The engines in the tower churn.
Once upon a time there was a man who met and loved and married a beautiful woman, and her only flaw was the scarlet ribbon that she wore always around her neck.
“Take it off,” he told her, when they went to dinner parties.
“Take it off,” he suggested, when they went to bed.
“Honestly,” he said, when they were dispatched to service on an alien world and still beneath her spacesuit she wore the ribbon around her neck.
And in the barren wastelands of that world they found the flaw: a gaping, seeping crack in the fabric of space-time; and looking through they saw the eyes of otherness and the mad swirling nature of it; and the glue with which the servitors of Earth would on such occasions patch the world was not enough to seal the flaw. They tried. They closed near half of it. But the glue was not enough.
The unpatched length of it boiled and swirled, and the man said, “Take off the ribbon, love, and seal the crack with that.”
And she stared into the eyes of otherness and the thin questing tendrils of flaw that now and again creeped through.
“My head will fall off,” she said, “You know.”
“I’d guessed,” he said.
“It would fall on the alien soil and gasp its last and die,” she said, “as my blind hands sewed the ribbon in its place.”
“I know,” he said. “But honestly? That ribbon really freaks me out.”
He didn’t even feel guilty!
What a horrible, horrible man!