The Loop

Maria found herself in a white void. It was overly bright. The complete lack of detail was oppressive. Though, there seemed to be a floor, and she was standing. She spun around slowly and white objects materialized as if a fog was lifting. Simple solids, mostly. Pyramids and buckyballs. It was hard to get a sense of scale; they could have  been small and floating close enough to cup in her hands like fireflies, or they may have been megaliths towering into the white sky.

A sudden booming knocked her to the ground and she pressed her palms over her ears. It sounded like whale songs got thrown into a blender and played back over an air-raid siren three feet from her head. She clenched her teeth and shut her eyes and curled into a ball, unable to form even a single thought over the cacophony. And then suddenly, thankfully, it stopped. What she heard next could only have paired reasonably with a cartoon chipmunk.

“Greetings, Maria! Sorry about that. Is this voice better?”

She tentatively opened her eyes and sat up. She was still in the void, alone with a scattering of abstract shapes. “Who said that?”

“You wouldn’t be able to pronounce my name, what with only one tongue, but you can call me—” The voice made a sound like a cash register rolling down a flight of stairs.

“Uh, sure. But where are you? And where am I?”

“Ah, but of course, of course. This is the Loop. It’s an inflated point-universe that we use from time to time—very functional, like a rec room. Great for parties. As for me, I am here: before you, behind you, around you and within you. My true form is an eight-dimensional cloud—very difficult to render for a human; you would go quite mad. We even have a word for it: primshock, because of the primitive nature of your mind. No offense intended, of course.”

“Of course…”

“Also, I should make you aware straight away that you’re not the real Maria—not as you define it. You’re a copy of sorts, but completely identical, I can assure you. You—or, Maria; same thing, really—have been selected to be a human representative for what you might call an interdimensional focus group!” The high-pitched voice climbed up another few notes in excitement.

“So, is this going to take awhile, or…?”

“Well, as I specified previously, this is the Loop, so named for the shape of its timelike dimension. So you could say we’ll be through in no time at all! Of course, you could make equal claim that this will take an eternity. Is there anything I can do to make your experience more enjoyable?”

Not-Maria thought it over. “We’re going to have to redecorate. And this may be a little forward, but, could I get some weed?”

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