For all intents and purposes, the following story is a work of fiction- but I have it on good authority from the Extradimensional Narrator that such things do in fact happen all the time…
It was on the 23rd of some month or another that Roger had set himself down beside a lake for an afternoon of fishing. It had to have been one of the warmer months, naturally, if Roger were to be found outdoors; he had blood pressure issues that made the cold difficult to shake, and would avoid it at all costs. Of course, I know which month it was. I know what time it was, and even which song was playing on the radio when he parked his car at the road near the lake; but if there’s one thing that omniscience has taught me, its precisely how much of a drag it is to know all the details. The reader will have to accept the one missing piece of datum, and be consoled by the superfluous bit about his blood pressure. You’ll thank me later.
All that aside, the precise month of the forthcoming tale is neither here, nor there. The “here” of this story is beside a lake, a fishing rod cast into it, and Roger in a shabby lawn chair on the 23rd. The “there” is below the murky depths, way out in the lake, where the Arcane Secrets of the Cosmos sit and feel pretty clever for their penchant for remaining elusive. Roger yawned, growing impatient, as though he too were waiting for this story to start. It was a quiet day, the kind where every soft breeze begs for thoughtful introspect. A dull man by nature, Roger wasn’t well-equipped for the task of self-evaluation. Most forms of thought were outside the scope of his habits, but he was also very susceptible to suggestion. And so, since the breeze begged it, he had himself a think.
He sat and thought. The same breeze that had just a moment ago sent his cranial gears ticking now amused itself with creating ripples on the glassy surface of the lake while the bobber on Roger’s fishing line did the very thing its name implies that it would do. Every ripple from the bobbing ball of plastic seemed to radiate a new thought, trigger a distant memory, or spark a minor epiphany in his mind. The breeze tickled the hairs on his neck and he was flushed with the electric warming of ecstatic calm. He became sad in a way that he couldn’t account for, when suddenly he heard a watery noise.
He looked and saw his submerged bobber return to the surface, and grabbed onto the reel as it sunk below the water again. He stood up and reeled, yanking at the line, when it hit him.
It could have been that the sudden movement had cracked his back, resulting in a small reservoir of lysergic acid escaping from his spine and belly-flopping into his bloodstream- which itself was a result of the time that a government spook had dosed his tea back in his college years for the purposes of some vague mind control experiment. It could also have had to do with the fact that at that very moment, an alternate reality had superimposed itself on Roger’s familiar one, and he was experiencing the tug-of-war between worlds as cosmic entropy began its stabilization process. It could also have been that Roger had fallen asleep and all of this was only happening in a dream- but that’s not as likely, that’s too much of a cliche even for me.
What is certain is that for that moment, as he reeled and pulled furiously at the fish that stubbornly defied capture, Roger saw everything. The whole of Reality- all that has been, is, will be; in every part of the galaxy, and everywhere in the universe, in all possible universes- and even in a few of the impossible ones.
It would seem that a little bit of thinking can go a long way.
The images and the knowledge, the facts and intimate details, the wide scope along with the minutiae, all rolled upon one another in an avalanche of NOW. He pulled, he reeled, he clenched his teeth with his eyes so wide they looked as though they would pop. The Grand Picture started to take on a meaningful shape. Roger was just about to become privy to all the Divine Secrets of Reality. Poor bastard.
Luckily for him, the line snapped, sending him tumbling backwards in a pratfall maneuver that would have made Oliver Hardy proud.* He pulled himself up using his chair for balance, looking disheveled and exhausted, and 100% the old Roger again.
“Damn.” he said, looking out over the lake. It was the one that got away.
*The reader will be happy to know that Oliver Hardy had a similar experience whilst working with an elephant, and he did glimpse Roger’s pratfall, and was, in fact, proud.