Friday, 30 October 2009

The Babel orifice

Again, another of those things that spawned from a peculiar dream. It was about wings, cultists and killing people. And lights, I think.
Time are changing, the population is growing. While we're getting by these days, the future may tell a different story.

In the early months of 2059, a worldwide initiative began. In order to make more room for housing, areas of beauty and historic interest would be remodelled into cheap apartment blocks. The original articles would be recreated using the latest virtual reality technology, allowing the world to experience them in the utmost comfort and convenience.
One of the last areas to be destroyed was Barden tower, North Yorkshire. A simple enough job, just run a wrecking ball through the base and watch as the upper half of the tower slid out of sight...
Wait, what?
Experts travelled from around the globe to witness and study this apparently natural phenomenon; a hole in reality, about 200 feet across hung in the sky supported by nothing. It didn't even appear to be doing anything interesting. No unspeakable horrors burst forth from it, nothing fell out, it was just a hole. Early scouting operations revealed that it lead to a curious land, a place where the sky was a perpetual, unbroken blue and the ground consisted entirely of what appeared to be discarded plastic, metal and rubber waste, spotlessly clean but damaged and bent beyond all use or recognition.
A few things happened. As word got out, the army were the first to take action, deciding to conquer this new land in the name of the crown. They set up small base camps, small strategic areas were fortified, others were destroyed. This achieved next to nothing. The army withdrew a few months after their initial occupation, leaving the site free for all manner of oddness to enter it.
The first civilians were the adventurers. People leading expeditions, trying to discover anything of interest. The regular explorers soon realised that it was rubbish all the way across. A neverending landscape of waste roughly three quarters the size of our Earth but lacking any water. Digging machines were deployed, most by wealthy oil tycoons attempting to cash in on an untapped landscpae. This revealed, several broken machines later, that it was garbage all the way down, too, but some of the metals were composed of an alloy unlike anything known to us. It could be bent slightly but seemed completely resistant to any attempts to pierce or otherwise damage it.
Second to enter was the media. For a few weeks, the news was filled with helicopter footage live from what had been dubbed "the Babel orifice". This lead to the occasional dogfight between rival sky-bound news reporters, but casualties remained minimal.
Soon after came the free spirits, thinkers and outcasts. Some were using this hole as final proof of the existence of God (or gods) almighty and would argue long into the night. Some saw it as the universe extending us a warm greeting, welcoming us to a new plane of existence, believing it to be a utopia, free from air pollution and commerce. Many believed the hole to be a god in itself and formed a number of cults.
Science, however, stood in the background. It observed all the little people flitting around the hole and it waited. Waited for them to lose interest. Science constructed a rocket. It would discover the source of this madness once and for all.
As the mighty space rocket Chronicle was rolled up to the launch structure, the assorted men, women and crazies looked on in interest. Men in severe white suits with clipboards who weren't even interested about what was in there, they were just building barricades and erecting a missile of some sort, all in complete, eerily professional silence. The rocket was built, the call went out to our world's fittest and bravest individuals and fully trained, suited and booted, they took their supplies and boarded the Chronicle, bidding a tearful farewell to their families. A flash of fire, a rush of smoke and the rocket took off, leaving a plume of smoke in its wake through the endless cerulean skies.
Up it went. Instruments and crystal clear broadcasting equipment from the rocket told the world how far they went.
65km (jettison the primary fuel tank
70km (the primary fuel tank fell to Earth with a thud, taking out the launching apparatus)
The world looked on in awe. Another minute was all they had before they ran out of fuel and had to eject, but the sky showed no signs of ever ending. Onward they flew, ever upward, ever towards shining blue oblivion.
And then it vanished.

The rocket stood, suspended by some unseen force but still trying to spend its fuel payload. This ran out and was ejected, but the rocket rmained suspended gaining no further altitude. Instruments indicated an atmosphere was still somehow present, so cautiously they opened the airlock and peered out. Peered out at two large towers exerting some kind of invible force, holding them steady. In the near distance, a small city and below them a crowd of humans. A man broke off from the pack and addressed them through a loudhailer.
"Well howdy! Took you long enough to find us, guys."
After a long discussion, the crew of the Chronicle learned what had happened. The Bermuda triangle and almost every area fabled for causing people to vanish were actually freaks of nature. Holes that opened up onto a parallel world. People had spilled through slowly but surely into an alternate world, almost identical to ours but lacking any civilisation. Since the only people to find this place were generally explorers, thrillseekers and people looking to debunk urban myths, the population was made up of, generally, brave and learned citizens, causing technology to advance at an alarming rate. This world had already cured cancer and developed an AIDS vaccine, but was unable to return home.
"It's the holes, y'see" said their leader as the rode the train towards the city. "They're like... kinda like valves, right? Stuff goes through 'em one way but it can't go back, so people fall into this world all the time but damned if we can open the doors again. We owe you pretty big for that."
"You do?"
"Yeah! We learned how to detect dormant holes a couple decades back. We've been building the force towers around each of them now hoping to trap and object in there to keep the portals active, if you see what we mean. Kinda like a vacuum cleaner salesman jammin' his foot in your front door."
Slowly, a tunnel was built. A huge tube that was expanded to increase the size of the hole then extended to the surface where the Babel orifice lay. The constant stream of media and military attention had been enough to hold our hole open for around 16 months, since its discovery, so coming back was no trouble.

Some years later, the reason for all the waste in the garbage dimension was discovered. A hole on the other side of the world from our portal opened periodically, spewed out some waste and closed within moments. An attempt at communication was made by firing a message capsule through (sending a manned craft was impossible, the hole opened barely wider than was reuired to unleash its heavy payload then closed again). After a week, they wrote back. This world was a celestial rubbish tip, the dumping ground of the gods (or some sufficiently advanced race, at least), and while they were interested to know that people were living on their tip, they had no wish to communicate with us further.
They did note, however, that we were very lucky to have chosen to live on their non-biodegradable waste site. Apparently the celestial compost heap unleashed an odour so powerful that its strength could be measured in newtons.

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