The Trace Effect
Alert, and stoical, staring into the black, into the universe, Laniakea, she mulled her moments. Her “search” for Orison. Her friend at Coney Island, who was slowly dying of heart failure, told her one day on Earth, at Steeplechase Pier in New York, that despite all of the battles, and wars of a life-time, he had just three memories. He didn’t disclose them. Aji noticed a system file, and opened it, a summary of the life of Erasmus, the saint, from Formia, who was deemed by the Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches on Earth to be one of fourteen “Holy Helpers.” Erasmus, a martyr, devised the notable rite of “intercession,” a new, and distinct form of prayer, comparable to confession, adoration, and thanksgiving. One type of intercession, usually a prayer for some else, was known as an “orison,” which was a “mystical contemplation, or communion, or “reverent plea to a deity.” Her LifeRaft® was following the course to the Grand Lumineres. She was amused to notice Erasmus was better-known as the patron saint for sailors, “in sudden storms.” The legend was Erasmus continued preaching after a thunderbolt stuck the ground beside him. Aji felt she was engaged in an “orison,” and pondered the dynamics as physics, as action, and reaction, in a sphere, noticed a pulsar, and dashed the thread with a quote from Shakespeare, “Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons / be all my sins remember’d.”
The Grand Lights did not exist, according to conventional wisdom; “trace effects” were acknowledged, and dispensed, as exceptions, anomalies, and errors, with diminishing amounts of interest. and they didn’t care to guess about the “trace effect.” It was an equation to Aji, which, irregardless of the outcome, had to be completed. Resolved, the Grand Lumineres did exist; finding them would culminate light-times of “celestial hopscotch,” the “wagon-trails” of man. Her late husband, Bud, Bud Adorjan, surely would have captained, and required this adventure. Aji opened a new file, and typed, “The truth is fleeting, like a silver lining.”
Using a raised monotone, the Selective Monitoring System, or SUM, the main computer of the LifeRaft® pod, periodically reported their progress towards Coda, a minor orb near the Sombrero, and a purported “edge, or seam” in the domain of Laniakea, also the site where her son, Will, was last seen. She quelled her emotions, as Coda arose in sight. It was the crude stuff of legends, and Aji resisted comparing her mission to the vision of ancients, almost emulating SUM with objective, monotone words. SUM hypothesized a seam on Coda would resemble “a blank molecular cloud, perhaps, with a vacuum beyond it.”
She had parted with her friend from New York for the voyage to Coda, and the chance to use LifeRaft® time to investigate the grand lights. He was being chaperoned by SUM aboard the primary LifeRaft® to Earth, after their “tourist” trip to Saturn, and İo. SUM related to her the return was a success. Hydra was pleased by the amount of research the trek had accomplished. The computer noted for Aji the man’s friend, Joe, a maven of flea markets, had purchased an extruder in Florida for $14 from the owner, an elderly man, who could never find a use for it. Aji gazed at SUM, a product of extrusion, and smiled, almost expecting the computer to smile back. “Extruder,” she said, cryptically, ironically.
A perfect vacuum would have to exist somewhere near Coda, near an “edge,” or at least “a closed abyss,” of some kind, with separate physical properties, Aji and SUM had agreed, or the grand lights could not exist; it was idle chat, she knew. If they could puzzle it out, it would not be worth the search. She theorized a “perfect vacuum” may have existed before the Explosion, known as the “Big Bang.” Such a vacuum would be characterized by “O degrees in temperature,” and be “vacant, or void,” a space, “without atoms, particles, or hydrogen, in a fixed point in time.” The tiny cloud began in a slight shape, and size, no larger than a donut box. It grew exponentially as they approached, certain it was an optical illusion of T2, “true time,” – an anomaly of the past, or future, – it was not visible in known footage of Coda; it was forming, and it existed, for them to find, but it was outside the realm, the time, and space, of their dijective realm, sufficiently distant to remain safe from any interstellar event; which is to say, they traveled in a given year, but they were viewing space as it existed countless ages ago, using a century of data to fix the aperture. There was something lurking here in the dark, Aji observed.
Her husband, Bud, liked to say “a guess, without fact, is a conversation,” and, like debate about Orison, years, centuries, generations had duly passed without any serious data to support the Lumineres may exist, or implying life, or space, or time may have existed, or possibly thrived before, and beyond the Explosion. It would plainly have to loom clear of a closed system, or Laniakea, outside the bounds of time, and mass, and minds of man, or known man. The looming bubble, or faint string, the elusive reaction of a “trace effect,” emerged on their screen like a YouTube video. Aji watched the molecules, in a maximized view, appear, – vaporous, gaseous, suspended, in place and in time, that is, within this minor bubble detached in space, – a “soap bubble,” she said; she captured the picture for SUM to analyze, knowing, given the vagaries of dijection, and their aperature, Nature would freeze the frame; it would reappear, like Schrodinger’s live cat, ineffably, timelessly. She was hoping to see the spectral vision of the grand lights, the lore of aeronauts, who, like their ancient seafaring forbears, had conjured romantic stories of vast auroras, and sundry visions upon in the vast horizon of empty oceans. To Aji, this was more stupefying to see; as Bud might have done, she pushed the envelope, and wondered if this bubble string could become a “pathway.”
She stirred tea in synthetic cup under the command window. Aji was fascinated by the “trace effect,” and stellar interactions. She asked SUM to review, “What are open, and closed systems?”
The computer, SUM, responded, “An ‘open’ system in this digital encyclopedia has a ‘flow of input and output, transfers, and exchanges of matter, energy and/or information with its surroundings. A closed system does not have interactions, and may not comply with many other laws of nature, and physics. It is impossible to say what a closed system may contain.”
It was the last of their speculation, hypothesizing about a “trace effect.” The size of the approaching molecular cloud was remarkable, too temporally great to fathom, or guess, or even see, if it was possible, present, it would have engulfed them countless times, and again, a billow of red range. Her hands shaking, Aji compressed the memory of it like a file to unzip, and with a gasp; it happened in an instant, bubble to spectacular event, and by surprise. She spoke to SUM like a short-order cook, unwilling to betray her fear, or her excitement, amused when the befuddled, and tepid machine, SUM, finally uttered about the Explosion, with typical understatement: “Much is implied.”
Astonished, Aji said only, “The Explosion.”
The trace effect had manifested near Coda with the brevity of a mayfly; a soundless clap of blank, and white-hot light. “Hydrogen, and water,” Aji reported. It was dreadfully simple. The cloud was no longer a vacuum; it had been momentarily static; a trace effect of vapor from elsewhere created a brief cloud; the cloud filled with chaotic wind from the interaction of electrical charges in the cooling vapor until it exploded into shard strings; matter, they supposed, was sheared from the adjoining, physical systems, from time, and innocent space, including one’s invisible to man. “They’re not edges of the universe, they’re boundaries,” Aji said to SUM. “Time is a closed system.”
“We’ll have to label it,” SUM said. It seemed like a non-sequitur.
“Label it,” Aji said. “What do we label it?”
SUM said, “The Big Bang.”
They were bathed in white light, in the grand lights. Aji blushed, “You haven’t said anything about the adjoining matter. The multivry, SUM. Where does all of the mass come from? It can’t have been created. What is there to explode?”
“I’m sure you know,” SUM replied.
“It had to come from somewhere,” she said, rhetorically.
“There are legions of theories about physical states,” SUM responded. “They imagine there are planets, universes, bosons, nucleosynthesis, dimensions stacked like a layer cake. There may be ‘bubbles.’ Inflation, wave-function, closed systems, each with their own space-time, or none at all. We would not know each other.”
“Bubbles? The more theories, the less fact, Bud used to say.”
SUM continued, “Each ‘soap bubble’ would be a separate universe, garnering their mass, and history like Laniakea, the same as this one. None may ever interact with each other, if they are closed systems, so we believe they don’t exist.”
Aji asked, “So each may have been created by a cosmic incident, an interaction like a drop of water in a vacuum.” She rummaged a spacesuit from the pod to float in their sphere of time, the undulating streaks, streams, and strings of the Grand Lumineres.
She poured coffee from a flask on the short table below window; it was still hot. She grinned slowly at SUM. “Dijective coffee?” The computer was mum. Aji recaptured the memory of the grand lights many times, staring into space. The thrill blurred her vision, blinded by the harsh glare of the Explosion, even in a safe zone, a different time and space, where it was visible to her; her heart seemed unbound in the air, in the anger of the competing forces of air, tumbling in it, unable to escape, whites becoming yellows, blues, purples unveiling the newborn pulse of Laniakea, in, and of it wholly, Aji glimpsed the staggering darkness of Laniakea when, instantly unraveling before her, was a jillion slow, and drowsy coils of lightning. ◊
¤ JUKE BOX ¤
Theme: “The Drift,” Blackmill | playlist, “Flea Markets, Nos. 51-,” a myopic vaile, (No. 53)
..… from “^; or, CARET,” III of III,
The Echo By Seas; & Other Stories, by Soda Tom,
[Complete Works, No. 01]. Copyright (C) 2017-20, ff.
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