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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Malpass


I am Andrew Matheson, and I am enjoying a grilled chicken sandwich in a sunlit conference room just down a short hallway from the Small Singularity Generator. My old college friend Aaron Mackenzie sits across the table from me. He's dipping tortilla chips into a big bowl of fresh guacamole. My new friends, scientists Barbara Donahue and George Bivins, are still across the hallway in the kitchen preparing their food—ham and cheese omelets, I think.

I am enjoying a chicken sandwich. And I have questions.

I am enjoying a chicken sandwich in a sunlit conference room. And I have questions.

This morning I was teaching ninth-graders the evolutionary concept of survival of the fittest. Earlier this afternoon I was winging my way to Aaron Mackenzie's Armadillo Works aboard a Citation Sovereign jet. Fifteen minutes ago, I was inside the Fun House, traversing the inter-dimensional super-reality. What is happening? What will happen next?

"Aaron, I have questions."

Aaron laughs and crunches another guacamole-covered chip. "Questions? Really? Doesn't everything makes perfect sense yet?" I smile, but he can tell I need to have a more serious conversation right now. He turns in his chair to face me directly. "Sure, Andrew. Of course. What questions do you have?"

I'm thinking about how to ask this. "Aaron, was that real? Was I really there, or was it more like a dream?"

He pauses dramatically. "Andrew, we've been running the Fun House for eighteen months now. More than twenty of us here at the Armadillo Works have collectively completed almost two thousand SSG sequences. We've thoroughly examined the data from all of them, and there's no getting around it—it's completely real, and you were really there."

He continues. "But I have a question for you, Andrew." Another dramatic pause. "Where were you? Describe what happened to you in there."

So I tell him about hurtling through space-time and finding the beautiful little planet and the stone basilica up on the high ridge. I tell him about the fireplace and the dining table and the leather-bound journal written in my own hand. While I'm talking, George and Barbara join us and begin silently eating their omelets as they listen.

"There was a fire roaring in the fireplace and a freshly prepared meal on the table! It was as if I had just stepped outside for an instant. But doesn't it follow the version of me that stepped outside must be a future version of me? Otherwise, I couldn't read my own handwritten journal notes on my first visit, right?"

George glances up from his plate. "Everything in there is a paradox, frankly. How can anything made up of matter even exist at a point of near-infinite gravitational curvature like a singularity? Why isn't it crushed into oblivion? And don't even get me started on non-sequential temporal experiences! What about causation paradoxes? What if I get in there and accidentally kill my grandmother before the birth of my mother? How is that not a problem, you guys? If that happens, how am I even talking to you right now? Hmm? Answer: I'm not talking to you right now, am I? No, that's correct. I'm not!" He huffs in disgust.

It is by far the most words George has said since I met him. He looks at each of us solemnly, then takes another bite of omelet.


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