Friday, May 04, 2007

PM 9: Arrival

It is a strange thing unconsciousness, hovering between existence and nonexistance. A taste of death it often seems. My uncosciousness, unobserved by any, was of an even stranger sort. It did not merely encompass me, but everything else. It was a blankness in the universe. I was Schrondinger's cat.

Perhaps you are not familiar with that story from modern physics. Schrodinger came up with the experiment to refute the ideas of men like Heisenberg and Niels Bohr who believed that reality was the summation of various wave states which collapsed upon observation. The experiment Shrodinger suggested, if carried out, was a rather cruel exercise in probability; however, it was only a thought experiment. The cat is placed in a black box with a poison vile and a small amount of some unstable isotope and a radiation detector. The decay of a isotope determines when the vile of poison is released. Until the box was open and the cat seen again, the unfortunate beast was neither alive nor dead but both and neither. Half a cat, some might say. Shrodinger thought his opponents would realize that their arguments would have far reaching consequences. The cat subject to the whims of an uncaused event showed quite clearly that there can be no real distinction between the subatomic world (radioactive decay) and the macroscopic world (cats and scientists). Therefore, surely the idea of a half a cat would by its very absurdity prove to them that their interpretation of Quantum Mechanics was false. Shrodinger was naive to think the saner view would be the more pervasive. We now must accept only half a cat.

Yes, I was that cat, possibly alive, possibly dead in a black box somewhere in the Universe. My existence was even more questionable, for unlike the cat whose consciousness had it been awake would have been snuffed out, mine was simply not present. But if "I" was not in the box, where was "I." I was so dilute, even to myself, that I was for all practical purposes not really any place at all. I had simply fallen out of time. And more than that, there was no guarantee I would ever appear again. And even one step further, as it turned out when I did come back into existence, for the observor unaware of my history, I may have merely appeared out of the ether. I appeared ex nihilo, another uncaused event like radiaoctive decay.

Father Kindly objected to talk like that. He said it was silly and idle and I will have to account for it someday. But Father Kindly believed in causality. He believed in St. Thomas Aquinas's proofs. I myself am not sure. God, if he exists, being omnipresent, sees through all things. He is the observer extraordinaire and therefore, it seems to me all waves must collapse for Him. God does not play dice with the universe as Einstein said, but all evidence seems to say if there is a God then he does. How can it happen that a photon passes through both slits at the same time? If conscious shapes the universe and we know there is an unknowable, there can be no observor. I told Father Kindly this, but he always insisted on the metaphyiscal certainty of God's existence. Metaphysics and physics. I can comprehend neither. How can I choose between metaphysics, which I can't see but can percieve, and a photon, which I can't help but see but shall never percieve?

All the stronger argument seems to work against God. Why would God hide invisible behind his creation? Shouldn't he arc above it like the sun in the sky? I see and percieve the universe, its vastness, its emptiness. I see nothing of what is beyond it. The universe I can comprehend, measure, and describe. I can in a measure comprehend it. Father Kindly's God is incompatible with this universe. He is colorless, massless, sizeless. I can not see, percieve, or comprehend him. How than can I be at all understood to have been created in his image? This is too much to believe. It is faith that defies the probing of reason. Father Kindly said reason can not contradict faith, but my reason causes me to reject God. Only one thing keeps my mind open to the faintest possibility of His existence: the odd fact that I myself feel incompatible with the universe.

Of course these were not the thoughts I was entertaining when eventually the waves did all collapse down and I popped back into existence. I was thinking of how much pain I was in as I lay on a cold metal shelf. I felt so very heavy. I tried to open my eyes but was almost immediately blinded by the brightness of my surroundings. It was liking stepping out into sunlight from a pitch black cave. I blinked, but the light was so intense it hurt.

"Oh good, its brain cavity isn't going to burst." said a voice.

"His vitals are fine. Blood pressure is rising but still normal. I told you he would be okay."

"Yes, yes, yes, but you aren't the one who gets splattered when they go off." It was a woman's voice, soft and melodious. My one eye could make out a vague outline, a grotesque and distorted sillouhette. She prodded me. "Can you hear me? What's your name?"

I grunted.

"What planet are you from?"

Two grunts.

"A slow riser apparently."

"I'll pump in a little more adrenalin." Said the second voice, also feminine but by comparison quite a bit more gravelly.

"I say we just dump him. Why bother training such a useless glob of flesh. It will be doing it a favor. It doesn't stand a chance. Better to die out in the void than be ripped apart in some arena." She paused. "Besides, I'm over my short shift by at least 10%. "

"Peter." I managed to get out. my arm moved slightly, but it was so heavy. I curled my fingers and turned my head.

"Look, he's responding." siad the second voice.

"To which question?"

"He's telling you his name."

"Is that your name? Peedar?"

"Peter MacLeinn."

"Look him up will you Diot?" Said the soft voice. "Where's he supposed to be?"

"Nothing by that name." The gravelly voice replied. "Ask him where he's from."

"What planet are you from?"

"New York."

"Newyork? Diot what planet is Newyork?"

"Earth, he means Earth."

"Well how come he said Newyork?"

"New York is a big city there. Several recruiters work out of New York. Of course he could have meant New York the province."

As my eyes grew accustomed to the light the blur that was my inquisitor became more colorful and distinct. I could see now that despite the loveliness of her voice she was horrendously ugly. "You're not properly in the system. Who recruited you? We need to know." The word recruited brought me a little more back to the world.

"Where's Bud?" I said weekly. "Where am I?"

"Oh here he is. I found him." The gravelly voice exclaimed. "You know he was supposed to arrive ten long shifts ago. We had him down as lost in transit."

"That's impossible. Where has it been all this time?"

"Probably in a warehouse, or in one of the bays."

I was looking around trying to make out other objects in the room. The overhead lights kept drawing my attention. "Well, some have been known to endure twenty or thirty long shifts in stasis. Still it's amazing it survived. Most likely it has brain damage." She paused before addressing me again. "Did you say Bud Holligan recruited you?"

I licked my dry lips, my tongue was swollen. There was little saliva. "Where is he?"

The second voice, Diot, answered. "He's long gone. Don't worry, if you knew him as well as we do, you'd be grateful you missed him."

"Who are you?"

"Oh, I'm just the resident medical technician. This is Pamille the Human Resource coordinator."

I now could make out this woman who stood over me. Her bald wrinkled head, her huge lidless black eyes, her colorless lips, the flat nose and her long neck. She wasn't ugly, she just wasn't human. "Welcome to the Eternal Agressive Revolutionary Army. I'll be assisting you as you get acclimated."


Xavier Martel said...

Well, this story has taken a turn! The physics/metaphysics soliloquy taking place at the same nexus as the transformation from film-noir into sci-fi was a nice touch! Keep on rollin!

Standifer Evasto Visum said...

Yeah, I like it too. Especially the human resource chick (wildly attracted to her - if I haven't missed the mark, she's the one calling "Peedar", "IT" (which is somehow appropriate when not referring to the monicker, but the slang - reminds me of my last girlfriend who strangely, and to this day, refers to me only as "Dick").

I guess you could say I was an "object" of her affections.

This is going to be a great ride!

Exactly what a story should be - engaging.

Miguel Cuthbert said...

If you haven't already guessed, I am serializing a science fiction story which I wrote in outline form over the last few years. In the process I keep adding in random thoughts - probably a bad habit.

Dali's Temptation of St. Anthony is one of those random thoughts but fits in well with the overall plan, and the cat in the box is another.

As you can tell I am struggling with the first two paragraphs, attempting to explain how Peter MacLeinn was like the cat and why it really matters at this point in the story.