Deadly Entanglements

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Sleep wasn’t coming, but that was OK with Jiaming Ho. He glanced at the clock. It was 2:33 in the morning. He was tired, and he had to get up early, but yesterday had been such a great day that he wanted to savor it for a few more minutes.

In the morning he received an email from Los Alamos telling him that his students had won the International Entanglement competition. As the prize, they would be scheduled for 30 minutes on the new quantum computer, running simulations on their hypothesis. He gave them all “A”s.

In the afternoon, he was asked to represent the physics department at a tomorrow’s meeting for a new joint project with Los Alamos. He was only a visiting professor and his knowledge of university politics told him it would likely be some low priority project – it was with a microbiologist - but it was a chance to network.

And best of all at dinner, his wife, Rachael, told him she was pregnant with their first child. Though she didn’t want the child to be born in the United States, (“It’s just too dangerous here,” she said) there would be plenty of time to get that worked out.

And so, with one more glance at the clock, 2:46, he decided it was time to sleep and he started to clear his mind.

The vision that came wasn’t like a normal dream. It was incredibly clear, colorful and bright. He was standing with his back against a wall of rock. Cold. A blizzard. A spear in his right hand. And out of the blowing snow a creature came charging at him. A big beast. Brown fur. 4 eyes. 4 fangs. The beast jumped in the air and its open mouth came down on him, ripping him apart.

That was it. No fear. No resistance. Just resignation.

And the night before last was another strange dream. He was lying on a grassy hill at night, next to someone he loved. He looked at the stars. No recognizable constellations. A volcano in the distance. Earthquake. Large white-hot boulders falling from the sky. And one boulder falling right towards him and the person he loved. No fear. No attempt to get out of the way. Just resignation.

The morning meeting at Los Alamos should have been interesting but Jiaming was tired and was having a hard time stifling his yawns. Dr. Caldwell, the microbiologist, was explaining how something had to be missing from the lab’s many failed attempts to create artificial life. She wanted to explore the possibility of some quantum effect never explored before in biology. She needed help applying for a grant.

About an hour into her presentation, Dr. Conlin, from the university’s chemistry department, stood up. He interrupted Caldwell and said, “This is crazy. I don’t know about the physics department, but chemistry is out of here. You’ve got some half-baked hypothesis about spin and entanglement and biology. Do you realize what will happen if the press hears about this? They’ll say we are looking for some God connection, a soul. Or even worse, they say we are looking for the “force” from Star Wars. With taxpayer money! I’m not having our reputation and everything we worked for destroyed because of this.”

The room was silent.

Conlin continued, only slightly calmer. “I’ve got to be back at the university. Grades came out this morning and I’ve got to deal with all the stupid whiners who think they can negotiate their grades. Jiaming, I’ll give you a ride back if you want to go now.”

Jiaming thanked Dr. Conlin, but explained that his office hours didn’t start until three and that he wanted to take this chance to get to know some of the other people at the meeting.

Conlin left and everybody who stayed took a break for some coffee. Dr. Caldwell came up and introduced herself to Jiaming, just as he was yawning and pouring his coffee. Embarrassed, he told her he was intrigued and then explained that he was up late. “Crazy dream,” he said.

“Me, too,” said Dr. Caldwell. “Some big hairy beast and snow.”

The person standing next to them interrupted. “Did you say a hairy beast and snow? Around quarter to three?”

“And the stars, volcano and flaming rocks a couple of nights ago?” asked someone else.

The room was silent. Dr. Caldwell’s project didn’t seem so crazy now. Of the fifteen people in the room, twelve had the visions. One who didn’t was working nights in the lab and the other two were newly-weds. The meeting was productive.

Back at the university, Jiaming decided to eat his lunch outside, alone, sitting on a bench. His wife made him what was now his favorite sandwich, peanut butter and grape jelly on 15 grain bread. He was taking in the beautiful blue sky, big white clouds and the fall leaves. He loved being in America.

A student walked up to him. Good looking kid. Blonde. Tall. Fit. He was carrying his backpack over his left shoulder.

“Professor Gupta?” he asked.

“No, I’m Professor Ho, physics.”

The kid smiled. A creepy smile. “Don’t lie to me. I know you’re Gupta. And I don’t appreciate getting an “F” in American history from some foreign monkey like you.” He reached into his backpack.

A billion light-years away, senior physics researcher, Poma Qu, was in her rest pod, hoping to sleep without any disturbing visions. Two nights ago she saw the destruction from the groundshake and volcano on the northern hemisphere of her planet. Last night she had a vision of a strange beast.

She closed her eyes. She saw another, very strange world. A sky, a color she had never seen before, and clouds that were white. The creature standing in front of her reached into a satchel and pulled out a strange, black object.

A feeling of resignation. Loud sound. Bright light.

She felt sad. “Why always death?”

About the Author: 
Mark Snow is a retired lawyer and the current CEO of SafelyFiled. com, a secure records management software service for small businesses, professionals and families. He has had a lifelong interest in physics, though he is incapable of truly understanding anything after Newton.