Half-filled Teacup

Written in response to: Write a story involving a portal into a parallel universe.... view prompt

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Fiction Mystery Science Fiction

Rick was trying to cover his ears with pillows, with as much effort as he could muster in his sleepy state, to drown out the sound waves of the snoring symphony coming from his wife. 

The symphony always caught its rhythm in the early morning hours, and Rick found it hard to bear the peak performance of the symphony. He had conveyed this problem to his wife, Marie, the performer and conductor, many times before.

However, Rick let go of all his effort and threw the pillow away, realizing that it took away all possibilities for a silent sleeping environment. He accepted the situation, as he had done for the past three months, and took solace in the project he was working on.

As a Quantum Physicist and engineer, he had his own dreams to fulfil. He worked for a private firm that had a workload utilizing only 20% of the 8-hour workday. The rest of the time, Rick invested in his dream of opening a portal to a parallel universe.

Learning deeply about the cosmos, he felt the urge to find a life away from Earth. He had his doubts, but he navigated around them in his own way.

"Do you want coffee with that?" asked Marie.

Rick placed the pen he had been gnawing on down onto the table and raised the half-filled teacup to answer the question posed by his wife.

"I don't want coffee, dear. I want a half-hour of silence to complete my sleep," murmured Rick, his head focused on the report he was reading.

"What did you say?" asked Marie.

"Nothing, my dear, just thinking out loud about this equation," said Rick.

"Don't forget to join me in the gym. It's been a week since you did any exercise, baby," said Marie, walking past Rick.

"Give me 20 minutes. I'll be right there," Rick assured her.

This was Rick's daily routine. The symphony would wake him up every day to pursue his goal of opening a portal to a parallel universe where he could find proof of life flourishing away from Earth.

Although he was good in theory, he somehow managed to leverage his skills to obtain time gains instead of monetary gains. He earned as much as he needed and some extra by leveraging time. The rest of his time, he invested in his project, from which he wanted to make wonders.

He was close to completing his project, based on his instinct, but on paper, he was nowhere near. The fear of failing to find a life away from Earth motivated him enough to stay on the quest. 

Milestones were painted on the wall as a pathway to guide him in this quest and to complete the machine that could detect life using the telescope of other space agencies to pinpoint that location. He had test-run his machine to locate water on SPT0311-54, which is roughly about 18 billion light-years away. He was trying to open a portal over there. Three years on this project of his and he was still unable to move ahead.

"Ma'am, I don't think there is a way to reach there via a portal," Rick pointed out the defeat appearing on the horizon while talking to his mentor via video call.

"You know, Rick, if there were a way to open that portal, we might have millions of people going back and forth to that place by now," came a sarcastic reply from his mentor.

Rick took some time to digest that. The mentor's poker face was of no help.

After a while, Rick began to doubt, wondering in loud words, "What if there are things that exist, but we are unaware of them or if there are entities that purposely keep them hidden from us?"

"Exactly, my point. There is a high probability that this thing might not exist at all, or there is already one in place that we are unaware of. In both cases, there is a much broader scope for the possibility of its existence," said Rick.

Rick was more confused than before as he asked about some of the theoretical problems he had been encountering that week. However, he found easy and more self-explanatory solutions to those problems.

"Hey, you missed the gym. Are you going to be serious about your health?" asked Marie.

"My mentor is going on a book tour for a week, so she called early for our weekly conference," replied Rick.

"Yeah, tell that to your heart, which may struggle to beat due to the blockage caused by cholesterol," Marie joked.

"Thank you, Doc," said Rick.

They finished breakfast, and Marie returned to the hospital to begin her day as a renowned cardiologist. Rick resumed his daily work and wrapped up in three hours.

The theoretical problem that had been haunting him for months was solved by his mentor, and now he was ready to test it. He was waiting for his wife to return home and witness the genius in action.

Marie returned after a hectic day and was eager to stand beneath the cold shower. However, Rick lured her with a promise to cook dinner if she witnessed his work.

"Okay, genius. Let us witness your 864th attempt to open the portal," Marie quipped.

Rick ignored that as usual and switched on the machine.

In the beginning, it was normal, but after about five seconds, it began to vibrate like anything. In a matter of seconds, the machine was vibrating like a diesel engine on a rail. The show lasted for about 30 seconds after which a motherboard short-circuited to fumes.

Marie let out a sigh of relief too loud, and she immediately hid that with some consolable words to make her way to the bathroom.

This was a monthly scenario and sometimes a weekly scenario for Marie. She was proud of her husband's enthusiasm, and about his genuineness, she had her own doubts.

The next day, the symphony awakened Rick, and he took refuge in the lab. He was cleaning up the mess from the previous day when an idea sparked into his demotivated mind, trying to find an escape from this.

He imagined his life in SPT0311-54 and how well he could sleep over there in silence with no noise to disturb him.

"Noise. Noise. Noise," his mind stuck on that word. He found the issue and filtered it out. He was close, but only a small fragment of unclear noise was hurting the last phase of bending time and space to create a hole or a portal to a parallel universe.

The symphony was disturbed by a louder noise like that of a flash grenade.

Marie jogged her way to the lab. She noticed a half-filled teacup emitting hot steam, but Rick was nowhere to be found.

May 02, 2023 08:40

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