The bedrock scrolled upward as the tiny elevator slid down the thin, claustrophobic shaft. Malcolm Courtright never liked heights. The knowledge that he was underground was of little comfort when there were miles of nothing below him.
Riding to the center of the earth was no laughing matter. A scaffold of carbon fiber laced the shaft walls, the only thing preventing the surrounding pressure from turning everything into diamond.
“It’s something isn’t it?” said the armed escort. Malcolm could feel the man’s breath in the cramped car.
Malcolm nodded. “It is…” he trailed off. “Although I think what your company had in mind was a geologist not an astrophysicist.”
“Actually,” said the escort, staring at the walls as they slid by, “my employer found your paper on holograms and circular space very interesting.”
“That?” said Malcolm laughing. “I wrote that in college ages ago. I’m afraid your CEO must have confused science with a poorly written term paper. I was a stoned graduate student who read too many Pratchett novels.”
The escort only smiled as the elevator groaned to a halt. “You theorized that the earth could actually be flat, that it only looks round because of warped space.”
“No, that wasn’t what I had meant. I only said that our beliefs shape how we perceive things,” he said, stepping out of the elevator. “I wasn’t saying that the earth is flat. I was saying that when people believe in a set paradigm, it is often impossible to make them believe anything else… as in religion. If people believed the earth really was flat, their subconscious makes that reality. It wouldn’t matter what evidence you showed them—”
They reached a precipice and Malcolm froze at the sight of the room, miles long. The floor was a brownish gray and stretched out to infinity, an inlaid hexagonal pattern, each section large enough to swallow a city block.
“What if everyone believed the earth was round?” asked the escort. “Even if it were flat,” he leaned toward Malcolm, “riding on the back of a turtle.”