On display in the Museum of Quantum Phenomenon is a window. It is 1.524 meters tall and 0.914 meters wide with clear glass separated into 9 panels on the top and 9 on the bottom. It has a white, matte frame and a small placard providing a narrow history of the window, the seemingly most boring exhibit within the museum. The placard reads: Window of Dimensional Transposition, ca. 900 AD, Rome, Italy; discovered by Rinaldo Russo and donated in 2105 by the University of Bologna.
Standing before the window is Dr. Una Harlowe, a quantum physicist who received a Nobel Prize in 2103 for mapping the temporal plane using the quantum spin of the subatomic particles that comprise non-baryonic matter. No one in the museum recognizes her as she stares at the window, the phenomenon that spurred her work forward. While studying physics at the University of Bologna, she worked under Dr. Marco Bianchi, and when he showed her a complex quantum spin pattern resembling a double helix, she smiled like she'd never heard of the window. She smiled like she didn't know about every instance of its use, accidental or otherwise.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus was in the midst of his journey towards the Caribbean when an unnamed individual opened the window and stepped through, pulling the entirety of the world into another "dimension" where Christopher Columbus landed in North America instead of the Caribbean and was killed by the Tequesta Tribe of Native Americans in Southern Florida. This precipitated the
European Conflict of 1501; the increased colonialism attempts led to the Native American Costal Expansion and the first Native American Coalition.
In 1776, during the Holy Roman Empire's invasion of the Unified American Tribes, local authorities in Rome, Italy were in pursuit of Englishman William Jacobson, a thief running away with over ten pounds of diamonds, when he found an unlocked window at street level, opened it, and brought the world into a new timeline. A timeline where the Holy Roman Empire successfully invaded the Unified American Tribes and was on a path to conquer all of North America, which instigated the enslavement of Native Americans. William Jacobson was caught and sentenced to death.
In 1812, in the midst of a successful Hopi Revolution, Alessandra Moretti fled through the window in an attempt to escape her arranged betrothal. Before being able to flee through the window, servants pulled her back in and shut it. When Alessandra beat her new husband unconscious with a candelabra, she successfully
escaped through the window. The new timeline saw the Hopi Revolution crushed, and Alessandra confined to her husband's estate for life.
As one European said in 1969: "[The Indigenous American's] misfortune is no fault of their own; but alas, so it goes."
Hundreds of years, thousands of opportunities, fallen through their grasp. Una feels the dampness on her face but does not wipe it away. Twenty-five years in Europe for this moment. Twenty-five years of no contact with her tribe in the Americas. Twenty-five years of pretending to be of Indo-European descent. Her albinism
served her well.
"The museum closes in ten minutes," a delicate voice claims over the intercom. "Please stop by the guest shop on your way out!"
Una swallows and pulls out her tablet. A probable rendering of the temporal plane displays when she unlocks the device. Her fingers trace the double helix, branching variant spirals that all stretched on indefinitely. Time is finite, she learned during the mapping process. Everything ends. Every deviant branch of a road not taken withers and collapses. Particles stop spinning. Entropy reaches a maximum.
Life is finite.
She would make suffering finite as well.
At this moment in 2113, the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples is in the midst of a coup. Having hoarded supplies for twenty-five years, they march on the European Confederacy Embassy. Armed drones first, followed by remote operated artillery vehicles and programmed automatons, and finally the foot soldiers. Inside the Embassy, ambassadors and politicians watch on 24 screens that cycle through the various cameras as the insurrection marches forth with determination. The Italian ambassador calls Enzo De Luca, captain of the Trans Dimensional Task Force and tells him to take Dr. Marco Bianchi to the Museum of Quantum Phenomenon to use the window and fix this, dammit.
Twenty meters away from the window, a security guard notices Una and makes his way towards her as she types on her tablet with vigor, trying to find the derivative of the temporal plane to manipulate the window into getting her to the correct timeline. The one where her people aren't suffering and confined like animals to 3,200 square kilometers. The one where they can get a job. The one where slurs aren't thrown at them like rotten food. The one where they're equal.
Armed men guard the Embassy. Their weapons more modernized, their bellies more full. But they stand against the indigenous peoples who have suffered for almost a millennium. Let the blood the of interlopers nourish the earth.
The security guard reaches out to grab Una, her hand on the glass of the window. "You can't touch that. You need to leave." But Una opens the window, sees yellow grass just on the other side, a light dusting of snow. The security guard grabs her arm, and Una uses her free hand, the one with the tablet, and breaks the device on his face, shards of glass caught there and blood dribbling down. He staggers and falls, releasing her.
Open fire echoes against the promenade of the Embassy. The ambassadors clamber under their desks, hands above their heads, as if this were a tornado drill. As if that act alone could protect them of the rage of suppressed.
Una steps through the window, clambering down the ground. She is still in Europe, the weather is a touch colder. She looks back at the window, shut now. With great care, she takes off a shoe, her sock absorbing the cold snow, and throws it at the window. The sound of the glass breaking is the sound of any other glass breaking, and for the first time in twenty-five years, her smile is genuine.