Oops - Cover


by Chaon

Copyright© 2019 by Chaon

Science Fiction Story: How does the world end? Not with a bang or a whimper but with an oops.

Tags: Science Fiction   Apocalyptic   Near Future  

They didn’t mean to do it. It was just one of those unlucky bolts of fate where the heavens aligned and they did something by complete accident and they got a result they weren’t expecting.

All they were doing was a little bit of gravitational experimenting where they were using very high magnetic fields to compress various solids and gases and someone thought that bombarding it with a high intensity laser might be interesting.

It was totally off the chart and they ‘borrowed’ the laser from a couple colleagues in the next building as it was closest. Those colleagues came along to see what the fun was going to be so you can see they were all to blame.

Things were fine until someone threw some iridium into the chamber and forgot to remove the latest test sample, osmium. No one really thought it would be a problem but they were already so far out side their experimental parameters that they didn’t care. It was fun.

The iridium and osmium pieces were not reacting to the gravitational pressure and laser energy so they started kicking up the power. They were stepping up the gravitational fields and the laser to close to four times their safety limits when there was a reaction and a shockwave or energy exploded from the testing chamber.

The safety devices kicked in and no damage was done out side a small zone around the testing chamber but they knew that they had screwed up big time. The sirens and flashing lights were there to announce that they had done something and it went wrong.

Minutes went by as they panicked and tried to come up with an excuse of what went wrong and how they weren’t to blame so it was quite a while before anyone thought to examine the monitors and see what had happened inside the chamber.

There was no smoke or serious damage except to the very middle part of the holding vessel which could be seen to have been warped and torn as if by massive forces. One of the associates noticed that there was a black space in the very middle of the vessel and no matter how they moved the cameras, the black space stayed immobile.

At that moment the fire services, emergency response and the leaders of their teams arrived to bring the emergency under control. It was a circus with different groups of people explaining, complaining, ordering and just generally getting in each other’s way.

They spent hours trying to explain what had happened and getting reamed for bypassing all safety protocols and experimenting way beyond safe limits. In fact they spent so much time tryign to explain things that no one actually got around to looking at what was actually in the containment vessel until almost the next morning.

It was only pure luck that the gravitational containment unit had multiple backups in case of accidents and it was these that was isolating the object that they had created. Add in that the experiments were in an almost pure vacuum and their luck was working overtime.

Professor Roberts finally got around to asking if anyone had checked the containment vessel and what extent the damage was. He was shown the video feed of the vessel’s interior and he was very interested in the black spot that was located in the centre of the vessel.

No one had any inkling of what they had done by accident and what changes would happen in the future. It was just a mysterious black spot.

Safety protocols were being reinforced as they opened the containment room and the first idea of a problem was when a breeze started to gentle blow into the room. They could see that the containment vessel was breached but the magnetic fields were controlling the spot and keeping it stationary.

They started to notice a faint blue glow around the spot and radiation detectors started to chirp as they got closer to the vessel. At this, they all evacuated the room and started trying to theorise what had happened and where the radiation was coming from.

It was an associate who had a degree in cosmology who proposed an absurd idea about what had happened. Some of his colleagues scoffed at his theory but as he laid out more and more information they started to see what might have happened and some of them started to get scared.

Those fools had no idea what would happen in the near future and if they had, they would have been terrified not just scared.

His theory was that they had produced an artificial black hole. Not a very big one, a couple nano-meters in size but that was still a black hole. Measurements were done and they found it was stable at the moment but that was what should have scared them the most. If it was unstable it would have eventually destabilised and released a lot of energy but would have vanished. It was stable though.

This was seen as a magnificent event for research and further experimentation and no one stopped to think about the ultimate dangers of having a black hole, even a tiny one, so close to a planet. They probably wouldn’t have been able to do anything to get rid of it without a massive undertaking but they should have been thinking of the dangers.

Many months had passed while they observed, researched and experimented on the black hole and kilometres of papers were being written on what they discovered but still no one was thinking of any real danger. They had their safe guards and it was isolated in the magnetic fields so what was to worry about.

Part of their experiment was to drop various matter into the black hole to record what happened and how it behaved and the results were amazing. So much information was gathered that it would keep many researchers in jobs for decades to come. It was their little black gold mine or research.

Until that fateful day.

They never knew the name of the maintenance man who was working on the power distribution station that fed the research labs. There was not enough left of him to identify.

It started with an almighty bang and flash of light as a distribution node exploded. The cascade of failures were not expected because problems were expected to happen away from the node and it was supposed to catch them and halt a cascade before it started. It was a design failure that no one thought about and thus never tried to plan for.

The cascade was rolling through the grid and hit the research station like a thunderbolt. Overloads were causing breakers to pop everywhere and for most of the lab, it was just a minor problem but in the gravitational lab with the black hole, that cascade sent the containment system into a momentary shutdown. It was only a couple seconds but seconds were too long.

The black hole wobbled and dropped and got close enough to part of the containment system that it started to devour it when it restarted. But it was way too late. The misaligned magnetic fields were not enough to isolate the black hole anymore and actually pushed it further into the machinery where it kept ‘eating’ the system and causing it to shutdown due to the fluctuations and that was it.

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