Quantum physics is the study of nature at the very small. Mathematics is one language used to formalise or describe quantum phenomena.
It was just after dawn and I can’t have had more than two hours sleep. The familiar ding woke me up. Some app wanted my attention. I peered through one eye at the screen. A notification from SplitVerse. I’d never had one before.
Break up with Emma.
That was all it said. Four words I was not equipped to deal with this in this state. My vision was blurry and it felt like a woodpecker was foraging the inside of my skull.
What happened last night? Why break up with Emma? Was it something she said, or did? I wanted to talk to her, but I couldn’t. The decision had been made. The verses have been split.
What had I done?
I stumbled to the kitchen sink, poured myself a large glass of water and took several Ibuprofen tablets to clear my head. Across the street was an unfamiliar car. A guy stood by the driver door smoking a cigarette with one hand and pressing his temple with the other. Probably as hungover as me. He wore dark sunglasses but I was sure he was watching me. I casually gave him the finger as I wiped my bleary eyes.
Another ding sounded. The same notification.
Break up with Emma.
I opened the fridge. There was a six-pack of cider on the shelf. That helped jog my memory. I don’t normally have cider in the fridge. Jordie had come round for a drink to celebrate his promotion. We ended up at the pub. I cracked one open and took a big swig. Not good form, but when you make decisions in a shattered frame of mind, sometimes it helps to rekindle that state.
Jordie and I had been having a deep and meaningful that lasted hours.
I could conjure up flashes of our conversation. I remember talking about Emma. Jordie was pulling some hidden feelings out of me. He was a prick like that. But just because we have heightened emotions, relaxed inhibitions and loose tongues when we’re drunk, doesn’t mean we truly believe what we are saying. Does it? I mean there must be some merit to the rationality of sobriety.
My phone dinged again. Same notice.
I called Jordie to see if he could shed any light on the situation.
After six dial tones he picked up. ‘Hey man, what are you doing up?’
‘Did we talk about breaking it off with Emma last night?’
‘Yeah man,’ he coughed. He was clearly as hungover as me. ‘You told me it was weighing on your mind.’
‘What did you say?’
‘I said it was out of my league. Let the universe decide.’
I did better than that. I let the damn Multiverse decide.
‘I don’t want to break up with her.’
‘I have to.’
‘Mate, its eight thirty in the morning. I’m not sure what you’re talking about?’
I didn’t want to say it out loud as it would become more of a certain reality.
I went to the sink and filled another glass of water. That guy was still stood by his car, smoking a cigarette and rubbing his temple. It felt like Déjà vu. I tried to penetrate his sunglasses with my gaze and mouthed the words ‘Get Lost.’
I turned around and leant back against the counter.
‘I used SplitVerse.’
There was a long silence. I thought Jordie might have fallen asleep, but he spoke up, ‘Damn man. That’s heavy.’
‘What can I do?’
‘Break up with Emma, mate.’ I didn’t respond. I just swallowed anxious gulps and tried to keep my racing heart from leaping out of my chest. ‘You have to, man. You can’t mess around. Maintenance will make sure there is Multiversal balance.’
Tears were streaming down my cheek making it difficult to speak.
‘How do we know that Maintenance isn’t a myth?’
A dumb and insensitive question.
‘Come on, man. You know I’ve seen them.’
I did know. Jordie’s brother, Amos, had sent him footage of people keeping an eye on him. Amos had been in a dark place and had entered a bleak decision into SplitVerse. The app decided that this was the universe where he’d commit suicide. He had second thoughts, but Maintenance made sure it was a reality. It’s unclear if they applied actual pressure or just created a sense of paranoia that forced his hand.
When the app first came out, things used to be so simple. It was a dream come true for indecisive pricks like me. Couldn’t pick a meal from a menu? Use SplitVerse. The Terms and Agreements stated that quantum integrity decreed you accept the decision. You’d have one meal. A parallel you would have the other. There was a degree of comfort in that.
That comfort can be undone with a hangover and a notification on your phone.
It doesn’t seem fair. I have to break up with Emma, while another me gets to have dinner with her tonight and cuddle up on the couch.
‘If I don’t do it, what will they do? Give her some doctored footage of me with another girl - forcing her to break up with me?’
‘Doesn’t work like that. The app says you’ve got to break it off. That’s how it’s got to play out, or the multiverse will be out of whack. There’s probably people watching you right now.’
I looked out the window. The guy with the shades gave me a nod.
Another ding rang out from my phone.
Break Up With Emma.
‘Sorry, man,’ said Jordie, ‘good luck.’ He hung up.
Talking to her would be too hard. I’d have to be that jerk that breaks up with a text. Something clichéd like, ‘Hey babe, we need to talk.’
There was another ding.
I took a deep breath and took out my phone.
This notification was from my messenger app.
It was Emma.
‘Hey babe, we need to talk.’