The Experiment

by Frank Riccobono

A short story I wrote in high school one night when I couldn't sleep.

On a street not so far from here—it may even be your street—something strange is about to happen. In the basement of his house, George, a young boy of fourteen, is performing an unusual experiment, an experiment that could change the course of human evolution. This would be the culmination of weeks of preparation, months of planning, and years of research.

George is suddenly frightened. It is as if he has just realized exactly how dangerous this experiment could be. There is a distinct possibility that it could destroy the very fabric of reality. But George is sure of his calculations. He had devised an ingenious theory that, if correct, rules out the possibility of such a disaster. The theory involves quantum mechanics, aspects of string theory, the concept of the fluidity of time-space, and the color of strawberries, but it is too complex to explain. Yes, George knew that his theory was correct, but the possibility of error always exists.

If only George’s parents knew what their son had been doing all this time in their basement, things would have been different. They should have warned him. They should have stopped him. They should have never let him borrow the blender. Unfortunately, it is too late now. Whatever is going to happen will happen.

George checks his calculations one last time. What happens if he fails? Would everyone make fun of him? Would there be anyone left alive to make fun of him? There is no turning back, however. This is the moment of truth. George presses the power button.

Nothing happens.

He kicks the computer.

Still nothing happens. He is frantic.

George has forgotten to plug in the computer.

He does so and presses the power button again. This time the computer begins to boot. There are the familiar beeps and humming noises as well as several unrelated clanks from the radiator. The Command Prompt appears. George enters his password and runs a system diagnostic. Everything seems to be functioning properly, so George types:

Start

He takes a deep breath and presses return.

The lights flicker and there is a burst of thunder outside. George can hear the rain falling. There was never supposed to be a storm. A power surge could ruin the entire experiment. The computer displays:

Are you sure? (Y/N):

George contemplates aborting the procedure. How easy it would be. How safe it would be. George was never one to play it safe. He presses Y. There is a blinding flash of light and a deafening whistle and, then, silence and darkness.

Then, from another room, George hears a sound that sounds exactly like a fish would sound if that fish were a bowl of popcorn. George turns the lights back on and checks to see whether he is still alive. (This is just a bit foolish because if George had in fact destroyed the universe, then he would have simply ceased to exist and, therefore, would be unable to verify his living and/or dead status.) Luckily, this is not the case. He looks at the result of his labor and cries tears of joy. George had accomplished what no man, woman, or child before him had been able to do…

He had successfully created the ultimate smoothie.

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This work by Frank Riccobono is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.