The Billings Mustangs were ahead 8 to 6 at the bottom of the ninth. Luke Moran was pitching. It was two outs, bases loaded and the count was 3-2.
Phil sat in the bleachers. Next to him was a red headed little girl covered obnoxiously in freckles.
Phil leaned over to her and whispered.
“Do you know what magic is?”
“It’s that Harry Potter stuff,” said Brenda through her freckles.
“Know how it works?”
“It doesn’t work. It’s impossible.”
“Well it’s highly improbable. But not impossible. For example, according to quantum mechanics there is actually a chance you and I could disappear from these bleachers and appear on another planet watching another minor league team except they have arms like squids. It’s really, really, really unlikely but it theoretically could happen.”
“Whatever,” she said as she picked up her phone. Her dad came back to his seat with hot dogs and sodas. He stumbled on the stairs dumping soda and mustard went all over his clothes. An obnoxious fan laughed. An old man helped him get up.
“I’ll be back sweetie!” he said grinning through anger.
“So, you see, if I took this baseball and threw it up in the air, there is a CHANCE it would keep four feet over our head and follow the orbit of the earth in such a way that it would look like it was standing still. But it is so remote, we would call it impossible as far as our chance. But … it is NOT impossible. Now, if I were to do this in front of a science-based skeptic, and got lucky enough, he may actually see the ball float over my head, but he won’t believe it, nor SHOULD he.”
The pitcher threw the pitch – it was a hit! Two runs came tying the game. The next batter got up and on the first pitch hit a pop fly to left. It was caught and it was on to extra innings.
“So,” she said, “That’s not magic.”
“Nope,” he said. “Magic would be the ability to make the highly, highly, HIGHLY improbable a routine execution. It would require mastery over quantum randomness. It would essentially be the power to load the dice of the universe to fall in the way you want them to.”
“What would YOU do with such power?” she asked.
Phil started tapping morse code on his A-11 wrist watch. Instantly, he and her were on a Rigball stadium on a moon of a gas giant in a binary star system. The red, hairy bipeds were throwing a ball at an player with a stick. The field was circular and there were five bases in a circle around the batter.
“I don’t see any tentacles,” she said.
“Tentacles are too creepy,” said Phil. “For me anyway. You don’t shock easily do you?”
She just looked at him. Her hand was shaking, but her resolve to show no fear was as strong as a Brandonian spider silk rope.
Phil started tapping on his watch again and they were back on earth in the same seats at the same moment they left.
“What’s your point?” she asked calmly as her phone shook slightly.
The players switched positions for the first extra inning. She touched the seat in front of her
“Dehler Park,” she said.
“I LIKE YOU!” grinned Phil. “You are AWESOME.”
“I’m a Doctor Who fan. Nothing surprises me,” she said her eye twitching.
“Noted. Now, here is what I want to ask you for this magical trip. I would really, really really encourage you to go into mathematics. I suspect you are smart. Damn smart. Scary smart. But the mathematics of earth have some critical mistakes that you need to find, fix AND KEEP TO YOURSELF. Be ruthless in your study. Accept no idea as given. That said, I think you may find it … um … magical.”
“You mean I would find that magic really doesn’t exist but actually does if you use math to hack quantum mechanics and stack the dice?”
“Semantics! Word play. PotaTO, poTAto, whatever. But If you want to put it that way … then … yeah.”
Phil got up to to leave.
“Go Mustangs!” he cheered and then turned to her.
“I won’t see you again my freckle-faced genius. But please … remember me.”
Phil headed for the exist. As he left her line of sight, she immediately went to pictures on her phone. There it was. The round ball field. The bases. The red bipedal players and the binary suns cresting over the top of the stadium. At the edge of the image was the rim of a gas giant planet.