On a bus trip from Mosjøen to Brønnøysund together with music from a rediscovered Sasha came this entrance portal:
No matter how it went, it just had to go as good as it could. She was tired of deliberate decisions. They took too much time. Therefore she used the meat axe method. Roughly chopping the decisions. The job got done, perfect or not. Perfect was anyway a lie she didn’t know existed. That those on the floor above survived on lies was beyond doubt.
About a week later, the idea of events without a reason came… and the world would be rediscovered and destroyed.
Oddvar could not say where he was when the landslide started, because he was not aware of it. It came slowly for at least the last 65 years. In that sense it could hardly be called a landslide, rather more a quiet slip, which nevertheless did not occur in the soil, but behind an unreasonable and unknown curtain that he never got to grips with. In addition, it expired after his death, aged 97. Oddvar is therefore not part of this story either. Peace to his memory.
Your world and mine are in what neither of us would call the reality sector. We just call it ‘the world’ since we don’t know any better. If we knew better, we would reject all religions and build on factual books, about those who sit behind the curtain and control our lives. Many of us would lose our minds, as the idea that life is steered and controlled is unreasonable. Some would say it is grotesque. Still others would say that life continues as before, the books on theoretical deities have already solidly documented this for thousands of years. Amen and ʾamīn.
Our evolution was supposed to be based on a felt illusion of free will, which gives greater opportunities for survival and passing genes on. This is how we should live without asking difficult questions. It has caused furore behind the curtain that we, or a strong minority of us, have used our free will to freely choose our gender. A small problem or point in and of itself, but since we have reached over a hundred, someone on the other side has chosen to turn it into an important political topic. The management sector is shaking, the balance of power is swaying and no seats are safe.
The argument behind the avalanche of outraged voices was that the group steering the controls, could not see what could really be so wrong with multiple genders. For generations, it was planned that the reality sector should do what came naturally to them/us. Included in what was loosely called free will was supposed to be a natural biological development, based on neurological decisions, nevertheless programmed into them/us. Developed heritage versus environment. The realm of reality had developed itself/us into the computer age and the self, had begun to flow and become watered down. Less biological, more digital. More universal as the world became emotionally smaller.
When the balance in the management sector had finished shaking and swaying, power had changed hands. Those certain to blame had been banished from their places and new brooms had been appointed to sweep the corridors. Political points had been made and over a hundred genders had been negotiated down to eight. The new young brooms had the changes carried out during a couple of the reality sector’s generations. Meanwhile, the automatic systems and controls continued steadily and ensured that life and development took place according to the regulations. The world was once again stable.
When those who took over after the «big gender scandal» had worked with the reality sector for four of the sector’s generations, the fixation on detail began to eat away, when something had to be overridden. They had begun to realize that not all patterns had to be controlled. Everything still kind of went as it should, most of it automated. They were getting tired of well thought out decisions that no one really cared about. They took too much time and therefore used the meat axe method. Roughly chopping the decisions. The job was done, perfect or not. In any case, perfect was a lie that those on the floor above lived by. Now it was the young people’s turn to spread new and sensible patterns. No matter how it went, it was as good as it could get under the time pressure. All the experience they had made during this time showed that life in the reality sector could hardly be affected by cut corners. Why should they care, the drones of reality who dragged themselves about their mundane, monotonous chores?
It was precisely this attitude that was the beginning of the end of it all.
Gerd Julsrud knew nothing about anything, other than everything that was going on in local politics, what everyone in the family was doing, her friends, their friends, cultural life and cloudberries. The latter had now brought her out into the marshy landscape, in late summer, with three ten-litre buckets, to fill the remaining space in the freezer. The weather was beyond expectations, the berries were abundant, all of them ripe. One half of the bucket was filled with different types of mushrooms. Legal or not, Gerd thought, among other things, that the flein mushroom was the best medicine for the heart and soul. Afternoon turned towards evening, the buckets were full and the mosquitoes fed. She straightened her back and found her way back to the car. When she came down the forest road, she still had to walk a short kilometre. Almost there, she spotted a car neatly parked next to the trees, a couple of meters off the road. The car did not appear to be damaged. A bit strange as it shouldn’t be possible to put it there, as it would have to go through both a solid rock edge and a ditch. As she got closer, she could see a man in the driver’s seat with his head against the steering wheel. Even closer, she saw that the interior and the windows were showered with blood. Gerd thought it sensible to run to her own car where she could put down the buckets and call the police.
After giving her statement to the police, Gerd was sent home. The three police officers at the scene continued their investigations, together with the ambulance service. Primarily, the man’s injuries appeared to be consistent with a high impact collision. The problem was that there wasn’t a scratch on the car, even on the side next to the trees. No marks in the road after braking or other visible disturbance. The car was towed in for technical examinations, the man transported in for an autopsy. The incident was kept secret from the media.
The following day, the car was to be further examined at the police workshop. When they opened the gate and turned on the lights, they were greeted by a total wreck. The damage that should have been there the day before had occurred overnight. The same had happened at the scene of the accident, with several meters of debris from a speeding car, overturned curbs and damaged the trees. The police’s photos from the day before also showed the updated injuries. The chassis number matched what was noted. The memories of the police officers were still unchanged. Officer Olsen felt tired and went home to take care of his wife and two children.
In the time that followed, many strange and impossible things happened around the world, without anyone being able to connect them. To name a few: Mrs. Gonzalez entered the kitchen Wednesday morning to find cups, plates, cookware and cutlery soiled, even though no one had cooked since the last washing up. Helene and Claus woke up unknown to each other in their respective apartments, in love. The following year they had their first child. In and of itself perhaps not a good example of the events, but they are connected. A plane was found unharmed on a ledge, with 138 dead passengers and a crew of five, with burns and torn limbs in the seats where they had been sitting. Raymond cleaned around the house after 15 years. Several rusted wrecks of snowblowers, several boats, windows, two hot tubs and a lot of other junk were removed without any of the neighbours asking him to.
But Gerd Julsrud saw it.
Instead of going home, Gerd went up to the cabin. Since it was near her favourite walking area, she could also keep an eye on the road when the police left. She put the berries in the fridge and opened a bottle of red wine. After a glass and a few rounds with the knitting needles, she put on a risotto, since the sun was going down. Contemplating what she had seen as the steam rose under the lid. Had another glass with the food, sitting by the kitchen window and looking out over the fjord and the road that ran along it. Seeing a human being in his own car, covered in his own blood spatter… She, in shock, didn’t notice much, but the police confirmed that he was dead. She was told not to say anything to anyone, only to come to a follow-up interview with them tomorrow morning.
The risotto was ready and mixed with good vegetables. One of life’s more reliable gifts. What she had seen became increasingly bizarre as she thought about it. Could bizarre plus bizarre make sense? Flein mushrooms had never disappointed her before. Just gave her clarity, something the cloudberries had never been able to do. There are limits to how much berries can satisfy. Cloudberry jam, cakes and wine are fleeting pleasures. Even combined for a good party, the joys cannot last forever. The mushroom’s ability to gain insight into life and the universe, on the other hand, provides a lifetime of experiences in just a few hours.
Finally, Gerd could see the blue-light cars leaving the scene, with the blood-spattered car on a trailer, wrapped in tarpaulin. With growing euphoria, she put on her shoes and jacket to jog the kilometre and a half back to the place. When she left the tarmac and entered the forest road, she was followed by the creeping fog. Its friendliness was a good companion up to where the car had been parked. The police had done nothing but tie a double barrier across the road a few meters before the scene of the accident. Otherwise, the place looked the same as earlier in the day. Even in twilight it was easy to recognize. With the thick fog it felt like walking with a herd.
She sat down on a rock beyond. Wondered what else the police might want to talk about tomorrow that they hadn’t seen themselves. Those who had a magnifying glass. She who just had been scared. She who was at a loss where the police were calm. She who only had the fog. A fog that now began to make tracks in the road and knocked over the stones that stood along the ditch, as if after a car that had skidded. Snapped branches and scraped up the bark on the trees as if they had been hit by a speeding car. For a few slow seconds, as if in an optical stun, the car was there too, with crunching metal and glass being smashed, with a man being tossed around and battered, who in the panic was helplessly clinging to the carotid artery. Before everything went quiet. The car disappeared and the fog receded. Gerd was alone with the trees, lit by the stars.
Back at the cabin, she took a scoop of cold risotto. The last three glasses of wine were quietly drunk over the course of the evening and night, along with the radio’s jazz channel. What she saw in the fog didn’t match what she saw earlier in the day, but she had the feeling that someone was cleaning up the story. Which of course was impossible.
In the grey morning light, Gerd packed the car. The berries had to be cleaned and frozen. The police had to be visited. But first she had to drive by the place again to see with sober eyes. But there she was beckoned on, when she slowed down. A civilian car was standing across the intersection to the forest road. Further in, she could see at least three more. If this was the police’s attempt to be discreet it was less successful. She turned and drove back to town. On the way, she received a phone call from the police saying that the interview had been cancelled. They would return with a later date, as they needed more time to gather information.
Four weeks later, she was asked to come in for an interview. There she repeated what she saw earlier on the day in question and did not mention what she saw later. She noticed that the questions were fishing for something else, but she refused to say more, seemingly without understanding. Just silently thanked the police for the confirmation.
A week later, the police allowed the bereaved to have their burial. In a small place where not everyone necessarily knew everyone, many still asked unanswered questions about why it took so long. It was a quiet honouring with urn lowering.
The day after the burial, Gerd received validation that the universe was shaken; the neighbour cleaned around the house. He, who had been collecting scrap for at least 15 years, had several rusted wrecks of snowblowers, several boats, windows, two hot tubs, a lot of other scrap that he had moved the boundary mark between the houses to make room for. He had seen the light he could proudly say over the fence. He who was neither religious nor cared about the neighbours’ complaints for the same 15 years. He had cared just as much about his own appearance, but was now dressed in clothes without holes and had well-coiffed hair. His gaze was misty. That was proof enough for Gerd.
A silent furore. Soft chaos. Calm stress. The papers were correctly signed and stamped, from the correct sender to the correct recipient. Fruitlessness did not exist. Should panic occur, it should be measured and calculated. The warning lights had been given new, fresh light bulbs.
It was noticed in the management sector that a Gerd in the reality sector had noticed more than she should have. Her thought patterns revealed that they had been exposed, that she had used natural growths to hide behind while she observed. She was now very eager to collect stories similar to those she herself had experienced, from all over the world. This is how the thought patterns spread uncontrollably. Unlike conspiracy theories, more and more people could tell and to some degree document different – and sometimes the same – observations. Although the general public remained to be convinced (although very many had caught on to the discovery of the undamaged plane filled with dead bodies on the mountain shelf), the speed of experience in the sector was reduced to a minimum and a new commission was created to find a solution on the problems.
Those who were put in to clean up after the «big gender scandal» just a few generations ago, were removed and replaced by those they themselves replaced. Young enthusiasm was replaced by old experience. The problems were reviewed and it was easy to reveal that those who took over had not familiarized themselves well enough with how reality worked and was perceived. The loose control and lax handling of the events was the root cause. To name a few of the questionable incidents:
– The man in the car Gerd saw in the forest had played his part. The meaning of his existence was complete. He was living overtime and planned to take over his friend’s restaurant, which would have given him ideas for concepts that had brought the wrong people together.
– Before Mrs. Gonzales woke up and encountered the mess in the kitchen, Mr. Gonzales encountered the same mess. He would, before going to work, see that his wife was not perfect, something he told his colleague Mr. Ortega, which in turn saved his relationship with Mrs. Ortega and children and grandchildren who would otherwise never see the light of day. The grandson would grow up to develop artificial intelligence that saved the life of Theresa Petersson and many others.
– Helene and Claus had to find each other as lovers and have a child, because the child’s death and Claus’ insistent courage would lead to a revolution in the cure for lymphoma.
– When Gerd’s neighbour cleaned, it led to the apartment next door being sold, after being empty for a long time. The new owner enjoyed herself so much in the neighbourhood, that the commitment she brought spread to the other neighbours. The boy next door was to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 63 years later.
– The plane that was found undamaged on the mountain shelf with 143 dead was entirely sloppy. Nothing good was to come of it, especially since parts of the discovery were shown live to 1.2 billion people.
There were several proposals for solutions in the commission: Tighten the routines and let the problem die out within a few generations. Plant a plague that wipes everyone out. Raise the world’s oceans and slowly drown everyone. Raise the temperature and make the world uninhabitable. Create a bad atmosphere and hope that a world war will solve the problem. Reset everything and start over. Open between the sectors and walk among them like gods. After long discussions and careful consideration, the decision was made. The solution was set to take a hundred of the reality sector’s years.
Those who noticed the change first in the reality sector were the astronomers. The accelerating expansion of the universe they had hitherto observed came to a halt. An observation that the colour of the outermost point of the universe had gone from red to blue of course created newspaper headlines, but mostly a shoulder shrug. It was estimated that any eventual shrinking of the universe could take billions of years – nothing to worry about. A couple of days later, the astronomers were able to report that the contraction appeared to be happening at an alarming rate. It was suggested that the consequences will become noticeable within just five years. In ten years, the galaxy will be merged with other nearby galaxies. In a hundred years, everything will be forgotten.
The news naturally put life and the world into a new perspective. Where some wanted to save the situation by firing nuclear weapons at the crawling universe and the wrath of the gods, others came up with more sensible proposals for unity in the time that was left. Gerd became a well-known face on TV, where she went from telling stories, both of her own and others’ experiences between the sectors, to being an important voice to keep the population calm. Some quit working. Retirement became unnecessary to plan. Parents took children out of school. What was important remained important. The focus was set on family and friends. Everyone needed food, shelter and someone to be with. Every day the astronomers brought the latest news and images from their telescopes. The speed between the rotating galaxies had evidently increased. Gerd became Secretary General of the UN.
The moon was getting closer, that was the first thing those without telescopes noticed. Or, it was the effects that became noticeable. Solar eclipses came more often and became longer. With higher and lower tides than usual, boating became sought after among those who still were alive. So did the high mountains. Cities, countries and continents were flooded 12 hours a day. The slowing of the Earth’s rotation also resulted in longer tides, days and nights. Nature had a short time to adjust. Drinking water became a scarce commodity, along with food. Constant earthquakes and volcanoes were the last straw for many.
There was much that those in the reality sector could be happy to miss out on, had even some of them theoretically still been alive: Rising temperature in the universe. The sun disappeared. The earth shrank. Earth was destroyed by the gravitational forces. Earth collided with neighbouring planets. The universe was contracting ever faster. Mass density increased. The atoms were torn apart, only the fundamental particles remained. The universe eventually consisted of liquid plasma, before everything collapsed into a tiny quivering ball.
When the quivering also stopped, the ball exploded in a third attempt.