Chapter Four. The Lecture Effect.
The Crystal Cuddle Ship boosted into space, and Sogwa watched as Earth dwindled to a bright blue dot in the black of the sky.
Then the Nerdlings said, “We promised to get you home before you left. To do this we must take a little detour. We must fly thirty thousand lightyears to the giant spinning black hole at the center of the galaxy, which we know how to use as a Time Machine.”
Sogwa said, “How long will this detour take?”
“Shipboard, only two hundred years. Don’t worry, we can help you nap that long.”
“What could possibly make somebody nap for two hundred years?”
The Nerdlings said, “Three things. We could give you a Yucky Potion. Or there’s Cold-sleep. Or the Lecture Effect.”
“How yucky is the potion?”
“Don’t worry, we cover up the worst of it with yummy mint flavoring.”
But Sogwa said, “I hate mint. What’s cold-sleep?”
“We pop you into the freezer, we freeze you solid, and we thaw you out later.”
“And how do people feel after being frozen solid and thawed out?”
“Oh, about as well as you’d expect.”
“Then no thank you,” said Sogwa.
The Nerdlings said, “Then we must use the Lecture Effect. Let us explain.”
They took Sogwa to a lecture hall, with blackboards and chalk and dust and stale air and square chairs and flickery lighting. Sogwa sat politely in her square chair as the Nerdlings gave her a lecture about the Application of the Lecture Effect to Galactic Space-Time Navigation. The lecture was very, very scientific. They spoke of Special Relativity and Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity. The Nerdlings explained Lorentz Contraction, Wave-Particle Duality and Curved Space-Time. Sogwa paid close attention; and although she didn’t quite get every single detail, she was sure it would all clear up, later.
But after awhile her eyelids grew heavy. Sogwa tried hard to keep them open, but finally she had to close them, just for a moment, just to rest them awhile. After resting her eyelids awhile, she opened them up with a jolt. Time had passed, and now the lecture was about String Theory and Supersymmetry and Gauge Invariance. The Nerdlings explained Gravito-Magnetism, Electro-Weak Unification and Chromodynamics. Again Sogwa’s eyelids grew heavy, and again she rested them, just for awhile.
And again she opened her eyes with a jolt, and again the lecture had moved on. Now it was about Non-Locality and Retroactivity and Quantum Computation. The Nerdlings explained Self-Determinism, Adeledicnander and Arglebargle Blah Blah Blah.
Sogwa closed her eyes once more, and she fell into a deep, deep sleep. She tumbled out of her square chair and she would have hit the floor, but the Nerdlings caught her, for they are faster than a speeding bullet.
The Nerdlings laid Sogwa on a mat, and plunked her and the mat into a bin, and trundled her bin down to the luggage compartment. And there Sogwa slept for two hundred years.