FLASH FICTION: What Color Is This Apocalypse?
Everyone remembers where they were when the world began to end, mostly because everyone was sitting on their couch or in an office arguing with friends, family, or coworkers about the color of #TheDress. Cultural divisions formed with startling ease over Gold/White vs. Black/Blue. A man in Virginia was stabbed during a bar dispute, but mostly, the argument was constrained to social media.
Scientists and journalists working together scrambled to put together uneasy explanations involving the optic nerve, visual cortex, or cones in the eye. Nobody was fully convinced with the explanations, but within a day, the actual photo in question had faded into a series of memes and jokes. A week later, the world forgot about it, except for that geriatric corner of Facebook where your grandparents lived and you secretly suspect the speed of light is a third what it is everywhere else.
Then #TheFruit happened, and that was when we realized #TheDress was a harbinger of something much worse. Twitter user @Bollocks13 posted a simple photo of a piece of fruit captioned: “Uh… is this a banana or an apple?” Some viewers claimed to see a long, yellow fruit–a completely ordinary banana. Others insisted in describing a round, bright red apple with a nub of stem. Accusations of hacked systems flew back and forth. “Very funny,” said Twitter user @NotMyJerb, “but this is clearly showing people different photographs.”
Experts analyzed screen captures of the image and it was found that the duality of the #TheFruit persisted even offline. An explanation did not come easily, and the debate raged twice as loudly on the Internet this time. A disagreement about #TheFruit led to a wife stabbing her husband in Detroit 16 times.
When people started to report see both, simultaneously, the quantum physicists got involved in the discussion. Tests were conducted in laboratories and particle accelerators around the globe; meanwhile, battle lines were being drawn online not between those who claimed “banana” or “apple,” but between those who thought the entire controversy was an elaborate hoax and those who suspected it meant something awful.
“Our working theory is that the underlying mechanics of quantum mechanics and observational bias are breaking down somehow,” said lead particle physicist at Cern, Fabiola Gianotti. “Evidence has come to light of additional objects that seem to appear simultaneously in multiple states — we are currently studying an automobile that appears to be a car, a truck, and a minivan at the same time.”
The breakdown accelerated from there. Marches for peace overlapped simultaneously riots in the streets. It’s hard to say anymore what really happened after that.
People lived and died on operating tables – medical staff were at a loss what to do with the resulting breathing corpses. The poor became wealthy, but only between blinks, and their money spent irregularly.
Our genders blurred into meaninglessness. “From my perspective” became not just a “couching term” but a bit of reflexive language tacked on to nearly every observational statement.
“From my perspective, the bus has arrived.”
“From my perspective, the bus is a jetliner, and it just took off.”
Society survived. It collapsed. The sky turned puce. Chartreuse is not a deep red; it’s a shade of yellow-green. Or is it?
I live a mostly solitary life now, like a monk. Many of us do, among the survivors. We cannot trust our senses, and we cannot trust that what we say will be perceived correctly by our observers. It’s not so bad. There is grace to be found in a state of flux.
We’ve learned to accept confusion and ignorance. With the complete collapse of objective reality, many of the old arguments died quick deaths, or at least were made irrelevant. We think so, anyway – you must remember, these are merely opinions and they should bear little weight on how you perceive things.
Only one thing troubles me right now. I don’t know who is writing this.
Is it me, or is it you?