Professor Berkley is not an imposing figure. His linen tweed jacket is heavily worn and moth-eaten; his somewhat portly frame is usually garbed in an ill-fitting suit; his eyes are beady and his face somewhat doughy, as if he was only partially baked. To some several of his colleagues - perhaps he was, in very truth.
In the midst of March, in the year 1952 Anno Domini, Berkley sat at a problem that had plagued some several of his confederates and colleagues. Some four years previous, he had the opportunity to attend a Solvay Conference, and became curious as to the true fundamentals of the world. Were these particles so theorized even possible, he wondered? With noteworthies such as Bohr and his fellows so devoutly affixed to following the idea, he felt a curious connection, and researched, examining the papers all throughout the conference and after.
His coworkers laughed at him as he changed his focus from the measurement of what surely was to what could be neither seen nor measured, but he persisted. The chair of his college attempted to talk him out of it, but acquiesced when Berkley said it would not corrupt his teaching nor his work - Wallace would do this research and experimentation on his own time, with his own funds such as it was necessary.
The mathematics was where he started. he examined the concepts being set forth, and set about contemplating the math being what would later be dubbed 'field theory'. He worked diligently, his theories only in the paper, conclusions untestable without more funding than he had access to, notebooks of scrawled symbols that he sometimes thought could be mistaken for the arcane scribblings of some fantastical folkloric figure. Such was nonsense of course. He was a scientist, a physicist! Even this strange quantum realm would obey laws and definitions, if we could only figure them out.
So brought him to that fateful day in March, a week before the equinox. Papers scattered across his desk, notebooks filled and spilling from their bindings, instructions for a device he had theorized and built himself sitting before him. With a luck, just a little of it, this would enable him to test his theory of the electromagnetic field! He flicked it on, and the machine began to hum, vibrating steadily, though for minutes aught came of it.
It hummed still, though, hummed and vibrated faster and faster as within something spun. It began to generate light, photons contained in a reflective box that he could just see through a carefully constructed panel of one-way glass. the light grew, and grew, and he could almost see something within it, some strange shape as the light was brighter and brighter, until the machine exploded.
Most of his notes caught on fire, that night. His house, his office, as well. He was rushed to the hospital, and recuperated from his burns, though it was feared he wouldn't be able to see again. In his scarred retinas, he was able to see something yet; a strange, writhing creature, unspeakable and indescribable by biology, that seemed to flicker between existence and nonexistence.
His eyesight did recover, eventually, though never to the extent it had once been. And he found he could see something... more. a shape of things, that were and were not. Just occasionally, just every so often. He was able to make predictions, to see possible outcomes even as they began to finalize themselves, and part of him shivered with delight after paying for his medical bills with casino takings. Life, it seemed, was beginning to look up for Wallace Alfred Berkley.
for a few months, anyway. After school let out, and he was without summer classes, he saw something inexplicable. A thing that was not where it was, and moved to where it would not be, garbed in non-existence as one might wear a cloak. curious, and slightly frightened, he followed behind the shape-that-was-not, until it turned around and fired at him with a weapon that made the world go white, and then black.
When he came to, he was alone, on the outskirts of a strange place. High above him, towering roofs were all about, the sky itself so close, with no moon or sun but more stars than he'd ever seen. Lights began to come on, bright as small suns in the distance, and he followed them. He ran into someone under the light of the sunlamps there, another man in a tweed jacket, who was working on some strange equation of physics, an equation of momentum. 'ah. Your numbers are wrong, here," the professor said, and gave him a nudge, only to be smiled at with a grin that had too many teeth and eyes that glowed just too dimly. The man introduced himself as a... scholar, though a poor one, a minor member of the Social Society of Subversive Science, and wouldn't Berkley please join them?
It has been about eighteen cycles of the sunlamps. Professor Wallace Alfred Berkley has no idea yet how much he has to learn.
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