2020 Open Category Winner
The project was almost done, one more bolt and the transporter would be completed. This was trial one hundred thirty-seven. All of them had failed. In previous attempts the apple had done nothing, was burnt, or had disintegrated completely. But this time, everyone was convinced that the apple would start on one side of the room and appear on the other, intact.
“It’s done. This one should work,” Erik reported to Lena, the head scientist. “Would you like the honors?” She grabbed the controller and pressed the green button. Instantly, the apple disappeared; the team waited but the fruit did not reappear.
It had been ten years since Sam had been able to see. The grand blinding had happened when he was five years old and nobody had come up with a way to give anyone their sight back, but now… there had been a change. An apple sat on a stool in front of him, he’d forgotten what red looked like. He looked around the room, the colors overwhelmed him as he looked around the room. But what an amazing day this would be! He knew everyone would remember this day forever.
“Sam, come eat breakfast,” Sam’s mother called from the other room.
Standing up, he grabbed the apple and took a bite, wanting to know what red tasted like. Gross, he thought, not very good. Placing it down, he ran toward the kitchen.
“Isn’t it amazing?”
“What is?” She seemed confused. Couldn’t she see too?
“Being able to see!”
“Well I suppose it was. Why do you bring it up? You know it’s been ten years.”
When she said this his heart deflated. She couldn’t see. How was it possible that Sam could see but not his mother could not?
“Hun?” his mother asked.
“Yeah, I guess… I just wish you could see, that’s all.” He didn’t understand. Maybe this was a dream?
“Yeah, well, what’s past is past. You, however, need to get to school. C’mon c’mon, go get dressed.”
So he did what he was told, while pulling on his hoodie Sam noticed that the apple was gone. Whatever, he needed to get to school. He wondered if anyone else could see.
Sam came home starving and disappointed. The day had not been as enthusing as he had hoped. At school, it seemed that no one else had regained sight. Sam was the only one. He tried to tell his friends that he could see but none of them believed him. They said he was making it up for attention.
The apple was sitting back on the stool when he got home. He took another bite. Still gross, he thought. Why does it taste so metallic?
“I must be going crazy,” Sam heard someone say. “Maybe I’m just tired.” He turned around, but there was nobody.
“Who said that?” he called out. No response. He took another bite of the apple, it disappeared. Poof, gone. Where did it go? Then there was silence. Hello? Sam heard a voice call out. He saw nobody.
Who are you? A woman’s voice asked. Was it possible to go crazy this young in life? Sam seriously wondered.
Me? Who are you? Where are you? Why are you here?
My name is Lena. You’re the one who started talking to me. Who are you?
I’m Sam. Where are you?
Currently at work, definitely not close to you. I think we have some sort of telepathy.
Maybe, can you see?
Can you see? he asked her again.
No, that’s not how telepathy works. I can only hear you.
No! I mean in general, can you see too?
Well yes, but can’t most people see?
Upon hearing this Sam stopped. She could see too? But she said everyone could see… maybe there was a hidden community of sighted people? His heart did a little dance with this thought, other people like him… People that would believe him.
No, not here, not where I live. Sam explained.
Well where do you live? Lena asked him.
Do you tell a random stranger that you’re telepathic with where you live? This was a question he had never encountered before, but the possibility that he could figure out what was going on over-rid the possibility of danger.
I live in Seattle, Washington, where do you live?
Also in Seattle.
Then how can you see?
Everyone can see. She sounded confused. How could they live in the same place but she doesn’t know that everyone is blind?
That’s almost… impossible. Lena trailed off.
Almost? Sam asked.
We can’t live in the same place but have this drastic of a difference between world perceptions. We must live in like alternate dimensions or something. I’m not sure how, but we must. Can I ask you a question?
Sure, why not. Cuz’ hell this wasn’t strange enough.
Did you eat any apples today?
Listen, I’m not usually supposed to disclose this information, but special circumstances call for exceptions. I’m the head scientist at the Clark Labs and we’ve been working on building a transporter the past few years. Yesterday we teleported an apple, but it didn’t reappear until this morning with a bite taken out of it. We tried it again this afternoon, it came back with two more bites taken from it… Sam understood what this meant: the apple he had consumed was from a different world, a sighted world. It came from a sighted world. One he wanted so desperately to be a part of.
So, we’re almost definitely from different dimensions? Gears in Sam’s head began to turn.
It would appear that way.
So, I could come to your world?
Theoretically yes, but I’m not too sure if that would be a good idea.
Why not? That would be a huge scientific advance for you. Proof that there’s another dimension, proof that your transport is more powerful than anticipated. Sam was trying his best to convince Lena of this plan. He could not live in a world where he was the only one who could see. No, if he could see, other people needed to see too.
Maybe, but I’m not promising anything. We need to make sure we’re in alternate dimensions. I can’t risk claiming something and it not be true.
How could we not live in different dimensions?Sam had thought to himself. He rolled his eyes. It was obvious that they were not in the same world.
Okay well how do you want to do that? Sam asked.
Do you know what Molly Moon’s is?
Of course, best ice cream in Seattle.
Okay, tomorrow after school, meet me there. This made no sense to Sam. He knew that they wouldn’t be able to see each other, but whatever.
Alright, four o’clock.
Okay. See you then.
The next morning Sam got on the bus with his friend Hannah. It was strange to see the world that no one else could. For everyone else they just knew that the bus came, they got on and got off. Now he could see the lines that ran the rails for the buses and it was actually quite strange to see nobody driving. Multiple times Sam had to forcibly stop himself from yelling that they we’re going to crash when the busses just seemed a bit too close. Hannah must have picked up on the anxiety that Sam was holding and asked if he was okay.
“Not really, but kinda I guess. It’s whatever,” Sam told Hannah.
“You sure? You were off yesterday too.” This is when he had a decision to make. Should he tell her? He had only said something to his group in math class yesterday. Maybe she would understand. She was Sam’s closest friend.
“You promise not to think I’m completely crazy?” Sam asked.
“I’ll try my best, but I kinda already do,” she teased.
“Okay,” Sam explained what had happened yesterday morning and about the telepathy. He approached the different dimensions with caution but told Hannah about it anyways.
“Sam,” she said at the end, “I know you are usually one for stories, but I think this is your greatest one yet. What a crazy world that would be. Honestly I think Mr. Edmunds was right, you should study writing or something. Like imagine if that were actually true! Man would I hope they could bring sight back into our world.”
Great. She doesn’t believe me either. Sam thought to himself. He tried to laugh and smile along with her as she explored all the possibilities of combining worlds, but it bothered him that it was too “unrealistic” to even be taken seriously.
Who? Sam heard Lena say.
My friend Hannah. Sorry, I didn’t mean to talk to you. It’s just that nobody here can even fathom a multi-dimensional world. It sucks. Not even my friends believe me.
Yeah, that makes sense, but try not to let it get to you Sam. They’re not trying to hurt you or make you feel discredited. Imagine if you were in their shoes, it would probably be hard to understand it too. He knew she was right, but that didn’t make it less frustrating. How did he feel closer to her than to the person that he was sitting next to whom he had known for years?
Yeah, whatever. Try to meet you later. Sam dismissed Lena as he and Hannah stepped off the bus.
Just at four o’clock Sam made it to Molly Moons and looked around for Lena. To no surprise there was almost nobody else in the shop, just a mother and her two young daughters.
Hey, are you here? He heard Lena say.
I am here. You aren’t. Is that proof enough? Sam replied, slightly irritated.
I’m sitting at the table at the back right corner, look for me. I’m wearing a purple rain coat. Sam looked around but he knew there was nobody.
Nope, there are only three people in the shop and nobody is in a raincoat, especially not in purple. Nobody wears much color, it’s pointless.
Right, okay. So we definitely aren’t in the same world.
I already told you that.
Yeah, I know, but we had to be sure, Sam.
So, this means you’ll let me come to your world now, right? Sam asked.
I still don’t feel too good about putting you in that danger. We don’t know where you could end up, or if you’d even make it.
Lena! Do you not understand what this could mean for our worlds? My world especially! We could get our sight back. You don’t get it, do you? Sam was getting heated. Just talking to my friend today, even if she didn’t believe me about everything, she was so excited to even imagine a world where everything was normal again.
I know… Something in the way she sent this message felt different …I just don’t want to risk you getting hurt. I know that this would be big in both worlds. It’s just… there’s so much risk.
There’s going to be risk either way, Lena. If you travel here or I travel to your world, it doesn’t matter, but we can’t just leave this undiscovered.
You’re right. I know you’re right. Let me think about how we can do it.
Sam smiled at this victory. He would get to go to a world with color!
Sam woke up the next morning while it was still dark. Lena and him had worked out the details last night and had agreed it needed to happen when no one else was awake.
Are you ready? Sam asked Lena.
Yes, I just pulled into the lab. Are you sure you want to go through with this?
Of course. My world needs its sight back, they deserve it.
All night Sam had dreamed of what a sighted world could look like. Of course there would be cars, driven by real people instead of busses pulled by cabel strings. There were probably books, like real books and book stores and libraries, not just audio files downloaded onto computers. These thoughts excited him and the idea that in just a few moments he would be a part of a world that was like this. And, with luck, would live in a world like that soon after.
Okay Sam, I’m ready if you are. Sam was now sitting on the stool with apple in hand. In theory if Sam was holding the apple which had just been teleported he should also be teleported with it. I’m going to press the button now, okay?
Lena stood in the lab, the white walls surrounded her. She had pressed the button just seven minutes before and began to grow worried. How long would it take? She knew that since Sam was larger than just an apple it would likely take a bit longer but she hadn’t anticipated it being this long. Her knees went weak as time passed and she sat down.
Sam? She called, not knowing if he would be able to respond. Nothing.
Hours went by and her team came in to find her staring, glass completely frosted over her eyes.
“It doesn’t work,” she told them. “It doesn’t work.”