Harbinger #writephoto


Photo by Sue Vincent

“From that we understand that every single particle in the entire Universe is in multiple states simultaneously,” Dr. Lavling said.

Meg was more than half bored. Why did she decided to sit in on this lecture?

“So you are saying that the entire Universe is like one giant ‘Schrödinger’s cat’ experiment?” a man up front asked. There was a small chuckle in the auditorium.

Dr. Lavling smiled.

“In ways. Remember that Schrödinger created his experiment to show that the consequences of quantum theory when applied to the macro world seemed ridiculous. But there are two different ways of looking at it. The first is that it is only the human mind that tells us that things need to be one way or the other. Why can’t the Universe be in some undefined, at least to us, state? But then, what about other Universes? When an observation is made, it collapses the probability wave and we observe what we call ‘reality’. But those other possibilities? Perhaps they continue to exist in a different ’Universe’. So at all points and at all time there is a possibility that the Universe is forking off to other Universes. The vast, vast majority of these Universes would instantly collapse back, but what if they didn’t?”

Meg sat up. This is what she came to hear.

“And let’s take that Universe that is slightly different on a quantum level that exists and say that it has trillions of trillions of fork points at any given instance and some of those stick around and so on and so on and so on. The number of possible Universes quickly multiply, and can be a vast distance from our own.  It is within the realm of possibility that any Universe that we could conceive, as long as it sticks to our rules of physics, exists.”

“But if there is no observer? I mean, who is doing the observations? Are you saying we each create our own Multiverse? Every person? Each different?” the man up front said.

“Ah, great question. One consequence of Relativity is that there is no Universal coordinate system. One Earth we have a system where everything is measured according to lat-longs and altitude above sea level. It is artificial, but it works well for most of what we do. It is impossible to set up such a system for the entire Universe. In the same manner, there is no Universal Observer creating that base reality. We all have our own reality.”

“God? Wouldn’t God be the Universal Observer?”

The professor smiled. “I always get that question at these lectures. I am basing everything on scientific theory. The theory is based on observation, which is then used to tweak the theory. What this lecture is about is those consequences to the theory that cannot be observed. No place in any of this is there a Supreme Being.”

“But you said that there is a possibility for any conceivable Universe to exist, and it is conceivable for there to be a Universe with God in it, isn’t there?”

“Remember that I said ‘as long as it follows physical laws’? I will leave it to you to answer the question if that Supreme Being can fit any current physical model.”

“Professor…” Meg waved her hand.


“Let’s back up a moment. You mentioned that the different Universes most likely collapse back to one. How does that happen? And can it occur if they had been running in parallel for hours or years or centuries? Millennia?”

“Yes, perhaps 99.99 followed by a thousand more nines percent collapse down to a single Universe almost instantly. I will give an example on a longer time frame, one of those trillionth of a percent that last longer than a nano-second. Let us say that the subatomic particles of a leaf are in undefined locations so that if you forced them to one specific position it would reflect light in either red or green. In reality it is neither red nor green nor all of the other colors that the positions of the particles could conceivably create, at least when not observed. Then you come along and observe it, so it is green. But the Universe forks at that point and there is another copy where the leaf is red. OK?”


“As soon as you turn away, both of those Universes return to their previous state of being red, green and all other colors and no color at all. At this point, the waves of these two Universes are exactly the same, so they are one and the same. That second Universe does not exist, the two are again a single Universe.”

“That is short term. For long term?”

“If the waves match again, they will be one. Can they match again after centuries? That is hard to tell. If Universe A has you in it and Universe B does not, how do the waves match up? Or if there is a ‘you’ in each, but with different pasts, how do those memories become one?”

Meg sat opened mouthed as Dr. Lavling moved to a different topic.


Meg took the long way about as she walked home.

Her life had taken a strange course, as of late. She was having memories of things that didn’t happen. For many years, as long as she could remember, she had dreamed about “that other place”, but now it seemed as real as the “real world”. Worse, the world occasionally shifted and changed around her.

She laughed. It was almost as if she looked at that leaf and it was green and a moment later she looked back and it was red. But then she looked at it again and it was impossible to tell which it was, or if it might be some totally different color.

Or no color whatsoever.

She had talked to her GP and they couldn’t find any physical issues. He sent her to be tested to see if there was a tumor or other issue with her brain, but nobody could find anything.

She then had tests performed by dozens of psychiatrist and psychologist. Nothing. She was relatively “normal”, meaning she had a lot of small issues, neurosis, learning issues and other things that “normal” people have, but no psychotic issues that would cause such feelings.

She had read about the possibility of different Universes and different versions of her, but it was all sci-fi mumbo-jumbo and comic book excuses for super-heroes to do what they do.

But she did discover that many real scientists had ideas about different Universes. She read a book written by a quantum physisict, Dr. Lavling, that was aimed at the intelligent layperson. She discovered that Dr. Lavling was giving a local lecture on the topic.

When she read the synopsis of his lecture, a shiver went down her spine. She didn’t believe in the fates or mysteries or anything, yet something told her that she was meant to see the advertisement, that she was meant to attend the lecture. The word “harbinger” floated through her mind. The ad and synopsis started things moving, perhaps at the quantum level, that would lead to the lecture itself. And then what would that lecture bring?

Was it understanding?

As she walked home, it really didn’t seem much clearer.

From her take away, it might be possible that there was another Meg out there living in that other place of her dreams, creating those other memories, but it would be impossible to know. These two versions should stay separate and blissfully unaware that the other existed.

But what about a Universal Observer? Maybe Meg lived in such a Universe where it existed, at least on a small level that would make physical sense, say a Universal Earth Based Observer. Or what if there were more than one?

What if what Meg called “the real world” was like the world in that story were all of the gods that man ever created or imagined were real? That these gods, from fertility goddesses to Woden to modern cults, were out there, being Universal Observers.

Or perhaps some animal, which is why there were so many stories.

She laughed, a nervous sound.

So which one of these gods or animals was creating her messed-up reality through their observations? Who could she blame?

A sound caught Meg’s attention.

An ancient magpie was under a bush, staring at her with its unseeing milk white eyes. It seemed to see and hear everything, an observer of all that was around.

Meg backed up a step and started in a different direction.

But the bird was there, still watching her from under another bush.

She turned and there is was again, its multiplicity guiding her direction.

It was on the path behind her, approaching a harbinger of a fate unknown.

Meg took off, trying to escape the strange bird that was everywhere and nowhere, running first in a sprint but soon changing to a slow jog.

Meg went around a corner and saw a woman in front of her. The woman looked over her shoulder/Meg looked over her shoulder.

The woman Meg was catching up to was herself/the woman running up behind her was herself.

She reached out, both to the person in front of her and to the woman behind, who were all the same person.

The probability wave collapsed.

Meg was Meg, as she always had been. The place of her dreams wasn’t any place special, just home, not some odd, distant never-never land. The only memories she had were her own.

The leaf was just green.

And Meg was just Meg, she was one, a single person.

A sound caught Meg’s attention.

An ancient magpie flew out from under a nearby bush.

Why did that bird seem significant?

She shrugged her shoulders and continued home.


Written for Sue Vincent‘s #writephoto challenge.  This weeks challenge, “harbinger”, is here.


Sorry for being so metaphysical ;)  I looked up “magpie” to try to find inspiration for a story. From a story about breaking the old myths about the bird I went to another story about if there are other “yous” in other Universes.  The video was very well done – excellent editing, etc. So I had to write this story ;) See what following random links brings you?


22 thoughts on “Harbinger #writephoto

  1. Pingback: Photo prompt round-up: Harbinger #writephoto | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  2. jenanita01

    I must admit to lightly skimming over the scientific stuff, although most of it did register anyway, as they are questions we have been asking for a while. But the last part was brilliantly written!
    Didn’t answer many questions though…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. trentpmcd Post author

      I did leave a lot of unanswered questions. If I do use this as the seed for a large story, I’m sure I’ll still leave those questions unanswered ;) For the science stuff, the video I linked to does a great job with some of it, mostly because the cinematography is so well done it is almost like flipping between those Universes….


      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Harbinger ~ Trent P. McDonald #writephoto | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks, Sue. I wasn’t sure if it was a little too heavy on the quantum physics at the beginning… Maybe can be made into something a bit longer.

      On a totally different subject, I like the phrase “winkled out”. Not something we use every day here so it reminds me of the old Genesis song, Get Em Out By Friday…. (a character in the song is called The Winkler, because he winkles people out of apartments so they can rent them at a higher rate)

      Liked by 1 person


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