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Story 4

  Mary Jo Rabe

 I first read Red, Blue, Green and Yellow two years ago and have been trying to get it published ever since. I fell in love with it then, and I hope you will too. If you have a background in Astrophysics or just dabble like me, you will get more out of it, but even if you don't, you can  enjoy the literally universal scope and almost infinite time span of the narrative.

After the tragic death of Kip Ward, the owner of the Historic Anchor Inn, during the Anthology Workshop 2018 in Lincoln City, Oregon, T. Thorn Coyle, Dayle A. Dermatis, and Annie Reed suggested we write stories for a charity anthology in honor of Kip Ward called "Tales From the Anchor". The stories were to be inspired by items in the Historic Anchor Inn where most of us had stayed over the years. Proceeds would be donated to Kip Ward's favorite charity. My story, Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow was inspired by the multi-colored, glass lamp above the doorway between the restaurant and bar in the Anchor Inn. As happens every now and then, this anthology didn't come about, and my story found a home in 4 Star Stories.

                                                                                                                              -- Mary Jo Rabe

Mary Jo Rabe grew up on a farm in eastern Iowa, got degrees from Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she became a science fiction writer and fan. She worked in the library of the Archdiocese of Freiburg, Germany, for 41 years and retired to Titisee-Neustadt, Germany.

She has published "Blue Sunset", inspired by Spoon River Anthology and The Martian Chronicles, electronically and has been published in Fiction River, Pulphouse, Penumbric Speculative Fiction, Alien Dimensions, Fabula Argentea, Crunchy with Chocolate, The Lost Librarian's Grave, The Lorelei Signal, and other magazines and anthologies.

Blog: https://maryjorabe.wordpress.com

She indulges in sporadic Facebook and Twitter activity, facebook.com/rabemj and @maryjorabe.





Red, Blue, Green and Yellow

by

Mary Jo Rabe

 

 

From one pico-fraction of a second to the next, the tight, comforting compression that kept them together was gone. Red, Blue, Green and Yellow were thrust apart, to their surprise and completely against their will, when the collective in the singularity exploded into a hot, dark and endless cloud.

Back in the confines of the singularity they had no reason to define themselves; all were one with the others. After the explosion, though, they were suddenly separate entities, sentient, sensitive and yet telepathically connected.

Yellow was overjoyed at suddenly having room to move. Red was curious, never having thought about life beyond the singularity before. Blue was apprehensive; life in the singularity had been more than good enough, and this new development could only end badly. Green was angry and wanted to know which idiot decided to force them into a big-bang situation. And by whose authority?

"I don't like this at all," Green fumed.

"I'm scared," Blue admitted.

"Don't worry so much. This is fascinating," Red said.

"Wow," Yellow said. "I love this, this speed!"

"What is this new feeling?" Red asked. "I sense the three of you just like before, but it's also different, and getting more different all the time."

"That's space between us and time passing," Yellow said. "The space-time continuum is expanding, and we're moving with it. We never moved before. I love this."

"I hate it," Green said. "I want to go back. I want things to go back to the way they were. This is not good."

"Can we go back?" Blue asked.

"Who knows? This is a completely new situation. Still, somehow I doubt it," Red mused.

"I hope not," Yellow said. "I want to keep moving."

The space-time continuum was a new and startling phenomenon, and many of the other members of the singularity collective didn't like being apart and alone. Some of them began to gather together in one, overpowering force, and then the forces split up.

Green was drawn to the gravitational forces, Blue to the strong nuclear force and Red to the electromagnetic group. Yellow was far too impatient to join others in forces and enthusiastically moved into dark energy, wallowing in the sensation of faster and faster motion.

"This is good," Green said. "My group is going to pull everything back together; I'm optimistic. Those of us in the force of gravity should be able to squeeze this world back into a singularity."

Blue said, "I don't know. This strong nuclear force is also something to be reckoned with. In many cases we're stronger than gravity. What if we "

"And the electromagnetic," Red began. "We're stronger than gravity, too. I love how all these forces suddenly came about."

"You're all crazy," Yellow said. "Your forces are way too sluggish. You should join me for a wild ride on the ups and downs of dark energy."

During their deliberations the hot, dark, endless cloud continued to expand and began to chill. The forces, once established, didn't do much new or exciting.

Red was the first to abandon participation in the electromagnetic force and transform into a photon, just out of curiosity. Photons were fast and reliable. Maybe it was only imagination, but as more members from the singularity became photons, the cloud that the singularity had turned into became somewhat transparent, though with a hint of reddish light. Red found that pleasing.

Green joined the quark group and Blue, just to be contrary, went to the neutrinos.

"I have the feeling these particles are what will draw the world back together in the long run," Green said. "Quarks will join together to form other particles, which will combine to create new structures, and then gravity will have something to work with."

"Hmm, maybe," Blue said. "In the meantime, neutrinos can go everywhere, especially now that there are places to go."

Others from the singularity collective indulged in similar transformations. After a spirited contest of dueling charges and anti-charges, matter prevailed over anti-matter and Red, Blue and Green were lucky enough to have picked the winning team. Green was a little disappointed and would have preferred continuing confrontations, hoping that that would re-establish the singularity.

Yellow initially resisted the allure of the matter state and refused to give up the thrill of dark energy motion which kept increasing in speed.

"The great thing about dark energy is that it keeps going faster, and then the faster even gets faster," Yellow explained.

"But isn't that scary?" Blue asked.

"No," Yellow said. "It's liberating; it's fun. You should try it."

With a fair amount of deliberate concentration and occasional calculation, the four of them stayed connected. They often created a certain physical proximity once they mastered the trick of switching back and forth among the various forms of matter and energy. Definite, pleasant sensations came from immersing themselves in elements and actions.

"I wonder if there is anything we can do now to get back to the singularity again," Green said.

"Probably not," Red said. "But who knows what other interesting constructions will come about when enough particles assemble."

All four of them agreed that the formation of stars was indeed an experience they wouldn't have wanted to miss. When they became part of the first blue supergiant star, Red, Blue and Green even persuaded Yellow to join them.

Yellow grudgingly admitted that getting blown out of this first supernova was even more fun than cruising along with dark energy. Later, riding a gamma ray burst from one end of the expanding universe to the other was almost as enjoyable.

The four of them spent some time--though they really didn't notice the passing of time that much--merging with molecules which later drew themselves together as stars and were blown out into the surroundings again when the star went nova.

"You really should spend some time in every new element," Red said. "Plutonium feels completely different than hydrogen."

"I still don't like this, though," Green said. "I want my singularity back. Why do we need this distraction of atoms or elements or stars? We had it good together with everyone else back in the singularity."

Yellow didn't bother to answer and continued to join and abandon the waves of dark energy. Red searched for new experiences to recommend. Blue was still scared most of the time, but generally willing to try out Red's recommendations.

Green was overjoyed when they discovered black holes. "They're just like the singularity we were expelled from," Green said. "We can enter a black hole, and it will be just like being home again."

"I don't know," Blue said. "I have a bad feeling about this. Our singularity was everything, but there are so many black holes out here. They can only be imitation everythings. How do you know that they are at all like our old home? I don't want to risk getting trapped where we don't want to stay."

Red was pensive for a while. "These black holes are a fascinating development, and I'm all for investigating them, but I don't want to make any decisions that could have consequences I can't reverse. How about if you don't completely enter the black hole? Just surf around outside the Schwarzschild radius and see what you can find out."

Green agreed, took off and returned somewhat subdued. "You're right," he said. "I joined some virtual particle pairs and one of each went into the black hole while the other stayed on the other side of the event horizon. What the particles in the black hole described wasn't anything like our singularity. I'm glad I could take off with the rest of the Hawking radiation."

"Maybe I have to give up the dream of going home to the singularity," Green said sadly.

Yellow stayed with his dark energy buddies, but Red, Blue and Green experimented with being all combinations of matter and energy, from cosmic rays to dust to quark stars. They played galaxy tag while Yellow continued to shove the clusters of galaxies away from each other.

Blue was the first to notice that the larger clumps of matter that were sometimes infested with structures grew, changed, reproduced themselves and disintegrated on special planets while transmitting strange bits of data. They had a laughably short period of existence, but Blue didn't know what to make of them. Somehow they seemed threatening.

"They are so intent on examining the universe and figuring everything out instead of just enjoying the ride," Blue said. "They could make changes, things that would affect us."

"You're worrying about nothing," Red said. "These very fragile combinations of matter can hardly threaten our space-time continuum. I find them fascinating. I think we should investigate some of them more thoroughly."

"We could immerse ourselves in clumps of matter, especially those that revolve around stars," Blue said after a while. "Then we could observe the development of these structures and maybe find out more about them. I still think they might ruin things."

Red agreed that this immersion was a good idea. At the very least, it promised them sensations that were previously unknown. Red, Green and Blue plunged into brown dwarfs, gas planets, asteroids, comets, unoccupied planets and then took on the special planets.

"All right," Blue said. "We need to stay inconspicuous. The menacing structures should never get any ideas about us being the essence of the universe."

"Essence?" Green asked. "We were the entire universe once, all of us together. But now we're diluted beyond calculation. We're nothing anymore."

"No," Red said firmly. "We are all that we once were, just now with the additional capacity to learn new things and experience new sensations. Let's see what we can learn from these fragile constructions that occasionally populate rocky spheres around stars. It'll just be a minor detour on our ride."

With a little persuasion, Yellow decided to join them. First, they latched onto some dust as usual. Many clumps of dust piled together to form a smoldering proto-planet, later called Earth by its fragile, short-lived inhabitants. Things were a little dull for a while until Theia came along and whacked a satellite out of Earth's mass.

Blue almost had an anxiety attack, but with the encouragement from the others was able to stay in the planet and not be diverted to the much smaller satellite.

The satellite slowly moved away from Earth, and then marauding asteroids and comets began their bombardment, bringing along new combinations of atoms, all of which provided tingling sensations in the crust of the planet. Elements rose and sank; contours formed. Molten rocks flew above the surface and bounced down. A super-continent formed and then split off into separate continents and islands

As the planet cooled down, an interesting, liquid, molecular compound began to gather around the continents and the self-replicating molecules came into being. A short time later, or so it seemed, these reproducing structures began their progression into living creatures that changed the surface of the continents and the deep, wet masses around them.

Red, Blue, Green and Yellow immediately joined the one-celled living creatures and stayed with them through their evolution until they reached a degree of what they called intelligence. At this stage, they began to investigate the universe in a clumsy fashion, but showed an admirable stubbornness.

Red liked them. However, eventually their physical development seemed to stagnate.

"I'm bored," Yellow said. "It's time for me to go back to riding with dark energy."

"No, don't," Red said. "I have a feeling that things here will get really interesting in the near future. We need to get into the heads of these creatures and comprehend just how they operate. Let's find an inconspicuous location where we could watch without them noticing us."

"Okay," Yellow said. "You might be right. This probably won't take long. What substance should we immerse ourselves in and where?"

"I suggest an object made of segments of supercooled silicate liquids that reflect certain wavelengths of light that these creatures find pleasing," Red said.

"What?" Blue asked.

"The natives here call it 'glass'," Red explained. "And I've already found a promising location."

So they became colored glass segments surrounding an electric light hanging above the doorway from the dining room to the bar in the Historic Anchor Inn in Lincoln City, Oregon. The inn possessed a delightfully eclectic collection of objects reflecting the tastes of the various owners.

Red and Blue immersed themselves in all of them, one after another, while Yellow buzzed in and out of the ocean and Green continued to mourn the lost singularity.

They also had a great time reflecting light for the visitors.

Together with the visitors, Red, Blue, Green and Yellow trembled with occasional planetary tremors, collected and absorbed moisture when blinding thunderstorms blew in from the ocean toward the mountains and listened in on conversations among somewhat sentient guests.

Quips, tirades and expletives from writers were especially entertaining although it occasionally took a while to interpret the references. However, writers did tend to express themselves frequently. Exuberant praise for the morning repast was a given.

The interlude for Red, Blue, Green and Yellow in the Historic Anchor Inn was marvelous. Even Yellow admitted to being glad to have stayed. Red said it was regrettable that these writer creatures, like the other planetary creatures, only existed for such short periods of time.

The real excitement came after the writers stopped staying at the Anchor though. A planetary tremor, described by the locals as a Richter scale, nine-point-five earthquake, that arose a minor distance from Lincoln City in the Pacific Ocean upset the Cascadia Subduction Zone sufficiently to drop all of Lincoln City west of Highway 101 into the ocean.

In theory, Red, Blue, Green and Yellow sympathized with the reaction of the surprised, living creatures but couldn't help enjoying the splash. So they frolicked light-heartedly in the wet chemicals after the glass shapes they had been were reduced to water-soluble dust.

Then Yellow returned to the motion of dark energy. "You can swim around as much as you want," Yellow said. "I need more speed than this offers."

Red, Blue and Green did cavort around the floors of the oceans for a while. The planet's living creatures held on for a fleeting period of time, but as the local star gradually increased its luminosity, the liquids boiled away. Red, Blue and Green slipped into the toasty crust of the planet and moseyed down to the core and back, over and over again. The temperatures in the different layers of rocky substance were delightful, once the three of them developed senses relevant to the planet.

Not much later, or so it seemed to them, Yellow returned briefly when the Andromeda Galaxy collided with the Milky Way, not wanting to miss the resulting and pleasingly rowdy stellar and planetary motions. It was only a short visit.

"The excitement here is over with for the moment," Yellow explained. "Galaxies will continue to run into each other, but those of us in the waves of dark energy will continue to push superclusters of galaxies apart."

"Let's go surf around the emerging black hole at the center of the new Milkomeda Galaxy," Green suggested.

"That can wait," Red said. "I want to hang around this planet until the star expands. Either things here will just get a little crispier, or we'll be able to go through the journey from a red giant to a white dwarf star. Either way it's something we haven't done yet."

While they were waiting, the planet's surface changed. Continents moved and broke apart and then rejoined into one huge continent. The magnetic field weakened and cosmic rays were able to penetrate down to the planet's core, tickling Red, Blue and Green. The satellite moved farther away and the Earth's axial tilt wobbled and shifted.

"The planet is getting more interesting," Red said. "Too bad its cycle of existence is so short."

The star pulsated its way into a red giant, swallowing up the planet and then spitting it out again as the star receded to its white-dwarf fate. "That was scary," Blue said. "I definitely liked being inside a star's core better than being swallowed up by the corona."

"It looks like the chances for ever getting back to the singularity are worse than ever," Green said. "Everything is changing and not going back to what I want."

"I love all the new sensations," Red said. "I can't wait for the next ones."

Red, Blue and Green hung around the neighborhood until the white dwarf was too small and isolated to be of any additional interest. Trying to cheer Green up, they surfed together around Schwarzschild radius of the big, new black hole at the center of Milkomeda.

Again, the virtual particles in the black hole told those on the outside that this black hole was also not like the singularity Red, Blue, Green and Yellow came from, somehow merely a pale imitation. Green stayed depressed.

Red tried to point out the exciting light show in the sky. "Look, Green," Red said. "Stars are going nova or supernova; the bigger ones light up the entire sky. When dwarf stars or black holes run into each other, the jets of radiation that are released are brighter than most stars."

"Yes," Blue said. "It's beautiful, not scary. If you pay attention, you see galaxies performing wild dances that they choreograph from one time element to another."

Soon superclusters, including the local supercluster with its some hundred thousand galaxies, collapsed and merged into an enormous galaxy. The world got darker with only merging white dwarfs' isolated supernovas occasionally lighting things up.

After it got too dark for their taste, the three of them agreed it was time to abandon the matter/energy part of the universe and join Yellow in dark energy. Yellow then led the way in cruising the entire universe over and over again, but the waves of dark energy started to reduce their speed.

"I still miss what we had in the singularity," Green complained. "Now everything is spread out all over, the universe is slowing down and we'll never be back together like we were."

"I've been scared most of the time since we were blown out of the singularity, but I have to admit that it's been interesting," Blue said.

"More than that," Red said. "It's been fun!"

After star formations stopped, the stars used up their nuclear fuel and began to degenerate. Some carbon stars came into existence and dwarf stars of various colors began to dissolve. Eventually protons decayed to leptons and photons. "This is the reverse of what happened after the singularity threw us out," Green said. "Maybe we are on our way back after all."

"The main thing is that we are still on our way to something, even if we've slowed down," Red said.

Then the black holes evaporated, one after another. Subatomic particles still annihilated each other if and when they managed to meet. Individual photons, neutrinos and leptons flew around unencumbered, though more and more slowly. Dark energy now moved so slowly that even Yellow wasn't always sure if they were moving at all.

Chilling in the Big Freeze, Green complained, "I still want to go back to the singularity; that's all I ever wanted."

"What will happen to us now?" Blue asked.

"I don't know, but so far I have no regrets. We had a wild and wonderful ride," Red said.

Trying to console Green and Blue, Yellow said, "Hey, you never know. One big bang surprised us all, and whatever comes after the big slowdown will probably be just as much of a surprise."

Green, Blue and Red promised to give that prospect some thought.

The End


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