It was discovered by accident. Pure serendipity. They were trying to design a new communications transmitter, using high-frequency radiation waves to transmit a message almost instantaneously over great distances requiring very little energy. I don’t really know why they were bothering, really. Did we really need yet another mode of communication?
Image source: Pixabay
Anyway, they had built their prototype and were testing it. Their transmitter was apparently giving off a signal, but none of the receivers were able to pick it up. I suppose it was at this point that Slipspace was first opened up, but no one knew it yet. Late one night, a lone scientist was burning the midnight oil over this whole problem. He was rather burnt-out on cigarettes and bad coffee, and he sat there staring at the transmitter as it transmitted its mysterious signal, trying to somehow see its message.
His eyes drifted to the dust motes that danced around the room, floating around the damnable transmitter. He watched the motes for a while, and something began to pester the back of his mind.
Something wasn’t quite right with their patterns. His thoughts began to pick up pace. The radiation waves shouldn’t be effecting dust, or anything else for that matter. They should travel unhindered through buildings, mountains, or anything. This engineer leaned as closely as he could to the device, without interfering with the dust patterns. He watched them for a while, trying to figure out what was wrong. Choosing one large speck of dust, he followed it deliberately with his eyes as it spun around the device. Then it disappeared.
He blinked, and chose another mote. It eventually floated to the same area as the first missing mote, and then it too vanished. Our lone scientist started to get very excited, he knew this was something big. He ran over to the big chalkboard and grabbed the dusty eraser. Clapping it vigorously several times over the transmitter, he watched the heavy dust cloud. The dust seemed to get ‘sucked away’ at a certain spot.
Craning his neck around to get a better look at that spot, he could see a small pile of dust, suspended in mid-air. There was a calm spot directly above the transmitter, where the dust had settled. But he could only see it from one place. After a few moments thought, he had it figured out. The transmitter had ‘opened’ up a small pocket of space, and you could only see into it when looking directly at its mouth.
Given courage from his discovery, our hero poked his finger into the little pile of dust. It felt like chalk dust. But while he poked, he twisted his head around and looked at the ‘pocket’ from the side. The end of his finger had disappeared. It wasn’t just a pocket of weightlessness, it was a piece of space outside of normal space! This was too big for him to handle anymore, and he sounded the alarm to awaken the other technicians in the dorm room. Slipspace had been discovered.
More things were discovered that fateful night. When the transmitter was turned off, the pocket and its contents disappeared. When the transmitter was reactivated, the little pile of chalk dust reappeared. They tried a second transmitter prototype, identical to the first, and found a small pile of chalk dust in the resulting pocket. But both transmitters would not operate at the same time. Only one opening to a particular pocket would function. By altering the density of the radiation waves, they could use different transmitters to open different pockets, and more power could create larger pockets.
Years passed, and eventually Slipspace transmitters were available commercially. At first, only the excessively wealthy could afford them, and the transmitters were still bulky. It was a gadget used to impress people. Carrying a 10lb transmitter in a briefcase, so you could keep your wallet in a Slipspace pocket. Then it all went the way of the portable phone.
The transmitters got smaller, and cheaper, and then everyone had one. Women stopped carrying purses, and kept their belongings in Slipspace, wearing a small transmitter around their necks. Men stopped carrying briefcases. People were so enamored with the ability to keep their belongings with them, without having to physically carry them; that few people were concerned about where things in Slipspace actually went. The biggest amount of Slipspace you could manage with a portable transmitter was about 2 feet cubed.
You could have bigger spaces in your home, where there was more room for the machinery. A box in the corner could provide you with an entire extra room of storage space. But not a bedroom. No one felt comfortable sleeping outside of the known universe. In fact, few people liked being in a Slipspace pocket at all. It was a very disconcerting feeling. The inside wall of a Slipspace pocket was like a dull mirror, with vague distorted reflections.
No one could stand being inside Slipspace for very long. Anxiety and panic would grip you in about 5 minutes, madness after about 20. Reaching in from outside was fine, but that was about all the mind could stand.
A small group of people were against this casual use of Slipspace until more was known about it. They were especially against industrial and government usage. Large pockets were being used for garbage dumps and nuclear waste disposal. Protests were waged, but to no avail. Using Slipspace was becoming a necessary part of everyday life, and the public saw no harm in it.
But the things put into Slipspace had to be somewhere, didn’t they? Scientists insisted that it was just a spatial anomaly. Slipspace was just a twist in this universe, not part of another one. That small group of people said that we were invading someplace we had no right to be. And eventually, we would pay for our arrogance. After all, we were opening holes into another place, perforating the barrier between here and there.
They were right.
No one knows who was the very first to go, but once it began, it was over quickly. The inhabitants of Slipspace did not want our belongings and our garbage in their world, and they had had enough of us. All over the world, people were pulled into their pockets of Slipspace. Women reached into their ‘purses’, and were grabbed from inside. Machinery inside large industrial pockets disappeared, as did the technicians who went in to investigate.
By the time a warning was issued, millions of people had been taken. Even when people had been made aware of the danger, many still opened their spaces in a last desperate attempt to retrieve their ‘important’ possessions, thinking they could somehow avoid the fate of the others. They vanished too, pulled into the unknown. People weren’t being sucked in by some unexplained force or vacuum, something alive was snatching people and dragging them out of this universe.
If a person had been wearing his or her transmitter at the time of their abduction, their pocket would close behind them, sealing them in Slipspace. But if the transmitter remained outside, the pocket would stay open. A door between here and there. There were far too many abandoned open pockets to even think about trying to close them all before the aggressors on the other side decided to travel through themselves.
The world held its breath and waited.