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The Science of Hypocrisy
Author's note: My passion has always been physics. I love everything about it, but every time I express this to anyone who isn't in my AP Physics class, they jokingly called me crazy and stated that it was one of their worst subjects. I am determined to change this in not only my friends, but also other people who can't seem to find a connection with physics or find it interesting. I wanted to write this novella to show people that physics can be interesting and fun. I know I had a blast writing this piece, so I hope that my readers will have a blast reading it, and maybe even learn something along the way.
The tan squirrel flew stealthily by, dodging the awkwardly grounded trees.
“HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!”
He looked back long enough to fly nose first into a high branch, making a loud thump. Sad and embarrassed, he then sulked away.
“COME TO A HALT RIGHT NOW!”
He looked back yet again, a tree branch shape pattern still embedded in his fur. He sniffled slightly, ready to burst out crying. His nose hurt, but more importantly, he dropped the nut that it was carrying.
I am, unfortunately, that squirrel. It was a nice nut. Really round and full of nutty-goodness. Those idiots actually made me drop it. It’s a long way down though; there’s no way I could have gotten it. Stupid police. They think they have nothing better to do than stop people hovering on the wrong level. Damn these levels! I’m so old and I have never had to get onto one of those infernal levels. I’m fine hovergliding through just the open air. Without all these annoying cars and trains and people. But that day, that infernal girl decided to hoverglide through the train level, probably because there was never any traffic on the train level. To the police however: capitol crime. They dragged her by her hair, once again, through the air and into their hovercar.
Really, I thought nothing of it until I saw her again, a few years later. She was wearing an orange jumpsuit and trying to run. Any person who was crazy enough to walk, let alone run, was definitely worth my attention. What was she doing without her suit? I followed her for a bit, hovering close, but not too close. I was above her enough so that she didn’t stand a chance of seeing me. Little did I know, however, that following her that day would be one of the worst decisions of my life.
Let me start at the beginning.
I was minding my own business one fine summer morning. The air smelled wonderful and the sun was just the right temperature. Then, some odd shadow cast in front of me. It was large enough to make me sprint up the nearest tree. As I did so, however, my grip faltered, and a strange man came up and snatched me with a large rough hand. I had no idea what was going on, but being a squirrel obviously I could not object in any way. When I began smelling strong chemicals I knew I was in trouble and began wiggling vigorously to get myself out of the bag he had stuffed me in. Of course, again due to me being a squirrel, I failed. I woke up in some tree wearing this black suit. It wasn’t outside though. It didn’t seem like outside. The sun didn’t seem as beautiful. The branches didn’t smell like the outdoors. The leaves were no longer cool to the touch or as smooth newborn squirrel pups. There were a lot of other squirrels around, and other animals too. All wearing black suits. I foraged around me for something that seemed like it used to be. I dug at the wood, which too hard to dig into for some reason. I tore at the oddly textured leaves, hoping that one of them would give. Eventually, I realized that nothing would work. I sulked sadly, where I was. I was frightened, and had no idea what was happening. Then, suddenly I felt something oddly hard fall from the branch above me. It happened to be a nut. But not any ordinary nut, it was a special nut. It was the only thing in that place that actually seemed like it used to. It smelled like an old nut and when I nibbled at it, tasted like an old nut.
Well, enough about the nut I’ll go on about that later. Once they put the black suits on us, somehow everything began flying. I didn’t know how or why, and I didn’t care too much either. Until I kept crashing into things. Why would they put us all in these confounded suits without teaching us how to use them? It wasn’t just the people and the animals though, it was the cars and the trains too. They were all flying by on their own levels of sky, the trains on the bottom for carrying heavy things wherever they needed to be, cars in the middle transporting people who were too young to fly, or just didn’t know where they were going, and then people on the top level. The top was always crowded though, no one knew where they were going, always stopping and checking little windows which apparently told them where to go. It was all very strange.
But yes, back to my problem, I kept bumping into things. And so down I went after a particularly bad one, past the branches of the oddly realistic tree, flailing towards the ground. I still carried the nut I found that day with me everywhere I went, so I tried my best not to let go of it. Then suddenly, I tipped so that I was horizontal again, and magically gained control of myself. It was weird, the way I tilted myself determined which way I would go. Before I knew it, I was maneuvering myself through the trees with the stealth a fox would have had before everything changed.
A few days later was also the first time I saw the girl. She was the only person still walking; everyone else was just bouncing off the walls. I was casually hovering through the open field when I realized there was something moving on it. Once I was low enough, I could see the scratches on her skin where she had ripped the suit off. Every suit of the humans was removable, but only between the hours of 11 pm and 6am; any other time of the day, and they had to stay on. I didn’t know how she got it off, but I thought she was interesting so I followed her. Also, she smelled good: always a plus.
That squirrel really needed to learn how to hover; he was doing it all wrong. I mean I know I don’t even have a suit on but still if I did at least I could learn to maneuver with it. My skin still burned from ripping it off but it was worth it. I’m not going to let any of these people control me, the ones that think they can just come in to our society and change everything. I mean, it was inevitable that all of the wars and whatnot the previous world used to have would blow them all up sooner or later. And now, the majority of the ground, still covered in radiation despite the efforts to clean it, was uninhabitable. The radiation from all of the bombs and test weapons ended up working against everyone stupid enough to make them, and here we are today. The scientific party came into control, promising that they could make the world livable again, and so they tried. By taking all that was natural and tearing it to shreds. By ripping up all the living things which lived off the earth, and either killing them or placing them high in the sky. By taking all that was natural and turning it into a distant memory.
So on I walked. I knew that I could get horrible radiation poisoning, but at the moment it didn’t matter to me. All I wanted was the life I used to have back. Anything that I could salvage from what used to be, I took advantage of it. And if that meant radiation then so be it, better I suffer physically then mentally. I could see the scars on the earth from where they had dug it up. No matter how hard they tried, it was impossible to put everything back exactly how it was. All of the previous beauty, the previous nature and freshness: gone. There were only fake trees and the fake grass left. Just by touch, one could tell that they were completely synthetic. The plastic making all the vegetation was so rough, and had no give. Branches would no longer bend; grass would no longer form to your shape if you were to lay on it. I suppose no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t get the plants to grow again after being completely uprooted. It was a major undertaking, to underlay a layer of the new room-temperature superconductor under every inch of the city. I mean sure, it gave us the power to hover over the ground through magnetism, to in a sense just fly where we needed to be, but it was just fake. It’s not how the world was supposed to be. Animals aren’t supposed to be flying through the air. We aren’t supposed to have laws governing how we get around or what we wear at different times of the day.
And so I continued. I knew that the police would be after me eventually. There’s one thing that hasn’t changed since the shift to the “better future”. Upon hearing the sirens I knew that I’d have to run. I sprinted through the open field that and hid under some artificial bushes. My breath seemed to not come in fast enough and the plastic of the bush hurt my already butchered skin, but I had to bear the pain. The hovercar came ominously close to my general area, but never dared to come close to the bushes, assuming no one would be crazy enough to go underneath them.
As they left, I began to realize how hungry I had become from running. My head was spinning and I could feel my blood sugar fall. Damn scientists could make people fly but not find a cure for diabetes. Unfortunately, all viable food options were about a half a mile in the air. I suppose I should have thought this rebellion thing through a little bit more before running away. I got up hesitantly, and ran back through the field in the same direction that I came. I passed the piles of oddly green grass, and few patches of synthetic flowers until I got to the river bank where I had hidden my suit. I zipped it slowly, regretfully, until my feet were above ground again. I didn’t see any other option at that point but to fly up to get something to eat, although in hindsight I should have blended in long enough to get out of the city’s limits.
As I began to rise higher by pressing the up arrow lever, the same police hovercar that had been tracking me came out of nowhere and zoomed past me overhead. I immediately dropped to the ground, hoping to somehow hide myself among the rocks by the water. The hovercar kept going. They hadn’t seen me. Not knowing any better, I decided the best thing would be to continue onward.
It was the beginning of the end.
I ran as fast as I could in any direction that was convenient to go. Wherever I thought that they would be unable to follow me. They were still on my trail though, no matter how fast I ran or how stealthy I thought my maneuvers were. Finally, I hit a dead end. The fence that marked the edge of the city rose high above me, and there was no possible way I could pass through it. The only option was to fly. I turned my suit back on and shot through the air faster than any hovercar could go. I only remember thinking, “damn, why didn’t I learn how to do this a little better?” Then, my controls slipped. I went hurtling into the train level from the side of the highway. Thank god that there were no trains! I would have been smashed to pieces in two seconds.
“HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!” came the voice through the hovercar that was immediately on my tail. No, I wouldn’t let it end like that. I’d decided. I zoomed through the train level as fast as I could, avoided all stationary railroad cars as I went. I bounced from right to left, in what seemed so sporadic a pattern at the time. But it kept the police at bay, so it was all I could do at that point.
“COME TO A HALT RIGHT NOW!” came the voice again from the hovercar.
I didn’t remember falling asleep or blacking out, but when I woke up I felt a sudden wave of terror. Where was I? Everything was dark, I couldn’t see anything. I blinked a few times but could still see nothing. I crawled on the cold hard floor, feeling out every step before I took it. My suit was off now and replacing it was some smelly jumpsuit. When I hit a wall I stopped and pressed my ear to it. I heard about three voices, all male, coming from somewhere with close proximity to where I was.
“She would’ve made such a good citizen, would’ve made a good prisoner too,” said one of the men. I didn’t know if they were talking about me, but if I wasn’t a prisoner, then what on earth was I?
“Yes, she had such spirit. Shame she was no use to us,” I decided to stop listening. It was useless. I needed to get out of there, and more importantly I needed to see. Why couldn’t I see? I sat with my back to the wall and jut began to sob. How could a world of such fairness and justice come to something like this. Well, they would pay eventually.
I heard them talking in the other room. “Shame she was no use to us.” I sighed heavily, realizing that they just had no idea what they were talking about. Why can’t they just let the rebels be in their own area within of the city? Catching them and forcing them to live in captivity wasn’t going to do anything! They aren’t animals after all. Oh well, I had more important things to take care of than worry about such minimal issues.
I did, after all need to keep the city off the ground. The discovery of the applications of magnetism were the best things that could possibly happen for this city. It was obvious that some people would be against the advances, but what was society supposed to do? Stay on the ground and die of radiation? Of course not. All we had to build a wall about a mile high in the sky to prevent our people from falling off the grid, and teach people how to use the suits properly. They needed to clearly know where they could hover and where they would plunge to their deaths if given the chance. The magnetic force would be too weak at that point anyway so they wouldn’t make it all the way up there.
I was actually very proud of my invention. See, forces directly relate to acceleration, and therefore wherever there is a net force, there is a net acceleration. The key to harnessing the power of a magnetic force was finding something strong enough to cause it, and thus to cause an upward acceleration. To stop the upward acceleration, or increase in velocity at a steady rate instead of an increasing rate, we would have to make sure that the magnetic force acting upward on a person was equivalent to the gravitational force acting downward at the person’s center of mass. To bring people to a stop, we would need the force of gravity to overpower the magnetic force, and cause deceleration, or a negative acceleration. When velocity is equal to zero, we are able to balance the forces, and bring people to a stop. Thus, we can have levitating people. I marveled at my work for hours at a time during each day. There was not one flaw, not one aspect that could ever be changed. It was all right here in my notes. The key to human survival was all mine, and I could do what I liked with it. I, of course, chose to be the hero rather than the villain, but the power that came with it was magnificent. It was all very simple, really.
In order to have a magnetic field to produce the magnetic force, we needed moving charges. Without moving charges, there would be no magnetic field and therefore no magnetic force to be produced on the people. When the magnetic fields opposed each other, a person would be sent in the direction of the stronger field. Assuming that the force would be strong enough to oppose gravity, one would then have levitation. The faster the charges moved, the stronger the magnetic field, and the slower the charges moved, the weaker the magnetic field. Thus, we could achieve the effects of acceleration and deceleration into the sky.
It isn’t as though people hundreds of years ago didn’t harness this phenomenon. They did, just not to such an intense scale. People used to use electromagnets, the basis of our suits, in their everyday appliances such as stereos and refrigerators. The concept of an electromagnet is that there is a coil of metal, with charges circulating throughout it, and an iron core at the center. When the charges are in motion, there is a magnetic field produced. When these magnetic currents are in opposite directions, they will repel. The concept of magnetic levitation was actually referred to as the Meissner Effect, when some scientist, who was about half as smart as I am, used the possibility of superconductors to produce Maglev trains. I don’t know how they got by back then without discovering the room-temperature super conductor, with indigenous magnetic properties because with no resistance to the electrons moving through it, the electrons could move forever and thus cause an infinite magnetic current.
As I delved deeper and deeper into my own ego, I realized that I had completely stopped what I was doing. Why can’t I just think straight when I need to?
Suddenly, one of the men named Ralphie talking in the other room ran into my office. He stood in the doorway, panting, until he had finally composed himself. I suppose that was the one downside of this new world, no one was really able to exercise anymore.
“Something’s wrong!” he screamed, breaking my thoughts. No alarm sounded, so it couldn’t have been that serious. He was a bit of an idiot as well, so I wasn’t all that concerned initially.
“What is it?” I asked calmer than I should have.
“They’re FALLING!!” spurted Ralphie through gasps of air. My heart skipped a beat as the weight of the world fell on my shoulders.
“What on earth do you mean they’re falling!?” I stood up as fast as I could, sending my chair flying in the opposite direction behind me. I immediately thought of the possibilities that would cause such an anomaly. The constant force of gravity would pull any of them down from the sky without the magnetic force caused by the circulating charges in their suits with a plate of iron at the center. Any moving charge will produce a magnetic field, and thus a magnetic force if an opposing magnetic field was in its proximity. This opposing magnetic force was none other than the room temperature super conductor that we very carefully laid under the earth. It was the equivalent shock to someone hearing that gravity somehow turned off, or that the sun suddenly began revolving around the Earth. What could have possibly gone wrong? My methods were fool proof!
I ran up to him and grabbed Ralphie by the collar. “What did you do?!” I screamed, obviously being irrational at the time. I mean I was panicked what could I do? He took a step back, with actual tears in his eyes.
“I…I’m sorry sir…I didn’t do anything I swear…the hospital ground staff is working on the people who were hurt badly…but…but they can’t get back up to the hospital and…”
“WHAT? They didn’t put a backup hospital on the ground?!”
“N…no I’m sorry. We just thought we would never need it.
I slapped my palm to my forehead as I began running out of the underground bunker. I’d have to see the damage for myself, and fix it fast.
“AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! FALLING!! Must…grab branch…ugh. Must…grab other branch…UGH.” Why couldn’t I have just been born with opposable thumbs? It would probably have saved my life at that point, but nope, not that lucky. I watched with horror as every building slowly began to shake, and then plummet down, taking out every person or animal in its path. The houses would fall and shatter, sending splinters in every direction; some killing people instantly, and others wounding them just enough to make them survive the horrible pain. Cars and trains blew all the bells and whistles they could but nothing stopped their descent. Some fell on top of the houses and buildings, some on top of screaming people, and still some just in plane spaces of field.
I still managed to survive though. Unfortunately. All of the help was going to the people that fell, nothing for the squirrels. Why would they help the squirrels? After kidnapping us, drugging us, forcing us into suits that will make us fly for years and then suddenly stop working. I just hate everything sometimes. This was without a doubt one of those times.
I dragged myself to a hidden piece of dirt by my paws because I just couldn’t move my legs. How could everything had fallen? The people, cars, trains, buildings. Everything. Everyone was moaning in pain, most of it just horrifying to hear. The ground was littered with down bodies and every type of metal chunk. I licked my hind leg that hurt from where I had hit it, but it wasn’t that bad. Thankfully I was fairly low to the ground when I fell. Some, however were not so lucky. Suddenly, a patch of earth blew out of the ground, leaving a square hole. A door swung open, and three very strange looking men climbed out. As if everything wasn’t already weird enough, now there were people from the center of the earth coming to find us.
They began looking around and the people who were on the ground immediately swarmed them with questions. “What on earth is going on?” “Why are the suits broken?” “Why did we all fall?” Men, woman, and children, all with horrible wounds began limping towards them as fast as they could. It was all just sheer madness. I couldn’t believe it when they started to riot, pulling at each other to get to the strange men. Overwhelmed, eventually they rushed back through the strange door in the ground, and the crowd began to panic even more. I was scared, and wanted to just get away from everything. I tried to avert my attention to more positive things than the chaos around me. Eventually, my concern turned gradually to the nut I lost a while ago that I’m sure I could find. It was the only thing that reminded me of home, the only thing that made me feel better. And it couldn’t have gotten far. I had been around the area where I fell when I had dropped it before.
So off I went.
I eventually crawled my way through every grounded bush in the area, but nothing. No nut for me. I’ve never really been that lucky I suppose. Oh well, I crawled back out into the sunlight, to find that it had gone, leaving only the light of the moon illuminating the rubble and people huddled together. Everyone had crowded into one general area and fallen asleep. I, not being the least bit tired, decided I would finally go and get a close up look at them. I scurried stealthily through the rubble and sleeping people, realizing that my leg felt a lot better in the process. They were so peaceful when they weren’t angry. I thought it was kind of nice.
Suddenly, I saw the nut! It was oddly close to that hole that the three men had made before, but I went after it anyway. I scurried as fast as I could, but my footing slipped and I heard a horrible squeaking noise. The only thing going through my mind was “oh great what did I do now,” as I began to fall. The air seemed to rush past me as the light of the moon faded gradually. My heart raced as I prepared to impact what I was sure would be a horrible end.
Thank god for my excessive amounts of fur thought, because without it I probably would have flattened on the ground. I always knew this annoying fluff would come in handy someday.
Anyway, it turns out that I fell into this horrible room, and it was so dark that I couldn’t see anything. It smelled like some house that no one’s been inside of in years, and the floor was smooth and cold. I wanted to rub my face on it, that’s how smooth it was. But then, I heard sobbing. Someone else was in here! What luck, I wasn’t the only one who accidently steps on things and falls a hundred feet. Of course, not being able to see made it very difficult to find the source of the sobbing girl, but eventually I found my way to her foot. It was warm, and surprisingly reassuring, so I cuddled up next to it. Unfortunately, she didn’t feel the same way because she kicked me back to approximately the same place I had started from. I suppose the people didn’t like when we touched them.
Two seconds later, however, I heard the voices of two men. They were yelling at her to tell them everything that she knew.
She only cried louder.
They stomped off, and her sobs began to become harder to hear. Eventually, I couldn’t hear them at all anymore. And I was alone.
For the first time, I felt so scared. I had no idea what was happening to me. I was stuck in that horrible room, unable to even see a few centimeters out in front of me. Why couldn’t they just let me out? Why couldn’t they just show the least bit of compassion or kindness? All I wanted was just a little independence. For them to know that they can’t control everyone.
Well, I suppose they could control everyone. That was the problem. They thought that they could just rip up the earth whenever they pleased or suit up the people or animals expecting them to say “Thank you, for helping to destroy my planet.” None of this was ok, and I just wanted them to realize that.
Light flooded into the room at the same instant that a set of three men walked through an open set of doors. One was stout, bald, and mediocre looking. The other, however made me wish that I was still unable to see; his looks would make the ugliest of society run in hiding. The last one, however, seemed different from the rest: medium build, glasses, clean, and an air of intelligence followed him. This fact was unlike the others, they just seemed like sycophantic baboons compared to the third man. Therefore, I felt a little more at ease when he was the one to come and help me up. The strike across my face that followed immediately rid my body of any comfort.
“We know it was you! And you WILL tell us what you know!” he shouted frantically. His keen looks turned against him as he stood there shouting. I barely heard what he said to be honest, I was just so tired.
Before I knew it they were dragging me by my hair across the floor, into some strange new room. I sat in a chair as they secured my arms and legs tightly to it.
“I’m going to read you something,” said the mediocre man. He held a piece of paper to his face, but it was unnecessary. I recognized it immediately.
“Oh Jeffery,” he read from the paper, “I haven’t the time to say goodbye to you, and I’m sorry I haven’t been able to offer you a suitable explanation. All I can tell you now is that by the time you read this, I will be safe. And you will be as well. All I need you to do, Jefferey, is huddle in a deserted field, under as much clear sky as you can. You remember that don’t you? When the sunshine was real? When its warmth would make our skin tingle and the wind would make us want to soar up into it? It will all come back to us again Jefferey, soon. Don’t you worry. We will have it all back and more. Just make sure to find yourself a nice and sunny piece of ground and stay there. Do not move until you think the time is right, and believe me you’ll know. I will always love you. Your sister, Amelia.”
“Now, I’ll assume that you recognize this letter perfectly?” interrogated the hideous as he held it up to my face. I had no desire to acknowledge their cleverness, or their detective skills. Fine, I was the one to write the letter, but I obviously wasn’t to blame. I mean, I was locked up with them the entire time. But of course, they were probably too ignorant to realize that.
“Yes,” I finally decided to respond, calmer than I probably should have.
The same man then slammed a hard fist on the desk in front of him, and began shouting nonsense at me; all while putting his face uncomfortably close to mine. “Do you realize that you just killed half of our city!? Do you care?? Do you care that there are innocent people out there being exposed to radiation as we speak?? Does it matter to you??”
“It’s not my fault that you idiots tore up everything that was good about the world! It’s not my fault that those political pigs decided to go and blow everything up in an attempt to blow up each other! How can you blame me for the corruption for an entire world of people?! Thinking that mindless killing was the answer, shame on them! Shame on you for supporting them and offering a solution to fix their mistakes! They should have suffered and so should you! So should everyone for being so damn stupid!”
“That’s not your call to make! That’s not your call to take away the lives of innocent people!”
“How is it perfectly acceptable for an army to do it then?!”
“Because it was for the good of our nation!”
“What nation?? The nation that assumed innocent women and children living in the streets of the Middle East were going to suddenly come out of nowhere and attack us all?? The nation that spent more money on weapons than it did on helping its own poor and hungry citizens?? Look at it logically; what I did was no different than what any of them did. But my actions ARE for the good of the nation!”
“You’re the most hypocritical idiot I’ve ever come across in my life!” interjected the man that had hit me. “You want to send a message against something unjust by committing the same act?”
“It was the only way to get the message across! No one would listen to reason!” I screamed back at him.
“It was the only way to kill off half of what is left of civilization within an hour! No stop being stupid and tell me what on earth you did to cause this mess!”
He was being practical. I didn’t realize that everyone would die when I asked Jefferey to shut down the charge of the suits. The decoy note worked perfectly to clear his innocence, but I still somehow just thought they would float down unharmed. But everything was done now. There’s nothing I could do to change it, and I had no idea how to fix it. I felt the remorse the man was forcing into me, and it hurt more than I thought it would. But there was really nothing that I could do.
Well, I suppose that’s why I learned to never underestimate people, no matter how idiotic they are. Turns out, that girl actually managed to block the magnetic force of the suits by bugging all of them while everyone was asleep. I don’t know how she did it because she was with us, but I have to hand it to her, that if she used that brain power to work with us that whole situation could have gone much better. She fought the system without proper preparation, and there was nothing I could do for her at that point.
Of course, we three were the only ones to survive that entire incident. Some squirrel got into the prison chamber, and apparently really wanted to get out of there. He ended up chewing a hole straight through the oxygen tube that keeps the underground bunker filled with breathable air. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to kill and hug something at the same time, but there was no question about it, that squirrel was adorable.
We all ended up running like crazy. I untied the girl, and we ran for the outside as fast as we could. She was sure to grab the squirrel. My men though, that was a different story. When Ralphie realized that once he stepped foot outside the bunker, he might get radiation poisoning, he decided that staying and slowly losing oxygen would be a better death for him. Upon hearing that, the rest of them all agreed, so it ended up just being me and the girl with the squirrel.
Once we made it to the top, we realized that no one had actually made it through the night. One step at a time, I walked through the field of rubble, stepping over giant metal remains of trains and splinters of wood from the houses. I stepped over bodies also, whose facial expressions broke my heart more and more with every new one I saw. It was partly my fault, for not putting in some kind of mechanism to stop this. I mean sure she was a destructive hypocrite, that girl Amelia, but at least she wasn’t working for herself. She would have gone down with the rest of them, if we hadn’t have captured her. I was torn between hating her and trying to understand, but eventually I realized that I just needed to stop. Everything was gone, and there was nothing I could do to bring it back anymore. No amount of science could ever bring back the lives of all of these people.
I looked over to find the girl sleeping against a tree, squirrel in hand. I knew that we would soon get way too much radiation if we stayed here, so I picked her up gently and began my assent up the tree. Thank god we put branches on these things.