Quantum States

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Carter peers through the glass at the wavering image—the wormhole he had feverishly tried to stabilize for months. His pale, gaunt face, emaciated from neglect of food, distorts in the shimmer. His dark brown locks drape over his scrunched eyebrows, sweat beads on his forehead—reflect like stars in the screen—and as his jaws clench as a frazzled planet surges into view.

A wobbling blur at first, but the atmospheric fray becomes apparent—electrical discharges from creases in the temporal manifolds are singeing its green atmosphere. The pupils of his eyes constrict suddenly as massive fire bombs erupt on the planet charring everything in sight—magma spewing out from two continent-size entry holes between the ocean of its eyes. It’s as if the planet itself had groaned a spacetime-warped cry from the bowels of its earth, the last vestiges of her crust, now a vacant skull—all of her had turned to dust.

Carter mumbles out loud, “I thought I could’ve brought her home. My wife was innocent and they exiled her there, to a barbed-wire prison colony on that god-forsaken world. I was sure I could have freed her from the injustice. If only the portal to the parallel universe were stable!”

Sharon places her hand tenderly on his shoulders, her blond tresses brushing the side of his face. She says in a soft voice, “I am sorry for your loss… You had no way of knowing that you’d be opening the wrong Schrödinger’s box.” She gently squeezes his shoulder, then moves her hand to relieve his tension, to caress his sorrow away. Carter turns to look at Sharon. Her eyes, hazel blue, speak quietly—not hint of her duplicity.

The image in the portal flickers, streaks of purple intensify, and its static hiss grows. “The wormhole is collapsing.” Carter mouths the monotone words devoid of any more emotion, as he stares at the dissolving portal. In the following moments, a whiff of burnt almonds wafts through the wormhole and permeates the lab, just before it collapsed. Carter and Sharon gasp before slumping into each other’s arms.

About the Author: 
John C. Mannone has 450 published poems/stories and two literary poetry collections—<em>Apocalypse</em> (Alban Lake) and <em>Disabled Monsters</em> (Linnet’s Wings). He’s the poetry editor for <em>Silver Blade</em> and <em>Abyss & Apex</em> and has three Pushcart nominations. He’s a professor of physics in east TN. Visit <a href="http://jcmannone.wordpress.com"><em>The Art of Poetry</em></a>