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by Samuel Marzioli


February 15, 2015

Dear Diary,

How are you? I am fine. At least as fine as one can expect to be under the circumstances. As of 3 PM yesterday, the Universe as we know it is no more. So, to clarify an earlier point, I’m fine in the sense that every living thing is now dead and gone, and it’s my fault, and I feel pretty damn bad about it, but it could be worse.

(It actually couldn’t be worse. However, my mother always said, “No one likes a cynic.” My mother was a cynic, and no one liked her, so it must be true.)

It all started when I detected new particles in the seedy side of a common quark, swimming around in a cluster, all devil-may-care. I called them Mentem Particles, and initial tests seemed to indicate they were crammed with tremendous energy. It was all rather intriguing and mysterious.

I prepared additional tests to extract as much information from these new particles as possible. I even bought this diary, and made spreadsheets and graphs, to map my progress and jot down my thoughts on the entire run of tests. But it didn’t go as planned.

As has been said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” If so, then perhaps boredom is invention’s surly uncle with wandering hands. Because it was out of sheer boredom that I collided two of those Mentem Particles together, expecting nothing more than a colorful flash, or a happy streak of light. (And, perhaps, a good chuckle for my troubles.)

Unfortunately, a reality bubble emerged from the destruction of their parts. It quickly swallowed my laboratory, and annihilated everything else outside of it. Now I subsist on rations, breathe from the supply of oxygen tanks I stockpiled, and see only by candlelight.

There’s not much to do; nothing works anymore. Only the idea of writing in this diary seems to keep my spirits up. For now.

Yours truly,
Stanley P. Strauss,
Destroyer of the Universe


February 20, 2015

Dear Diary,

Like a castaway trapped on an islet where there are no plants, the ground is rock, and the ocean is empty and eternal, I’m bored. I’m bored, like a man forced to listen to someone’s prosaic dreams—with a promised narrative of their extensive family vacation photos to follow—while Muzak blares in the background.

Even these examples may not suffice to elucidate the sheer depth of the boredom I feel. In the future, I have no doubt some manner of creature will evolve, along with a simile in its native language that goes, “Bored as a blork trapped in a reality bubble, with only a diary for entertainment.” And every other creature that hears it will say, “That is exceedingly bored!”

My laboratory was only meant to be a workspace. Besides emergency provisions, I stocked it with a cable-enabled television intended for short breaks, and a kitchen and bathroom to satisfy my biological necessities. Nothing else. Now, after only five days, I’d kill for a good book. Literally murder someone, were there anyone alive worth stealing from.

(For the record, I’m joking. But if, say, a library manifested adjacent to the bathroom, and the old bespectacled granny behind the counter refused to share her treasure trove of novels, all bets would be off. It might get pretty “Halloween” up in there. Or, if that film and its antagonist are too dated, perhaps “Hostel”.)

My food and water supply are short. If I make it stretch—eat and drink only the bare minimum required for sustaining life—I may have two months left. Worse still, my toilet empties a few inches under the floor and the reek has become unbearable. Not unlike the smell of an outdoor music festival’s portable toilet multiplied by a litter box filled with the runny leftovers of a cat’s first Big Mac, boosted to infinity. (I blame the rations, where chalk and barium seem to be the main ingredients.)

When I sat in the auditorium during the graduation ceremony of my PhD program, and the speaker imparted his sage wisdom on how to succeed in our line of work, he never warned us of this eventuality. Never even seemed to cross his mind. That was a major oversight. In my humble opinion, it warranted an Idiot’s Guide in the very least, if not its own chapter in the Book of Revelation.

Yours truly,
Stanley “No Longer an Optimist” Strauss


February 23, 2015

Dear Diary,

The reality bubble enveloped only the main work area of my subterranean lab, roughly 400 square feet of space. Everything beyond that is a black wall of nothing. If I were located in New York, this would be a penthouse, but anywhere else it’s a prison cell.

The long-term effect all this crammed isolation will have on my psyche is terrifying. I’m worried that one day, I’ll wake up with nothing left to impart but the ravings of a madman. Like something straight out of Lovecraft, or King. Or how I felt after my ex-girlfriend made me read the entire Twilight series. (Twilight is an easy target, I know, but I assure you it’s well-deserved. Mark Twain once quipped that the Book of Mormon was chloroform in print. But I begged to be chloroformed before starting each new page of Twilight.)

I spend most of my days pacing the floor. Picking things up just to feel the weight of it in my hand. Talking to myself just to hear a voice. Even the act of self-pleasuring brings no comfort. (Well … maybe just a little comfort.) Don’t know how much longer I can hold on. Sane, at least.

Yours truly,
Stanley P. Strauss


February 25, 2015

Dear Diary,

All work and no play makes Stanley a dull boy. All work and no play makes Stanley a dull boy. All work and no play makes Stanley a dull boy.

Seriously, though, if I don’t find a decent way to pass the hours, I may soon find myself in a very bad place—and I don’t mean somewhere in Nebraska.

Yours truly,
Stanley P. Strauss

PS: Now that everyone is dead and gone, I can finally admit the film adaptation of The Shining was rubbish.


March 3, 2015

Dear Diary,

It’s always struck me as outrageous that people can find so much enjoyment from flicking cards into a hat, regardless of the circumstance. As a scientist, I’m drawn to finding explanations. And without better things to do, I gave it a try.

Apparently, it’s because it’s amazing!

The first twelve hours were a rather dismal affair, but the second twelve transitioned into a modicum of success. By the third set, I was making “goals” behind my back, between my legs and, once, with a bank shot against the television. Why did I never try this before?

Addendum on March 6, 2015: Because it gets old after the third straight day. I found a match and burned the cards, just to watch them suffer.

Yours truly,
Stanley P. Strauss
Scourge of Card Decks


March 10, 2015

Dear Diary,

I miss my cards.

I also tried to eat my hat.

Now, before you go and make unnecessary assumptions, I assure you I’m not going insane. There are many legitimate discoveries one can make by consuming a hat. Besides, it wasn’t too long ago that scientists studied the effects of cocaine on bees, or whether cows with names produced more milk. If the question can be asked, then science must answer!

My current theory is that my poops will come out wearing tiny wool fedoras, like little cylindrical gangsters. That would be grand. My only question is what do I need to eat to give them all micro-sized Tommy Guns? I’m open to suggestions.

Yours truly,
Stanley P. Strauss


March 19, 2015

Dear Diary,

Today, I lined up my kitchen appliances in rows and lectured about competing theories in physics. The only problem I ran into was during the question and answer session. The toaster stood and tried to upstage me. You know the type, those that like to show the audience how smart they are by asking niche, barely related questions that only their months of prior research could possibly have answered.

Little did the toaster know that this is a new era for the lecture scene. The gloves are off. I had the ushers hold him down while I stomped him into oblivion. Problem solved.

Despite that momentary distraction, the lecture was a rousing success. I got a standing ovation. Next time, I hope to draw a more diverse crowd.

Yours truly,
Stanley P. Strauss


March 24, 2015

Dear Diary,

Have you ever tried wearing your pants as a shirt? I did. The visual obstruction wasn’t ideal, but I felt a sort of calmness in the darkness of my jeans. A peace I’d never felt before. Tonight I’m going to try it with my pajama pants. If all goes well, I may sleep better than ever before.

Yours truly,
Stanley P. Strauss


April 2, 2015

Dear Diary,

Scientists are a proud lot, even if it is well-earned by our hard work and extraordinary intelligence. However, sometimes we’re limited by our own imagination, or the logic with which we view the world and expect it to consistently function. In a reality bubble, apparently logic isn’t what it used to be. Take the following as an example.

In the old days, video games used to be housed in primitive black cartridges. One would stick them into a slot, turn the console on, and nine out of ten times it’d work. However, that inexplicable one time, it wouldn’t. Contrariwise, since the little hiccup that was the destruction of the Universe as we know it, my TV stopped functioning. Common sense, right? It’d been disconnected from a power source, and logic dictates it had therefore become a rather inelegant piece of décor. However, I flipped it on and off nine times and, lo and behold, the tenth time, it worked!

I don’t recognize the shows that come on anymore, or the language spoken or, for that matter, the sort of beings that are displayed. But I’ve watched a few seasons of “Gluxxle Fleqxz Lponmce” and I’m hooked. I only hope this rather bizarre phenomenon continues because the fifth season finale is tomorrow, and damned if I don’t find out whether or not Qqqxxeyyyy and Pppeeaaaxxxa will thwart their society’s norms and get married.

(At least I think that’s what was going on. It’s entirely possible their relationship is more pet and owner. Or barber and customer. Or, I suppose, even priest and baptismal font. As married virgins upon the honeymoon bed will attest, sometimes not knowing is half the fun.)

Yours truly,
Stanley P. Strauss


April 09, 2015

Dear Diary,

Apparently I was mistaken. I’d previously thought my TV was showing some inter-universal drama marathon when, in fact, it was a communication signal from a sister universe. I only made the discovery when the nonsense words finally shifted into common English. Here’s a paraphrase of the message that was related, as I remember it.

“To sir or madam or whatever you may be,

“It has come to our attention that you are the last survivor of your universe, and we’re delighted to make your acquaintance. When our systems uncover the wavelength and vibration of your particular abode, we will transport you to our universe where you will be treated to a feast and made our absolute ruler.

“Qqqxxeyyyy and Pppeeaaaxxxa.”

That’s exciting, and a rather grand stroke of luck! I’ve already run out of food and water and don’t think I can last much longer. In the meantime, I plan to clean up the laboratory and pack a few things that I might need to commence my new life as king. In case I don’t have time to update you further, here are the results of my post-apocalypse experiments—at least the ones that concluded successfully:

  1. Eating a hat does not create poop gangsters. It does, however, give you constipation.

  2. One cannot persuade common electronic appliances to one’s own scientific point of view. It doesn’t matter how sound your arguments are, they’re just too damn stubborn.

  3. And the most important, even if saddest, result of all: Saying a name—any name at all—into a bathroom mirror with the lights off does not bring the much-needed companionship one desires in any way, shape, or form. (Curse you, Bloody Mary, why can’t you commit?)

Yours truly,
Stanley P. Strauss


April 11, 2015

Dear Diary,

Tomorrow, on the 12th of April, I set out on the grandest adventure of all, apart from surviving the end of days. That’s when the Wqerpokjasdwedians said I’m due for extraction. I only hope my recent contributions to science, listed previously, will make up for the tragedy I’ve unleashed.

Then again, maybe not. The search for redemption is a lonely road and perhaps I’ll walk it always. Even if the new world is as extraordinary as described, I’ll be forced to live with the burden of my sins. But, if I’m lucky—if God, however defined, or fate, or even chance is on my side—I’ll only think about it and weep while chewing Eflsan Bon Bons fed to me by my droves of female Qdappian love slaves.

Only time will tell.

Yours truly and forever,
Stanley P. Strauss
Destroyer of the Universe and
King of the Wqerpokjasdwedians


April 13, 2015

… Oh, for Christ’s sake!



Samuel Marzioli was born and raised, and that’s all you need to know about that. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in various publications, including Penumbra eMag, Stupefying Stories, Space and Time Magazine, and the anthology A Darke Phantastique by Cycatrix Press. You can find updates about his latest projects by visiting his website: marzioli.blogspot.com