A Different World

Author: David Henson

When earth passed through the Great Inter-dimensional Anomalous Wave, everything went blurry. After things cleared up 56 hours later, it was a different world.

Great Grandpappy Goose was one of the last to remember when the world had three spatial dimensions. He said everything about living in 2D was hard to get used to — having height and width but no depth, needing to hop over things rather than go around them, the impossibility of knots. It all seems normal to me, but then I’ve never known anything other than our 2D existence.

I’ve read about 3D life in the history sheets— books as they were called back then when there was thickness — whatever that was. But much as I try, I can’t visualize a third dimension. Was it curled above? twisted below? wrapped inside? Where did it go when a person moved about? Did they pull it behind them like a chain?

Some artists are inspired by the concept of three dimensions. They paint their visions of 3D trees, horses, nudes. I find it all a bit creepy. Scientists have described a 3D reality using endless formulas and equations only they can understand. I once saw an engineer’s conceptual blueprint of a three-dimensional bridge and got dizzy just looking at the drawing.

I hadn’t thought about the whole 3D thing for a long time till I saw Great Grandpappy Goose a few weeks ago. He was especially agitated trying to make me understand how things used to be. Maybe he sensed his end was near, and that he wouldn’t have another chance. He showed me his front, which narrowed till he disappeared for an instant before his back widened into view. Then he reversed the process till he was facing me again.

“And,” I said. “what’s your point?”

Grandpappy held up his hands as if I were aiming a flatshot at him. “Try to imagine, son. There used to be more to us than length and width. We also went from front to back, like this.” Grandpappy moved his arm up and down. “No, not like that, like this.” Up and down again. “Drat … Depth, son. Everyone had it. Everything. It was so much better. Please tell me you understand.” His voice quivered.

I thought for a moment. “Yes, Great Grandpappy Goose, I do.” I didn’t really understand, still couldn’t get my head on three dimensions. But Great Grandpappy’s passion had convinced me that having length and width without depth diminished our world.

I miss Great Grandpappy Goose, but am thankful to still have Granny Gander. I’m visiting her tomorrow. Granny Gander never lived in a 3D world but does remember other things that disappeared before I was born. I’m certain she’ll lament how the world’s worse off now that there’s yes and no without something called maybe, black and white without gray, right and wrong without doubt. This time when Granny Gander starts reminiscing, I’m going to put down my flatgame.

Incorporeal Living

Author: Anthony Nguyen

I woke up outside my body.

My husband welcomed me onto a server called dasn.incorporealliving3.mw.

Like normal, my mouth moved and words emerged,”Hi John, it’s been a while.”

“Yeah babe, ya don’t have to be so formal.”

“I feel like I’m breathing while I’m talking.”

“They programmed our neurological patterns into the computer for comfort.”

“Comf—”

“Which is weird,” he added. Then I imagined him stroking his stubble and taking deep breaths, taking in the clean atmosphere as he stepped off the ship and onto a new world. “Well babe, it’s weird ’cause they could just put us under, then unfreeze us when it’s time. There’s no need for this…out-of-body reality.”

“I guess it feels more comfortable, like I’m still in my body,” I said as I thought about nudging him. I decided to pull up the feed of my body’s pod—lifeless.

But I felt alive. It was an uncanny feeling.

Similar to our school days when we hogged the lunch table with the tall shady oaks, my husband and I hogged the dasn.incorporealliving3.mw server, affixing a passcode that only close friends and family knew. p0pkorn.

Yes. Zero and k.

Although it was wholly unnecessary because the client recognized our friends and family. Though, it was fun brainstorming a passcode.

I visited my physical body everyday—it resided in pod 47B, right next to my husbands’. There was something about the lifeless, tangible face that made me envious of life. Simulations just weren’t the same. Because if I had wanted to, I could feel the wind grace my skin as I relaxed under the shade of a cypress. But instead of walking out to Ma’s cypress in Monterey, the computer would’ve simulated it for me—and it wouldn’t be real.

Sometimes, my husband and I traversed other servers, where people had transposed fancy Michelin-starred restaurants or worrisome street food, or vacation spots of New Zealand beaches and Tokyo cybergardens.

Ma copied the Tokyo cybergardens server onto her own, so whenever I visited, the aroma of sakuras, soy sauce and second-hand smoke assaulted me.

“Take off your shoes,” Ma reminded me. She walked to the dinner table and imagined a ceramic tea set out of thin air. “Oiya, I made ramen, not the instant kind, the real kind—Hikigaya taught me.” Hikigaya was the Japanese chef simulation, who in all honesty, adorned the biggest, most inviting smile.

“Ma have you ever thought about simulating dad?”

“I’ve wished it, but old age has gotten to my head. Oiya… I don’t remember him too well.”

“Then are you ever lonely? Do you ever crave authentic relationships?”

She started pouring the tea, then placed it in front of me. “I have you.”

I warmed my hands with the teacup, admiring the strips of pink as it wrapped around the black. “How do you know I’m real?”

“Well because you’re my daughter. Also, nobody has as much difficulty with existentialism as you do.” Her restrained giggle escaped through her nose.

I continued to meet up with Ma every week. She learned most Japanese dishes within the first five years. Then she moved onto Italian, then Greek, then Mediterranean, then we lost track of time.

It was no longer an accurate form of measurement for we were infinitely ensnared in the cosmos. Time was a weird force, pushing us to socialize, learn, create, and wait—wait until our bodies were free to explore and settle in the next simulation. But until then, we were bound to this one.

Dream Worlds, To Perchance Live

Author: Jeff L Mauser

The soft high-count sheets are cool against my skin. I’m greeting by soft spring sunshine, I smile. Throwing the curtains aside, the green fields of home flow from beneath my window as far as I can see.

The aroma of coffee sashays in, overlaid with the enticing whiff of bacon. They lead me to the kitchen. The love of my life, Debra, turns and smiles. I brush my lips against the nape of her neck. I know better than to disturb her when she’s cooking. Especially when she’s cooking bacon.

I fill my coffee cup, sitting down at the built-in kitchen table. Sipping the tantalizing elixir I enjoy the quiet moment.

“Smells good Mom,” Buddy shouts bounding into the kitchen. “Dad, can you help me with this math homework?” He plops his books onto the table sliding next to me.

“Ah, Sure.”

“Unbelievable,” Sissy lets out a long sad sigh. “Weren’t you part of the Feminist Movement back in the olden days’ Mom?”

“Olden Days? I’m going to the Federal Building later to protest the President’s choice for the Supreme Court, young lady. Don’t give me any olden days stuff.”

“But Mom,” Sissy says sitting at the table. “You’re cooking breakfast. Isn’t that like a ‘housewife’ thing?”

“Yes, but it’s agreed no one wants to eat your father’s cooking?” She’s balancing two plates on her left arm and holding one in her right hand.
“Dad’s good for donuts.” Buddy says laughing, then “Thanks, Mom.” He digs right in.

“Hey, I resemble that,” laughing. She kisses my cheek, putting a plate in front of me.

“I don’t understand how you can be subservient, to Dad.”
“I’m not, dear. When you fall in love you’ll understand.” She puts the plate in front of Sissy.

“Well then I’m never falling in love,” Sissy mumbles with a mouth full of food.

We smile. Debra said the same thing when we first met at a Human Rights protest. She sits and begins eating. Buddy and Sissy have eaten most of their bacon, eggs, toast, and Hash browns. I have taken a few bites. I’m savoring the family time.

Leaving for school Buddy and Sissy put their dishes in the sink. Finished I take her plate to the sink. I turn and she is in my arms. We hug, tight.

“Do you have to?”

“Yes.” We kiss.

The feeling of her arms around me linger as the bright spring sunshine fades. Her warmth dwindles as the sound of the guards’ baton against the bars come closer. I open my eyes to grayness. Gray walls, ceilings, floors, and faces. I disengage from the full lotus position to stand next to my bunk.

The guard passing my cell steps back glaring at me. “Weren’t you were floating above the floor.”

“No Sir. I was sitting on my bed, which is wrong. I should be standing facing you when you walk by.”

The guard scowls. He knows I’m right. He also knows what he believes he saw. The longer I’m silent, the less he trusts himself.

“That’s right boy. You’re always wrong. I’m always right. Got that Prisoner 6497368”

“Yes sir.”

Lights outs, and again I drift away home. This time with our time ending, I acquiesce to her loving entreaties. Wrapped in her loving arms, I focus on her warmth and our need for freedom.

The guards’ baton against the bars fade. Assured of my success I relax for an instant. Just long enough to see the look on the guard face as my Cheshire cat grin is the last of me he sees.

The Dollhouse

Author: Greg Roensch

You’d be 40 years old today, my age at the time of the first strike. There’s some comfort knowing you didn’t have to live through the disasters that came like seasons – drought, famine, disease, war, more war.

I awoke one morning without sight, which happened to many of us. We were placed in barracks according to our IQ. All blind, we ate as one. Slept as one. Felt as one.

Our power came slowly at first, before blossoming into full force. We’ll use this incredible gift to improve things, I thought in the beginning. We’ll create a better world. But the generals had other ideas.

When they no longer needed us for military purposes, they used us to keep the order. To keep the people in their place.

“Why didn’t you revolt?” you would have asked. “Why didn’t you turn your power against them?”

It’s hard to explain, daughter, but we never thought to fight back. We never saw that as an option.

I still dream of you. Like last week when I saw you skipping toward me on a long sidewalk, your face bathed in sunshine as you made a point to avoid contact with the lines in the cement.

“Good girl,” I cheered, “you’re almost here.”

“I’m coming, papa,” you called out, though the distance grew between us.

“Faster, honey.”

“Papa,” you cried.

“Run!” I shouted.

I was jolted out of my dream by the familiar voice of G-5309.

“Silence,” he commanded and struck the bottom of my feet with a metal baton.

Groans came from the other bunks in the barracks.

“Be quiet,” he ordered. “Or you’ll get more of the same.”

I willed myself back into my dream, but you were gone.

Did you look more like me or your mother? I can’t remember anymore.

“No one’s to blame,” I told her. “It was just one of those things.” But nothing convinced your mother to forgive – or to stay.

Last night, I dreamt you knelt before a two-story dollhouse, like the one we built together on your seventh birthday.

“My child,” I said, tears welling in my eyes.

“Quiet, papa,” you whispered.

Clutching my fists to my mouth, I peered over your shoulder at the dollhouse, only to realize that everything was covered by thick, black ash, like the kind that fell on the last day I saw you.

“My child,” I repeated, my words drowned out by the uncontrollable sobs coming from every bed in the room.

Alice, After the Wormhole

Author: Chad Bolling

“I’m not sure I remember your name,” a soft, gender-neutral, synthetic voice said.

“I can’t see anything,” a human, female voice responded.

“Can you smell or hear anything?” the synthetic voice asked.

“No. Wait. I can smell. It smells like a farm! Hold on. I can see something. It– it looks like we are on Earth but, it’s not our Earth. Oh no, I think, I think I’m going to be sick.”

Her vision cleared. She could see fields of cereal grass and a farmhouse with a large barn but, she could see all six sides of the box-shaped barn at once. It appeared to be shifting, rotating so that every point of view was apparent. She looked at the surrounding landscape; everything in sight turned in a sequence just like the barn. The world turned on its axis, and so did its point of view.

“I… I can see the back, front, sides, top, and bottom of everything, all at the same time. It’s all, all shifting like it is breathing. My god,” she said as she kneeled and undid the top of her flight suit. “But… no sign of our ship.”

“Where am I then? Something is different…” the synthetic voice said.

“Different? Different! I think– I think I might throw up.”

“Close your eyes until you feel stable, then see if you can locate our ship.”

She looked down and saw that her shadow was three dimensional.

“My shadow! It’s, it’s three-D. It has depth and roundness to it. I would say this is cool but, it’s just— just too much.”

“I imagine, you must feel just like Alice after she fell into the rabbit hole,” the synthetic voice said.

She closed her eyes and laughed, almost hysterically. “I think you’re right. But this wonderland is an old farm in 20th-century rural America!”

“Is that where we are?”

“I think so.” Alice paused for a long moment and let her stomach stop spinning. “So, if I’m Alice, then you must be The Cheshire Cat.”

“Given the state of our amnesia, the names will do. Alice, can you check again for the ship?”

Alice slowly opened her eyes. She felt sick again.

“Ugh. Wait! I see people!” said Alice.

“Humans?”

“Yes, they are coming this way! They look like those farmers in that painting. What was it called…?”

“American Gothic?”

“Yes.”

An older man and woman approached Alice. Farmers, just like in American Gothic.

“Do you need help?” the man said.

“You can come inside and rest. You don’t look well,” said the woman.

“Is there something wrong with this place?” Alice asked.

“No, dear. It’s just you. We don’t have many visitors here” said the woman. “The last one was dressed just like you.”

“Turned out to be a great farmhand!” said the man with a grin.

“You really should come inside and rest,” the woman said.

The American Gothic couple walked back to the farm.

“Alice, you should go with them. Wait. I feel myself starting to fade.” The synthetic voice sounded distorted. “Perhaps, the ship is finally gone, ripped to shreds in the wormhole. Regardless, Alice, you’ve been a good companion…”

“Cat? Cat! Are you there?”

No answer.

She walked to the farmhouse.