Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The mirror crack’d from side to side

“How far is it now?”

“Two miles, Professor. Oscillation levels rising but within our parameters.”

“It seems our calculations are accurate, then… Finally, some good news. And the magnets?”

“Everything’s humming, sir. No problems so far.”

“That you know of. Observer! Any signs of anomalies?”

“Nothing unusual in the Window, sir. I think I can actually see my flat back there…”

“That’s the closest you’ll get to see it in the next month, if everything goes well. And if it doesn’t… There is no universe that can shield you from my wrath. All right, we’re going ahead. Maintain focusing speed until the quantum tunnel reaches the campus.”

As Dr Waltham turned off the microphone, his gaze took in the busy scene through the thick glass screen of the control room, and he allowed himself a smile. People used to taunt him for wasting his days on “dead-end research”, shutting himself in this lab and “ignoring the world”. In the end, it’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? Very few people understand how vast the world truly is. Indeed, worlds…

The view from the Window, almost like a video feed from a low-flying drone, was now moving over manicured lawns and towards the red-brick building of the Physics Department. The Vice-Chancellor, standing behind him, gasped as she recognised some of their colleagues chatting outside. She had only visited the lab once again, in the early stages, when they couldn’t yet control what the Quantum Window showed and it mostly pointed itself skywards. But this was the moment of truth: she had to be there. Many scientists and dignitaries would want to witness this historic discovery as well, if only they knew about it. Ultimately, only the secret Interchange Committee of politicians and technocrats was allowed to monitor activities; most of them sat in the back, taking notes and whispering to each other. The tension in the air was palpable, a mixture of excitement and dread. Would it work? Did they want it to?

“Oscillation levels rising exponentially, sir!” came a voice through the speakers. “Approaching the limit!”

“Gently…” replied the Professor from the microphone. “It’s just a few yards now.” He didn’t need to ask for a distance: the lab’s exterior wall was looming close enough on the Window that he could read the memorial plaque to “Prof. L. Jenkins”. He shuddered at the thought of following in his footsteps… But Science cannot advance without sacrifices. He pressed the button again.

“Listen, people… This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. No matter how it goes, we’ve done good work here today. I want you to know that.” And after a brief pause, “Maintain the trajectory stable for as long as you can.”

No sooner had he left this final instruction that alerts began to sound and red indications lit up the room. The image from the Window started trembling and then blacked out, showing the impossible perspective of a solid wall from the inside. Then lights, computers, machinery, people… themselves. A large frame came into view, seemingly empty… Then nothing. The lab was plunged into darkness, and an earth-shattering rumble came up from the basement, engulfing everything.

Comments

Tantusar: HE/THEY

02-19-2020 14:46:22 UTC

“Oh, hold on, I think I put my coffee down on the emergency shutoff switch. ...My coffee is now pink and fluffy.”

Jumble:

02-19-2020 18:40:54 UTC

imperial

Farsight:

02-20-2020 08:19:18 UTC

Duke of Waltham, don’t end it on a cliff-hanger, i want to know what happens next! arrow