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Timothy James Gavan had been a student of Tae Kwon Do for almost six months, and in that time had progressed from White Belt to Single Yellow Stripe. Today was "promotion day" at his gym -- the day on which he was expected to show off his skills, and if his master approved, he would be promoted to a full yellow belt.

The gym was packed with students and family members who came to watch the proceedings. As the tests progressed from demonstrations of patterned movements through light sparring, the air turned increasingly electric as anticipation built about the last event -- board breaking. The sudden appearance of the Black Belts carrying wooden boards, slightly curved, about twelve inches square and half an inch thick, released a wave of pent-up excitement.

Timothy mumbled silently to himself as he watched the pile of wood grow. To be promoted today, he would need to split one board with a single jump sidekick. He was going to do it -- he was sure of that. As he focussed his green-eyed stare on them, in his mind's eye he could see his foot smashing through one.

Other kids went before Timothy, but that was OK. It gave him more time to imagine his own turn. Through the whole exercise, he fixed his glare at the boards, willing them to split in to right then and there. When it was his turn, he stood at attention while a board was positioned, flat surface at right angles to the floor and about waist height. He lifted his right foot to check the height and angle, and when satisfied walked to the opposite wall, turned, and concentrated.

A _giup_ is shouted by practitioners of all martial arts when executing a move that requires a sudden burst of power. It emanates not from the throat, but from the diaphram, the body's centre of energy, and is used to focus one's strength into a single point. Timothy's _giup_ was sharp and clear, and made the air around him thrum with power.

He launched himself across the floor, and as the heel of his bare foot contacted the board, he knew it would not remain a single piece. Timothy released another _giup_ as the board cracked and splintered. A sharp cracking sound rose out of the board as it shattered with such force, such completeness, that the very fabric of space-time itself sundered with it.

With a thunderous clap and a blinding flash of pure energy, a crack in space-time formed along a line through which Timothy's foot had passed. The fissure continued to travel outward in both directions, faster than light speed, like fault lines appearing in thin ice when a heavy object passes over it.

The centre of the split opened wide, devouring anything near it in a searing, cacophenous riot of light and heat. It was only an instant before the earth, its sun, and the rest of the solar system collapsed into the space-time rift, and as the crack continued its relentless march to the edges of the universe, the hole at its centre gobbled up more and more matter, like a hungry animal that had not eaten for weeks.

It was over mere moments after that. The entire universe collapsed in on the one tiny hole in time, swallowed whole like Jonas in the whale. The umimaginable mass, matter and energy of countless galaxies and the immense spaces between them squeezed into an impossibly small area. It would not remain stable for long. The matter and energy, supercondensed into a physical singularity, could not be contained and soon burst out again, like popcorn exploding from its husk, spewing inconceivable amounts of energy, radiation, and matter in all directions at once.

And so a new universe was born out of the ashes of the old -- just as the old one had been born out of the fiery embers of its predecessor -- waiting perhaps for another little boy with a powerful burst of enthusiastic energy to break another board on his promotion day.

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The following comments are for "Promotion Day"
by DeanPowell

Odd. Very odd.
What I first dismissed as a heartwarming piece about a boy overcoming his fears (blah blah blah)managed to turn around into a very strange piece about the end of the universe.
However, I'm wondering whether the 'twist' was thrown in simply to make a mediocre piece vaguely interesting. A nice trick, but you wouldn't want to try it too often.

( Posted by: MacLaren [Member] On: July 27, 2004 )

No trick, really
Well, at least “mediocre” is better than “crap” ;-) I can see now how your perception of a contrived literary trick comes to mind, but the truth is actually much simpler than that. In fact, there is no real “trick” at all – not a conscious one at any rate. This is one of those odd little pieces that basically “fell out” one day shortly after my youngest boy’s own Tae Kwon Do promotion. I was writing just for practice, and the entire story came out in a single, uninterrupted, thirty-minute stream. Where it came from I have no idea – I can only put it down to having watched thirty kids smash boards and the fact that at the time I was ploughing through Steven Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time”, which also (briefly!) discusses the possible end of the universe. Shows you how my mind works, I guess.

( Posted by: DeanPowell [Member] On: July 27, 2004 )

very entertaining
What started out as a quaint story exploded in to something which, even after reading it twice, still intrigues me. The casual language and tone you used adds some clever humour, which is possibly one of the reasons this story has stuck in my head (whether you intended this is another matter). Very entertaining.
On another matter entirely I once attempted 'Brief History of Time', I hope you have better luck with it than I did!

( Posted by: stiltzkin [Member] On: July 27, 2004 )

Subject? I'm no good at subjects... Well... on to the comment
I felt the heartwarming side of the story was more appealing to its wholeself than the ending associated with the end of the universe, for said descriptions to be better received I think would work better if peppered intermittently (?? sp? *blank*) throughout the piece... Just a suggestion from your friendly neighbourhood lap cat.

( Posted by: De`esse [Member] On: July 28, 2004 )

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