The Gap opened up in the road overnight. I mean, it must have done, but nobody heard or saw anything. It was just a massive gash in the world, dividing the suburb in two. And now I was stuck on one side while my family was stuck on the other. We could just see people on the other side, but The Gap seemed to swallow up all sounds from the other side. It also seemed to be consistently just too far to throw anything, too, no matter who you were or what you used. The Gap was uncrossable. I mean, presumably you could fly across, but since nobody had a helicopter, we weren't sure about that.
I'm not sure who started calling it The Gap, but it was kind of confusing. After all, that was also the name of the suburb we lived in. I guess someone thought it was funny.
The army arrived at noon with a couple of scientists - seismologists, I think - who set up laser distancing equipment on either side. The Gap was expanding, and it was also warping space. In one sense, technically, it was infinitely wide: you could never build a bridge to cross it, because as far as you could build, there would always be further to go. In another sense, it did not exist at all: if you measured from far enough back, the distance was exactly what you'd expect - no Gap at all.
The phones still worked, so that was good, but unfortunately for me, my Dad, stuck on the other side, had never been big on technology. He did own a mobile, but it stayed at home, usually with a flat battery. I could see my Dad on the other side of The Gap, jumping up and down, waving and shouting to get my attention. I couldn't hear what he was saying, but I could tell he was shouting, the way he did, with his hands cupped around his mouth and leaning forwards as if those few extra centimetres would help the sound carry further. It didn't. Through some big semaphore-style gestures, I tried to communicate that I was going to try and walk around to meet him at the other side. I figured even if it took all day I'd be there before the army was willing to ferry people across in the helicopters. Dad gave me a big two-thumbs-up gesture with his whole arms. He approved.
I had to make a stop first. I went over to my friend's place and told her about my plan. I was going to borrow a little food and a bottle for water, but Ange wanted to come with me. I'm not sure why - her family, after all, was still on our side of The Gap, so she wasn't trying to get to them. I guess she was just a good friend, trying to help me get over to my own family. She crossed her arms and gave me a solid stare that said she wasn't going to take "no" for an answer. There's no arguing with her when she gets like that, so we packed up two bags and headed out together.
For a little while, my Dad followed us from the other side, until we got to the mountain. His big gestures at his knees probably meant that they were playing up again. He wasn't an old man, as such, just getting older, and his joints weren't in such great shape any more. He turned around with a big, exaggerated wave goodbye and we kept going.
We trudged up the mountain and, at the top, got a good view down the valley and across several other suburbs. The Gap - the chasm, not the suburb - extended a long way, jagged-edged, deep and wide, perhaps curving slightly, but not going on forever.
It took us two hours to walk two suburbs over, through Keperra to Arana Hills, where the hole seemed to gradually close up. We were able to go around the end of it and head back on the other side, which took another two hours.
Although it was only afternoon by then, we were both exhausted, and the army and scientists didn't seem to be getting anywhere, so we went with Dad back to his place, and had some dinner. The people on the news spent a very long time saying they had no idea what was going on, so we all just hit the hay. Ange was planning to walk back to her family the next day.
In the morning, the other side of The Gap was invisible. The gaping ground yawned before us, a canyon that surely dwarfed anything else in the world. The darkness at the edge was scary, and there was no visible bottom to it. No more hope of crossing in helicopters. No more far side, as if the Earth had just broken it off and sailed it away. One guy with a telescope on his roof said the other side was still there, just much further away now.
I wondered aloud to Dad and Ange about what might happen to the other side. Would it keep functioning? Would The Gap close on itself, pinching off that piece of land and trapping everyone there?
Then Ange reminded me that we'd seen the end curving left - to the West - and, presumably, extending further around as time went on. We'd crossed it to get to the inside of the curve, which meant I would get my answers soon enough: we were on the inside. We were trapped here now by whatever mysterious force created The Gap, and unless someone could find a way out, or The Gap spontaneously closed on its own, we could be trapped here forever.
Mokalus of Borg
PS - I've decided to do a series named after and set in Brisbane suburbs.
PPS - Just because I can.