Jed and the Apocalypse

Average: 3 (1 vote)
Your rating: None

"I will have you sparkling clean in a jiffy," Jed spoke to his dual axle 18-wheeler and pushed his mop along the dented metal, red water pooling at his feet.
The sound of slowly approaching disjointed steps had him scrubbing quicker; "just a little more..." a sheen of sweat feathered his brow.

His mop prodded thickly drying intestines from the grill before they finally unstuck and plopped to the ground. A bleeding ripped arm made a sticky sound as it came loose and his grill was finally free.
A grin cracked his features, “got it! We will be on the road again soon, don't you worry honey." He hollered up to his wife in the passenger seat.
Her mouth gapped open, flesh slipping off her jaw bone. The open sores on her body oozed puss and leaked red fluid. She numbly thumped her head against the window.
You can only be destroyed and recreated so many times before pieces of you get lost in the transfer.
It started slow. Jed did not even notice at first. She became quieter. She became distant. Forgot to clean herself and feed herself. Stopped caring for their children. Stopped caring about anything. It had snuck up on everyone; like the effects of tobacco, only much more lethal.
It had worked so well on tables and chairs and chimps. Such a quick way to travel. No one saw it coming.

A scuffing sound made Jed snap to attention.

He had waited too long.

A ripped fleshy residue of a man had sidled right next to him, arms reaching, mouth gaping. Jed jumped back and stabbed the mop handle harshly into the wheezing once human face. It crushed through the nose, making a slick sound as it obliterated both halves of the brain and came clean through the other side. The body went limp and fell to the ground.

It did not matter how deserted it appeared, they always found him. He looked up the road to the tens of shuffling bodies making their way closer to him.
"Yeah...It's time to go."

Jed hauled himself into the cab of his truck and looked at his wife. She was tightly secured with the seat belt, a ratchet strap and good old reliable duct tape. The more days passed the harder she began to pull on the restraints. Her hands reaching across the middle, her mouth gapping, drool dripping- and her eyes... her eyes were lifeless glass.

"...come in dad... dad come in over..."
The crackled voice fuzzed over the two-way radio.
Jed hesitated. He knew what his son would say, what he had been saying for months now. And he was not sure he wanted to hear it. But he picked up the mic.

"Yeah, Robbie?" He released the button.
There was relief in the silence. "I wanted to make sure you're still okay. It's dangerous out there -...."
"I know." He cut his son off.
"Dad," the crackle of the radio amplified the tension. "Mom is gone, dad. She's...she’s gone."
"I saw a flicker Robbie. It was there. I told you-"
"No dad. There was no flicker. No part of her came back. She teleported too much... she..."
"It was there. I have to try. If it doesn’t work-" Jed was not able to finish the sentence, or the thought.
"But dad, if you go-"
"Over and out."
Jed clicked off the radio.
His wife wheezed.

"Til' death do us part," he whispered, but could not look her in the face, afraid of what he wouldn’t see there.

He turned the key. The roar of the engine soothed him as he shifted into gear. He did not slow down for the bodies standing in the way, barely registered the bump as he drove over them. He had stopped caring long ago, just pulled the truck into another gear and kept driving. He was taking his wife home.

His house looked the same inside as it had when he left months ago.
“Teleportation,” he spat as he passed the metal closet structure near their front door. “I should have never let that hunk-a-junk in my house.”
He laid his double barrel rifle on the table. If this didn’t work...

He grabbed his dog catcher pole- the best way he’d found to escort his wife, and soberly walked back to his 18-wheeler. A loop around her head and a few slashes at her restraints and his darling wife was oozing and shuffling after him.
Her breath rattled.
His heart hung heavy in his chest.
They had just entered the house when he felt a jar on his metal pole. His wife had stopped. He looked at her, and she was looking at him. Directly at him. For the first time in months.

Hope flared in his chest.

"Jeeadd..." The question was awkwardly formed on her disjointed lips.
He dropped the pole and stepped closer to her, grasping her arms.
Her scanned his face, unfocused, her lips peeled back into a wretched smile. She jerked- and brought her teeth forcibly to his chest.

He heard the bite before he felt it, the tearing sucking of a starved person trying to devour everything, anything they could.

Jed shoved his wife off his chest and bent to take the control of the dog catcher pole.
He had not imagined it. She had been there. Right as they passed the teleporter. A small piece of her had come back; had been re-collected somehow.
He had been right!
"This damn thing ripped you apart and left little pieces behind. If I have to haul you over hells half acre to pick them up- then I sure will, honey. Just stop," he yanked on the pole, "biting me."

About the Author: 
I am a Canadian, living in small town Alberta. I am an avid traveler, and would like to add 'writing' to my list of hobbies as well.

Newsletter Signup

Submit your email address so we can send you occasional competition updates and tell you who wins!

Quantum Theories

P is for ... Planck's Constant

This is one of the universal constants of nature, and relates the energy of a single quantum of radiation to its frequency. It is central to quantum theory and appears in many important formulae, including the Schrödinger Equation.

S is for ... Superposition

Quantum objects can exist in two or more states at once: an electron in superposition, for example, can simultaneously move clockwise and anticlockwise around a ring-shaped conductor.

G is for ... Gravity

Our best theory of gravity no longer belongs to Isaac Newton. It’s Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. There’s just one problem: it is incompatible with quantum theory. The effort to tie the two together provides the greatest challenge to physics in the 21st century.

Y is for ... Young's Double Slit Experiment

In 1801, Thomas Young proved light was a wave, and overthrew Newton’s idea that light was a “corpuscle”.

K is for ... Kaon

These are particles that carry a quantum property called strangeness. Some fundamental particles have the property known as charm!

A is for ... Atom

This is the basic building block of matter that creates the world of chemical elements – although it is made up of more fundamental particles.

E is for ... Entanglement

When two quantum objects interact, the information they contain becomes shared. This can result in a kind of link between them, where an action performed on one will affect the outcome of an action performed on the other. This “entanglement” applies even if the two particles are half a universe apart.

B is for ... Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC)

At extremely low temperatures, quantum rules mean that atoms can come together and behave as if they are one giant super-atom.

W is for ... Wave-particle duality

It is possible to describe an atom, an electron, or a photon as either a wave or a particle. In reality, they are both: a wave and a particle.

L is for ... Light

We used to believe light was a wave, then we discovered it had the properties of a particle that we call a photon. Now we know it, like all elementary quantum objects, is both a wave and a particle!

M is for ... Multiverse

Our most successful theories of cosmology suggest that our universe is one of many universes that bubble off from one another. It’s not clear whether it will ever be possible to detect these other universes.

Z is for ... Zero-point energy

Even at absolute zero, the lowest temperature possible, nothing has zero energy. In these conditions, particles and fields are in their lowest energy state, with an energy proportional to Planck’s constant.

U is for ... Uncertainty Principle

One of the most famous ideas in science, this declares that it is impossible to know all the physical attributes of a quantum particle or system simultaneously.

V is for ... Virtual particles

Quantum theory’s uncertainty principle says that since not even empty space can have zero energy, the universe is fizzing with particle-antiparticle pairs that pop in and out of existence. These “virtual” particles are the source of Hawking radiation.

S is for ... Schrödinger’s Cat

A hypothetical experiment in which a cat kept in a closed box can be alive and dead at the same time – as long as nobody lifts the lid to take a look.

N is for ... Nonlocality

When two quantum particles are entangled, it can also be said they are “nonlocal”: their physical proximity does not affect the way their quantum states are linked.

G is for ... Gluon

These elementary particles hold together the quarks that lie at the heart of matter.

S is for ... Schrödinger Equation

This is the central equation of quantum theory, and describes how any quantum system will behave, and how its observable qualities are likely to manifest in an experiment.

L is for ... Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

At CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, this machine is smashing apart particles in order to discover their constituent parts and the quantum laws that govern their behaviour.

H is for ... Hidden Variables

One school of thought says that the strangeness of quantum theory can be put down to a lack of information; if we could find the “hidden variables” the mysteries would all go away.

M is for ... Many Worlds Theory

Some researchers think the best way to explain the strange characteristics of the quantum world is to allow that each quantum event creates a new universe.

A is for ... Alice and Bob

In quantum experiments, these are the names traditionally given to the people transmitting and receiving information. In quantum cryptography, an eavesdropper called Eve tries to intercept the information.

D is for ... Dice

Albert Einstein decided quantum theory couldn’t be right because its reliance on probability means everything is a result of chance. “God doesn’t play dice with the world,” he said.

Q is for ... Qubit

One quantum bit of information is known as a qubit (pronounced Q-bit). The ability of quantum particles to exist in many different states at once means a single quantum object can represent multiple qubits at once, opening up the possibility of extremely fast information processing.

O is for ... Objective reality

Niels Bohr, one of the founding fathers of quantum physics, said there is no such thing as objective reality. All we can talk about, he said, is the results of measurements we make.

C is for ... Computing

The rules of the quantum world mean that we can process information much faster than is possible using the computers we use now.

A is for ... Act of observation

Some people believe this changes everything in the quantum world, even bringing things into existence.

B is for ... Bell's Theorem

In 1964, John Bell came up with a way of testing whether quantum theory was a true reflection of reality. In 1982, the results came in – and the world has never been the same since!

Q is for ... Quantum biology

A new and growing field that explores whether many biological processes depend on uniquely quantum processes to work. Under particular scrutiny at the moment are photosynthesis, smell and the navigation of migratory birds.

X is for ... X-ray

In 1923 Arthur Compton shone X-rays onto a block of graphite and found that they bounced off with their energy reduced exactly as would be expected if they were composed of particles colliding with electrons in the graphite. This was the first indication of radiation’s particle-like nature.

R is for ... Randomness

Unpredictability lies at the heart of quantum mechanics. It bothered Einstein, but it also bothers the Dalai Lama.

F is for ... Free Will

Ideas at the heart of quantum theory, to do with randomness and the character of the molecules that make up the physical matter of our brains, lead some researchers to suggest humans can’t have free will.

C is for ... Cryptography

People have been hiding information in messages for millennia, but the quantum world provides a whole new way to do it.

P is for ... Probability

Quantum mechanics is a probabilistic theory: it does not give definite answers, but only the probability that an experiment will come up with a particular answer. This was the source of Einstein’s objection that God “does not play dice” with the universe.

T is for ... Teleportation

Quantum tricks allow a particle to be transported from one location to another without passing through the intervening space – or that’s how it appears. The reality is that the process is more like faxing, where the information held by one particle is written onto a distant particle.

W is for ... Wavefunction

The mathematics of quantum theory associates each quantum object with a wavefunction that appears in the Schrödinger equation and gives the probability of finding it in any given state.

U is for ... Universe

To many researchers, the universe behaves like a gigantic quantum computer that is busy processing all the information it contains.

R is for ... Radioactivity

The atoms of a radioactive substance break apart, emitting particles. It is impossible to predict when the next particle will be emitted as it happens at random. All we can do is give the probability that any particular atom will have decayed by a given time.

I is for ... Information

Many researchers working in quantum theory believe that information is the most fundamental building block of reality.

R is for ... Reality

Since the predictions of quantum theory have been right in every experiment ever done, many researchers think it is the best guide we have to the nature of reality. Unfortunately, that still leaves room for plenty of ideas about what reality really is!

I is for ... Interferometer

Some of the strangest characteristics of quantum theory can be demonstrated by firing a photon into an interferometer: the device’s output is a pattern that can only be explained by the photon passing simultaneously through two widely-separated slits.

H is for ... Hawking Radiation

In 1975, Stephen Hawking showed that the principles of quantum mechanics would mean that a black hole emits a slow stream of particles and would eventually evaporate.

T is for ... Tunnelling

This happens when quantum objects “borrow” energy in order to bypass an obstacle such as a gap in an electrical circuit. It is possible thanks to the uncertainty principle, and enables quantum particles to do things other particles can’t.

J is for ... Josephson Junction

This is a narrow constriction in a ring of superconductor. Current can only move around the ring because of quantum laws; the apparatus provides a neat way to investigate the properties of quantum mechanics.

D is for ... Decoherence

Unless it is carefully isolated, a quantum system will “leak” information into its surroundings. This can destroy delicate states such as superposition and entanglement.