Final: The Quantum Carnival

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(Images from pixabay.com, photo manipulation by me)

The Great Heisenberg’s Quantum Carnival

I don’t know if it’s always been there. I’ve always remembered the red and white tents on boardwalk every summer, pennants waving with the sea breeze.  But when I mentioned it to people, I get mixed responses. That it used to be there, but I was too young to experience it. Some people closer to my age had commiserated in my adamant belief that the tent existed. Others still not sure either. Surely something couldn’t exist and exist at the same time…could it?

I stood before the stripped tent, the painted sign unchanged, its paint chipping slightly. Five cents a ticket, a vestige from a bygone day. The waves beyond, the groan of the aging wood of the boardwalk were deafened by the din of people, the organ of the carousel. With no one around, I could have just slipped in unnoticed. And yet, I dropped a nickel into the slot of the old box. Perhaps in a way to assuage anyone who came across my explorations. Crossing the threshold, it felt like I had now found myself in a liminal space. Cut away from reality the second the flap closed over.

The Great Heisenberg himself, though I suspect not his real name, was a strange man. If you could shove an antique shop into a body, that would be him. Eyes that hinted he seen many things, face slightly timeless but plain, almost vague if could call it that. Like some alien trying to fit in and sought to find the most average being to wear as a face. Maybe he was. But a congenial sort of man, who smiled broadly when he welcomed me, though clearly not expecting visitors so soon. My apology brushed off like so many motes of dust that drifted in the room.

Everything around us were covered in aged linen drop cloths, lighting half hung, added to a world of disarray that seemed to oppose the cleanly dressed showman. Yet the fact of that did not deter him from his singular audience. With a flourish, he gestured grandly to an antique trunk. Red-brown wood, brass, black leather, seemingly ordinary to the naked eye.

“Behold…the Trunk of Uncertainty!”

I squinted at him, and then decided to humor him. Clearly the guy was having a good time. And frankly I was a little curious.

“So…nobody knows what’s in the trunk?” I asked, mind drawing back to all my time buried nose deep in my books, watching documentaries on the topic. He seemed thrilled that I understood the matter right away, face luminous as his smile broadened.

Precisely!” He practically trilled. “It could be filled with wondrous things! Or nothing! And even if you opened it to take look, it would change further still.”

I nodded; know almost anyone else might have thought him a madman. I tilted my head a little after a few moments of thinking.

“I’d like to see inside.”

I had expected him to get defensive, like many a hoaxer trying to cover up their gaff when someone called them out on their shit. He seemed at ease, beckoning me further. I kneeled before the large box, hands carefully upon the latch. The lid opened with a creak and…

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