Author: Steven French

“Professor? If you’d just like to press the button, that’ll initiate the experiment.”

Professor Sarah Roberts looked around the control room, with satisfaction and pride. It had taken so long to put all this together, starting from that first idea, only roughly sketched in conversation with a graduate student as they barrelled down the motorway to some conference or other. She remembered those long days in the office, drafting and redrafting grant applications, only to have them rejected in turn by all the major funding agencies.
“Unintended consequences my arse!” she thought.

And so, in desperation she had turned to the one funder she had always said she wouldn’t apply to, the one supported by someone who described himself as a ‘cosmology buff’ but who was also the owner of a nationwide chain of stores selling powertools named, amusingly enough, ‘The Will to Power’. She remembered her anxiety before the interview but also how the questions didn’t seem that hard, the concerns about safety protocols not that deep, the worry about possible consequences so slight she felt all the calm reassurances she had lined up were actually wasted.

She also remembered that surge of elation when she got the call and the feeling that now, finally, she stood above her erstwhile peers. She knew what they thought of her, those old men who had dismissed her work and laughed at her behind her back.

Construction stretched over months and into years, with setbacks and challenges, some expected, others not so much. And then it was done. Her device, her great machine, ready to be switched on and create something that had never been created before, something that would usher in a new understanding of the universe, with all the attendant plaudits and prizes.

‘Professor? Are you ready?’

Sarah shook herself from her reverie and cleared her throat.
“This will be the first manmade, or should I say, woman-made black hole ever created,” she announced and her team of scientists and technicians chuckled along with her.

“There were some who opposed my dream, our dream”, she continued, “who threw up objections, who said it was too expensive, who even declared that space-time itself would be disrupted by what we’re about to create.” There was more laughter, some of it a little nervous this time.

“Well,” she finished, “we shall show them how wrong they were as we draw back the curtain on a bright new future!”

And with a flourish, she firmly pressed the button on the panel in front of her. There was no flash, no ominous rumbling, just a lurching sense of reality being twisted into a new shape. Sarah grabbed at the edge of the panel and for a brief moment, closed her eyes.

“Professor? If you’d just like to press the button, that’ll initiate the experiment.”