Science Fiction Science Fact WebJournal Quantum Mechanical Creative Short Stories

Science Fiction Science Fact WebJournal

Story Index

Science Fiction Science Fact Story Index

As any good quantum collection suggestions, the stories collected here are meant to be read in any order, at any time, spontaneously, sporadically, and/or simultaneously. This site is designed to encourage readers to navigate multiply: one can jump to stories using the home page, can follow the trails of the back and the forward arrows on each page, and/or can sample the index here.

The Little Bang by Brian Bullins

Winter’s End by Stefan Cafano

On the Shoulders of Giants by Andrew Chinn

Upon a Painted Sea by Devon Cottle

Traveling Salesman by Melissa Dalis

Crossing by Courtney Fehsenfeld

Steering Sunlight by Jackson Lee

Turing Test by Leslie Lei

Dark and Stormy by Evan Myer

Rolling Hills, Filled with Lines of Protruding White Stones by Sachin Mitra

Blinding Light by Jason Novack

1827 Oenone Scott

Writing A Science Fiction Story Kevin Trainer

Desolation Row John Un

 

Blinding Light by Jason Novack

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

John Stewart was sitting in Professor Hull’s quantum time manipulation class. He was fascinated by every detail he learned about this new field, taught by the leading researcher. But Professor Hull wasn’t just the leading researcher, he was the one who created the sub field, and was for the most part the sole contributor to it. In the last ten years he produced numerous papers, all held in high esteem by the community. Just last year he won a Nobel Prize for his most recent groundbreaking experiment. More specifically, for developing a machine that can partially control quantum time.

 

John contemplated everything he learned as he walked slowly back to his apartment of campus. John is a fifth year graduate student at MIT currently working on his dissertation in quantum physics, focusing on entangled materials. He works under the young, but talented, Professor Norwalk who is well known for is research in that area.

 

Johns shares his apartment with a friend and fellow graduate student, Mark Stein, who is in his fourth year of studying Anthropology with a focus on the technology of ancient civilizations.

 

“What’s up, Mark?” John said as he open the door.

 

“Not much,” Mark mumbled without turning his head. “Got some new some copies of old parchments to look over.”

 

“Something new? What civilization is this one from?

 

“Don’t know, that’s the interesting part. It looks like these have been sitting in the archives for quite a while now, but no one ever looked at them too thoroughly. I’ve got the first two of what seems to be a set of ten papers. The translation seems good, but I’m still having trouble figuring out what this means.”

 

“Huh, well, at least you’ve got something new to work with right? Let me know if you find anything interesting. Have you eaten dinner yet?

 

“Yea I just ate, sorry.”

 

John wondered past mark on his way to the fridge. He stopped abruptly, some of the papers on Mark’s desk had caught his eye.

 

“Decided to do some of my physics homework did you?” John asked sarcastically.

 

“What are you talking about?” Mark asked with confusion.

 

“Those papers on your desk… some of that looks like physics”

 

“It’s what? Are you crazy? These are copies of archived material that is over 2000 years old.”

 

John’s eyes widened as he leaned in to take a closer look. “Are you sure? This stuff contains details on what looks like quantum physics!”

 

“Yes, I’m sure, I examined the originals myself, they are definitely ancient texts” Mark responded in a clearly annoyed tone, thinking that John was just messing with him.

 

“Listen to me Mark. I’m being serious, this closely resembles what I’ve been learning over the past year and a half! I’ll show you my notes.”

 

As John started to compare his notes, even Mark, with no physics experience, could see the resemblance. They both stared at the papers, dumbfounded.

 

“Do you have more of these Mark? I would love to check out the rest.”

 

“Sorry, that’s all I have copied” replied Mark, “I think I saw more in the archives though, I’ll check tomorrow.”

 

 

 

Chapter 2

 

 

Mark walked in to the apartment in the late afternoon, “hey John, come check this out, I got the rest of the papers.”

 

John examined papers thoroughly, comparing everything to his notes. As he got to the end of the papers, Mark noticed a strong frown form on his face. “Are you sure you got all the papers from the set?”

 

“Well, it’s difficult to know for sure if we have all of them, but I definitely get everything that was in the archives.”

 

“Hmm, these are shockingly similar to my notes from Professor Hull’s classes over the past two semesters. Are you sure these weren’t submitted by a student just messing around.”

 

“Yes, John, I’m sure. I copied these from one of the most secure parts of the archive, you can’t even get in there without explicit permission, let alone submit something. Furthermore, I checked when they were submitted just to make sure, they’ve been there for over 100 years.” The frown came back to John’s face. “So what’s the problem?”

 

“Well, I hate to say this, and I have no other proof yet so don’t quote me on it, but the only conclusion I can think of is that Professor Hull found these papers, and realized that for some inexplicable reason, they contain details about cutting edge quantum physics experiments. I think he got his ideas from these papers, some of his research follows these outlines nearly step for step.”

 

“Wait a minute, you’re telling me that you think Professor Hull, the leading researcher on quantum time manipulation, plagiarized ideas from ancients texts and called it his own work?” Mark sounded cynical

 

“I know it sounds completely ridiculous, but how could these old papers even have this information in the first place? I don’t understand myself, but there is no way this is a coincidence, the material is too similar. This is the same stuff that won him a Nobel Prize. The weird part is that these papers stop before where his research is currently at. So assuming that he did use these, he either figured out the rest himself, or the rest of the papers in this set are missing. Mark, are you completely sure that there aren’t more papers like this?”

 

“I don’t know John, telling me that the leading researcher is plagiarizing from documents that are thousands of years old is a bit hard to swallow. Maybe you should get some sleep and think about this in the morning, I know you’ve had a long week.”

 

“C’mon Mark, just look a little more, this could be Huge. Besides, don’t you need this for your own project anyway?”

 

“I guess, I’ll take a look tomorrow if I have time. But don’t go dragging me into this without more proof, I’m still not convinced.”

 

“Yea fine” John mumbled, as he buried himself back into the heap of papers on his desk. Engrossed by this bizarre plot he had just come up with out of the blue.”

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

The next afternoon Mark reluctantly headed into the archival section of the biggest library on campus to dig around for more information. He was still not convinced, and only half paying attention to what he was looking at, when something caught his eye. It turned out to be photocopies in the same format as the rest of the documents he had been studying. Upon taking a closer look he realized that these were not copies of the parts he had already found, and they were clearly missing pages. He was unsure why they were here, as he had already double checked the ancient texts themselves, and he definitely hadn’t missed anything.

 

Puzzled, he decided to take a look at the detailed records of the archive from 100 years ago, when the texts were supposedly submitted. He found an old record book at the back of the history section. After a few minutes of flipping through he noticed something strange. The page that should have had the records of these ancient texts was missing. Normally, these record books are kept in perfect condition and never altered.

 

As Mark walked back to the apartment he was starting to have second thoughts. ‘If these papers really do prove John’s theory, is it right for me to help? This really has nothing to do with me anyway. Well, I guess it’s too late to stop now,’ he thought as he walked in.

 

“Hey John, good news, I found photocopies of what looks like more of the text. These are definitely incomplete though, and I can’t find the originals anywhere. What’s really suspicious though, is that the page that should have had details about these papers in the record books is ripped out. So there is no way to know if more of the same set of papers was ever officially submitted.”

 

 “Huh, that is weird,” said John absentmindedly as he started going through the new papers. Clearly large parts were missing, but it was definitely a continuation of the earlier papers. “This is it!” he exclaimed, after comparing notes for about 30 minutes.

 

“This is what?” inquired Mark, surprised by the outburst.

 

“Look, This right here! It’s the exact same material that professor Hull just published in his most recent paper. And look, this is definitely new, none of this has been published at all.”

 

“If you say so, it all looks like gibberish to me. So does this prove that he is copying this research?”

 

“Well it does in my mind, but there is still no actual proof that he is copying them.”

 

“So what are you going to do about it?”

 

“I’m not sure yet, first I want to try and decipher the parts of this that Professor Hull hasn’t researched yet. But it’s getting late, I’ll worry about it tomorrow.”

 

 

 

Chapter 4

 

 

John was frustrated. After hours of sitting in the library trying to decipher the papers he had gotten nowhere. He was convinced that they were completely new ideas, but there were just too many parts missing to piece everything together. He was also still trying to figure out what to do about the situation in general. He decided to start by talking to Professor Hull, who happened to have office hours soon. John was in his class after all, so visiting office hours wouldn’t be that weird. However, John was a very gifted student, and never went for help, so he had to make sure his questions did not give away his suspicions.

 

When John walked in, Professor Hull barely noticed, clearly engulfed in his own work. “Hey Professor Hull, how are you doing this afternoon?” John asked somewhat awkwardly.

 

 “I’m alright. What can I do for you? I wouldn’t imagine you need help with the homework.”

 

“No I don’t. But I’m really interested in your class and research, and was wondering if I could ask you more about it.”

 

“Sure, I guess,” responded Professor Hull distractedly, still more focused on his computer screen.

 

“I was just wondering how your research is going, what are you working on right now?” John realized immediately how stupid this question sounded. Professor Hull had just published a new paper last week, and he wasn’t about to spill the beans on his next idea to a student with which he had no relationship.

 

“It’s going well, I’m still analyzing the data I mentioned in my last paper about quantum time manipulation. You’ve read it haven’t you?”

 

John laughed awkwardly. “Yeah of course I have.  But, umm, what are you planning on doing next with your research? How are you coming up with your ideas?” John could tell this wasn’t going well.

 

“Like I said already, I’m still analyzing data about the quantum time manipulation I outlined in my last publication. I haven’t started my next project yet; and besides, even if I did have something new, you know I can’t tell anyone outside of my lab the details before it gets published.” He was clearly irritated at this point. “And how am I coming up with my ideas? John, I’m a professional physicist in the prime of my career, I spend every waking moment thinking about my research. How can I possibly say exactly how I came up with my ideas? Why are you asking these stupid questions anyway? If you’re having trouble on your own research or something go ask your advisor. Right now you are just wasting my time.”

 

“Alright I’ll go do that, I’m really sorry about disturbing you,” said John shakily, sweating heavily as he left Professor Hull’s office.

 

‘Well I don’t think that could have gone any worse.’ John thought. ‘I didn’t get anything definitive, but he was clearly careful not to let anything slip out. And his massive ego I’ve heard so much about definitely lived up to expectations. Whatever, I’m going to take a shower, I’ve had enough for now.’

 

 

 

Chapter 5

 

 

After thinking it over, John decided that he wanted to investigate more. It wasn’t that he had a particular grudge against Professor Hull, in fact he liked the professor’s class a lot. The real thing that intrigued John was the collection of ancient papers that somehow had groundbreaking information on quantum physics. And, more importantly, still had some information that Professor Hull had not yet tested.

 

John decided to visit his adviser and friend, Professor Norwalk, to discuss this idea. Professor Norwalk is one of the younger professors in the physics department, but that shouldn’t take away from his abilities. He is well respected and runs his own lab that is currently researching materials that can hold entangled particles for use in quantum computing and other areas. He also communicates somewhat frequently with Professor Hull, who consults him on materials to use when developing devices for research. Because of that, he should have access to Professor Hull’s labs, even though he doesn’t officially work in the lab.

 

‘Perhaps I can use this to my advantage, and get access to Professor Hull’s labs,’ thought John.

 

“Come in. Hey John, how’ve you been? How’s work on your dissertation going?”

 

“It’s going well, although I’ve been pretty preoccupied recently. Anything new with your research?”

 

“Not too much, still analyzing data from the last set of tests. What do you need? Questions about your research?”

 

“Actually, no. Today I want to talk about something else. Have you learned anything new about Professor Hull’s research? I’ve heard you work with him frequently.”

 

“What brought that up? You’ve never asked about his research before.”

 

“Just curious I guess.”

 

“Well anyway, I don’t know much more than you’ve seen in his articles. He hasn’t been asking for new materials recently. It seems like whatever I supplied him in the past was good enough for whatever he’s doing. But even when I was more involved in his research, he was fairly secretive. I never felt like I knew every aspect of the experiments I helped with.”

 

‘Hmm, I guess that’s what I would have expected,’ though John. ‘nothing I can use against him.’

 

“So what do you think about Professor Hull” asked John, trying to finagle something useful out of Professor Norwalk.

 

Professor Norwalk gave him a strange look. “He’s the best in his field and his research is fascinating.”

 

“No, I mean his personality.”

 

Professor Norwalk looked surprised. Most physics researchers judged each other by their contributions to the field, not by their character. “Well…” he sounded hesitant. “Professor Hull is certainly very motivated and focused on his work.”

 

Although he was obviously avoiding saying it directly, it was clear that Professor Norwalk held the same opinion that John had heard in the rumors and experienced himself. Professor Hull was egotistical. So much so, that even professors in similar fields held some resentment.

 

Now was the chance for John to capitalize. His plan was quite blunt, but he now knew that Professor Norwalk was not on the side of Professor Hull, so it just might work. “Professor Norwalk, I have something important to tell you,” John said in a much more serious tone as he pulled out the photocopies from his backpack. “Before I start, I should say that my roommate is studying anthropology and has access to every part of the library, and we’ve double checked everything. These are copies of ancient texts that are thousands of years old, and they contain details about quantum physics.” Professor Norwalk frowned. “But not only that, these are all nearly identical to Professor Hull’s work. Everything he’s published in the recent past follows the guidelines in these texts, and they go past where he is right now.”

 

“John what are you talking about, is the some kind of prank?”

 

“No, you know I’m not the type of person to joke around. I know it sounds ridiculous, but look at my phone. I had my anthropology friend take pictures of the ancient texts themselves. You can clearly see that these are not recent documents. Furthermore, he checked all of the records, and these were submitted to the library over a hundred years ago.”

 

“I don’t know John, this sounds pretty crazy. Why are you telling me this anyway?”

 

“Well, here’s the thing. There are 10 different texts in the archive. But we found incomplete photocopies of more, and after taking a closer look, I’m sure that they come after the ones we have. And, more importantly, they contain details of exactly what Professor Hull is doing right now, and most likely he will continue to copy them in the future. And what’s more, not only are some of the originals missing, but the page in the records book that would have had details on them has been cut out!”

 

Professor Norwalk was still skeptical. “Even if all of this is somehow true, what are you trying to accomplish? Are you going to rat out Professor Hull? Even if for some strange reason you want to do that, this is not nearly enough proof…”

 

“I’m not really sure what I want to do about Professor Hull’s plagiarizing, but the remnants that I have from the last part of the text look fascinating, and potentially dangerous. It’s hard to tell without more information. I don’t think that it’s right for Professor Hull to keep all of this a secret considering that it’s not even his own ideas.”

 

“Well, I think I understand your thought process at this point, but why are you telling me?”

 

John paused for a moment, trying to think of a convincing way to ask, but ended up just asking bluntly. “I want to look through Professor Hull’s lab for the missing documents.”

 

“You what?” Professor Norwalk looked surprised. “Just going into a high level lab like his without permission is already extremely inappropriate, but you also want to mess around with his papers? That’s absurd!”

 

“I know, but look at the schematics and details on the document, this looks like it could be really dangerous. I think that he is so caught up in his research that he might start trying everything without considering the consequences for everyone else. You know how egotistical he is after so much fame.”

 

“Well you’re not wrong about Professor Hull, but I still can’t help you.”

 

“You don’t have to do anything. You have a key to his lab from when you worked with him don’t you? And I have a key to yours since you’re my advisor. All you have to do is leave your lab keys in your desk and I’ll do everything else. There’s no risk to you, no one will ever know you had anything to do with this. And once I find the documents, I’ll show you first. This could be something huge.”

 

Professor Hull thought it over for a while. “Well, I guess it wouldn’t be too suspicious if I happened to forget my extra set of keys… but you must not tell anyone of this.”

 

John was happily surprised. He had been hoping for the best, but he did not expect Professor Norwalk to agree so easily. Perhaps Norwalk’s dislike for Professor Hull was starting to get the best of him. Professor Hull had essentially ignored Professor Norwalk after asking for his help on research after all.

 

 

 

Chapter 6

 

 

John went to retrieve the extra keys from Professor Norwalk’s desk at 1:00 am. It didn’t take him long to find them, Professor Norwalk had put them exactly where he said he would, he was surprisingly cooperative.

 

As John got closer to Professor Hull’s lab he started to get anxious. What he was about to do was illegal after all. There were security cameras scattered throughout the building as well, but they were never monitored. Mainly just for legal reasons in case something big happened. As long as no one notices anything strange the next morning it is unlikely the footage will ever be checked.

 

John got to the door and inserted the key into the lock. It opened up, no problems at all. Lights were off, no one was here as expected. He started to shake slightly as he closed the door behind him. ‘Calm down’ he thought, ‘no one will ever know you were here.’ He was surprised though, his nerves rarely got to him, and certainly never like this.

 

He walked further into the lab and around a corner. He was surprised to see a steel door, leading to an inner cement chamber with no other entrance that he could see. Strange, Professor Norwalk had told him the basic layout of the lab, but he didn’t say anything about this.

 

John tried the key, no luck. As he leaned in to inspect the lock, he heard a very low, quiet rumble. He noticed he was shaking just a little bit more now too, but he didn’t feel any more nervous than he did before.

 

“Could there be a machine running in there?” It wasn’t uncommon to leave simple tests running over night. However, he noticed that the walls were thick concrete. And it is strange to leave something high powered running without notifying other researchers about it.

 

After examining the area for a little while, John found nothing that gave him any clues about the machine, so he started searching for the ancient documents he had originally hoped to find. He rummaged through papers for what felt like an hour, before he found some old looking papers under a pile in the corner of the room.

 

It was fairly dark, but a wave of excitement passed over him as he took a closer look. Not only did these look like the missing material, but they were the actual ancient papers themselves, not just photocopies. John quickly took his phone out and snapped a few photos, eager to leave. He felt as if he had overstayed his welcome.

 

It was not until he had left the room that he felt stable. He had forgotten about it, but he realized he had been vibrating slightly the entire time he was in the room.

 

‘Was I imagining that?’ he thought. ‘No way, it must have had to do with that machine. I hope the documents I took pictures of will explain it.’ On his way back to his apartment he glanced at his watch. He stopped abruptly and stood there dumbfounded. His watch showed that he had only been in Professor Hull’s lab for twenty minutes, yet he was sure it felt like well over an hour.

 

 

 

Chapter 7

 

 

John spent hours examining the photos he took once he got back to his apartment. He was sure they were a continuation of the documents Mark had gotten earlier, and they were definitely more advanced than the research Professor Hull had published. It was clear that Professor Hull got his ideas from this ancient text, but John didn’t really care about that anymore.

 

He was fascinated by what the last part of the text explained. It showed a device that could manipulate time using quantum mechanics. This was a remarkable idea. Before the research published by Professor Hull that was found in these texts, physicists had significant trouble merging the ideas of time with quantum physics. But somehow this device could control time using quantum mechanical properties. Or at least in theory; it likely hadn’t been finished if that’s what Professor Hull was working on.

 

After a few more hours analyzing the text, John deduced that the machine worked by causing all particles in the vicinity to be in a state of superposition. However, it wasn’t just a normal superposition of up and down spin for example. Instead, it was a superposition between the state of the particles during the current time and a few moments in the past. This means that if the particles were collapsed to the state in the past, they would appear to be going back in time.

 

The machine was somehow capable of forcing all the particles in the vicinity to collapse at the same time, so to an outsider it would like the area suddenly appeared as it was a few moments in the past. Furthermore, it could cause a chain reaction, as the current particles would have another state from a few moments ago, and those particles would be in superposition with a state a few moments before them, and so on.

 

Or at least that’s what John had deduced after reading the text. Of course it hadn’t been tested yet. However, as he thought about it more, a sudden realization popped into his head. ‘Could that be why I felt like I was in Professor Hull’s lab for so much longer than my watch showed? Could that be what the constant shaking was? The particles in my body being repeatedly collapsed to a superposition a few moments in the past?’

 

John was filled with both confusion and elation. ‘Could Professor Hull really already have a working prototype of this?’

 

Of course he couldn’t answer any of his own questions yet, but he was filled with excitement, determined to finish the rest of the text and then go discuss with Professor Norwalk.

 

As he finished reading the document, something at the bottom of the last page caught his eye. It reminded him of the fine print that appears as a warning on the back of medicines. He read it aloud, “Warning: once the quantum time manipulation apparatus is built to specifications it will constantly grow stronger absorbing energy from previous uses.”

 

‘Previous uses? What does that mean?’

 

He read further, “Please note: if allowed to reach full potential, apparatus will begin to reverse time until arriving at the beginning of civilization, at which point it will self-destruct. This is a precautionary measure to stop human technology from destroying the species.”

 

“WHAT!!?” he screamed aloud. ‘This has to be a joke right?’ he thought to himself as he sprinted out of his apartment toward the physics building.

 

 

 

Chapter 8            

 

 

As John ran past Professor Hull’s lab he felt the same vibrations as the night before. He panicked. He was sure he hadn’t felt them this far out the night before.

 

John burst into Professor Norwalk’s room panting.

 

“Jeez, John, calm down, what’s going on?” asked Professor Norwalk.

 

“Professor, I found the rest of the text in Professor Hull’s lab. I think we’re in trouble.”

 

“Are you kidding me? Did you get caught? Dammit I knew I shouldn’t have given you that key.”

 

“No no no,” John stammered, “I didn’t get caught. Something way worse than that.”

 

“Well, what is it then?” asked Professor Norwalk, seeming relieved.

 

John explained everything he had discovered as quickly as he could.

 

“Calm down, John, someone like Professor Hull wouldn’t overlook that.”

 

“Think about who we’re talking about here. He’s precisely the kind of person who would overlook that. He’s so full of himself and confident in this research I wouldn’t be surprised if he never even read that part of the document.” Exclaimed John, exasperated. “Besides, I have proof that something is going very wrong. Come with me… and hurry.”

 

They didn’t need to go far. As soon as they stepped out of the office they felt the vibration. John quickly explained his hypothesis that the vibrations are really the small backwards steps in time.

 

“So what do we do now?” exclaimed Professor Norwalk, clearly frightened at this point.

 

“How the hell should I know? The texts never talked about stopping it,” john shouted as they ran towards Professor Hull’s lab.

 

The door was open, they rushed in to find Professor Hull standing, staring at the machine in the cement chamber, door wide open. He was either caught by the time manipulation or completely entranced by his own creation. He was completely oblivious to his surroundings.

 

“Professor Norwalk, turn off the power,” yelled John as he tried to approach the machine.

 

“It’s already off in this whole section of the building. The machine must be powering itself.”

 

John tried throwing anything he could find at the machine, but no effect. It looked well built, and it seemed like nothing landed with much force, perhaps due to the time manipulation.

 

John and Professor Norwalk looked at each other in terror, both at a loss for what to do next.

 

“Wait, I have one more idea,” yelled John as he ran out of the lab. “If normal objects have no effect, then maybe if we throw objects that are already in a quantum state it will confuse the machine.”

 

Professor Norwalk’s lab, which John worked in frequently, had recently developed a material that was exceptional at staying in a state of superposition for long periods of time. It was so effective, that the large amount they had in storage should still be unstable.

 

The vibration effect was rapidly getting worse. As John ran back to Professor Hull’s lab, he noticed himself get moved back a little with every step he took. As he got close, each step teleported him back nearly as much as he was moving forward. Out of pure determination he made it to the machine.

 

He lifted the unstable material over his head and threw it down onto the machine with as much strength as he could muster. The time manipulation caused by the machine was reaching critical levels. It was difficult to tell if he and the object were even moving forward anymore.

 

As the object appeared to touch the machine, a bright light exploded in all directions.

 

John’s senses were overwhelmed.

 

He heard nothing. Felt nothing. Just blinding white light.

 

 

 

The End.

 

 

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