This is a short story I wrote, mostly to illustrate to a pupil I was tutoring how readily imagination could catch fire. The contest was to write a quick story in less than half an hour, so I did something brief and intense, a sketch. That’s what short stories are, and in many ways they are much harder to write than novels. You just don’t have the time or space necessary for intricate developments; you have just a thumbnail.
The technology is hypothetically feasible; quantum entanglement might allow us to create two rings in space which are entangled and slowly separate them, allowing a kind of wormhole to form between the rings, a sort of tunnel that can be more or less instantly traversed by a body passing into one ring, then emerging more or less intact on the other side. Of course the engineering is well beyond our current tech level; but this has been one means proposed by which we might make “tunnels” to other stars. We’d just have to wait a long, long while before the egress, propelled at sublight speed, emerged at our destination.
It’s classic quasi-dystopian cheese, something done in the voice of the 1960s era à la Asimov. Hope you like it.
Ladies and gentlemen of the committee, thank you for this opportunity to address you this afternoon on the matter of the events of the last year. I realize your time is valuable, so I’ll simply present a summary of the incident, followed by our current reconstruction of the aftermath.
It’s never easy to talk about death on the scale that we’re discussing here; the magnitude alone is so vast as to beggar the imagination, and when the scale is at last understood, the response is always stunned shock that goes well beyond horror.
To begin we’ll remember what we discovered about our orbit around the sun. You might recall the fear that followed the announcement, half a century ago, that our orbit was degrading and our world was doomed to fall inward, spiraling toward our sun until life here was impossible. I don’t need to recount the hysteria, rioting and religious terror that gripped every continent, nor how many predicted — with reason — that we would succeed in destroying ourselves long before the surface of the planet was rendered uninhabitable.
Then, of course, The Project was proposed. Simply, this was a bold attempt to rectify our world’s orbit by using conventional physics in a most unconventional way.
Any massive body, as we know, possesses gravity, and two massive bodies in close proximity interact with one another gravitationally around a common center. The behavior of a moon is an example of such action. The way our deep space probes have used gravity to slingshot around larger planets and gain acceleration into extrasolar space is another example of this effect.
And in fact this slingshot effect was what The Project was all about.
It was a simple scheme. Find a body of sufficient mass to act as a counterweight to our own planet, bring it into close range with our own, and use the slingshot effect to correct our orbit. The only two questions were which planet and how to accomplish this feat.
Fortunately the latter question was answered through our induced wormhole ring technology. The Project was simply a production of this hyperspace wormhole apparatus on a full planetary scale. The former question…
Forgive me; this is still difficult. All our best observational data suggested that — but at that range, there was simply no way to be sure.
The receptor ring was launched just forty years ago, moving at relatavistic velocity, and it arrived precisely on target. We know it worked, because we’re here to have this meeting today. We also know it worked because everyone saw and felt the effects.
The ring activated precisely on cue, just as it encompassed its target in that remote system. The effect was instantaneous and no one here can forget the sight of another world suddenly and shockingly appearing in our sky, correcting our orbit, then hurtling past at a significant fraction of light’s speed, pulled here by the effect of the wormhole’s scheduled collapse. The quakes, floods and storms that came about as a result will still be raging periodically for another decade at least.
All I can offer now is the — the assurance that, had we known, we would have … but there were no suitable … nothing else presented itself as a solution.
All we can do now as that world, which saved our own, continues its track into the cold depths of interstellar space, is reflect on what we did to save ourselves, and hope that our attempts to commemorate its dead will be sufficient to save us from damnation.
The acceleration down the wormhole, though it stripped the planet of its atmosphere, water and life, did not succeed in removing everything, and our archaeologists have already begun to decode the few pieces of information we’ve been able to recover so far.
I do hope we will learn from this — not just our mistake, but also from what we’re learning of those who lived on that other world. We’re learning, and we’re remembering, and in our way we’re mourning.
We don’t know everything about them yet, but we do hope that one day, the souls of those who inhabited the world they called Earth will forgive us for our selfishness.
Thank you and may the gods turn their faces once more to us, one day.
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