If you don't already know, I'm running a Kickstarter to raise money to make an album of songs that you'll read about in my debut novel, THE TEMPTATION OF ADAM. One of the rewards of the Kickstarter is called "The Chattanoogan." This reward includes two short stories written by ME based in, and around, Chattanooga.
This is the first few pages of my short story called HEAVY LIGHT. A story in which a kid solves a scientific problem that will change the way the world travels, lives, and builds. If you wanna know what happens, you know what you've gotta do.
A Kickstarter exclusive short story
By Dave Connis
November 17, 2044
I sit in the Chattanooga Library, looking over my shoulder every other second. I shouldn’t be paranoid; but my brother was murdered a week ago, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s connect to what I’m doing. What I’m about to do. I mean, people stopped trying to figure The Mematiane Problem over twenty years ago. If I shouted “Mematiane” right now, you know what would happen?
But time elapsed doesn’t equal happy-riding-with-the-windows-down-all’s-well feelings. My knee bounces. I swing my hands up to my hair, but in the process, I knock a Krystal off my workspace and scramble to pick it up before a librarian sees.
I look back at the screen. My brother is dead. On the eve of our lives changing, the world changing, he’s dead. It has to be connected. I don’t care what the cops say. I look around again. This has to go south, but all I see is someone hiding from a librarian in the stacks in order to eat a taco from Taco Bell. I hate Taco Bell, so I hate him pretty much instantly.
From a notebook I snatched from the lost and found downstairs, I copy the rest of my equation onto an ancient reply form on The Tech Bubble website. I do it slowly. Tapping the keyboard with only one finger to make sure I don’t make any mistakes. Then, for the thousandth time, I check the math. And for the nine hundred and ninety ninth time out of a thousand—I mistook a 6 for a g during one of the calculations. I don’t want to talk about it—I solve the Mematiane Problem.
I stare at it the ancient form. All hard edges and HTML. Then stare at it some more. I look around the library again. I shouldn’t be this freaked. No one expects a sixteen year-old to have a solution to one of the biggest questions in the modern age.
No one remembers the Mematiane Problem, Jack. No one. I say to myself, trying to believe it. Trying to believe the last week of my life has just been a series of strange and incredibly unfortunate circumstances.
I take a breath.
I click send.
I’m redirected to the blue and white website I know like my walking route from Boulder Ridge apartment 4B the Chattanooga Library. A flashy Mc D’s arch yellow script pops up.
We’ll see if you’ve got it. We’ll respond in 2-3 weeks. Thanks for playing.
God it’s hot in here. A summer day in pop’s no AC house. Back when he was alive at least. I look at a girl to the left of me. She’s got a fur coat on. The guy to my right has a beanie on.
Okay, so maybe it’s just me.
I study those flashing yellow words one last time. I’ve wondered about the “after submit” life for six years. Granted, all of my scenarios included my brother. So this exact moment is brand new. I hate it, feel exhilarated, scared, happy, and so damn angry all at the same time.
I try to imprint that horrible font into my memory, because, at some point, I’ve still got to go home. I’ve still got to see my wreck of a father-and-one-son-less mom. Those yellow letters are all I have to get me through the next two to three weeks.
I stand from my computer, and I feel…lost. My last six years have all been devoted to solving this problem and now that I’ve done it, I don’t know what’s next, and I’d rather go to Taco Bell than home.
Tension bubbles in my gut, then bleeds into my finger and suddenly all I want to do is hit refresh on my inbox. I sit down.
You get one inbox refresh a day.
Otherwise I’ll go crazy.
I log back into my email. I know nothing will be there. It’s only been a few minutes, but I do it anyway, and when I sign in.
There’s a response from firstname.lastname@example.org.
The subject is “Well, Hot Damn.”
Here’s what I, Jack Smyth, know.
The Mematiane Heavy Light Proposal was published by quarterly magazine called The Tech Bubble on October 17th, 2022. TTB was known for it’s quacky articles, and by known, I mean you’d do better using The Onion as a scientific source. TTB’s regular contributors included a former professor who wrote a twenty page long argument suggesting that earth worms changed into mice as soon as they came out of the ground, and a electronic engineer who thought Crisco was the key to a renewable energy source. So when the Mematiane Heavy Light Proposal came out on TTB’s blog, no one paid attention.
It started with a few shares among engineer snobs and fringe tech geeks. Then it made it’s way to college students studying related majors. It wasn’t until an MIT engineering major wrote his senior thesis seemingly proving the theory.
That’s when it went viral.
The theory pretty much stated there was a way to add mass to light so that it became a “manipulatable” substance. “Manipulatable” in such a way that you could use it to hold things. Light like the pockets in your shirt. Light as sidewalks. Light as shelves in your living room. Mematiane also developed a complimentary tech using his “heavy light.” He called it a Light Reactor, which turned the Heavy Light into a renewable fuel, not Crisco, SURPRISE, through a system only one dude in Sweden could attempt to explain.
Mematiane had a specific purpose for his theory. He wanted to create an international Heavy Light rail system that could take you to and from cities at a little less than the speed of light, and he wanted Chattanooga to be the hub. The brain. The center of it all. He wanted to put the Choo Choo back in Chattanooga.
Think about it.
From Chattanooga to London in a matter of minutes using light as renewable energy?
His plan was to attach his technology to a train, and the Heavy Light would be made from tiny projectors on the bottom of the train.
The train would cast its own tracks in the shape of a sheet of yellow light, completely getting rid of the need for millions of miles of tracks that needed maintenance.
Completely revolutionizing travel.
Completely revolutionizing everything.
November 17, 2044
I stare at the email.
My eyes go over the words again and again and again.
I’d long given up the search for someone who could solve my problem, and, though I must run your numbers a few more times, it seems as if—I cannot believe I’m saying this— you’ve done it.
It’s been 15 years since I launched the search for the solution to my problem, and here you are. After all had forgotten that I even existed. Congratulations, Jack. If your solution is correct, your life is about to change. Our lives, the world is about to change. Don’t tell anyone.
I see by an immense stroke of destiny that you’re in Chattanooga. This is pleasing to me. The universes way of making it up to me/keeping things home. Please come by my office immediately.
I look forward to working together,
Byron Chapel Mematiane II
If you wanna know what happens, you know what you've gotta do.