Distorte is a collection of stories written by Pierce Gleeson

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The Earth Pill

The pills are small, close to spherical, and are coloured an irregular pattern of blue and muddy green. Each one boasts a hazy white-streaked patina so that when you hold it up between thumb and forefinger it appears almost suspended, as if covered by a film of glass.

The pattern is immediately recognisable, of course, as Earth. Were you to take a pill from its blister and put it under an electron microscope, you would see our planet’s terrain spread out in perfect detail. Were you to enlarge further, you would see our cities and our towns. Still further, and mirror images of this world’s people are visible, moving about in routines near identical to our own. Composed, we are told, impossibly, from miniaturised molecules made from similarly tiny atoms. With a sufficiently powerful device you could find yourself.

The scientists are confusing and confused. We have jumped beyond our understanding, and the pills float commonly between our fingers before their existence can be explained. Experts mention string theory, quantum physics, parallel universes, then shrug their shoulders. Their manufacture resembles a magic trick in which the magician is as mystified as anyone. Savages playing with fire. Just so we pluck the Earth pills from somewhere else.

At first, of course, they were not considered pills at all. We held them up to the light and marvelled, and little else. Only later it was discovered that to swallow one with a glass of water cured various cancers, immediately and absolutely. Another thing we can’t explain. A study shows they pass through us as a tiny planet might. The nanometre thick atmosphere burns away in our stomach acids. Every picoscopic organism goes similarly. The oceans are a drop in our bellies. What part of this changes any part of us is unclear, but the results are unequivocal.

So we swallow Earths, and beg someone to tell us that they are simulacrums or illusions. To tell us that what we destroy in our gut is just a mirror. Unsure, both publicly and privately, whether any answer given could make us give them up.

Written by Pierce Gleeson
Posted on the 05 Jul, 2011