“Hurry, Terry. Everyone in quantum reality Epsilon 1450 just died, and the frequency of reality deaths is increasing.”
“I’m trying Kate, but as we get closer to the Nexus, it’s harder to filter out all of the interference from the different quantum realities. I can barely see the center, and we’re dead close.”
It’s generally believed that our universe is the only universe, but Terry Pliskin and his sister Kate found out otherwise when they accidentally fell through a rift near their home in Brooklyn and discovered a different Earth. Unfortunately that one event started a chain reaction, destabilizing first those two universes and then all the others.
The laws of physics in each universe are delicately balanced to allow the development of a reality where life can evolve and thrive. If gravitational energy is just a little two low, no stars can form. If the nuclear efficiency of fusion from hydrogen to helium is slightly off, all the free hydrogen would have been fused shortly after the big bang. If the cosmological constant were too large, stars would not be able to ignite.
Terry’s and Kate’s journey from one reality to another disturbed those balances, and the result is that universes were ceasing to exist.
Professor Grethel McGhee explained it to them when they fell into reality Alpha 11, that is, before Alpha 11 ceased to exist.
Terry and Kate weren’t physicists. They weren’t even adults. Terry was going to graduate high school next spring, and Kate was in the middle of her sophomore year. Somehow, the cosmic accident that let them fall from their reality to Alpha 11 allowed them to continue crossing the realities, which was good for them since they escaped before Alpha 11 died.
Cordi Yalman, Chief Physicist at the Royal Academy in London in quantum reality Delta 909 told them about the Reset button.
Yalman had been born in Cairo, but she and her family were among the 1200 to be evacuated to England before the meltdown of the Tutankhamun Nuclear Reactor in 1943. She based her entire career on particle physics and nuclear cohesion, winning the Nobel for her discovery of the multiverse in 1999. In 2008, she created the Seer, a device that let her map the hub of the multiverse, the lynch pin of reality, the safety valve of the multiverse.
“You children can not only fall from one reality to the next, you can choose to fall in between all of them. You can reach the Nexus and if you do while there is still any reality left, you can reset everything, we can go back to the beginning and try again.”
With each successive leap, Terry and Kate became more sensitive to their location relative to the Nexus. Kate possessed the motive energy, while Terry could determine direction.
Kate also could feel when universes died.
“We’re almost there Kate. Give it all you’ve got.”
She closed her eyes and concentrated. She didn’t have to see. Terry did all the “steering.” The fifteen-year-old tried to ignore how many realities she could sense dying, there were only a few thousand left, and focused on moving them in the direction Terry was indicating.
Suddenly all of the “noise” of the multiverse fell away. Everything was silent in a way it could never be in any quantum reality. They were in-between them all, at the center of everything.
Kate opened her eyes. Neither Terry nor Kate understood how they could exist outside of existence, but they still felt like they were breathing, talking, walking, living. Yalman examined them with the Seer and said they were surrounded by some sort of energy field even she couldn’t comprehend.
It was enough that it worked.
“The Nexus!” Terry and Kate were being drawn toward it. Light dimmed as they approached. This wasn’t just an area of black emptiness, the Nexus generated darkness as a force which, in theory, bound the multiverse together. That force was out of balance thanks to them penetrating the first rift. They were going to fix it, fix all of it, if they could do it in time.
“We’re going in. Good work, Kate.”
Kate didn’t tell her brother that she’d exhausted her energy over a minute ago. She wasn’t pushing them into the Nexus, the Nexus was pulling them in.
The Reset button wasn’t literally a button, but a state of reality, or state of mind as Yalman had explained. They had to focus on the reset, but they had to be inside the Nexus to do it.
This meant they’d never get back out, but that wouldn’t matter if everything started all over again.
“We’re here, Kate. Focus on the reset.”
Kate imagined there was a red button in front of them marked “Reset.” She visualized both her and Terry pushing on it with both hands. It was stubborn, not having ever been pushed before. She could swear it was pushing back, but she leaned over it and used all her weight to push down. Terry, seeing what she was doing, did the same thing.
Little by little, the imaginary button went down, down, down. Flat!
Sirens and alarms went off all around them. The button glowed bright red, then yellow, and finally white.
A woman’s voice, like the computer voice on Star Trek: The Next Generation loudly announced, “Reset in ten seconds, nine, eight, seven, six, five…”
“Here we go, Terry.”
“…four, three, two, one…”
“See you on the other side, Kate.”
There was no explosion, no flash of light, no cataclysmic event. Just one moment they were in the Nexus and the next…
Terry and Kate Pliskin were walking home from Moshe Ben Maymon High School in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Terry was looking forward to graduating in the spring, but he’d miss afternoons like this one in November, walking home with his sister.
“What do you think of Hadassah Freilich Lieberman being the first woman President-Elect, Terry?”
Like most girls and women he knew, Kate was absolutely thrilled that there would be a woman in the Oval Office in a few months, and an Orthodox Jewish woman at that.
“I think that Senator Joe Lieberman will have to get used to being called the ‘First Gentleman’.”
Kate giggled and slugged her brother teasingly in the shoulder. “Is that all it means to you?”
Terry and Kate felt a strange breeze go past them as they turned the corner to walk up Eastern Parkway, the street they lived on. For an instant, they both thought they were going to lose their balance and fall into the street.
In reality, if the quantum density between this universe and Alpha 11 had been just four percent less cohesive, they would have started the entire, horrible chain of events all over again.
However, in the reset multiverse, that density was just high enough to prevent it.
The Pliskin family had Mama’s delicious potato kugel for dinner that night.
A little while ago, I had a brief conversation with my son Michael about how difficult 2016 has been for a lot of people, and that I hoped 2017 would be better. He reminded me that our calendar is just an arbitrary standard and that objectively, 2016 and 2017 don’t matter so much as markers of events. I countered that how we measured time was a matter of convention which allows us to order our events. It also creates the idea that year over year, we can hit some sort of “reset” button and make things better.
He didn’t really seem to take any comfort in that, but my casual remark gave rise to this story.