By Ryan Matejka
Based on the writing prompt: You awake to see a wormhole appear outside your window.
The first time you see a wormhole, you don't really know that it's a wormhole.
You wipe your eyes. You do a double-take. You assume you're having a seizure.
Light isn't supposed to bend that way. The world isn't supposed to cave in like that.
The first wormhole I ever saw appeared just outside my dorm room window. By appeared, I mean that I literally woke up one morning, opened my curtains, and there it was just hovering in the air about five feet away. My dorm room, mind you, was located nine stories up in the air, and my roommate and most of my floor was out of town for the weekend, so it's not like I had anyone around to verify what I was seeing.
So I did what any reasonable college student would do; I took a photo and shared it to Facebook with the caption "WTF is anyone else seeing this shit?"
Then I sat around staring at it while waiting for replies. I had a basic knowledge of science-fiction, so after a bit of examination I figured it had to either be some sort of invisible alien spherical object or a wormhole. The only way to tell one way or the other, I decided, was to throw something at it.
Now, the windows in a ninth-floor dorm room are specifically designed to not be opened because typically you don't want some college kid throwing themselves or something else out of them. You can slide the window open to let the air in, but if you really want to get out there you've still got to break through the screen window or figure out how to remove it, both of which are a bit harder to do than you'd expect.
Lacking any sort of cutting device that wasn't made of plastic and lacking the ingenuity to find any way to simply remove the screen without a set of tools, I resorted to banging on it with my roommate's 8-lb dumbbell a few times. With most of the screen out of the way, I grabbed an empty beer bottle and chucked it at the thing outside my window, expecting it to shatter into a hundred pieces and fall to the ground and for the thing to suddenly reveal itself to be an alien probe sent to destroy humanity starting with me.
Instead, the bottle just kind of fell into the thing as if I were dropping it down a hole rather than out into midair.
The first time you see something fall horizontally, you'll think you're dreaming. That's normal. Just breathe.
So I was dealing with a wormhole. Now I knew that much.
It was hard to gauge the size of it, what with all the light bending around it and the fact that this was clearly not my area of expertise, but I had the feeling that it was big enough for a person to fit through.
So I did what any sane human being would do; I grabbed another bottle, hit record on my phone, and posted a video of the second bottle disappearing into the wormhole to Twitter with the caption "Check this out @NASA @elonmusk @neiltyson #WTF #Science #Wormhole #JustCollegeThings"
Then I grabbed my backpack, emptied everything out of it, and started to fill it back up with everything I could think of that I might need, which included my cell phone charger, a lighter, a change of clothes, and as much soda and food as I could fit.
Yes, I was perfectly aware of how underprepared I actually was for a literal leap into the unknown. Best case scenario I'd come out the other side on solid ground in Paris with the ability to jump back through right into my dorm room. Worst case scenario I'd come out 100 feet over a pit of spikes, or in outer space without oxygen, or be immediately crushed by the weight of the universe turning in on itself. I didn't know what might happen and I knew that. The thing is that this wormhole showed up at a very specific time in my life when I felt like death was inevitable, nobody would ever love me, and years of passivity had led me to a life I hated, so I was pretty sure I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I slung the backpack over my shoulders and climbed out onto the ledge of my window.
Nine stories is really high up, by the way. Like, so high that you feel dizzy if you look down and maybe that the slightest breeze is going to push you out the wrong direction and you'll just end up known as that kid who killed themselves wearing a backpack full of ramen noodles.
So I did what any sensible young adult would do; I opened up my YouTube app and started sharing a live video of myself on the ledge explaining that I was not in fact about to kill myself but that I was actually going to jump into this wormhole that appeared this morning outside my ninth-story dorm room window, then reminded people to check out my Twitter feed for the video of the bottle falling through.
I put the phone back in my pocket but let it keep recording. You know, for science.
I took three deep breaths.
I came out the other side.
It was the first and best decision I ever really made.