The Elegant and Extravagant Universe
Sloth was sad. No, not “boo-hoo, wa-ha” sad, but sad as in Seriously Addicted to Determination. He’d finally done it--he’d finally figured out the first plausible and wholly provable Theory of Everything, but then he’d fallen asleep and promptly forgotten it.
Now, Sloth was angry. No, not “grar-har, bwa-ha” angry, but angry as in Analysing Notorious and Gargantuan Records by Year of composition. Already, he’d made it through to Year 3 and was now fiddling with his Existential Reconstructed Room Operated by Remote control, a massive particle accelerator that he had designed prior to year one to recreate a miniature universe in his very own laboratory. Deciding that its own acronym was rather discouraging, however, he called it the Ring for short (which, of course, stood for the Really Impressive New-age Gravitator machine).
But, of course, now Sloth was both sad and angry, and neither meant anything more than either sad or angry. He fiddled with the controls, but as he peered through the glass window into his miniature universe, he had the sudden realization that someone was pulling his strings, in all eleven dimensions, too.
He looked up at the sound of giggling and saw the telltale ears of a pair of Grundos. “Hey, you,” he yelled as he got to his feet, “what are you doing up there?”
Quickly, the ears ducked behind the Ring, which was actually square-shaped, but this was a minor technicality (on the other hand, had he made it spherical, it would’ve been a major technological feat that would’ve undermined the fact that the universe is actually flat, but at the moment, this thought was negligible, as the Grundos had moved around the back of the Ring and scurried away while Sloth was looking around the front corner, where he’d originally seen them).
“Curses!” Sloth exclaimed as he spun around and saw the escaping shadows of his immature and vexing crewmembers. He returned to the control desk and began turning a few knobs and inputting new figures until he smashed his fist down on a big red button that signaled the sudden collapse of his miniature universe into a single point a white light amidst the darkness around it. The big-bang process would begin again within a few hours, but it would take a full week before the universe had cooled enough for it to be usable in his experiments again.
“Nasty little Grundoses,” he muttered as he began skulking away, “always messing around with the one Ring I have left to myself.” He continued talking mindlessly to himself, finding himself oddly distracting when he had a mission to tend to, until he found himself back at Square One, his personal loading dock and space-ferry station. He boarded his WIMP (Winged Interstellar Mechanical Pod) and drove it to a larger loading dock where he found his MACHO (Massive Aerodynamic Carbon-Hydrogen Orbiter) and subsequently flew it to his private operations facility at the top of the station.
In no spacetime at all, he found himself with a pen and paper at his writing desk, mumbling almost inaudibly. “If truth becomes beauty... and charm becomes strange... and up becomes down, then...
“I’ve got it!” He leapt up from his seat, his pen flying outwards in an uncontrolled parabola. “The world is going down the drain with a strange sort of beauty!”
He paused for a second, finally noticing where his pen had gotten stuck in the wall, and then plopped down into his chair like a limp noodle on a serving spoon. “No, no, that can’t be it. It’s much too ridiculous.”
A buzz-buzz-ring filled the air, and he reached out to tap the speaker system. “Yes, Gladys?”
“Lunchtime, master,” the speaker replied with a drawling drone that sounded far too mechanical to sound at all interpersonal. “What flavor meal do you want today?”
He pondered this for a moment. “Give me something red.”
“That’s a color, master. I asked for a flavor.”
“Why, yes,” he argued, “color is a flavor. It’s what holds the universe together.”
“Fine, master, I’ll find you something red to eat.” The speaker beeped, and Gladys was gone.
“Finally,” Sloth said as he threw up his hands. “I swear, I need to talk to the kitchen programmers about what they’re calling flavors these days. Lemon, lime, and cornupepper are seriously getting old--and the next person who feeds me anything glowing or poisonous will pay!”
The doorbell rang. Sloth shook his head and pressed a button on his desk. “Come in,” he said.
The door opened and a Grundo rolled in with a silver cart. On the cart was a silver plate, and on the silver plate a silver dome, and when the cart had stopped, the Grundo lifted the dome, and revealed a large helping of some sort of cornupepper concoction Sloth had hoped really didn’t exist, regardless of how many times he had actually eaten it. Then again, the prospect of existential anomalies could quickly prove the theoretical existence of dark matter. However, dark matter would still need to be proved physically, even if he could prove that the theory existed.
“Take it away,” he said to the Grundo. “I’m suddenly not feeling very hungry.”
“Very well, master,” the Grundo said and wheeled away the silver cart with its silver plate with its silver dome still removed. Meanwhile, Sloth fell forwards and slammed his head against his desk in a manner oddly rivaling that of some insane Neopian Times writers on hot summer days when over-active creative glands in their frontal proprietal lobes causes their subsequent delinquency. Relatively speaking, he was comparatively overloaded with his own dilemmas, although he used more of his left brain than any of those right-brained reporters ever did.
Sloth sighed. At the time of this paragraph’s beginning, he had already tumbled nine hundred and thirty-three possible theories of everything through his head, but he was still two hundred and sixty-seven possibilities short of his daily quota, and he knew he could not, would not, most definitely should not rest until he had recovered the memory he had forgotten. Then again, if he forgot the fact that he had forgotten anything, he might spontaneously remember what he had forgotten, but he had given up memory extraction after his last had attempt had yielded an unexpected visit to a planet entirely occupied and composed of little white puffballs the kind he saw young female Grundos use to apply makeup with that swarmed his ship, demanded that he be their leader, and proclaimed that they wuvved him.
He was still afraid of what wuvving might actually be.
Sloth yawned and lifted his head out of a puddle of sticky glueballs that had formed sometime between lunch and... He keyed the speaker on his desk. “Glady, what time is it?”
“Get a clock, master. I’m heading home.”
“Wait, wait,” Sloth said quickly, slapping the speaker with a surmountable amount of sustainable alliteration, “Who, what, when, where, why? What’s going on, Gladys?”
“It’s after five,” Gladys responded, “and due to the time dilator that you’ve still not deactivated, I should’ve been home an entire lightyear ago already.”
Nonsense! He’d turned off the time dilator last week.
“Gladys, can I ask you a personal favor?”
“Can I ask you a personal favor with the promise of doubling your next paycheck?”
A pause. “I’ll consider it.”
Sloth sighed, almost collapsing on his speaker in gracious thankfulness. “Would you check the monitors monitoring the muon monitors and send me the results?”
Another pause. “I suppose I can do that, master.”
“Good, good.” Again, Sloth felt like collapsing onto his speaker.
“Would you also send me the figures for measurable gravitons in our immediate vicinity?”
“We’ve been monitoring the systems for years, master, and we’ve yet to prove the existence of gravity carrying particles.”
He pondered this for a moment. “Very well. I’ll have to reconfigure the components to detect particles carrying gravity instead. I feel rather foolish we’ve been looking for the wrong thing all this time.”
“Do you still want the figures?”
“Only for the muons,” Sloth said. “I’ll check the gravity core on my way home this evening.”
“Very well, master.” Another pause, some crackling. “I’m sending the muon monitors’ monitored measures right now, master. Goodnight, master.”
The speaker beeped, the connection cut off, and across the room, another machine began whirring as papers were quickly ejected from it into a tray that ferried the papers across the room to Sloth. He took them with a gentle hand, pulled out his spectacles (very important for monitoring particles), and began reading.
“Ah,” he said some time later, “I see what’s wrong now. I did forget to deactivate the time dilator after I finished using it.” He pondered this a moment. “Einstein! So that’s why I’ve been so tired lately! Time’s traveling slower than usual, so I’m staying awake longer, and needing more sleep. That explains everything!”
He paused. “Okay, it doesn’t explain everything, but at least it’ll give me more time to sleep to remember my ultimate theory of everything. Then, I shall rule the world!”
He chuckled as he made his way across the room and through the door, back to his MACHO to ride it all the way to his WIMP where he would enter the laboratory facility and deactivate the time dilator and hopefully remember the memory he had forgotten.
Ah, yes. Sloth was finally happy. And you don’t want to know what that stands for.