​Re: re: Microwave in the break room doing weird things to fabric of spacetime

It's hard to say what's worse; endlessly nagging inter-office email threads or tears in the space-time continuum.

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Nov 12 2015, 3:00pm

Art by Wren McDonald

It's hard to say what's worse; endless inter-office email threads or tears in the space-time continuum. Well, the two collide in this mashup of modern foibles and tried-and-true sci-fi tropes, from the incomparable Charles Yu. This story was first published in the excellent, just-launched Gigantic Worlds collection, and is appearing online now for the first time. -the Eds


From: Jasper (Facilities) Tues 8/12/13 12:17 p.m.

To: Staff-All-NYC

Re: Microwave in the break room

Hey everyone, sorry for the email blast, but please stop using the lower microwave in the kitchen. Someone nuked a burrito in there on high for what I am assuming had to be at least 20+ minutes because it's barely recognizable as a burrito. Beans look seriously crazy after having been heated for that long. In fact, it's barely recognizable as a known form of matter—it's continuing to disintegrate. Or something worse.

We're trying to figure out if it's possible to clean it, but at this point it seems like the inside of the microwave might need to be scrubbed on like a subatomic level, which is probably not going to be cost-effective—I know a lot of you love that microwave because it's so powerful, but just to give you a heads-up, it might make sense to just toss it and get a new one, We'll keep you posted.

Thanks for your attention to the matter and please use the upper microwave until further notice. And whatever you do, please DO NOT use the lower one.

Cheers,

Jasper

_______________________

From: Jasper (Facilities) Tues 8/12/13 12:24 p.m.

To: Staff-All-NYC

Re: re: Microwave in the break room

Okay well I'm sorry to say someone must have either missed my first email or thought I was kidding because, and I can't believe someone would do this, but someone put their cup of noodles in the lower microwave, on top of the bean-crust substrate, and pressed start and yeah, I think you all know what I'm going to say next: the Styrofoam and the substrate must have interacted in such a way as to destabilize the local microstructure of reality there.

Before anyone thinks I'm using circumstantial evidence to make a serious accusation, I would note that there is now a ring of empty non-reality inside the microwave, that just happens to be of the exact circumference of the bottom of a standard Nissin ramen cup. I'm not totally sure what's going to happen now, but we called building management and they're sending someone to take a look.

I can't believe I have to say this again, but PLEASE ONLY USE the upper microwave until we figure out what is going on with the broken one. And not to single anyone out, but if you're making noodles (Brett, Allison, you others know you are), use the hot water thing from the coffee machine. I thought we'd settled that weeks ago. It cooks the noodles better anyway.

Cheers,

Jasper

_______________________

From: Jasper (Facilities) Tues 8/12/13 12:44 p.m.

To: Staff-All-NYC

Re: re: re: Microwave in the break room

Since my last update things have gotten a little weird. The ring of broken-down manifold or whatever has continued to do things that would probably be interesting to a cosmologist but for those of us trying to get our jobs done are going to be an inconvenience, possibly through the end of the day. I might be garbling this a little, so anyone pipe up and correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm told that the Styrofoam-bean ring underwent a continuous topological deformation, which was fine, until it wasn't so continuous anymore. Part of the ring tore and glued itself somewhere else in the universe, and so we've got that to deal with on top of everything else. Anyway, stay tuned. Ice cream social at 3:30 is canceled, for obvious reasons.

Cheers,

Jasper

_______________________

From: Jasper (Facilities) Tues 8/12/13 2:30 p.m.

To: Staff-All-NYC; Staff-All-Hartford

Re: re: re: re: Microwave in the break room

Ugh. So that banging you were all hearing was me and the team from building management here in New York, and also some old friends of ours who have gotten much closer in the last ninety minutes or so. The last time I emailed, we were just learning about the tearing and re-attaching of the noodle-cup/bean ring to another location in our little reality here. Well, as you may have heard, that location was the third stall in the fifth floor men's room in Hartford office. It's an almost incalculably improbable coincidence, which would be cool to marvel over and ponder and debate, except that it's causing some non-trivial problems with the HVAC systems of both buildings, and other tenants (in both locations!) are complaining. If we don't get this fixed soon, we might have to answer to the landlord, the FDNY and HFD, and there is also, I am advised, about a 30% probability that due to this spatial reconfiguration we have set in motion a chain of events that will lead to the imminent collapse of the entire cosmos. The upside is that I'm using cosmos in the narrow sense there, i.e., just our universe and not any others, and also cool is the fact that we effectively have a very, very, very good inter-office mail system between Hartford and NYC now.

Anyway, that banging you heard was us trying to put some scaffolding up to stabilize the structure of the portal between the formerly-separated-now-connected-regions—we apparently didn't have the right materials or tools to do such a thing, so it didn't work. Our next step is to send someone very small into the portal (probably me), to see if we can learn anything about it. That's supposed to happen in the next 20 minutes, and I'll do my best to update you all, but honestly I am not sure "20 minutes" has any real meaning anymore, given the aforementioned complete breakdown in space and time as we knew it.

Cheers,

Jasper

_______________________

From: Jasper (Facilities) Thurs 8/14/13 2:30 p.m.

To: Staff-All-NYC; Staff-All-Hartford

Re: re: re: re: re: Microwave in the break room

Well that didn't work.

We appear to have jumped 2 days in the future. Trying to go back now.

Cheers,

Jasper

_______________________

From: Jasper (Facilities) Tues 8/12/13 12:17 p.m.

To: Staff-All-NYC

Re: Microwave in the break room

Apparently the best we could do was to go back to the original point in space-time where it all started. None of you except for me (since I was in the portal) have any clue what I'm talking about, so no worries, but I'm writing this anyway to create what I hope will be a record, either on a computer server somewhere, or if not then at least in some abstract information space, of a transmission documenting what just happened (especially if it turns out we're in a loop). If anyone out there has residual knowledge for some reason, maybe we could meet up by the water cooler and just chat about what just happened—it'd be great to verify that I'm not going crazy.

For everyone else, please, if you see anyone with a burrito headed toward the break room, take it from them. I know that sounds really weird, but you have to trust me on this. Take the burrito and do whatever you need to do—eat it, shred it, I don't care. Just DO NOT nuke it in the lower microwave.

BTW, ice cream social at 3:30.

Cheers,

Jasper


Gigantic Worlds is: 51 science flash fiction stories from 51 authors that will transport you to other worlds. Over 250 pages of robot rebellions, alien pornography, high society cyborgs, orgasmic planets, space-time disruptions, and futures both likely and unlikely. New or previously uncollected work from Jonathan Lethem, Lynne Tillman, Charles Yu, Alissa Nutting, Ted Chiang, and many more. Edited by Lincoln Michel and Nadxieli Nieto.

Charles Yu is the author of three books, including How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, which was a New York Times Notable Book and named one of the best books of the year by Time magazine. He is currently writing for the upcoming HBO series Westworld. Yu lives in southern California with his wife, Michelle, and their two children.

Art by Wren McDonald.