Encounter While Waiting for Transport

by David C. Kopaska-Merkel and W. Gregory Stewart
 
 
 "For real adventure
 you can't just mess around with kid stuff:
 wormholes
 subspace
 star-shot time travel
 cryogenics
 swapping genes"
     he said,
     then spun this tale of
     climbing out of one bubble universe,
     somehow dancing across the continuum
     in which they're all embedded,
     and slipping down a hole into another,
     like in The Magician's Nephew.
 
     (Holes in this part of Creation
     (if you go in for Creation,
     or the panMythicConcordance,
     if that
     or else
     Holes in this part of
     Just What it IS)
     do a choke-neck spiral down
     to a pointparticleimpossibility
     or a piece of String...)
 
     I thought he was going to say something
     about how he came from
     another universe
     much cooler than this one
     and I was going to
     wonder out loud (but only just) why he ever left it
     and be all DEFENSIVE
     about my paltry three dimensions
     but
     he interrupted my interruption
     like he had some kind of
     temporal fugue going
     or maybe he was just firing
     on a better class of brane cylinder
 
 "...feet up to yer ankles
 in quantum foam and your head
 stuck in one dimension of a Calabi-Yau quandary
 while you wrap your ass around
 the Far Horizons
 of the first 3 dimensions
 and wait for your table in the 4th
 which is ALWAYS late
 when you don't tip the maitre d' enough, well,
 or anything..."
 
     blah blah blah.
     (there are only 11 ways to die,
     and only one of these has anything to do
     with Einstein at a distance -
     the rest are Darwinian somehow -
     but here's the thing about a multiverse
     spawning infinite sub-verses at any/every
     point o' choice -
     it was invented by dweebs who comfort themselves
     with the thought
     that even though they don't get the girl
     in this life, they can still kick sand
     back somewhere else.)
 
     but of course this is not what he meant:
 
 "There's something about a Brane transplant
 and I've got a case of
 surebellums so alien it's not funny
 in my transport and well you see
 I've got to move them
 before the Expiration Date
 (two months from last
 Wednesday by your reckoning
 but almost 3 years ago by mine)
 and this Irish fellow
 runs the bar out by the spaceport
 he tells me
 you might be interested
 or know someone who is."
 
     I am about ready
     to show him the bum's rush
     because I've heard this story
     plenty of times
     on planets a lot more
     sophisticated than this,
     when he pulls out a sample
     and I have to admit
     it's like nothing I've ever seen:
     ticking
     wild paint job
     and what looks like
     a V8 or better
     under the hood
 
     so I've got a portable
     with me and we
     jack the thing into it...
 
     ...now, there are some places,
     some planets,
     that just scare you the second
     you see 'em.
     there are sounds
     that take you back to bad times
     and smells...
     you see where I am going with this.
 
     this was every place like that
     and every sound and every smell
     and oh! I did gag most emphatically
 
     and he laughs,
 
 "There now, and didn't I tell you?
 That's a Hell in a handbasket, isn't it!?
 Get over it, man, and LOOK.
 Would you look at the thing?"
 
     and this is something I did try to do,
     to look
 
 "There in the wet places, there
 in the dark.  Do you see?  At the shore,
 do you see?  At the edges,
 where the tiny gods go to die
 where the primary mumbles 'dawn'
 from time to time.  There, do you see..."
 
     ...and I suppose I did see,
     or I did begin to see,
     while every twitching part of me
     cried to be blind or drunk or both.
     both, best, actually, and all this
     after 37 seconds,
     so I yank the jack and grab the Jack
     and pour a shot and hand it back
     and empty the bottle and stare.
 
     and stare...
 
     ...until I don't care where he came from
     and I'm about to tell him
     just what he can do with his
     toxic alien brain furniture
     and I'm making a note
     copying it to my symbiote
     to stay away from this particular
     waystation the next time
     I have to kill time
     on this sorry orb
     that's way too close
     to the edge of everything
 
     and way too far from anything that
     spells Home:
        nucleic-acid based life
        instant food
        mass-produced entertainment
        robot-made garments with familiar logos
        conspecific sexual partners