Boyle’s law. Volume and pressure have an inverse relationship. When the volume of a space decreases, the pressure increases, and vice versa.
Lofi Girl rubbed the eraser of her pencil between her eyes, trying to understand what this meant. The volume of a space decreases. She glanced over at Mochi, her cat, and imagined him curled up like a little orange and brown-striped donut. Would that decrease the volume of his body? And then somehow there would be more pressure inside of him?
A pile of textbooks lay beside Lofi Girl, with dozens of sticky notes marking the chapters she still needed to review tonight. She sighed. Who schedules a midterm exam for the day after Halloween? The wind whistled through a crack in Lofi Girl’s window. Outside, the twinkling lights of a few Jack-o-lanterns still punctured the night, but most of the candles had been blown out and the candy bowls had been put away.
The words danced across the page of Lofi Girl’s speech science textbook. She stifled a yawn. Halloween was over and she had missed it.
“I curse you and your stupid law, Boyle,” Lofi Girl muttered as she rested her head on the book. Her eyes blinked closed. Mochi rose from his perch on the windowsill, pawed over to Lofi Girl’s computer, and snuggled onto her warm keyboard with a purr.
A searing shriek filled the room, and Lofi Girl bolted awake. Mochi sprang away from the keyboard and scurried under the bed.
A silvery figure emerged from the open speech science textbook and began to whirl around the ceiling, still shrieking.
“What the heck?” Lofi girl grabbed her headphones to try to block out the noise, but the wordless cry was so splitting and loud that it still made her head throb.
Another and another and another silvery figure shot out of the book and began to fly around the room. Why weren’t her roommates running over to see what was happening? Lofi Girl dropped to the ground, paralyzed by the sound.
The floor began to shudder and creak. Lofi girl looked up in alarm and saw that the walls were pushing in, her desk scraping along the floor, moving towards the center of the room. Mochi raced out from under the bed, orange tail more bushy than she had ever seen it, and began to hiss at the ghostly figures on the ceiling, though his threat was drowned out by their wailing.
The room was shrinking at a rapid rate. Lofi Girl was now sandwiched between the desk and the bed with nowhere to go, and the ghosts were now centimeters from her hair. Her heart began to race, and the air was stifling in her lungs.
“It’s too crowded in here! I can’t breathe!” she gasped.
Somehow amidst her panic, a shot of clarity jolted through her mind. The volume of the room had decreased. There was nowhere for the ghosts to go, so now they were filling up all of the air in the room, brushing against her. There was increased pressure!
As soon as this revelation crossed her mind, the floor shifted again and the walls began to expand. Lofi Girl breathed a sigh of relief as the ghosts began to spread out, away from her, and her room returned to its normal dimensions. But it didn’t stop. The room kept stretching and stretching to the size of the lecture hall at Lofi Girl’s university, and she was now several meters away from her bed and her desk on either side. Mochi once again ran for cover. A moment ago it had seemed like there were hundreds of ghosts, but now that they were floating so far away from each other, Lofi saw that there weren’t really that many.
“Now that the room’s volume has increased, there’s much less pressure.”
At her words the ghosts spiraled back to the speech science textbook and vanished. The wailing stopped and a ringing filled Lofi Girl’s ears. She rubbed her eyes, and as she did so, she found herself back in her chair at her desk, her head still resting on her textbook. She glanced at her watch. It had felt like the ghosts were there for hours, but only seven minutes had passed. Mochi lay purring on her keyboard, typing nonsense onto her study guide.
“Mochi! Get up!”
Had it all been a dream?
Lofi Girl deleted the gibberish from her document and read the next question on the study guide again:
Describe Boyle’s law in your own words.
Lofi Girl smiled and put her headphones back on.
“Thanks, Boyle,” she said as she began to type away.