Author: Glenn Leung
Since its accidental discovery two decades ago, the phenomenon referred to as the Veil has been a heavily discussed topic. For five years, nearly every University in the world sent their best researchers billions of lightyears away from home to study it. Yet, despite strong evidence pointing to the existence of a seemingly infinite, yet invisible barrier, irreproducibility in testing has kept the Veil from becoming an established scientific phenomenon. Only a few research teams persisted in their work when it became clear that nothing useful could be learned. To this day, there is no agreed-upon theory on the nature of the wall that many are calling ‘the edge of the Universe’.
Aside from the lack of reproducibility, the Veil also exhibits properties that violate fundamental physical principles. Light directed towards the Veil has been found to scatter at aberrant angles and wavelengths. Instruments detect large emissions in the ultraviolet range, although no object in its vicinity has shown signs of UV exposure. Given the regular media updates of inconclusive experiments, public opinion has largely been in favor of terminating all further studies to focus on more fruitful projects closer to home.
Despite the pessimism, scientists still on the project believe that finding a way around the Veil is only a matter of time. The existence of the Veil at different longitudes of the Celestial Sphere has also not been confirmed. Yet an increasing number of renowned thinkers are cautioning against such ambition. Such dissidents point to the unpredictability of the Veil’s properties as evidence that our laws of science cannot be applied to the boundaries of the known. A notable futurist has said that intelligent beings have built the Veil there to “keep us from encroaching into their territory while toying with our instruments”. A philosopher has stated that “the Universe itself is telling us to know our place”.
Another obstacle to further scientific work comes from the psychological effects on observers after prolonged viewing. Celestial objects seen on the opposite side of the Veil are believed to be reflections of those in the known Universe, although the anomalous reflective properties of the Veil distort them into nearly unrecognizable forms. After twenty minutes of observation, observers report these forms transforming into disturbing visions, causing heightened levels of anxiety and distress. Such effects only dissipate an hour after observation is ceased. The longest recorded viewing was done by a graduate student who looked at the reflections for forty minutes (as recorded in her notebook) while taking measurements. She was found unconscious by her advisor and hospitalized for two days. When she awoke, she reported having dreams of deformed humanoid entities chanting in a language “so horrific and fantastic that you are drawn to listen while feeling so unsettled [sic]”. However, she could not recall taking measurements, or that she even reported for work that day. Her advisor was investigated for coercion to work under dangerous conditions, but the case was dropped due to a lack of evidence.
With large budget cuts and poor public opinion, scientists have turned to Defense agencies for funding with the hope that they see the Veil as a potential threat. No further statements have been made regarding this request.
Sorry Glenn, last week was a rough one so I’m just getting to this. Great story, very inventive. I’m wondering if the builders of the Veil, a couple of billion years ago, had trouble with funding and public and political backlash before they finally had it approved.
Hi RJ! No worries, I appreciate you dropping by to leave a comment.
You remind me of a common theme in science fiction, where it is said that to achieve miraculous feats of science, a species would have to be very enlightened and united. The builders of the infinite Veil would hence probably have a lot of support, especially if it’s to keep out the ‘pesky humans’.
Or, maybe the Veil wasn’t built by a single species, but really is the boundary of reality itself. In which case, what lies beyond would make political squabbles seem trite.
I wonder which one I should pick as canon…
I am pissed. This isn’t a story. It’s an intriguing prelude of what is to come. You hooked me, now you better follow up with more stories of your “veiled universe”.
Next time, no teasers. Let us into the veil. Or let evil things coming out.
On a side note, I recommend a writer that you may enjoy. He’s a little obscure, but you may have heard of him. H.P. Lovecraft.
All kidding aside, I greatly enjoyed this and want to read more. You did not imitate his style. You did not copy his style. I think you were inspired by his work and produced a fine intro to a future SciFi /horror story. It put me in mind of “Event Horizon”.
I am looking forward to more. Don’t leave your readers hanging.
Whoah, you scared me for a moment.
Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it! And yes, I was very much inspired by Lovecraft. I’m a big fan of his iconic style, the type you see in stories like ‘Call of Cthulu’ where he places distance between the narrator and the final horror. In this story, I’m emulating that by keeping to the philosophy of maintaining a sense of normalcy while showing that this normalcy is fragile. That’s why I tend not to show the monster, and the formal tone adds to the distancing by giving readers the impression that this might be something you find in an official report (normalcy). But I’m certainly open to trying new things and maybe I’ll throw in a monster or two next time 😉
You also reminded me that I need to watch Event Horizon. So thanks for that and the comment. It’s nice to find someone else who appreciates Lovecraft.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, especially the theme of “why spend so much money and effort on space exploration when we have plenty of problems here on Earth to solve?” It’s an important question.
Thanks! You did catch one of the themes I was going for, that is the theme of human vanity and hubris which leads to blind ambition. Glad you enjoyed it.
Tasty and imaginative. Well done.
Thank you! This was a tricky one to write, so I’m glad you like it.
I love the speculative science and creativity here. Nicely done.
Thanks! I’ve spent the last few months writing science, so I figured I’ll test out this mental state in sci-fi cosmic horror. Glad you like it.