When two quantum objects interact, the information they contain becomes shared. This can result in a kind of link between them, where an action performed on one will affect the outcome of an action performed on the other. This “entanglement” applies even if the two particles are half a universe apart.
Things used to be so simple. That was before Sophie suggested we get Entangled.
We were hosting one of her Sunday night dinner parties. Two couples sitting around a table, getting sloshed on cheap supermarket wine and pretending to be sophisticated. This week she’d invited Marissa and bloody Thomas.
I hated Marissa and Thomas. Well, that’s a lie. I had no particular aversion to Marissa, with her long legs and auburn hair, and the way she would bite her lip and then shoot me a cheeky smile when Sophie wasn’t looking. No, Marissa wasn’t the problem. The problem was Thomas. A merchant banker twat who wore a waistcoat and drove an Aston Martin.
Every time Thomas did something, Sophie had to tell me about it. Like that time he took Marissa for a driving holiday around Italy in the Aston, or the time he bought her one of those robots that does your ironing and mops your floor. Oh, I got to hear about that one, all right. Sophie didn’t shut up about it for a fortnight. I looked around our one bedroom flat and wondered aloud why the fuck we needed a robot to clean it. I was stuck doing the chores for a month after that.
But then Marissa and Thomas showed up to our dinner party Entangled.
I’d seen the holo-adverts, of course. Something about taking the particles in a couple’s bodies and using quantum mechanics to entangle them into one psychically communicating whole. It sounded like voodoo bullshit to me. Until the doorbell rang and Marissa and Thomas strolled in.
Normally, Thomas would show up with a bag full of wine bottles, already half-cut and braying at the top of his voice about whatever political debate of the day had riled him the most. Marissa would follow in his wake, quiet and serene, holding a cake tin containing a home-baked dessert. She would kiss Sophie on both cheeks, throw me a wink that made my knees weak, and immediately start pouring out glasses of Chablis. But not today.
Today the two of them walked in with their arms around one another’s waists, gazing into each other’s eyes as though mesmerised. I felt as though I’d gatecrashed their honeymoon.
“You guys look happy,” Sophie pointed out, as Marissa handed over the cake tin without even glancing at her.
“We got…” Thomas began.
“… Entangled,” Marissa finished, with a giggle.
Sophie’s eyes widened. “You didn’t?” she said.
“We did.” Marissa’s smile was wide, but it had none of its usual sparkiness. “We got a Groupon offer, twenty-five percent off, and we just thought…”
“… why not?” Thomas pressed his forehead to Marissa’s, before planting a swift kiss on her lips. “Why not just go for it?”
They turned to us and smiled, in exactly the same way, at exactly the same moment. It was eerie.
“Wow, so how does it feel?” Sophie gestured for the two of them to take a seat on the sofa, which they did, in perfect synchronicity. While Sophie was distracted sorting out the drinks, I took a seat opposite them and tried my best to catch Marissa’s eye. Every time I came close to meeting her gaze, though, Thomas would look at her, and she would turn back to him, as if drawn by a magnet.
“Feels amazing,” she said. Was it just me, or was there a hollowness about her tone. “Feels like…”
“… like we’re one person.” Thomas nodded, running a hand over her hair. “You know how it works, Matt?”
Sophie passed a glass of wine each to Thomas and Marissa, then sat down on the arm of my chair, leaning forward eagerly.
“Tell us,” she said. “Is it like… your actual atoms talking to each other?”
“So, in quantum mechanics,” Marissa began, “particles that are entangled can communicate with each other even over long distances.”
“If one spins,” Thomas went on, “the other spins at the same moment, no matter if it’s miles away.”
“Every atomic particle in my body is now linked with a counterpart in Thomas’.” Marissa beamed. “We are literally communicating on a particle level.” She giggled, hugging Thomas’ arm.
“No secrets,” Thomas said. “No uncertainty. It’s brought us closer than we ever thought we could be.”
He looked up at me. For an instant, his eyes met mine, his gaze level. He knows.
It was just that one time. Five years ago, at Cassie Brinder’s Halloween party. Sophie had gone home early because she had a job interview in the morning, and Thomas had been out of his skull, busy throwing up in the back garden. We’d done it under a pile of coats in the spare room. It never happened again, but Marissa never let me forget it, either. Every time I saw her, the glint in her eye would remind me of our little secret.
For the first time since she’d entered the flat, she looked directly at me, her gaze following Thomas’. The glint was gone. She looked blank. Empty.
“Closer than ever,” she said, as Thomas’ fingers closed around hers. “It’s wonderful.”
“Oh, Matt.” Sophie put her arm around my shoulders, leaning her head on mine. “Doesn’t it sound amazing?” She let out a dreamy sigh. “Even better than being married, don’t you think? Do you guys still have that Groupon code?”