A Ripple in Space
by Charles Wilmore
I cannot take this secrecy anymore. Gazing out my window I can feel the pressure of infinite stars pushing down upon me, growing each day. My faculties, once so robust are now failing by the hour, smothered by the walls of eternity closing in around me. Yet the world smiles on, willfully ignorant of its own impotence as it greets my silence with the condescension of misplaced superiority. The fools! If only they knew why I speak not, if only they could comprehend my sacrifice, they would not question me so. They tell me I am crazy, and perhaps they are correct, but I know the truth, that one terrible truth, and can keep it trapped within me no longer.
Thus, I take up my pen, knowing well the doom it may spell for humanity if any but myself were to happen upon these lines. Yet the urge to write has grown too powerful to resist, and so my hand continues down the page, spurred by some unspeakable force far greater than myself. May God forgive me for my weakness.
In the year 2033, I received international acclaim for my work assessing the efficacy of tracking dark matter through spacetime by evaluating the transient light distortions it produces. My young age and relative inexperience led many skeptics to question my findings, with a few even venturing so far as to remark that my declarations were no more than scientific fraud and demand my banishment even from the few academic circles to which I then belonged. Protected not only by the plurality of my compatriots, but also my rigorous adherence to the scientific process, I stood my ground against such slanderous allegations and was soon proven correct, a result that made me both a leading intellect in my field and the poster child for a contemporary scientific movement: the race to discover and define the nature of dark matter.
Until my breakthroughs in the field, dark matter had been only a theory, a consequence of anomalies in the behavior and movements of cosmic bodies. In fact, many academics had begun suggesting its entire existence may simply be a product of intellectual laziness. You couldn’t touch it, see it, or test it, yet it had been one of the most cited sources of experimental error and discrepancy for decades. No respectable scientists would mention it and no desperate one wouldn’t. It had transformed from a promising subject matter worthy of intellectual debate and investigation into a philosophical excuse used by mediocre men to justify the holes in their work.
My discovery, however, changed all that. Dark matter had gone from a vague concept capable only of hiding the inferiority of ideas to a tangible, explorable, and respectable reality overnight. I had rightly returned it to a place of prominence among academic circles, deserving further inquiry and respect. Understandably, such a breakthrough did not go unnoticed by my colleagues and peers, and I soon found myself heralded as one of the brightest minds of my generation. A few publications even went so far as to name me ‘The 21st Century Einstein,’ an honor which I readily admit affected a sizable expansion of my young ego.
Given these plaudits, it seemed only natural that when my colleague and dear friend, Dr. Marius LaPorte, announced his plans to construct a novel, ground-breaking observatory outside of Toulouse, I should be its first resident. In its short life, this building, dubbed the Axion Observatory, was created and filled with the best equipment and materials available and I can confidently say that there has never been an outpost as technologically advanced in the history of mankind. Nor is there likely to be another quite like it as its creator, Dr. LaPorte, died suddenly of a heart attack just a month before its completion without recording its composition for posterity.
So, in the summer of 2036, I packed up my things and left my modest Boston apartment for the French countryside intent on proving my supporters correct in their praise and silencing the growing number of critics portending my downfall as an influential academic. To this end, upon my arrival at the station I swore to myself that I would not leave until I had made a discovery capable of shaking the very core of our understanding of the universe. Oh how I wish I had never made such a declaration or, having done so, had never lived to see such raw ambition realized! But I am getting ahead of myself.
I devoted the first few weeks of my occupancy to acquainting myself with the observatory and its surroundings, the merits of which I found remarkably complementary to my admittedly lofty pursuits. The complex was surrounded on all sides by a vast expanse of rolling hills, blemished only by the distant silhouettes of wind turbines above the eastern horizon that evinced the swaths of civilization abutting an otherwise picturesque landscape. However, as I had no occasion to visit these turbines, they too soon faded into the surrounding scenery and I quickly forgot of their existence entirely, enabling me to embrace the productive solitude of complete wilderness.
The compound itself was dominated by the observatory, with a few additional buildings serving as living quarters and storage spaces, and was designed to accommodate up to a dozen people, including lab technicians, custodial staff, and primary researchers. My needs being few and the compound itself being rather small, I quickly sent the permanent workers home for the duration of my stay with the understanding that they would continue to be paid so long as they visited once per week to provide routine cleaning and maintenance on the grounds. As they were almost all local to the area and had prepared themselves for a 7-day workweek, most accepted their dismissal without objection and I was soon left with the silence and isolation I desired.
As for the equipment, I believe Gatsby himself would have blushed at the extravagance. The basement hosted a supercomputer modeled after the one currently installed in Oakridge National Laboratory and singular in its capacity for processing and storing immense collections of data. The first floor was comprised of a maze of hallways that opened onto dozens of unique areas, including clean rooms and vibration-proof microscopy booths, lined with hundreds of work benches and fume hoods, all of which were fully stocked with state-of-the-art supplies, ventilated with their own reserve of clean air, and perfectly designed to avoid clutter and constriction. This floor also featured a respectable library brimming with books and manuscripts on every aspect of science imaginable, from contemporary quantum physics to classical philosophy, and housed a remarkably high volume of first editions, a fact which I appreciated at the time but now look back upon only with the profoundest regret.
The second floor, dedicated entirely to the observation platform, was filled with all manner of gadgets, controls, and machinery. As I knew little about much of the equipment, I limited myself only to those objects with which I felt the utmost comfort and familiarity and, as such, believed to be of paramount importance to my ultimate success. Consequently, I chose to have the excess hardware placed in the storage buildings and the bed, desk, and table from my living quarters brought in to fill the space. This being done, I had little need to leave my workspace through the entirety of my stay, my meals and laundry being taken care of by the help at regular intervals, and would estimate I left no more than two dozen times during my 12 year residency, on which occasions I almost always departed with the sole intention of visiting the aforementioned library.
The observatory's true claim to fame, however, were its six telescopes. There was no set like them on the planet. Developed by Dr. LaPorte, each one had its own ingenious design and purpose and was mounted onto a domed ceiling, around 130 feet high, that could be rotated to allow for the observation of any point in the sky with any of the six lenses. Of these, my work primarily centered on the Artemis, the lenses of which were arranged in such a way as to magnify the cosmos to a degree greater than any system before it, and the Osiris, a telescope capable of detecting the gravitational waves of objects over 10 billion lightyears away.
As my principal concern was the study of dark matter, which can only be indirectly observed through the gravitational pull it exerts on spacetime, my research was fairly straightforward. I first concerned myself with identifying and mapping large sections of dark matter in various galaxies, which was primarily a replication of my previous work. However, having mapped their figures to the minutest detail, recurrent observations were performed and analyzed to identify any shifts that had occurred. Once movement was identified, the velocity and acceleration of the system’s boundary was noted and surrounding cosmic bodies were visually inspected for any remarkable changes either to themselves, their locations, or their orbits. As would be expected, closer clusters yielded more precise measurements and quickly demonstrated that, on average, dark matter would shift no faster than the objects it surrounded, though it remained in a continual state of flux, suggesting that it may, in fact, be influenced by at least a few of the forces dictating the movement of regular matter.
This had never before been observed and, had I stopped there, I believe I would have been awarded a Nobel Prize for such a discovery. However, it being only 15 months since my arrival, and fearful I may miss out on an even larger revelation, I decided to refrain from publishing my findings immediately and instead remain at the observatory to continue my experiments. Additionally, though I was then confident my conclusions were correct, I had not yet found any justifiable evidence to explain them. If these unseen masses were subject to the same forces as our planets, why did they not clump together or orbit around one another as all visible bodies do? And if they were not being acted upon by outside forces, how could they have come to be in a state of continual flux, expanding and contracting, accelerating and decelerating, in perpetuity? And so I continued, alternating between hypothesis and experiment, for 6 additional years without a single concrete theory emerging.
In fact, I was very close to retiring my studies altogether, having become so frustrated with the lack of progress I was making that I felt myself beginning to tire of science entirely. Luckily for me, no one else had yet observed my initial findings and, if anything, it appeared the scientific community was headed in the opposite direction, with many again questioning whether or not dark matter truly existed and suggesting instead that we revisit our understanding of quantum gravity to explain the light distortions and irregularities previously observed. Ironically, most critics cited my long absence as evidence that dark matter must not exist, as I would surely have stumbled upon some new proof or theory by that point otherwise.
Thus, the decision to prolong my stay had the unintended consequence of putting me in a field quite alone. Upon learning this, I continued on my way, secure in the thought that my day in the spotlight would not be forfeited by further due diligence and hopeful that my commitment may earn me still more acclaim in the future. As such, I continued my work for two more years, during which time, while I filled many journals with my speculations, I found myself no closer to explaining my observations. Then it happened.
After almost ten years of redundancy, confining myself to a life of isolation with no end in sight, forcing myself to look down the same lenses, pouring over the same spreadsheets, and reading the same gibberish, I finally saw it. I was watching a live feed of Osiris’ lens adjusting onto a cluster I’d been tracking for some months when, out of nowhere, a flash lit up the screen. I had at this point modified the settings to make the shifting dark matter easier to see by filtering out the background noise of outer space from its feed. Shifts in large volumes of matter would appear as white specks at their point of origin, with its luminosity and size demonstrating the movement’s velocity and magnitude, respectively. Most shifts appeared only as blips of tiny, greyed specks on the screen. Many more remained invisible to the naked eye and could only be studied after being captured and analyzed by the high-resolution computing software in the basement.
But this was something else completely. The entire screen was filled with a light so intense I felt like I was staring into the sun. In fact, after this event, I found that I could no longer read without glasses, though I had never before had occasion to buy a pair. Then, before my eyes could readjust, the light was gone. The screen looked exactly as it had minutes before, with no sign of the cataclysmic event that must have occurred to deform gravitational waves to such a degree. No orbits had been altered, no planets destroyed, even the nearby asteroids appeared entirely unaffected. So, believing I had simply imagined the entire thing and attributing my temporary psychosis to a lack of sleep, I went to bed and thought nothing more of the flash for some time.
In fact, it was not until I sat down to review the data collected that month that I was reminded anything out of the ordinary had occurred at all. In my first few years at the observatory, I had looked over those files at least once a week hoping they would contain valuable information missed during routine observations. As time wore on, however, I found them consistently unable to shine any light upon my experiences there and began to content myself with spending only a few moments each morning glancing over the data taken the night before while I was away from the monitor. This negligence, it turns out, nearly cost me the biggest discovery of my career, and perhaps the biggest in the history of astrophysics. If only I had been so lucky!
Parsing through the data, I discovered an anomaly with the output that day that I had never seen before. It appeared as though the gravitational readouts, which were taken every few milliseconds, ceased for almost a minute. As best I could tell, the system had spontaneously crashed, self-corrected, and resumed normal operation. However, recalling that such a breakdown had never happened before and suspecting it may be connected to the mysterious light, the memory of which had suddenly returned to the forefront of my mind, I decided to investigate further.
First, I reviewed the footage of the event, which was stored automatically in a central database. Concerned that I may once again find myself blinded, I took great pains to lower the screen's brightness and procur sunglasses from one of the lab techs, having discarded mine the previous year. These steps being taken, I began reviewing the footage and was shocked to discover that the flash, or so I called it, had actually happened.
Finding that I could watch without being blinded, I began to investigate further. Stepping through the event frame by frame, I discovered that it was not one instantaneous flash, as I had initially supposed, but a wave of light that began towards the top right-hand corner of the monitor before filling the screen for approximately 52 seconds and exiting towards the bottom left. This apparent directionality, in my mind, ruled out any possibility of a systemic failure and suggested I was once again on the trail of some novel cosmic mystery.
Abandoning my normal duties at the telescopes, I began to work on determining the origin and meaning of the light. First, by calculating the degree of curvature along the arc, I became convinced that the wave had traveled approximately 1.2 lightyears before being detected by my equipment. Assuming a single point of origin spreading equally in all directions, this meant that, at the moment of observation, a sphere around 1,470 trillion trillion trillion cubic miles, bounded by altered gravitational waves, had been exploding into space.
Next, I determined the velocity of the event horizon, around 225 million meters per second, was too depressed to have been effected by an augmentation of gravitational exertion inherent to the creation or destruction of matter yet too large to have originated from the movement or expansion of celestial bodies, especially as no material shifts were observed either before or after the occurrence. Moreover, a quick estimation of the thickness of the wave, if that was indeed what had been recorded, yielded a width around 7.3 million miles, over 30 times larger than the distance between the Earth and Moon!
In theory, a disturbance of this magnitude should have been impossible. The sheer size of an object needed to create such a wave of gravitational energy should not allow for such rapid expansion, and yet the math was sound. If my assumptions were correct, Physics, as the world had known it, would be changed forever. But I had to be sure.
I became a man obsessed, forgoing all of my other endeavors I opted instead to continuously swivel my telescope around the universe, searching and praying for another sighting of this mysterious force. I spent weeks in front of the monitor, undoubtedly furthering the irreparable damage to my corneas in my quest to relive history and confirm my findings as I allowed only my thoughts to roam from in front of the screen. All my assistants were sent home indefinitely save one, who ventured to the complex only to bring me rations of canned food and coffee once per week. As my hygiene began to decline considerably during this period, I also began to find packets of deodorant in his weekly deliveries, a kindness for which I am retrospectively grateful.
Over a period of approximately 8 months, I observed only two more gravitational waves permeating through space and, while their speeds were remarkably similar to the original occurrence, their magnitudes were notably smaller, suggesting that the originating force was not fixed, like the splitting of an atom, but variable. It was as if some deity were boxing with the universe, sending shockwaves rippling throughout time and space. The assault, moreover, appeared entirely random, with the locations and effects of each event appearing completely isolated and independent of the others. And yet there was no denying that they were simply different instances of a singular event, presumably perpetrated by the same force, the likes of which humanity had not yet witnessed.
Eventually realizing the futility of parsing the cosmos galaxy by galaxy, relying on chance alone to unveil such a rare and seemingly unpredictable phenomenon to me, I began to broaden my scope, forgoing the benefits of high-resolution in the belief that such a massive force would be more readily identified in a larger observational space. This gamble was quickly rewarded by an astounding increase in my rate of observation, with a distinct occurrence recorded at least once every two weeks leading to a rapid expansion of my sample size.
Most instances were only fringe events, with their origin being determined only through mathematical modeling. However, when the telescope was oriented to these points, there appeared to be nothing there. No celestial bodies, no black holes, no bearded man in sandals, just empty space. It made no sense: how could such a force come from nothing? I began to suspect that either my modeling was wrong (I was, after all, not a mathematician by trade) or the event itself either led to or was caused by the destruction of some previously unobserved body. Then, one fateful day, I saw it.
Nothing. The origin of the event was nothing, not only after, but prior to its occurrence! But how could this be? It is a fundamental tenet of science that nothing may come from nothing. Energy and mass may be interchangeable at times, but neither can be created in a vacuum. Such are the laws of the universe, proven a million times over! And yet, there I sat with undeniable proof that something had been created from nothing, that a force of seismic proportions had leapt from empty space! Well, perhaps not entirely empty…
As I sat in my chair, dumbfounded by what I had seen, it occurred to me: this space may not be empty after all, it must be composed to some degree of dark matter. Excited by this sudden epiphany, I began readjusting my instruments to detect the subtle gravitational shifts that signal the presence of dark matter. If the reader will recall, I had diluted the sensitivity of these instruments upon first seeing the flash so as not to blind myself at each occurrence and had failed to reorient them in the following months. Upon doing so, however, I made yet another startling discovery: the origin of the force was indeed composed of dark matter. In fact, judging by the large degree of transient gravitational energy surrounding it, this particular location was made of an especially dense cloud of volatile dark matter. But was this a coincidence or evidence?
As I re-evaluated the previous origins a pattern began to emerge: every location was packed with a similarly unstable cloud of dark matter. The larger and more recent eruptions had the most densely packed formations, while smaller and earlier episodes appeared to have somewhat dissipated the mass surrounding them. Some force was collecting the dark matter into invisible globs of energy suspended in space, allowing them to rest in a highly-pressurized state, and then spontaneously releasing them to collapse back into the universe.
But such behavior was unnatural. Matter cannot simply decide to accumulate on its own, it needs an energy source to collect around or inside of. With dark matter clusters as dense as the ones I observed, this source would have to be both astronomically large and incredibly powerful, orders of magnitude stronger than any black hole yet witnessed by the human race. And yet, these pockets would only appear where there was nothing! Not even space dust! I was nearly driven to madness trying to comprehend the sheer impossibility of it. As it were, I was only saved from such a fate by the complete exhaustion of my faculties. Later they’d say that was the day I went insane, but I know the truth: that was the day I first witnessed the workings of gods.
When they found me I had collapsed in my study, though I have no recollection of how I got there. They say I was rambling, laying on the floor speaking nonsense about beholding the lords of our universe and doors to eternity. Three days had passed since my last recording, three days without food or water. When they tried to move me to a bed I screamed, my skin was hot to the touch and I began shaking violently all over my body. An ambulance was called and I was escorted unconscious to the local hospital where I awoke 2 weeks later having no recollection of my illness or strange behavior, a fact which greatly puzzled the doctors charged with my health. However, finding nothing else wrong with either my mind or my body once I awoke, they diagnosed me with an extreme case of overexertion and recommended I cease my studies at once or risk a second, perhaps more consequential, breakdown.
I told them I would take their advice into consideration and was discharged the following morning. However, it appears my promise was not enough as I later found out they had contacted my superiors regarding the incident. Upon my return to the base, I discovered my funding had been halted, the project terminated, and several technicians awaiting my return with orders to turn over the information I had gathered thus far.
Not wanting my most important work to be co-opted and published by anyone else, I turned over only the documents pertaining to my observations on the general size and makeup of distant galaxies and my reflections on the prevalence of dark matter surrounding various cosmic bodies. These were happily accepted without any further questions, a miracle which I attribute to the complete secrecy with which I had conducted my work and the discomfort they felt in my presence after being informed of my recent spout of neurosis. Regardless, they were gone within the week with a promise to return for me by month’s end, only 12 days away, to escort me from the base, at which point I was never to return again.
Heartbroken, I began packing my things and preparing for my imminent departure. Being a simple man with few possessions, it took me no more than three hours to sort, box, and transfer the entirety of my belongings save the few items I needed to see out my stay. Finding myself with nothing else to do, I soon disregarded my doctors’ orders and resumed my normal station at my beloved monitors.
In a futile attempt at denial, I returned to my old stomping grounds throughout the cosmos, searching for answers to questions I was not yet able to fully articulate. I felt neither the nostalgia of a man reliving his past success nor the desperation of a man fleeing the finality of his impending failure, either of which would have been appropriate given the circumstances. No, I found that, as I gazed mechanically across the universe, I felt only emptiness. Seeing the end of my studies so near had robbed me of the childish notion of infinity that had inspired and motivated me for so many difficult years, and its sudden departure had left nothing to fill the vacancy. I was no longer a conqueror of knowledge or a purveyor of curiosities. The truth, once so clear and indefatigable in my mind now lay murky and feeble at my feet. I had dared to probe the universe for answers and it had taken my soul as recompense. In short, I was utterly broken.
Then, just as before, at my moment of greatest weakness, it happened. The screens in front of me flashed with a brilliant white light, brighter and more pronounced than ever before. Blinding as it was, I could not tear myself away. This one was different! It was longer and more shapely. As tears began forming on my cheeks I began to make out irregular edges and structures and… movement. Yes! There was a definite shift in the center of the mass. Then another. And another. All in quick succession, as if a struggle were occurring at its origin point, like some massive object were vibrating violently at the core. But the core of what? There was nothing there! Vibrations are the result of an energized mass, a way to dissipate large amounts of energy from a body. For them to have occurred in a vacuum like this was extraordinary.
But just as I began grappling with the ramifications of what I was seeing it disappeared, rapidly dissipating across the universe like every instance before it, leaving only residual ripples of gravitational activity as proof it had ever existed in the first place. Undeterred, I ran down to the mainframe to access the records of what I’d just witnessed.
At first those records appeared just like the others. Readings showed a large amount of gravitational activity in an otherwise empty section of space that quickly collapsed back into the cosmos. But the underlying stills told a different story. As I had witnessed in real time, what I had once assumed to be a sphere of energy was actually not a sphere at all. Several frames showed a figure more akin to an irregular pyramid, the top of which appeared to elongate and twist before retracting into its base, at which point it seems to implode, forcing the dark matter surrounding it to ricochet across the galaxy.
I felt my knees weaken and my lungs drain as I gazed over these images. Never had something so apparent been so utterly contrary to every scientific principle. Never had something so tangible been so far outside the realm of reason or, indeed, possibility. Never had nonsensical things made so much sense. And yet, here it was: proof that man, in his infinite hubris, had been completely and utterly incorrect in every law he had ever proposed, every tenet he had ever accepted, and every dream he had dared to pursue.
Perhaps, though, I should clarify these revelations for, while they bombarded my mind the instant I glimpsed the occurrences I have described here, I am painfully aware that to the laymen of my generation the implications will not be so easily grasped. It’s ironic, really. I began this work in an attempt to free my conscience of the burden it has borne for so long by transferring my knowledge onto the page with no intention of ever making the contents public, but now I find myself concerned with its readability for the masses. The mind is truly a mysterious thing. Nevertheless, we must persist, as I cannot bear to stop my story so near to its end.
What I saw on the screen that day, in truth, could have been nothing. Indeed, many casual observers may have written it off as some cosmic phenomenon completely within the bounds of natural law but perhaps slightly ahead of human understanding. This is not a bad opinion to have by any means. It takes a strange occurrence and wraps it up in a neat bow, allowing you to be both humble in your failure to grasp the inner workings of the natural world and remain secure in your faith that such workings are, in fact, in accordance with your beliefs on the subject. However, there exists one flaw in such an assumption: it is incorrect.
What I have witnessed cannot only not be explained by the laws of nature as we currently understand them, but flies in the face of their very foundation. I have seen energy created from nothing, adopt a coherent form in nothing, and collapse into nothing. All three of those feats are not only inexplicable, they are inherently impossible. Unless, of course, we begin to change our view of the universe.
Consider the universe as an enormous fish tank. Specks of particulate matter float beneath the surface, colliding, combining, and breaking apart as they aimlessly list towards an impossible equilibrium. These are the material bodies of the cosmos. Various forms of aquatic life swim around in search of food, shelter, and mates. These are the living organisms that inhabit our worlds. And huge amounts of water ebb and flow across its expanse, holding its contents in an enormous suspension shifting endlessly under the will of the medium’s invisible currents. This medium is dark matter.
Dark matter is what fills the empty spaces of the universe and allows our simple planetary groupings to occur. Without it the world and every other object in the universe would never have existed, we would all just be hydrogen atoms falling through empty space. Interactions, if they somehow did occur, would be random, impermanent, and inconsequential. Like fish, we owe our lives to an invisible substance we cannot see or feel, though we have interacted with it and depended upon it from the very origin of our species. Nay, from the origin of the pebble that would one day grow to become this planet. Thus, while dark matter does not appear to interact directly with our material universe in any tangible way, it is the very reason such a universe may exist in the first place.
But how does this relate to the cosmic phenomena I have devoted so much of my life pursuing and explaining? Well, like water, dark matter must be held in a container to take shape, which suggests the fundamental concepts governing its behavior in the fourth dimension are essentially the same as those for a liquid in the third.
When you place your finger on the surface of a liquid, the molecules interact to form a protective shield by conforming to the shape of your fingertip in a phenomenon known as surface tension. This concept is how certain insects have the capacity to walk on water and how, with enough care, you might actually touch water without getting wet. However, these interactions concentrate a large amount of energy on a single point. This energy is only stable while the pressure is being applied and must be dissipated once it is removed, and a consequence of this dissipation is the propagation of ripples along the water’s surface.
At this point, it is no doubt obvious where my analogy is leading. The universe around us is held in a container: spacetime. Like water in a fish tank, dark matter will distort itself when its container changes, either through expansion or reduction. These processes can happen on a large scale when the container is fundamentally altered or can appear as local phenomena when smaller changes occur. I witnessed the latter, the implications of which may never be fully appreciated. Someone, or something, has begun tapping the glass.
As far as I can tell, the surface has not yet been broken, and may never be. But if it is, there is no telling what may happen. The universe as we know it may simply cease to exist, its contents being sucked into some alternate, uninhabitable domain. Or a crack in spacetime may form that allows humans to travel to a higher dimension or visit parallel universes. Or perhaps the tear would be self-healing and disappear before humanity had even taken note of its existence, leaving us only to speculate on what the universe may have lost or gained in the exchange. A rip could bring the stuff of nightmares, leading to our ultimate destruction, or legends, leading us to our greatest salvation. We simply cannot know, but the speculations alone are enough to drive humanity mad.
This realization was why I burned Axion to the ground. It’s why they found me gleefully singing a mile outside the compound as I watched the world’s most advanced science facility reduced to ash. It’s why the courts determined that I had been driven mad from my extended isolation and sent me to this asylum where I have not spoken a word in almost 11 years.
I knew that my discovery was too much for mankind to endure, so I destroyed every trace of its existence. Except, of course, for my own memories. Though they called me insane and dragged my mind, my name, and my reputation through the mud, I still know the truth. An impossible truth. A dangerous truth. A truth that, at the moment, is known only to myself.
But alas, the strain of keeping such a secret for so many years has had catastrophic consequences on my health and I fear my end is near. Yet I hear that they have begun construction on a new base, Axion 2.0, which will surpass the powers and capabilities even of the compound I once called home. The construction of such a facility cannot be allowed to occur, and while I cannot confess my knowledge unto any of the nurses and doctors who now attend to me for fear I will again be deemed feverishly delusional and sedated to my dying breath, I hope that you, dear reader, whoever you are, will help keep my discoveries in the shadows. The fate of mankind may well depend on it.
Holly’s Jolly Christmas
Holly, a normal, down-to-earth, attractive woman in her 20s is looking for love when a mysterious (and also very attractive) man shows up at her door with amnesia. After some hesitation, she takes him in and tries to help him remember who he once was. We discover he is especially talented at some things, like working with animals and carpentry, but needs some help with others, like cooking and driving. Crazy and comical scenarios ensue involving adorable misunderstandings and genuine mistakes until Holly falls in love with this mysterious stranger, whom she calls Eric. However, on Christmas Eve, they are visited by a strange man with pointy ears who tells them that Eric, whose real name is Phineas, is Santa Claus' son and he must return to the North Pole to help his father deliver the presents that year. Deep down, they both know this is true, and a tearful and reluctant goodbye happens. On Christmas morning, though, Holly awakens to find a special present underneath her tree and we fade to black over her staring up into the sky.
The Ultimate Weight Loss Guide
1. Embrace Your Fear: Surround yourself with things that terrify you, the scarier the better. Everyone knows that a faster heart rate and higher adrenaline levels translates to more calories being burned and, hence, more weight loss.
2. Eat-Eat-Eat: A lot of people complain that losing weight requires that they stop eating, but that's simply not true. If you eat nonstop you'll eventually vomit, causing you to lose anywhere from 80-100% of the weight you just gained. See, easy!
3. Commit a Felony: Felons often face terrific conditions for losing weight in prison, especially in locations that offer supermax or private prison alternatives. It's not a diet per se since its not your choice, so it'll work great for those of us that just can't seem control our urges. Just remember not to cover it up too well or you may just get away with it!
4. Get X-Treme: Embracing extreme sports can be a great way to a ton of weight super quickly as terrible accidents associated with these activities often lead to large amounts of blood loss and, if you're lucky, amputated limbs, both of which have mass that (currently) contributes to your overall weight. Bonus points if you don't wear pads!
5. Die: Have you ever seen a zombie movie? How about The Walking Dead? Sure, the undead may look a little wonky, but you know what no one ever calls them? Overweight. That's because it's been scientifically proven that when you die, your body decomposes and all that pesky fat you just can't seem to get rid of is returned right back to the Earth. And if you're really committed, give cremation a try for optimal results!
The Graveyard Shift
Oh, what I wouldn't give to hear the clang of car horns at rush hour instead of the distant toll of midnight from the old clock tower ringing over campus as I take my break! How I long for the first kiss of daylight pressed against that distant horizon to call me home where fresh toast, a glass of orange juice, and a good days rest awaits my wearied limbs.
The ability to freeze time, on its surface, seems to be one of the greatest abilities with which a person could be bestowed. With it, you could save lives, travel the world and learn new skills in seconds, and shape the arc of society in your image. In fact, the opportunities granted to you by such an ability must surely be limited only by the bounds of your own imagination.
However, I would argue that the best thing you could do with such a gift is nothing at all. Time is the currency that gives our lives value, and by making it limitless, even for just one individual, you risk fundamentally corrupting the meaning of life for the entire human race. Yes, tragedy is, by definition terrible, but in bearing witness to it we develop the empathy and community that makes us our humanity. Yes, lost moments or missed opportunities are unfortunate, but it is the risk inherent to such events that inspires us to take chances and roll the dice in the hope that our lives may be made better for it. And yes, struggling and losing are never fun, but they are the very experiences that make us fight so hard to succeed and win.
As such, I believe that, should you be able to freeze and unfreeze time at will, you should never do so. Life is not meant to be lived in installments, but as a whole, and life's most precious qualities, from love to community to freedom, cannot be properly appreciated without the unceasing march of time to spur them on. The one exception to this rule, I believe, is that you could, in moments of real importance, pause time to simply cherish what you have been given, but even this should be done sparingly and with an understanding that even these moments must, one day, come to an end.
When did you begin to write?
I think I really began writing for myself my freshman year of college when I was trying to figure out who I was and what I stood for outside of the context of my friends, family, and career. At first, I wrote almost exclusively poetry, since it was quicker and more structured than prose, but within a few years I discovered a lot of my voice was lost to that brevity and organization, so I began experimenting more with satire and science fiction.
What does writing give back to you?
At it's core, I think writing is an amazing way to really consolidate, understand, and communicate your thoughts and feelings. Forcing myself to sit down with a blank page and create something genuine and original is daunting, but once I do it, I think I become a more grounded and empathetic person because I've allowed myself to cut through all the opaque and inane concepts running through my head and focus on really appreciating who I am and what I believe in as an individual.
What is your ultimate writing goal?
My ultimate writing goal is to make a positive impact in people's lives by sharing my thoughts, opinions, and beliefs with the world. I want my writing to be relatable, enjoyable, and, above all, impactful. Whether I'm writing to support the reader, inform the reader, or persuade the reader, I hope that anyone who reads my work has a better life because of it.
Ted Bundy: The Greatest Serial Killer that Never Was
People tend to romanticize mercenary life. They look at Boba Fett and Black Widow and think "That's amazing!" as if all we do is fight, fuck, and get paid. But no one ever considers the other stuff. Sure, when it's Will Smith or Margot Robbie on a big screen there's no real risk, just a lot of well-rehearsed choreography and perfectly-timed explosions, but here in the real world it doesn't work like that. I've lost a lot of good friends, and killed a lot of good people, and I have to carry that shit with me every day.
So when some lawyer from the Evergreen Corp told me I had the chance to do something good for a change I took it. Maybe I'm getting soft, or maybe I've had one too many concussions, but for once I wanted to change the world for the better.
Of course, when they told me my assignment was Ted Bundy, the notorious serial killer from the 1970s, I thought they had more than a couple screws lose. But they paid upfront in cash and promised me they'd handle getting me to and from the target, all I'd have to do was take him out and get his brain. The second part was a little weird but, all things considered, I was curious and I'd done a lot worse to people who were a lot better than Ted Bundy. So, I told them I'd do it, they threw me in a pod, and before I knew what was going on I was in the middle of Seattle, Washington holding a newspaper from 1970!
As you can imagine, I was more than a little tripped out, which I suppose was pretty on par for the times, but I was a professional. The lawyer, Mr. Dixon, had written down the time and place I was meant to make contact with Ted and had dropped me in only a few hours before the rendezvous, so I had to think fast.
The file they'd given me said Ted liked to isolate, rape, and kill attractive young women, which he often lured from highly trafficked areas. It seemed he enjoyed the hunt as much as the kill, so just throwing myself at him would likely not work. Of course, I could just kill him outright, but my instructions were very clear: be discrete, be quick, and be certain. As such, I grabbed a low-cut sundress from a local outlet mall before catching the bus to the park where I was scheduled to "run into" one of the most infamous serial killers in American history.
He arrived only a few minutes after me, pulling up in a beat-up, brown Volkswagen Beetle. He was alone, as expected, though I noticed a woman's dress hanging in the rear window. Hopefully I wasn't too late.
A few minutes after he arrived I approached him and asked him for a ride. I told him my boyfriend had left me all alone and no one else was willing to give me one. I gave him my best puppy dog eyes, the last thing so many men before him had seen, and he looked me up and down before giving me an impossibly charming grin and motioning me over to his car. I thanked him and asked for his name. "Ted Bundy," he replied, again flashing his amazing pearly whites before opening the passenger door for me.
We made small talk for a while as I directed him out of town. Once we reached a deserted backroad, I pulled out my silencer, shot him twice in the chest, and once in the crotch for all the vile things he had, or would have, done in the world. A little anticlimactic, I know, but I saw no reason to give such a terrible man a heroes death. He got no time to pray, no time to scream, and no time to beg. If only he'd have had the same decency for his victims.
After that, I drove his car to a nearby river, took the surgical blade Mr. Dixon had given me, and carefully removed Ted Bundy's head from its torso, and I've got to admit, I've never been a sentimental person, but it felt pretty good. I stuffed his body in a trash bag, weighed it down with rocks, and dumped it into the river before heading back to the future to drop off the head and collect the rest of my reward.
I hear the found the body a few weeks later but were never able to ID it. Never found out what happened to the head after I turned it in though. I guess I don't really care anyway. All I know now is I sleep a little better at night knowing that, for once, what I did saved more lives than it cost and maybe, just maybe, made up for some of the horrible shit I'm guilty of too. Then again, maybe all I did was give air so someone even worse than Ted, and maybe all that really matters is that I killed another man who, at the time, had never done anybody any harm, cut off his head, and made him disappear without giving it a second thought. Terrible, right? I guess maybe the life of a mercenary isn't so amazing after all, huh?