Dave was an asshole. That said, Dave was about the only friend Steve had, so he tolerated him. Besides, he paid half the rent and did the dishes occasionally. Plus he made delivered pizza affordable.
Steve was a mad scientist sort. If you mentioned scientific ethics to him, he’d look at you funny. He liked to pick a pet project and work on it for a long time. Trying to point out that his project violated the fundamental laws of physics was pointless – he would either tell you the laws of physics were wrong and he was trying to prove it, or he’d test some sort of explosive on you and ask if it was also physically possible. Usually it wasn’t. The laws of physics weren’t enough to stop Steve from making an anti-stapler. It was a device which could make sheets attached to each other unattached. Whenever he was asked how it worked, he would become strangely quiet and mumble something and tearing the fabric of space time irreversibly.
Steve’s latest pet project was trying to prove there were more than the four dimensions known to exist. But that wasn’t enough – Steve wanted to travel in them, despite not yet knowing if they even existed. He said he aimed to beat the Large Hadron Collider experiment. To do this, he had secretly built a Larger Hadron Collider. Dave once asked him if it could also create miniature black holes and destroy the universe. Steve avoided eye contact, and mumbled something about “not so miniature” and “less than fifty percent.”
Dave was rather concerned.
In any case, Steve went about his experiments. All was as usual. One day, however, he noticeably changed. He stopped talking, he stopped eating and he stopped bathing. The last of these was the only one to bother Dave, but eventually Dave approached him.
“What’s going on man? I mean, I know you’re absent-minded enough to once have left that cold fusion generator at the supermarket causing that terrorist scare, but seriously, you’ve been acting weird.”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“No, I probably wouldn’t, but try me.”
“Ok, you understand how there are four dimensions? The three regular space dimensions, in which we basically have full movement, as limited by stuff like gravity and walls?”
“Then you have time, which is another dimension. You always move forward through time, and can’t control the direction or speed. That’s why it’s different, that’s why it’s strange.”
“I’m with you.”
“Ok, look at this cup. This cup can only occupy the three spatial dimensions in one combination. It can’t be in two places at once.”
“No, it can’t.”
“Not even if, like, two of the dimensions are the same.”
“Well I realised, it’s the same with time. An object can exist at two points in time, even if it occupies the same space.”
“Right. So what does that mean?”
“If you go back in time, there’s nothing there. If you go forward in time, there’s nothing. I built a machine to let me travel, and I saw it. We are a moments away from oblivion at all times. I saw oblivion. We are so close to it, and we can’t do a thing about it!”
“When you say nothing?”
“I mean nothing. I don’t mean just not having anything there – if you look, you can see there’s not even the absence of anything. Absolute oblivion. It’s chasing us, a moments behind us. Do you understand? DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”
“But it can’t catch us, can it? What’s the big deal?”
“Time slows down. As time carries on, our passage through time slows down. Eventually, it’s going to overtake us. We are all going to be beyond dead, and there is nothing we can do about it!”
“Is that even physically possible?”
Steve grabbed at the device in which he had seen the past, and thrust it towards Dave, exclaiming "Look, Look!". By the time he was done, Dave was just as shaken.
“Do you care if it’s physically possible?”
A companion to Deja Vu. Part of Fearquest.