Plugs

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Edd Vick’s latest story, “The Corsair and the Lady” may be found in Talebones #37.

David Kopaska-Merkel’s book of humorous noir fiction based on nursery rhymes, Nursery Rhyme Noir 978-09821068-3-9, is sold at the Genre Mall. Other new books include The zSimian Transcript (Cyberwizard Productions) and Brushfires (Sams Dot Publishing).

Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

The Day the World Went Away

by Jason Erik Lundberg

Rajeev stared at his screen, open-mouthed. Everything outside his lab — plants, animals, land masses, oceans, stars, dark matter, everything — was gone. Disappeared. Nothing. Null. The world, the entire universe — with the exception of Rajeev, the Tesseract Project lab equipment, and the complex pod-like machinery of the Bridge — had just winked out before his eyes.

Frantically check the equipment, the connections, the hardware, the software, but all operational, no malfs. Diagnostics on all Bridge systems: everything working at peak efficiency. He looked toward the lab door, thinking maybe he could just glimpse outside, maybe everything’s still there and the equipment couldn’t recognize that it was malfing. But what if it was true, and the seal created by the closed door (and the atemporal nature of the Tesseract lab itself) was the only thing keeping him existent? Could he risk it?

His mother and father in Singapore, his three younger sisters in London, Mumbai and Melbourne, his goldfish. Everyone he’d ever known or cared about. Siara, the transition bioprogrammer, responsible for genetic coding and resequencing for native blending in to altunivs, object of unrequited attraction, her long fingers, her wavy hair, that delicate mole at the corner of her left eye.

Rajeev looked to the Bridge, the size and shape of an ATM cubicle, bowed outward and penetrated by clusters of wires, tubes, ducts. It was still active, still humming monotonously, still connected tenuously to the multiverse. But for how long? He’d never used it himself, was only a transition tech, shuddered at the thought of being destroyed at the atomic level, forced through a wormhole, then rebuilt in a place like home but different. Horrifying experience, but a way to survive.

He scanned his screen for an infinity of altunivs, swiping through a cloud of causation, until he found his destination, its only point of divergence being that he (or the altuniv him) had asked Siara out six months ago, and they were currently living together. Rajeev would need to take care of his doppelgänger, but he’d deal with that later. He started the transition sequence and set a two-minute delay, and the Bridge revved up slowly; by the time he was inside, it would whine to an ultrasonic shriek, but he wouldn’t hear it.

Walk over, open the heavy door, hiss of pressure, step inside, close the door, sit down on padded naugahyde bench. Breathe. The light intensifying, the light. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. Again. Gasp. Nothing. Gone.

The sequence over, and the Bridge powered down slowly, smoothly to rest state. The lab and pod empty. A knock on the lab door. Swing inward. A flash of wavy hair and a small mole at the corner of the left eye. A voice saying, “Hello?”

Creative Commons License

This piece is just one in a 23-part linked narrative called Fragile, which will take a liberal interpretation of the song titles (but not the lyrics) of the masterful Nine Inch Nails double-album The Fragile. To read the other chapters in this series, click on the category “Fragile” below.

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One Response to “The Day the World Went Away”

  1. The Great Geek Manual » Free Fiction Round-Up: October 25, 2010 Says:

    October 28th, 2010 at 3:49 am

    […] Read the flash fiction The Day the World Went Away by Jason Erik Lundberg. […]