Bubble_coverOn April 3, 2027 at 3:42 p.m. EST, the scientists found a dimension in which religion did not exist.

They had first discovered the long-theorized dimensional barrier early in the afternoon of July 27, 2012 utilizing the power from a singularity generated by the Large Hadron Collider in Bern, Switzerland.

Later that day, the ancient gods returned to be worshipped by humanity during the opening ceremonies of the Games of the XXX Olympiad. Physicists at the Collider and inter-dimensional projects, whose efforts were both too small to be seen by the naked eye and contained to a secured chamber at the end of the seventeen-mile ring of Collider tunnel, rejected any notion that the two events were linked.

When news of the Return first reached the director of the top secret inter-dimensional project known only as the Bubble, Dr. Stohler and his counterpart, Collider director Dr. Berkin, agreed immediately on a course of action. They severed all contact with the outside world and sealed off the entire underground unit. “While there may be some truth to the saying that there are no atheists in foxholes,” Dr. Berkin told the assembled staff, “we, who have seen the literal spark of creation recreated with no help from any deity, have no such need for the hand of the divine.”

While the world above was forced to its knees in the worship of beings that called themselves gods, in tunnels as deep as almost six hundred feet below the Franco-Swiss border — a line of demarcation that disappeared like most national borders as governments gave way to theocracies — men and women in white laboratory jackets continued their worship at the altar of science. It required only the smallest fraction of a portion of the singularity’s energy to power the massive facility, which, due to the secrecy of its work, was already on its own self-contained computer network, and also had ample space to maintain hydroponic gardens for food production; water was obtained by tapping the surrounding ground water.

Their work progressed. The world had more important things to worry about than some overpriced science project most people didn’t understand the use for. The gods, products of pre-technological cultures, understood even less and were either unaware or unconcerned with their endeavors.

In 2019, a young German theoretical physicist named Hans Heiterkeit made a breakthrough which enabled the team to pierce the barrier between this dimension and another (adjacent? overlapping? parallel? layered? no one knew), extracting from it several molecules of heretofore unknown properties.

The Parallel Universe Theory was proved. The next step was to exploit that discovery, stretch open the barrier for a look at what was on the other side. And the other side of that. And so on, across the infinite.

Dr. Heiterkeit lead the team seeking the mathematical ram that would batter down the dimensional doors. The power consumption for such a feat would be enormous. “Imagine,” Heiterkeit explained, “all the energy of the lifetime of a universe, expended in the moment between the beating of a hummingbird’s wings.”

Dr. Berkin could imagine. His team engineered an elegant solution of Higgs particles that held an array of singularities in series without consuming themselves, each other, or the whole of reality. That took six years.

But once accomplished, the doors were open and the Bubble filled with the riches of the multiverse. One of the many theories of alternate dimensions held that there was a dimension for every possibility that existed. Another was that they lay against one another in an infinity of layers, like an onion, separated by the previously impenetrable membrane of time/space. Yet another postulated that some manner of interconnectivity already existed; indeed, one explanation for the unifying strength of a force as weak as gravity was that it came to us as leakage from another dimension.

The latter came closest to the reality. “Imagine,” Dr. Heiterkeit explained, “a plate of cooked spaghetti, each strand of the pasta falling where and how it will, its very randomness determining its fate.” Where the strands touched one another, weak spots were created through which the universal forces could pass through osmosis. Other strings became tangled and their fates correspondingly intertwined, sending them off into paralleled and often only subtly different directions.

Seven months after they began scanning the multiverse, they found the first Earth-Parallel World (EPW-1), one in which the evolution had veered off track (or, as some suggested, perhaps it was we who had veered) and Neanderthals had evolved as the dominant, but not only, species of Homo sapiens. Tracing other strands they discovered Earths devoid of any life, Earths where sentient life never evolved, Earths were the dinosaurs continued to roam, Earths where the differences between there and here came down to the survival or death of individuals, some minor, others important, like EPW-236, where Major Henry Rathbone, the president’s guest that night at Ford’s Theater, stopped John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Then, on that April afternoon in 2027, they found EPW-1666, a world exactly like their own, except without the concept of religion.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Dr. Heiterkeit reported to the assemblage of scientists, many who believed not at all, some whose idea of “god” was little more than an abstraction of a moral code, and even those who believed in a Big “G” God, just not one who bothered in or cared about the affairs of man, “imagine a place where the only reason for doing good is the deed itself, not the fear of damnation for failure or the pleasure of reward for success. Imagine a place where mankind has never ceded its fate or gone to war in the name of a higher power.”

The discovery was electric, but it still paled beside Heiterkeit’s next announcement.

“We have thus far limited our interaction with parallel worlds to viewing them … but imagine if we could pass through the separating membrane and enter that universe, that Earth.”

An Earth with no god!

They had lived underground, cut off from the rest of humanity for fifteen years, but radio receivers kept them abreast of the news from the outside world. They didn’t want to die down in the Bubble, but they also didn’t want to return to the surface and renounce everything they believed in to worship storybook gods. The vote was unanimous: They would cross the dimensional divide to EPW-1666, destroying the gateway behind them, seeking refuge on this world brave enough to exist without a God.

On July 27, 2027, the anniversary of the Return, the gateway was activated. Dr. Heiterkeit stood to address his fellow scientific pilgrims about to embark to the godless universe.

“Imagine,” the doctor exclaimed, the gateway pulsing behind him, the Higgs-linked singularities primed to unleash a mathematically improbable release of energy, “if it were the gods who had discovered the pathway to the infinite worlds of the infinite universes and not us. You are prepared to cross to a world where man could not even conceive of a power so high they would be forced to worship it. Imagine the delight of the gods to find such a place … to overrun and crush the arrogance from its godless inhabitants and make them, advanced and civilized men, bow before their primitive but unstoppable might.”

His colleagues were confused.

“What do you mean, Dr. Heiterkeit? You sound as if you believe in these so-called gods,” Dr. Stohler stammered.

“Do I? Imagine, if after all these years, it turned out that I was a deist after all,” Hans Heiterkeit laughed.

“That would be … puzzling,” Dr, Berkin said.

“Ah ah ah, not if, in fact, I was a deity,” Heiterkeit screeched and, still laughing, ripped his face from his skull.

Dr. Stohler vomited and Dr. Berkin fainted to the floor. The rest of them ran or screamed or tried to hide.

Dr. Heiterkeit just laughed.

“Please allow me to introduce myself. Heiterkeit … German for ‘mirth,’ for I am nothing if not a mirthful fellow,” he cried out, his voice now shrill with laughter and cutting through all their screams and cries. “My true name is Loki, son of Odin, brother of Thor, master of deceit, trickster god supreme. And I, my dear, dear humans of reason and wisdom, I have been watching you very closely.”

Loki turned to regard the pulsing gateway and giggled before returning his gaze on his terrified audience.

“In fact, I must confess I have been doing more than merely watch.”

“What … what have you done with Heiterkeit?” Dr. Stohler, sufficiently recovered, demanded.

“Imagine,” Loki said in Hans Heiterkeit’s voice, “that a trickster god found an underground warren of frightened little scientists scurrying about in search of escape. Bored, the trickster god might very well have walked among them in disguise and fed them tiny and gradual tastes of hope. A molecule from another dimension. A myriad of worlds. A myriad of worlds like this one. Then … a world like this one on which no gods exist, and finally … an escape route to the world like this one on which no gods exist.

“Hope, my darling little atheists! Imagine if the trickster god fed them all those tiny but tantalizing morsels, and then imagine … he pulled the plug!”

Loki snapped his fingers and the massive gateway stopped pulsing. The sleek mechanism, built to exacting specifications and crafted by hand over years, was nothing but a hodgepodge of pipes, tubing, bundled wires, and panels of flashing lights wrapped in silver foil-backed insulation and held together by twist-ties, wire, bits of string, bungee cords, and shoelaces.

“Well, my dears, imagine no more!”

The trickster god collapsed to the floor in hysterical laughter. Their shock had worn off and the truth was dawning on the scientists. They were all smart enough to know that their real torment hadn’t even begun.

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For more tales of the ReDeus Universe, check out

ReDeus: Divine Tales, ReDeus: Beyond Borders, and ReDeus: Native Lands, available fromC8 final logo

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