground, letting his mouth hang open.
“I figured it out!” New Guy shouted, excited out of his mind. “Woohoo! Oh, man, it works.”
His head was peeking out of the event horizon of the portal, and so was his foot.
Old Guy couldn’t believe it. His eyes were so opened wide, he was starting to resemble the portal itself. “Where does it go?” he whispered in awe.
“Oh, no.” New Guy straightened his back. “Um, it still goes nowhere. I just figured out what it is. Well, maybe…”
Old Guy opened his mouth a couple of times, then stuttered, “W-Well spit it out, man! What is it?”
“It goes nowhere,” New Guy said, presenting the damn portal as if it was a new gadget at a tech convention.
“Fat load of good that does, right mate?” Old Guy said, and looked back at his burrito on the ground. It was ruined.
“No, wait,” New Guy said and went back inside the portal. He came out, holding a weird collection of things in his arms, balancing everything like a man suddenly cleaning out his office.
Old Guy chuckled, he couldn’t believe it. He ran close to him, and looked at the findings. “It’s the drone we sent in, and Laika!”
The little dog whoofed at him and happily shook her tail. She licked at the new guy’s face.
“I-I don’t understand. They’re alive? But where were they?” Old Guy said, picking Laika up from New Guy’s arms. The dog seemed fine, it was as if she had only been away for a few minutes. “But this was a year ago…”
“I think it’s basic spacetime,” New Guy said, frowning.
“What?” Old Guy turned Laika’s face to him, as if she’d spill the beans that way. “You mean, there’s no space in there, so there’s no time as well?”
“Pretty much, yeah,” New Guy said proudly, puffing his chest. He dropped the drone and tried to catch it. It smashed on the ground, but it was rugged, a simple fall wouldn’t harm it.
Old Guy let Laika on the ground and she immediately went for the burrito, sniffed it and started to bite little pieces. He grabbed his tablet from his research equipment. “Let’s see,” he mumbled. “Drone’s connected, telemetry loaded… Yup. It seems you are correct. Mission timer is one minute and counting. It effectively stopped existing when it crossed the event horizon. He looked up at the New Guy. “But how did you manage to come back?”
“Simple!” New Guy beamed. “I simply kept one part of myself outside the event horizon, effectively staying in our spacetime.”
“Do you realise how reckless that was?” Old Guy hissed, taking a step forward.
Laika whimpered, frightened. She got over it quickly and got back to her snack.
“Yeah. But it worked. Look, the portal indeed leads to nowhere. That empty spacetime is a…” New Guy waved his hands around, “storage space, let’s say? For as far inside as you can reach. That’s all.”
Old Guy squinted. “Hmm… That’s not completely useless. It’s no interplanetary travel, but I’ll take it. Okay, what else did you discover?”
New Guy smiled wide. “Oh, you’re gonna love it!” He pointed up with both his hands in front of Old Guy’s face. “Wait for it, I felt it earlier. Hold my belt, don’t let me fall in.”
Old Guy grunted but eventually complied. He held New Guy by the belt, and he reached deep inside the iris.
New Guy appeared out of the event horizon and fell on Old Guy, pushing him awkwardly to the floor. “Oh sorry, mate!”
Old Guy shook himself off and stood up. “It’s fine. What- Oh…”
He extended his hand and received his first burrito from New Guy.
It was still warm.

See also  Inktober Prompt: Roasted

The End.

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