Ryan spat again into the street. More people were staring at him, and he pulled his head back into the door – and back into the strange room that seemed to stretch into infinity.
“There now, feel better?” The British-sounding woman asked, her voice overly chipper.
“Ugh.” Not the wittiest response in history, but everything was happening so fast, Ryan had barely had time to process what was going on.
“Right, fair enough I suppose. What’s your name?”
“Ryan Smith. Doesn’t get much more generic than that, does it? Well, Ryan, you can call me Crystal.”
For some reason, getting a name for one of these people was just a huge relief. He sunk down to the floor as he let out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding.
Or at least, he would have, but the floor rose up to meet him, silvery liquid ooze that formed an immensely comfortable chair under him. Given how weird the day had been so far, the fact that the floor could make a chair out of nothing barely even registered.
“Crystal. Thank you.”
“I haven’t done anything yet. At least let me help before you thank me.” She smiled and tapped on the computer screens a few more times. “There. That should give us at least a bit of time without interruption.” She motioned, and the chair he was sitting on slid across the floor to where a table and another chair were forming. She took the new chair.
“So…you, love, look like you’ve been having a hell of a day. Probably a hell of a life. Why don’t you tell me about it, yeah?”
In spite of his questions, words came spilling out of Ryan’s mouth. The man in the suit he had seen his entire life. The strange conversation. The nanoverse. The brute. Running. All of it, up until…
“So I googled nanoverse and I found your site and I clicked the link and a phone number came up so I gave it a call and then you answered and you said-”
“Yeah, yeah, I remember that bit, was there for it, yeah?”
Ryan snapped his mouth shut and felt himself blushing. “Yeah, of course. Sorry.”
“No worries. Honestly I’m shocked that looking into the nanoverse didn’t completely fry your brain. As little as you understand…” She shrugged.
“Can I ask some questions?”
She nodded. “I’m sure you’re just full to the brim with them. But before you do…a lot of the answers involve words your language doesn’t even have concepts for. I’ll do my best to explain, but I’ll need to – no offense – dumb it down for you.”
“No offense taken. What is a nanoverse?”
She smiled. “Exactly what it says on the tin. An entire universe, but in a little bubble you can stick in your pocket and carry around.”
Ryan instinctively reached out to touch his pocket. The nanoverse was there, and as near as he could tell was a bit bigger now, about the size of a pool ball now.
“What…what do you do with it?”
For some reason seemed to be the funniest thing Crystal had heard in quite some time. She laughed so hard she snorted. “Sorry, sorry, I shouldn’t laugh, but…oh God, you humans! Found an entire universe big enough to fit in your pocket, and the first thing you ask is ‘what do you do with it?’ Completely brilliant. I love you lot.”
“You’re not human?”
“Oh, no, of course not. ‘What do you do with it?’ Priceless!”
He frowned. “Why’s that so funny?”
She let out a few more laughs, followed by a long, amused sigh, that sound that only really gets made when coming off a full laughing fit. “Because it’s just so…practical. Skips over the hows and the whys and the whos and just straight to the ‘what do I do with it?'”
Ryan shrugged, looking at the floor. “Well…I don’t mean to be rude, but you said we only had a bit of time?”
“Too right, sorry. You become a god is what you do. Ryan Smith, not the most divine name ever conceived, but give it a couple thousand years and it’ll be up there.”
“I’m sorry, become a what?”
“A god. Same as me, and that brute. That was likely Enki, by the way. Nasty piece of work, that one. You can even get some friends together, form a pantheon…and that nanoverse, that’ll form the seat of your power. Your divine spark.”
Ryan leaned forward, resting his head on his hands.
“So I…what, shape it, somehow? Get worshippers?”
Crystal was shaking her head. “Language is really difficult here. No worshippers, not anymore. We don’t get power from that – most people are too bloody scientific these days for it to be much good anyway – but you do shape the nanoverse. Give it life.”
“You already are. Which is kind of bad, since you’re full of panic and fear and confusion, so that’s gonna be pouring into it.” She gave him a concerned look. “Look, all of this is metaphor for what’s really going on. It’d be equally accurate to say you becoming an alien force working in the shadows, or a number of other things.”
Ryan took a deep breath. “Crystal? Not helping.”
“Right. Take a bit to catch your breath. But, and not to put pressure on you, you don’t have a lot of time to sort this out.”
Ryan groaned into his hands. “Why not?”
“Most of us? We got centuries to work through all of it. Hell, I wasn’t even human – my people predated you lot by a good million years. But that thing you got there?” She motioned towards his pocket. “It’s the last nanoverse. This means that whatever else you are and you could become, it also means you’re the Eschaton. Which means as you go through your personal apotheosis, you’re also going to need to manage the end of the world.”
It was too much. It was happening too fast, and this last bit was more than Ryan could take. The room started spinning, and he passed out.