Schrodinger's Dog

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August pulled on his tie. Formal clothing didn’t suit him. He preferred a hoodie and jeans like he used to wear in the lab.

“Your primary duties will be to focus on Ruth. She’s your number one priority,” Jerome said. The old man moved at a brisk pace, and August struggled to keep up.

“So will I be tutoring her in algebra or is that too early for her?”

Jerome returned his question with a puzzled glance. “I think there’s been a misunderstanding. Follow me.”

August used to experiment with high temperature superconductors and spent hours reading up on quantum field theory. At some point, it became too much. The expectations of advisors. The apathy of his students. The rejected grant applications. Like a wire under too much tension, he snapped.

He left without a word and disappeared. His career was finished. His cousin had found him this job as helper for a ten year old named Ruth. Ruth’s dad had passed on recently and left her this large estate and mansion. August figured they probably needed him to tutor her.

Jerome led him throughout the mansion. “My duty is to maintain the house and grounds.” He opened the door to the backyard.

A beautiful, black and brown German Shepherd ran up to Jerome and barked, then turned and ran away.

“You’ll be picking up any anything she leaves behind,” Jerome said. He pulled out a pile of plastic bags and shoved them into August’s arms.

“Excuse me. I thought I was...”

“You’re Ruth’s caretaker and that’s Ruth.”

“That’s Ruth.”

“Yup. Mr. Jones was a big time ball player. He loved his dog and left his millions to her in his will. It’s our job to make sure she’s comfortable as can be.”

August looked down at the bags. He didn’t sign up for this.

Jerome noticed his hesitancy. “Think of it like a science experiment. A messy one.”

August didn’t appreciate the commentary, but the old man patted him on the back.

“Go find her. It’s your job now. She should be by the mausoleum. “

In accordance with his will, Mr. Jones was buried in a mausoleum down by the woods. August found Ruth there, tail wagging and eagerly waiting like she expected the door to the tomb to open and for her master to walk out unscathed.

She stood up and backed away from the stone tomb. At full speed, Ruth launched herself at the door and slammed against it. She fell to the ground.

“Ruth!” August yelled as he ran to her. Ruth shook it off and got up. She was alright. “What are you doing?”

Ruth ignored him and went back to her waiting position.

The next day, August tried to take Ruth out for a walk but she only wanted to go see her master. Again, she launched herself at the tomb door. The door didn’t budge.

The third day, August tried to put a leash on Ruth, but she growled at him and he dropped the idea. Again, she launched herself at the tomb door. It didn’t budge.

The fourth day, August approached Jerome. “I think we have a problem.”

“Ruth keeps running into the door?”

“Um, yeah.”

“Don’t worry. We padded the door so she doesn’t hurt herself.”

“Why does she do it?”

“I think it’s the only thing keeping her going. She loved Mr. Jones. He would come home from a ball game and play fetch with her. Maybe, she wants one last game. It doesn’t matter anyway. It’s impossible for her to get through that door.”

The following day, August brought a ball with him. He held it out in front of Ruth and then tossed it. The ball might as well have been invisible. Ruth attacked the door with the same result.

She returned to her resting spot, but today, she was different, more dejected. For the first time, August could see her age. He sat down next to her.

“You love someone so much you can’t give up on them. I used to have something like that.”

August couldn’t get what his boss said out of his head. ”Jerome told me getting through that door was impossible. That’s not true. You see there’s this thing in physics called Quantum Tunneling.

“To most people, if you can’t throw a ball hard enough to get over a hill, then you just can’t throw the ball over the hill, but quantum physics isn’t like that. What’s going to happen isn’t guaranteed. I think that’s why I like it. There’s a small chance that the ball could do the seemingly impossible and end up on the other side of that hill.

Barriers that shouldn’t be broken are broken. It happens all around us. It’s why the Sun shines so bright. It’s why there’s life. It’s why we’re here right now.

So yeah, chances are if you run at that wall every second of every day till the end of the universe, you won’t pass through. But quantum physics tells us there is a chance.

The probability is so low that it might as well be impossible. But it isn’t. To me, that’s kind of a miracle.”

Ruth licked his hand in appreciation. She trotted over to where he had thrown the ball, picked it up, and returned it to him.


Ruth wheeled around to face the tomb. August got up and walked away.

He turned around and saw Ruth steady herself and rush the door. At this distance, he couldn’t see what happened to Ruth. Did she break through? There are only two possibilities: yes or no. He preferred not to know.

Maybe, it was time to go back to his own dreams. He was unlikely to succeed, but it wasn’t impossible.There’s a big difference between unlikely and impossible.

About the Author: 
Cameron Creel enjoys physics, writing, and science fiction.