Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Gravity: Stories (A To Z Challenge)(Infinite Monkeys)

A To Z Readers:  First, if you write, I'll pay you for stories: see the "We Pay For Stories" tab on this blog.

Second: Each day on this blog there are TWO A To Z entries: A short story (this post) and a longer serialized story about the alphabet in turmoil (the next post below this).  

Most days, the short story is limited to 250 words, but I was up at 3 a.m. today for Mr F related reasons (Mr F is my second-youngest and if you want to know more about him you can click this link) so I had a little more time to write today's story, which is an "Infinite Monkeys" story. ("Infinite Monkeys" stories are part of a project I've been working on since last summer.)

So there's the story in this post, below, and there's the ongoing story, and there are also FREE BOOKS! Well, Free BOOK! the After, a story about life after death and also about William Howard Taft and love, not necessarily in that order, is free on Amazon and you can get it by clicking this link here.  

And now, your short story, which is short stories

Gravity: Stories.


Gravity didn’t have to be up and down. It could have been left-and-right. It could have been diagonal. It could have been spirals. That would have been lovely: when you dropped your coffee this morning instead of falling to the ground and smashing your cup and splashing coffee into every nook and cranny in the kitchen making you late for work and getting on your tie, your cup would have lazily spiraled down to the ground like one of those helicopter seeds you remember from when you were a kid but never see anymore.

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He was there and then he was not, standing by the window and then not, wondering whether to talk to the girl with the red shirt and then… well, he was still kind of wondering that a bit now but the more immediate thing was that Garrett was falling, falling falling falling and it was kind of an amazing thing. He’d always heard that if you fell off a large skyscraper your heart would stop long before you hit the ground, that fright would kill you, but that turned out not to be true, at least in his experience because he’d been leaning on the railing and fallen over and now was in the air.

It was like flying.

It was like falling, only longer.  Which made sense, he supposed.

(The girl with the red shirt probably would have turned him down!)

Maybe for the heart thing you had to be up higher so that you were more scared?

His body slowly

Turning

Twisting

Rolling

He was going headoverheelsoverheadoverheelsoveroverheelsheadoverheadheadheels

His drink glass was ahead of him!

(Maybe she’d have said yes)

The sidewalk didn’t seem to be getting closer very quickly. Tom and Linda’s apartment was on fifteen and they’d gone up to the roof how many flights of stairs had he gone up to get there in the cool summer evening to watch the sun set over the bay while wondering about asking the girl in the red shirt out.

Irony: If he’d been less scared of asking her out he wouldn’t have leaned back against the railing.

(Was that iron


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Gravity is the bending of space, like if you throw a bowling ball on a mattress: it will bend the mattress down and pull things nearby into the impression it makes on the mattress, only that’s not quite right is it? Because if you were to put a bunch of little balls on the mattress:

Use a baseball for Jupiter, or a softball and Saturn could be the baseball and Mars can be that marble the kids have for some reason, where’d they get a marble? And then Earth is… Earth is… Earth is, fine it’s her socks, bundled up that’s not the point, just put them on the bed and then throw grandpa’s old bowling ball in the middle and watch it bounce up only slightly and Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, all roll into it, Earth doesn’t but that’s because Earth is socks, the point is they don’t spin around it they just roll into it and sit there so if gravity worked that way we’d all just roll into the sun and burn up like a marshmallow dropped into the campfire.

So why do we spin around the sun instead of rolling into it?  Think about that. It’s not going to get you out of going outside to rake the lawn, and sooner or later your wife is going to want to know what the heck you were doing with the bowling ball, so work on it now.

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Things that you can drop from the top of the Leaning Tower Of Pisa to see if they fall at the same rate:

    n  A bowling ball and a feather.
    n  Two cups of orange juice, one with pulp, one without.
    n  A toy school bus, and fourteen “Luke Skywalker” action figures.
    n  A book about Galileo, and a book about a diner owner in Tulsa who keeps getting involved in mysteries around the city, the first in a series of such books, each named after a kind of dish you can order in the diner, this one is Eggs Over Easy and is about a guy named Donnie “Easy” Polizzi who turns up dead behind the alley and the diner owner’s cook is a suspect in the killing.

The picture of you and your wife on your wedding day that you brought along? You’re never going to actually throw that over, no matter how mad you are at her. Just tuck it back in your backpack and go get some lunch at the Hard Rock Café Pisa.

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“Why did God invent gravity?” she asks.

“Because when He was building the universe if He set down His tools they would just float away and make a mess.”

“Why did God need tools?” she asks.

“Because it’s hard to make a giraffe from scratch.”

“Why did God need giraffes?”

“Because they could help Him get the tools off the high shelves.”

“Wasn’t God taller than the giraffes?”

“He was exactly the same height, but he wanted the giraffes to feel useful.”

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I’ve always heard you are weightless in space, but that’s not right, is it? If every piece of mass affects every other piece of mass by pulling on it with its own gravity, then you’re never truly weightless because first of all, you are not that far from the Earth when you are in what we humans call space: you’re really just barely above it and still affected by Earth’s gravity, spinning you around and around and pulling you down and down, so you’re not weightless at all.

And if you go further out? You’re still by the planets and still affected by the Sun’s gravity, too – you’d have to go farther out than Pluto to be away from the Sun’s gravity, farther out than the Oort cloud to get away from the Sun’s gravity, because the Sun pulls those comets out of the Oort cloud and sends them spinning around it the way I sometimes pick up my kids and spin them around on the driveway on a sunny March morning when it’s only twenty degrees but it looks like spring, and when I do that, they may feel like they are weightless but they are not, any more than you, shooting out there beyond the Oort cloud and into outer, OUTER, space are yet weightless, because once you’re out there, beyond the nascent comets that surround our solar system, you’re out in the reaches of other stars, each pulling their own planets, and you’re still in the Milky Way, which spins around and around its center, maybe there’s a black hole there, so even way way out where you can’t see Earth anymore, can’t even see the planet where one morning you had a cup of coffee and an Egg McMuffin ™ before deciding to see if you could really be weightless, you’re still not.

So keep going! You’re doing this, not me, after all.  I’m not so crazy about being weightless that I am willing to let go of sunny cold mornings and Egg McMuffins ™ and checking out comic books from the library so I can remember what it was like to be a kid, I’m still willing to heave my old body up the stairs and hear my knees creak as I do so and feel the exhaustion at the end of the day as I collapse onto my bed, held there by the gravity you are so eager to get away from.  Gravity is the price we pay for comic books and going to art museums where we see surrealist paintings while we hold the hand of our wives and wonder if we should go for ice cream, but you, you, you wanted to see what it was like to be weightless, truly weightless, so keep going!

Keep going!

Going!

Going!

Gone!

And now you are farther out than anyone has ever been, at the edge of the universe, you can’t see ANYTHING and you think

A HA!

And you think

I SHOWED YOU! THE UNIVERSE IS EXPANDING AND SO OUT HERE AT THE FARTHEST EDGES OF IT I AM FREE OF GRAVITY, I AM AHEAD OF GRAVITY AND I AM TRULY WEIGHTLESS!

But you are not.  You are wearing your spacesuit and jetpack and the watch you got for your thirty-second birthday with the leather band and the small dial that shows you the phases of the moon, and all of those things have gravity: you are pulling on them and they are pulling on you!  You are the weight of yourself on your watch, and infinitesimal as that is, you are not weightless, not yet.

Take the watch off.  The spacesuit.  The jetpack! The suit and tie you wore to make a good impression on anyone you might meet! Yes, even the socks!  There, naked at the edge of the universe, you rejoice! Finally weightless!

But, still, no: You have a heart, you have a brain, you have blood, and you are pulling at you from inside, from outside, from the left, the right.  All the million billion trillion pieces of you are each making the other million billion trillion pieces of you weigh something.


Ah, well, it was worth a try.

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Read more Infinite Monkeys stories, essays, lists and graphs by clicking this link.

Or keep going to see whether G agrees that X should leave the alphabet...

9 comments:

Robin said...

I really liked the second story. I suspect that in that moment we really do think of the craziest things. For instance, did I unplug my curling iron? Like it matters. Or I guess So-And-So can keep my favorite scarf now.

Briane P said...

I've always wondered what that would be like, too. I have a terrible fear of heights, so it's something I think about a lot.

Liz A. said...

That's why it's technically called "microgravity". In space.

And the reason things don't revolve around the bowling ball on the bed is due to friction, not gravity. In space, where there's no bed and no sheets and no thing holding the bowling ball up, things stay in orbit.

Andrew Leon said...

And gravity's a weak force.

Joy Pagel said...

OH, WHATEVER, Liz and Andrew. You think you can come around here with your "science" and be "correct" just because "that's the way things actually work in real life" and

... well, I've got nothing.

Andrew Leon said...

No, I was just saying that with all of that stuff you had about gravity and how you can't get away from it, which is true, and it's a weak force!

Briane P said...

Too late. You took science's side. I'll remember that, the next time Magic and I want to go hang out and Magic says "Hey, let's call Andrew." I'll be all like "No, Andrew's into scientific explanations for things, no way he'd want to drive around and shoot lightning bolts out of his fingers or see into the future or anything, Magic."

Andrew Leon said...

Oh, I can do that stuff with science, anyway.

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