Chapter 3

Section 1: Dimensions

 

“It is hubris to think that the way we see things is everything there is.”

Lisa Randall

 

“Nature loves to hide.”

Heraclitus

 

 

Uinta Mountains, Utah.

Running down the mountainside, concentrating, dodging boulders and trees, our feet displayed the magic of youth by never missing their mark. Maneuvering over jagged gray rocks and stirring up the smell of fallen leaves we each forged our own path. This was our hour to be free: to wonder, to yell out for no reason, to be boys.

As we decended we started to sense a strange aura to the place. Something was different about this place. A blanket of mist danced about the base of its trees, but there was something more. There were secrets here, something drawing us in like a mesmerizing murmur.

Soon we were racing to touch every hidden corner of this new landscape. I darted off in my own direction where the mist had thickened into a fog that swirled around my legs as I sliced through it. Every time I disturbed it, the fog became a little more transparent. Noticing this, I hunched down, held still, and watched the fog fill back in. The sky above was textured with a curtain of virga – rain streamers that had escaped the clouds but ceased their fall short of the ground.

Between the virga and the fog I saw something strange. A single leafless tree was vigilantly moving back and forth. I had to investigate. When I reached the base of that tree I saw one of my fellow scouts trying to topple it. Like several others in the forest, the tree was dead. Also, like several other trees in the forest, it was about to be transformed into a twenty-foot javelin. Soon, all of us had one of our own.

With our new weapons in hand we raced further down the mountain pretending to be on medieval horses. The gradient beneath us diminished until we rode into a level clearing. It was a large open field of wild grass. The sunlight highlighted a brilliant green, giving this place the feel of an oasis in the middle of a grey forest. This was the place we had been searching for. There was more to this field than could be seen. We all sensed it. Silently we walked out into the clearing. Then simultaneously, we stopped. There was something very strange going on, something that we could not yet identify. Frozen in our tracks, we all looked around. The birds were singing their same songs, the mist still hugged the shadows of the trees, but something was out of place. We had all felt it. With our curiosity piqued, we slowly continued toward the center of the opening. Then we discovered what it was. The ground was moving.

It wasn’t an earthquake; that much we knew. Each time we took a step, the thick grass beneath us rippled outward. The closer we got to the center, the more amplified the waves became. It felt like a stiff waterbed. If we stood close together, the ground beneath us would depress and slowly fill with water. If we walked alone, the ground depressed only slightly, remaining completely dry. We had discovered a hot spring, camouflaged by a thick mat of grass with tightly interwoven roots.

Wanting to know how deep the water was, we scattered ourselves about the middle, then one of the boys pierced the ground with the pointed end of his javelin. We watched as the long pole disappeared into the ground. The boy pulled it back out and, as tradition dictated, instantly came up with a dare for Brian.

Brian was my best friend in Junior High School. One of thirteen children, he was lanky, scrawny, and had a deep voice for his age. He was always hungry and in need of food money, so he invited dares. Brian also enjoyed the attention.

“I’ll pay two dollars to see Brain do a cannonball in the ground right here,” the boy said. “Me too,” said another, “but it has to be a double leg cannonball.” We quickly agreed on the terms and shelled out two dollars each into one big pile.

Brian prepared himself with a display of showmanship. We backed away from the selected spot and watched intensely. Fully dressed, he found a good starting point and began to run. Then, when he reached the predetermined location, he jumped high into the air and grabbed both knees.

We all clenched our teeth. It looked like this was really going to hurt. None of us could have expected what came next. When Brian hit the ground he just disappeared. The grass must have parted beneath him, but there was no splash, no left over hole. He was just gone. If I hadn’t already discovered that there was a deep pool of water beneath the grass, I would have been completely convinced that I had just witnessed a person going through a wormhole or a stargate. One moment he was here and the next he wasn’t. We were stunned.

A few seconds went by, maybe fifteen, and none of us had moved or made a sound. None of us knew what to do or what to think. Then, one of the boys who was usually quiet unnervingly said, “We killed him.” Another didn’t seem as worried. “No we didn’t,” he said, “he just went into another dimension.” “Stick a tree in there,” someone suggested. “No,” I said. “You’ll poke him. He can swim. He’s a strong swimmer.” I knew this was true and I knew he could hold his breath for over two minutes, but I didn’t know if either of those things counted in this situation.

Just as we started to move toward the mysterious spot, an arm jutted out of the ground. Muddy fingers were reaching around pulling handfuls of grass. Looking back, I can’t help but wonder what someone would have thought if they had walked up at this moment — especially if it was during Halloween.

Brian pulled himself out with little trouble and had a good laugh when he saw our expressions. When we asked why he was down there so long, he said it was much warmer than he expected and he just had to explore. Apparently he didn’t think we’d become so concerned. It would be a while before any of us would dare him again.

After the danger and novelty of this experience subsided, I started thinking: what if Brian really had gone to another dimension; what would that even mean? I considered it for a while and realized that I honestly didn’t know what a dimension was. I had some idea, but the whole concept became rather confusing when I stared it directly in the face.

That’s when I figured out that I needed to focus in on the riddle of dimensions. I felt that I had successfully uncovered a key question, now it was time for me to find the answer.

 



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