The Mystery of the Universal Trifle

by Bertil Falk

A Greta Imelda Gandhi Adventure

The part of the existence represented by the co-ordinates 15º vertical, 39º horizontal, 173º parallel — and, to make doubly sure, 223º tranversal and 3º parafrontal as of the 331st Tsar, Anno Domini 23,956 — is a spot seldom visited. Perhaps because it is disposed to oscillate in a state of existence that makes the given co-ordinates change all the time. In other words, it is a kind of a universal Måkläpp.

For the purpose of defining its status on any given occasion, one was forced to indicate the co-ordinates, as has been done above, at a certain moment in accordance with a generally valid GCT, Galactic Central Time. In other words, the described determinations correspond to a number of different descriptions, which are wholly depending on the point of time as expressed in GCT.

Get it?

Without penetrating to the bottom of this mystery, Greta Imelda Gandhi — known for her detecting in Time and Space — had been requested by her boss to inquire into this anomaly in existence. According to — for the time being, valid — laws of nature, things seemed to behave as if they were under the jurisdiction of other laws. It had long been known that natural laws were not a bunch of static phenomena but partly and slowly going through change-deterministic changes. Under certain circumstances, “partly” could be put out of the running suddenly and bluntly, so to speak.

Paradoxically, these changes occurred entirely according to known natural laws, for the reversal of the laws of nature took place according to those laws. What occurred at the elusive point Double Zero seemed, when regarded from the sidelines, to be a total chaos of wrongly divided realities, where normal rhyme and reason had no chance to throw its weight about.

The reason that Greta Imelda Gandhi was commissioned by her boss to take up the cause of this mess was simply the fact that the confounded point Double Zero had a marked tendency to interfere with certain distances over which commodities were transported. Double Zero affected transport between and within a number of sectors of great significance for inter-cosmological freight traffic.

Deep-fried flame-bones from the star system Sirius went astray; water- based sporanges from the plantations on the outskirts of the Denebian system reached their destinations in a dry state; not to mention the preserved oatmeal porridge and the boiled pork from Earth that was required in exchange for dragon-liver oil from the hunting-grounds of Rigel. Affected by the Double Zero, the porridge and the boiled pork arrived in a fried state detrimental to both commodities.

Here one could actually say that the fat was in the fry. And fried oatmeal porridge was, next to dragon-liver oil, the worst that the dragon hunters of Rigel could imagine. That was why they tried to get rid of the dragon oil and export it as fast as possible.

Some minor adjustments of the route structure of the traffic web had only involved marginal changes within the transport system, and these changes were not always for the worse; they could just as well mean improvement over the interference of the Double Zero.

In short: no one had any idea how to control the situation, and as long as they did not know how this space-time anomaly functioned, they could not expect to “grab hold of the problem” as the mandarins of the central ministry of transport and communications put it.

When the Queen of Spades understood the economic implications, she instantly realized that a person who had access to an instrument that could trim the problem stood to earn convertible patterns. And the Queen of Spades had such an instrument among her staff.

That is: Greta Imelda Gandhi, the short-tempered and snooty problem-solver, who specialized in space-time. Greta Imelda Gandhi had a long series of exquisite, bloody troubleshooting sprees on her lack of conscience — time-bound ones as well as space-less ones.

Her fitness for work and her lack of principle made the old slogan of the Jesuits — The End Justifies The Means — look like a harmless unrhymed nursery rhyme. She was, in other words, the most suited for the mission. She was the one who, on the whole, was available within the chartered part of the existence and parts of absence not yet mapped.

She set to work at the task with an enthusiasm that caused balitaneses, lilac Khmers and neophysites to turn pale, where they made a litter of the garbage dumps of history.

She began with a real underhanded trick. She took a mental kitchen-knife and incised a black hole around the imaginary, dashed line that marks out the event horizone. No, not the event horizon, stupid: the event hori-zone!!!

It was the work of an instant, but it had the unpleasant side effect that the white hole it was in touch with spat out half a dozen universes. They had already bolted even before the supposed Big Bang, and furthermore a couple of space sectors were annihilated with ensuing problems for a large number of mankinds of varying nature and disposition. As luck would have it, the transport system was not affected by this particular catastrophe.

Greta Imelda Gandhi could of course have used a more sophisticated instrument instead of a mental kitchen knife. With a dental can-opener, she could have performed the process in a much more painless way, like extracting a tooth smoothly.

Anyhow, it served the purpose. At the moment she cut open the event horizone, she could like a coin fall through the opening of a piggy bank or an automat or whatever metaphor one could use to describe the approach of the indescribable phenomenon Double Zero.

She had also as early as the initial stage cleared off what the blockheads of the Central Ministry of Transport and Communications had not been able to do ever since the first try as per 23rd Purr A.D. 27,571.

Here it should be interposed that the attempts that preceded Greta Imelda Gandhi's appearance had been launched many years after she got her teeth into the case. The reason for this anachronism was that she was forced to go back in time to 331st Tsar A.D. 23,956 in order to peg in Double Zero when it was in the co-ordinates 15º vertical, 39º horizontal, 173º parallell and, what is more, 223º tranversal and 3º parafrontal.

Anyhow! She had now succeeded in entering Double Zero itself — at whatever point of time or point of space it was — and it was here that the problems accumulated like mountains of dragon droppings during the general strike of the galactic garbage collectors at Proxima Centauri.

Greta Imelda Gandhi had barely slipped through the ripped event horizone when she tripped over an inverted paradoxical threshold and was flushed into a limited quantum ditch, which as yet had not decided whether to exist or not.

Now, this was not the first time Greta Imelda Gandhi had landed in an unstable quantum field, and she succeeded in throwing the absence with a headlock, swinging herself back into existence.

Now she realized that the oscillation between existence and absence could be the reason for the disturbances of the porridge trade, and she decided on encompassing the confounded quantum ditch in a snare. Of course, not any snare but rather a universal reef knot consisting of two Klein bottles. Since she had no prefabricated Klein bottles, she was content with a pair of Möbius strips.

Like a universal cowgirl, she swung and threw her Möbius lasso and captured the quantum ditch with a multi-dimensional throw. However, she had not taken into account the strength of her victim, who made an ecliptic jump and dragged her halfway through the Foible Zero before she could stop the wretched thing, thrusting it into the so-called Coalsack. She tied up the sack with an extra slip knot.

Satisfied, she went back the way she had come, only to face the information that a raging-mad Queen of Spades wished to see her strapped on an Oberonian rack. This instrument of torture, where the victim is exposed to a mental Doppler effect, caused Greta Imelda Gandhi to fly headlong.

When she was safe with her one-eyed maternal aunt at a secret spot somewhere in the Southern Cross, she learned she had succeeded in affecting the conveyance of goods, and to such a degree that canned oatmeal porridge and boiled pork not only arrived thoroughly done but actually burned, and not seldom in a charred state.

When The Queen of Spades realized that her secret agent had not cleaned the fairways but had turned them into crematoria that delivered imported articles in the form of ashes, she ordered the mental rack, which not had been used for centuries, to be taken out of storage. As things stood, some good advice was needed, but who would Greta Imelda Gandhi be if she did not come up with that?

With an elegant left-hand turn, she scraped together her last numismans, bought herself a scrapped Rissman cruiser and returned with the assistance of the Futuremen’s time thruster to the innermost depth of the Coalsack, where she untied the Möbius strips, sprayed the quantum ditch with US622, and let it loose.

The effect was not overdue.

In a jiffy, all the disturbances of the fairways were cleaned away, and the Queen of Spades conferred on Greta Imelda Gandhi the Order of Catastrophe, third magnitude, which is bestowed only for some miserable achievement that is disentangled at the end. It had never before been conferred.

Whereupon the Queen of Spades, without much ado, put Greta Imelda Gandhi in the Doppler variant of the medieval rack.

Sic transit, etc.

Copyright © 2010 by Bertil Falk

to Challenge 390

Home Page