Now With 20% More Eigenvalue!

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We are late so I mumble a few words about distances on our compound. Because safety and rules I do not make. The truth is the science team caused delays.
There is no response, and I take a moment to compare their portfolio with reality.
A woman accompanied by a girl, both in full frontal mourning. Good old pain, helps companies make a quick buck since the dawn of time.
'Will I see daddy?' the child asks and I nod solemnly. This is definitely possible. Then, for the purpose of avoiding future liability, I address the mother with the finest of our platitudes.
'You should be aware our scope may be limited. However, we try to provide the best experience.'
'How's that?' the kid goes on, 'he is dead!'
I maintain eye contact with the woman. 'As we say in our profession, there are only two possibilities: yes or no.'
She seeks support behind her, visibly confused, and only now do I realise there is another visitor. A man in his twenties observes me with suspicion. He could be her son, brother, friend or even lover, for all I care.
What bothers me is his sardonic grin. 'I thought you were physicists, not poets.'
I ignore him. It is clearly the mum who has the dough. Lots of it, I am sure. A single admittance is enough to bankrupt a small bank. And for children one pays triple.
'Shall we?' I gesture at the hatch.
We proceed through a narrow tunnel cut in the large concrete block surrounding the chamber. They gasp loudly at the walls made of polished titanium. The cylinder in the middle is even more impressive, twenty feet of microalloy glass vibrating gently but steadily.
I notice that whoever was here earlier removed the safety guards and did not put them back. We ask the researchers to leave the place unchanged and they always respond with a joke about observer effect. A century and half old witticism, that is their level.
'This is the focus,' I explain and after a dramatic pause make the lights go dimmer.
The young man mutters something about smoke and mirrors, but soon even he is enchanted by the flickering shapes.
'We will begin. I have to remind you to do exactly as I say. There is a circle embossed on the floor, I cannot guarantee your safety beyond that point.'
I keep it to myself that it is only a convenient approximation, we are not yet able to calculate where the unfolding ends. Or where it begins, for that matter. Strange things happen all over the place, isolated cases were reported miles away. Fortunately, we own plenty of space around, the land in Africa has never been cheaper.
They stare into the primordial salad of afterimages that writhe at cosmic frequencies. I nudge them gently and we take a few slow steps clockwise. Nothing significant happens so I change direction. A bit closer and couple of feet backwards. Rinse and repeat.
I am moving them as if we wanted to pinpoint a faint signal with an ancient radio. I am the ultimate tuning knob, the wave function guide, the chaos sorceress. Even the boy, now pale and trembling, follows me sheepishly.
'Stop!' I command when I think I notice something. Their eyes are not as trained as mine so it takes a while but they can finally see. A shadow? A reflection? A copy of a group similar to ours, but directly on the other side.
'Dad!' the girl shouts and waves her hand. A small silhouette opposite does the same. A man nearby smiles sadly. He is looking straight at us.
The woman next to me becomes tense.
'I can't see my... Am I... for them...?'
'Yes,' I shrug, 'but we could find another unfolding when they... you... came here out of curiosity.'
She nods, so I start navigating again.
'No, daddy, no!' the child's eyes become watery as the apparitions turn into prismatic dust. 'Wait!'
'Acoustic waves cannot...' I begin, but it is too late.
When I first came to work here, two years ago, I had to undergo an extensive course. Beside countless minutiae of revised quantum physics I learned the three main rules. One, do not approach the focus. Two, never. Three, ever. And what does this brat do?
She runs straight ahead, of course.
'Come back!' I yell.
She looks around, surprised that there is no one there.
'Listen to me! What's your name?'
Her mother says, 'Ann!' and I realise she cannot hear us.
I curse and take a hesitant step forward. Maybe I can keep my distance and go around the cylinder? I move and the girl fades away almost immediately. Of course that will not work, I go back. There is only one way.
My foot crosses the circle and touches the floor about a yard from the tank. Why am I wearing high heels? Peculiar choice.
We push forward, my fear and I. Our scientists once showed me a rod, steel at one end, alacrite at the other. The transition was seamless. And it happened right here, near the glass.
No, no, I am mistaken. What glass? It is just a mist of particles. A multi-dimensional necklace of quarks that spreads through countless folds of reality. We live in but one of them, and share our building blocks with the others. Pages in the infinite novel.
There she is, crying. My anger evaporates, it is not her fault. Who brings children to the spacetime fissure?
She grabs my hand and we return. I move backwards, facing the same direction. If I turn, I change too much. Step by step, universe by universe. My left heel snaps, but I regain balance at the last moment.
We are back, I look at the teary-eyed... what was her name again?
Her older sister smiles.
'Thank you so much for bringing Betty back!'

About the Author: 
Former teacher, present translator, would-be writer. Loves many things, loathes quite a few, but tries to live and let live. Wonders if humanity will ever recover from greed and narrow-mindedness, hopes to see it one day.