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Out of Nowhere by Patrick LeClerc.
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When I was called as an “independent expert” to support the obscure theoretical physics project taking place at the famous laboratory facility in the mines of Llandudno, I was little more than a newly qualified academic philologist at the University of Bangor. To be summoned to aid in theoretical physics seemed exceedingly bizarre, because I can think of no subject further removed from my own vocation.

I received an old-fashioned keycard to hang like a pendant around my neck, which needed to be held at scanners to unlock the doors, and I was given a brief tour of all the many intriguing devices and offices I would not be permitted to use. In a modest conference room that remained littered with disorganized tablet-computers and empty coffee cups, I was introduced to a team of people far more qualified than me. I remember embarrassingly fumbling my credentials when I was asked to introduce myself to the elites of the Llandudno Complex. Certainly, I was the odd one out, and I ended up as nothing more than a fifth wheel in the presence of such giants. I was reduced to working as the crummy sidekick of my colleague, the master code-breaker Eric Vandal, who had once been a tutor of mine.

It was only several hours into a boring exposition by the project’s stammering but brilliant mastermind, Dr Michael Meridus, that I saw the implications of the discovery I was now involved in. In the physicists’ haste to acquire the attention of as many “experts” as they could reach, I was only one of many hundreds who had been summoned to the complex from all across the world. The discovery was greater than anything I had ever imagined contributing towards.

Some level of contact had been made with a definite intelligence, perhaps “alien”, in the least expected place. As far as I can recall from the physicists’ eloquent descriptions, a “frequency” had been detected in a beam of radiation, obtained through a tiny aperture bored in the fabric of time and space. This aperture was described, to my incredulity, as a “pinhole on the between-worlds area.” This remains beyond my grasp as a philologist, and the current lack of public information on the experiments leaves me unable to provide more satisfying details on the exact theory guiding the experiments.

The “multiverse hypothesis” is the closest I can get in terms of suggesting what existing theory may have led to the experiments. Posited in this hypothesis there was a kind of “between-worlds area”, as I recall it being described. A trans-cosmic space located between the many universes parallel to ours. Among some marginal scientists working on the hypothesis, it was speculated that “information” itself might actually possess substance and never degrade in this “between-worlds area”. If so, information could be “stored” in the between-worlds area and retrieved from it with the right instruments, giving humanity access to a hard drive with infinite capacity. But first the physicists needed their engineers to give them just a tiny peek into that place to confirm its nature. This is why they used all the roaring generators powering the base to charge their particle devices boring a tiny hole into the between-worlds area, one millionth of a centimeter in diameter, widened for an infinitesimal amount of time before it closed shut. In that time, the “particle gun” the engineers were using to implant their binary signal, seemed to malfunction, and instead “received” something from the other side. That something was a signal beyond our comprehension. It was after this discovery that the code-breakers and philologists including myself had been summoned to the scene, only to be mesmerized by the physicists’ story.

The signal from the unauthorized data transfer to our computer drive was assuming viral behavior during the hours of my visit at the Llandudno Complex, and afflicted Dr Meridus’ own mind with ease – the unavoidable consequence of his brain-enhancement implants remaining connected to the laboratory network. His condition deteriorated as the implants malfunctioned, until finally he was resuscitated in the medical center and testified his infusion with “foreign knowledge” from the signal. All sorts of intellectuals I had never before met, but who had been called in hours earlier like myself, were arriving now, only to bear witness to the chaos overcoming the complex in the wake of the unknown signal’s receipt. By this time, Michael Meridus was overseeing a second experiment, before the skeptical visitors prompted Eric to intervene and stop him.

“We must continue!” Meridus insisted, “I have to see the other side. You have to let me go through to the between-worlds area!”

Voicing the concerns of the more eminent researchers in the gathering, Eric objected. “We don’t even know how to send you there, much less how you can survive in there!” he said.

“It all makes sense to me,” Meridus rambled. “Information, matter, space and time, are all indistinguishable in the between-worlds area. No better place of learning could exist. If I can send myself there, I will be able to visit any place possible. I will have the knowledge of a million realms.”

“No,” Eric continued, “there is still no way of knowing what would happen. I can’t let you continue. We are not able to convert a human into data. Furthermore, we are in no position to judge the implications even if such an act were possible. We don’t know what you would then be, even if we could make this strange act possible. How would such an act be different from murder? We are not willing to turn you into a stream of information and send you into this void between worlds as you request. That would qualify as murder, according to all our laws and ethics.”

“I’ll take responsibility!” Meridus pushed passionately, “let me do it. I understand how. The signal told me, so I have the knowledge.”

“You have lost your mind, and you would endanger yourself and the rest of us unnecessarily,” Eric protested, and the other researchers nodded in agreement. “If I understand your log correctly, you are being compelled somehow, driven by your accident to open the port a second time and extend the time of the opening. We cannot act on such an emotional plea. You are not yourself. I think you need to recover fully. You must be taken off the base and relieved of your command of this facility. I’m going to have to favor a suspension of this line of experimentation because of the incident.”

Meridus’ personality had changed irreversibly. Although every medical test showed him to still be normal, his mind had clearly been polluted by contact with the unknown signal through the pinhole, and he knew something all of us didn’t. Perhaps he couldn’t put his newfound knowledge into words we could understand yet, but his intellect had evidently grown tremendously. He was not suspended from leading the facility as Eric suggested, but the experiments were indeed suspended by Meridus’ peers. Days after the incident, his performance in the lab improved rapidly in the most conspicuous manner. Despite the apparent incident of “alien” contact, the personages who were gathered in the Llandudno Complex soon laughed off the whole incident as nothing more than an accident, although the remnants of the project remained safely guarded. The press reported it all as an accident, of course. Just another wild and prematurely reported “discovery”, that turned out to be nothing of the consequence initially believed.

Some days later, Eric and I were both getting a breath of fresh air to break from our excessive workloads back on campus in Bangor, and he remarked how he believed Dr Meridus would still someday return to his search for the “between-worlds area”, having seen it and been seduced by its possibilities. If his mind had truly been polluted with the alien signal that made its way through his brain-enhancing implants, then the signal’s influence would instruct him still to download his body and mind into that metaphysical place called the between-worlds area. Why any man might want to destroy his essence to become something alien was beyond Eric’s understanding, and I share his incapacity to sympathize with the scientific zeal of Meridus.

However, just a few days before writing this, I was permeated with dread when I read in a local web publication that Michael Meridus had vanished, and that the Llandudno Complex was to be dismantled in the round of new government spending cuts. The news stirred me to write this account of my involvement with his strange work. I still don’t know what it was all about. In my barely relevant field of study, I may never approach knowing what ultimately became of Meridus.


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2013-09-12 05:28:54
micheledutcher - I enjoyed the somewhat stilted vocabulary - set the mood of the piece. Great job!

2013-09-12 05:27:58
micheledutcher - A small tear in the fabric of space - so many things could get through - even knowledge can be maddening. Lack of government funding, it seems, can stop even a madman in his tracks.




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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
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