Monday, 8 June 2015
The Hole in the Zero
“No,” said Paradine, rising to his feet.
Merganser began to laugh uncontrollably. "You— Boss Kraag— Miss Helena—Warden— me— did we know— what we were looking for? Perhaps it's here— in the nothing."
"Look," said Helena, "oh what does it mean?" She pointed to the monitor screens where the patterns had now frozen, but flickered slowly on and off.
"Stasis," "said Paradine, "dimensional inversion, total instability."
"That's buggered it," said the voice of the ship's intercom. The robot jerked to its feet and began walking towards the far wall of the control deck, stripping off its mask and cladding as it did so. The room was changing shape, belling outwards at the end, and the walls vibrated and stank and dissolved, opening out onto a vast floor of darkness. The robot ran free, babbling in a last spasm of his tapes:
"Do not come down the ladder mr pritchard i have taken it away look you bach and when the old troubleandstrife told me i couldn't adamandeve it till i'd taken a ballofchalk up the applesandpears and seen it with me own mincepies for ah belong tae glasgow and a man's a man for for a' that if you'll pardon the expression sir seeing as howcomewhatsoever five four three two one liftoff and who'll come a waltzing matilda with me . . ."
As it leapt and ran, its body stretched taller and taller, an attenuated metal spider kilometres high, until there was nothing left but the giant head which melted, raining tears of white-hot metal through the void. The ship tilted suddenly, and without a sound Boss Kraag and Billy Boy, Miss Helen and the Warden spilled out. They fell for a symptotic time through infinite space toward the floor of darkness, which grew smaller, contracting to a point. When they met, they
- MK Joseph, The Hole in the Zero, London: Victor Gollancz, 1967.