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Winston
April 27th, 2012, 10:04 PM
Crunch
 


I had so much left I wanted to do. Things I needed to do. Time just ran out. Or,
to be more precise, time will end in a few hours. For all of us.
With scant time remaining, I have no logical reason for writing this. While time
is very short, human choice and free-will are in abundant supply. I choose to write.
Others have chosen to riot, pray, or curl up in a fetal ball. I may choose one of those
options later, "time permitting". Except for the rioting. Thatís not my bag.

Actually, people are behaving remarkably well, all things considered. Oh sure,
there was a run on grocery stores, and a few overturned and burned cars. I know that I
donít want to depart on an empty stomach. And while burning a car sounds like fun, I
feel that putting my thoughts down is more appropriate at this time.

I took the kids out to play ball at the park this afternoon. We all found out about
time ending a few weeks ago. I had been meaning to get in one last game beforeÖ it all
was over. Iím glad we had the chance to play. We had to chase off some punks lighting
off fireworks, then it was "Play Ball!". There was just the four of us at first, then another
family saw us, and asked if they could join. They had this adorable four year old girl. I
lobbed pitches at her about twenty times before she made contact. We all jumped and
cheered. She got a home-run! Well, Iím sure my son was just a bit slow throwing the
ball in.
Afterward, we all hugged. A few tears were shed, but the smiles were more
prevalent.

My kids had asked a few questions about "it all ending". Mostly along the lines
of "Will it hurt?" and "What will it be like?" Of course, no one knows. No human has
ever seen the Universe fly apart at the seams. We all may know what itís like in a few
hours. The irony being, there will be no one left to compare notes with. Anyway, I told
them it will be painless, like going to sleep. I do believe that. I think most of us do.

When the stars first started to disappear last month, there was a general panic.
Human hubris dictated that, for a few days, there was a world-wide dialog on what we
should do. It was realized that the first stars we saw fade out were in-fact galaxies,
billions of light years away. Space is rather big, so there was a moment of relief. Then,
they noticed two things: The rate of galactic fade was increasing, and the pattern was
radiating toward us.

Using the most accurate instruments available, the best minds measured, and
tested, and crunched the numbers. Of course, those distant galaxies didnít just
disappear. Thereís that whole matter / energy conservation rule. No, it turned out that,
somehow, things were just falling apart. We couldnít see those galaxies because they
were no longer emitting light. As best as they could tell, gravity, electromagnetism, and
the strong and weak nuclear forces just all stopped working. Kaput. Done. All the way
down to the Quarks, Leptons and Gauge Bosons. They all came unglued. Even the
Gluons. Sorry, bad physics joke. Itís all rather Strange. Iíd better stop, Iím not being
very Charming. Oooh, Iím at the Top of my pun game. Nevermind, youíre not Down
with that.

AnywayÖ The weeks following mirrored the typical "stages of loss" model.
There was a lot of bargaining, anger, denial. Iíd say that most of us seven billion here are
now in the acceptance stage in the final hours. More and more nearby galaxies are
winking out, now at an accelerated rate. Itís projected that, when this wave hits the
Milky Way, it will take less than five minutes for the stars in the outer spiral arm to go
before it hits us.

What will it be like, having every atom fly apart at infinite speed? The ironic
thing I think of is the thought that some alien culture, like ours, is nearby and going
through the same motions. They too are unable to change the inevitable. Perhaps, at
some point, our atoms will meet theirs. Of course, it will soon be zero degrees Kelvin, so
our conversation will be rather static and chilly. Sorry, another bad physics joke.

The Moon last night was so beautiful. With so many less stars to compete with, it
was spectacular. My wife and I walked for an hour or so, holding hands. Normally,
weíd talk about the kids, finances or some other pressing issue. We just walked. Every
detail was so vivid. I had never really noticed the flecks of blue in her eyes before. The
reddish tinge in her auburn hair. The impossible way she can exhale deeper than she
inhales. Itís sad that it took the end of the world to truly open my eyes.

Iím not upset that I donít have more time. Thereís no bitterness, angst or anger.
There is a longing. No one wants it to end. Yet, we all realize that it will. Very soon
now.

Well, I suppose thatís it. At least now, I think I know why I took the time to write
this. Physicists are split on weather the Universe will just keep coming apart, or perhaps
at some point it will start collapsing inward. "The Big Crunch" they call it. None of us
will know for sure, but Iíd like to think that we all come back together. Everything. That
first tooth I lost, the first girl I kissed, my old í72 Mustang. I can live without the ever
seeing the K Car again, but I digress. Maybe we all come together at some infinitesimal
point of mass and energy. And, since nothing is never truly lost in the Universe, my
thoughts will be there as well.

Scientists think there may be some unending cycle of expansion and contraction.
In an infinite Universe, I may have already done this. Many, many times before. Who
am I to mess with tradition?

Well, first, Iím making a ham on rye with extra mustard and pickle. Iím eating on
the back deck while bathing in that marvelous moon glow. Next, Iím tucking the kids in
one last time, making sure I whisper "I Love You" in each small, tender ear. Finally, Iím
laying down in bed, next to the love of my life. Iíll lie still, grasping her small, soft hand,
and fall asleep listening to the rhythm of her breathing.

Well, Iíd better brush my teeth first. She doesnít like the smell of mustard.

Until next timeÖ

Blue Blazer
May 3rd, 2012, 06:47 PM
Awesome! At first the editorial style sort of threw me off, but I quickly realized that I liked it a lot. Very unique spin, I think.

Serenade
May 7th, 2012, 07:51 PM
Liked it! A lot of people who attempt end of the world scenarios, but sadly miss the mark. Definite thumbs up on the first-person persective, especially with a character that wasn't too angsty or waxing poetic about the end of the world. Only question is whether this is a one-shot or is there more to come?

dreamer444
May 9th, 2012, 03:13 AM
I really liked this...hope to see more

TBK
May 9th, 2012, 05:55 PM
My eyes started watering! I'm such a baby!

WiredNun
May 9th, 2012, 06:11 PM
Great idea. Needs rewrite and polish. Some hyphenation and flow problems that disrupted it for me. The last line is cute but it would be a better story without it. An opening line indicating who she is addressing might work, too.

dave_c
May 10th, 2012, 07:53 AM
what a terrifying, heart felt tale.
i agree with Wirenun. there isn't anything specific to be fixed, its a good piece, it just needs a bit of spit and polish.

the story reminds me of K-Pax where he describes how the universe expands and contracts, we know this, but what we don't know is that when the universe expands once again everything will be exactly as it is now.

RoosterSmith
May 13th, 2012, 08:01 PM
I feel like Serenade, is there more to come? Obviously it's an end of the world story but I can't help but want a little more knowledge. Why is the world ending? Is it science ? IS it God? I want answers!

But then, maybe that wasn't the point of the story ...

But i wouldn't mind a part 2...

Winston
May 14th, 2012, 04:50 AM
I'm glad you all enjoyed that little piece.

I love science fiction for primary two reasons: I like science (duh), and I admire the way a good sci-fi story explores human nature.

I will vomit when I read the next brain-dead "end of the world" story. You know the type. Scientists discover some threat (killer aliens, errant asteroids or "climate change"). The hero scientist is assisted by a hard nosed cop or military guy. They battle unruly mobs, ignorant politicians and other scientists with hidden agendas. In the end, their brillant hard work pays off and humanity survives.

Yeah, right.

When "it" happens, we ain't gonna stop it. In The US, we can't even balance a national budget. How are we going to stabilize a sun that's ready to blow up? Or negotiate with an alien species that is as far beyond us as we are beyond sea kelp? No, the story is not in how we cheat death, time and time again, but how we face it (Kobayashi Maru, anyone?).

I could easily make this longer, and may do so based on the reception 'yall have given it. Perhaps I'll character hop, and show what the end looks like from different perspectives. But for those of you looking for answers, and a tidy ending, forget it. Sometimes, there are no answers. The hero doesn't save the day. Then what? Then, it finally gets interesting.

WiredNun
May 14th, 2012, 02:57 PM
Winston,

I am sorry you chose to down a whole genre with that rant. I am in fact right now working on a novel where scientists discover a threat and the hero scientist is assisted by a hard nosed cop or military guy. They battle unruly mobs, ignorant politicians and other scientists with hidden agendas. In the end, their brillant hard work pays off and humanity survives.


***



Totally kidding.


But even so, I've read a few good ones in that genre. Just because you're sick of them doesn't mean the reading public is. In fact, it's amazing how original you don't have to be to sell.

I have a couple of writer friends (as in, make their living) and I have read blogs and advice from other pros. Most of them say you have to give the audience what they want first, and once you have that name and pro status, then you can do more of what you want. And they will whine and some will hate you for it. It's the artist's classic dilemma: craft or art? Craft is a guaranteed sale. Art is a lottery. What sells? Craft, unless the artist is lucky enough to become popular. Usually after death.

Sunshine
May 14th, 2012, 05:12 PM
I like this a lot because it is very different. I love how you've done it! I like how you've written it in a way you can't tell who the MC is talking to. It means the reader has use his own brain. Is he talking to the reader? God? An Alien? I don't know and I don't want to be told. It gives the story a nice charm to it in my oppion.

Kenneth J. Ester
May 17th, 2012, 12:55 AM
Very well done. I actually enjoyed reading it. There was one problem, however, that gave me pause. A flaw in your story you might want to look into.

It’s projected that, when this wave hits the Milky Way, it will take less than five minutes for the stars in the outer spiral arm to go before it hits us.

This is extremely fast and causes a flaw in the story. If you traveled at the speed of light, it would take you something like 4 hours to reach Earth from Neptune. That's just a planet in our system. The outer stars to Earth would be far longer. So this "end" is cruising at a rate much faster than the speed of light. .... This means that we would never even see the stars and distant galaxies disappear before it hit us.

I apologize for criticizing that, but if I picked this out, and I am not a true science freak, many who would read the science fiction would pick it out as well.

Winston
May 17th, 2012, 01:24 AM
KJE, thanks. Science, and science fiction deserve the light of rigor.

My only defense is that at the instant of The Big Bang, it is estimated that matter and energy did in fact move faster than light, somehow. Perhaps The Big Crunch will perform a similar violation of the laws of physics? If it did, how could we measure FTL movement?
We'll probably never know, if or when it happens. All we can do is imagine.

rawrritsmanda
May 17th, 2012, 01:52 AM
You could just extend this to the few weeks leading up to it, instead of just a few hours. That would be good to read.