Far Too Short

Author: David Henson

I wait outside the garage for one of the missionaries from Uklid. I have to admit life is better for most people since they arrived.

The Uklidins began with small enhancements like portable force field emitters they pass out like candy. Concerned about plastic bags clotting the oceans? Key the right code into your emitter and carry groceries in a force field. No umbrella on a rainy day? Pop in a code and out pops an umbrella, colored red with the built-in laser to brighten the gloom. Speaking of rain, the Uklidins promise we’ll be able to control the weather when their algorithms say we’re ready for such power.

The Uklidins also are advancing our medical capabilities, albeit far too slowly. To prevent overpopulation, their human longevity program is formulaically synced with space colonization knowhow they’re spoon-feeding us. By the time humans are living for hundreds of years, children will be playing throughout the solar system.

A female Uklidin appears in my driveway. They look like us except they’re all drop-dead gorgeous and about a foot taller than the average human. “I’m Hypatia,” she says. “You must be Albert. I understand you’re having trouble with your garage?”

I was so upset one day, I backed into the garage door. The Uklidins replaced it with a force field, matched perfectly, of course, to the color of our house. There are some things in the garage my wife and I have decided to part with, but I can’t steady my hand to turn off the force field. Not wanting to go into all of that with Hypatia, I tell her there’s a malfunction.

Hypatia steps to the emitter mounted by the door. In a moment the garage entrance force field vanishes, bringing the tricycle into view. She looks down at me and frowns. “Seems to be working.” Then she smiles. “Have you heard The Truth today, Albert?”

She’s helped me, now comes the sermon.

“I’ve got something to do. If you’ll —”

“I understand some earthlings believe God is an old person in a white robe.”

“I’m not so religious. If you’ll excuse me—“

Hypatia raises her arms to the sky. “Where do you believe it all came from?”

OK, there’s no escaping this. “The Big Bang, I suppose.”

“Before the Big Bang?”

“I’ve read about colliding branes.”

Hypatia shakes her head. “Before branes.”

My turn to shake my head.

Hypatia sighs. “Mathematics, Albert. Mathematics have no beginning or end. You and I are but songs from the stars, and stars are the music of mathematics.” A look of rapture captures her face. “The entire multiverse is a symphony, Albert, with mathematics the composer and conductor.” She begins shaking in ecstasy, her eyes rolling back.

When I reach to steady her, she grabs my wrists. Her touch burns, and wisps of smoke rise between her fingers.

“Do you believe, Albert?”

I want to tell her the truth, but when you feel like you’re about to burst into flames … “I believe,” I shout. “I believe.”

Hypatia loosens her grip. “That’s enough for today.” She touches a button on her collar and disappears.

I take a few deep breaths, roll my sleeves to hide the scorch marks on my shirt and load the pickup with the boxes of toys we’re donating. I pause at the trike, then steel myself, cut off the price tag and put the three-wheeler with the boxes.

I don’t know if God is a being in robes, an infinite page of calculations, or anything else. All I know is some songs are cut far too short.


  1. kohlersc

    I love how straight forward yet subtle this is. So many things rolled up into such a short concise tale. Thank you.

  2. Hari Navarro

    Very clever writing, David. Its so layered and overflowing with food for thought. Plus, now thanks to my google brain I know what brane cosmology is 🙂 🙂

    • xdhz8

      Thanks, Hari. And thanks to Google, too. Branes are beyond my brain!


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