Author : Bob Newbell

“A vacuum?” the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs inquired. “Unless there’s some geologic process I’m unfamiliar with that causes large pockets of vacuum to form inside solid rock, I don’t see how you would come across such a thing when excavating for a new subway. I also don’t see what any of this has to do with most of the people gathered here.” The general looked about the room at the faces of the heads of various government agencies, several of whom nodded their agreement.

“The point, general,” responded the head of the National Science Ministry, “is that we have encountered a phenomenon never before seen.” The man resettled his glasses on his nose and continued, addressing the entire group. “As you’re probably aware, several workers employed by the excavation company working on the subway in question became ill and were diagnosed with radiation poisoning. An NSM team was assigned to investigate and found no naturally-occurring radioactive metals at the excavation site. But detectors did confirm the presence of radiation in the pit. That’s when we started literally and figuratively digging a little deeper.”

“Doctor, this is all very interesting,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs. “But you have assembled here representatives of most of the nation’s ministries. A scientific curiosity does not warrant taking of the time of this country’s government unless there’s some very profound point you intend to make.”

This time the group’s assent was more vocal.

“Very well,” said the science minister. “The point is this.” The doctor tapped a button on his computer and a picture of an expanse of space dotted with thousands of stars appeared on the screen that dominated one wall of the room. “As we drilled deeper into the excavation site, the radiation level went up. Shortly after that we hit the vacuum the general mentioned. We threaded a fiber optic cable through the small hole we drilled to get some pictures.

“What is that?” asked the general. “Did you drill into some subterranean chamber? Are those specks of light radioactive material?”

The scientist took in a deep breath and then exhaled slowly. “Ladies and gentlemen, we believe what you’re looking at is empty space.”

The minister was met with blank stares.

“The specks of light were noted to be moving slowly, all in the same direction. After we took some measurements and did some calculations, we determined it is, in fact, we who are moving. It has been theorized that the world is rotating and thereby creating centrifugal force and that that’s why objects fall to the ground. Our observations are consistent with this theory.”

“But what IS that?” asked the general again, pointing at the screen. Are you suggesting the world is surrounded by some dark, speckled material that acts like a vacuum?”

“I’m suggesting, general, that our world is a hollow, spinning rock in the middle of an unimaginably large vacuum. Our researches suggest those specks are massive spheres of nuclear fusion held together by their sheer mass. And almost all of them are several trillion miles away or more.

The group exploded in a cacophony of voices. “Ridiculous!” said one. “Blasphemous!” said another.

“I said ‘almost all’ of those fusion-spheres are unfathomably far away!” yelled the science minister. The group fell silent. “One is much closer.”

He hit a button and a reddish fireball filled the screen.

“This one is close,” he repeated. “And it’s getting closer. It would appear we’ve been on a journey. How it started and why has been lost to recorded history. But we’re about to arrive at our destination.”

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