It began with an internet search, as most crazy discoveries do nowadays. And what started as harmless interest quickly grew into obsession. I’m talking eschewing wikipedia, even google, and sifting through mountains of data himself. Talking finding things that he couldn’t even locate later, they’d mysteriously disappeared. That sort of thing. But basically, his research centered on the pineal gland and the mandelbrot set.
Apparently, people have the ability to channel ungodly amounts of energy and information through this gland in the brain that’s the size of a pea. Perceive light through it, observe things on the microscopic and telescopic scale. Have out of body experiences, religio-spiritual occurrences. Just happens to line up with the center of the forehead, where the third eye would be. You get the idea.
As any good mysterious idea is, this one’s locked up in an intense conspiracy theory. Claims that the pineal gland soaks up fluoride like a sponge, clouds it so that the average person’s powers are diminished. Government control to keep us docile through the water supply. I’m sure you’ve heard about it.
Well, our protagonist decided that he was going to do something about it. Bought a big, honking distiller. Pumped the fluoride right out of the water. Started meditating, focusing on that little pea in the center of his forehead. Looked up mandelbrot sets, those fractals that are popular with the psychedelic crowd, the self-repeating shapes and colors that go on and on ad infinitum. Tried the Ganzfeld effect, with ping pong balls over his eyes and white noise pumped into his ears to produce hallucinations. Our guy went all out.
And this story wouldn’t be a story if nothing happened, which it actually did. The little gland started pulsing in his head the more he focused on it. A tingly sort of warmth emanated from it, until he could actually feel it coursing through each and every nerve in his body. Could feel the blood pump through his veins, filter into the tiny, branching capillaries and enrich his body with oxygen. Basically experienced the weird, New Agey stuff he’d initially scoffed at when he’d first read about it.
But he’d invariably get excited and focus even more on channeling his third eye, which would stop the experience immediately. If he wanted to get the full effect, he’d have to stop thinking about it entirely. Kind of like when you space out and look at a wall, your vision tunnels into the single point your pupils are focused on. But the second you become aware and try to actually focus, the tunnel is gone. This would take some work.
He meditated tirelessly, induced sleep and sensory deprivation, drank pitchers of the distilled water to cleanse out all the fluoride. Only ate foods with five or fewer ingredients on the label, and no processed crap. Determined would be an understatement.
And I wouldn’t be telling this story right now if it didn’t work. He divorced his self from himself. Had no concept of subject or object, no us and them or me and you. All was one and one was all. He was the breath in his lungs, the perspiration dripping down in rivulets from his forehead. His third eye was throbbing, until it felt like it was his entire body.
And in an instant, he became entirely aware of the universes within universes that composed his body. Each individual cell among billions was him. He felt when they split and reproduced, when they atrophied and died, only to be replaced by another. And each cell was composed of still tinier forms, on and on like that, even beyond quarks, to a realm beyond human understanding, where microscopic galaxies spiraled on in empty nothingness, where planets bearing minuscule life orbited miniature suns. And within those tiny lifeforms, tinier still cells, and universes within them, and so on beyond any human conception of limit.
And outside of our protagonist was a boundless universe, stretching up into sizes that human brains can’t conceive of, going on and on until it could be seen in its enclosed state, as a single cell in the body of an inconceivably immense being, that being itself a part of its own universe which in turn is just a cell within a larger cosmic framework.
Seeing this then, as it was, his body had no limit. He was the size of the building he was in, and then larger. He was floating and then flying, simultaneously in that moment and witnessing his own birth and death. Transcending his body and then even the body of the tiny cell he called his universe.
He stretched on and on, heard all sounds and saw all sights. His body became light and then snaked and twisted through nebulous clouds, evaporated at the slightest touch and then spontaneously retook his mortal form. And then, when he had reached a plane that is entirely beyond human capabilities, he shed his human body. He became the single drop he’d started as, and returned to the endless ocean of consciousness.
He’s never been seen or heard from again. His friends and family naturally reported him missing, but it’s no use. And besides, if they knew where it was that he’d gone they wouldn’t worry anyway.
Some say you can still feel him even now, wrinkled within the fabric of the universe itself. He might manifest as a slight tingle down your spine here, a chill in the air you can’t explain there… Either way, he makes his presence known. So be sure to watch out for him.
He had to write a story and it had to be good. Or at least interesting. Something that might make someone smile, maybe whisk them away to a rarely visited part of their brain. You get the idea.
The world for him right then was stale and boring and devoid of anything that might have story potential. He chewed pencils, balled paper, and drank water. Nothing.
The window was opened. A sandwich was prepared, cut into neat halves and eaten. The wingdings alphabet was analyzed extensively. And yet no story would come. There was truly nothing to write about.
There was this little squishy ball Earth he kept in his top drawer just for occasions like this. He took it out. Looked it over. Squished it.
As soon as he did, the sky outside his window folded in on itself; a couple clouds burst from the pressure. Our guy didn’t notice.
He held the ball in the palm of his hand and contemplated squishing it harder. Didn’t. Instead, he studied how his lamp shined onto the miniature North America in front of him.
He turned the squishy planet Antarctica-up. No one ever paid enough attention to that place.
As he turned the Earth in his hands, the sun whooshed out of the sky in a hurry and plunged everything into premature night. I shit you not. Our guy noticed that one, alright.
He brought North America back to the top, into the light. The sun returned to the sky as if it never left.
There followed a period where he sat immaculately still, just staring at the planet. But something had to be done. And naturally he figured that something was for him to turn off his lamp.
Nighttime. Pitch black.
Turned it back on: blinding sunlight.
He hovered his pinky finger over the U-shape of Lake Michigan, searched for Chicago at the left side of the U’s curve. He looked out his window, but he knew what he’d see. A finger that was the sky itself, its fingerprint a snaking, twisting, inverted mountain range that’d make Everest look like a bunny hill.
He pulled his finger away. The sky was clear again. He yanked open his second drawer then, rifled through its contents as the other, Earth-cradling hand remained perfectly still. Finally found what he was looking for: tweezers.
Brought the tweezers back over that familiar U-shape, until twin metal monstrosities hovered in the sky, dangerously close to his house. To his opened window.
He looked at the tweezer tips, both in his hand and looming in his periphery. Thought it over. He edged the tweezers closer, till their tips were grazing the back of his shirt. Before he could tell himself not to, he clamped down tight and whisked himself away.
And the whisker got whisked away.
And the whisker’s whisker got whisked away.
And the whisker’s whisker’s whisker got whisked away.