Allison Fisher discovers a new spatial dimension in a most unlikely place...
Sruthi Patel offered her roommate a sympathetic expression. “You don’t have to, Allison.”
Allison Fisher sighed. “I said I would.”
The other young woman folded her arms. “That was before we knew the effect the audio-files would have on you. It’s okay, Ally, I’ll find someone else…”
Only it would be hard, Allison knew, for her friend to find another test subject. Sruthi spent her life in the lab, and what little time she spent outside the lab she spent right here, in the small off-campus cottage they shared. On top of that, her roommate was working against a clock. If she didn’t have sufficient data to justify her research, there was the chance she could lose her funding.
“I’m not going to make you find someone else, but I probably will be a bitch in the morning...unless of course someone goes down to the deli and buys me breakfast…”
“Done! And Ally…?” Sruthi grinned up at her taller friend. “Thank you.”
Allison sat on her bed, reached for her MP3 player. “Which track is my torture for tonight?”
“Track eight, same as mine” Sruthi donned her own earbuds. “Thanks again, Ally.”
Allison lay back, let the tension of the day ease out of her neck and shoulders. Maybe there would be no headaches tonight, after all. She took a deep, cleansing breath, and pressed play.
Binaural beats are created by the human mind. They’re the natural result of the brain struggling to reconcile two similar tones (one played in the right ear, the other in the left) of slightly varying frequency. Stimulating these auditory illusions affects brain-waves, which in turn can sharpen focus and reduce anxiety. It has also been reported to induce seizures, night-terrors, and worse.
Allison had her seizure at three-forty-seven in the morning. Only hers was no ordinary seizure.
She came awake with no control whatsoever over her raging, flailing body, and no understanding of what was going on. Her muscles burned and cramped under the sudden and unexpected strain of her fits. And then, from both inside and outside of her, Allison heard and also felt a soul-rending crack. Not unlike the crack of a bullwhip, it spoke of things moving rapidly in one direction, only to be brought, suddenly and violently, about face. It was accompanied by a flash of light so bright that, although she didn’t see it with her eyes, (which were being involuntarily squeezed shut, at the moment) it burned them nonetheless.
Her body quieted, finally. It should have been a relief, she knew...but it wasn’t. Because something, she realized intuitively, had changed. Something deep and fundamental had been altered, something about the very essence of what made Allison Fisher Allison Fisher.
If her body could be thought of as a vehicle being piloted by her conscious mind, Allison had the distinct impression that she’d taken a giant step back from the controls, so to speak. Not just theoretically, but spatially as well. The sudden realization was staggering. Up until that second, Allison had lived her life feeling as though her consciousness filled her entire body. Now, she understood, there was space inside of her in which to move about. An astonishingly large amount of space.
She guided her consciousness backward from the “control panel” of her being, recessing into a new world that seemed every bit as large as the “physical” world on the outside of her body. For a jarring second or two she worried that, as she left the helm of her physical identity, her body would cease to function. As it turns out, she needn’t have worried.
Different rules governed the physics of this inner dimension, it seemed. Allison had moved a significant distance from her own body’s perspective on the “outside” world, and yet she was still at the controls. Her consciousness wasn’t split in two, it was whole, both here, and there. With a shift of perspective no more difficult than the blink of an eye, Allison was able to toggle back and forth between the two completely independent, and yet, thanks to this new level of existence, linked consciousnesses.
To say that this new perspective was jarring would be to understate the matter, and inner-Allison was not at all surprised to feel her body bend at the waist and upchuck.
“Are you okay, Ally?” Sruthi was up and out of bed.
Ally was far enough away now from her own body, and from its own unique perspective, that she could actually see two or three other unique perspectives on the “outside,” physical world. What, she wondered, might happen, should she attempt to see the world through another’s eyes? She toggled.
“Yes,” was all Allison’s body said. She’d instructed it to say more, and this troubled her. She wanted desperately to share with her friend this amazing discovery she’d made. She, Allison Fisher, had accidentally stumbled upon a fourth spatial dimension, one hidden beneath the conscious mind itself! This would make her PhD...her career...it would change the world! Again her mind sent words to her mouth. This time, though, her body didn’t speak at all. She watched as her own concern was mirrored on Sruthi’s little face.
“Allison? Can you hear me?”
Again, Allison tried to speak. Once again, her body refused. She tried a nod, and was gratified to feel her head moving up and down.
She watched as the look on Sruthi’s face shifted toward hopeful and then back to concerned. “What’s the matter, Ally?”
Allison shook her head from side to side.
“Then why aren’t you saying anything? Are you asleep? Are you sleepwalking?”
From deep within her newly discovered dimension, Allison considered the proper response. She wasn’t sleepwalking, of course, but that explanation might convince her panicking friend not to call the health-center. Allison wanted to avoid the health center. There was no telling what she might be prescribed, and she didn’t want medication to pull her out of this fantastic place she’d discovered--at least not until she’d had a good look around. She toggled, and nodded her head in the affirmative.
Sruthi looked skeptical. “Why don’t we take a walk down to the health center?”
Allison’s body shook its head in the negative.
“I really think we should. Allison, come on, I’ll…”
Sleep. We both just need sleep...
Sruthi didn’t hear the words in her mind, necessarily, but the meaning came through loud and clear. It felt like a thought, like any of the tens of thousands of thoughts her mind generated every day…
...only somehow alien.
“Alright, Ally. If you won’t let me take you to the health center, let’s get you out of that shirt and into something clean. Then we can get you back to bed...”
In the neurology unit of the University Hospital, Sruthi Patel sat beside the bed of her roommate and friend. She took her hand. For a time, she dare not speak, for fear of collapsing into sobs. There was only so much time she was allowed to visit, though.
“Allison…?” Tears welled in Sruthi’s eyes. She blinked and they broke, coursed down her cheeks and the sides of her nose. “Can you hear me, Ally? I’m so sorry…” She sobbed, rooted in the front of her bag for a tissue. “How could I know? You said you’d never had a seizure before…” Sruthi bent forward, kissed her friend’s hand. “You’re going to recover, Ally. Full recovery. I’m going to make sure you get the best care, and I’ll be with you every step of the way. You’re going to be okay, Allison Fisher.”
Allison Fisher was not going to be okay. The consciousness that had, until only yesterday, been limited by the boundaries of the physical world- the consciousness that had believed it was bound to, and interdependent on, the twenty-seven year old female body it inhabited- knew this to be true.
Something in Sruthi’s specially engineered audio-files had inadvertently set off a chain reaction of cellular-death within Allison Fisher’s mind. Billions of connections in her brain had winked out, so many lights on a series-circuit with one dead bulb. Speech and motor control were among the worst affected functions, but there were literally hundreds of other affected subsystems.
She was dying. The “inward” Allison, the consciousness that had only just begun to explore this new dimension she’d discovered, wondered what this meant in terms of its own survival. When the Allison Fisher at the controls of Allison’s body died, would the inward-Allison consciousness die too? Or had she jumped the gun, so to speak, on death? Could this be where all consciousness ended up, in this fantastic hidden dimension? Had the brain-damage she’d suffered propelled her, before her own death, into the afterlife?
There would be no way to be sure, she decided, until it was too late to act. She located the perspective on the physical world that corresponded with the body of Sruthi Patel. She would have to be careful not to disturb her friend’s own conscious and subconscious minds as she reported her findings.
It all seemed so much clearer now too, the further Allison receded from her own physical identity. The mathematics of this new dimension were profound and beautiful. She understood the intricacies as she had never been able to as a student, or afterward as a physicist...
It was just beginning to rain as Sruthi walked across the quad toward the Tesla Science Building. Twenty yards from the front doors of the industrial looking eyesore that housed her lab, Sruthi stopped in her tracks. The rain was coming down heavier now, but she was seemingly unaware.
She took a step toward her lab, and then two, and then she was speed-walking. By the time she reached the front door she was at a dead-run.
Her office door was locked, of course, and it took her shaking hands what seemed like forever to find the right key and place it in the lock. This done, she burst inside and, with a great sweep of her right arm, she cleared her over-piled desk. On the wood surface, she wrote an equation in permanent black magic-marker.
She stepped back and looked at what she’d written. It had come to her out of the clear blue sky. She hadn’t even been pondering the notion of, or the mathematics relating to, extra spatial-dimensions. This equation though, a mere four operations and simple to the point of elegance, had appeared suddenly in her mind. And not only had it appeared, but she’d also immediately understood all of its staggering implications.
And it was right. She just knew it. She could feel it.
Now, all she had to do was prove it.
The calculations were going to be staggering. She would need to invent a new branch of mathematics…
Another feeling came to the young scientist, then. Like a thought, but somehow alien…
If anyone can do it, you can do it, Sruths…
The thought, and the feeling it gave, made her think of Allison. Again she bit back tears. There was work to be done.
“This is for you, Ally.” She started making calculations on the desktop; when that surface was covered, she continued on the walls.
J Robert Kane
April 27 and May 4, 2017
East Northport, New York