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ME Burnham

"Atoms" by ME Burnham

SciFi/Fantasy text 2 out of 21 by ME Burnham.      ←Previous - Next→
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Follow a writer and her science-geek friend through one zany conversation. (Oh, and don't take the science TOO seriously because I fudge a bit ^_~)
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←- What if I'm a monster? | Balance -→

“What are you doing, Darcy?”

“Huh?” She looked up to find her best friend’s face inches from her own. Darcy squeaked as she toppled over backward. Her heart beat behind her eyes, and her breath caught in her throat.

“Geeze, Vivian!” She scowled as she picked herself from the floor. “Why do you do that to me?”

The twinkle of response in the hazel eyes was infuriating at best. Just because they’d been best friends for all their lives…

“Because it’s so easy. What are you doing?”

Darcy huffed as she gathered up her strewn writing utensils. She didn’t understand why Vivian found it necessary to startle her like that.  A breath of air blew an annoying piece of hair out of her eyes as she looked up at her friend. “Writing,” she snapped. There wasn’t even a polite attempt to hide her irritation.

“More of your melodrama, I suppose.”

Darcy huffed at the unfair comment. She didn’t write melodrama. Was it her fault that everyone understood pain and suffering? Bad things happen. People relate to that sort of thing. Look at the classics. What are they? Painful stuff full of suffering—the hero dies. It’s not sunshine and roses. People hurt, and life stinks. That’s what people like.

Vivian stopped Darcy before she exploded with these and a thousand more justifications for her chosen style. “Don’t get defensive. I was just wondering if you were branching out yet.”

“There’s nothing wrong with what I write—and it’s not even all like that. Besides, what else do you think is worthy of attention?”


Darcy stared at the small lamp her friend held up, and she huffed in irritation. “You’re so random.” She started to turn away.

“Are you going to be cranky, or are you going to listen to me?”

Darcy crossed her arms and glared at her friend, gripping her anger as a child grips a toy it doesn’t want to share. That quirky, self-assured smile, those laughing eyes, and that nearly all-knowing expression—she remembered why she cherished Vivian’s friendship.

“What?” she asked, her tone softened by  a sigh.

“Do you know what I’m holding?”

“Of course I do,” Darcy answered, shuffling her papers away. “It’s a lamp. Big deal.”

“No this.”

“Fine! A light bulb; so what?”

“You know, for a writer, you’re awful narrow-minded.”

“Awwww, thanks.” She feigned flattery before her face fell again to something between irritation and frustration. “I fail to see the point of this exercise.”

Vivian smiled again, well-acquainted with Darcy’s moods and knowing what was necessary to make up for the previous affront. “Sit.”

Darcy joined Vivian on the dormitory-lounge’s only couch and crossed her arms. She almost didn’t want to be awed and inspired by the beautiful genius Vivian was sure to turn out. “What?”

“What makes a light-bulb light up?”

I’m not the science-geek. You are.”

“Atoms—wonderfully-simple, excellently-complex atoms—that’s what. Energy working through and with the atoms… They absorb the energy and emit it again. It’s beautiful really. Like perfection.”

“You are a nerd.”

Vivian laughed in response but didn’t let the comment sidetrack. “What is the structure of an atom, if you please?”

Darcy glared, still irritated. She hadn’t asked for a science quiz. She was more than happy to squash her most recent character into a pulp of misery, pain, and suffering with only false hope to keep them pressing on.

Vivian got the message and, smiling, continued. “A central mass with energized objects running around it—almost no mass—electrons. Electrons are what actually cause the light, right?”

Darcy nodded, trying to appease her friend. “Sure,” she sighed. Maybe she had that filed away somewhere in the dusty stacks where she’d thrown everything she’d ever learned about chemistry.

“What is our solar system like?”

“Vivi…” she whined.

“Just answer!”

“We orbit the sun along with the other ten planets. There’s an asteroid cloud outside Hebron’s range. There are a total of twenty-five satellites. There’s life on five planets now and…”

“Ooooh, someone read last night’s homework,” Vivian complimented, cutting Darcy off. Her answer was more than enough.

Darcy shrugged before Vivian continued. “And compared to the size of the whole system, how much mass does the solar system actually have?”

“Almost none.”

“And what did they determine last year?”

“Kripes, Vivian! I don’t know!”

“Sorry,” Vivian said, head shaking. It was difficult for Vivian to remember that Darcy wasn’t a science-nerd and wouldn’t be up on that ‘science-mumbo-jumbo’, as the writer dubbed it. “Astronomers determined that our sun is very probably orbiting a very large mass somewhere so far away we can’t even detect it yet.”

“Okay. So what?”

Vivian grinned and turned the lamp on. Bright light washed over the pair, and Darcy squinted to keep her eyes from tearing up. Vivian wore a blissful and triumphant grin.

“We’re an electron.”

“Come again?” She could only stare, incredulous, at her friend. That was a stretch even for Vivian, and she’d heard some crazy things come out of that mouth.

“We’re the electron in some giant’s light-bulb… and there are worlds upon worlds within our own.”

The awe and surety in Vivian’s voice made Darcy steal a glance at the light-bulb to try and see just what her friend was trying to convince her of. Her eyes burned, and she wanted to blink, but she just had to try and see what Vivian spoke of. She had to admit… it was an interesting idea.


Dr. Alfred Kennington sat at the most powerful telescope ever built. The mammoth seated on Mt. McKinley’s shoulders was his pride and joy. Fifty years of hard work, begging, pleading, threatening, and conning—and now he had it.

It was ready. It had been ceremonially christened. The crowds had gone, leaving him alone with his baby. He rubbed his hands together like a schoolboy intent on stealing a pie his mother just set out to cool. Kennington was about to see what no other human had ever seen. He was going to sit at his telescope on top of the mountain and laugh as he beheld the cosmos beyond imagination—the universe beyond comprehension.

Dr. Kennington adjusted the settings, turned the knobs, played with the switches, relishing in the joy and pleasure of being the only witness to this new depth of Atlas’s burden. He quivered with excitement as he leaned forward and pressed his face into the twin eye rests.

“Impossible!” he shouted aloud as he moved the telescope to see the entire image.

He looked once, looked twice, and even looked a third time. What was that huge body he found in the sky trillions of light-years away? No, surely it couldn’t be what it looked like—too much coffee or maybe too much expectation. No, surely it was all a mistake. His eyes were playing tricks on him. It was ludicrous. Whoever heard of an eye-like structure in outer-space? People would think he’d lost his mind.

He pulled back and shook his head. He pressed his fingers into his eye, hoping to clear whatever insanity called on that strange image. One more look to be sure… maybe it would be gone now. Then he could chalk it up to exhaustion and a fidgety mind.

He sighed with relief. The structure was in his imagination; no more.


Darcy pulled back from the light and shook her head. Her eyes hurt now, but she wasn’t anywhere near as irritated as she’d been. It was a good idea, even if it was preposterous.

“Do I hear inspiration running around inside that head of yours, Darcy?” Vivian asked, his bright eyes smiling.

“You just might,” she answered, reaching out to shove his shoulder as a single tentacle extended to extinguish the light.

←- What if I'm a monster? | Balance -→

11 Jul 2006:-) Richard Aaron Bruns
This is a good rendition of an old sci-fi concept. I like the way you play with our assumption that the main characters are human.
21 Aug 2006:-) Amy the Ames Perkins
Astrologers determined that our sun is very probably orbiting a very large mass somewhere so far away we can�t even detect it yet.� ~~~~~ My big beef with this paragraph is the choice of the word Astrologer.....I believe a better choice would be astronomer, cosmologist or astrophysicist. Astrologers are people who interpret behavior of people and predict the future based on the position of the planets in the solar system. Astronomers and astrophysicists study the solar system in a much more quantifiable scientific manner (I’m a scientist, sorry, had to point that out)

Other than that, I LOVED the twist. Oh it was perfect. Absolutely perfect. And as for Peter Vabrel’s comment, technically....we’ve split an electron. It defies all sorts of physics, but we’ve done it.....so technically this might be possible =D
2 Feb 200745 Penguin Master!
We, the penguin people, like it and will do more liking the near ice age.

Out of the cage!
13 Apr 2007:-) Hedenholm
"We’re an electron" that really made for me! Awesome outset for a sci-fi story. Is Vivian a guy? I didn’t really get that.

Anyway, I really like the idea, hope there’s more on the way.
27 Apr 2007:-) Sarah-amy haley
Brilliant, should come in very useful with my science GCSEs!
I love stories like this, it’s strange, but makes sense.
Job’s a gudden. Must go see what else you’ve got!
5 Aug 2007:-) Kelsey M. Graham
*grins* coils upon coils... Me likes, me likes very much.
11 Aug 2007:-) Laura Soret
You know, actually, i�ve always thought that too? Yey!! I knew where the thing was going long before Vivian told slow Darcy, hehe! I consider myself an artist, but i�m also awefully amazed by sciency stuff like such. I watch documentaries and all^^ *proud smile* So yeah!!! And when i saw what an atom looked like and what it could look like inside an electron and stuff I said, Damn!!! It�s our milky way!!! So yeah, interesting that you got the same idea! Interesting story, yup yup! congrats again on the believable conversation, very proffessional all of it. I envy you so...
20 Sep 2007:-) Debbie Newcomb
^_^ I re-read this so I already knew the twist but it was still good. A miniature mammoth, huh? Hm...... ^_^ Inside your head? I’m sure there are a myriad of characters pounding on the inside of your skull, ready to burst outwards at a moment’s notice! ...yeah. It’s International Talk like a Pirate Day today, me matie. ^_^
6 Nov 2008:-) Amy Ruth Schley
This is cute. Scott Adam’s book "God’s Debris" plays with some more pseudo-science to make some interesting points.

I do love the idea of loops within loops. It’s a bit like the ST:TNG were Prof. Moriaty "escapes" from the holodeck by making the real people think that they are in the real ship when they were in the holodeck.
8 Aug 2009:-) Melissa "Bee" Stephan
Good job. I like the characters, both Darcy and Vivian are pretty believable, and they bounce off of each other well. Keep up the good work.
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 • Created by: :-) ME Burnham
 • Copyright: ©ME Burnham. All rights reserved!

 • Keywords: Alien, Idea, Mind, New, Stretch, Worlds
 • Categories: Humourous or Cute Things
 • Views: 740

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