Rachel Fenton

Maybe because she rolls her eyes to the ceiling when she enters. The room resembles an operating theatre in size, décor and double doors, too, but for the doors opening onto a view of Ruapehu: meticulous despite what’s under the surface and as-long-as she doesn’t crack-up will remain pleasant if cold.

Clinical also describes the room’s focus, a big name, though not as big up close as T remembers. Reputation is greater than the sum of its parts and Pitman’s has endowed him; with age comes a certain gravity. Perhaps he assumes he’ll be revered among the small circle. In the time it takes T to consider their respective perspectives, she finds herself reaching a hand into the nucleus of the space.

Pitman’s mid-sentence:

"It’s tapu, but the damage to science will be greater than the harm caused to the mountain. And there’s nowhere else the telescope can be erected."

T withdraws her hand and says, "So, fuck the natives?"

Pitman’s eyebrows circumflex.

T won't do what he wants. She adds, "Why on a sacred mountain?"

"NASA, the North American Space Administration, have a website where ordinary people can read the findings, a wonderful resource. This mountain is the location with the least light pollution pointing to the part of space we know least about."

"There’s no light pollution in space. Why can’t the telescope go there?"

"Because we live here. On earth. This is where we’ve mapped the universe from. Except. This. Missing. Part."

T blinks.

"People once thought the sun was the centre of the universe, now scientists know the universe has no centre."

Behind closed doors, the moon is just visible on top of Ruapehu, pale as an egg.