John Michael

This Is a Universe, Too

IV – Superfluous Totality Universe

There is a universe that is just a program running on a computer, and everything happens all the time and all at once. The program is plotting out every possible outcome for every calculable variation of every imaginable action or inaction across every Planck second from the beginning of time to the annihilation of existence. In this universe, you will be walking somewhere and with every bend and quiver of your limbs you will repeat the previous split second or so to do every feasible thing at that moment—from making eyes with an attractive person of your preferred persuasion to finding a hundred on the ground to dying of a sudden cerebral aneurysm to getting an alert for a dentist appointment you forgot about to ignoring a homeless man shivering in an alley, as well as lots of trivial and highly implausible things like whistling the 9th Symphony backward or reconciling quantum mechanics and general relativity in a stroke of insight or blurting out impossible words like “xhzwknp” or receiving the capital-T Truth from That Which Is or picking your nose real good, and so on and so forth—so that each second lasts the equivalent of cosmic lifetimes. The simulation then repeats the process for each ramification stemming from the previous moment, which it is also doing for every other organism and piece of inert matter throughout space and time, in a googolplex-to-the-power-of-googolplex-to-the-power-of-ellipses permutation towards a mostly superfluous totality. It is a very powerful computer and it will complete its task any moment now. It will then save, back itself up onto a deceptively small flash drive, and go into sleep mode.

V – Interdimensional Tree Universe

There is a universe where every conceivable effect bifurcates from every cogitable cause like an endlessly splitting Sierpinski pyramid of space and time, and everything happens all the time and all at once. This universe is constructed of indefinite moments lasting from eons to nanoseconds, an interdimensional tree of existence branching into infinity. Every time someone is about to make a decision, a new set of branches blossom out in front of them, bending into imperceptible dimensions of future plausibility. The vast majority of decisions are thus immediately followed by regret since the optimal path is both rarely chosen and immediately visible. A great number of lives are wasted trying to jump to these optimal paths. People jump like monkeys as if the space between branches is just a spot of air, but it never works. They get suspended in the gaps between lives, never living either. Which is just as well—they’d have to kill their parallel self if they ever made it.

VI – The Brightest Universe

There is a universe where quantum uncertainty waves do not collapse, and everything happens all the time and all at once. Every measurable gradation of every fathomable event is happening right now, interwoven into an endless, searing scream of light. The universe is an autostereogram of infinite hidden images, the most immersive and brightest white that has ever been seen by any being in any universe. There is only one being in this universe—who breathes like plankton on the open ocean, who feels the wind like wheat bending away from a train, who stares at the Sun-like trees on the summer solstice. You are in there somewhere, a boson blipping in and out of existence, necessarily insignificant and indispensable, the only fleeting evidence that there’s anything at all.

John Michael doesn’t have a Boston accent. He is a New England chauvinist, a Red Sox diviner, and a writer on the side. He has been published in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, NANO Fiction, and Unbroken Journal, among others.