These things have long been known to be true: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, the north and south poles of magnets cannot exist without one another’s affection, and protons and electrons engage in hundreds of elaborate waltzes that we interpret as matter. These principles seem to point towards a universal rule of duality, yet one of the four fundamental forces defies this pattern: gravity.

As far as humanity could tell for many centuries, gravity was strictly attractive in nature. All matter was drawn to all other matter, without exception, across all distances. For some, this was comforting. Buckminster Fuller referred to love as “metaphysical gravity,” effectively excluding hatred from nature. For others, this proved unsettling, a fracture in the laws of reality that they simply could not look away from.

Once space travel became common, rumors began to spread of a place where a sort of “negative gravity” could be found. Those who claimed to have seen it with their own eyes said that it was a hollow planet, unknown in origin, and much older than the star that it orbited. Beneath its surface, a massive machine could be seen pulling space-time like taffy, twisting its darkness into a long, obsidian corkscrew.

So the story goes, this coil contains all the potential energy of all the repulsive gravity that there’s ever been. Every last little unseen tug, from the weight of a butterfly’s left wing to the tides within a single raindrop, is contributing to the mechanism’s torque. Those who built this false planet did so long ago to prevent the universe from tearing itself apart, effectively destroying reality as they knew it by bottling away one of its most fundamental laws.

Of course, how anyone could know all of this is unfathomable, and most have dismissed it as the “black licorice myth,” or the “tale of the wind-up planet.” Even so, believers espouse that it continues to twist and churn, now holding unfathomable amounts of energy in its belly. They warn that eventually, another will need to be built to replace it, as it’s only a matter of time before its inner helix reaches its limit and snaps.