“Okay, bring it forward one picosecond,” Evan ordered. His head was locked into a focus helmet that canceled out all movement, including his breathing and his heartbeat, so he could see things more clearly than a regular microscope would allow. It was uncomfortable, but coupling it with a bank of visible and non-visible light detectors allowed him one of the clearest views of subatomic particle motion available to man. He knew the reason for the dimensional collapse failures had to do with something in the subatomic realm and Evan would stay strapped into the machine for days if he had to.
“What are you seeing?” Margaret asked as she hovered over his shoulder. The large view screen in front of her failed to match the clarity of the focus helmet.
“Hold on,” he said. “Back up one picosecond.” His silence filled the room. “Okay, forward again.” Silence. “That’s it. I have found the origin point. Mark the timeline and help me get out of this thing. I need some coffee before I go back in to chart the process.”
Margaret typed the commands onto the screen and removed the restraining points from the focus helmet before she asked, “So what did you see?”
Evan rotated his neck about, trying to work out the kinks and was rewarded with a couple of loud pops as everything slipped back into place. He could feel Margaret’s eyes boring into the back of his head. Her impatience matched Aldric’s lately, and that was something new. He still remembered being left to fend for himself a couple of nights ago, so he took his time responding. “Once I found the beginning of the dimensional tear, I cycled forward a little until I found the beginning of the first anomaly,” he said as he poured himself a cup of coffee.
“What was it? What did you see?” Margaret demanded.
The fire in her eyes enhanced her beauty Evan admitted to himself. He understood why Aldric was taken with her. On any given day Margaret was attractive but imagining her in the throes of passion summoned a stunning picture to his mind’s eye.
“Hello? Evan?” Margaret waved her hands in front of his face.
“What? Oh, sorry,” Evan said. “Spending too much time in that harness makes my mind wander.” He coughed into his hand and smiled. “Now, where were we? Oh, right, what did I see?”
“Yes, Evan, enough fun,” she said. “Now tell me what you’re seeing.”
“Matter,” Evan said. “Matter appeared just before the first anomaly showed up on our equipment.”
“So what?” Margaret asked. “We see matter creation all the time during void collapses. That is nothing new.”
Evan smiled patiently. “I didn’t say it was created. I said it appeared.” He paused for a second to let the words sink in. “One pico there was nothing, the next, complex molecules.” Evan poured himself a cup of coffee and said, “What we have here is matter being pulled into our dimension from the dimensional rift we are creating.”
“But that is not possible,” Margaret said as she sat on the edge of a nearby desk. “Every calculation and every theory ever presented on the subject agrees that if matter were to even try to cross the plane between dimensions that it would be destroyed before it could breach the dimensional barrier. Even if that were not the case, the dimensions we are collapsing are artificial, created by us. There is no existing matter to cross over.”
“I don’t know the how or why yet, but I know what I saw,” Evan said. “All of the models and theorems and calculations might have just been thrown out the door.”
Doctor Vo sat still. Evan could almost see the cogs turning inside her head as she looked at all the angles and tried to decide how the new knowledge would serve her best. The last few weeks taught him a lot about her, and Evan decided the people who saw her as nothing more than a naïve harlot who thought she could sleep her way to the top of the company were terribly underestimating her. She would rise to the top of Darkside Experimental, or one of its competitors, and they would all be sorry for it.
“So, what do we do now?” she asked as she folded her arms across her chest.
“The short answer is that we keep going through the process so we can understand exactly what is coming through and how it is doing it,” Evan said. “Once we know that, we can figure out how to block it or use it. I am not sure how just yet, but I think Aldric may have stumbled his way into something even greater.”
“Should we tell him?” she asked. That was it, the moment he had been waiting for. His answer and her response would determine their fates.
“I don’t see why,” Evan said. “It is most likely a simple anomaly anyway, right?” He kept his eyes locked on her, waiting to see which way she would go.
Doctor Vo pursed her lips. “Yes, an anomaly, no reason to bother him.” She walked over to Evan, put her hand on his shoulder, and looked him straight in the eyes. “We’ll just keep this to ourselves for now,” she said, her voice barely louder than a whisper. She leaned close enough that Evan could smell her perfume and almost steal a look down her blouse, but he understood she was trying to manipulate him. His desire for her made that a dangerous possibility.
Evan swallowed hard and said, “Just between us.” He reached for her, but she pulled away before his hands touched her lab coat. He frowned but knew it was probably a good thing that she kept him at a distance. The time would come when she would be his, and Evan was a very patient man.
“Do you think you can bury the data?” she asked as she took a couple of steps back.
“Yeah, I should be able to make a copy of it then tweak the information enough that it will be unnoticeable, but Aldric isn’t dumb,” Evan said. “He will want to look at what we found and want to know what we’ll do about it.”
“Then I suggest you come up with an answer before we tell him anything else,” Margaret said with a half-smile. “Aldric is results oriented. If you give him the answer to his problems, he won’t worry about the background information.”
“Right,” Evan said as he scratched his head. “I suppose I could find a way to reinforce the barrier so the matter can’t get through. Do you think you can buy me a couple days?”
“I might be able to do that, but the sooner you can finish, the better our chances of his not figuring out something is up.” Margaret turned to leave and did not look over her shoulder when she said, “Don’t let me down here, Evan. Success means everything this time.”
Evan watched her leave then threw his coffee mug against the wall across the room. It did not shatter with a satisfying crash, rather it broke into three pieces and fell to the floor with a clatter. “Stupid shatter-proof glass,” he muttered as he got up from his chair and picked up the pieces. The splattered coffee would have to wait until one of the technicians came in for his shift. He looked around and did not see any of the hot brown liquid on any of the equipment, so she shrugged and went back to his chair, tossing the cup into the trash on the way.
He strapped himself back into the harness and slowly moved the feed forward one picosecond at a time, looking for an answer to why the barrier was being pierced and how he might keep that from happening. What he did not see, was the single drop of coffee that landed on the dimensional collapse chamber. That single drop that landed upon a flaw in the seal that protected the outside world from the massive energies unleashed by the opening and closing dimensional rifts. That drop made its way through the gap created by the flaw and hung there, waiting for the weak lunar gravity to pull it down.