Portland, 7.30am, line 15 to Belmont Street. The same old and rusty bus is crowded. I am reading my newspaper while riding the 9 stops between my place and Meriwether College. I started to teach there four years ago as a physics lecturer. Four years and I still don’t understand why, even if people do know each other, no one is ever talking. They content themselves with a quick “hello, how’s it going ?”, that’s all. Such a drama scene. Everybody takes the very same place in the vehicle, stands there and waits doing nothing. Human behaviour is quite interesting. I am nearly there, waiting for the grumpy driver to announce the Meriwether stop, when I begin to experience an uncomfortable feeling into my eyes. Colors are changing, alternating between purple and red faster and faster, feeling like a rainbow is springing into my eyes. Few seconds later, I do not see anymore, black-out. I feel like a hard tingling onto my cornea, same as watching the sun bare eyes. What could be happening ? My neighbor, an old guy working at the Northwest power plant, starts panicking and moving his head and arms around. The poor guy is petrified and starts holding on me, I am not so much into physical contact, but nevermind, I can not repel him. A few moment later the bus driver suddenly squeezed down the brake pedal, causing lots of people to tumble and hurt themselves. At this moment I understand I was not the only one affected by the phenomenon. In a blink of an eye and as quickly as it disappeared, my vision and that of other passengers reappeared. Disorienting. Few moments later, the bus slowly started to move again, carrying dozens of livid faces. People are staying relatively quiet, even if some, totally panicked, are phone calling to their relatives and speaking loudly.
Noon, time for having lunch. It has been a hard morning. Lost between incomprehension and curiosity, students and I had a lot of difficulties to remain attentive during the solid state physics lesson I gave. How embarrassing was that moment where I could not remember the law of Dulong and Petit, I hate to forget things. I’m arriving to the teacher’s cafeteria. I do appreciate lunch time, not especially because I eat food, but more for the time to think and the social interaction it brings to me. Putting aside these advantages, real food meals would certainly have been replaced by a single pill that contains all the nutrients we needs. Way more convenient, but it is what it is. The cafeteria is the only place where we have social interaction between teachers but today is not like any other days. Everyone in the room is stuck in front of the TV, which volume is abnormally high.
“Today at 7.44am, the United States of America as well as the whole North hemisphere have been experiencing what physicians just named a unique light spectral lag. The origin of this phenomenon, causing human color perception to change, is for now unknown. The US Government Health Agency recommends to all citizens affected by abnormal sun burns and headaches to consult a doctor. ”CNN – BREAKING NEWS
Sun burns, hum. Ultraviolet rays are not far away from visible light in the electromagnetic spectrum, that makes sense. That also means ordinary light may have been shifted to X-rays, it is tremendous. Being irradiated could lead to fatal consequences on the human body including death if a certain threshold is exceeded. Should I warn my research unit supervisor ? Fuck off Ginevra, he is probably already aware of this. Let’s go back to work.
Saturday, three days after the phenomenon. Strangely, people seem to have forgotten what happened. Today the sky is blue and the sun is shining, it is 51°F, perfect conditions to go for a jogging at the park. Let’s go out for a 45 minutes run. I forgot how plaisant was breathing cold and fresh air, refreshing my lungs, while a slow and comfortable heating sensation is coming up from my legs, amazing feeling. I should definitely do sport more often. Nevermind. Lots of people are used to hang out here in the Boston Public Garden, some are having a picnic, others are reading books, kids are playing. I always loved this side of Human civilization. 14 minutes left, I am focused on keeping a constant speed, so much focused on my effort that I did not realize sky had severely darkened. It seems a bit stormy out there, I better have to follow people and going back my place. Still running I decided to exit the park throughout the north-west entrance, leading to Cambridge Street. First thunderclap. I forgot how crowded this place always been. There is a lot of people on sidewalks, also endless queues of cars waiting for stop lights to be green, welcome to Boston City. Second thunderclap, this one is the most violent I have ever heard. Another one, louder. I flinched. I am now waiting for the pedestrian light to change in my favor, watching cars passing by, when I begin to feel a weird lightness sensation into my body. It is like my feet do not touch the ground anymore, my sight seems higher than before. The feeling suddenly disappeared, strange. Well actually it reappeared few seconds later, but this time with more intensity. Am I seeing cars and people flying ? Am I out of my mind ? My head soon touched a tree branch and I am nearly 5 meters above the ground, what the hell is happening right now ? Is gravity failing ? It sounds like. In a survival instinct, I gripped my hardest this big tree branch. At this moment I really began to observe what was taking place in front of me. Objects and people are bouncing between the ground and the sky, like if gravity reversed itself every few seconds. I do feel these gravity changes, a moment it is like I am hanging upside of the branch, while another I feel like I am laying down onto it although keeping the same position. The phenomenon now becomes stronger and stronger, cars are crashing down onto the road, dispersing lots of debris; pedestrians are severely shaken, as well as bloody corpses. Fourth thunderclap, this one is deafening. When will this slaughter end ? Fortunately, the strength of the tremors tends to decrease, until the final stop. In the blink of an eye the sky retrieved its nice and charming blue, birds are whistling again. It is like nothing happened, the very hallmark of these weird phenomena. Luckily I did not have too much trouble to get down from the tree on which I sought refuge. I went home as fast as I could, switched on the radio and heard carefully the emergency announcements.
“Dear American citizens. Due to the unknown phenomenon that happened few moments ago, the US Government has declared a state of absolute emergency. We urge you to execute the following safety steps. Take shelter in an anchored place as soon as possible. Remove or secure all moving parts inside that could hurt yourself in case of another strike. Please do not try to go outside before the next announcement.”NPR EMERGENCY RADIO BROADCAST
I executed myself, cleaning my bedroom from all moving object, only keeping the TV that is fixed onto the wall. Late in the evening, I learned that over a billion people lost their lives today in what physicians called this time a quantum earthquake. Almost 50 million deaths in North-America, 800 million in Asia, and 150 million in Europe. This human toll is mind-boggling. Material damages are also significant : several planes have crashed, lots of trains went off the rails and nearly all cars and trucks across the hemisphere have been destructed. We are likely dealing with one of the worst disasters in our civilization’s history. Unbelievably, most of buildings in the US did not collapse, showing that humans are still great engineers. This demonstration of force, causing a serious toll, remind us we do not entirely control our habitat and we should always be aware of unknown phenomena. Our country, and at a global scale our hemisphere, can not undergo more of these strikes. It is enough, we are sufficiently weakened, we now have to determine whether it is a natural disaster or a deliberate attack. It is now time to launch investigations about the origin of these two misunderstood events.
World Research Coalition
3 days past the quantum earthquake. The curfew was lifted that morning, meaning people can go outside again but the use of all kinds of vehicles remains forbidden. In any case they would not been able to move until streets were cleaned. So I prudently went outside, first of all because I am a claustrophobic girl, then to lend a helping hand to authorities to gather dead bodies and to clean out the city. We are citizens, it is our duty to rebuild the country, and it will not be possible without making a collective effort. Talking about collective, I received a phone call from my research unit supervisor, Mr Adam, telling me I am requisitioned to join the freshly created and international World Research Coalition for inconsistent physics. This coalition, established by head of states from all the North hemisphere following the previous misunderstood disasters, has two mains research areas. The first one will focus on trying to link the unique light spectral lag and the quantum earthquake with known physical laws, i.e find a consistent explanation to these events using our knowledge and therefore be able to predict their arrival. The second branch will be in charge of the analysis of recorded data and the exploration of new physical models, this is clearly the most exciting part but also the most time-consuming. The World Research Coalition is currently requisitioning all available physicists, mathematicians, geologists and computer specialists around the world, representing more than 350 million scientist people. I have been affected to the Washington DC research center, soon I will move there for an undetermined amount of time. I will work in the first branch of the coalition, in a group of scientists from all the east side of the US. Our field of research is centered around gravitational waves, which are disturbances in the curvature of spacetime, generated by accelerated masses. These waves transport lots of energy as gravitational radiation, a form of radiant energy similar to electromagnetic radiation. My colleagues and myself will explore the possible impact of gravitational waves passing through the Earth, maybe it will bring some interesting clues. The Coalition is also setting up a giant sensors network in order to monitor any future event. I am packing up for Washington, making sure I do not forget my nerdy books. Excited to possibly bring progress to the Human civilization, I am also very scared to fail, and people to judge myself. Shit, why am I so pessimistic ? We are all going to fucking die if we do not do anything right now.
7 days after the quantum earthquake. 6 am, I am on my way to Washington. The government has taken the risk to bring us from Boston to DC by bus. So we are all awake and ready to get out and hang on onto the highway guardrails in case a quantum earthquake occurs. After a 9 hours journey, we are finally reaching out the capital. 9 hours without the possibility to take a nap, it has been exhausting. I meet my new colleagues at the George Washington University. After a dinner spent all together, I feel a good vibe going on between us, it bodes well for the important work to be done for the next months. A kind employee of the University took me to my accommodation so I can finally go for a rest, long-awaited moment. Tomorrow takes place an important meeting, giving us all the information we need concerning our laboratories, resources and obligations.
Today is a new day. After a substantial breakfast, my new colleagues and I are heading up to the University’s laboratories for a visit. While the group was walking across the campus, we were all struck by a brief and outlandish sensation. A sensation of being empty, volatile and broken down into a millions bits. Everybody is watching each other, understanding we are living a new phenomenon. These brief sensations becomes more and more frequent when a giant flashlight reaches my eyes. I can not see and hear anything, but I am feeling divinely great, like if I was in a deep hypnotic state. I did not last long, my sight came back. To my astonishment we are all lying onto the ground. Some of us are shirtless or pantless but the most incredible observation is that all building have disappeared. Well actually they have been reduced to a fine dust, pretty much the same as sand, but smoother. However trees and vegetation are still there. Lots people around me, petrified, are praying hard thinking the devil stole their souls. Confusing. A further look at the surroundings revealed that only things made of organic matter survived to this cataclysmic event : humans, vegetation, cotton clothing… My deepest hope is that only a localized part of the world has been striked by this spectacular matter disintegration.
3 months later, trying to survive in ex-Washington, a Brazilian squadron of helicopters landed near the Potomac river were me and other citizens settled down. The military told us that the whole north hemisphere has been reset to a wild life state, the south hemisphere remains intact. Apparently a wide rescuing mission is being organized by south-Earth nations. Before flying to New York city they kindly gave us survival kits, including shelters, guns and other useful stuff.
What could have gone wrong ?
Human civilization is helpless seeing for the very first time its science unable to solve an issue. Thousands of years spent to build up a huge knowledge base in order to solve the problems we are facing up everyday. Thousands of years this method works, and today it does not, and even worse, it compromises a part of our science. What we are observing today is in contradiction with what we once observed or deduced. Maybe are religious and philosophical people right, maybe can not we explain everything by science facts ? It is difficult to imagine such a vision of things. But today we must point out something strange is hitting the north of the planet. It is like someone or something is playing with the Humankind.
END OF EPISODE 1