The Other Side of the Coin

by Tobias Andersson Åkerblom

No reflection could be seen in Arthur’s eyes. He held the coin between his index finger and thumb and gazed into the absolute absence of matter in front of him.  A sound, or a sensation, resembling a string orchestra swept through his head. He had taken the coin out of his pocket after feeling a slight sucking sensation, wondering what it was. What he was now seeing was not like anything he had ever seen. For the first time in his life, he could grasp the grandness of existense.

-Shit, he said as he realized that on the other side of the Chinese tree peony that decorates the one yuan coin, a black hole was forming. He quickly resorted to putting the coin into a plastic  bag and placing it upside down on his hardwood kitchen table before heading off to work.

The rain was smattering on the windows of Arthur’s 35th floor office. Outside, cars where flying past on elevated roads in the sky. Sitting behind his desk, he couldn’t stop thinking about the coin. He put his forehead into his hands, he bit his nails, and he couldn’t sit still. If this was what he thought it was, it could be the end of investment banking, and his career!

He had known for a long time that the investments that he and his co-workers had been placing in the Chinese economy where not actually backed up by real capital. It was just theoretical money, that only existed as long as loans where paid back. More than ninety percent of the money at his bank had never actually existed before someone borrowed them. For a long  time, there had been a gnawing voice in the back of his head, telling him that one day people might not be able to pay back, and the money that had already been invested in ongoing projects would not materialize. “When new coins or bills are printed, and only a small part of it has coverage, there is a theoretical risk that a black hole is created on one of the sides”, his Physio-Economics professor had drilled him when he was still studying at university. Everyone knew this, but it was like a white lie, everyone was doing it, it wasn’t hurting anyone. And besides, even if he hadn’t struck that gigantic construction deal yesterday, someone else would have.

The first thing that Arthur saw as he entered through he door to his apartment was the leg of his white poodle dangling down from underneath the table. He reached the table just as the leg got sucked in and disappeared. Arthur bent over and put his head under the table. What he saw inspired great fascination, and fear, in him. A circular hole the size of a basketball had disappeared from the wooden board into the coin. He was paralyzed by the same profoundly mysterious feeling that had hit him that morning. He could see the beginning and the end, the questions and the answers. Just then, Arthur, together with the rest of the world, got sucked into the vast expanse of nothingness inside. The land masses of the earth fell into the sea, the sky split, and existence stopped.