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The Man Who Fell

(By Duane Pesice ) The Man Who Fell

“I’m tired,” he said, and toppled from his stool.

Myself and the other patrons were naturally taken aback somewhat by this, and hastened to help the fellow up. This was made slightly more difficult to accomplish by the gentleman being unconscious, and thereby being a dead weight.

We discovered this upon trying to hoist him into a sitting position, Danny, myself, and Nils. In fact we were quite unable to move him at all. It was quite discouraging.

He wasn’t dead, for he was visibly breathing, but he was deeply asleep. Nothing roused him.

Dr, Manners arrived not long after someone with the presence of mind to dial him did so, and he performed as much of an examination as he could, given the circumstances. He could not move the man who fell either, and even our combined strength was not enough to essay it successfully. He noted the man’s particulars on a sheet in his notebook, and went through his pockets for identification, thinking to notify any next of kin. But the man didn’t have any identification at all.

The shoulders of Dr. Manners’ white coat sagged at that. He perched himself on one of the stools and sat there morosely.

Nils, the bartender, went and fetched him a cup of coffee, and he drank that while I tried to move the guy again, thinking that it would be a good idea to at least get him out of the way. The man who fell was lying there in front of the bar where he had fallen.

I couldn't budge him at all, though while trying I had the feeling that I was having some success. It seemed that way at any rate-I definitely felt some give. Taking my time about it, I approached the problem from different angles, not trying to lift him, but to slide him out of the way. Eventually, this led to the brainstorm of dragging him.

"Hey Nils," I said, seeing as how that worthy was doing nothing more strenuous than hoisting a twelve-ouncer. "Come on over here, I have an idea. A little voice in my head says we'd be better off dragging him...grab an arm."

"Worth a try," Nils replied, getting up and taking hold of the man's left arm. We pulled, pulled, holding onto the hands of the man who fell, and slightly, just perceptibly, his position began to shift. We managed, with Danny's help, to move the man into an alcove about two feet behind the bar before we couldn't pull anymore.

"He seems heavier..." mused Danny, wrinkling his brow. he ran a hand through his sparse brown hair. "He gets heavier as time goes by."

Dr. Manners mumbled something, got up, and began to pace.

He turned to the three of us. “What happened here?”

I shrugged. “He said he was tired, and then he fell. Hasn’t moved since.”

“Hmm. Can’t move him, either. That’s what bothers me.” He stroked his chin wisely. “I’d have to say that he is comatose, that we can deal with, put him in a hospital bed until he wakes up, treat him in that environment. Here we can’t.” He began to pace.

I sat back down on my stool before I started pacing too, and smoked a cigarette.

"Hmm," I began, searching for the thought that was itching me.

"Hmm what?"

"Danny said he's getting heavier...I got that impression too. When we were dragging him, and even before that, when I was trying by myself. He seemed somehow lighter earlier, is what I'm saying. I felt like I was having some success moving him then."

"Well, that's odd. You had no visible success, but *felt* like you were successful?"

"That's about right. Very odd feeling. Ok, here's my idea...what we need is not a doctor, but a physicist. That guy is pretty dense..."

"Dense? What do you mean?" he frowned behind his glasses.

I grinned around my cigarette, warming to the idea, following the logic out. "He's like a human black hole...has the same mass, but increased density. I bet he's absorbing atoms from the area around him...see how the floor is a little discolored right where he fell?"

And it was true...the oak was lighter there, in the shape of the man's body.

"We have to move him, and move him now, before he gets heavier." Nils voiced the thought first.

The four of us took hold of various parts of the man and tugged and dragged and pulled until we had gotten the man out the front door and onto the grass in front of the place. The grass around him died immediately.

Fully half an hour had passed while we towed the man who fell outside. Nils went back inside and got beers. Dr. Manners took out his phone and started trying to reach the university physics department. His secretary notified the police department, which we found out when several members of the force arrived on the scene.

Once explanations were made, and they were satisfied that Nils hadn't been at fault and was not liable for any charges, they left.

"Get a bulldozer," one of them offered.

"That's not the worst idea I've heard," said Danny.

"Get real," I remarked, lighting another cigarette. "Where do we take him?"

He shrugged, taking a pull off of his beer.

The dead patch of grass was spreading rapidly, and I began to worry, there in the back of my mind. Some thought had begun to take shape there, and it wasn't a good thought.

"Um," said Dr. Manners, putting his phone away and voicing the same thought. "Doesn't he seem closer to the bar than he was?"

"Oh sh*t," moaned Nils. "It isn't *that*. The bar is *closer* to him...his effect is getting stronger."

The thought sprang into my head fully-developed. "Where is his event horizon?"

Dr. Manners began to pace again, and that gave us the answer.

He was only able to move about five feet away from the man.

Danny, who was closer, could only move a foot or so. I was right next to the man, and I could move my arms to drink the beer, but that was about it.

Nils could still move around.

"Nils," I said. "Don't get any closer. We three are caught in the gravitational field. I can feel some of the effects already." And it was true. The man who fell began to develop a corona, a curious ebon corona, and the effects of his attraction could be seen visibly as the ground began to warp toward him. From my perspective, it looked rather like the wavy field one gets when it is hot outside.

I felt myself begin to s_t_r_e_t_c_h as first the penumbra, and then the corona, washed over me, somehow still breathing, somehow still aware, now fully within the sphere of influence of the man who fell.

"Greetings," said a voice in my head. "Welcome to my universe."

For some reason I wasn't surprised. Vistas had begun to manifest themselves, huge panoramas revealing the secret birth pangs of stars, the explosion of the universe.

"No, that isn't the old one," said the voice in my head conversationally. "I'm doing this this." he chuckled and played billiards with the suns of a few galaxies, creating new galaxies.

I stroked my metaphysical chin, watching. From the ashes of dead suns were created beings of limitless power, animated singularities who departed on nefarious errands.

"That's how it was done before," remarked the man who fell. "Those would be the gods."

I continued to watch as he quickened the planets.

"This universe will be pretty much the same," he offered. "I'm going to turn this over to you, and go do one of my own. Just thought you would like to work with something familiar to start with."

I nodded my massive head. "Understood. What do you want to do with the old one?"

"We don't have to do anything," he replied. "It can maintain itself for now."

Understanding flooded into me. "But that leaves that universe without a god, doesn't it? And how come I got this way?"

He laughed. "There are things greater than you and I. There are always things greater, always something smaller. Each moment has many possibilities, and all of those possibilities are reflected in the multiverse. The continuum that you and I came from was the only one in which I fell, the only one in which my studies devoured me...and the only one where you were subsumed into my process."

"So this isn't a step up, then?" I inquired.

"Call it a lateral promotion."

"All right," I returned, learning to work with the stuff...pointing a finger there to produce a point of light, waving the other hand there to introduce a galaxy.

"I'll leave you to it," he said cheerfully as he took up a different position, beginning to work, and then vanished into his own singularity.

Greetings. Welcome to my universe.

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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

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