Quiet, Please
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A QP-inspired story
Title A QP-inspired story
Description short story
Message Text Wrote this a week or so ago. There are a lot of other comparisons I could make as far as the content, but the conversational style I used was intended to emulate Quiet Please.
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Cause and Effects


I can see you don't understand me. Let me give you an example, maybe that will help. Take yesterday, noonish. I didn't want to open the door, because I had a feeling that if I did I'd risk having had an accident five years ago.

No, it doesn't make much sense. In my experience, life rarely does.

Despite my fears, the rhythmic pounding motivated me to get up and see who it was. I walked to the door and opened it. In doing so I found I'd miscalculated. Instead of an accident, I'd won a small bet five years earlier. This gave me satisfaction as a reward for not having let my fear hold me in place.

"Hello Ernest. May I come in?"

The voice startled me out of my self-congratulations. I'd forgotten I'd opened the door. I took another moment to get my bearings before responding, noticing that the date of my birth had moved back several years.

"Hello. Yes, come in, please." I hoped that by the time my guest sat down I would not have aged too much more.

"I'm your psychiatrist," he assured me in the most condescending manner he could manage, "and you were supposed to have come to see me the last two weeks. Remember?"

"Yes, although last time we talked you became my father before we could finish." That memory, like all my others, was far from constant. By the time I'd finished expressing it, he'd become my mother last time instead.

"Let's talk again about these feelings you have of your past changing randomly."

"Not randomly," I corrected him. "I don't know quite how it all works, I can't manage as much control as I'd like, but I know it certainly isn't random."

The pages of his small notebook were quickly filling with ink. "Of course. So you feel you do have some control, just not enough? You don't feel like you've entirely lost your life, you just need more control."

"You asked this last time, I answered you then." I was impatient. I didn't like talking to him any more than he liked talking to me.

"Unlikely," he responded, calmly leaning forward to look me in the eyes. "This is the first time I've seen you. We've never met before."

"Oh." I hated being caught talking about the wrong universe. It can make conversation very difficult. "Yes, I see there's been another shift."

"I don't care about your universe shifting." This fact he relayed with a tired and wholly insulting stare. "I just need the money for the pizza I've delivered to you."

So of course I gave it to him, only to find that my annoyance with doing so had un-ordered the pizza in the process. This is how I live. These sorts of unsatisfying episodes litter my daily experience.

I know you want to hear what happened to me for my life to end up in this state. It's a little hard to explain, though, when I have no confidence that you will still exist in your present form by the time I'm done explaining. Nevertheless sometimes I need to humor people so I can tell myself the story, hoping that I'll make more sense of it in doing so.

It was a dark and stormy Thursday night in the particle accelerator. It was dark because it was carefully constructed to block out all light as well as many other forms of interference. It was stormy because of the experiment being run, an experiment designed to either confirm or refute the existence of the Everetton, a newly postulated class of quarks which would act as a conduit for Hugh Everett's many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

You don't know much about the Everett interpretation now, do you? A minute ago you were an expert and could've answered a lot of my questions about it, but as usual I'm too late. Well, see, the problem with quantum mechanics is it deals with probabilities that can't be reduced to anything else. An electron becomes the probability of finding it in a certain region, and it frustrates people to no end that they aren't allowed to talk about where the electron actually is, since it isn't actually anywhere more specific than a probability field. The frustration gets worse with quantum tunneling, which says that there's no reason a person can't run through a brick wall without getting a scratch, it's merely very improbable.

Everett's solution to these annoyances was to propose that everything which is possible is actual. If it doesn't exist here, it must exist in another universe. Each of the annoying irreducible probabilities should be taken as meaning that every result they can produce spawns another universe where it comes true.

For normal people, there's no way to know to the difference. The trail of universes (actualized probabilities) you see behind you looks all very ordered and deterministic from your perspective, but gives you no means to be able to tell if zillions of other universes split off at each step causing zillions of other slightly different versions of you which all consider theirselves the only you as well. I am the unfortunate exception in that I can tell the difference and be aware of my movement across universes.

The experiment was perfectly harmless by any normal standards. There was concern about what impact a loose Everetton could have, so every precaution was taken to make it impossible for it to escape the particle accelerator. The only factor which was overlooked, and which is responsible for my fate, was quantum tunneling. There was a one in a googol chance of the Everetton passing through everything else until it became lodged in the center of my brain. That chance necessarily had to instantiate in a universe. I am the result.

I am a drunk staggering between universes, unable to walk the straight line which no one else can fail to walk. I move forward in time the same as anyone else, but I never know which universe's time it will be in a moment.

Don't misunderstand me and think that I move at random. I move drunkenly but not aimlessly. In each moment choices present themselves. Normal people see these choices as directing their future, I see these choices as moving myself toward particular chains of universes.

You want to know what sort of insights my unique perspective gives me, I can tell you're getting ready to ask that. I have no revelations of universal truths, no grand new meanings for your life. The only thing my perspective has taught me which I'd like to share with you is that what you do at this moment determines not only your future, but also your past.

It's clear you don't take my point very seriously. I'll have to explain further. Consider that everything you call the past is a chemical state in your brain right now. Five years ago is only a memory. Five seconds ago, as well, is only a short-term memory etched in the chemicals of your current brain state. The concept of a flow of time is built by the brain, for the brain, as a way of processing data. Einstein and Minkowski showed us a century ago that the objective world has only spacetime, not the distinct space and time as we experience them.

Memory may be an eye to the past, but in processing the past for your brain's use it obscures the true nature of it from you. You understand the cause and effect in play when your present decision causes a future state of affairs, but the organization scheme of memory prevents you from grasping how the same decision causes a past state of affairs. You understand that anything you do has effects, yet you're blinded to half of those effects... you see them in one direction, you can't imagine them in the other. My curse is the ability to look both ways, to view effects in both directions from each cause.

As I watch you now, I see every tiny decision ripple backward to make small alterations in who you used to be. Your decision to scratch your nose a moment ago has caused a twenty year old scar on your arm. The way you sighed dismissively at one of the things I said changed one of your grades in high school from a B to a C. In each moment you have an opportunity to reshape the whole of your life.

I would thank you for your attention, but I can already see your native language is changing so that in a moment you won't have understood a word of what I've said. It's more frustrating for me than it is for you, since you'll know nothing of it, but I can see clearly how you've caused it to happen. It's best to take solice in the likelihood that you'll someday do something which will cause you to have understood our conversation again.
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Submission Date 06/13/05 - 8:08 PM

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