April 2012






















I thought that some month I might not have a new story ready and that could still happen, however, this month I have the opposite problem so you get two new stories, one written for the web site and one an excerpt from my book, which is slowly progressing.

Potts' Peak

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

Being a creature of habit as much as anything else, Phineas T. Potts grabbed his favorite umbrella on the way out the door. Not that it wasn't warranted, there had, after all, been 35 consecutive days of rain. Descending the five flights of stairs down to the street, Potts was consumed with the idea that Einstein's description of gravity being like a sheet of rubber in which massive balls rested, bending the fabric of the universe downward under each ball, was probably correct. Considering that a photon traveling along the sheet over the curve created by the heavy ball would appear to be bending, to an outside observer at least, while to the photon it would appear to be traveling in a straight line. He'd spent the previous evening perusing images of gravitational lensing, not that Potts fully understood the physics behind it all, but he did enjoy pretty pictures and he did wonder why the sheet always bends down. Couldn't it ever bend upwards?

Arriving at the bottom floor and emerging from the entrance Potts' discovered to his great joy a most glorious day laid out before him. There was not a drop of rain to be seen, a deep blue sky growing as the sun rose higher into the sky. Not one to succumb to excessive bursts of joy on most occasions, Potts felt the sudden urge to thrust his unopened umbrella into the air and exclaim that this would be a glorious day!

Unbeknownst to Potts, rather than rending the fabric of the universe the combination of the perfectly formed tip of his umbrella and the speed with which he thrust it upwards meant that the space time continuum was bent upwards ever so slightly precisely matching the emerging umbrella point. This nearly imperceptible bend caused the very tip of Potts' umbrella to weigh ever so slightly less and rise ever so slightly higher. Being as the tip was connected to the umbrella, the umbrella to Potts' hand and Potts' hand connected after all to Potts himself, the whole assemblage rose ever so slightly up. Not enough to notice right away, but since the rise created slightly more stretch, and hence, slightly more rise, it was inevitable that Potts and his umbrella began to rise slowly at first then a little faster and a little faster until it was apparent that Potts was no longer standing on the ground.

There is always that moment where one has to decide "Do I hang on or let go?" Being a man of adventure it was natural for Potts to hang on, besides he wasn't ready to let his favorite umbrella drift away without him. Rising above the trees then above the rooftops, Potts quickly passed the point of no return, rising faster and faster. Presently it became apparent that Potts wasn't going to slow his ascent and fortunately for Potts he could hold his breath for a considerable amount of time. It did surprise Potts how quickly the fabric of the universe could be bent upward and as he rose higher and higher he realized that he was traveling in a bubble of air which was also riding along, trapped as it were by the stretched fabric and also no longer feeling the bounds of earth. He carefully took a breath and then relaxed as he realized that he could go for quite a while within his little bubble.

Watching first the earth grow smaller and smaller was better than looking at those pictures of gravitational lenses which had started this whole adventure. All was going exactly as he'd thought it would, but for the life of him he couldn't remember what came next nor how far away it was. Must be something out here, otherwise what's the point of coming. Craning his neck to see ahead and around the still closed umbrella, Potts thought that he could make out some tiny object ahead. It couldn't be a star it wasn't shining and it looked too small for a planet, although he still wasn't too sure how far away it was. As he watched it slowly grew in size until it began to resemble a vey small church with a tall steeple. Drawing nearer Potts realized that it not only resembled a small church, it was a small church and maybe not even that small. He was headed directly towards it, as though it was occupying the same upward bend in the fabric.

Slowing in his ascent Potts was now certain that he and the church were going to be rendezvousing shortly so he adjusted his orientation in such a way that he'd land feet first. Gently touching down on the front steps Potts had to grab the handrail to stay put, being that there was no gravity to hold him down. Working his way towards the door he tucked his umbrella under his arm while reaching for the door knob. The door slowly opened and Potts floated into the foyer. Making his way, with some difficulty though the foyer to the sanctuary Potts thought that he heard faint voices.

"...avitational effect on the upward force represented by the center if mass..."

"...No, you're completely off base it's the lack of a downward, countermanding force which created the delta in the gravitational forces acting on the respective masses..."

"... therefore it's clear that the upward cone is a mirror image of the downward..."

"...too easy an explanation and it doesn't fit the models of the..."

"...I can see how you're confused about thi..."

"...I'm confused? Hardly professor, it's clear that you're the one with delusions..."

"... tea is ready."

The room suddenly quieted at the words 'the tea is ready'.

Potts pushed himself off the frame of the doorway and started gliding towards the group of old men and women gathered around the center of the room. Each one was floating above their own pew which were floating at all angles but generally with the feet towards the floor and somewhere near the middle of the sanctuary. Potts realized very quickly that he'd pushed off with perhaps a tad too much force so to slow himself he reached down a grabbed a pew near the door. It's true the Potts slowed himself but in the process he launched the pew towards the center of the group in the middle of the room.

Potts watched in shock as the pew slowly but steadily headed for the first pew in the group and finally, having no other plan of action, shouted, "watch out!"

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