Part 6 - On the Universe

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

First, there is no universe. Second, there is no lack of universes. What we tend to see as the universe - what lives and dies and sells timeshares around us - is only an infinite and infinitesimal facet of a greater multiverse.

Imagine a diamond, cut and polished, twisting slowly between a kindly old jeweler’s wrinkled thumb and finger. Your perspective of the world beyond shifts as it turns. The light plays inside and across, living a thousand lives of its own, showing them off only one at a time.

Now imagine every twist, every tilt, every errant shard of light creates a new facet in the gem. The diamond never gets bigger. The facets never get smaller. Altogether they turn through dimensions beyond our reach, but the light lives on and out - to dance between shadows of our understanding.

The Threshold is one of these dimensions. It is a space beyond space, and a time between times. Specifically, it is the gap that holds apart the timelines of parallel worlds.

You don’t need to know this to make tea, so most people don’t. For the common person, it just isn’t practical to bother with all the mind-bending, mathy, nonsense involved. Unluckily (she felt) for her, Edna Star had a Master’s degree in Impractical Mathematics (and Related Nonsense).

By now you’ll have guessed that she hadn’t intended this. She had hoped, when she went off to school, to become an engineer, like her mother. But Edna will Edna, and somehow had found herself in medical school. To her relief, her family were delighted at the news - she was to be the first of them to become a doctor! Yet, when her schooling came to its close and the dust settled (not yet in her house), the paper they handed her said “Mathematician” instead. Looking back (hindsight being poked in the eyes) no one could trace exactly how this had happened - the best anyone could offer was that it had made loads of sense at the time.

This training, combined with her unmatched experience as a reality-hopping adventurer, allowed Edna to confidently proclaim, “I don’t understand,” as another giant something crashed into their ship. She stumbled, nearly falling to the hardwood floor, but catching herself on the nearby control console. Alarms blared to life, competing with each other for which could be the loudest and least helpful.

Pythagoras grabbed the ship’s wheel in his beak and spun. Captain Long-Name lunged toward the instrument panel where Edna steadied herself. He pressed buttons, threw levers, turned nobs. The alarms died - none of them having won their contest, but everyone having lost because of it.

The pair’s actions were all hurried, but unworried - like they’d practiced at them. The ship lurched one way, then the next, then some other ways, too. Neither Edna, nor her stomach, approved. (Actually they weren’t moving in space at all, but as that is the best analogue our senses have, that is how they perceived it.)

Finally the Captain responded as he continued turning buttons, throwing nobs, and pressing levers, “Ah, yes, well. There is a monster of sorts on my Earth that is ravaging and unraveling time itse—“

“—No. Sorry. I get that part, Captain Lord-Constable Duke Highmond Reffentrem, Twenty-Seventh Heir-In-Wait to the Council of Mim and Such Responsibilities There Entailed, Forever Shall they Weigh,” she tried to say it wrong - to drive home how much she didn’t care - but she knew as she finished that she had failed even that. Edna pressed on anyway, “I suspect that - basically - Saturdays are becoming Wednesdays, Wednesdays are turning to Mondays, and Mondays are out all together. Since all parallel worlds exist in the same points of space, separated only by their timelines, this sort of manipulation could be catastrophic to the whole of reality and everyone eating muffins therein. Pull the wrong thread too far, and it all crashes back onto itself. Am I close?”

He paused from his work of pressing nobs, turning levers, and throwing buttons, taking up Pythagoras’s open-mouthed staring in its place. “I, well—Astounding! Ha! Isn’t she something, Pie?” he called to the turtoid, but awaited no response. “Yes, I’d say you have the measure of it! The effects are a bit more—er, varied than that, but yes! Remarkable, I say.” He trailed off, mumbling more affirmations.

Edna picked it up before he had fully stopped. “Yes, I’m sure, and I think I should need you to tell me all about it later, but right now what I don’t understand - what I know to be utterly impossible,” she paused, having enough experience to predict what would happen next. On cue, whatever was attacking them landed another blow. She finished, “is that.”

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