(In)finite universes

Universos (in)finitos 

As every other night, the scientist left the observation centre with tired steps, walked to the closest irish pub, and order a paint of guinness. That day he wasn’t waiting for any of his colleagues, nor he had brought a newspaper to try catching up with a world that made him dizzy and uncomfortable. That day, after over 20 years, his research was finished. With a slightly trembling hand, he dialled her phone number, and asked her to meet him at the pub. After a few seconds of silence, she agreed.

When he was only 30, he had created a whole revolution, not only proving that parallel universes existed, but also developing the tools to observe them. As Hugh Everett had predicted, every time a sub-atomic event had multiple possible outcomes, all of them actually happened, thus creating a network of branching universes, with all the realities that were physically possible.

At first, they only observed empty universes, were the Big Bang hadn’t happened, or energy and matter travelled around aimlessly. The first time they found a universe in which Earth existed, he made it again into the cover of Time magazine, and he insisted that she took the picture. Becoming rich didn’t change his routine. He worked till late, drunk beer, avoided conferences. Each time she had a new exhibition, he chose his best suit, and admired her black and white pictures. He asked about her life in the last few months, they drank champagne.

As years went by, his technology got better, and he started observing only universes that were similar to his own. He saw planets with impossible races, others in which humanity got stuck in an early state, or was already extinct. On the contrary, observing worlds with enhanced technology allowed him to change the reality of his. Thanks to that knowledge, he was able to restrict his search to worlds were he existed. Like a distorted circus mirror, he saw all possible versions of himself. Becoming a family man, living in the street, robing banks. He sometimes saw himself as a scientist, watching universes at the same time he did. He covered them old, with an artisan’s patience. Until he finished the last one, he didn’t make that phone call.

He didn’t remember the last time they had seen each other. She had less exhibitions lately, and he couldn’t really keep track of time anymore. She looked older, although it could be the lack of make up. As always, she wore black. When she sat down, he finally got the courage to speak.

“I have seen all the possible universes. Milliones of slightly different worlds, comprising everything that can have happened. I have seen every singly one of those realities, and not even in one of them, we are together”.

She got up, with a sad smile. She looked at him for a few seconds, without saying anything, and kissed him on the forehead. Then she invited him to her next openining in London, and left, leaving him in the reality he had always been in.

The scientist sighed, and took another sip of beer, wondering if, in another universe, the kiss had been different.



I’m not sure this is what they were thinking about when they managed to stop aging. The final barrier, human mortality, was shattered, although its broken shards remained in our lives, and they certainly proved fatal.

Of course, you can stop cell degeneration, but that doesn’t stop bullets, flames, or even stupid accidents from destroying your body beyond repair. Death, thus, still lingered above us, even more dreadful, as it could destroy not only a few decades, but literally, all eternity.

People started avoiding any unnecessary risk, and most of them, even the necessary ones. Technology also played its part, allowing the most privileged to stay indefinitely at home, keeping them safe from the feared outside world, full of crashing cars and armed robbers.

As one would expect, religion took one of the hardest hits, but also romanticism was mortally wounded. Eternity was a long time to be spent with a single person, and even if that was your desire, why not wait a couple centuries before tying yourself to someone you may end up despising?

Anyway, maybe being safe and alone may not be such a bad option, who am I to judge. At least they are not bleeding to death in the middle of nowhere, chasing someone who probably didn’t even give a fuck to start with. Or maybe she did, maybe the memories whe forged did add up to something more than some romantic delusion.

Who knows. I guess that even with all the time in the world, the questions are still the same.

Dark Tower

Dark Tower

In the dream, I knew I was dead. My body kept moving, my lungs breathing, but I had the absolut certainty that I wasn’t alive anymore. Instead, my body wandered aimlessly trhough that dark tower, some kind of purgatory shaped like an scorpion tail.

For some reason, I knew that I was supposed to reach the top of the stairs that crawled around the tower. There, I would find redemption, the purifying light, all that bullshit. However, to get to the last step, I had to face all my sins. Every single thing that I had done wrong in my entire life. From the candies I had stolen as a kid, to that time I was so drunk I punched that guy you were dating. Hundreds of small mistakes piled up until they made it almost imposible to walk.

I saw myself saying those horrible things I screamed at you during that one huge fight in the park, and I saw Sophie crying when I went back to you for the fiftieth time. Our whole story was there, full of deamons, pain, and ill intentions.

Step by step, I managed to overcome the shadows and climb up the stairs, until the air got cleaner and I could almost see the clear sky that awaited me. However, now that I was so close to redemption, my legs stopped moving. At first I thought that it was a final punishment, the torture of leaving the key to your chains a few centimeters away from your reach, but then I understood that it was something else.

I simply didn’t repent. I knew I had sinned, but those sins had been my life. Maybe I wasn’t a good person, but a good person could have never been with you. Never fucked you, never looked at you while you were sleeping and saw a glimpse of order inside all the chaos.

With a dumb smile on my face, I turned away from the light and started climbing down the stairs.

Letters (II)

Cartas (II)

[First part here]

Time went by, and as sex entered into Alice’s life, it also did into Elizabeth’s. A game inside the game. Nothing to worry about, she thought. “Every time I close my eyes I dream of that evening in the barn, when your flesh pentrated mine, and the world dissapeared into that bright heat”.

How could anyone real compete with that? Specially those . They were filled with doubts, and spoiled those magic moments asking for permission to touch her tits, or telling her that they were about to come. James didn’t have to worry about fluids of any short, or about small beds or condoms that didn’t want to cooperate.

If that was the only alternative, Elizabeth preferred to go back to James’ letters, to masturbate thinking of James’ fingers caressing her skin. Maybe when she opened her eyes and got out of the room she could only find a hallway full of dirt and noises of children running upstairs, but at least she just had to wait for a week for the next letter.

“I have met someone”, read Elizabeth in dismay. “I don’t understand how it could happen. She is a girl I met at the port, and I guess she reminded me of you. It’s the only explanation. My heart is torn apart, and my body is about to break down in pieces. I love you. And I hate your for it. And I hate myself for hating you. I’m broken. Empty. James”

And for a moment she went back to being Alice, and she imagined Paula as confused as her, and wondered if she had been losing her time searching in the wrong places. And possessed by a great revelation, she started going to lesbian pubs. But they didn’t come back from the war either. And they could also lubricate too much. And Alice went back to square one, and she went back to being Elizabeth.

“I forgive all your sins, my darling, if you can forgive mine. I’ve looked for you in other bodies, afraid that my life would only be an unfulfilled promise. But I’m tired now. Tired of waiting, tired of not finding you, nor anyone who can make you dissapear. As of this moment, I’m going to leave home, I’m going to find you. I don’t care about the war. I prefer bullets and mud to this unbearable wait. I love you. Elizabeth.”

And Alice got on a plane to Buenos Aires, and Elizabeth landed on a beach full of injured soldiers and twisted metal. And she traveled across fields disfigured by trenches, and she scaped from mercenaries with rotten teeth and blood-stained knifes, and she ended up finding James with a badly shaven beard a scar above his eye, but with exactly the same eyes she remembered. And James confessed that the port girl was a lie to let her free, and Elizabeth silenced him with a kiss. And there were no more anoying details to ruin their perfect sex. No more pubs filled with smoke, no more alarm clocks.

No more letters.

Letters (I)

Cartas (I)

Alice could hardly remember how everything had started. Or at least she preferred not to. By then, it seemed too banal. Absurd, almost unreal.

Paula’s parents taking her to Buenos Aires. Their last evening at the movies. An epic love story, of course. Then, the promise of writing letters every week. But not as themselves. That would have been too common, just papers doomed to be forgotten. No, they would be James and Elizabeth. Tragically separated by the war. Any war.

“Darling”, started the first letter, “I don’t know if you will receive this letter. News of more deaths arrive every day, and my heart stops while I read the list for the tenth time, making sure that you are alive, that you will come back. Even though, deep down, I still know you are not dead. My heart would have felt it, even if there is an ocean between us. Come back soon. Always yours, only yours. Elizabeth”

How old where they? Fifteen? A childish game, no doubt, but a game they stayed faithful to month after month. Their world grew deeper with details from Elizabeth’s life at the farm, with stories from James’ fellow soldiers. At leats they were more interesting than high school, which only seemed to offer an endless sucession of half-empty days.

“Frederic wounds are getting better, but something has broken inside his head. His memories have become elusive, and most of the time, i don’t think he recognizes us. God, I don’t know what I would do if that happened to me. If I couldn’t remember the taste of strawberry in your lips. I believe my body would still search for you, guided by fate. Yours, even in oblivion. James.”

When Alice received that letter, she had already started college. She had also spent a week at the hospital after a motorbike accident, had swore not to speak to her parents again, forgoten her words, and sworn them again. She had also tried cocaine for the first and last time, during a night she only half-regreted. Nevertheless, Alice had started to feel that all of those experiences where a mere interlude, an automated life lived by someone who only looked like her. Who talked and moved like her, but who was another person. She was Elizabeth. And everything else were shadows.


To be continued

The rope

La soga

Hector Keres' family never had much of a lifespan. Actually, given their tendency to die within less than a quarter of a century, it almost seemed like a miracle that they had managed to keep their bloodline until our days. Although, if you think about it, flies also manage to survive and they hardly have a few days to procreate.

Furthermore, deaths in Hector's family were rarely accidental. There was no war in which a Keres hadn't died, no tribunal which hadn't sentenced them to the capital punishment. Burned alive by the inquisition, guillotined during the french revolution, hanged in texas. Their obituaries could as well be used by a historian as a catalogue of violent deaths.

Thus, being barely twenty years old, Hector was the last survivor of a doomed saga, and he was painfully aware of it. When he was a little kid, his father had been murdered by his downstair neighbour, who went crazy because of a water leakage nobody could find. About twenty five years earlier, his grandfather had left this world in similar circumstances, after a slightly overprotective general found out his daughter was pregnant. Just as his great-grandfather had ended up in a common grave, after not-so-pleasant transgressions.

All of this, Hector had known since he was a child, becoming a timid lad who feared breaking any rule, with an almost servile kindness with which he tried to avoid at all cost being disliked by anyone, thus triggering any unexpected chain of events that could make him reunite with the rest of his predecessors. Every risk was thoroughly calculated, every social interaction meticulously planned.

Maybe that's the reason Hector studied Psichology, and maybe also why, when his classmate insisted, for the third time, in inviting him to dinner, he was afraid of turning her down again. Only when he found himself naked at her side, did he thought that maybe he was taking more risks than he had thought.

"So, what does your family do?" asked Hector, remembering the tale about his grandfather. Damage control was important.

"Don't freak out, but they have owned a funeral parlor for generations"

"It's a pity they can't meet mine" Hector smiled. "I think our families would have got along just fine".


Photo & text by Aitor Villafranca

After Sex


We were lying naked on the bed, sheets still warm. His body was slightly apart from mine, as he always did after sex, and he had been gazing at the ceiling for some time, lost in his thoughts.

-You know, I’ve always heard that you can almost read a mountain’s story -he said- that it’s somehow etched in each one of its rocks. Centuries of rain and snow, of the tiniest movements shifting whole mountains by sheer patience. But what will happen with our story when it ends? When you wake up one day in someone else’s bed, or when life drags us apart and I end up doing who knows what in just the opposite edge of the world. What will everything add up to then?

I looked at him and reflected for a few moments. I had never seen him talking like that.

-Maybe our athoms will remember -I answered-. Maybe not only after our story ends, but even after we’re dead, and we turn to bones and dust, and our dust becomes part of a rock in the middle of a mountain. Maybe they’ll remember that they were once part of that curve of your jaw that I couldn’t stop caressing, or that they once healed my lips after you bit me so hard that you made them bleed.

As if he was suddenly embarrassed by the conversation, he changed the subject and started talking about an old black and white movie he had just watched. His body, however, was now resting on mine.