Universal Cookie Crumbs

The thing I hated about Bobby was that he always ate mashed tomatoes for lunch. No food turned my stomach more than mashed tomatoes. He didn’t even put gravy on them, just butter and garlic. Yuck! And if that wasn’t bad enough, he usually washed them down with a glass of orange-milk. Orange-milk was for breakfast, but apparently Bobby couldn’t make that connection. And—not to keep going on about this or anything—he didn’t even use freshly milked oranges. He got his orange-milk from a Styrofoam can!

But that was Bobby—always doing things a little differently. He’d even killed his dad in a strange fashion, by force feeding him a universe. How silly was that? No one killed their dad by shoving a universe down his throat—a galaxy, star, or planet, maybe. But an entire universe? Here, dad, choke on this! Yeah, Bobby was so crazy.

I’d stopped by to check on his latest crop of universes, but had been unlucky enough to find Bobby still eating lunch. I stood across the room, trying to breathe shallowly lest I catch a whiff of mashed tomatoes and garlic.

“You almost done yet, buddy?” I asked.

He shrugged and took a sip of orange-milk. “I’m not in any hurry. And you shouldn’t be either. My latest crop sucks Donkey. Three rotten universes, including one that gave birth to a galaxy outside the bubble. Sucker burned my hand.”

“They get hot,” I said. “Especially just after they’re born.”

He finished his lunch and we went in his lab.

Bobby’s dad lay in the corner, a yawning black hole with a half digested universe lodged in his maw.

“Dad was quite a creator, wasn’t he?” said Bobby. “He grew more quality universes than anyone I know. Too bad he had to eat them all. What a glutton!”

“I need to tend to my crops more often,” I said guiltily. “I’ve got three crates of rotten rejects stinking up my cellar. How lame is that?”

“You always were lazy,” Bobby said. “It’s in your blood, and I’m surprised you even bother to hang out with me. But that’s no excuse to neglect your crops.”

“I’ve got better things to do,” I said. “I’m trying to mold a new all-knowing mind. The last one withered on me.”

“You must have starved it,” said Bobby, shaking his head. “You’ve got to keep feeding them knowledge or they shrivel up.” He sniffed at a tiny, rotten universe and then bit into it. He brushed crumbs off his shirt. “Tastes pretty sweet.” His eyes bugged out.

“Let me try one,” I said. He handed me one, and it was sweet. I could taste a little of everything—sprinkles of hot stars, crunchy planets, and black holes that made my tongue go numb, all bound in the molasses of spacetime. Gave me a head rush.

“You know,” I said, “these reject universes aren’t all that bad. Maybe we shouldn’t throw them away. Maybe we should experiment with them. We can crunch them down so tightly that even the galaxies will be compressed. Then everything will blow outward.”

Bobby shrugged, biting into another. “Or we could just eat them.”


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