June 22nd, probably.
When I turn the dial up past seven, the universe twists. Each millimeter, each minuscule adjustment, sends ripples through the laboratory. Not everything moves at the same time; my coffee mug remained impossibly motionless as the table beneath it trembled, and the glass in the window didn't line up with the walls for a moment. I turned the dial up to nine today, watched as a vast blackness crept up from between the lines of the world, chasms yawning open under my feet, endless gulfs lurking unseen behind the curling wallpaper, above the acoustic ceiling tiles all stained by last year's rain.
Reading the previous paragraph back to myself, I'm forced to admit it's not exactly a scientific analysis. That lends some credibility to the theory that I'm insane. I have those charts on the east wall of the lab, the north and west walls taken by diagrams of the device. The South wall has a window, and a faded poster of a cat. There's a caption on the poster in Russian, I'm not really sure why, and the cat seems to stare at me sometimes as I watch the window and pray for a visitor.
I've added my analysis of the first paragraph above to the east wall, under the 'insanity' header. Already that is the one with the preponderance of evidence. I was certainly insane when I was younger, one of my two inheritances from my father. This is also evidence against, however, because I sought and received treatment. Therapies. I was cured, unlike those who have never been diagnosed in the first place - I have government notarized papers proclaiming me sane, can you say that for yourself, dear reader?
One of the treatments involved immersion in a virtual world. The east wall has facts about that as well, possible malfunctions. Did I leave? When the universe ripples and moves, am I merely disrupting the graphics by forcing them to calculate something beyond the scope of the equipment? Or is the third theory on the wall the correct one - have I made the device work? Have I succeeded where my father failed?
Since the first time I turned the device past seven I have not seen another living soul. I watch the window on the south wall, watch for even the shadows of passerby, but see nothing. I looked out, afraid of what I might see, and everything seemed pale and distorted. Is that the insanity? Is it a mistake in the virtual world? Or have I already departed through the cracks, shaken through holes in reality like flour in a sieve? I want to turn the dial up to ten, twist the world or the computer or my mind until something gives.
I need fresh air. The hinges on the window are rusted solid, the window itself painted shut. The glass is thick, woven with metal. Behind me my father’s device is set to seven exactly, humming like a lullaby as the poster watches me in Russian. I just want some fresh air before I turn the dial all the way to the stop. A moment to think. It seems like so long ago, but I know this room used to have a door.