Quantum physics professor seeks to remedy his biggest regret
Dr. Zach Gilmore’s office was in the basement of his university’s physics laboratory. A steady hum from his cryogenic freezer’s pumps drowned out the noise of undergraduate classrooms above. His computer monitor and a small spotlight aimed at a chalkboard beside his desk was all that lit the room. A handwritten note on a yellow piece of paper taped to his desk read, ‘Remember To Clean Out The Freezer’.
For three decades, Zach had spent fifty-hour workweeks calculating, experimenting, and pecking out research papers. Even he was surprised his university still funded him.
Every one of his theories, as well as Cal-Tech’s peer-reviewed confirmations of his work, demonstrated that at a quantum level, reality is dictated by how one observes it and that the observer, not the object of observation, determines the outcome. Buried deep in his equations, substantiated by his experiments, was irrefutable proof that not only could he change a particle’s future by how he chose to look at it, but that he could also change its past. Though it took him years to comprehend the concept, he embraced it when he realized the immense power he would yield if he could master the technique of manipulating the histories of objects much bigger than atoms.
For hours each day, Zach would scratch out equations on his chalkboard, only to erase them and start over. Sometimes, he would pause and think about his beautiful Cassie. When her memory overwhelmed him, he would retrieve Polaroids from a hidden compartment under his desk. As he flipped through them, he would fantasize about his future with Cassie, and tried to forget the past he had yet to change.
His breakthrough came when he linked the inner workings of human consciousness and the quantum enigma that observation changes reality. To say that he had learned how to jump to the reality he desired is an understatement, but at its core, quite accurate. His first success was observing a cold cup of coffee as warm. He then learned to see himself as young, trim, and fit. He soon observed Cassie as she was when they first met and before she had gained the memory of his mistake one night many years before. He observed her waiting for him when he got home from work and he observed them dancing in their living room. He felt them holding hands while walking an endless beach, then stopping and kissing, and finally as lovers on soft sand.
He tried not to observe the thunderous crack of his office door being splintered from its hinges or twenty cops pouring down his stairs. He tried not to see their guns pointed at him or believe that they tackled and held him on the ground. He tried not to feel the pain in his shoulders as a brute of an officer wrenched his arms behind his back and secured them with handcuffs. He fantasized that policemen were not browsing his Polaroids or reading the note on his desk. He tried not to believe an officer was cutting the lock on his freezer or opening its door, but mostly, Zach tried not to observe Cassie’s frozen body tumbling out and slapping the floor.