Paul didn’t want to see a reflection of the sun on the dirty blue paint of the dusty Camry…he wanted to gaze directly into the source of life itself…so he turned his consciousness upwards.
Within a billionth of a nothingness of second, he was at the outer edge of the expanding universe. “I’m getting good at this.”
Looking about, he noticed the space around him was expanding faster than the speed of light. He immediately grasped this was not a paradox. The rule was, “Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light,” and Paul knew, just by looking at space up close and personal, that space was not a thing. It was actually a no-thing.
Besides, he could see light itself trying to pierce the expanding fragile edge of the universe, like a thin needle trying to pop a balloon. But the light couldn’t. The light was a mere billionth of billionth of a quantum blip away from the expanding space—and Paul would call that close, but no cigar. Try as it might, the gap would not close. It never would. The light was trapped inside this expanding bubble like the rest of us.
Wanting to be more precise—because Paul was actually a scientist—he peered at the light to measure the distance between it, and the edge of the expanding Universe. By performing some quick mental calculations that only he was capable of, Paul measured the light was mere millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a cm away. A perfect Planck length. He wondered if time and space would cease to exist if one ray of light broke on through to the other side of the non-Universe. “Break, break, break on through…” The song stayed in Paul’s head for what seemed like forever, but in reality was billionth of a billionth of a quantum blip.
Paul thought he’d try to help the ray of light, perhaps give it a little nudge, so he leaned in closer. The way this light moved, the way it strained to escape, made it look like an undulating worm. A worm that was, coincidentally, both a particle and a wave. Paul told himself this was not a paradox. But he decided to back away, just to play it safe.
Then it struck him: the Universe could not be infinite because it was still expanding. “Can something expand from being infinite to becoming more infinite?” “Won’t it actually be infinite when it stops expanding and takes up all the space?” Nothing seemed to make sense out here on the fringe, so Paul reminded himself again that this was not a paradox. It simply is what is.
“I’m inside an infinite Universe that is in the process of becoming an even more infinite Universe. That explains it. Good enough. Yeah.”
This was not a paradox.
Not knowing how much time he had, (if time existed at all—perhaps it too was a no-thing), he turned to take a loving gaze at the billions and billions of galaxies traveling in the wake of the expansion.
A cat traveled past.
It was a beautiful orange tabby, with swirls of red, white and gray. The ears had tufts of fur and the nose had long whiskers that looked as if they were trying to grab onto something. Grab onto anything. Its paws were splayed with the claws extended, as if the poor thing was in the middle of hunting a juicy mouse when it suddenly found itself here, in the middle of no-where.
There was something peculiar about this Cat. And Paul saw that this cat was both dead and alive. Simultaneously.
This was not a paradox.
Paul laughed, almost causing the edge of the expanding Universe to ripple, but the sound waves couldn’t move fast enough either. Paul recognized the animal.
This was Schroeder’s cat.
Paul reached out, but the cat floated past. “I’ve never been able to grasp that cat.”
“If time exists, then it’s time to go,” so he focused his consciousness back onto the dusty blue Camry. He thought he’d be able to pop into the car as fast as he popped out of it. Maybe he didn’t really want to return, though. “It’s relatively pleasant being so far away from Akira and not hearing her scream.”
Attempting once again to focus, another image greatly distracted him.
Stephen Hawking was putting a golf ball into a black hole, laughing. He couldn’t miss. The inexorable gravitational pull of the event horizon drew the ball into the hole every time. It was almost like cheating. Hawking’s made a hole-in-one no matter where in the Universe he stood. He could putt that ball from anywhere and hole it. Even while he sat in that wretched wheelchair of his and used only the force from his twitching cheek muscle to swing, the ball always went in.
Hawking’s found his heaven. Paul smiled.