Message in a Bottle
By Joe Marchione
Think you could lend a hand to this fellow?
Art by La Joilette
The physics of it is simple enough. There either is a certain amount of mass/energy in the universe or there isn’t. Once the data was collected, a simple calculation was all that remained to determine the closed nature of our universe.
Then some bright young physicist just had to calculate the exact date of “end of human viability, within known life support systems”.
Yo! Thank you very much. Just what I need. The date of my death. As if that unholy glow on the horizon each afternoon isn’t enough.
There’s another tremor. They’ve become incessant over the past few years. Not that they’re dangerous. We’re engineered to ride out the worst Omega-238 can dish out.
Oh, what melodrama is that name. Omega! The Last Planet. Or, rather, one of 1,267 planets, Omega’s all, riding the tube at the end of the Universe.
I’m scared. Really. The world’s coming to an end a week from Tuesday and there’s nothing I can do about it.
But I know something they don’t know. I figured it out. All by myself. Watched the video of Tau-778 implode. Over and over again. Didn’t calculate nothing. But I saw it.
A piece of space was thrown free from the implosion. I tried telling them but they wouldn’t listen. They said I was in the denial stage.
Well, that was what the nicer ones said, anyway.
But if they would just open their minds, they would see, too. Little folds in the gravitational field. Folds that escaped the collapse to unity.
Okay, so nothing actually escaped from Tau-778. But that’s only because nothing occupied the key space.
So I guessed where these folds are for the Universe.
You probably think I’m going to hide myself in one of those folds. But I’m NOT CRAZY! I know I couldn’t survive the violent impact and subsequent acceleration as my fold reaches escape velocity.
Nope. Not me. I’m going down with the ship. But if I could leave a message there…this message…
It will remain unread. If my theory is correct, it will be propelled from the collapsing worlds, becoming a solitary object in its own universe.
And if I am wrong, it will be sucked into the final conflagration.
But there is a chance. One that compels me to write this. If this world is just a set of self-consistent laws within a much larger supra-Universe, then this message will be set adrift in that world.
Can you read it? Can you even recognize it as a product of intelligent life? The answers whispered in my ear late at night do not soothe me. I leap from the bed and rush to my desk, working furiously to drive them from my brain.
It will survive. It MUST! And you WILL find it and understand.
I’m running out of time. Got to deliver it to my fold.
What’s that? My name? Does it make a difference? Call me what you will.
NO! Wait. I have a better idea. Just call me Kilroy.