Möbius’ Code – Excerpt


When Jennifer entered the kitchen the next morning, she was welcomed by a new piece of art on the wall above the coffee maker. It was an “I heart Colorado” wood carving in the shape of the state. The heart was stencil cut, showing the wall behind, and the wood had been heavily lacquered quite recently, judging by the faint odor that still lingered in the air.

“I took the liberty to put the signs up for you,” Möbius whispered from unconstructed space.

“It’s kind of large,” Jennifer commented, with the expert demeanor of an art critic. “And it doesn’t match the decor.”

“That was the idea. Its presence will always be jarring, so it will be the first object you see upon entering the kitchen.”

Jennifer was surprised by how much she had missed her old city, without even realizing it. Since the weather was nice, and she was in a good mood, she got dressed quickly planning to take a stroll through her old neighborhood. The fact that Colorado was in “normal” reality, whatever that meant under the current circumstances, added an extra layer of comfort to the endeavor, like a cozy sweater, well worn, that always cradles your body just right. Of course, in her sudden excitement for normal life she didn’t stop to ponder the fact that her exploits up in unconstructed space were still going to telegraph down into reality, be it crazy or otherwise.

For now Jennifer didn’t want to ruin her mood; she was fixating on that foamy latte she was planning to drink at an outdoor table in the old town square. She fed the kitten, who was rubbing against her legs and purring up a storm and made for the door. The bell rang before she had a chance to reach for the handle: it was her coworker friend, with whom she had apparently agreed to go shopping.

The laws of reality are wondrous and strange. People usually don’t pay attention to them, because they have no reason to do so. One just takes in the context of the real, without consciously acknowledging gravity, dimensions or the direction of time; one wouldn’t be able to function otherwise, with all the sensory information that comes at one all at once. The fundamental laws of reality one can’t  even contemplate being violated: any kink in the infallibility of these laws would make the gears of reality itself grind to a halt. One of these laws is causality: events in reality always have a cause that must precede the event itself and they have to be explainable in a manner acceptable to the majority of the beholders. The strange part of this law, Jennifer learned to her surprise, was that it functioned independently of the consistency flaws, which it quickly related back to their context and restored to “normal” with the graceful ease of a smoothing function. Möbius would have told her that the angels worked themselves to exhaustion patching up these consistency flaws, and resented everyone and everything that made them show up on their schedule, but that was another one of those questions she never thought to ask.

Jennifer had no idea that she was supposed to meet her friend that day, so a patch to the causality code automatically kicked in to wake her up on time, get her excited about going out, and bring her to the door just as her friend rang the bell, with the precision and dependability of an atomic clock. It also filled in the details she was not aware by means of said eager friend who recited the cliff notes of their plan without being asked.

“This day is going to be great! Coffee and shopping!” Jennifer’s mood further improved.

“Hurry up, dear, we’re already late for the dress fitting,” her friend rushed her, “the tailor could barely squeeze us in, they have a lot on their plate with prom coming.” Jennifer wondered what the dress was for, and she didn’t have to wait long to find out.

“Forgive me for butting in, this is none of my business, of course, but I’m surprised: why would your former boyfriend’s fiance insist on you being a bridesmaid at their wedding?”

“Why indeed!” Jennifer’s mood instantly soured. “And another good question would be why would I say yes.”

“Because you are a doormat,” Möbius commented morosely from unconstructed space.

“Great, there goes my day!” Jennifer thought. Her little fantasy of good times and foamy lattes floated by like a giant soap bubble and disappeared into the horizon, leaving in its wake a debris of unflattering outfits and mandatory event attendance.

“This is outrageous! I don’t want to remember she exists, not to mention stand and smile at her wedding like a stuffed animal dressed in what I can only guess will be ridiculous attire!”

“You are a better person than me, Jennifer,” her friend smiled encouragingly. “I could never do that, you know?”

“Nobody with dignity and brains could,” Jennifer fumed to herself, furious that she got stuck with this unpalatable activity as a result of not being there half the time.

“And here are your gowns,” the sales clerk showed up with the outfits, smiling from ear to ear in order to drum up excitement. To Jennifer’s surprise, the dresses were actually simple and tasteful, with a cut that was flattering to any figure. While they tried them on, the tailor and her assistants buzzed around them like a swarm of bees, taking in a pleat here, shortening a hem there, to bring the elegant outfits to the pinnacle of perfection. Jennifer looked in the mirror, bewildered by the image staring back at her, a woman who looked beautiful and very sophisticated, and whom she barely recognized. Sure she had worked on her physical portion of the code a lot, dodging criticism for engaging in such a shallow pursuit and endangering the normal flow of reality in the process, but even with all the modifications she didn’t expect this result. It took her a few minutes to work out the details: there was absolutely no way her ex-boyfriend’s fiance would pick this particular outfit for her bridesmaids. She relaxed instantly, thinking that it was good to be on speaking terms with an angel, and a second layer of comfort surrounded the first one, cozy sweater number two. “You altered the code!”

“Don’t thank me yet,” Möbius commented from unconstructed space. “You haven’t seen the shoes.”

Footwear arrived, accompanied by the same radiant smile from the sales clerk: patent leather four inch heels which all but guaranteed to make her feet hurt. They made the woman in the mirror look even more alien through the addition of extra height and were less comfortable than the box they came in.

“Well, at least if I shed a tear during the ceremony, nobody in their right mind will attribute it to sentimental reasons,” Jennifer thought, taking a few steps on the podium and wondering how in the world she was going to function with these things on her feet for an entire day.

“It’s not good to get too comfortable, it dulls your wit,” Möbius retorted from upstairs.

Much as the flattering attire gave Jennifer a confidence boost, she couldn’t help be annoyed by the fact that her ex-boyfriend’s wedding was taking over her life with its extraneous details, all unpalatable: there was the rehearsal dinner conversation, and the working together on flower arrangements, and the sharing of dressing rooms, and a million other little things that weren’t much in and of themselves, but added up to a nauseating whole. Even the coffee tasted too bitter, and she couldn’t tell whether that was a real sensation or the spiritual embodiment of her quiet resentment. Unwelcome memories of her old life resurfaced, bringing with them embarrassment, insecurity and discontent, and washed over what had promised to be a lovely day, leaving no good feeling untarnished.

“Had enough normality yet?” Möbius kibitzed from upstairs.

“I don’t want this to be my life,” Jennifer said out loud, forgetting that her friend was there.

“So change it!” the angel snapped back.

“Oh, I’m sorry, honey!” the friend whom she had interrupted in the middle of a phrase made Jennifer aware that she hadn’t been listening to a single word during the last fifteen minutes. The friend didn’t take it personally. “Here I am, going on and on about myself and you must be so upset about all of this. Do you want to talk about it?”

Jennifer didn’t. They tried to redirect the conversation to other topics but it went on clunky and sparse for a few more minutes until it mercifully came to a halt.

On her way home, Jennifer wrecked her brains trying to figure out if there was any way at all she could influence quantum state and wake up in Connecticut, at least for a while, until the dreadful wedding was far in the rear view mirror.

(Möbius’s Code)

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