Chapter 2:


SXRS (and other stories)

The main problem is not that there is a hole in your head. You already have plenty of those, and they seem to work just fine. There are the two you see out of — pupils are holes, right? And then there are the two below that that you breathe with, though sometimes you think you could do without those, like when Marie reheats her home “cooking” in the office microwave. The two on the sides — couldn’t listen to your favorite music without those, could you? And of course there’s the big hole near the bottom. You wouldn't have gotten very far in life without that one. So no, the main problem is not that there is a hole in your head. The main problem is that there is a new hole in your head. And that it's getting bigger.

The first one to notice it isn’t even you. It’s your mom. “Did you get another weird piercing?” she asks when you are visiting her over the weekend, judging you the way she always does: with her hands on her hips and all her weight on one leg and her face a disapproving scowl. You just ignore her. Brush her off. Change the subject. But by the middle of the week, you can’t ignore it anymore. You thought it might just be some sort of strange bruise or puncture, an odd-looking bug bite maybe. But now, as you study it in the mirror, it appears to have grown.

Nah. Can’t be. Just your imagination.

Except surprise: it isn’t. Soon people begin to marvel. You attract stares wherever you go. Secretly, you’ve always wanted to be the center of attention. Secretly, you’ve always felt you deserved to be. But this attention doesn’t feel as good as you hoped. Quite the opposite, really. It feels bad. People gawk at you, gazing into your widening hole.

It’s nothing compared to what happens at work though. It’s been a couple of weeks since you noticed the hole and it’s much bigger now. They don’t even sell bandaids big enough to cover it up — you’ve checked, and double checked. The ribbing has only ramped up. “New cut?” Jude makes the same stupid joke every day and winks the same stupid way every day and every day elbows you lightly in the side as he passes you in the hallway. Fucker.

You force a smile. “Just styled it a little different,” you quip back as you fantasize about grabbing the “World’s Best Dad” mug right out of his stupid sweaty raw-meat-colored hands and giving him a faceful of hot coffee. The truth is you no longer have hair to cut. Instead, you have a hole, and it’s only growing larger.

It would be one thing if you could look into the hole, but you can’t. No one can. You can try, and so can they, and you have, and they have too. But inside the hole is just nothing. The complete and total absence of anything at all. And you can’t look at nothing. Even closing your eyes isn’t looking at nothing.

You see doctors. One of them doubles over in uncontrollable laughter that lasts well after you realize he’s going to be no help and leave, that you can hear from out the window even as you get back in your car and pull away. One of them tries to turn you into a guinea pig, a test subject, a lab experiment. Most of them stare, wide eyed, and maybe scratch their head.

You realize you’re going to need to take matters into your own hands. One evening you decide to find out what this hole is once and for all. Why it appeared and why it’s spreading. You sit down. You have your laptop in front of you and you even bought an academic-level medical encyclopedia specifically to figure out what the hell is wrong with you, a physical copy, the most up-to-date edition available. You crack your knuckles. It’s time to get down to business. All you need to do is think of where to begin and this is when you realize you can’t think anything at all anymore because at this point you no longer have a brain. All you have is a hole where your brain used to be.

Pretty soon, you don’t even have a head. It’s a little weird being the only living person without a head, and you really begin to see — except not really, since you lack eyes — that society just wasn’t designed for people who don’t have one.

It wasn’t exactly designed for people without a body either, and before long, you don’t have one of those either. All in all though, life is a little better now that you’ve been swallowed up completely by the hole. You can’t really see or eat or think or really do anything anymore, and that’s kind of a bummer. But on the bright side, at least you don’t have to go in to work since you don’t have a body or a mind, or listen to your mom nag since you don’t have ears, or put up with stupidass Jude anymore. Or worry about stuff like filing your taxes or global warming or clipping your toenails. Actually, you don’t have to worry about anything. When you put it that way, not existing anymore is a pretty sweet deal.

If only that’s where the story ended. You might not be around anymore, but the hole sure is. And it’s still spreading. It’s swallowing up everything it comes into contact with. It can move on its own now. Some speculate that you’re still around, alive somehow inside the hole, controlling where it goes and what it does, but that’s wrong. You don’t exist anymore. The hole is simply moving and growing on its own, faster and faster, eating up everything. At first, people panic, and as the hole begins to engulf entire blocks, entire neighborhoods, and then the entire city without showing any sign of stopping, some flee, pack up all they can as quickly as they can and run for the hills before they can get swallowed up too. Most people just ignore it though. Sure, they’ll get swallowed eventually, but that’s life. Whatever, man. Some even jump in, smiles on their faces and middle fingers up.

Well, eventually the entire country gets eaten up by this stupid hole thing, and it’s actually really funny. If you still had a mind to wish with, you would wish you lived to see it. Every other person in the entire world is too busy doing more important stuff to defend themselves from the encroaching hole. And even if they weren’t, they probably wouldn’t want to anyway. And even if they did want to, it’s not like they even could. It doesn’t take long before there isn’t even an Earth anymore. Instead, in its place, all there is is just a hole.

Great, you think. Just great! Now the entire world is gone! Except actually you don’t think this because you are gone too, swallowed up alongside everything else on the entire planet.

And the hole doesn’t stop there. Mercury, Venus, and Mars aren’t spared, and neither are any of the outer planets. The sun also comes along for the ride. The hole keeps going until eventually the entire Milky Way galaxy is gone too.

The hole continues to grow, faster and faster, turning everything in its path into nothing. Eventually, it catches up with the edges of the universe itself. Science tells us — or used to, anyway, before the entire human race got swallowed by a comically large hole — that the universe is expanding at a rate of something like 41 miles per second per megaparsec. That’s really, really fast. Faster than most could ever even conceive of. But the hole just goes faster than that and swallows the entire universe, engulfs everything in existence, and then there’s nothing. The whole is now the hole. And the hole has never been anything.