Friday, April 06, 2007

Strange fiction

I was idly browsing my folder of incomplete and stillborn writings when I came across something I wrote near the end of last year. When I am perturbed sufficiently, I write pointless, jargon filled and technically inspired prose. This is one such example, completed and partially refined.


A heavy cloud hung over the western horizon, partially blotting out the setting sun’s orange rays. A light breeze stirred, rustling leaves and stirring dust. Carried by stratospheric currents, the cloud drifted closer.

The cloud was made up of countlessly many question marks. Most of them were infinitesimally small, just a hair larger than Planck-scale. A few, though, were very large. Like magnificent zeppelins of an era past, they coasted through the air silently and buoyantly, painting large black shadows on the ground as they floated by. A close inspection of the question marks’ sizes would reveal that the size distribution adheres to the power law distribution, the very same ethereal distribution found in networks, the Pareto principle, critically stable systems and wealth distribution.

Within the cloud, questions grow, decay, new ones form, answered ones disappear, some fuse, some split. A foam of Planck-scale virtual questions hum around the large question marks, continuously interacting, being absorbed and reemitted.

As the cloud neared, the air filled with a raw energy. The cloud was charged with an electric potential of several million volts and was tethering on the brink of instability.

On the ground, a man stood pondering his future. He has a stake in that cloud; many were his questions.

2 hours ago, a magnetic field abruptly rose from the solar atmosphere. The field lines formed an arch, a massive loop thousands of kilometres above the corona. Interacting with the rest of the sun’s rotating magnetic field, the loop twists and coils haphazardly. The tightly wound magnetic field within the loop spontaneously and violently reconfigures itself into a less strained arrangement, the released energy accelerating a plume of charged particles out of the solar atmosphere.

From above the strastophere, a diluted plume of electrons, protons and helium pierced the atmosphere at 1% the speed of light. Pinpricks of electrons rip through the porous cloud of questions, with trails of virtual-questions being dragged in their wakes.

The sharp tendrils behind the electron trails extended the cloud’s electric field sufficiently to cause a spontaneous discharge. The cloud’s charge of several million Volts dissipate through a luminous arc, cleaving the sky in two and connecting the cloud and the man.

Within 300 femtoseconds, both man and cloud were gone.

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