The Right Hand

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Of the many faceless days that moved mankind through evolution, none were as significant as the day Behrouz dropped his ammeter. Plagued by the strenuous combination of a doctoral program, his research at the Institute’s lab, and a part-time job as a sandwich delivery boy, Behrouz was more than exhausted. He had slipped into that hazy automation of redundancy, that zombified and monotonous state wherein most humans, wedged deep in the black pitch of middle age and onward, find their empty existence. He had classes for five hours, his obligatory research in the lab for six hours, and then another five hours of sandwich deliveries. Behrouz repeated the same schedule the next day and the day after that. Classes, research, and sandwiches followed by classes, research, and sandwiches, day after day after day until he could no longer remember what month it was or smell the difference between an egg and tomato smørrebørd, or one layered with herring and cheese.

It was in this debilitating exhaustion that Behrouz, holding his clipboard numbly, had turned and knocked his ammeter of the cold, heavy laboratory table. The ammeter banged and clanked on the ground with a rather excessive noise, making him jump at first and then sigh. He rubbed his dry, throbbing eyes and bent over to gather his mess of parts and paper, scattered and disheveled like broken palm leaves in a typhoon. The significance of the event did not lie in the dropped ammeter itself, but in Behrouz’s anemic effort to collect its parts from the tiled floor, which led to his sudden observation of a remarkable pattern that appeared across the fallen papers in piecemeal fashion. With the slightest of effort, like that of a late summer breeze, Behrouz’s discovery would tip mankind off his doomed precipice.

Behrouz arrived in Copenhagen seven years ago from the sea-kissed outskirts Sari, Iran where the air was inundated by the citrus wonder of its tangerine and lemon groves. By then the world had gained and successfully utilized several quantum computers, most predominately in the storage of information in quantum and solid states. As a student at the Niels Bohr Institute, Behrouz’s spent most of his academic life immersed in theory and math. The last two years saw his work completely monopolized by an infinite number of measurements of subatomic particle polarization, electrons and photons mostly, from which he entered, compartmentalized, and analyzed a massive volume of data. His research followed the rhythmic dance of probability that slowly emerged into patterns of predictability in his quest to discover the mysteries of quantum entanglement. What emerged from the fallen papers was a deeply complex calculation that combined a series of unexplored magnetic forces, a mathematical breakdown of the relationship between entangled pairs of specific electrons, and the inclusion of expressly controlled variables, including time, space, location, and human involvement, among many other factors. In short, Behrouz had discovered the formula for luck; he had found a quantifiable prescription for being at the right place at the right time. When applied, his formula produced a fleeting but monumental moment for millions of explicit and distant entangled pairs to reconnect and for millions of electrons to make a quantum leap at a shared location, all at a precise nanosecond. It made material the abstract understanding of chance not often realized in the banal tedium of regular human functions.

Behrouz made a presentation to his research mentor and a few professors, followed by a controlled demonstration to a select group of scientists and investors. After that, humanity went to the netherworld in the proverbial handbasket.

As quickly as the sublime and innocence of his discovery flickered into existence, it was all snuffed out by the cruel breath of human immorality. Behrouz never had to deliver a sandwich again; they found his bruised, sand-caked body on Svanemølle Beach. His pockets were stripped clean while the only remaining object in his tattered backpack, once ballooning with notes and papers highlighting his work, was a new ammeter. Whispers of curiosity swiftly turned into sneers of jealousy and greed as the worst of the criminal underworld went on red alert, salivating and scrambling at such an opportunity. The formula passed hands in dark alleys and in smoked-filled corridors of seedy night clubs, from Behrouz’s assassin to mobsters and gangs to politicians and moguls, who siphoned off the world’s luck for themselves. With all of the world’s good fortune in their hands, they dominated lotteries and stock markets, successfully carried out robberies worldwide, and got away with all manner of self-serving atrocities.

Money and commerce disappeared. Planes fell from the sky and highways grew thick with horrific accidents as the luck that once appeared in near misses and in avoiding mechanical failures vanished. Thousands were killed if not in the wave of vehicular and household accidents then in the civil wars that followed. The noise was deafening and then suddenly, without explanation, it all went quiet.

In this desperate, fear-driven muteness of survival, a group emerged, a secretive movement whose leadership and whereabouts have never been known. In time it took a name: The Right Hand, so aptly christened as the power it accumulated set it at the right side of whatever was left of a divine force. It was born in the chaos and adapted quickly, wiping out international communication followed by its strategic seizure of all global food production and potable water sources. Cities became fortresses and rural regions grew more isolated like some frontier outposts from a more primitive yet less barbaric past. The only link between these last hubs of civilization were the ambassadors of The Right Hand who came in a rather feudal tradition to collect tribute in exchange for protection and to remind the populace of the yoke they bore in this new world. Nothing would save the coming generations, not hard work, not unity, not the memories from Behrouz’s time, not imagination or invention, and certainly not luck, which had long since disappeared.

About the Author: 
Virg Bodyfelt should have listened to her father when he told her to study science and engineering. Regrettably, she studied political science and now works with attorneys. In her free time, she enjoys writing and catching up on the latest trends in science and technology.