March 2012






















Riding the Gravitational Wave

A Short Story by Scott Newell
©2012, all rights reserved

"There's been a disturbance."

"Thanks man, I'll grab my board. Is it a big one, will I need my bird?"

"Better bring your feathers buddy."

"Sweet. I'm on it. See you out there."

Everyone's got their favorite board. We all start out on one of the old ones. They're great fun until you realize that you're riding a standing wave. The new boards let you ride the real ones, that's where it's at.

My favorite board has a reverse camber and isn't as long as some. I like to work the interference zones where two waves cross. We don't always get zones but just in case I usually ride the RC-Board. It's also light which looses some stability in the stretch but my bird and I have good bindings so we don't come off.

Some guys use G-force bindings. I'm not so preferable to them, they can get loose once you're actually on the wave. I have friends who say it's like you don't need them once you're riding. They've got a point there, but I don't know, seems risky. But what isn't risky?

Mine are M-bond bindings. Those suckers stay put no matter what. They're independent of the mass so there' s none of that weirdness that happens as we cross over and pick up speed.

We've all got ion drives now, not so bulky and easy to maintain. I know there's faster ones out there but really, at those speeds a few nano-seconds isn't a big deal. Well, actually it is, but the other's too bulky for me. Once we're at speed we shut them down anyway so less bulk means better cohesion to the wave. To each his own I guess.

I grab my helmet and check the O-supply tank, then I check the bird's tank. They don't need them but we can ride longer with them and my bird, Newton, is used to it and likes to stay out as long as we can.

Newton's a snowy owl. I've had him for a long time. He knows I'm checking the board and tanks right now and he's getting excited. "Calm down little buddy, you're coming along. Shhhh." That doesn't ever really calm him down but he does get a little quieter. I fit his helmet and get him into his bindings. He can hardly contain himself.

If you're serious about this sport you gotta have an owl. Otherwise you've got to stay well below threshold and that's not so much fun. I've heard stories about guys crossing the threshold without an owl and never coming back. No telling where they ended up, or when. Once you're up to speed the sky's the limit. For some reason the owls don't get confused in all that white light and they always know how to get back home.

I grab a water bottle and we're out the door.

We always meet up behind the moon. There's a spot there where we can get an espresso while we're waiting for the wave, and the waitress is nice to us. Not everybody out here is. They think we're slackers. They don't know the half of it.

"Who's coming?"

"There's you, me, Patrick and Genevieve. Four's a good number." James is one of the old time boarders. Started with his dad when he was a kid. His dad used to strap him to the back of his long board and they'd go ride standing waves until they were late for dinner. His mom wouldn't let him take James out on the rolling G-waves. That's how you get a kid obsessed with riding on the edge, I'll tell you. Don't let him do it until he's sneaking out after school and scamming rides with whoever has a spare board. That's how we met, I always had a spare board for James.

"Everybody bringing feathers?"

"Yeh, this should be epic today. The wave started 45 light years ago and triggered two more coincident events on the way so it might be the biggest one this year."

When a G-wave crosses a massive object which is near critical it can trigger a collapse. So as the wave bends around the object it slows just enough that the new wave created by the collapse amplifies it. If you're lucky enough to be in line with it then the waves get coherent. Having three coincident events is a big deal, but nowhere near the record of five. That was almost too big to ride, you'd have had to be crazy to try. Good thing it was before James and my time, we'd have probably tried.

Even better is when you're slightly off the line, then there's some awesome interference zones and you've got to have the skill to handle it or you might get tumbled back to the dark ages.

Patrick and Genevieve arrive. "Good timing, you have just enough time for a double shot then we're outta here."

"Excellent. Thanks for calling us, we almost missed this one."

"It was buried in the farm report, I almost missed it too."

Sometimes five minutes takes forever, but sitting there with three friends it breezed by.

"Let's go."

We grabbed our boards and launched.

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