The String Mines - Excerpt From MacSchrödinger's Cat

Albert looked up to find himself in the presence of a large rotund man, who seemed to take up more presence than was socially acceptable.
"What are you doing muckling around with Time, in weather like this," the man said, in a rotund Irish accent.
For an instant, Albert thought this made sense, then realized it didn't and in a glaring way.
"Sorry, did you say Time just then, it sounded like you said muckling around with Time?"
"Ay, that I did indeed, muckling is what I said and muckling is what you've doing," returned the Irish gentleman.
"Ah-choo," sneezed Albert.
"Bless you," said the Irishman genially, "You'd had better come with me lad, I not seen anybody get rained on as much as you, since the great flood of Dublin in 62'. To be sure, and that was the year we were fishing Englishmen out of the Liffey." He gave Albert a quizzical look. "You're not an Englishman yourself, are ya?"
"No," Albert replied politely," I'm an alien."
"Laddy, where I come from, that amounts to the same thing."
He helped Albert up from the canal steps by picking him up by the scruff of the neck with one hand and carrying him bodily to the bridge above the canal. Thereupon, giving Albert an umbrella, before motioning him to follow as he walked off.
Albert stared for a moment at the retreating figure disappearing in the encroaching darkness, gave a critical glance at his only other option and ran after him: having realized his only other option; was to end up as a very wet spot-with a umbrella-in the rising waters of the canal.
They walked through the many winding alleyways of the ancient city, twisting in and out of the centuries old buildings for several blocks, the tall villas seeming to crowd out the falling sky: so close together were the buildings to each other above the canals and alleyways. Albert found the stranger playing a perpetual game of 'I can jump puddles' with the endless pools of rainwater; Albert thought it extraordinary that anybody should do this sort of thing at all, let alone in public. Albert found it especially extraordinary; when what appeared to be a shallow puddle turned out to be a deep canal and the stranger disappeared into six foot of water: leaving the umbrella sticking above the water.
"Damn!" came a voice from beneath the umbrella," What a place for a pothole," then the stranger hauled himself and they continued on their way.
Eventually, they came to a large dark building that suggested Gothic with Edwardian overtones covered with phantasmagorical carved stonework, gargoyles and griffins shrieking out eerie silent warnings against intruders and travelling salesmen. Next to the door, a huge dog tied by a chain was painted on the wall and over it was written in large capital letters 'Beware of the dog.'
The stranger took from his pocket a long chain, upon which hung keys of every shape and description imaginable, he choose from these a tiny one next to a fob-watch and used it to unlock a pocket on his waistcoat. From which he took a diners card and slipped it into an electronic lock in the door. The door immediately opened inwards to the sound of Irish bagpipes. They went inside and after they had removed their Mackintoshes, the Irishman turned to Albert and said,
"Come in laddy, I'll get you some tea," then caught sight of Albert's board-shorts." My god!" he exclaimed staring at the offending articles. "You're naked!"
"Is that bad?" asked Albert fearing he had trespassed some ancient religious custom and would now have his toes cut off in a fit of religious intolerance.
"No, no, just strange," Hamilton replied, looking at Albert as if he was a refugee from a war torn demilitarised zone like the Lebanon or Disney Land.
He went inside: Albert following with some trepidation.
Surprisingly, inside was an enormous empty white space, which was lit not by light but rather darkness visible. The stranger walked over to a pale blue-white table and lit the pale-blue gas stove for the pale blue-white kettle. Albert looked around and saw everything had the same soft pale blue-white. Which made it incredibly difficult to distinguish objects and their environment. In contrast to which, Albert and the stranger stood out in marked relief in their black wet clothes and sickly white skin. They sat down or rather fell into a comfy pale blue white sofa, which somehow stumbled into existence as they walked from the kitchen space into the living space.
Albert seeing how much it resembled the interior of his own space-time machine posed this question to the Irishman.
"Time machine? No laddy, it's my daughter and her bloody interior decorator friends. Cost a fortune to do up and what do we get out of it, a non-stop fog without the rain, can't see a bloody thing. Just like her Mother Alice, I say, just like her Mother."
Then went silent for a minute, till the whistle boiled and he walked back to the kitchen to make the tea and scones.
Albert tried to take some bearings on the room but found this impossible as there didn't seem to be any edges to the place, only a continuous white deafening silence punctuated by the occasional hint of furniture and what appeared to be indoor pot plants which had been soaked in white paint and left to bleach in the white sands of Mercury for a year.
The Irishman clattered around in the kitchen, swearing fluently to himself in Gaelic as he did so, "Pogue Mahone!" followed by, "I can't see the kettle for the kitchen," and "Damn, I've spilled the milk." He returned after this carrying a tea tray with scones and tea set in the ubiquitous white. He placed these down on the coffee table and asked if Albert took milk or sugar. Albert declined the milk, as he wanted to be able to see what he was drinking.
The large Irishman eased himself down opposite Albert the water still dripping off him onto the carpet, then introduced himself, "My name Hugh Hamilton, I am a Merchant of Time."
He paused-with a steady stare at Albert-for effect. This turned out to be very effective as Albert spluttered and spilled his tea onto the carpet and settee. Both of them noticed this with some satisfaction that this had rendered part of the carpet visible, with a large brown stain.
"Don't worry about it laddy, it comes out in the wash."
Albert, saw with some surprise, that as well as serving tea and scones that Hamilton had placed several packets of chewing gum on the tea tray and were in contrast to everything else in the house, wrapped in a nice nauseous green plastic that stood out just brilliantly on the coffee table. Hamilton caught Albert's eye.
"Have a stick," he said," you never know when they may come in useful."
"Err …," began Albert.
"Go on Laddy, I insist," said Hamilton encouragingly," gum is incredible stuff, you never know when you'll need it."
Albert took the gum hesitantly and then with a shrug of his shoulders slipped it into one of his pockets. After this Albert felt strangely more at ease with his surroundings and lent back in his chair.
"What do you mean, you're a Merchant of Time? You sell clocks I suppose," asked Albert with some circumspection, flicking a raisin to one side while Hugh's head was down.
"No not at all. I buy and sell Time in return for Energy. Sorry I didn't catch your name, laddy?" said Hugh.
"Albert - sorry what? ... how on earth, can you buy and sell time and energy. I mean ...well mean..." then gave up when he realized he didn't know what he meant.
Hugh smiled both at Albert's remark and the fact that as he was returning his saucer to the table he let it slip and crack on the table's edge. Inside was a thin layer of black glazing that stood out quite nicely.
"Well, you see I took advantage of one of the laws of nature. There's this thing called Heisenberg's Indeterminacy Principle which goes like," He paused for a second noticing Albert's gawking jaw hanging open like Queen Victoria's after she found out about superlite prophylactics, then Hamilton continued on, "which goes like this. Time and Energy are sort of like money and goods, their interchangeable, they're what the different parts of the universe like people, golf balls and black holes use to move about with, they're really the same thing only different, sort of."
He frowned, obviously not too sure about that part himself.
"Now you can borrow Time from the universe, which is, if you like a great celestial brokers house, but the trouble is you have to pay back the appropriate amount of Energy and vice versa."
Albert, who was long past the capacity to comprehend, smiled nodding.
"So, that's where I come in, if somebody wants to borrow some Time, for a time, then I lend them some in exchange for some work. Simple really, or not simple depending on how little you think about."
"I see," said Albert though not at all, simply wishing to be polite." But how do you catch Time and make it do what you want? It all seems a bit odd really."
"Yes, most people seem to think that. In fact I used to wonder about it myself, it's as if the universe is a bit odd on weekends, vacations and Cup Day then downright peculiar for the rest of the year, but don't worry about it, it all comes out in the equations. Something to do with taking the fourth root of minus one and going off at forty five degrees into the space time continuum."
"Oh,” said Albert wondering if he should start talking about Mexican food, since Hamilton was behaving in a way strangely similar to his professors, "I see."
"You do!" Hamilton said in genuine surprise," funny I've never quite figured it out. But that's what the boys in the back room say and since it works, who am I to complain." Hamilton said, as he scuffed some mud onto the carpet. Then caught Albert's eye and they both smiled the shibboleth of conspiracy.
Albert froze, as an idea was thrown up out of the unknown onto the flotsam of his mind like a rock, and hit him square between the eyes.
"You mean you can travel through Time and Space," he said excitedly.
"Well of course laddy, why do you think I brought you here?" Hamilton replied. "You've been muckling around in Time haven't you?" cocking an eyebrow at Albert.
"Yes, I suppose I have, if I knew what muckling was suppose to mean?" he grinned.
"Muckling, why muckling is a grand word, I use it whenever I don't know what I'm talking about. However I do know, because the boys in the back room told me, that you're not quite what you seem to be and their not even sure what that is, you ken they picked you up on the sedation which is meant to stand for String Detection And Timing Of Neutral current, but you'd best not ask what that means because it always sends me to sleep when I try to read the papers on it, you ken?"
"Not in the least, "said Albert in complete befuddlement," it's like reading Arabic backwards."
"Laddy" Hamilton grinned," you're supposed to read Arabic backwards. It's written that way: right to left. But aye, I suppose it's all a bit picturesque when you think about it. "
"Yes," Albert said slowly, "it's all a bit picturesque."
Albert had even less of an idea what 'picturesque' was suppose to mean.
"Anyways now, getting back to you muckling around in time. I take it you're trapped here on this evolutionary forsaken planet and just possibly you need a ride back to wherever you came from." Hamilton said with a low intensity and leant forward in his seat to emphasize the point.
"Yes, I guess I do at that. Actually, I'm not even sure I'm on the right planet, come to think of it I'm not even sure I'm in the correct universe. What are you suggesting?" Albert queried cautiously.
"Well I'm a Merchant of Time and I would like to sell me some Time." His eyes glinted in the ever-present white of the room.
"Really, I mean can you really, can I travel around with this Time. You know jump to somewhere else in the universe," said Albert excitedly. "How much does it cost?"
"It doesn't cost any money at all. In fact money has no meaning when you're dealing with time. What I want is raw energy!" Hamilton smiled maniacally.
"Energy! What do you mean raw energy? I can't just give you energy. Don't I have to do work or something for you to get energy. There isn't such a thing as raw energy. It's not something anybody had even seen or touched. It's like light, you can see what it does and where it goes but the instant you try and catch some it disappears, doesn't it?"
"Yes laddy," whispered Hamilton and as he leant forward on the edge of his seat," but everything has energy, it's energy that makes things, don't you ken."
"You want me to give you something?" returned a puzzled Albert.
"Anything in particular?"
"Such as?"
Hamilton paused dramatically then spoke.
"A pound of flesh," the pound sounding more like poooondd.
"A pound of flesh."
"You're joking surely?"
"Ah…Sort of."
"Sort of, what do mean sort of. Are you saying you sort of want to hack me into little bits."
"Yes and no." He paused in a moment of introspection. "You see as a child I was forever frustrated as a Shakespearian actor by my parents who wanted me to be a surgeon and every now and then it just erupts out of me, you ken."
"Err… yes I suppose so. Well, what do you want then?" insisted Albert relieved at not being somebody's alternative to haggis and potato.
"If you work for me for a month, I'll give you Time off from the universe."
"What, that’s all?" asked Albert wide-eyed. "What do I have to do then?"
For a moment Hamilton tensed.
"You have to go down the String Mines!"
"The what?"
"The String mines."
"You mine strings!" said Albert in amazement. "Is this another Shakespearian play."
"No, no you don't understand, these are no ordinary strings, laddy, these are Super Strings," His voice low and with intensity.
Albert laughed. There was obviously something quite out of the ordinary with Hamilton's mind, like reality.
"What, you mean like 'Superman', 'Batman' and 'The Thing That Ate New York’?"
"No, No laddy," flustered Hamilton," They're sort of like…their very unusual you ken. You'll understand when you actually see them or don't see them, whatever the case may be. Well, do you want the job?"
"Job! It's a job you say, what mining strings," Albert thought for a moment then rapidly said," yes of course. If it will get me back home, then certainly!" nodding his head so rapidly he almost gave himself whiplash.
"Good then, you can start tomorrow," Hamilton said slapping his knees," I'll take you down the string pit myself and introduce you to the foreman, Herr Planck."
At that moment, there walked into the room a particularly pretty girl of about nineteen with long black hair; that offset very well the by now blindingly white room, that was giving Albert a blinding headache.
Hamilton looked up at her entrance and smiled before introducing her to Albert.
"This is my daughter Alice and sorry what was you're name again?"
"Albert, I'm from another universe."
"Good, you should get along very well with Alice's friends then," said Hamilton, as in behind Alice came what must have been the weirdest collection of people and quite possibly not-people that Albert had ever seen. What made them so extraordinary was principally the clothes they wore or didn't wear for that matter or lack of matter.
"Hello," said Alice who was a stunning beauty with a pointy nose that seemed to glow in the ever-present white. "These are my friends Kristiansand, Bergen, Molde, Tonsberg, Oslo, Tromso and Smegma."
For some reason know only to the group, all of them with the exception of Alice and Smegma were tall, named after Norwegian cites, dressed in black clothes from head to foot and constantly giving soliloquises from Hamlet. Smegma it seemed was a bit odd and nobody liked to talk to unless he forced them to, which turned out to be most of the time.
"Hi there guy," said Smegma, "What cha' doing?"
The entire group with the exception of Smegma seemed to moan and strike postures of sublime resignation.
"Oh hello," said Albert getting the hint from the behaviour of the rest of the group that Smegma was something to be avoided at all costs.
"You like the layout?" Smegma said, somehow contriving to insert an extra vowel in his question; and hence reinforcing Albert's view that Smegma didn't adopt the sort of behaviour that was commonly acceptable to all the higher life forms; like a common mode of speech and wearing clean underwear.
Hamilton interceded at this point; suddenly finding a reason to take out last weeks garbage, "Well, you must excuse me now," he said as he blundered his way through the discombobulating whiteness to one of the doors," I'll leave you in Alice's hands and I'll see you tomorrow down the mine."
Then walked head first into a wall that should have been a door and was forced to feel around with his hands to find the exit, which he promptly fell through.
Alice and her friends turned slowly and looked at Albert. A thin veneer of complete dislike filtered across the empty whiteness and enveloped Albert like a thick and gooey Irish stew.
"I suppose you need some new clothes," Alice said, looking him up and down.
"Yes, I suppose I do," replied Albert as friendly as he could.
Alice gave a significant look to her entourage, as if Albert was a harlot amongst a sect of modern day Vestal Punk Virgins. Albert found this surprising, as up till then he had always looked upon himself as being a male and quite proud of it, thank you. He wondered if they might dress him up as a transvestite.
Alice turned back to him and said causally.
"I hope you like black."
"It goes with my eyes," returned Albert, with his piercing blue eyes.
At which point she led them out of the day of the room into the night of the hall.
Albert straight away found himself tripping up incessantly in the dim murky hallway, that seemed to be deliberately furnished with every possible object and objet ‘art that could possibly put a dent in his shins.
"Ow!" he cried as a crash of pottery resounded along the hall, "What was that?"
"A twelfth century Ping vase. I think they’re priceless," said Alice somewhere ahead of him in the dark, "Daddy collects them."
"Isn't there a light switch of something? I'm not sure I can afford to go on walking."
"No sorry," piped Oslo," you see if we did that it would spoil the complete feeling of overwhelming darkness and isolation which in juxtaposition to the omnipresent light of the living room truly objectifies the tautological difference between good and evil."
"No, I don't see that's the whole problem," snapped back Albert, "How about a walking stick for the blind or is that too sane for you."
"One must try to break away from such plebeian concerns and come to grips with the true echt of reality, "said Oslo," to release oneself … Shiiiiiiiiiiiiii!" and never finished the sentence; having groined himself on a medieval grommet for castrated medieval monks.
Albert applauded silently.
Suddenly a door opened before them and light rushed out to greet them in the form of a teapot which smacked into the head of Oslo: knocking him out cold.
In the doorway, silhouetted by a blaze of storm tossed hair, stood a withered old hag, with a large head and extraordinary temper.
"Got im!" she shrieked, cavorting in the doorway, "Whee! I never did like Oslo!"
She then looked over the new arrival with a predatory expression that reminded Albert of sharks in a feeding frenzy.
"Mother, how could you," screamed Alice," why do you always have to pick on Oslo but never Tonsberg or Bergen? What is it you have against Oslo?"
Tonsberg and Bergen glanced around for ways of defecting to Russia.
"Cause his so dammed prissy that's why!" her mother screamed back." Who's he? Why hasn't he got any clothes on?" indicating Albert, vaguely waving another teapot in Albert's direction.
"His going to work for daddy down the mine. His name is Albert and his from another universe."
"So was Oslo."
"Hello," said Albert in a timid voice hoping to avert a fate similar to Oslo.
Alice's mother fixed Albert with a glittering eye.
"My name is Alice," she said slowly and with great deliberation, "do you like chess?"
Albert pondered this for a moment before replying with what he hoped was the most diplomatic response.
"It's very mathematical."
Alice and her Scandinavian retinue shuddered.
"Do you like mathematics?" furthered Alice in a tone not unlike a piano wire as it reaches its breaking strength.
Again Albert pursued in his mind the real meaning of the query and again he prompted a middling reply.
"It's very useful."
"Useful? Useful for what?"
"Oh' I don't, know counting sheep when you go to sleep at night or paying bills," he attempted.
"That isn't mathematics you idiot!" snapped back Alice, "that's arithmetic. Mathematics is ideas about numbers and formal relationships like curves in spaces or probability. Counting sheep, baa!"
Even so, everybody relaxed and followed Alice into the room with Albert trailing in behind them, completely mystified by the whole encounter, while Oslo was left outside to fend for himself.
Inside the room, it was as if the whole universe had suddenly reached the peak of its menstrual cycle.
There was a cluttering display of memorabilia, bric-a-brac, tea pots, playing cards and broken mirrors which lay strewn in every direction and possible position about the room like idolatrous pornographic holiday souvenirs. As Albert walked to the centre of the room, he found a large square table set with the remains of a decaying array of mouldy cakes and broken crockery about which in the chairs sat human size chess pieces with idiotic grins painted appropriately where their visages should have been, beaming insanely off into space as if the cinnamon cake was spiked with L.S.D. Dozens of rats scuttled around the table picking up scraps of left over food tasting them, before violently vomiting it back up again and squeaking madly, running around in circles collapsing on their backs, curling up their tails and dying of a drug overdose, having found the cinnamon cake really was spiked with L.S.D..
"Interesting decor," chanced Albert, having only once before seen a disaster like it in the wake of a hurricane.
"You like it?" asked Alice in mild surprise.
"It's genuine Entropy," quickly followed Alice.
"Really, genuine Entropy, you don't say," he said having not the faintest idea what she was talking about.
"Specially imported from Chaos in Greece, you know," Alice continued on merrily, having got over any initial dislike or murderous intentions she might have originally harboured towards Albert.
Everybody seemed to relax and Albert took this to mean he was out of the matriarchal demilitarised zone. Till Alice decided to tell him her life story. She achieved this by grabbing him by the throat, forcing him onto the sofa and pinning him down to it with her knee.
"Are you sure you know nothing about Symbolic Logic?!" she yelled at him.
"Yes! Absolutely nothing - I failed kindergarten because of it. I'm allergic to symbols, they make me break out in rashes, please don't kill me!" spluttered Albert as he begged and lied convincingly.
"Very well," said Alice, as she removed her knee from his chest and replaced it with her buttocks; so that he was trapped beneath her on the sofa.
Albert looked around the room and found to his surprise that all the Hamlet clones had settled themselves quite comfortably into the remaining furniture and had begun discussing such secular concepts as the meaning of existence and whether `tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous geriatrics.` Seemingly oblivious to the predicament that Albert was now undergoing: Albert had a suspicion that this was a normal behaviour for them.
It also occurred to him, before Alice had a chance to start again, that people have a tendency-when confronted with the indelicate issue of their seniors-to take an inordinate interest in such prosaic subjects as classical architecture and football averages. He wondered for a second if it was just possible that all these activities that people concern themselves with on the weekend, were just a way of escaping from the horror of their relations: then Alice poked him in the eye and began to tell him her life story.
"My name is Alice Pleasance Liddell, does that mean anything to you?" she cocked a beady eye at him.
Albert tried thought for a moment but found thinking difficult with Alice's behind constricting his breathing.
"No," he finally managed.
"Good, have you ever heard of Lewis Carroll?"
"Why, yes of course, he wrote 'Alice In Wonderland', everybody knows ... no that's not possible, you can't be ... that was over a hundred years ago."
"That's what you think, anabolic steroids can do wonders you know," she grabbed him by the ear and twisted it," I really am the Alice In Wonderland."
"That's extraordinary," he said in genuine amazement and just a twinge of pain. "You must be very proud to have had a book written about you, especially one as famous as 'Alice In Wonderland'."
"Proud! Proud!" she shrieked grabbing Albert by both his ears and shaking his head.
"Do you know what it's like to go through life with that sort of stigmata attached to you. Ever where you go, everything you try to do, you find people pointing you out saying "There's Alice, you know 'Alice in Wonderland'" and of course they come over and start asking me question about symbolic logic or crack jokes about mad hatters tea parties, do you know I hate tea! I absolutely despise the stuff!
"And if I ever tried to pick up a guy, the first thing he would say to me is -What was Lewis like in bed?-, that bastard! He used to photograph me in the nude you know, in the nude and I was only eight years old! How dare he!"
"Surely not, I mean, that's not possible!” Exclaimed Albert.
"That shows you just how good the Victorian propaganda machine was and I was only eight for god's sake! You know what he once wrote, go on I dare you, guess what he wrote!" smacking his face.
"I …"
"He wrote 'I am fond of children -except little boys-' meaning girls of course! There, now do you see what that raving, low-life, pedophiliac, gonorrheaic, impotent scumbag did to me? What right had he to stuff up my life with his stupid books, all I ever wanted to do, was to get laid!"
"Ah," said Albert, who like the sun rising had no alternative, on nothing new.
"You know, for years I really thought I could walk through mirrors; you can't believe the amount of plastic surgery my parents had to fork up for. And logic, bloody logic, don't talk to me about tautologies. I had `em up to here," indicating her temple.
"I hate chess, I hate rabbits, I hate eggs, I hate mirrors. If fact after that bastard finished with me, there isn't a bloody thing that I don't hate!"
At this, she bounced up off Albert and tore round the room picking up things like mirrors and tea pots and smashing them to the ground; then jumping up and down on top of them to give them that final touch of obliteration.
As she was doing this, Alice crept over to Albert and motioned him to follow her out the door, which he did so with the others, with a speed that would have surprised a cheetah being chased by bush fire. As the door was closed they heard her final parting Carrollian curse:
"Bloody Snarks!"
They stumbled away in the dark of the hallway.
They soon made their way down the hall, down some long and winding stairs and into another room.
"How did she ever marry your father?" asked Albert as they reached the bottom of the flight and into a new room.
"It's a long story," replied Alice." But to cut it short, he had the money, she the brains and she needed him to build a time machine, which she had invented."
"She invented a time machine! But what would she do with a time machine, for heavens sake?"
"She always wanted to go back and chop off Carroll's head," said Alice sadly. "But every time she travelled back, she got caught in a temporal paradox and found Time wouldn't let her have -an effect without a cause- as Carroll himself put it. So she's trapped in our future. Which is probably why she gets a bit frustrated at times."
"Frustrated, frustrated, is that what you call it!?" shot back Albert.
"She needs to be institutionalised, she's a frustrated sociopathic psychopath with homicidal tendencies suffering from manic depression. She's a raving loony."
"She's also my mother." Alice said quietly.
"Ah…sorry…err," he stuttered." I didn't quite mean it that way."
"That's alright, most people seem to think the same way. She's really a nice person, deep down she has some nice attributes, it's just there a little too deep down for people to ever see them," Alice said biting her lip.
Inside the room, everybody scattered into groups of two or three and began discussing dialecticism of John Stuart Mill and the evolutionary advantages of being a red herring, all except for Smegma who was involved in a fascinating conversation with a pot plant, which managed to convince him that potatoes were a higher life form than humans.
"Don't they seem to mind your mother, I mean, she could have killed poor Oslo?" asked Albert.
"I suppose they do in their own way," replied Alice." Mother's a bit like hang gliding, once you're there there's nothing you can do about it so you might as well enjoy the scenery."
Albert suddenly felt he was caught up in one of those weirdly abstruse Ingmar Bergman movies; which analyse things like life and death, good and evil and how to confuse the living daylights out of its audience. He glanced around to see if there were any cameras present. He was relieved to find nothing more intrusive than a defunct Box Brownie with a sign on it saying - Bergman Was Blind! - signed Andy Warhol.
"Here, I'll get you some clothes," said Alice and walked Albert over to a walk-in wardrobe, which as Albert peered into it seemed to stretch for acres.
"It's enormous!" he exclaimed but what he found even more surprising was the clothes that it contained. They were all either black - completely black or completely white.
"Don't you think a little variety might be, well interesting?" he quizzed Alice.
"Not at all," suddenly boomed Tonsberg behind them. "Black and White like Day and Night. Makes perfect sense, when you don't think about it, that is."
Albert jumped, it was the first time any of the Hamlet clones had spoken to him directly: besides Smegma and Smegma didn't seem to count.
"But what's it supposed to mean?"
"It's the ultimate juxtaposition between mind and reality."
"Yes, but what's it supposed to mean?"
"It is the sublime dichotomy twixt being and nothingness."
"And what's that meant to signify?" Albert's voice starting to crack under the strain.
"Who cares, I'm a work of art," and walked back to the others to discuss the ramifications of post-Proustian data retrieval systems.
Alice who by this point had come back out of the closet with an assortment of clothes thrown over her arm, she held up a shirt for Albert to view.
It was so black; it gave Albert vertigo staring into it.
"It's very, err, dark "he managed, hoping not to offend Alice.
"Yes, isn't it," she said gaily." Here try it on, it goes well with the trousers."
Albert looked at the trousers and sure enough they were the same insidiously black inky murkiness as the shirt. Albert smiled and slipped them over his board shorts followed by the shirt and black shoes, when he had done so he felt as if he was wearing the night. Then realized that was how people were supposed to feel about the unknown, in the dark and without perception.
Albert sighed -life had not been kind to him- indeed life seemed to go out of its way to make his existence an absolute misery.

Excerpt From Macschrodinger's Cat - all rights reserved