Lew, semi-famous inventor of useless trinkets, stuck his hands in his pockets and shut his eyes tight, as was his habit when he encountered a problem he could not solve. All around the stink of filtered carbon fumes and smoke-stacks permeated the air and his lungs. Sounds he could only associate with street cars and small motors zipped past him at unbelievable speeds. At the count of five he opened his eyes to the same world he had thought he’d seen when he first walked out the door.
Low buildings surrounded him, shaded by behemoth towers looming over the distance. The sun was a distant object hidden by glass, steel, and smog. The cars and small motors were hover-boards and flying mini-scooters swooshing by. Lew held his breath and hoped that this was another hallucination gone wrong, or trinket that misfired and only knocked him unconscious. He pinched himself hard, twice to be certain. Almost certainly awake, certainly something seriously wrong.
He pulled the thin-metal flower from his lapel button-hole and twirled it between his palms, letting the energy flow through the trinket and through his arms, up his spinal column, to his brain, and… Nothing.
No pop, no hiss, no sizzle like the last time he remembered using it. He had thought it a perfect product, a great parlor trick item, something to share with friends on a rainy afternoon. It was to be the one and only Trans-dimensional Utility Flower. Connects two focus points – one in the user’s current dimension, the other in an astral plane – and allow the user a limited amount of time to experience another place without leaving their body entirely.
Clearly, this was not an astral plane, probably not anywhere on Earth. Certainly nowhere Lew knew about. Why would it do this? He kept asking that question over and over, while simultaneously worrying about what he was going to do to get back.
So, he conducted the other habit he had while stuck on a problem. He took a walk. Down the street on the brown sidewalk where no one else walked. The other “pedestrians” floated by on disks, waving politely and trying their best to ignore Lew. He restrained himself when passing shop windows full of unique and colorful gadgets. In what he only guessed was the red-light district – oddly shaped and half-naked women leaned out of balconies from every building – he strolled quietly with his hands in his pockets and head down, muttering to himself about hyperbolas and focus points. He recited the equations from rote memory, did the calculations in his head, and found the answer right before he walked into the red light.
He realized the flower was not the instrument of his demise, couldn’t have been. It was too small, and didn’t have the proper mass and energy to do the work required to carry him to an unexpected dimension. So he threw the useless trinket aside and kept walking. He heard shouting.
“Don’t walk into that!”
Lew was too busy calculating the trans-dimensional mathematics to bother listening. He finally hit the answer and realized what he did wrong back in his laboratory to create such a space-time rift. In a clear moment of pure thought, Lew was quite happy. And then the red light engulfed him. Once the red light faded, smoggy buildings surrounded him and the smell of pollution permeated the air. He had no idea where he was.
Lew, semi-famous inventor of useless trinkets, stuck his hands in his pockets and shut his eyes tight, as was his habit when he encountered a problem he could not solve.
This week’s story came from the The Speculative Fiction Muse:
The story’s protagonist is male and an inventor. A flower plays a significant part in the story. The story is set on a city street in the far future. The story is about fear.
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