Carl Jung once said, “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.” I don’t know how true that is, chemistry is not my strongest field of expertise, but for me it started simply, as such things commonly do. It was a chance meeting, but mine was not on a bus or in line at the grocery store. No, my chance meeting was in the laboratory as I experimented on the nature of vibrational harmonics of strings across quantum dimensions. You know the usual sort of thing, at least for a theoretical physicist.
You have to understand, my work never allowed me time for a personal life. I never much minded the lonely dinners or the empty beds. My work was all that mattered. It was important, you see. I was working on a way to test the very fabric of reality itself. I had the potential to prove the existence of a quantum multiverse, a theory even Einstein only ever guessed at. The university was more skeptical, of course. They always are, and every year I found myself with less and less funding, and less and less help. I have been reduced to one graduate student, Callie.
She is a pleasant enough sort of girl, but I have seen lab rats with a more developed mental capacity. Mostly, I had to resort to making her stand in a corner and hand me things. I once tried to trust her to analyze the results of a particle collision experiment I was conducting, but the only particles she managed to find were the bits of potato chips she had left on her hands from lunch. She ruined the results.
Sufficed to say I often sent Callie home early so that I could concentrate on the real work. It was during one of those late hour tests when I first noticed the smell, lilacs. They had been my mother’s favorite and always reminded me of the good times I had as a child. As you can imagine, I was startled, at first. I mean my lab is a completely clean room, barring any sort of Callie-related mishap, and that is precisely what I thought I had encountered.
The smell was faint and died away almost immediately before I could find its source. I also ruled out any involvement by my wayward graduate student as her preferred scents tended to be pizza and a rather pungent narcotic substance. All I could do was chalk the sensory experience up to some sort of olfactory recall. I convinced myself that it was nothing more than the hours of work and toil that had caused the sensation, and that they were nothing more than errant memories of carefree days.
I cataloged the next incident while running the same experiment. I was testing sub-atomic string harmonic pitches to try and find a convergent point between dimensions. It is all in the paper I published several years ago, if you care to invest the time to look into the subject. Most people do not. The scent of lilacs again, this time stronger and lasting a whole fifty-seven point two seconds. Over the next week I recorded three more instances while attempting the same experiment. It was no coincidence or suppressed memory. I found that the more I increased the power of my experiment the longer the scent remained.
Finally, after a week of detecting the faint odor I resolved to increase my resonance to full power, and that was when I heard it, Springsteen, or more specifically, Thunder Road. I was certain of it. I had loved that entire album growing up. It was what helped me survive the lonely days of high school. I used to listen to it as an undergraduate at MIT as I lay in my bed contemplating the majesty of the forces that governed the world.
Much like the odor it only lasted for a few seconds, and was faint enough that it could have been nothing more than the echoes of a radio from down the hall. Still, I recorded it. However this phenomena proved harder to duplicate. Unlike the lilac scent it was not present every time, and sometimes it would be a different song entirely, still just as memorable.
Over the next three weeks I continued my experiments, this time meticulously adjusting the harmonics and the levels of their intensity. More often than not, there would be no change, but more than once I caught new sounds, even what could have been garbled conversation. I felt gusts of air movement that should not have been and made no sense with the airflow setup of my own lab. Once I saw a flash of orange and red. I mistook it for fire at the moment of its appearance, but quickly realized that it was color, shimmering color, like a reflection seen through a foggy mirror.
By the fifth week of my experimenting I had isolated the data of my most successful attempts. I took everything I learned and put it into the fabrication of a specialized box, no more than the size of a toaster. Callie was on hand to witness as I placed an apple inside and when I activated the device the apple was completely atomized.
I was disheartened, to say the least, All my careful planning led to disappointment. I had expected something more, but all I got was a machine that destroyed objects. Perhaps I can sell it as a solution to waste management, I thought, but then something miraculous happened. The next morning the box was full. There was not an apple inside, but a small piece of paper. It read “Thanks for the apple.”
Immediately, I accused Callie of some sort of practical joke. I tossed her from the laboratory for the day and contemplated what I believed could only be a hoax. Yet, the next day another note appeared. This time it read, “Day 61: No reply yet from the box. Received apple appeared in pieces. Hypothesis: letter was similarly broken down upon transport. I must conduct further tests.” The note ended with a mathematical formula similar to the one I had been constructing.
Callie could not have created that note. There was no way my assistant had the creativity or brain capacity to perpetrate such an elaborate hoax. The letter was authentic. I quickly scribbled my own note, “Received research notes. I concur with your analysis.” I added the last part more as a joke. I still had my doubts as to what was going on.
Yet, the next day I received a response, more mathematical formulas, as well as an elaborated theory on special dimensions as it applies to string theory. I combined the miraculous research with my own and was able to refine some of the techniques I had used in constructing the box. At the bottom of my next note I added an addendum: ”Who are you? Where are you?”
The response I got back was equally astounding. The only name she gave was Clara, but she was more descriptive on her physical location. She gave longitudinal coordinates that matched almost exactly with my own. If the coordinates were to be believed my new pen pal was almost exactly in the same place as myself. The implications of this were astounding, multiple dimensions occupying the same physical space. Clara also agreed with my findings and my hypothesis.
This was the start of our collaboration. Over the next four months we shared all our findings with one another as we continued to refine the process of sending objects through the dimensional barrier. We also talked about our lives and our homes. It was inevitable, I suppose. We were each both curious about the other’s world. Clara lived in a place much similar to our own, with one difference. There seemed to be less hostility and war. Humanity embraced a better way of life, science and altruism.
Reading the descriptions of her world made me feel ashamed of my own and I am afraid to admit that in my representation of our world I may have omitted a few of the nastier facts of the human experience. It was a selfish act. I did not want her to think less of me, as if I was some barbarian from some unevolved world.
In the time of our correspondence Clara sent exactly two pictures. One was of her in a field, obviously during some outing or picnic. It had no description. I was struck by her beauty, like a model found in some magazine. Her hair was light lavender her eyes were the color of the sky. She had freckles on her nose and small dimples that showed when she smiled. I, of course, returned a picture.
It took me hours to find the right one with the best lighting and at just the right angle to accent my features. I was never very photogenic. I am not homely, but I am also not the most handsome male of my species. I took several photos of myself, making sure to take off my glasses and smile with just enough teeth so as not to expose my overbite, and of course I kept my mole concealed on the side pointing away from the camera. It took most of the day. Callie even helped to give me tips on grooming.
The second picture was a more private affair. This one I will not describe, but I assure you that the contents were as much for science as for any other reasoning. After all we had to compare the biologies of the people of Clara’s world with our own. This picture you will not find with my research materials. It is a personal memento.
After this our relationship took on a decidedly personal nature. We still compared research notes, but most of our correspondence was resigned to personal letters. We learned that we had much in common. Our upbringing, our interests, and even our beliefs seemed almost perfectly aligned. I had never met a girl like her before, and I suppose I still have not. Yet, it was like she could tell what I was thinking. It was like she knew exactly what I needed to hear. It was on day one hundred and six that I told Clara that I loved her. It was a sentiment she did not return until day one hundred and eight.
On a personal level I found that my days seemed suddenly less empty. I was happier. I often whistled while I worked. I even found my tolerance of Callie growing. She often helped me construct my letters, giving me advice on how best to express what I was thinking. Sometimes we would sit for hours, polishing a letter so it sounded just right. I was always eager to impress my new transdimensional love. Also, I found that I had underestimated my assistant. When it came to matters of the heart she was rather insightful.
Yet, as happy as I was my loneliness also festered, like a cancer. It was a weed slowly overtaking my field of lilacs. I wanted more than just letters and pictures. So together, Clara and I built an even larger messenger box. Expanding the dimensions of the device proved trickier than I had suspected, as the larger the area within so did the number of atoms the device contained. I found that it was harder to affect larger fields of atoms, especially complex ones. It was one of the reasons why only paper and graphite had so little trouble passing through the dimensional wall.
It took Callie and I six more months of work to complete and test the larger transport device on our end. Even then experimentation produced mixed results. The box was able to transport simple organism with little problems, but with anything more complex than a field mouse the results were less than enthusiastic. Finally, on day three hundred and twenty-two I entered my lab to find a live chicken with a note explaining how Clara was able to stabilize the arrival process of the chamber. I was overjoyed, and with help of Callie I went about implementing the changes to our own device. I even successfully managed to send the chicken back through to other side of the rift, as we were now calling it.
It was then that I knew I would be united with my Clara, the love of my life. I made preparations to leave. It took another week before we could refine the process for what we anticipated were the needs of human test subjects. Seeing as I could ask not anyone else to test the process, not Callie, and certainly not Clara, I wrote to her to tell her that I would enter the chamber and we could live our lives together on her world of peace. Nothing else mattered.
It was on day three hundred and thirty-eight that Callie became suddenly reluctant to help. She raised complaints about my safety. She said that the machine was nothing more than an incinerator. It could only destroy objects, not transport them anywhere. She said I was tilting at windmills.
As a last resort she lied and said she had written the notes. She claimed that at first it was a prank, but then it got out of hand. She claimed that she was Clara and she had fabricated the whole affair. Then, if that was not ridiculous enough, she also claimed that through working together and sharing notes she had come to love me, as if that was possible. No. I know her words to be nothing but lies. She is not the woman of my dreams, just merely a girl, jealous of the love I share with Clara. She is just trying to keep me, whether out of misplaced concern or for her own jealous reasons. I do not know which, nor do I care. I have no future with Callie. My future is with Clara.
Even as I write this she has gone to fetch security and others who will try and stop me. So I must hurry. My hour grows late. As I sit here and scribble this note I know it will be the last remaining record of my words on this world, but have no fear. I will be in a better place with the woman I love. I have endured my lonely prison long enough, and if you are reading this account than I have already stepped into my machine. I am already happy. I bid this world and this life good-bye.
To Callie, I do not blame you. You were a loyal and good assistant. Perhaps in another life things could have worked out between us. I hope you find your happiness as I have found my own. Thank you for trying to help me, but what I do now I do on faith, guided by love.
For as Einstein once said, “Not everything that counts can be counted. Not everything can be counted counts.”