The Higgs Boson Anthology: LHC by Marc Horn

[copyright & all rights you could ever conceive of strictly belong to Marc Horne]

He first became concerned while watching the TV news late one night and hearing about baby black holes. Just hearing that expression on TV was a problem for him. He couldn’t figure it out exactly at first: holes with babies in? Babies with holes in them. Oh, baby versions of those black hole things in space.

Well maybe that was cute. Like those Sea Monkeys he got when he was a young boy. Except they weren’t cute, were they? They were smelly little stains that he was never sure were either dead or alive.

And now he was learning more and more about these babies. He had to get to bed soon, because tomorrow was work and work meant that he had to be alive and talkative for the first few minutes before he went and looked at barometers for the rest of the day. He had tried to do away with those first few minutes but he found that what happened then was that people would suddenly pop into your cube and they would see what you were doing and look at your doodles and say, “You are very artistic.” So instead you had to spend a few minutes laughing and chatting and looking at the ladies.

But, that said, this was interesting news. They had built a steel donut bigger than Paris that slopped between two countries. AND THIS WAS THE FIRST HE HAD HEARD OF IT. And when they fired enough energy into it to light up [big place] for [significant amounts of time] there was a chance that these various sloppy, tripe-like theories about the universe might be proved and then we would know what everything was made of. POTENTIAL DOWNSIDE: Baby black holes spawned in Switzerland, end of world.

God. Did that make him feel more or less like going to bed? Unclear.

Next day, after waking on the couch which was just embarrassing – his own couch! – he surfed the ‘net. No, first he did his 100 sit-ups that he had done everyday since he was on the school cross-country team. Then he looked down at his skinny, steel-hard body. Then the ‘net.

It just got worse, you know. There were these things called strangelets. There was a chance that a single strangelet could turn the whole world into a big glowing ball of strangelets. It wasn’t stated explicitly, but he assumed that would mean everyone was dead (because glowing.)

He went to work and counted the things that he could see that could kill him and stopped when it got past 1000. But he was still not happy about the Large Hadron Collider. If he died from that taxi mounting the curb… well, he was ready for that. He had spent years thinking about that. About the things they would say about him at work: both the nice, sweet things of the first week or so and then the cruel things that would grow to dominate.

And so, he was ready. That death was the one he was expecting. And the fact that he would live on in the coffee room, in the filing system he had innovated, in some of his witty jokes about anti-cyclones: this sustained him.

Global annihilation was ruining his afterglow afterlife.

He sat down and wrote a letter to the director at CERN. Since they were Swiss, he wrote it in his finest hand and mailed it.

He received a form letter reply two weeks later. What were those two weeks like? They were like a punch in the balls from a toddler. Fucking awful but you weren’t supposed to make a big deal out of it.

Opening up a big bag of Monster Munch and a can of cider he read the letter. After a minute or two he took a deep breath and looked dizzy. He put the letter down.

It had all started so well. Detailed descriptions of urban myths vs. hard Swiss safety precautions. The exciting joy of knowledge. Then the cruel crack in the face of the cuckoo clock. “I can assure you that I and my team have taken every precaution to assure the smooth functioning of the large hardon collider.”

The Large. HARDON. Collider.

There was no chance they would survive.

Only one thing consoled him: the thing Gary at work had told him. “No way would they be talking all about this thing if there was any way anyone could stop ‘em. They probably turned the bloody thing on a week ago.”

That was probably true. But sadly Gary had gone on to note that due to relativistic space-time distortions it was certainly possible that they were already sliding down the maw of the black hole waiting for gravity quakes to fuck them to pieces and infinitely suck them into long, living wires making pain songs side by side.

Either Gary or Stu.

~ by yearzerowriters on April 19, 2010.

11 Responses to “The Higgs Boson Anthology: LHC by Marc Horn”

  1. […] LHC by Marc Horne […]

  2. I can’t say that I’m that interested in science, but this really consumed me. Of course I’ve heard of the things you mentioned, but I’ve never quite put them together like this.
    Loved the image you painted with the name of the Collider, followed by, ‘…no chance they will survive’
    Great stuff.

  3. Love your writing. It was so easy to get sucked into this narrative. It is smooth and seamless.

    I had to laugh at the mention of sea monkeys. No, they aren’t cute.

  4. Marc, as your biggest fan, I fear being redundant by saying I love this; but fuck redundancy, I LOVE THIS!

  5. Marc, I know I’ve said it before but I adore this piece
    Dan

  6. Thanks everyone. I enjoyed writing this a lot… I did it in one excited take after reading Daisy Anne’s genre-defining piece.

  7. I’m with Daisy…really loved this.

  8. “And the fact that he would live on in the coffee room, in the filing system he had innovated, in some of his witty jokes about anti-cyclones: this sustained him.”

    Yes! I love it.

  9. […] LHC by Marc Horne […]

  10. I think sea monkeys are cute – I got very upset when the cleaner at college reported us for having a beaker of ‘experiment’ on our desks and then threw them away😦

    I liked the slow fear – reminds me of when I was 6 and watched some documentary about black holes swollowing stars – I couldn’t sleep for weeks.

  11. […] Ann Gree’s” piece about Higgs-Boson experiments. I was infected by the mood of the piece and so I did another comment fiction. It’s like a reply, or an homage or something I suppose. I felt a bit vampiric, but I like the […]

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