Stop Light

Dec. 31st, 2014 11:16 pm
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[personal profile] joshwriting
The following was written from a writing prompt of my own, as part of an offer I made on Jan 17, 2014. This story is for LJ Waugh.

Stop Light

Ever since Halfmann’s team at Darmstadt managed to freeze light for a full minute, preserving images at the same time, Sean’s team at the Bates Linear Accelerator had been trying to duplicate and then improve upon that performance. In the intervening 18 months, they’d tried a bunch of approaches, none of which had quite caught up to Halfmann, let alone improve upon it.
Sean had an idea to try this morning that was a tad off their normal path, but nobody else had scheduled a live demo for the morning, so it seemed like a good time for a fishing expedition.

The praseodymium ions were already arranged, as well as the crystal and the lasers. Sean couldn’t help but think of the New Age aspects of using the crystal to stop light, but it was just a passing fancy. “We are serious scientists” was the thought, voiced internally in as stuffy a manner as possible, followed by an external laugh. Next, the dampening fields. Sean set up a third laser, a red one, seeking to try to freeze two bits of light at the same time.
Just as Sean was readjusting the crystal to make sure it was angled right for the third laser, a clatter came from the control panel and abruptly all three lasers came on. Sean gave first a startled sound of fright and then almost immediately one of amazement.

“It worked!”

No response. No congratulations, no outcries, nothing.

Sean looked up and then looked around. The light was frozen, but so were all the people. Sean removed the crystal and people started moving again, but they still weren’t responding to anything but the mess at the control panel.

“What were you thinking?”

“You could have gotten somebody hurt!”

“Hey – has anybody seen Sean? I could have sworn Sean was standing next to the crystal during the power surge.”

“Nope – but the crystal’s gone, too, so maybe Sean took it over to be examined under the microscope?”

A quick call confirmed that Sean was not there, which Sean already knew and knew quite well. And as the moments turned to minute, there was an increasing feeling of dissolution.
Minutes turned to days turned to weeks. Sean retained consciousness of a sort, but it took quite a while before enough focus returned to give even the sense of a corporeal form. Slowly, Sean drifted toward the home, in the hopes of finding more personal focus, arriving to find “More Than Meets The Eye” sitting ironically on the stand next to the drawing board.

Sean shared the apartment with an artist. As surely as the apartment, they also shared a deep love. By focusing on that love, Sean achieved an increased physical existence – not enough to speak or consistently type, yet, but enough to create breezes to perhaps catch the artist’s attention. If the physicist could do that, there would be hope of finding a way out of this predicament.

Then Sean saw the tablet and for the first time since stopping the light, gave a smile.


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