QUANTUM SHORTS 2017: SHORTLISTED, OPEN CATEGORY
“Are you happy with the braid?” Alice looked up at her mother who had been feverishly fixing her hair.
“That’s so much better than my attempt. Thank you Mum.” A smile spread across the older woman’s face, happy to find a way to contribute to her daughter’s special day. Now stood over Alice’s shoulder, her mother was visible in the mirror, the elegant and strong woman Alice aspired to be. However today something was missing from her usual strength. A hint of frown lines, the nervous quiver of her hands, Alice knew that her mother was nervous. Of course she was, her mother didn’t know what to expect this technology didn’t exist when she was younger. “Is the port accessible?” Alice asked, reaching near the braid to the back of her head.
“Yes…I think so.” Her Mother’s hesitation was understandable, she wasn’t used to seeing the exposed fibre optic port on the back of Alice’s head. Her mother, like many of her generation, hadn’t felt the need to get a neural lace.
The port connected to a standard neural-electrical interface, combined with the latest quantum processor endowing the user audio-visual-perceptive connectivity to the web. Many of the older generation disliked the concept of permanent biological connection, some considered it intrusive, sticking with outdated smart glasses or other wearable AR devices. Alice couldn’t help but wonder how difficult her mother’s life must have been growing up without this connectivity.
The ceremony itself was a small affair, just Alice and Bob’s family and a few close friends. They had settled on a small chapel outside Alice’s hometown in Fife, and as they pulled up outside in the rental car she was struck again by its beauty. The crumbling exterior held together with veins of moss and the vows of a thousand couples who had pledged themselves to one another. Strange that such antiquity housed such cutting edge technology. Although not hugely religious herself, Alice respected the church’s progressiveness when it came to offering entanglement as a wedding option. The permanence of the process was perhaps appealing to those who considered marriage sacred. Regardless, it drew many people of Alice’s age back to an institution which had been largely abandoned by her mother’s generation.
“It’s time, Dear!” Alice exhaled deeply then nodded in response to her Mother as the chauffeur opened the door of the car.
Arm in arm, the two women passed through the arched doorway to the chapel. Although she knew that the audience’s attention would be on her, she wasn’t prepared for the entire congregation to synchronously turn to watch her walk down the aisle.
Keen to ignore those eager faces she stared ahead towards the altar, finally locking eyes with Bob. Like the silence after the crashing of a wave her self-consciousness began to dissipate. From that moment everything but her and her fiancé faded from focus. So much so that she almost didn’t feel her mother letting her arm go as she turned to face Bob.
To Alice the following minutes, the minister’s words, sped past in a blur. The heartfelt vows which Alice had prepared fell from her lips as if on autopilot.
“Alice?” Awoken from her daze she looked up at the minister who smiled reassuringly. “Do you take Bob to be your lawfully wedded husband?” Realizing that Alice had become distracted he joked “There are only two possibilities: yes or no,” drawing momentary laughter from the audience.
“I do!” blurted Alice, finally regaining focus.
“Excellent. Bob, do you take Alice to be your lawfully wedded wife?”
“I do.” Both of their faces stretched into broad smiles as the words floated to the rafters, joining those of the many couples coming before.
“Now, as chosen by Alice and Bob they will begin the process of entanglement,” continued the Minister. Reaching back to the altar he returned holding an ornate looking fibre optic cable. “Would the Best Man and Maid of Honour please step forward.” As rehearsed, their two closest friends each connected an end to the exposed fibre optic ports on the back of the newlyweds’ heads, hard wiring the two neural laces together. Unseen to the audience, the couple both enabled the entanglement protocol and initiated an encrypted connection. This protocol, a feature of modern neural laces, allowed two users to place their quantum processors into a state of quantum entanglement. Bordering on telepathy, the feature allowed a couple to share sensory input, awareness and even direct communication, regardless of their physical separation. Touted as the ultimate level of unity the process was also a test of a couples devotion to one another since unintended thoughts could occasionally pass through. Also expressing commitment the process was also irreversible due to the technology used to prevent decoherence of the entangled qubits.
As the loading bar in Alice’s field of vision finally reached ‘100%’ she was momentarily flooded with the new input from Bob’s neural lace. Alice could feel the presence of Bob in her mind and see what he was seeing – his parents in the audience smiling back at him. This momentary clarity gave way to a series of uncontrolled thoughts and memories passed into Alice’s mind. Images of Bob’s childhood, their first date, their first kiss, their trip to Thailand, all from Bob’s perspective. Overcome with the emotion of two people Alice began to shed tears of joy. Gaze now locked with Bob’s the emotion grew in intensity. Glimpses of Alice working at her desk, her hair glistening in sunlight, her lips glowing a rich shade of purple.
No. That wasn’t a shade she recognised. Those couldn’t be her lips. Confused she refocussed on the face of her husband, now contorted. In fear? The flashes continued, a dress which Alice didn’t recognise, eyes a different shade to hers, a whispered word. Stricken by panic Alice took a step back almost tripping over her own dress.
“Bob.” Alice paused. “Who is Eve?”