I’m writing some experimental fiction as part of my daily writing exercises. You’re seeing it because, though it’s not haute cuisine, it’s not egg shells and coffee grounds either. These will show up here and there, now and then.
The constant thrum vibrates my chest. Somewhere, a big engine turns, a little too fast. The pistons push the crankshaft past its limit, setting up harmonic distortions.
Over the thrum is a rhythmic oom oom oom, another layer of vibration.
The snow begins to lose coherence as its resonant frequency is touched twice in each cycle. Patches collapse flat to the ground, leaving three foot deep sinkholes in the white crystal powder.
Tiny animals poke their heads out of wet tunnels, curious about the sun shining into their secrets.
We, however, notice none of it. It’s not on our television, or nowadays, on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest, so how can it be important?
The vibration digs into the earth, following rocky seams and watery pathways deeper and deeper. Twice each cycle, each particle of rock, each molecule of water, shakes just a wee bit harder than it should.
The worms crawl downward to escape, staying ahead of the disaster. Down far enough, they’ll overheat. Every worm dies.
The clouds move away, each cycle another tickle to nudge them in a widening circle of blank blue. Blank blue where no birds venture, no bugs fly or crawl.
The pavement, still malleable by nature, by design, begins to liquify, just beneath the surface. Early risers, those pluggers heading off to impress the boss by starting their pointless perambulations earlier than any other drone, don’t. Can’t. Aren’t. Tires sink six inches and sludge to a stop.
For some escapees, the unbroken crust supports the to the curb. But a few, a few who’ve spent more time in front of televisions and snacks than on the trails and in the yard, sink past their ankles.
Their anguished wailing is a beginning of the noise of the end of the world.
As the earth’s surface begins to deteriorate, man-made services do as well. Water pipes break like matchsticks, and the oozing flood seeps upward, into basements throughout the midwest.
Extremely high voltage electric services are exposed to a five-hundred-mile-wide system of basement ponds, turning every one into a soup pot of death for the many who attempt to investigate.
As the water vibrates, it breaks down the concrete foundations. The buildings with basements come down first, slumping crash into the soup, but the foundations vibrated to oblivion from below aren’t far behind. Office buildings slither spiralling into the streets, cutting off the few emergency vehicles still able to slog through the molten blacktop.
California sinks an inch, then a foot, then a yard. It never really falls into the sea. It’s more of a gradual fade. Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco: buried at sea, with a few boats rushing across in the miniature tsunamis moving every direction across the Golden State.
The Rockies spread at the base, sliding over the now Greenish Golden State on the one side, and over the westernmost fields of the midwest on the other. The Mile-High City is six feet under.
A large section of south Texas splits off the mainland, and to the astonishment of the few who grasp what’s happening, powerful swirling eddies of the Gulf support it as the world’s only floating island. Briefly. Then it becomes a new Gulf.
As North and South America blend into a mush of seawater, building materials, and dirt, the less miniature tsunamis sweep against Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia. Already vibrated into jelly, they collapse simultaneously, and the entire surface of the Earth is a muddy swamp.
For a moment.
The commotion violates the structural integrity of the crust. As the wet above meets the molten heat below, a million million tea kettles of steam blast the planet into teaspoon-sized globules of burnt wet mud.
Venus is first to go. It could have been Mars; it could easily have been Mars, but the vagaries of the Sun’s children’s orbits took Venus.
Its flabby liquidy atmosphere/surface slips off like a blanched tomato skin, decomposing as bits of Earth blow through it. What little solid core Venus had is no longer solid.
Mercury, pushed toward the sun, simply winks like a candle flame and is gone.
The giants, Jupiter, Uranus, Saturn, Neptune, move slightly off path. Not designed for such wanderings, they each choose their own mode of annihilation: splitting, collapsing, exploding.
Mars, in the right place at the wrong time, wobbles violently in its orbital plane, but continues for nearly a year before crashing into debris from the giants.
Pluto, no longer a planet, feels no compulsion to join in, and simply wanders off into the reaches of space, colder colder colder taking its sameness somewhere planets aren’t defrocked based on the whims of man.
A decade later, the debris is sucked into a whorling vortex of space mud, spinning into the Sun’s outer heat. Too much planet, too little heat, the Sun is overwhelmed. Not one to go quiet into that good night, it collapses in on itself, then after an instant, less than an instant, it rockets bits of itself in a widening sphere of atomic death.
Pluto merrily makes its way past Alpha Centauri. Alpha Centauri, less merry, begins a chain reaction within itself as the Sun’s particles touch it.
One by one, stars and the bits of matter around them blink out. The spherical void, expanding from that vibrating source, reaches beyond the places of men and of Man, chasing the last bits of the First Echo into the Last Silence.
The First Echo chases the bits of matter back into their orbits, their stars and planets.
The Sun collects itself, spitting out planets anew. Just not Pluto. Pluto keeps going. Go where you’re loved, Pluto.
Like a tub drain, they swirl around, back in their orbits.
On Earth, things don’t take long to get back to the way they were: streets overrun but solid, basements dry, electricity thrumming through the lines to televisions and internet routers and electric toothbrushes.
As I find the source of the vibration, I find the big red button next to it. A sign says “Do NOT Touch.”
I gently press the Big Red Button, and save the Universe.