Damian stared at the discarded abacus as if had burned him. Of course, nothing of the sort had happened. He had been overcome with a vision of something, a moment of startling clarity among the recent confusing events, but the origin of the abaci remained just as unknown as before. It lay there on the floor next to its counterpart, and Damian could see that the new arrival had the same characteristics of physical impossibility that the old one possessed: a bar which should have crossed in front of another instead crossed behind and the internal configuration seemed to rearrange entirely upon changing one’s viewing angle only slightly.
Taking another cautious approach towards the abacus, he grabbed it, and, when he was not assaulted with unexpected brainwaves again, he took it to his dining table. Setting it down, he began to move the beads, not with any real purpose, but just to experiment. His mind felt gripped by it even though he knew that he should be preparing for that day’s workout.
His despair was turning into curiosity as he pushed the beads back and forth. He could be pushing one away from him, and then, with no change in the direction of his hand, it would be coming towards him instead. Sometimes one would vanish, only to rematerialize in an unexpected spot. There had to be some logic to it.
The timer on his phone went off, indicating that his morning workout should have just finished. Shocked, Damian realized with shame that he had spent the last three hours fiddling with the abacus rather than working on his body. Vowing to stay focused from that point on, Damian scarfed down his lunch before launching into his workout. He hoped that the high intensity wouldn’t allow his mind to wander. However, unlike the previous day, he found his thoughts constantly coming back to those weird contraptions.
Usually, he would end his days with a few hours of reading, but when he finished his workout, all he wanted to do was return to his “toys”. He had a nagging feeling that there was some sort of knowledge he was supposed to be gleaning from their use, and he tried to take note of the patterns and repetitions that the beads made as he shifted them around. It was, somehow, too compelling to stop. Only when he could no longer keep his eyes open did he stumble, still clothed, into bed.
Damian awoke from his uneasy sleep and was again frustrated by his inability to remember any details of his dreams. However, his frustration was tempered by a kind of excitement, as he wondered if another new object had appeared during the night.
It had. A new abacus, roughly dodecahedron-shaped and larger still than the last one, sat on top of the bench of his bench press. Completely ignoring his breakfast, Damian took it to his table to scrutinize it. This one seemed to have push-buttons on some of its edges in addition to the spherical counters. He pushed one at random, then watched in wonder as the thing silently reconfigured itself in front of him, making new connections between branches in completely illogical ways, as if it was making use of an extra physical dimension unseen to his eyes and unfathomable to his mind.
Damian continued to push the buttons until the device reached a state that was relatively easy to comprehend. From there, he started moving the counters around, seemingly without purpose, but as he did it more and more, he was able to predict where they would end up. When he returned to the first, smaller abacus, it seemed practically childlike in comparison, and he found that he could understand its complicated internal structure without too much effort.
The whole day was spent working with these contraptions, and at no point did it occur to Damian that he should be working out. He went to bed that night feeling like he was on the precipice of some great knowledge of an unknown nature.
“You found me, Damian,” said the dream-shadow, its voice echoing ethereally through Damian’s dream-space. “I knew you would.”
“Who are you?” Damian spoke into the void.
“I am Pete Maravich,” was the answer he received from the shadow. “From 5,000 years in the future, I sent my abaci so that you could imbue your soul with my essence. You were the chosen one.”
The shadow began to disperse. “Thank you,” Damian whispered to it. The scene dimmed until it was nothing but black.
A ray of sunlight shined on Damian’s face, awakening him. It was so nice to wake up that way, free from the schedules of others. He glanced at his wall calendar, then scowled. For some reason, there were three extra days crossed off. Why had he done that? Confused, he verified the date on his phone, then walked into the living area.
His gaze was drawn to the area of his exercise equipment, but there was nothing unusual there. What was he looking for and why did he expect something? Damian didn’t know. Shrugging, he began to prepare his breakfast, a simple oatmeal with fruit, as the final vestiges of the night’s dreams left him.