The Atom’s Atom – Chapter Four

A sense of uneasiness has been swelling within me recently. As I sat with Dr. Thorne at the university pub, he questioned if I was making a joke when I said objects blocked behind a black hole could be visible to us due to the curvature of time-space. The brevity of his tone only made his remark even more offensive. Who was the one joking here?

Such absurdity certainly warranted a shocked response, but I quickly regained my composure thinking that Thorne was too drunk with Russian vodka, or that somehow more than just his hippocampi had been damaged. Or, maybe he was intoxicated with her. He seemed to be particularly enchanted by our teaching assistant’s Russian descent. He calls her his “Sweet Berry”, a ridiculous distortion of her beautiful first name in my opinion. I would call her “Kalinka”[1], an apt term of endearment, befitting her name and snowy-pure face alike.

In any case, there was no urgent need for me to pursue our arguments further, since it would only be a couple of days to our field trip to the International Space Station XII[2], where the Chan Particle Collider can be found. Besides, why would an Associate Professor have to answer to a fresh faced researcher! I would once and for all prove that our predecessors were wrong, and set myself firmly in the Physics hall of fame.



The Light-Shuttle opened its dump-valves just as it hovered to a stop where we waited. As it idled, a pleasant whirring surrounded us.

“Allo’! Ve vill go up now… Move to middle of ze kah-rage please, vere zay is no people!” My berry crooned in a mixture of adorably broken English and thickset Russian accent. She gestured to the students, beckoning them up the entry ramp into one of Singapore’s few inter-planetary vehicles.

“Students, please be reminded that we will be breaking the light-barrier during the journey. I’d like all of you to put on your Quantum Entangled Lenses so that we can continue to see each other! [3]” Horten barked at the students as they settled into their seats, and he into his.

I was the last to board, and I saw Ms Orv settling in right beside Horten. It was unsettling to observe this; I could almost swear that she had been sending me signals of the romantic kind over the past weeks! Irritated, I then proceeded to settle my own posterior down opposite of them.

“Attention all passengers, breaking light speed in 5,4,3,2,1…”

I put on my lenses and the roaring engine of the ship gave the last audible sound before complete silence. To my abysmal horror, I could not see Horten or Berres. Did those two remove their quantum lenses on purpose? The empty two seats of Horten and Berres together were extremely vexing. Strange dirty thoughts began creeping into my mind on what they were doing outside the vision of everyone else. A swell of jealousy and anger was boiling within me. Before long, the shuttle decelerated below light speed and all was back to normal. Thankfully but painfully, those two were alive and well, and staring at each deeply.

“Horten! What happened? Where is your quantum lens? And what happened to Berres’s?”

“It…it malfunctioned. I couldn’t see…anything. I think the same happened to Berres’s as well”

An unexplainable strength surged through my arms and I swept their lenses from them violently.

“A.I. Alice, report status on lens”

“Fully functional sir”

“What on blue earth are you upset about Thorne!? This is no way to treat a girl like Berres”

“Oh! So it’s about Berres now, is it? Admit it Horten! You’ve lost your marbles ever since she entered our lives. I can see it in your eyes; you know what I’m talking about… You don’t have to defend your emotions by throwing snide remarks at me!”

“You IMBECILE!” He shot up, and I can almost feel death rays from his eyes trained at mine.

What then followed was a heavy silence in the entire shuttle – almost like the atmosphere during the conclusion of a particularly impossible final exam paper. I just wished that Horten would open up and tell me what was going on!

[1] Kalinka is the phonetic equivalent of ‘snow-berry’ in Russian.

[2] The International Space Station XII (ISS XII) is the 12th international collaborative space project, located on the outskirts of the known Universe. It was conceived by China, India and Singapore, and began operations in 2114.

[3] “Quantum teleportation and all that” The New Quantum Universe. Tony Hey, Patrick Walters. Cambridge University Press pg. 205

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