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art by Shothot Designs

The value of folding space

Tim Patterson lives and works in Guelph, Ontario. His SF writing has previously appeared at dailysciencefiction.com and at everydayweirdness.com. He has a graduate degree in English and once enjoyed the privilege of introducing Robert J. Sawyer at a local writers' festival.
The first time I folded space, I did so to cheat at hide-and-seek. It was purely by accident, and despite winning the game rather quickly, I didn't really understand what I'd done, not yet. It was several years before I found that I could move through my folds in space, that they were doors and not just windows. I discovered this when I was fifteen and quite accidentally fell through my bedroom wall and into the garden beneath Jennifer Milner's bedroom window. Partly in shock, I walked home two kilometers in my pyjamas. I was lucky to pay for the lesson with only a sleepless night and a few short-lived rumours at school.
I'm in my forties now. I haven't used my ability to lift bags of paper money from bank vaults. I am not a secret agent. I am not a hero. I have not delivered medical supplies to remote third-world villages. I like to think I'm smart enough to remain unnoticed, to stay out of trouble, and usually that's true. Sometimes when I can't sleep, I see my ex-wife and her husband, our children's step-father, peacefully asleep in their bed, and at first I don't realize that I'm actually seeing them. When it happens, I can usually close the portal before they notice me too. But whether or not my semi-conscious blunder is discovered, I always lay awake much longer, meditating on the unfortunate fact that I can create portals in space, visit any location in the known universe, but I cannot, hard as I try, bend time as well.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010


In writing this very short piece it seemed to me that characters with extraordinary abilities are so often clearly identifiable as either heroes or villains. The established archetype dictates that with great power comes great social responsibility. The super-villain is often no exception to this rule, as both hero and anti-hero compete to change the shape of their society, to actively create a "better" future as each one sees it. "Folding Space" tries to complicate this classic approach by offering a "super" character that isn't morally superior, that isn't clearly a hero or a villain, but is instead a somewhat apathetic shade of grey.

- Tim Patterson

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