Glakreg, cont. — a short story

Posted on 2018 July 8

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[Glakreg’s story begins at this link]

No one knows they’re not dreaming. Not one of us. Not ever. Not for one single moment of our lives. — Doctor Who

I was doing fine until I set off the quantum fluctuation. It’s been trouble ever since.

I was finishing up my college physics project, an experiment that requires the use of the school’s gravity machine, and everything was super except I was in a hurry because it was end of week and I had to finish up and get home and get ready for my hot date that evening. (And she is HOT! The previous week I’d gotten to third tentacle with her, and even though she kept saying “This is happening too fast,” I just knew that we’d get to fourth feeler on our next date.)

Of course, in my rush I completely forgot to switch off the gravity machine, which is a no-no because if you leave it unattended overnight, sometimes it does weird things to the building. (One student left it on and the next day all the stairs were crushed. Never could figure out why it was just the stairs.) Now, normally in these situations I’ll get halfway down the hall and suddenly slap a palp to my forehead and slither back and switch off the lights or whatever. But this time as I swirled out of the lab my major left tentacle got caught in the door as it closed. (I’m left-tentacled — it’s supposed to be a sign of high intelligence, but your preferred T is definitely the wrong thing to injure before a hot date.) The pain shocked me and threw me off my usual pattern, so I never remembered to go back and shut down the lab equipment.

As I’d hoped, the date went really well — I’m so glad her folks were away for the weekend — but when I got back to school the next Grenday, I’m met by the physics proff who takes me to the dean of men’s office. Huh? They sit me down and give me what-for because — they claim — the gravity machine had somehow melted all the window panes in the lab. It was something to do with accelerated time dilation and the fact that glass is really a liquid, but I countered that it couldn’t be me but instead Frindrok who had been studying time dilation. They weren’t buying it. So now I’m in trouble but I’m not too worried because my dad has connections with the university board and he’s got a ton of money and he’s bailed me out before.

But then the physics proff drops the bombshell. “Glakreg,” he says with a big dramatic sigh, “you also violated the research code by…” he pauses for effect “…engaging in reality creation.” What the–? He continues: “Overnight the unattended gravity console emitted a quantum instability” — oh crap — “that turned into a separate universe. What’s worse,” he intones, “is that the data readout shows that this new universe evolved life forms.” Terrific. Now I’m gonna lose my scholarship. Not sure Dad wants to make up that loss, since it covers most of my tuition.

Then the proff sets off a second, bigger bomb. “This new universe only lasted a fraction of a second in our time frame, but in its own frame, it persisted for two hundred trillion yads.” Two hundred trillion?!? Heck, our lives only last about sixty or seventy yads. Now I’m really cooked. They’ll throw me out of the doctoral program because … here it comes … “You’ll be charged with playing God.” 

Boom

End of career

Weakly I mutter, “But it was an accident. I would never try to play God. You know that.”

The proff and the dean look at each other, then back at me. The dean finally speaks. “It doesn’t matter. You’re responsible.”

I think I fainted at that point, because next thing I know, I’m lying on a hospital gurney, babbling incoherently about the ruination of my hopes and dreams. A nurse rolls my gurney over to one corner of a ward, sets up an I-V drip, inserts the tip into my major left tentacle — ow! that’s the one still healing from the door banging on it last week — then she pushes a button (the I-V machine begins to hum) and leans in and says in a soothing voice, “Relax. Relax. This will help you sleep.”

Yep, I sleep. Whatever she put in that I-V drip, it works like a charm. In fact, I dream pretty hard. I dream I’m some sort of creature called a “human” that has, not tentacles, but “arms” and “legs” and a big lump above the arms that has eyes and a mouth and a thing called a “nose”. As a human I start out as a toddler, grow older, go to school, get bigger, go to bigger schools, finally graduate and start my career (something dreadfully boring called “office work”) and get older, have occasional adventures, have affairs, get married, have kids, have more affairs, get divorced, get overweight, have weird ailments, get depressed, wonder what life is all about (a lot of musing on that topic). It sounds tame, but the dream is astounding for the simple fact that it goes on and on and on for yads and yads — most of a lifetime, it felt like. A lonnng time to be asleep.

Then inside the dream I begin to wonder if I’m dreaming. This little worry extends itself for months while the human me becomes more and more anxious: “How can I tell if I’m dreaming? Can I prove I’m not? Are all my close friends imaginary? For that matter, can I prove I’m not insane?” My human character even wonders — get this — if he’s some tentacled creature stuck in a hospital and merely dreaming he’s a human!! 

As you can imagine, these are very disturbing ideas. Also confusing. And then one night in the dream, while I’m busy getting snockered on an ingestible drug the humans called “booze”, I suddenly awake screaming in the same ward where the nurse had given me the knockout juice. A different nurse rushes over and calms me down. I glance at my prone figure, see the tentacles, and realize it’s me again. I ask the nurse, “How long have I been out?” She says, “Since yesterday.” Holy barbel.

I recuperate at the hospital, and after a few weeks I feel much better and they send me home. My dad gets me a job at his company, and it turns out I have a knack for sales and promotion, so things have progressed much better than I’d feared. Sure, I miss physics, but someday I’ll have enough money tucked away to pay for the rest of my science training. (If they’ll accept someone who plays God.)

Lately, though, the memory of that dream has been nagging at me. What if it wasn’t a dream at all? What if it’s the other way around, and I really am actually a human who’s dreaming he’s Glakreg, left-tentacled physics screw-up?

Then it gets worse. What if … what ifboth the Glakreg world and the human world are dreams? What if I’m merely switching back and forth between them, a few decades in one dream, a few in the other? In that case, who I really am is neither character at all.

If so … who am I ?!?

I sure wish this universe had booze.

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