The way to move from here to there in so short a time is imagine the earth as not a sphere but a flat sheet of paper, and you fold it up, pinch dimensions like origami and thread yourself through like a needle.

That is the way for those who no longer feel commitment to their sanity.

They didn't know. They were not the folders all along. They threw dogs at the walls of space and hoped to find them falling through the other side: they broke like glass instead. Teleporters, portals, wormholes, they wanted to make something, but that, that was their deadly, mistaken assumption. They could not create these things.

They didn't know. Still they tried. Instead of piercing the shroud with a needle, they shook matter over a sheet to see where the grains fell through.

Like overworked pores of a teenager, the holes widened, and space became secretly sieve-like.

They didn't know. They teleported wood, metal, clay: all came through unscathed.

They didn't know.

They teleported a man.


Three, two, one, flash, blink, gone.

"Time." They hit a stopwatch and made notes on clipboards, hearts shivering, earthquakes in their ribs. Ten feet away stood the exit from whence he entered. He did not exit. They made more notes. Their hearts did funny loops, their hands shook and made funny loops in ink.

One, two, three minutes.

A finger poised anxiously over a stopwatch, waiting, hoping, waiting, shaking.

Ten minutes and he came out unscathed. The stopwatch stopped.

He collapsed to his knees and ejected the contents of his stomach and screamed.

They queried him, frantically, heads spinning at his screaming because he just wouldn't stop. They checked his vitals: fine. They asked him questions, clinical and then delirious, frantic and panicked. He was their friend.

His screams turned into tears and he clutched the legs of the closest one and pinched lab coat cloth between his fingertips and relished every thread and the scent of clean floors and polished shoes and old socks. He touched his head to the floor and cried in choking sobs and told them how much he missed them. He couldn't remember their names; he couldn't remember his own. His words sounded strange, degraded, his language lost, his accent lost. He told them it had been so long, so long, so long.

They didn't know.


Like when construction workers hit a pipe.

They dug too deep — out and out so far, in and in so deep, raked gashes over space and out poured insanity like a disemboweled animal.

Oozing paint and gushing shining oils from the leaking walls of black air consumed them. The outsideness poured out, the insideness poured in, antimathematical inside-out angles attacked the physics of their bodies like a fire hose and destroyed what held them whole. They were so, so small in their pocket of orderly atoms where molecules formed shapes and forces moved energy between them. They were just a bubble blown in the very vast, very dark infinity of the ocean, far down at the bottom, and they had taken a pin and poked the side.

Shapelessness wrestled them out of their bones at a touch, nothing-every-ness flooded instantly the far sides of the universe, ruleslessness reordered and disordered and disassembled, matter and minds alike. A person opened their eyes to the writhing kaleidoscope sky and in one moment knew nothing and saw to the ends of everything, and the black shining of the beveled corners of kline bottle spacetime passed a thousand years in their mind and they no longer knew language.

Unreality gushed in and dissolved them all.

Past the widening gaps of far space, past nebulae and so large as to overtake the sun in the sky, so far and yet dominating the horizon, they saw movement and felt deeply the sensation of being watched. An eye seemed to pass over the impossibly distant distance and its pupil could have swallowed galaxies: they felt like plankton in their bubble, watching whales pass by in the sea.

They knew, for the briefest and longest of moment-years, that everything they knew, they did not.

And then they knew and became nothing as the universe popped and their place in the darkness was gone and forgotten.