by Stu Gillam
The perceptions of time and space fold in upon themselves in my wacky short story. Enjoy.
Somewhere beyond Earth’s stratosphere, a tool, closely approximate in shape and purpose to an ax - although not in size - was swung with great force. It bit into the trunk of what can only be described, though loosely, as a tree.
Five year old Natasha had an arm.
It was a lovely arm. It was attached to her shoulder to the left of her heart. Soft, pink skin covered it all the way around, and Natasha was glad of that, for she didn’t want all its insides to fall out. It was covered with delicate, blond hairs which tickled her when a breeze blew across them, and sometimes those little hairs stood up straight, and became mounted on top of little dots of raised flesh; and she wondered at that - noticing there was always a little chill that ran down her back when they appeared, and that they appeared mostly when she was frightened or cold.
She was quite fond of her arm. If you were to ask her playfully if she wanted to keep it, she’d nod her little head with great exaggeration, smiling brightly, a beam of sunshine to melt you, little dribbles of snot running from her nose. She used it for many things and had become quite attached to it. She used it to play, to feed herself, to touch and grab things. She used it to punch her little brother’s shoulder when he annoyed her. Its uses seemed endless to her. Yet she hardly ever thought about it. It was just there.
In all, it was a good arm, a perfectly normal arm, slender and well toned. It had a small, brown beauty mark on its forearm, but she rarely noticed it. She had another arm, too. It was to the right of her heart. It also was a good and handy arm, but it does not figure in our tale.
She awoke early that morning, greeted by the happy beginnings of a bright, sunny day. Summer time held sway upon the land and the day beckoned to her with the promise of new wonders and delights to be discovered - the way only a young child can understand. She picked cookies out of her sleepy eyes, then got out of bed.
She became aware of a commotion downstairs, and soon found out that there was an awesome and terrible news coming from the TV, and it agitated and excited her parents greatly. She was not completely sure what an earthquake was, though she knew it was something terrible that the Earth did. Her father tried to explain to her what had happened, and she soon came to understand that there had been earthquakes in many places all over the world that day, all at the same time. She and her family were not affected because they lived in the middle of the country, and as he explained this to her, she put forth excitedly “Plymouth Rock, Indiana” showing her father how intelligent she was.
While her parents were overrun with concern, the news did not seem to interest her. She dismissed the goings on soon enough, leaving them to tough it out on their own...for she had a whole day of play and wonderment before her.
She spent some time out in the yard playing on the swings. Her brother ran around the swing-set in frenetic circles, endless reserves of energy driving him in his own games. He teased her endlessly until she had to finally haul off and hit him. She spent time being scolded for that offence. She gathered lilies from the garden and produced a fine bouquet for her father... who never seemed to scold her. She talked on the phone with her best friend for a time, and played video games with her brother. She found magazines to flitter through and books and encyclopedias to scan...these last holding a special place in her heart. Big, juicy, colorful, glossy photos mesmerized her and she found pictures of space and planets and nebula vastly interesting - she’d even come to memorize the names of some far off galaxies... Antennae, Fornax A., Circinus...
But then, without the smallest twinkle of awareness, her mother set into effect the initial stages of an occurrence - one that would wreak a havoc of unparalleled dimensions. One which was to have such devastating consequences, that had any individuals actually ever been aware of it, there would have been a cry of sadness such that the universe had never before seen.
For what she’d done was to command Natasha to clean her room, and, what would in turn be a particularly sad and fateful gesture upon the universe, she requested her daughter to dust.
There lived a being who was small. So small, in fact, that he lived on a world that was the size of an atom... as would be perceived by a being on Earth. Of course, no beings on Earth ever knew of his existence, and never would.
The being, Nezer Naulits, was of a noble family, had gone through the best education available and had a knack for engineering and science. So good was he with his hands, and smart, that at the age of thirty six - those NOT being Earth years - he came into fame and fortune by inventing a device that was, for all practical purposes, the same as an Earth-made microscope.
As such, his life and times, and his great invention, gives forth the idea that scale and perception are relative to one’s own universe; for as sure as Natasha and her family existed on Earth, with their scientists probing atoms and protons which zigged and zagged around plates within electron microscopes, so too did this being and his atom-sized world exist and witness, through his great invention, their own relative micro-world.
Such as it were, a truth lends itself to our tale in that nothing is ever as small as it can get. There is always room for something smaller. The concept is a difficult one to understand, and it has flown in the face of many scientists on Earth - as it has to their counterparts on Nezer’s world. Too, the dimensions of Space have always gone hand in hand with that of Time, and it must be noted that the smaller the scale of perception gets, so the flow of time gets faster and faster... and vice versa.
Nezer lived in a fabulous Civilization. A rich history had been accrued throughout the ages on his world, Rotribida, and a strong tapestry of events and eras had been recorded in many texts. There had been ancient kings and merciless despots. There were wars which raged for long Rotribida-years, where blood was spilled dark upon the ground and armies were formed, then disintegrated as they pounced upon each other’s steel. Thrones and kingdoms had been established and torn down - empires spanned far and wide. Art and music of all sorts came to be, and stories and tales, some true, some not, spread among the populous. Icons of their times made their mark on Rotribida’s history - heros and geniuses, like Nezer, who’s deeds of renown influenced the minds of generations that followed. So too notorious scoundrels etched memories of their villainy upon the world, the stink of infamy swirling about them forever after. Urban legends sprang up now and again adding to the lexicon of knowledge. They provided spice and color to the lore of Rotribida, further enhancing the character of its Civilization. Great works of construction and engineering had been built, and in some places ancient temples still stood, holding their ground beside structures of modern architecture. People came from many different sects and societies. Customs and Religions were varied and flourished, and Gods came in many shapes and forms.
It was a grand world, an exciting world with much to behold, and it would have tickled and tantalized the imaginations of many an Earthling had it become known to them. It flourished throughout long eons of history right to the very time of Nezer’s life.
A dust particle flew away from Natasha’s dresser as a quill from her feather duster swished across the surface and sent it airborne. It floated lazily for a time among thousands of its brothers and sisters, swimming through a ray of sunlight coming through the blinds, every now and again making its existence known as its tiny form caught the light.
The air in the room was dry, and Natasha’s brush strokes created a slight static. It drew the dust particle toward Natasha’s arm... her left arm, until, as gently as the sway of leaves in the soft breezes of Rotribida’s Horellian Island, it settled on her forearm, approximately five millimeters from that small, brown beauty mark which she rarely noticed.
Nestled against a blond hair, it shook ever so slightly in the minute air currents which eased over Natasha’s arm as she dusted, and it was able to nudge that hair in the smallest way. What resulted was an itch upon Natasha’s left arm.
And in that moment just before she scratched that itch, she could never have known that she was about to become the destroyer of worlds... the bane of the little world known as Rotribida. Little five year old Natasha Kimiski, who liked to play on swings and ride her tri-cycle, who liked to pull on her daddy’s beard until he screeched with that funny face, would cringe in horror and sadness had she known that she would soon become a monster of destruction, wiping out, without a moment's pause, the whole long and proud history of a civilization which had thrived for millions and millions of years... ever since, in fact, she’d waken up that morning and picked cookies from her eyes.
For that’s when the planet which Nezer lived upon was just beginning to cool from the tortuous meteor showers it had so long endured before the time when creatures began to crawl from its seas. And as she had entered the kitchen and heard all about the earthquakes, wars were being fought and empires were crumbling in the middle era of Rotribida’s history. And just as that particle of dust had settled on her left arm, Nezer was being born in a bed chamber which looked quite similar to her own.
It was the eight-hundredth-and-fifty-sixth skin cell from Natasha’s beauty mark where the solar system which Rotribida belonged to dwelled within - its cozy and long standing niche in the universe, where it floated ever so small within a sea... a Space... of cellular plasma, and where its inhabitants had witnessed for eons a nightly sky filled with nebula of mitochondria and other organelles.
It was just the day before when that particular skin cell had come into existence by the division of its parent cell. Just seconds after its creation, and already the swirling dust and particles of Rotribida’s solar system were beginning to gel and coalesce deep inside of it. Yet, how many times had Natasha bumped that arm, or rubbed it during that period of time, short though it may seem? For sure, it happened quite a few times, and Rotribida was never the worse for wear. But if one could be shrunk down to that microscopic level, able to see the contact up close, one would find that there were vast distances involved where a planet like Rotribida could remain safe, such as the way Earth is relatively safe from meteor and comet strikes.
But this was not to be the case at that fateful moment, when, with a few flicks of her fingers she scratched away that itch, because, like that one in a million chance of her beloved Earth getting obliterated by a wayward meteor, so did the outlying wall of cells upon the very tip of her finger nail smash with a great force directly against Rotribida, wiping its existence out in the flicker of a moment.
If only Natasha’s chore could have waited one more day... in which time that skin cell would most likely have been brushed away from her arm, dead, set adrift on some flake of dandruff like a polar bear stranded on a break-away iceberg. And in the death of that cell, Rotribida would have come to an end just the same... for no world can live forever. Yet with just one more day - a minuscule slice of time relative to Natasha’s life - one more day for her to romp and play, one more little day to put off that annoying chore of dusting - and Nezer’s world would have progressed millions and millions of years into its glorious future before that cell ever died and shriveled and floated gently to the floor.
If only one more day... and might not the inhabitants of Rotribida have one day looked upon strange formations in the night sky with newly invented telescopes? Or zipped across parsecs of cytoplasm-space in decked out rocket ships, forever onwards towards distant objects - the very nucleus of that cell... or perhaps even to the very edge of the wondrous double helix which had shimmered up in the heavens for millennia? If only one more day... and might not Nezer have lived a long and prosperous life, perhaps even discovering a new particle, smaller still than all yet known to them. And might he not, upon his death, have been eulogized with ceremony and respect, as deserved, and buried securely in the soil of his beloved atom-sized world to rest in peace, surrounded by friends and family remembering with honor the man who revealed to all Rotribida the precious small things...
Natasha: Wrecker of Worlds.
Natasha Doomsday! Progenitor of Destruction. She who ended a great civilization with the flick of her finger...and closed the book on Rotribida forever.
Mercifully, she had no idea of the harm she had done... for the guilt may well have ruined her life!
She was also unaware that in the year 1492, right around the time when Christopher Colombus and his landing party were first setting foot upon the New World, Greshnabn Loodornst, who’s finger nail was the size of the Fornax A. galaxy - as would be perceived by a being in Natasha’s frame of reference - had just begun to swing her tool. And a few hours before Natasha had awoken that fateful morning, that tool completed its arc and bit into a strange tree with great force. The very exact edge of the blade nearly impacted a cell in that tree, within which resided Natasha’s solar system, and came so close to doing the same thing to Earth as was done to Rotribida, that it shook the world on its axis, and caused earthquakes to spring up all around the world.