The Day the World Lost its Gravity

by

The day the world lost its gravity was also the day Eric planned to propose to his long-time girlfriend, Lydia. He had the entire night planned: dinner at an expensive hotel, a presidential suite, and a white-gold ring studded with three little diamonds he had saved half a year for.

Walking down from his apartment to his car that night, he does not give any importance to theempty plastic bags across the street floating ghost-like. Or to the frenzied cockroaches running allaround the street; some are even flying. He’s too preoccupied with his own jitters to care. All hethinks about as he drives is whether he should kneel by her side of the table after dinner and proposeor wait until she sees the grand view of the suite balcony and then kneel.

Aljo, a graduate studies student in London, takes notice. He is walking to a nearby grocery storeand smoking his cigarette the day the world lost its gravity. He sees it when he flicks his cigarette.The ashes do not fall to the ground. Instead, they float and scatter across the plane. He looks aroundwondering if anyone else sees the spectacle—nobody does save for a man in a very sleek suit walkingtoward him.

“You noticed it too, yeah?” the man asks. Aljo just looks at him. “Been keen on it for days;nobody believes me. I reckon you mind the littlest things when you’ve got a boring job like mine.”

Aljo is no longer listening. He points to the park across the street, where an old lady is feedingpigeons. “The crumbs… they’re floating as well.”

In LA, Bianca had taken advantage of her parents being on vacation—she throws a party in herhouse, and almost her entire high school shows up. While everybody is getting drunk, she and herboyfriend, Kyle, make out in her parents’ room upstairs. As Kyle unstraps Bianca’s bra from underher shirt, she notices the cup of beer beside the bed. It is spilling upwards.

“Kyle!”

“What?” Kyle moans, mistaking his girlfriend’s interjection for foreplay. He pushes her to thebed, feeling up her skirt. She can’t help herself; she moans. Kyle then remembers the cup of beer hebrought up and wonders how Bianca would like getting wet with it.

“What the hell—”he says when he sees the beer for himself streaming upward in small drops. Itthen spills in great big beads until nothing is left in the cup, the particles going in hundreds ofdifferent directions. Then the paper cup follows. “What the… Fuckin’ a! What the hell’s going onhere!” he jumps out of the bed, eyes wide with shock. All around them, every little thing is floatingupwards—pieces of paper, pens, and figurines. “What are you, a witch or sumthin?”

“What? No!” Bianca exclaims. She is still on the bed, too shocked to even move. “I don’t knowwhat the hell’s happening, Kyle—help!” she says as she crawls toward Kyle, reaching out to him.

“No way! Fuck this, I’m outta here!” As he opens the door, he sees more things floating: flowersfrom vases, paper cups, utensils, bottles, and beer. The music is gone. For a very brief moment, thereis silence. Some think maybe it’s the drugs. But when someone asks—“Do you see that?”—manypanic; it’s not a hallucination after all. They run in all directions, tripping all over each other when,in fact, nobody has anywhere to go. The rest, the lucky drugged ones, enjoy the ride.

Kyle!” Bianca calls from inside. He looks back at her for the last time and runs.

The pigeons that the old lady is feeding start to soar upwards out of control, along with dogs,squirrels (tail-first), swans, cranes, and many-colored little fishes. All of London is in shock. Peoplestop in their tracks to watch the upward rain of leaves and animals—the fishes flip wildly in the air,gasping for breath. How wonderful it is all for the suavely dressed man.

“Who do you want to be with?” he asks Aljo.

“My girlfriend back in my country,” Aljo replied. “You?”

“Me? Been floating all my life. There isn’t a difference now.”

“You think we’re next?”

“Yeah. Find her in the sky.”

Aljo looks at the man, but says nothing. He wonders how it is back in the Philippines. What kindof creatures are populating its sky?

Within the houses, furniture starts to rise as well—tables, chairs, vases, books—all gravitatingtoward the highest point of the ceiling. Little children who go outside to watch the spectacle are thefirst to follow the animals and the furniture skyward.

“Children!” the parents shout as they run across the ground grabbing at their kids. Manystrangers try and help. Some are able to get hold of a child’s foot, but it is impossible to bring thechild back down. The only hope is to hold on to them like balloons. Some are only able to grab ashoe or a skirt—they hand them over to the weeping parents on the ground.

Lydia is one of the first to float in their street. She is a petite girl, and so while many adults arestill on the ground, she is already afloat along with kids, furniture, cats, dogs, excrement, and somesewer rats and cockroaches that aren’t able to hide behind cracks. Just a few moments ago, there wasa stampede of rats and cockroaches. The people, unaware of the telltale sign, climb up chairs andtables in fear. But these small creatures, who know better, hide beneath the cracks.

Lydia is also one of the first to discover how to control the direction in which you float—swimthrough space like water. See, she has a date with Eric, and she is determined to make it even if shehas to swim to the hotel. She knows Eric will be there. He has never broken his word.Eric, on the other hand, is stuck in traffic when it all takes place. Just minutes after he leaves hisapartment, vehicles screech to a halt: cars, jeeps, and trucks collide as hundreds of colored plasticbags drift in the air. Eric watches from inside his car, wide-eyed. “Putang ina” is all he can say. Ittakes him some time before he notices his ring struggling to get out of his pocket. He grasps ittightly.Lydia, in her little black dress and heels, swims to the hotel—trying to avoid all the excrementfloating around her. She looks down on the city and shudders.

“Lydia! Sa’n ka pupunta!” her parents call out from below. They hold each other tight.

“Si Eric!”

“Lydia!” But she ignores them. Her parents have each other; that is enough.

An old apartment’s roof breaks open, spitting a hundred fragments of furniture: pieces of beds,tables, chairs, and a battery-operated organ still playing Beethoven’s “Für Elise.” One by one, roofsof houses and buildings break open, spitting out furniture and people.

In a quieter area of Manila, Aljo’s girlfriend, Mabel, is floating. She clutches her dog tightly. Thepoor creature is so scared, it shakes in her arms. There are already a number of dead people in the airwith her. The family of five in the house in front of her decide to kill themselves before they caneven experience flying. When their house spits them out, they are all wrapped around each other’sarms. It doesn’t take long, though, until they lose their grips and drift apart. Mabel watches the facesof these corpses and sees something that resembles contentment.

Some though die unlucky deaths. The man who lives a block away from her floats directly into abathtub. It hits his head hard. But Mabel does not want to focus on these things. She preferswatching the basketball players still chasing after the ball that flies away instead of going through thering. She begins to wonder how the rules of basketball will have to be changed in zero gravity.

She looks up at the sky and imagines herself as a star. “We’re going to be a star, Mamu,” she tellsher little dog, but he only whimpers back at her. “Don’t worry, baby. It’s gonna be alright. It’sgonna be alright.”

Aljo is busy swimming through London, trying to get back to the Philippines. It was the sleeklydressed man’s idea to swim. So far, it doesn’t seem to be working for him. But for the man, nowlong gone, it seems to have.

What Aljo does not know is that the man did not really go that far. He bids Aljo goodbye saying,“I want to explore the world while there’s still time.” But he doesn’t. He swims as fast as he cantoward the concrete wall of a flying house across him. He uses the remaining moments before hisdeath to marvel at the blood from his head raining on the sky. He never felt more alive.

Down below, Aljo sees the world disintegrating, tearing itself apart. Almost nothing is leftstanding. Aljo could feel himself floating farther and farther from the ground. All around him inspace, there are many more like him, thousands of them, in fact. All swimming, all searching.

Lydia manages to swim to the hotel, but Eric is not there. She finds Eric’s car nearby. It no longerhas a roof or a hood—all its other parts are struggling to break away. She swims to it as fast as shecan. “Eric?” she calls out. She looks around her, hoping to find him. “Eric!” Still nothing. Babaliksiya, she whispers to herself. She crawls into the passenger seat, straps herself in, and waits.

The whole world is being torn apart. Eric flies away, out of control. He thinks of holding on toany object, but there is an even greater risk of death in that. He swims his way to Lydia’s house—orat least where it used to stand. “Lydia! Lydia!” he calls, but the noise of all those who are still alive,the noise of all the lonely, searching people drown his voice out. “Lydia!” he persists. He has longsince removed the ring and its box from his pocket, and is holding on to it as if it was life itself.

By the time Kyle realizes his mistake, it is too late. The whole world is already tearing itself apart,and he is already badly bruised from the gashes caused by the stampede. He refuses to think of whatmight have happened to Bianca, alone and helpless in her parents’ room. “Bianca!” he starts.“Bianca!” Tears fall upwards from his eyes, and it blurs his vision. “Bianca! Bianca, I’m sorry!” hecalls out amid the corpses of his classmates.

Giant rocks skyrocket up into the sky. “Hold on, Mamu!” Mabel cries out. She is curled up andholding on to her knees while Mamu is between her. She had always wanted to fly. Not once doesAljo even slip into her mind.

If he knew this, he wouldn’t be swimming like a madman back to her, shoving everything in hispath away—a vase, a rock, debris, or a corpse. The world is falling apart too quickly, and he has noteven left London. He has not moved. His clothes, they are ripping apart. He is soaring away fast,way too fast.

They are all going round and round, rocketing toward the abyss, their clothes now long gone.Eric knows there are others around him, but there is no way he can see or hear them. The wind iswhooshing too hard in his ears. His arms are pulled to his sides, and his hands are forced open. Hecannot regain the ring stolen by the wind.

Camsy Ocumen lives at the foot of a mountain in Taytay but she can be visited online at http://camsyocumen.wordpress.com.