A short story I wrote as a writing prompt to a Reddit post at near 3am. This is a rough first draft that I may or may-not improve upon.
The itch. That odd feeling you get when you feel like someone is watching you, but instead of looking behind you, you look almost straight up. Aliens? No, you dismissed the idea of them long ago, favoring one of the supporting outcomes of the fermi paradox. Your whole life you pursued the stars. Looking deeper, and farther. Now, you work at the largest, most complicated telescope humanity has ever devised. More than work there, you are the primary observer in the single largest financial effort of mankind. Constructed in what is humbly named “Ridge A” in the Antarctic Plateau is this skyscraper sized device. The latest advances in quantum unraveling allowing you to see farther than light itself can possibly convey.
One day, it appears that you are unable to see any farther. A relatively static setting. This is nearly alarming considering the sheer vastness of all of space, time, and the wonders of the universe. Instead, you decide that you have accidentally focused in on to the white hot center of a star. All the wonder and excitement of discovering something new again rushes out of you.
“I’ll just change the coordinate shift by a single plank and apply more zoom again.” you think to yourself for what must be the upteenth time. Giggling to yourself as you adjust the calibrated target, “Enhance!” With an infinite universe, inevitably you can not see in a straight line, gravitational sinks allowing, forever without hitting a star. But, the shift doesn’t produce the expected outcome, instead, you now see solid white with a black line bisecting the output on your terminal vertically.
A straight line, that’s new. That’s impossible. “What the hell?” This would have to be some kind of impossibly large crystalline structure. Zooming further only caused the line to widen, encompassing more of the terminal screen. No crystal markers in sight, instead seeming like a long line of planetoids with nothing but void between. This was completely maddening. You call in two of your interns, unpaid of course, to verify what you were seeing.
“It’s the end of the universe!” One shouted. Being zoomed in at ~200 light years, you knew that simply couldn’t be possible. The Universe couldn’t be that small. The other intern asked, “Why are you all the way at 200 + 1.057×10-19 instead of a nice, flat 200?”
You calmly explain that you had spent several days at exactly 200 and saw nothing but solid white. You sweeped in large arcs, well, large for such precise movements, and still saw no change until you began to push further. But, to appease their relatively disappointing curiosities, you shift the telescope back to exactly 200 light years.
After some shifting and awkward looks from the overwhelmed teens one asks, “Did you check if there’s something on the lense?” Blood immediately began rushing to your face. There was no lense to be muddied on your quantum telescope. It bent time and space itself to present digitally, a glimpse of the universe rendered in a format suitable for human eyes. Before you can get off a single threat of the firing for gross negligence of understanding the very basics of your pride and joy, the other teen has climbed atop the multi-trillion dollar device and is peering at the business end.
“What the hell do you think you are doing! How did you even get up there! Get down right now!”
“Well, here’s the problem. Someone taped a picture of the observatory to the end of the telescope.”
“WHAT?!” You immediately pull over the scaffolding to properly reach the summit of the telescope, wrenching the youth away from a device whos cost is more in dollars than there are cells in his being. You peer at the end of the telescope and do indeed see the observatory. But knowing better, you know that instead you are spying through the raw quantum tunnel. “That’s…” You nearly leap from the twenty foot scaffolding to adjust the controls. Murmuring to yourself, “Half the zoom of last time.” Again atop the structure, you peer in and see a man. Frail, balding with peppered hair, in a lab coat, and invariably accompanied by the same unmistakeable buffoon of an intern. You climb down, more cautiously. This time, re-adjusting the zoom to something near 199.99, well an impossibly small fraction nearing 200. Again above the entire world, above your baby, the masterpiece, you look inside. This time, you see the entire observatory, all the surrounding supporting structures, and what appears to be the base of a nearby mountain.
“This… Can’t be possible.” It is well known that a quantum unravelling observer could be used as a microscope, but at these settings, it would be like looking at a billionth of a billionth of the plank length. There is nothing conceivable that far down. Things, simply stop being…we’ve never thought to look. Having climbed down once again, and being completely overwhelmed and out of breath, you take a glance at the terminal.
All that is seen is small snowy hill, a white hare bouncing about and stopping near center-screen. “How deep, is this impossible rabbit hole?”