October 19, 2021 - 26 min read

As a kid, Felix Futzbucker dreamed of being an elephant. These animals had always aroused his imagination - stark grey boulders, eared icebreakers cutting through a sea of grass, rattling the earth and watering each other with pulverizer hoses. Their brains, Felix read with his face sunk into the encyclopaedia, were several times larger than those of humans, making them, as Felix thought, the most intelligent of animals. They had an unimaginable number of neurons in their brains. Two hundred and fifty billion, a number only more unimaginable given Felix had yet to learn how much the number represented. "Two hundred and fifty billion," he wandered around his grandmother's flat in awe and muttered under his breath, dreaming of a brain he could only describe as big, infinitely more massive than his own.

"Treacherous nature rewarded me with universal injustice", thought Felix. Just imagine: how many things he could've learned, how many encyclopaedias he could've read, how smart he could've been if he had a brain like elephants? But then, his parents told him he could never become an elephant and it was all nonsense – and he had to stay Just Felix. The only thing he could dream of - and never discarded this possibility - was that maybe he was actually an elephant who dreamed he was a little boy dreaming to become an elephant.

Thus he stayed as Just Felix, finished the school he hated and after escaping from one horde of ignoramuses joined another one, striving for higher education. Was it a childish thirst for knowledge or did he not know what else to do with his life apart from learning? But when he finished university he didn't look for a “normal job" and decided to pursue an academic career with a thesis topic – "Choosing the main god or deity of wisdom in the world's mythology." He did not want to focus on only one. He wanted to research what traits people endowed with gods responsible for knowledge and intelligence, what role they played in the life of ancient people, and which of them, in fact, could lead a hypothetically united pantheon. This ambitious idea did not let Felix sleep at night and the realm of myths and legends often penetrated his fragile insomniac reality, dissolving with it. He rummaged through everything: from Thoth, Athena, Minerva, Snotra and Mimir to many others including Nabu, Ea, Fukurokuju, Gamayun and Felix's favourite – Ganesha.

He spent his days in a library, sometimes interrupting to work as a courier, and evenings barricading himself with literary walls in his rented apartment, in which there were more books than air. Felix was not sociophobic, definitely not sociopathic. He simply did not have time for normal things and he was more interested in spending it in solitude. But sometimes (often unwillingly), he could find a couple of scarce hours for social interaction. One of his friends, a result of a chance encounter in a library, was Nina. She dragged him to various places, which he himself would never have visited.

– This one is called Soixante Quinze, – Nina said once when they were at a bar.

– What does that mean? Is it French? – asked Felix.

– It’s named after a French 75mm field gun, Cannon de 75 modèle 1897.

– Why do you name a cocktail after a French 75mm field cannon?

– It is powerful. Like a deity of cannons, you know.

– What kind of power is this?

– An elixir able to move your consciousness to the next level… Subconsciousness, perhaps, too. – She giggled. – Don’t worry, you will figure it out.

Like others, Nina knew he was smart, but she treated him as an equal, not making the dull praises to which he was accustomed. This came as a surprise at first, but later it transformed into an unspoken addiction. She provided him with fresh experiences and fresh air, with a smile and laughter, with dark curls and sarcastic gazes, with adventures he could read about in no book.

On another occasion - more harmless that time - they sat in a restaurant surrounded by a smell of spices and hissing wok-pans and finishing their dinner.

– Imagine they’re all standing in one room. All pantheons combined. They, the gods and deities, I mean, are all smart.

– How smart?

– Well, infinitely smart. And, because they are all smart, they argue. They need someone capable to rule and make them agree. Maybe not to rule but to maintain consensus. Someone infinitely smarter than them.

Nina leaned across the table and whispered:

– You?

– Of course not.

– If they are so smart, as you’re saying, why can't they just agree on who’s in charge? Maybe they can vote, you know, elect a president or whatever.

– I thought about that many times and I wish I slept instead. But I don’t think it’s possible because the  knowledge and wisdom they possess cover different aspects, different cultures. It’s diverse and fragmented. They need someone who will understand it and deliver the combined wisdom to people.

– Like Prometheus and fire?

– Kind of, but this… I don’t know… this deity or whoever… should have to do it upon agreement of all pantheons and the united one. He or she must be the epitome of unity.

– Maybe they need to create a ruler for them, a new entity with a big brain that could figure out how to do it?

– I wish I had more time in a day to find the answer to this question...

– Or rest more!

Felix finally noticed the waiter passing by, an elderly bald man whose thinness hid behind a black apron, and tried to get his attention. The waiter smiled and hurried to the counter, grabbed a card reader and a wooden bowl and rushed to their table. He placed a black pad in front of Felix, waited until the bill was checked and, seeing the cherished 'Approved', handed over the bowl filled with what appeared to be fortune cookies wrapped in the transparency of cellophane.

– Enjoy, – said the waiter and smiled.

Felix thanked him, took two clam-like cookies and gave one to Nina. The waiter smiled once again and hurried off for his restaurant deeds.

– Oh, thanks, you can take both.

– I was going to give you mine. I'm full already.

– And I've read enough of them. – Nina smiled.

– Read enough? What do you mean?

Nina chuckled and her dark curls fell over her face.

– Don't you dare tell me you’re seeing fortune cookies for the first time, – she said while fixing her hair.

– Of course not. – Felix blushed. – Not the first but I wouldn't have thought there's something inside. Who puts paper in food?

– Then take both and check.

– So, what's in it anyway?

– Soothsayings, – Nina gestured like magicians in cartoons do. – Woo-oo-oo.

– I don't believe in soothsayings.

– I'm quite aware of that, Felix. You don't need to believe in them - you need to fulfill them. Also, it doesn't have to be a prophecy or whatnot. Sometimes it’s just a nugget of wisdom or inspirational quote. But why am I even explaining it? You’re the smart guy - you'll figure it out.

– May I read them at home?

– Yes, but you have to promise you’ll tell me about it tomorrow.

– I will, – Felix smirked and threw the cookies into a pocket.

A few minutes later they left the restaurant and made their way, wiggling between tables, ducking under the umbrellas of restaurant terraces, and hiding from the all-encompassing rain under the building's canopies, to the underground.

– Well, until tomorrow?

– Bye, see you tomorrow. – Nina smiled, waved a hand and, putting her little backpack on both straps, ran down the stairs. Halfway through she turned around and yelled, – Don't you dare forget about the cookies, Felix! – He waved back.

A blissful smile stretched on his lips, he sighed and strolled home. He slipped his hands habitually into both pockets and fumbled for one of the cookies. "Why not?" Felix thought and took the cookie. Twisting it in his hands, he freed the cookie from the transparency of the wrapping, then freed the paper from the hardness of the cookie, putting the edible into his mouth. The cherished filling, unfolded, resembled a scrap pulled from the bucket under the shredder in his university department.

– You will be on top of the world, – the piece of paper tenderly babbled.

Of course, not the piece of paper itself but a voice inside Felix's head. This time it sounded rather strange. He liked experimenting with his inner reader so he could create the necessary atmosphere and maintain the correct context, play out dialogue and liven up a text.

Ha-ha, really? Immediately, he unpacked the second cookie, unearthed another cosmic truth. The brevity and aptness of the answer did not wait and instantly hit his brain in such a way that he dropped the cookie on the ground and summoned a horde of pigeons under his feet.

– Address the elephant in the room, –declared the piece of paper with the almost hypnotic savour of Eastern wisdom in its voice.

Felix flinched and turned around. Nobody was there and he understood that this time, perhaps like the previous one, it wasn't his inner reader. A cold shiver tickled his back.

The cookie is talking to me? What does "address the elephant" mean? Is the elephant figurative or literal, physical or metaphysical? The cookie seems to point to some particular elephant in some particular room, but all this gleaming-with-wisdom pseudo-concreteness is blurred for lack of detail.  But where to get the details? Is this set of words related to the previous one? And why an elephant? What if this elephant is the one who dreamed of being him dreaming of being an elephant? What’s the probability of such a coincidence? Could it not be a coincidence at all?

He felt that just one cookie couldn't give answers to all these questions.

Just one? Felix again heard the voice from nowhere and twitched. The wind helped both pieces of paper escape from his hands and they chaotically scattered themselves under cars flying along the roadway, mixed with mud, glued on the wheels. "Oh, no!" almost jumped off his lips.

Felix noticed a kind of faint relaxation appearing inside his skull, interspersed with a pleasant throbbing tension. The waves from his head travelled down his neck, down his back, down his arms, and, leaving behind ridges of bumps and uplifted thin hair, stopped just short of reaching his fingers. But Felix somehow didn't want to lose these sensations. He wanted to keep and feel them with all possible completeness.  Because, despite their strangeness, there was some tart promise in them and Felix knew what he had to do.

He stepped over the greedily dining pigeons and dashed back down the street. Going over the options in his head of what the next cookie might tell him, he walked faster, stammering, squeezing between people, dodging cyclists, catching irritated and disapproving glances, and trying to reproduce in his head that hypnotic voice, repeating over and over again, "You will be on the top of the world. Address the elephant in the room." However, that pleasant and strong timbre, able to emphasize the importance of each word, was not there. His inner reader was not as hypnotic, did not sound as wise, and certainly did not know the answers to the questions that were somehow beginning to worry Felix more and more.

– May I have more cookies? – Felix asked the waiter, flying into the free doorway space.

– What cookies?

– With fortunes. Fortune cookies. – He stammered, trying to control the impatience buzzing in his brain and fading vibrations still radiating to the neck.

– We are not giving them away. They are for customers.

– Don't you remember me? I just had dinner here with a girl.

The waiter narrowed his eyes and said wagging a finger and grinning:

– Ha! I already gave you two cookies.

– I can pay.

The waiter gave a languishing look.

– Cash only.

Felix smirked and hurried to get his shaking hand into his jeans pocket. He pulled out from there a handful of coins mixed with banknotes of different denominations and handed them over to the waiter.

– How many can I have?

Mathematical concentration scowled at the waiter's face and a second later he said:

– They will fill a small box.

Walking down the street with a carton meant for noodles, Felix almost read one of the cookies. He unpacked it and took hold of its tips to break the shell of wisdom, but overcame the throbbing urges. For some reason, he decided to open it in secret. What if somebody interrupted the ritual? "What if I mishear something because of the street noise?" he thought. It was strange. He understood he could read the text again himself but the effect wouldn’t be the same. The talking cookie instilled far more confidence and its words carried far more weight than Felix's own inner reader. What if somebody stole the cookies? With this horrifying thought, he looked around frantically and, putting the box in under his jacket, quickened his pace, feeling like a street thief who had snatched a bag and was now trying to get away.

At home, Felix, still in wet clothes, sat on a sofa and put his newfound treasure onto the table in front of him. He flexed his arms until his fingers cracked and closed his eyes for a few seconds. A tickling vibration of anticipation marched through his body.

Rustle. Crunch. Familiar voice.

– How can today feel like play?

Felix pondered for a second. The question seemed to have nothing to do with the previous ones. Or did it? It did not suggest a specific answer, but it did not feel rhetorical either. No, Felix was not disappointed or stunned; it was the opposite – he felt he knew the answer, but was somehow afraid to admit it. What if the wisdom contained in those six words, just like a cookie, could crumble because of the weight of its fragility if he dared to interrupt its thought with his?

Rustle. Crunch. Familiar voice.

– You can be happy now. In fact, you can only be happy now.

The cookie was right once again. He was happy. He realised that for the first time in a while all his worries had gone somewhere far away and done so with such speed that Felix didn't have time to think about whether they had even existed. He knew how he could turn this day into play and be happy. Now. This very night, this very minute, this very moment.

Felix read one inspiring text after another, putting away the shards of cookies on the side. Each of the liberated pieces of paper revealed to him some of the forgotten secrets of the world, keys to higher knowledge capable of enlarging intelligence. The rustling always preceded the crunch, and the voice still rang, squeezing in between his brain convolutions as water flows into cracks in dry soil.

"The desire for knowledge, like the thirst for riches, increases ever with the acquisition of it." This text was the truth of Felix's entire life, the unspoken rule by which he existed. The thirst for riches, however, was something he did not have. "The world makes a lot less sense than you think. Its consistency is indicated only by the way your brain works," and "You can fool everyone else, but you can’t fool your own mind". The voice seemed to begin to complement itself more and more often, and the rustling and crunching seemed to dissolve in the general flow. "You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength. The things you think about determine the quality of your mind." This text seemed too long to be printed on a small piece of paper. Felix did not know whether this piece was larger or the font was smaller or he himself completed the sentence in his head.

He felt he had been filled with an unknown energy and become more confident in his judgments. Now, any sudden ideas didn't just spring back into obscurity as soon as they arose but lingered, spreading out, giving time to understand and comprehend themselves. If there was a metaphysical river of wisdom, he would previously have been afraid to even touch its surface with his little finger, but now he was waist-deep and ready to dive in it head turned back and relaxed, and surrender to the stream carrying him to infinity, to the seas and oceans of omniscience.

But soon his hand reached the bottom of the box. The bladed shadow of the "Oh, no!" tickled his lips, but the same fear he had experienced the last time was no longer there. Suddenly, he felt tired and already full of hitherto unknown energy that he needed time to digest.

The last rustling, crunching and familiar voice of the day sounded off.

– Do not seem. Be.

– Yes! – Felix shouted excitedly.

He needs to stop seeming to be and finally be the one he had always wanted to be. But who was this "one"? Did being "him" mean being yourself? Or was it someone else, completely separate and unlike you in the present? Could it be Felix from the future? But maybe the cookie meant something quite the opposite. Perhaps he should stop seeming and pretending to be someone else and just be, exist. Does such existence make sense, or should he, like a horse with a carrot tethered in front of it, always have something enticing ahead? Why couldn’t he, Felix Futzbucker,  be Just Felix? But nevertheless, what if the cookie meant to be someone else, someone better, someone more capable and intelligent?

– Do not seem. Be, – repeated Felix.

He closed his eyes and gave the tickling wisdom time to run through his body and soak into the fibres of his soul. For the first time in a couple dozen cookies he'd read, he felt content, though he still didn't fully understand anything. Perhaps that was the beauty of the wisdom he had discovered. You don't have to understand it. It follows its own rule. It just is.

The next morning, Felix Futzbucker awoke from a nightmare. In it, his brain had grown to such a size that it transformed itself into a bed, out of which, consisting of the brain as well, a girl formed herself and inclined Felix to carnal pleasures, the details of which he did not remember, for the better or worse. He had no idea what it could all mean and no energy to think about it. His head was aching and vibrating, like the morning after he'd mixed gin and champagne following Nina's barstool stories about French cannons.

Before Felix had time to open his slimy eyes, break through the morning lethargy and forget about the nightmare, texts from the cookies crawled into his head. He felt that he could only be happy at this moment. He thought about how he can turn today into play, how to stop seeming, address the elephant in the room, gain the power over his mind, define reality, and about many other things – everything at once. He knew what to do. For the first time in a while, despite the headache, he felt smart. This dualism resembled pleasant fatigue after a long walk or muscle pain after lifting weights. The brain was definitely not a muscle and it was unlikely to grow any further at his age (although he really wanted it) but, for some reason, Felix found that analogy most accurate for himself. With this maelstrom of thoughts, he swam to the bathroom, where the mirror showed him a  new picture of fantastic Felix.

His head seemed to get a little bigger, and the skin on his forehead and under his hair was frighteningly lumpy, creating a texture similar to something between a cap of broccoli, a bergamot rind, a walnut shell, or... a brain. Yes, it was the brain, it certainly was. Felix stopped hesitating. The tide of panic rising in him seemed to frighten even itself with what its carrier had just realized. He felt brave enough and happy to accept his new form.

Felix gently touched the crinkles on his head. They weren't as hard as the skull he was used to feeling, but softer and firmer, like silicon. Felix ran his hands under the hair, the quantity of which, however, stayed the same. Touches felt usual and even pleasurable.

– You will be on top of the world, – said Felix and smiled at his reflection.

He returned to the room and sat down at the desk. Felix wanted to see if he had become smarter and if his new big brain would help him with his thesis. He took a pen and sheets of paper and began to write. His hand seemed to either move on its own or be guided by something. Thoughts flowed outward in a coherent stream and laid on the paper in crooked ink patterns, and word by word, sentence by sentence, filled one page after another.

Felix lost track of time, but at one point, when almost all the sheets lying on the desk had come to the state of being scribbled out, he suddenly interrupted himself. He noticed that he did not understand at all what he was writing about and, running through the splendour of the text, he realised that he did not know how to continue the work. The brain that had been living autonomously had done it for him, but now the effect was over and everything was just as complicated as it had been before. Felix touched his skull. It was back to its normal size. The new sensations were gone and, though he remembered the cookies he had read, he could no longer feel their energy within.

Felix skimmed through the pieces of paper from cookies. Nothing happened. Perhaps the cookies only worked once, or he didn't know how to reactivate them. He read through all of them again. The mind caught on to one of them.

– You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. The things you think about determine the quality of your mind, – spoke his inner reader.

Felix thought that this text made no sense in his current condition. He did not feel the power over what was going on inside his head, quite the opposite was happening. He did not remember at all how he had filled in the sheets. It became more difficult and even dangerous to think on his own because thoughts gained such freedom and strength that it was difficult for him to control them. But what if, as the cookie said, he simply didn't realise it? What if he was thinking about the wrong thing, and it affected the quality of his mind? What if he got distracted?

Felix grabbed his jacket. Paying no attention - not to missed calls, not to an empty stomach, not to the setting sun - he ran out of the apartment and down to the restaurant.

– Oh, you again. Is there something I can do for you? The restaurant is already closing. – The waiter smiled at Felix.

– I need more cookies.

– I'm afraid we’ve run out...

Felix's skin lost any pigment and he was no longer listening, even as the waiter went on about a large number of customers, the supply of cookies quickly depleted. Felix rushed down the street from the restaurant, looking for other places where he could get his dose. Everything was either closed or what he was looking for was not in stock.

Out of breath, Felix stopped in the middle of a park, not even remembering how he got there. The sun had set, and its light was replaced by the dim flickering of lanterns, a string of which stretched along the path into the distance. Felix realized that he would not be able to find fortune cookies, but the desire did not disappear. Rather the opposite was happening. He went through the previous texts from the cookies in his head, first in the "chronological" order of opening them, then randomly, hoping to solve a puzzle. Nothing worked: the brain did not grow, the kaleidoscope of thoughts did not play with colours, and the forgotten panic and "Oh, no!" returned.

Felix, trembling, either from the cold, or from fear, or from desire, or from general mental detachment, flopped down on a bench. Grasping himself with crossed arms, he suddenly fumbled his notebook in his jacket's inner pocket. He took it out, flipped through it rustling with pages and opened a blank one. He wanted to write something but had absolutely no idea what. The melancholy into which this thought plunged him resembled a long, almost endless tunnel, so deep that at the very end he suddenly noticed a salvific shimmer.

Felix pulled a pen from the notebook’s sheath and began to scribble. He jotted down every text from cookies he remembered, and suddenly, a hypnotic voice rang in his head again, pouring strange joy and motivation on Felix as he increased the speed at which the ink was laid down on the paper. When Felix's memory came to an end, he began to invent his own short sentences, trying to continue or supplement the existing ones, turning them over and over and sending them in new directions. How so – didn't matter. Only keeping the voice did.

...Your thoughts create reality. Running away – is not freedom. Someday is not a day of the week. You start growing faster once you stop worrying about looking cool. Anything else doesn't matter: there is no past, no future, no problem. Only now. To grow is to do what you fear. You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results. Life is simple – you make a choice and do not regret it...

The last passersby had finished their walks, and silence came to the park, disturbed only by the distant sounds of the city, the rare sneaking of the wind in the foliage of the trees, the creaky rustle of a pen on paper, and Felix’s rapid breathing. The stream of sentences had no desire to stop.

...You will keep getting challenged because life wants you to grow. Eat like a bird, poop like an elephant. To become creative, finish something. If to live, live beautifully. If a vision, a clear one. If to hope, hope only in yourself. If to love, love all your heart. You must meet the world face to face if you want to feel alive...

The world around Felix began to dissolve, somewhere in the surrounding darkness, the general concentration of thoughts, or in the voice pealing in his head. Now he merged with his inner reader, or a dozen of them, in a single chorus of wisdom, in a stream, in a river of voices, each one of them both belonging to Felix and being absolutely alien. The ink continued to annihilate the emptiness of the notebook. Felix's mind and brain began to grow again. The convolutions stretched like marmalade snakes, twined into irregular braids, folded into layers and burst through them outwards and inwards, fused into a single whole, disintegrated again and so on, infinitely. His head grew heavier and was already hanging back from the bench, almost reaching the plane of the ground. But Felix, absorbed in the constancy of the process, paid it no mind the way he did to everything around him: the interrogative flash of the lantern, the nighttime coldness of the park, rats rustling in bushes, and a fox who, after sniffing his brain, sprinkled a thin jet of a primal need on it; until at a certain point the world around him got angry and in return stopped paying attention to Felix, too, and he lost consciousness.

After an uncertain amount of time in the void, he awoke in a cold sweat from the inflamed flashes and ear-scratching noise hitting his senses from below. Shutters were clicking. Angry little dogs were barking. Police were yelling and deterring the particularly curious sections of the chattering pandemonium. Protecting himself from the surrounding brightness of the light and sound, Felix covered his face with his palm and tried to stand up, but could not. He realised he wasn’t lying down but seated on what seemed to be a soft throne. He wanted to rise from it, but again he couldn’t. It held him back like a bag of cement tied to his head. Felix rubbed his eyes, looked down and shuddered. The throne on which he sat was, in fact, his head, or rather his enlarged brain. Like in his nightmare, its convolutions created the seat, which, in turn, stood on a three-metre grey elephant, composed of the same brain cobwebs.

Felix tried turning his head, or the part of it that was in place of his native head and was still carrying his face, and saw that the park was filled with people, from whom he was enclosed only by a thin yellow-red ribbon, reminiscent of the circle one draws with a chalk on a floor so nothing supernatural can pass. But this time the supernatural was already inside, represented by a huge elephant made up of Felix's brain.

Suddenly he noticed Nina, standing as a lonely beacon amidst the gurgling crowd.  She was watching Felix like everyone else but there was something strange in her gaze, something akin to deep shock neatly bordered with disappointment. She seemed to be shouting at him, but the sound was interrupted halfway through, unable to squeeze through the general cacophony. They stared at each other for a few long seconds until Felix could read the words as they seemed to him on Nina's lips. He heard her voice in his head: "You forgot about the fucking cookies, Felix. You promised." This made him shudder, frightened like a child, imbued with the irreversible nature of whatever it was he'd gotten himself into.

He didn’t want to upset Nina and, hoping for salvation, he pitifully looked at her again. "Will you at least tell me about them now?" it read on her lips. "What, right in front of everyone?" thought Felix, to which, knowing Nina, she might have responded, "Imagine reading a poem to Santa." But there were so many people, like so many ants that had crawled from a destroyed mound. There was no Santa among them and Felix didn't know whom to address, so he decided to just do it to everyone.

"Everything you can imagine is real." Felix's voice, filled with a cosmic depth of wisdom, spread out through the park, like a stone thrown into the water. The crowd fell silent but a second later exploded with more cackling and camera flashes than before.

Felix raised his hand and opened his lips. Silence again.

– What you avoid today becomes tomorrow's problem, – Felix rapped out in a chorus of voices, and the energy of secret knowledge spread through the park, forcing the paparazzi to lower their devices and look at Felix.

– Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. – Felix saw that the eyes of the people surrounding him stopped blinking and widened, revealing enlarged black dots. He felt neither fear, nor surprise, nor the heaviness of his brain and gazes. They were looking everywhere, nowhere and at Felix at the same time. He took what was happening for granted, as something that had been going to happen for a long time, but could not come true, and now the purulent bubble of universal injustice had finally burst, splashing the consequences onto the world around.

The surrounding mob turned into a homogeneous trembling mass and, bewitched and beguiled, began to fall on their knees, continuing to follow with their empty eyes the prophet riding the elephant who knew for sure that they all wanted answers, and he had no right to stop in his impulses to share them.

– Perseverance solves more problems than brilliance, – Felix declared and paused.

The mob repeated after him:

– Perseverance solves more problems than brilliance. Perseverance solves more problems than brilliance. Perseverance solves more problems than brilliance. Perseverance solves more problems than brilliance.

He added:

– Look for vibes.

And the mob followed:

– Look for vibes. Look for vibes. Look for vibes. Look for vibes. Look for vibes. Look for vibes. Look for vibes. Look for vibes. Look for vibes. Look for vibes.

He kept throwing sentences and every phrase resonated through people, turning them, the world around, and perhaps the whole reality into an embodiment of a giant universal tuning fork, reverberating until everyone could hear and echo his voice.

Felix felt his thoughts were full of such energy and power that each one was a separate layer of reality, equal in every aspect to the park he was in, to the people standing nearby, to the angry little dogs and the hordes of pigeons. Even to Nina, the only person who was still standing, seeing both who he used to be and who he was at that moment. He felt he was not Just Felix anymore. He was someone else. Someone who was now in charge of his body and mind, someone who possessed omniscience and omniwisdom, someone who ditched universal injustice and finally could lead the united pantheon. The whole world seemed to be folded from his thoughts into an infinite pile of sheets on which the reality was written on. The sheets he could put away one by one by simply stopping to think them. So he did.

This story wouldn’t be possible without my brother Ilya, who helped with discussing early ideas and read the first drafts, and comrades from The Soaring Twenties Social Cult: True Crime Thailand, Jonas Ressem, Betsy McCall, Edward Rooster, Worth Watson, FrankTheodat, Brady | KngdmDiscipline, Zack (KT); David, who made an enormous contribution to the discussion and editing; and Craig, who provided me with a fabulous collection of “fortune cookies”.

Thank you everyone for your help in reading my drafts and bringing the story to its final form. I’m incredibly grateful to all of you and the cult for the support.

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