Thursday, November 10, 2016

Reality Quake

Day Three of the alternate reality. I think back to third grade when we learned the earth’s crust was made up of a dozen enormous tectonic plates that are always moving, usually slowly and imperceptibly, but sometimes with such force they create earthquakes that cannot be ignored. I was much older when I learned about parallel universes but the concept was the same. Infinite universes existing in the same physical space but vibrating at a different dimensional frequency-- a frequency constantly changing, usually slowly and imperceptibly, but sometimes with such force that a reality quake occurs and if you’re standing in the wrong place at the wrong moment you might slip through into one of these parallel universes.

As with earthquakes when the tectonic plates shift, there’s no advance warning of a reality quake. Maybe you hear the rumbling when it occurs. It only lasts a few seconds and then life goes on the same as before… Yet different. There was still one moon in the sky last night. The sun rose in the east this morning and will set in the west as it usually does, in most of the parallel universes. I glance at the kitchen counter and see the unbroken coffee cup, which I had dropped last week and watched shatter on the floor. I always liked that cup; I suppose there are some benefits to shifting realities.

I flip on the TV and watch President-elect Donald Trump touring the White House. In the alternate universe I was living in before the last reality quake, it would’ve been Hillary Clinton in his place. I run my hand through the air searching for some invisible seam between the universes. I try jumping up and down, which is completely illogical because that wouldn’t even cause an earthquake let alone a reality quake, but since no one knows how to cause a reality quake anyway, I figure it can’t hurt. But it doesn’t help, either. I open my eyes and I’m still in the same new reality and the TV screen now shows Trump walking through the Oval Office.

I close my eyes, envisioning the previous reality in which Clinton was elected. I realize I have about as much chance of returning to that reality as I do shifting into the alternate universe in which President-elect Bernie Sanders is unveiling his new universal healthcare program. No, I have to accept that the universes have shifted and I’ve fallen through a crack into what is now my new reality. Of course, new realities are created all the time. Whenever a single momentous decision is made, the path we are on forks into two potential universes. In a few months, when that crazy short dictator in North Korea insults President Trump, this universe I’m presently in will split into one in which Trump ignores the insult and another in which he nukes North Korea and they retaliate launching nuclear missiles onto the California coast. I wonder which of those parallel universes I’ll be in.

Months pass and Donald J. Trump is inaugurated as the forty-fifth president of the United States. People cheer as they round up the Muslims. Surprisingly, it takes less time than I had imagined it would. Totalitarianism is incredibly efficient compared to democracy. Rounding up the gays and lesbians is even quicker. I expect it will take longer to round up all the Latinos. Maybe that’s why some of them are cheering as the blacks are rounded up; if you cheer with the crowd, maybe you can blend in and become part of the crowd. Blending in is good these days; no one wants to stand out and be noticed. It’s hard not to be noticed when your skin is darker or your accent is thick. But eventually, they’ll come for everyone who differs from them, whether they blend in or not. The Jews know this; they’ve been here before.

It’s been three years now since the last reality quake. I’m shaken from my reverie by a knock on the door. The knock. I know what that means. Looking through the peephole, I see the men in their starched Brownshirts. The irony occurs to me the shirts were probably manufactured in China. Before opening the door, I take a final look at my home. My hands fumble through the air one more time, vainly searching for the invisible seam between parallel universes, that I might rip through it and return to my reality.

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