Are we living in a narrow viewpoint of reality, or is this all there is? One can go mad, trying to dig too deep into the big questions. You can be labelled a conspiracy nut for thinking outside of the box. Understandably so as we cannot comprehend what we do not understand. Don’t go looking too close, or you’ll stand out, and they are watching.
Secrets of the Universe is March’s short story that brings you into a sci-fi conspiracy about where the secrets of the universe reside. It is loosely tied to the previous story, Behind You.
Secrets of the Universe
I was never much of a conspiracy fan. That’s probably why this is a difficult thing for me to share. I’ve been called straight-laced, level-headed, and a head-on-my-shoulders type of a person. My good friend Tristan is into aliens, government cover-ups, and interdimensional vampires. Not me.
Maybe Tristan’s rambles prepared me for comprehending what I saw. He would tell me all about the documentaries he watched on the Internet and show me “proof” videos of actual alien spiritual encounters. It’s all bogus. The quality of those videos makes it evident that they were set up. Anyone can go to a supermarket and buy a rubber mask to look like an alien. Tristan would get pissed off anytime I discredited his beliefs. Then we’d smoke a joint after class, and everything would be good again. After graduation, everyone kind of went their own way. That’s typical. Tristan left town, too, just like I did. Not everyone leaves, though. There’s that one kid who worked at the grocery store. He locked himself in his house, thinking that some dimensional beings were chasing him. I don’t think he will ever leave his hometown. Strange guy. He always did have the hots for Jane. I knew that if I wanted to make something of myself, I had to go to college, get some sort of certificate, and start working. See? Level-headed.
Okay, so, not to bore you with my past, but that’s just to let you know that I don’t spend all day playing with crystals and listening to the late-night history channel (don’t get me started on that). I work at a small pub during the evening while going to school for architectural design. School is where things changed. An instructor of mine is a bit of a spaz. One evening, he was giving me some after-class lessons on the drafting software we use, and I got to know his inner workings. Roger McCulloch is his name. The building had a half-a-second outage, just long enough to surge the power on the computer, and we had to restart the machine. He muttered that they were interfering with it.
Of course, I had to ask, “Who are they?”
Man, let me tell you, that was a mistake. Roger unloaded his theories onto me. He told me that they controlled civilization. The celestial beings, directly connected to our government, work in uniform to suppress the conscious state of humankind. They don’t do this in one giant bang like we see in the movies, apparently. According to Roger, the cosmic ones have been creating a trickle effect of information, brainwashing us for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The subtle changes are more difficult to notice. Their methods have included promoting false idols through religious teachings, creating government policies, deploying clever marketing tactics through the media, and installing servants camouflaged as our world leaders. There are even secret embedded codes intricately ingrained into surfaces that transmit messages of obedience, projecting into our subconscious and rewiring our very thoughts.
Roger’s eyes were wild as spit flew from his mouth with each word he spoke. I’d never seen my instructor like this before. He grabbed me by the shoulder and held it firmly. A part of me wanted to swat his arm away, but I was frozen with disbelief. Roger had always been a bit eccentric in class, but this was too much, even for him.
He leaned closer to me and said, “This is valuable knowledge. You have to keep it to yourself and only share it with those who need to know.”
For some reason, I thought it was wise to keep humouring him—maybe in the spirit of Tristan. Man, I miss him. I replied, “Why are you telling me this?”
Roger’s posture relaxed. “You think differently, kid. I can see it in the questions you ask in class and the designs you hand in. You’re different.”
“And what am I supposed to do with this . . . knowledge?” I smiled, asking the question. I couldn’t believe I was playing along with this nonsense, just like old times with my friend.
“You don’t believe me,” Roger said, taking his hand back. “I don’t blame you . . .” Then he went on another tangent, claiming that I was brainwashed from birth and couldn’t possibly know. It wasn’t my fault, nor my parents’. He said these celestial beings are ancient and far more sophisticated than us mere humans; that they are using us as some sort of test animals. Their end goal remains a mystery, but once you start to see the subtle clues, the thin fabric of reality begins to fall all around you. The construct of our society is only bound by a thin membrane, like a cloak of illusion, trying to keep us contained.
At that point, I just wanted to go home. Clearly, I wasn’t going to get any more learning about the drafting software done. I was better off searching for answers online than listening to Roger McCulloch.
“That still doesn’t answer my question,” I said. In the back of my head, I kept smacking myself for humouring Roger, when I knew I could have just ended it there.
“To step out of the box,” Roger said with a smile, “shift yourself from being one of the sheep and see the world for what it is.”
“And how do I do that?” I asked.
“Just look at the signs,” Roger said. “The astral beings’ encryptions are there, the window into realism engraved on the back of them. Everywhere. Cameras. Cell phones. Newspapers. Everything we’ve made has the engraving.”
“On the back of signs, like street signs?”
“That’s a good place to start.”
After that, Roger returned to the role of instructor and me as the student. I was surprised that was where it ended. I had dealt with conspiracy nuts and knew that once they started, they usually couldn’t stop talking. Roger did. It was relieving. Maybe it had to do with old age or professionalism, and I caught him on an off-day. Either way, the evening continued as usual, and I went home.
The next day was when things changed. For some reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about what Roger said. I was waiting for the bus, having a smoke. I was the only one out and about this early in the morning. The transit schedule made getting to school a complete mess, but I was determined to learn. Sometimes the bus got here too early, and other times it got here late. Today was one of the late days. My mind started to toy with Roger’s words about encryptions as I stared at the bus-stop sign. The words “just look at the signs” were on repeat in my brain. I did look at that sign.
Finishing the smoke, I went around to the back of the sign and stretched up, trying to see anything. Nope, just the slab of metal. Maybe a part of me wanted to believe because of how certain Roger sounded, and how confident Tristan always was. I kept staring. There had to be something. That’s what I thought, and I guess I was right. I spotted something at the corner edge of the sign. It looked like a scratch, or maybe it was the light reflecting on the surface that emphasized the texture of the metal. No . . . this scratch was different. It was intentional.
This part of my story is where all the reinforcement I made earlier about being level-headed is going to go out the door. I put my backpack down and hopped onto the pole, climbing up to get a closer look. Bus-stop signs aren’t very tall, but I wanted to get really, really close. I was about an inch from the nick and saw far more than I could have ever expected. The scratch was maybe a fingernail’s width and had intricate designs with countless small white lines. As I stared at it, the scratch began to mutate, with parts of it phasing out of reality like someone took an eraser to it. Portions of the scratch faded, and new, strange glyphs I had never seen before appeared from the centre, moving outward. Lines, and shapes in complex patterns, and I think circuit boards. I don’t know. The closer I looked, the more they floated outward. I didn’t blink, staring into the scratch.
The core of the space continued to expand, and I could see more patterns, then an array of colourful particles. The depth of the core continued onward, with more wiring, colours, and shapes going on forever. My naked eye couldn’t see anymore; I would need a magnifying glass to see how many embedded designs there were in that small space.
The scratch was certainly strange, and I hopped off the pole, knowing I couldn’t see any more. Roger had been right about that. There was something on the backs of the signs, after all.
I snagged my backpack and spotted a person—no, it wasn’t quite a person—standing about fifteen feet from me. Well, it was hovering, not standing. It didn’t wear clothes, nor did it have skin. Not even the light from the sky reflected on it like other objects in the area. This entity was coexisting in our space without being bound by the physical laws that make us. That makes me sound like a crackpot, hey? Seriously, it was all black and had millions of tiny little particles moving up and down its form, all held together, like some sort of moving dark static TV.
The loud sound of a vehicle exhaust erupted, making me jump. Looking over, I saw the bus stopped in front of me. The being was gone. I rubbed my eyes. None of it added up.
The bus ride to school was also abnormal. My phone didn’t seem to react to my fingers. I tried to check the social media apps, check the news, even check my email, and nothing. There was only a strange overlay of the same alien glyphs that I’d seen in that scratch on the bus sign, expanding outward from the screen as new shapes appeared. I’m still not sure if I became consciously aware of the subtle imagery that was all around our reality, or if that scratch activated something in my brain. Maybe I accidentally took some psychedelics. Not that I ever have, but I couldn’t think of any solid reasoning for what I was seeing.
I didn’t want to freak out and cause a scene, and these visuals weren’t getting worse nor hurting me. But I needed answers. Roger. Man, that bus ride felt like an eternity, watching those shapes fly around the screen of my phone. I even saw them on the ads on the bus, moving along the banner frames. Eventually, my phone started to respond to my touch, so I tried recording these observations with my phone, but none of the obscurities showed up in the recordings, of course. Tristan would not believe this.
Finally, the bus ride came to an end, and I got off at the regular stop. Two men in black suits were waiting there. They had shades on, slicked-back hair, and briefcases. Strange. I kept walking once I got off the bus, assuming that they were going to board. Instead, they began to follow me. It started to freak me out, and I took a different route to school. The two men kept following. I entered the lobby of the tower where my school was, took the elevator to the floor below the school, and then used the stairs to get to the correct level. I hoped my little manoeuvre would shake them from me. It worked.
Once I got into class, I sat down, breathing heavily, feeling sweat all along my back. I had classic jimmy-leg for the whole session, watching Roger instruct the class. I checked my phone. It was still strange. Occasionally I would look over to the classroom door to see if the men in black were there. They seemed to be gone. No strange floating particle-people, either. My heart raced. I needed insight.
The class eventually ended, and I managed to corner Roger before he left for lunch. This time, my eyes were wide and I was spitting saliva, grabbing hold of his shoulder. I rambled on about the scratch on the back of the bus-stop sign and seeing the ever-inward designs of the alien language. I checked to make sure we were alone, then told him about the floating form and the men in black, and asked him if he’d ever seen any of this.
Roger smiled at me.
“What?” I asked.
“You did look.”
“What did that bus sign do to me?”
“You saw the truth,” Roger said. “You got a glimpse into the secrets of the universe. Now that your consciousness is expanded, you can see parts of the world for what it is.”
“And what is that?”
“A fabricated construct, created by those who wish to contain us, limiting our true potential.”
“What true potential? And the government is working with them? Are those men in black going to come back?”
Roger shook his head slowly. “More mysteries of life. I wish I could answer these questions for you, but I too only got a glimpse into the secrets.”
“Can I go back to the bus stop? It will tell me more, right?”
“Don’t do it,” Roger said sternly. “You got away lucky.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, letting go of Roger’s shoulder.
“Too much knowledge catches their attention. You saw the lightless astral being. You saw the G-men. That was a warning. Imagine if you found out more, what they would do with you? If you recall, I said these are sophisticated beings that have been doing this for centuries.”
“Then why would they have their secret out in the open like that?”
“I couldn’t tell you. Maybe it is part of their experiment. Maybe it is a flaw in the technology. All I know is that once I got a glimpse into the true reality, they wanted me to stay away. I did.”
“Now, you just hold on to this information?”
Roger shrugged. “At least I’m not living in a lie and am aware of them. I can only share with those that are willing to think differently. I know you presumed me to be a bit of a nutcase. I would, too. Imagine if I tried to tell the world. What would they think? I’d lose my job.”
Roger was right. Tristan was right. Whatever these beings were planning to do with humanity had been long in initiation before I was even born. We may never know what their purpose is. The glimpse that I got from the encoded message on the back of that bus-stop sign was all I could think about. Eventually, the strange alien alphabet overlay that I saw on everything dissipated. I guess it had something to do with my consciousness narrowing again. I don’t know. The men in black never came back. The strange celestial being did not return. I never looked at the bus-stop sign again. I told Tristan. He laughed at me. I guess he stopped smoking weed while in college and cleaned himself up. Now I’m the crazy one. I wonder if that kid locked in his house back in my hometown would know anything about it.
They knew instantly once I got a glimpse into the secrets of the universe. My human brain can’t even comprehend what they are trying to do. Still, I am tempted to go back to that bus stop sign—or any sign—and see more about what makes up the real universe. The mystery gnaws at the back of my mind, wanting to know what else is out there. I’d like to know more about their agenda, what exists beyond this fabrication, and why we are even here to begin with. There are so many questions for humanity. Then, the façade sinks back in. I need to pay bills, finish school, and not be put into the nuthouse. So, I keep my head down, avoid rocking the boat, and stay level-headed.
Leave a Reply