#11 Unintended Consequences

by Brad Lyonn

Schrödinger’s cat was dead and Harcourt Tellifaun was in trouble. His research paper, read before the Mental Health Board, hadn’t helped his case. Hazmat was still at his apartment, seizing dead cats, cats in boxes in an indeterminant state, and small flasks of hydrocyanic acid.

Harcourt had been conducting research on the observer effect. His conclusion, clearly stated in his paper, was that too much observing was going on, and probably already irreversible.

The board was mildly amused, yet quite disturbed by his explanations, which were more on the order of rants. Statistics, probability, uncertainty, a lot of incomprehensible theoretical mathematics. He had no credentials, and he was in their opinion certifiable . . . so they certified him. Harcourt was headed for the looney bin.

Harcourt had determined, in a manner only he could understand, that for one thing observing was asymmetric, for another, it was unattenuated by distance. Thus, he concluded, it was quite possible with enough observing, to affect even the cosmos.

With an unintended flair of irony, Harcourt was given a nice room with a view to the West, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There, he was able to observe the sun, settling slowly into the ocean. He watched as it sank beneath the water. Then, as the water began to boil and churn, the sun dimmed to an orange-bronze glow. With one last hiss of steam, it was extinguished and the world was plunged into total darkness.

Harcourt smiled bitterly, then fell into convulsions of maniacal laughter.

8 comments:

JRVogt said...

Great sci-fi twist! Love takes on Schrodinger's cat.

Dino Parenti said...

The last image is perfectly captured in the painting. Well done!

Flutterby said...

Clever and amusing!

Sam Knight said...

I like the ending. Nice way to lead us into the situation and leave us there. I always enjoy feeling that those who 'know' are wrong and get their comeuppance in the end. Great job squeezing in a comeuppance in such a short story.

Janice D. Soderling said...

Clever! Much enjoyed.

stacy said...

Really enjoyed this. The ending seems a little ambiguous, which I like. Is he watching the ocean swallow the sun, or is imagining that while watching a sunset?

Amber said...

I love the ambiguity of this ending.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Is he mad or is he not? Nice way to leave it hanging. Love this!