This morning, a tear in the fabric of reality appeared at the end of my block.
Apparently it had been growing there for months. I’d noticed the cracks in the sidewalk, and the strange coldness emanating from that spot. I had assumed it was some sort of plumbing problem. One of my neighbors had recently started having trouble getting their water to turn on. Turns out that was because the pipes that went to their home had ceased to exist.
When I left my house today, I walked past all of the construction workers. They had laid down traffic cones and put up caution tape, surrounding the area with a radius three times bigger than it needed to be. I couldn’t tell if they were trying to repair the sidewalk or take it apart. Everybody seemed to just be staring at it, unsure how to proceed. It was only a few inches long. I was sure they’d seen worse.
“What happened?” I asked one of the workers.
He pointed at the rip in reality. “This thing has been growing for ages on this corner. Earlier today, somebody was walking down the sidewalk, and they reported losing two of their toes. We sent some people to investigate, and it looks like the tear has fully opened. The only question is how to close it.”
“Well, what do you usually do?”
The worker chuckled. “In my line of work, I’ve seen it all. You’ve got your rips, your tears, your splits, and all sorts of fragmentations of reality. The issue here is that it’s stuck to the sidewalk. Sometimes these rips will adhere to the point of origin, and there’s really nothing that you can do to detach it. Not without accidentally obliterating a bunch of power tools, that is.”
“So pull up the sidewalk and replace it,” I suggested.
“We’re trying to minimize damage,” he shook his head. “So much of the sidewalk has already ceased to exist, and it’s surprisingly hard for the city to get money for this kind of damage. Apparently insurance companies have a hard time categorizing what exactly a ‘tear in reality’ is. Some people just don’t understand.”
“Then how will you fix it?” I asked.
He shrugged. “We’re still coming up with ideas. I remember a situation similar to this a couple years ago, on the other side of town. An entire fire hydrant got vaporized by a rip about this size. We had to get an antimatter surgeon out here, and she stitched it up for us. If you go down Grant St. you can still see the stitches. But those antimatter surgeons are expensive, and it might be cheaper to just pull up the sidewalk. Everybody’s still debating it.”
“Huh,” I nodded. “Well, good luck.”
“Thanks. We’re going to need it.”
When I came back home at the end of the day, most of the construction had been cleaned up. They ended up pulling out the sidewalk, and they’d started to replace it. The tear in reality had been shipped to the local dump. They usually use those things to slurp up unwanted garbage. They say that a split in the universe can really help with pollution if used correctly.
By the next morning, there was no sign that the damage had happened at all. They’d patched up the pipes under the street, and the sidewalk was brand new. When I left home, there was no sense of eerie emptiness as I passed the end of the block. And that’s why your local construction workers are heroes, in their own little way.