Minding the Gaps

If you haven’t yet read my short story In the Gaps, and you don’t like “spoilers”, you may want to read that first.

Not every story has a story behind it, or at least that story is some variant of “I had an idea and wrote it down.” In the Gaps was not one of those.

Several years ago my friend Nate mentioned an idea he had for a story. “An atheist says there is no god, but that’s asserting a negative. To prove it, you would need to be omniscient. What if an atheist became god trying to prove there wasn’t one?”

What he meant was that if I say something like “There are no unicorns”, then all someone has to do to prove me wrong is show one unicorn. The lack of a unicorn is not proof that it does not exist, because it could be hiding somewhere in the jungle. Suppose I observed every square inch of the planet at the same time and found no unicorns. Would that be conclusive proof? Of course not. The unicorn could have burrowed underground, or be living on another planet. To prove a negative, you’ve got to observe all of reality at the same instant. In other words, you have to be a god.

It was a great concept, and I awaited his final product. Knowing him, it would be some stream-of-consciousness cerebral, and mildly trippy, piece of high art. The sole character would spend his days alone, trying to prove there was no god. He would eventually succeed, only to realize, to his horror, that he had become the very thing he had proved did not exist.

Great stuff, but a different story with that premise started to formulate, unbidden, in my mind. Eventually I asked him if I could borrow his idea for my story, and he agreed. Another couple of years passed, but I finally sat down and churned out what I call In the Gaps.

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