Momentum by Helga Anton-Beitz

Helga Anton-Beitz

The cocoon is hanging in the center of the huge hall. A silvery hull made of an ultra-light, metallic fabric. It is held in place by multiple filaments. After I will have boarded that cocoon they will propel it for days in a calculated rhythm. Eventually I will be fast enough and the filaments will melt away, one after the other. My suit is made of the same fabric. It is my second skin and is needed to create that anti-Higgsino-field.

Yesterday pictures were taken: Me, standing in front of the flag of the World Arrow Association, ready to make history; to my right millennium genius Scott Preston, physicist, Nobel laureate 2027 at the age of 35, retrieved from his rest home, nicely trimmed, still the uttermost intelligent eyes; to my left Natascha Daniels, chief engineer, exceedingly ingenious herself, living in her campus office for years, but missing any chance to gain the Nobel prize which she will never forgive the physicists, especially Scott; Salvatore Ferrano, chief coordinator, last-minute man and philanthropist, prevented not only all kinds of technical disaster but also the violent discharge of supercritical ambitions on the campus; Maria McCormic, chief medic, sticks to my side like the sensors do to my skin; chief lawyer in the second row, chief PR, chief… I was all-glowing, beautiful, fit, my long black hair matching the silvery shine of my suit quite nicely. Didn’t give them the slightest clue, Logan.

The generators are hidden by the floor, ceiling and walls. So, we are dealing with interstellar space travel. Humans outlive that journey in stasis, optionally by being put in some kind of disgusting slime or by being frozen to their bones. Countless movies have evidenced that. It is wrong though. Never would I have volunteered for that. No, the cocoon is by far more elegant: A beam of light travels at 300.000 km/s and if we would be standing on the tip of that arrow not only would we be as fast as that, but also would time stand still for us. And this is it. Speed up a human being as fast as you can and he will age accordingly slow. If you send him into a circular path, a rather small one, that human being could be handily placed aboard a spaceship. The anti-Higgsino-field guarantees that he becomes very, very light and very, very fast and still doesn’t fall apart. It already worked with bacteria. Mice and dogs did well, too. Now it is my turn.

I am an ordinary person: 25 years old, single, no kids, rather bored mindset, willing to just skip a considerable part of my life. I am average in size and weight. But there is one thing in that I stood out from all candidates: My center of mass is exactly where it is supposed to be- in my navel. Even more importantly, my body mass is arranged perfectly symmetrical around that navel. Right side or left, front or back, diagonally, mass is always identical. That facilitates acceleration and tremendously reduces the required supercomputer power. Meaning, it saves a lot of money. The World Arrow Association was overjoyed and I got the job. Well then, I, Gloria, will be the first one whose body will perform a circular path with a radius of 10 cm at an incredible speed of 500 million rounds per second. As far as the plan goes.

But you were too eager, chief counselor Logan. With your help I was supposed to get a grasp of the science behind all that. And of how it might feel inside the cocoon, at such an insane pace. It would have satisfied me but it didn’t satisfy you. I should have known. From the beginning you demonstrated such a steadfast inner peace, walked with it through the turmoil of the campus like Moses walked through the Red Sea. Yes, thanks to you I now know who Moses was. Your interest in that entirely new status I was going to experience was boundless. “Could turn out to be transcendental”, you said, and had to explain it to me. But for that it wouldn’t suffice to count my heartbeats whilst in the cocoon, like Maria had advised. It would rather be essential to focus myself to my true center. And than you dragged me to that cloister. I engaged in it, Logan, I studied, I argued with the monks and I meditated. Eventually I grabbed that age-old book and stumbled across a strange drawing: A man lying in a four-poster bed, eyes wide open, one arm hangs down, a bunch of people by his side. His mouth is open and there is an angel flying out of it. The monks said this is the soul leaving the body in the moment of death.

The generators are running on the lowest setting. Anti-Higgsinos are streaming through me like a soft breeze. Natascha stands at my side. She will accompany me on my way to the cocoon. I could walk alone, but the importance of the moment calls for it. Besides, she is dying for her share of the glory. You, Logan, are waiting beneath the cocoon, behind you the broad window of mission control. When we will have reached you, some of those filaments will protrude from high above. Natascha will guide them to the correct spots on my suit and will than leave the hall. You will deliver the best wishes of all mankind to me, hug me and will than follow Natascha. The generators will power up. I will ascend slowly, slip into the cocoon and will be wrapped up tightly by the hull. But all that, Logan, is only going to happen if you have the answer. We start walking. My right temple prickles. The cranial interface has been switched on:

It is on my skin, reaches from the ear to the middle of the forehead, mimicking the soft swing of my eyebrow. My thoughts are on air now. That’s okay, that serves my safety in the first place. After all I can neither talk nor move whilst being in the cocoon. And my body function readings will be useless by then. Even though you claim something else, Maria. How to interpret a heart that beats only once per minute from your perspective? What information will you get of my blood sensors, when I am basically hibernating? Don’t squeeze my arm, Natascha, I know that I am not reflecting on what we agreed upon: I am so happy that this historic day… I am very grateful to get the opportunity… I promise to give.. No, for your own good I am going to remember what happened last week. We rehearsed for that historic shot. The flag had been positioned, markings on the floor showed us where to stand. No chief appeared to take part, all too busy. Instead people happening to be around and matching roughly in size were picked and draped around me. It would have worked if not one of them would have dropped to the floor. Screams, chaos, emergency call, someone bend down to him. I watched the scene. I saw his eyes wide open, watched him dying. Didn’t happen from one second to the other. Rather took its time. Like the breaking of a wave at the shore, a falling star burning up in the night sky, and yes, like a couple of wing beats. Natascha, that hurts. I am not going to board that cocoon, you all hear me, until I know what will happen to my soul. Such a sudden stop? Be careful, Natascha, you might tear that precious suit apart. It’s all Logan’s fault. Who are those people approaching us? Security inside the hall? You never told me. Don’t panic, I won’t damage anything. I am simply not going to board. Maria, tell them I am breathing calmly. After all it was their idea that I should understand the things. And now I know that my body has a mass and hence will gain momentum. Please, remain seated, mission control, and get your hands off those red buttons. This is not an assault, believe me. Nobody ever mentioned my soul. Does it have a mass either and hence will it chaperon me on my journey? Or is it massless and will just fall out of my body? Let us move along to Logan. Scott, you are old and wise enough to understand me. Please command Natascha to proceed. Don’t you see that Logan is smiling? He knows the answer. But if not I will leave the hall with the security, promise. Finally, thank you Scott. Am I still on air? You have to know that the anti-Higgsinos are streaming through me like a soft breeze. I am so happy that this historic day has finally arrived. I am very grateful to get the opportunity to represent mankind and I promise to give my very best.

“The answer, Logan!”

“42”, all smiles, “grams.”


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