Infinity

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Bob raged incoherently within the white walls of his cell. There was nothing in it save his sweaty, blood stained bed and a stolen charcoal crayon, currently being worn down as he scribbled upon the stark white walls. This was the only way to escape to the silent paradise where no one screamed inside his mind. Alice promised. Yes, his angel promised to take him away, to . . . "teleport" him to a place where there was neither light nor sound. Bob believed her because she was the only one who didn't scream obscenities at him.

As the light faded, Bob continued to draw the signs Alice had described to him. He even wrote letters inside some of the circles, although he had more than a little trouble reading them. The voices always told him that he was too stupid to ever learn to read, that Alice lied, that he was a prisoner forever.

Half a universe away, on the brink of a black hole, Alice sent out a desperate SOS signal going anywhere. A little less than half of the emergency fuel cell remained. Then, for a second that the combined gravitational forces of the black hole and her imagination stretched into infinity, she waited. Years passed.

Alice knew that the signal had been received when she felt the violent movements of someone throwing her to the ground and tying her limbs so that harsh rope dug into her angles, and her arms lay pressed across her chest in a crossed position. Although no one had touched her, she couldn't move, and she screamed from the voices inside her head.

Bob felt it, too. They had come with gruel when he had first heard Alice's cry for help among the other voices. He always tried to run when they came to bring him gruel, and they were always ready with the leg clamps and the leather jacket that bound his limbs. The demons inside Bob's head always cackled and jeered when he tried to wiggle his way to freedom.

When they left, Bob ate his gruel and listened for Alice's voice again. Somehow, he knew that this voices was different. First, Alice was female, while the others were androgynous demons. Second, she didn't cackle or jeer at him. She needed help - his help!

The entangled effect finally wore off, allowing Alice to focus on communication. Among the unusual white noise, she was able to pick out a dominant thought process. Male. Middle aged. Living on Earth! It was difficult which region due to interference from other voices. It was clear that this man had no access to any quantum network, didn't even seem to understand the concept of a computer. The warp in time-space caused by the black hole must have sent her message backwards in time. Well, they could always perform a teleportation maneuver the old fashioned way. But only a madman would agree to that.

Alice explained her predicament to Bob, which she had to do in simple terms. Her ship was about to be sucked into a black hole, and she had sent out an SOS signal for help. The only way to save herself was to teleport to Bob's location, and the only way to do that without the aid of space age technology was for Bob to manually draw the coordinates. The manual override also permanently sent Bob to Alice's location. Alice would escape her death to a little room in a 19th century psychiatric institution, and Bob would escape his prison to a fantastic starship being pulled into a silent black hole.

He agreed, of course. Bob could not refuse the promise of a place - the only place in the entire universe - completely devoid of white walls, bright lights, and voices.

Yes, Bob told or thought to the demons inside his head as he drew the charcoal figures onto his white walls. He hated how they glared at him. Yes, it's strength will pull you in, pull you in, pull you in. Away from me!

Panting, Bob stepped back to admire his handiwork. The charcoal crayon had been completely worn, forcing him to finish the last few strokes with his grimy, sweaty, bloody hand. But it was good, exactly how Alice had told him to make the drawings.

He chuckled with the demons inside his head as he closed his eyes and clenched his hands in anticipation. They laughed because they still didn't believe that Bob could ever outrun what was inside his mind, and he laughed because he could already feel the awesome force pulling him forward as the teleport tunnel opened.

As the gravitational forces grew stronger, Bob opened his eyes and glimpsed the fair face of a woman beside him. First, he saw only her face, and then her stretched out body decompressed into its normal shape beneath her head. She was beautiful in her brilliant black uniform and utility belt with the most fantastic contraptions Bob had never seen. She was breathing heavily, as if she had just traveled an unfathomable distance. Alice.

"Thank you," Bob managed to choke out.

Neither light nor sound could escape the pull of the place he would go. And why would they want to?

Time slowed into one infinite moment as Bob's own body stretched and landed inside Alice's starship. He was pulled away from the walls, the noise, the brightness. For the first time in his life, Bob finally knew silence.

About the Author: 
I am a psychiatric nurse in Chicago, IL. I have written many short stories, some of which have been published in local library and school publications. I am also an avid Scientific American reader, and enjoy the challenge to combine my skills and interests in one piece of flash fiction.

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U is for ... Uncertainty Principle

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