You were never sure if the first time you noticed the spot was in a dream or not. It could have been a dream.
It was early one morning, an hour or two before dawn. You had long since kicked the sheets down to the bottom of the bed in the muggy night, only to feel chilled now in the cooler morning. You rolled onto your back and absently rubbed your palm against the soft hairs on your stomach, staring lazily down at your hand by your waist. On your wrist just below the first knuckle of your thumb was a faint white glow, no more than a centimeter around with soft edges.
You sucked in your gut a little. Just below your belly button was a tiny spot of skin that was shining a brilliant white. Barely more than a pinprick.
Was this a reflection of something, maybe an odd refraction from the streetlight outside? You hovered your hand above the spot and it reflected softly on your inner palm. So no, it wasn't that--the light was coming from you. You tapped on the spot with your finger. Your skin wasn't numb or sore, your finger didn't burn when you touched it. The whole area felt absolutely normal.
Something started to percolate in the back of your brain. A vague sense of panic. Or maybe just surprise. But a voice in your head kept telling you not to worry. You're just dreaming, he said. This isn't real. Nothing to worry about at all. So you chuckled a little as you covered and uncovered the spot with your hand, playing with the reflection.
After a few moments, the world grew heavy and your mind drifted off. Your eyelids fell and your hand went limp against your stomach. Such a strange thing, you remember thinking. A glow in the dark freckle. After that, you don't remember anything until you woke up hours later just before noon.
You saw nothing when you looked at your stomach again in the sunlight, or when you stared very closely at your gut in the mirror after your morning pee. No shining spot. Well, maybe there was the tiniest bit of discoloration, just a finger below your navel on the right. A little patch barely more than, again, a pinprick. But you couldn't be sure. It was hard to really look that closely without a hand mirror, which you didn't have, or by climbing onto the sink and contorting yourself at a really dangerous angle, which you weren't about to do.
You rubbed your stomach vigorously and snorted. Just a dream. That's all it had been.
You didn't think any more about it as you went about your day. First, a few pieces of toast while chatting with Jay, your roommate. Then to the park for a few hours, where you hooked up with some friends also out enjoying the afternoon. At some point the little circle of friends turned into an impromptu gathering, which later bloomed into a full-blown party, and in all the fun the early evening turned into the early morning before you knew it. When you finally got home in the wee hours you didn't so much as go to bed as fall on it and close your eyes.
The next day you loafed on the couch all day watching junk on Netflix. You were in no condition to be productive. It was all you could do to get the motivation to get up to go to the bathroom.
In the late afternoon Jay walked in with Sandra, and they told you they had some friends coming over that night. They needed use of the living room for entertainment purposes, and that it was perfectly fine if you wanted to socialize when they arrived, if you were so inclined, but right now you needed to get your loafing ass off the couch. You took his reasonable request in the spirit it was given, cleaned up the area a bit, and ventured back to your room for a nap.
It was dark when you woke up. You weren't sure exactly what time it was. You could hear Jay and his friends in the living room talking and listening to music faintly through the walls, so probably not too late.
You sat up and shook out the last of the cobwebs from your head. You really shouldn't have slept for as long as you had, but you felt so much better now. And you felt like socializing, going out to the living room and saying hi like a human, chat for a bit. Some of Sandra's friends were cute. You got out of bed and made your way to your dresser to change.
When you were pulling the new shirt on, you looked down and noticed the spot, right where it had been before. You had forgotten all about it till just then.
You pulled your shirt down and rushed down the hall to the bathroom, where you flipped on the light and closed the door tight behind you. For some reason you also turned on the overhead-fan. But when you lifted up your shirt you couldn't see anything on your stomach, apart from maybe the same little speck of discoloration as before. And nothing was glowing. Yet you had definitely seen it clearly back in your room.
You cupped your hands around where you remembered it being, with just enough space above your thumb for you to peek in. You could see it very faintly in there--but more the glow of it against your fingers than the spot itself.
You turned off the light to the bathroom. The room had no windows, and almost no light at all seeped in under the door. So the dark was near total.
Except for the shining spot that you saw on your stomach when you turned back to the mirror.
It was a very soft white glow, devoid of any color, like the world's tiniest maglite just under your skin. It barely reflected off the edge of the sink a few inches in front of you. You played with the flesh around it, and the light moved with your stomach as you pinched it together and pushed it in. You closed your eyes and rubbed your belly in little circular motions. You couldn't tell when you were touching the spot and when you weren't--it felt exactly the same as the rest of you. And you couldn't be sure, but you thought it was just a little bit bigger than you remembered it from yesterday.
You turned the light back on. Now that you knew where to look you could definitely see it. A little spot where the skin looked shiny, as if it was polished. Or maybe like a small burn after the scab had come off, only without the red and pink tint.
Again, you probably should have been panicking. And the drive to it was stronger now when you were wide awake looking at it. This was in no way a dream.
But that voice in your head kept you calm. This was nothing to be frightened of, he kept telling you. Just take a deep breath, relax. It's just some weird little skin blemish.
You opened the medicine cabinet, got one of those tiny little band-aids, and placed it over the spot. For what reason you weren't sure. You didn't want anyone to see it of course, but it's not like people were lining up to carefully inspect your abdomen in the dark. But you couldn't think of what else to do. Just cover the thing up, drop your shirt, and stop thinking about it.
You went into the living room and said hello, relaxing down onto the arm of the couch. One of Sandra's friends, Tabby, a cute redhead you liked to flirt with, offered you a beer. You took it with only a half-forced smile and a thank you.
The doctor at the clinic the next day was very curt with you. She could see the discoloration just fine, and she poked and prodded at it in the well-lit examination room that took you hours to get into. But after looking at the spot for barely a minute and asking you the most general of questions, she told you it was something called vitiligo and that it was harmless. When you tried to explain the light, she was barely listening anymore, wouldn't even turn around to look at you as she scribbled out a prescription for some topical cream that she dropped on the counter by the door as she left. There were a lot of people out in the waiting room, and she wasn't going to concern herself about something she thought was a simple skin discoloration.
Jay was home, and you still felt the need to get someone else to see it, so you showed him.
"That's some kind of paint, right?" he said as he looked closely at it.
"It's real, Jay, come on," you pleaded with him.
He poked at the spot with his finger. "It's really on thin too. I can't feel it at all."
You pulled your shirt down and stormed over to the window raise the blinds.
"Okay, okay," Jay said. "Calm down. There's no need to get angry. Did you see a doctor about it?"
"I just got back from the clinic in Bushwick. She said it was just a patch of skin that lost pigment. Gave me a prescription for some kind of cream and told me not to worry about it."
Jay shrugged. "Well then what's the problem?"
"It's not that. I know it isn't. I looked it up online and nowhere does it say anything about glowing. None of them do. This is something completely different."
"You don't know that. She's a doctor. A clinic doctor, but whatever. She knows her shit. Maybe you just a have a rare side effect because you ate something weird. I once heard about a guy who turned orange because he was eating too many carrots."
You rolled your eyes at him.
"Look," Jay continued. "Bottom line, if she wasn't worried about it then maybe you should just get the cream and see if it works. If it doesn't then you can go back."
As exasperated as Jay made you, he had a point. You aren't, after all, a doctor, and the one you saw wasn't worried. Jay hadn't freaked out about it either. Maybe it was just as they said. And maybe your mind was exaggerating how bright the spot was.
The topical cream wasn't too expensive with the co-pay off your dad's plan. Though if it made any difference you couldn't tell. The spot didn't seem to be getting bigger, but it wasn't shrinking either. Still, you applied it every night faithfully just before bed.
You never followed up on it at the clinic or consulted any other doctors. You didn't think there was a point. If it was like Jay had said, an odd but harmless extra side effect to a normal skin ailment, then why bother? And that's what you were increasingly convinced it was. Any time you started to feel angsty about it that voice in your head would calm you down, tell you there was nothing to worry about. You felt fine, didn't you? No aches, plenty of energy, eating right, sleeping well. What's to worry? The spot would go away soon enough. Until it did, which would be any day now, it was just another fact of your life that you had to grow accustomed to.
A couple weeks later you were hanging out with a few friends at your place, along with Jay and some of his friends. It was an unplanned, no particular occasion get-together. One of those moments where everybody just sort of converged in the same place at the same time. The couch was packed to both arms with people scrunched together, others sitting on the coffee table across from it. And there was talk of pizza and a beer run to keep it going.
You were feeling adventurous. Or maybe just in one of those moods you got in after a few where you wanted some attention. You turned to the girl sitting next to you. Jen, you think her name was.
"Hey, look at this," you said, pulling your shirt up.
She looked at you, her eyes swimming. "What?" She glanced down at your exposed stomach. "I don't see anything."
Sandra glared at you from across the room. "What are you doing? Put your shirt back on."
"No, it's not that." You turned your torso to face her. "Here, you see anything?"
"Is it still there?" Jay asked, leaning against the couch behind you.
"Yeah," you said glancing at him, and then turning back to Sandra. "Do you see anything? That little white patch there?"
"You're all white."
"I mean the part whiter than the rest of me."
Sandra leaned forward in her seat and squinted. "Not really."
"I kinda see something," Jen mumbled next to him. She pointed at the spot with her finger. "About there?"
You nodded at her, as you rose and moved to the center of the room. You had everyone's attention now. "Jay, get the lights."
Jay got up with a shrug and went for the light switch. It was dusk outside so it was not completely black with the lights off, but it was dark enough for the spot to be a single sharp light in an otherwise dull blue room.
You turned around slowly, making sure everyone got a good look at it. There were a few gasps here and there, but everyone was more surprised by it than afraid. Curious.
"What is it?" someone asked.
"I don't know," you replied. "The doctors said it was a kind of skin thing."
Someone else: "Does it hurt?"
You shook your head. "It feels fine. Doesn't burn, isn't sore, anything. Feels just like the rest of me."
You sat back down on the couch and kept your shirt up. Everyone in the room circled around you.
"That's just glow-in-the-dark paint, right?" Sandra asked.
"That's what I thought too when he showed me," Jay told her.
"It's not," you said. You turned back to Jen, with a mischievous smile. "Anyone want to touch it?"
Jen reached out very carefully and jabbed lightly at the spot. She turned her hand to look at her finger carefully as she rubbed her thumb against it.
"No paint or ink, right?" You asked.
She shook her head. "I don't think so." She reached out again after a moment and rubbed her finger in little circles over the spot. "This doesn't hurt?"
"Not in the slightest."
She giggled as she pushed the skin in, tapped it, and then looked up at your smiling face. "What about the other one?"
You blinked hard. "What other one?"
Jen raised her hand from your stomach and reached for your cheek. "The one there. Just below your eye. It's much tinier. Barely more than a pinprick."
You covered your cheek with your hand abruptly. "Turn the lights back on," you said hoarsely.
There was another spot on your cheek. And another behind your right ear. Both of those were as small as the one on your stomach used to be. But there was one on the top of your shoulder that was already the size of a BB gun pellet, and three others near it were half that size. There were three on your left arm and two on the right, mostly around the inner elbow. Your right hand was bare, but there were two on the left--one on your thumbnail and the other in the webbing between your middle and ring finger.
There were two more on your backside, though it was hard to twist enough to get a good view. And a larger one on your right calf that was more square than circle. A thin line ran up the side of your left knee for about an inch, with veins cropping out from it. And you found three more in your pubic hair, one of which had a hair that looked like a single string of fiber optic lighting coming out of it.
You stayed in the bathroom with the door locked as the party broke up, which happened pretty quickly. Your abrupt exit from the room had put quite a damper on things. You listened to the muffled sounds of people shuffling their way to the front door, nobody saying much of anything.
You opened the door a crack and peeked out. Jay was talking very quietly with Sandra out in the hallway, the last of the guests to leave. You slipped out of the bathroom and down the hall to your bedroom as quickly and as quietly as you could, locking the door behind you.
The lights were all out in the room, and the only illumination came from the screen saver on your computer. You stood there against the door for a long time looking around, feeling suddenly paralyzed. Just out of the corner of your eye you happened to glance at your hand, resting on the edge of your dresser. Just below the second knuckle on your pinky a tiny little point of light came to life with a twinkle.
You turned on the overhead light, as well as the lamp by your bed, and threw open the drapes of your window to let the streetlight outside shine in. Then you rummaged in your closet for an old clip-on lamp buried underneath some boxes of other crap and clipped it to the edge of your computer monitor pointing out at the room. The glare hurt your eyes as you sat down heavily in your desk chair, but you were certain you wouldn't be able to see any of the spots now, and that's all that mattered to you at the moment.
There was a knock on your door. " You in there?" Jay asked. You didn't say anything, just stared at the door. Jay knocked again. "Hello?"
With a deep sigh, you got up from your seat and walked over to the door, opening it just enough to see Jay in the hallway with one eye. When you did, he pushed forward until he saw that you weren't going to open it any farther.
"Everybody else took off. It's just me."
"I know. It's just... Not right now, okay?"
"Just let me in so we can talk. You're freaking out about this, I can tell."
You tried your best to smile at him. "I'm fine. Really."
"Look, it's nothing to panic about. So you got another spot. That was bound to happen. Rashes spread."
You shook your head. "I want to lie down for a while, okay? We can talk later."
You closed the door and locked it again. You could feel Jay still standing on the other side of it.
"Look," he said through the door. "You just have to go back to that doctor. Or see a better one. An uptown dermatologist, one of those high-rent ones. Obviously the doc at the clinic was wrong."
"Yeah. I'll see someone tomorrow. First thing," you said to the door.
"I can borrow Sandra's car and take you."
"No, that's okay. I appreciate the offer, but I can manage on my own."
"Yeah, I'm sure. I'll be fine."
Jay didn’t say anything for a long time. The floor underneath him creaked as he shifted from foot to foot. Finally he replied, "All right. If you say so. Let me know how it goes, okay?"
"I will. I promise," you said. "Good night."
You could hear his footsteps as he walked back down the hallway, leaving you alone.
Of course you didn't go see a doctor. Never had intended to. You just said that to Jay to make him go away. No, no doctors. You and the voice in your head were in agreement on that. You had all these ideas of a padded, windowless room far underground, with people in full hazmat suits jabbing needles into you or zapping you with electrodes while you spasmed and convulsed in the chair they had strapped you to. No thank you to all of that. That was definitely out.
But you had no idea what else you could do.
You stayed in your room, stopped going out at all. Not to see your friends or go to a show or spend a sunny day in the park. You cut it all out of your life completely. You could handle your money and pay your bills online easily enough, and you started to get your food from one of those online sites that delivered, which you would venture out to collect when you were sure the apartment was empty. All canned stuff or bread, things that didn't need cooking or could survive without refrigeration for a few days in your room.
You kept the lights on in your room day and night. But long sleeves, pants, and no mirrors worked better. Especially helpful were a pair of gloves your mom had gotten you for Christmas. You never took those off no matter what. You had never appreciated how hard it is not to look at your hands before.
There were some texts and messages from your friends at first, people inviting you to things, or asking where you were, but that soon tapered off to nothing. Everybody just moved on. Except for Jay, who checked on you daily. You wouldn't let him in, but he'd stand out in the hallway talking, trying to coax you out of your room. You'd humor him, as a little human contact was not bad--even if it was through a door it was all you had. He brought others over too, people he called 'experts', and they'd sit and talk with you through the door for a while as well.
"These spots of yours, they don't hurt at all?" one of them, who sounded like an older woman, asked.
"Nope," You replied, as you laid back on your bed staring at the ceiling. If I close my eyes I can almost forget they're there."
A brief pause. Then she asked, "How about heat? Do they feel a little warm, maybe?"
"I said nothing. I've checked my temperature plenty of times. It's normal."
"Okay, so it would be some kind of luminescence. Too much phosphorous in your system."
You laughed. "The amount I'd need in me to do this would have killed me a long time ago."
"How can you be so sure of that?"
You took off one of your socks and looked down at your bare foot. Even in the afternoon sunlight the glow was visible. Your big toe was a bright uniform void, and you couldn't make out the toenail at all, even as you scraped its rough edge against the side of the toe next to it.
"I'm sure," you said.
"It would really help if I could see what you were talking about," she said carefully. "I can't really help you through a door. Are you sure you won't come out?"
You sighed, didn't say anything.
"Or maybe I could come in. I could stand in the doorway, and I won't take one further step into your room." Again you said nothing. "I just want to help you, you know."
"Somehow I don't think this is a psychological issue, doc."
There was a long pause. Who else would Jay be able to get to talk to you?
"Look," she finally continued. "You may have something very serious going on. Nobody is saying otherwise. And your friends are all pretty worried about you. We all want to help. But shutting yourself off in your room forever isn't going to fix anything."
"There's nothing anyone can do to help."
"Come on," Jay said, probably standing next to the doctor this whole time. "You don't know that."
There was some muffled talk before the doctor continued. "Why do you think that nobody can help? Do you know what is going on?"
You shrugged. "I have some ideas."
"What are they?"
You didn't say anything.
"I'd like to hear what you think the spots are," she said.
"It's not just spots."
"No," you said, exasperated. "That's just where it became visible. But it's all throughout me, in my organs, my muscles, my bones... If you cut me open you'd see most of my insides are as bright as an arclight by now. That little spot I first noticed wasn't the start of it by a longshot. That was just their first peek into the world outside. They'd been expanding in my body for a while before that."
"Who is this 'they'?" the doctor asked.
"Whatever little universe inside me started this."
Again there was a long pause. Then it was Jay who spoke. "Did you say universe?"
"I did," you said, smiling to yourself. They're gonna love this.
You continued, "There's this fun theory going around that our entire universe is just an atom in a larger universe. Everything that we know could be nothing more than an infinitesimal speck in some being's hand, or gravel in their driveway, or randomly floating in nothingness. Just one of trillions. And if that were true, then the atoms in me would all be their own universes too. They'd have to be. Each bit of our bodies made up of countless universes with their own beings going about their quantum lives with no hope of ever going beyond the boundaries of their universe."
"I don't think that's how that works exactly," the doctor said.
You ignored her and crawled to the edge of your bed. "What if the beings in one of those atom universes inside of me became advanced? I mean really advanced? What if they grew, and multiplied, and created something so far beyond what the concepts empire or civilization or even sentience describe? What if they evolved into the totality of their universe, their atom?
"And what if that wasn't a boundary to them? What if they could escape their home universe and take over others in all directions? Getting exponentially larger and turning the new territory they claimed bright as they went?"
You laid back down on your bed, resting your head on your crossed arms with a deep breath. "There'd be no stopping something like that," you said in the silence.
After a minute the doctor said, almost meekly. "That's quite a theory you have."
"It's just an idea I've been toying around with."
"But it's very compelling. And creative. You should write it down." There was a ruffling, as if someone getting up off the floor. The doctor continued. "I have to go for now, but I would like to come back to talk to you again. Would that be all right?"
"Sure," you said. "Anytime, doc."
Light footsteps quickly padded down the hall and away from your door. You were pretty sure she wasn't going to come back.
Being taken over by an atom. It was an absurd idea. Just thinking about it made you giggle to yourself. Where had you even come up with it? You had read about the whole universe in an atom idea, or maybe heard some stoner pontificate about it at some random party. It was interesting, but it wasn't something that you thought about much. Just a foolish idea you came up with in the moment to make that psych major go away.
It was ridiculous. Stupid. Your left foot was just about all white now, but you could still move it, walk, and wiggle the toes with no problem. It was still your foot. Your body.
Why did it feel so right?
Your feet, your hands, your whole body was controlled by your brain. Even if something took over your limbs, the brain would still control them, right? The limbs were all just meat and bones responding to stimuli. Your brain was the real you.
But what if the light had taken over part of your mind? What if little tendrils of atoms had worked their way up your brain stem, into your occidental and cerebellum? Even farther? Everything else inside you was going light--another speculation, but again, you just knew it was true. Why not your brain? Why would it not be taken over too? Would you even know?
Maybe that's why the idea seemed so true. Because those parts of your mind that were taken already knew it, and you were getting it as a gut feeling. A little inkling of the truth leaking out to the unsullied part of you.
You thought back. Why hadn't you freaked out more when you first saw the spot? All you had done was play with it a bit and gone back to sleep. That seemed an insane reaction now. Denial? No, that wasn't it. You never denied the spot was there. But for some reason, it was just not that big of a deal. How could you possibly think that?
That little voice inside your head had convinced you to ignore it. The voice distracted you, made you look at something else, or when he couldn't do that, kept you calm about it, didn't let you panic as more and more of you turned on. He couldn't keep you from ever noticing or trying to do something--you still had most of your mind--but he did just enough to keep you from fully understanding what was happening.
Though now you did. The voice wasn't stopping you anymore. He must not need to.
You wondered if there was anything you could do to stop him.
And the voice inside your head told you no, there wasn't.
You heard the front door open and several loud voices. Jay was having friends over. You sat on the floor by the door and pressed your ear against it to see if you could identify anyone or hear what they were saying. But they were too far away to make out much. You could hear them settling down into the living room, laughing and talking. Jay shouted something as he walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge.
Your chest felt heavy, listening to the indistinct merriment, just a few feet from where you were, but feeling farther away than the moon. They sounded so lively, so happy. You closed your eyes and pictured it, as Jay closed the fridge and his heavy footfalls walked into the living room, handing beers to his friends and sitting on the couch. He told a quick joke, and the laughter made your heart sink.
You got up off the floor, slowly opened the door, and peered out. The hallway was clear. You slipped out and rushed as quietly as you could for the bathroom. You closed it tight behind you and locked the door, keeping your eyes shut tight until you could flip the lights on. But even with them it wasn't as bright in here as you had kept your room. You could see the soft glow of the patches of your exposed skin reflecting off the shiny tiles on the wall, the porcelain of the sink and toilet.
You took off one of your gloves. The hand underneath was completely white, a complete void, absent of definition or contours. Yet you could feel your palm when your ran your fingers along your skin, tracing your lifeline below your pinkie as it arced up to the gap between your first in middle fingers. You scratched the first phalanx of your ring finger. It actually tickled.
You pushed back your sleeve. Your forearm was almost all white on both sides. There were a few small patches of skin left, but not many. A small one the size a quarter on your wrist bone. Another smaller one halfway to your elbow. The normal skin looked like the blemishes now.
But you could have seen all this from your room.
You looked up at your own face in the bathroom mirror. The head that stared back at you was as bright as a glowstick. A complete and utter transformation into nothing. There were no eyes or nose or anything but a solid void of white in the thing that looked back at you. That couldn’t be your face. But no, when you tilted your head the image in the glass did the same. How could you still see? Eat? Breathe?
You rubbed your bare hand hard against your cheek. You felt the skin stretch, get pulled underneath your fingers, your lips fold up under them, your teeth and gums behind it, your right eye close shut as you pushed your cheek up into it. You felt all of it. But you didn’t see it. Your glowing hand disappeared completely into your face.
The voice in your head: Isn’t it amazing?
You fell to your knees and buried your head in your arms on the sink. Hot tears ran down your cheeks as your body wracked with sobs. You let out a childish moan. You were helpless and you knew it.
The voice tried to comfort you. He told you not to worry. It wasn't going to hurt, and it was almost over. You weren't going to disappear—you were still going to be you. Just with more. More of everything. And better. Better than okay. You'll see.
You didn’t care. You just wanted it to be over.
The voice in your head was more than happy to oblige.
And that's when the final push began.
It was an odd sensation. You weren't fading or going away or less. You felt just as much yourself as you ever did. But then again, it also wasn't you anymore. There was more. A lot more. Your mind felt too small to hold all of it together, multiple universes in your brain, but they were all there nonetheless. And so was he, no longer just a voice in the back of your head or a vague sense, but a full and controlling aspect of yourself.
He was not concerned at all. He stripped off your shirt and pants and stood in front of the mirror naked. He smiled wide as both of you thought you could almost feel the very last little atoms turn on.
He reached over and switched off the light.
The room glowed. Off the walls, the sink, the mirror, the plastic shower curtain, the bathtub. The whole room was bathed in that intense white light. He stretched your arms out at your sides and breathed in deep, as you heard a humming in your ears.
In those last moments, he reveled. You were calm. Nothing seemed to worry you about this. And you had no idea whether that was because you had accepted the transformation or because he was not allowing you to feel fear anymore. You felt that way right up until it was over.
The first thing he did was change the wavelength to outside of the visible human spectrum. Slowly he stopped glowing and the room went pitch black. He turned the light back on and stared at his face very carefully in the mirror. Everything looked perfectly normal. The only thing he saw that might be out of the ordinary was he needed a shave.
He put his clothes back on and strolled into the kitchen. As he passed the living room, Jay saw him and looked up.
"Hey, you're out."
He nodded at Jay. "I was feeling thirsty," he said as he walked past the doorway.
In the kitchen he leaned down at the sink and drank deeply from the tap and wiped his mouth on the back of his forearm. He could vaguely hear the talk in the other room, though they were all half whispering. He ignored it and stood staring at the marker board on the fridge. It was blank except a small doodle in the corner that looked like a cat. He took up the marker hanging on a string and started writing.
Jay came into the room. "Are you feeling better?"
Not looking away from the board, he reached down and lifted his shirt. "The spots are all gone."
"And you feel better otherwise?"
He nodded absently. "Like a new man."
"I was really worried there for a bit."
"I know," he said. He lowered the marker and turned to face Jay. "Look. I'm sorry I've been acting so crazy."
"Don't worry about that. It was totally weird what you were going through. But it's over now, right?"
He nodded and turned back to the board. "Absolutely."
"Still," Jay said. "Maybe you should get a check-up to make sure."
"I probably will. Though I'm sure they won't find anything."
Jay stood watching him as he wrote. "What are you doing?"
He stopped writing and looked at the board. "Just some idea I had in my head. Wanted to scribble it down while I had it."
Jay leaned in closer to take a look. On the board were a long line of numbers, letters, and symbols. It looked vaguely algebraic to him.
"More universe in an atom stuff?"
He smiled, shaking his head. "That wouldn't work at this level. The fundamentals of science are too different. Need a different approach."
Jay took a small step away from him. "A different approach to what?"
He didn't answer, still studying his work as if Jay hadn't said anything.
"What's going on?" a woman's voice from the living room called.
Jay stood straight again. "I should get back. You wanna come hang out for a while?"
He turned to Jay and smiled. "Sure. Just let me finish getting this down."
Jay exited the kitchen as he went back to the board.
He continued writing till the entire thing was filled with scribbles, then stepped back and looked at it. He felt limited by the expressions available, and he wasn't a hundred percent certain of his grasp of natural laws at this level yet, but he was close. It was a good place to start at least.
Taking over this universe should be no problem at all.
He dropped the marker and watched it dance on the end of its string for a few swings before it settled. Then he walked into the living room to hang out with Jay and his friends.
© A. T. Sayre