Or Worse

Haruto jumped up off the floor and ran his hands over his face and chest. That was one hell of a shock. He cursed at himself for his carelessness; he could have been seriously injured, or worse.

He bent over and picked up his glasses, and only then did it occur to him that he was hearing a soft hum, like a microwave several rooms away. The machine was running. The damn thing was working!

He quickly walked around the sphere encasement that held the experimental drive, checking the various monitors and readouts affixed to its exterior. Haruto circled it a second time more slowly, not ready yet to believe. He’d done it. He’d built the first working FTL drive. He’d go down in history, like Copernicus, or Newton, or Einstein—no, bigger! There would be ships named after him, and schools, and babies, and whole planets!

Working alone in his little lab he’d opened the heavens to humanity.

He held his cheeks and hooted as loud as he could. He punched the air and walked aimlessly around his lab in a daze. He had to tell someone! He ran to the stairwell and hauled at the railings as he circled several flights up, taking two and three stairs at a time until he reached the cellar style doors at the top and popped out of the ground like a fresh oil well. And there he stopped.

A perfectly white shell surrounded him, terminating a quarter mile away in every direction, centered above his lab. What was this? A side effect of the drive, no doubt, but what exactly was happening? He walked to the shell’s edge. It gave off a pure light, but it was completely opaque. Was it solid? He testing it by jumping through it. No, it was not solid, but it was a one-way boundary. Haruto floated above the ground in mid-jump just outside the barrier, frozen in an infinite point in time with the rest of the universe. Meanwhile, his machine ticked ever onward in its locked time bubble. Had history remained a meaningful construct, he certainly would have gone down in it, rather than with it.

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