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Mariusz Lewandowski. “Multiversum”.

“Ahora echa piedras en el cielo:
ya no las tiene que tirar.
Y es porque nunca tuvo calma
para esperar.”
Silvio Rodríguez.

The silhouette floated weightlessly on the other side of the isolating membrane, in the center of an ample compartment, covered by microscopic cells of energy flickering and throwing water-thin, light fabrics to parts of that body, whose darkened skin recomposed itself and husked again in quick, big holes of blackness with no defined shapes, over and over. The treatment seemed not showing any progress, and the gawky teenager figure lingered unbroken in his persistent organic decaying, as he watched him almost without a blink on this side, every morning and evening, two hours a day, since about three weeks.
― Any progress? –he asked.
A rhetorical question, of course, because he knew the answer. The doctor stopped watching the figures on the wall, which appeared and faded at the right of observation membrane. He cleared his throat and with a very professional voice, declared:
― He remains stable. The anthropiastasis is under control, but keeps its levels.
In plane words: the antimatter contamination was not progressing, but neither diminishing. That was better than nothing. There was still a chance he could evolve, at least. His partner of galactic raids had not a better end; in fact, she was getting worse, slowly, two compartments ahead.
― Teenagers –he mumbled–. In my times, wiping out a whole galaxy wasn’t in our record of fun, precisely. We shot at some wild meteors and we felt masters of the universe.
He made a pause. The doctor looked at him, hesitating; he seemed doubt if joining to the conversation or not, or if it was just the sudden monologue of a father trying to understand the fatale, suicidal motivation of his adolescent son and his generation.
― A whole galaxy, three planetary systems and three singularities –continued after a brief sigh–. They were lucky not being prosecuted.
― Apparently were just barren systems –added the doctor, at last–. They’re hardly going to be prosecuted for that.
The answer dragged him out from his reflexive torpor. He looked at the doctor as if he saw him for the first time, and tried to process what he had said. Nodded, absent, and read the environmental chronological gradation.
― I have to go –he said, heading to the door–. Let me know any change, doctor. You have my link.
― Don’t worry. I’ll keep you informed.
― See you later.
He walked out without waiting for an answer. His visit had taken more than it should, and now he was delayed three siderminutes. It would be required five quick jumps through the less jammed –and more expensive– Hyper Way to get on time, counting on all was clear, of course.
When he arrived to the Hyper Port, the entrances were crowded by travelers waiting for their transports. He walked up to a person in charge to know what happened.
― They aligned seven asteroids in the main Hyper Way, blocking the traffic jumps. There’s a jam through like twenty light years from here to the Magna Way.
― A barricade?
― No. A blocking. They leaved them there and then took off. Two QCC were sent to clear the Way.
― Two QCC?
― Yeah, they’re quite big planetoids…
They really should be for sending two Quantum Crash Cranes. They probably fitted in planets category and not planetoids, but the official communications tended to low the profile of this kind of incidents, especially in the last six elliptic periods, where the demonstrations of teenager groups had started to grow in power against the intergalactic connected system. Authorities had no clue how to deal with the novelty of the events. Sometimes he thought that a bit of firm hand would be good, seeing how the things went, but he felt immediately ashamed of that kind of primitive thinking.
― How long it’ll take to restart the service? –he asked impatiently.
― No idea –said the person in charge–. You better take the public way; you’ll reach your destiny quicker.
Said and done. He walked down to the second level and waited for the photonic transportation line. As usual, it was crowded of boisterous and anxious people, just like him, and it stunk to wastes of dead matter. He could hear the murmur of everybody’s worries, something unavoidable at that proximity; it was a too much tight room for such amount of people. The life conditions had worsen notoriously, and the feeling of anxiety and anger had become more common, growing exponentially, as same as the young demonstrations. The disgruntled was everywhere. And increasing.
What’s that?
The brief female shriek rebounded all around. The woman pointed, astonished and edgy, at the vast immensity of space, where cosmic trails and distant stars passed by at imperceptible speed, as the photonic line moved among them, carrying them through macrocosmic impulses. On the curve of Orion Ring an immense white dwarf was burning, just on a crash-course with the transport that carried them. Two gigantic minor forms (two pulsars or two small suns maybe) guarded it, throbbing almost at same pace as the immeasurable star about to collapse.
― A barricade! –shouted a man’s voice before all voices started to scream as one.
The transport began to slow down, while another neuter and impersonal voice called for calm from some place into the walls. Nobody listened. At the moment when the transport made a brutal turn to avoid the burning splinters of energy from the unstable star, they managed to discern, at the paused light speed achieved by the photonic line, silver threads going up and opening on the boundless and radiant background of the white dwarf, curving against the incandescent space and passing as lighting arrows over the transport, as they watched and heard, dumbfounded, the shouts and chants from the riders on those irreverent chrysalises of light. On the other side of the transport, the crowd pointed at the curious conjunction of dancing stars that started to form a clear and familiar sentence: FREEDOM TO THE PROTOTYPES. The message spread over the infinitude of cosmic space, as if a divine hand would have moved parsecs and parsecs of sidereal revolutions to stamp it on there. It was breathtaking. How many galaxies, suns and planets should they have taken out of its ordinary orbit to perform such portent? The chaos, the destruction, the irreparable disturbance of natural order in cosmic life and its possibilities –maimed for good. Was this the price to build a new cosmic consciousness? Was it worth that price?
He could not even finish asking those questions to himself. The implosion of the white dwarf made it shrink on itself, being consumed until becoming a grim, black crack in the middle of that universal landscape, starting to suck in all what was in its way millions and millions of light years away. The transport announced a bellow of imminent disaster, the protection cells were split merciless, and the antimatter began to swallow them slow, but relentlessly. The last thought he had, if he could have one, was lost into the voracious night of the black hole that sucked them up to the nothingness.


But it wasn’t the end. When he came to his senses, the world reeked of tar, sulfur and scorched flesh. And it hurt awfully. Especially when he tried to move. That’s why he remained still, waiting for the dizziness and nausea stopped, not daring to look anything but the piece of sky leaning out through the rests of pulverized glass, above his face. He saw the iron of the front seat twisted, bending down upon him, with the whole stuffing half burned, still smoldering, bursting out. Slowly, and with a great effort, he looked down to watch the sight. The transport had been reduced to a piece of unrecognizable junk. The only thing left was a pair of seats rows in front and behind. The rest was compressed metal, smashed glass and an inexistent roof. Not even corpses. Just him stuck between two gaps, miraculously alive.
He climbed up the mound, crawling among the blackened and still scorched bodies. Remnants of memories opening inside his mind: a flaming glare in the distance, a blazing fire, and then a complete darkness. Something had hit them from the vast depth of starry space.
At the top the thing was neither better nor worse. Huge and irregular humps of soil raised from all sides he could see, releasing putrid vents from the bottom of the cracks that divided them. The air was unbreathable and the visibility almost impossible. Even though, he managed to perceive an object lying a few meters away from him, on the wide space of ground he had reached. At the beginning, he thought it was a trick of his mind, due to the intense headache, the dizziness, the toxicity of that air unbearable already. But no. As he was getting closer, he confirmed that the intense and limpid metallic brightness was real. There it was. A perfect semi-oval wall raising up before him, perfectly shining, without a taint, made of a some kind of metal malleable to the sight, as melted mercury in movement, but compact at the same time.
When he extended his hands trying to touching it, barely aware of what he was doing, he discovered the dense blackness on the skin of his hands’ back, gnawing it as paper consumed by a flame. Through it he saw eons of lives and worlds, a thought (his own?), screams, and the memory of another skin behind another glass, behind another transport, behind another life.
Then he shouted.