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Strings 1

The duck was not co-operating; she refused to wear her shoes.

The duck was the darling of the quantum engineering lab. Her name was Roslyn and she had come to acquire the acerbic, mercenary personality of the lab's professors and technicians. She was currently displaying this personality by biting, kicking and flapping her wings violently against Paul's attempts at fitting her with a pair of red web-shaped rubber shoes.

Paul knew she'd only capitulate if he offered her food, but he refused to give her any. He felt he shouldn't bow to the demands of a duck. So he chased her, grabbed at her legs, threatened her with curses and every time failed to get the shoes on her feet. Finally, after an hour of this, he sat himself on the floor in defeat.

Roslyn quacked. The lab door swung open and Dr. Langar strode in through it.

'Paul,' Dr. Langar called, 'Is Roslyn ready?'

Embarrassed at his failure with the duck, Paul hesitated before rising from the floor.

'No, unfortuately,' he said, finally, popping up from behind a workbench. 'She's being, ah, uncooperative.'

Dr. Langar launched a cold glare at Paul. He went to a large cupboard and pulled out a box of dried foodscraps someone had labeled 'duck treats'. Roslyn, of course, appeared in an instant, and while she was happily nibbling at her meal Dr. Langer took the shoes from Paul and slipped them on her feet.

'Honestly, Paul,' he admonished, 'It isn't that hard.'

'She doesn't like me. She treats me with contempt.'

The edges of Dr. Langar's mouth creaked upward in a brief smile. 'You've got a lot to learn when it comes to women, Paul,' he said.

Rubber, of course, is the only substance in the universe known to be entirely stable in terms of quantum possibilities. While every other material carries the slight improbability of suddenly becoming something else - a football, the Venus de Milo, a pennywhistle - it has been proven that, incalculably, rubber will always and forever be rubber. Dr. Langar proved this himself in a seminal paper published in Nature.

He'd also proved that our reality is a composite set of quantum possibilities, and that there should and must be other composite sets of quantum possibilities coexistent to this one. His research team proposed a device that might allow science to examine these other composite sets, these alternate possibilities, directly. Roslyn was about to try out Dr. Langar's latest attempt at building such a device. Her rubber shoes would, hopefully, maintain her existential integrity as she stepped in to whatever other world she might find herself in.

Continued at Strings 2.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License

kelson.philo's picture

Hahahah...I just can't wait

Hahahah...I just can't wait to see why the estimable Dr. L believed a duck to be the best canidate for quantum shifting.

Will Roslyn get through the

Will Roslyn get through the experiment intact? Don't leave us hanging on this one! =)

And I'm fascinated by that 'love story' tag.


I'm not a huge reader of science fiction, but I truly enjoy the creative possibilities the genre offers. Why should art remain bound by the laws of physics?

Also a huge fan of Michel Gondry's films - he uses improbable science fiction-type scenarios to reveal glimpses of the human condition. Brilliant.

And no, Paul will not get it on with the duck. Sorry everybody.