Lee first noticed the reddish-brown algae on aquarium glass, like an ochre smear left by a fish rubbing up against the clear aquarium wall.
For months, the smear changed neither size nor shape.
A second spot appeared, outside the aquarium, as if the algae had grown through the glass.
Lee shook off his imagination. Algae can’t grow through glass.
But what is glass, really?
Isn’t glass a type of silica liquid?
Lee strained his thoughts to recall his chemistry classes and lessons in chemical compositions.
Glass is an electrical insulator, a solid vessel for liquids.
So how did algae get on the outside?
He traveled out-of-town for a few weeks and forgot about the algae.
Or he was going to forget until he noticed, after staying a few days in the same Airbnb rental for a week, that the glass wall of the bathtub suddenly showed a same reddish-brown spot similar to the one at home.
Lee sat on the toilet seat and pondered the situation.
In his travels, curiosity seekers asked him for advice, familiar with his work investigating the macabre.
Less than a year before, a being that seemed human but smelled otherworldly showed him an orb of unknown origin.
The roundish ball was cracked.
Lee carefully examined the crystal clear sphere with his bare eyes. Normally, he would use a pocket magnifying lens but he’d only left his rental for a relaxing walk in shorts and a T-shirt (“T-Rex couldn’t fly but he soared above his competition!”) when the smelly stranger approached him at the entrance to a local walking path.
“What do you make of this?” A clawlike hand reached out from under a serape and handed him the glass object.
Lee loved surprises and took the grapefruit-sized ball from the stranger’s hand, rolling it around in his palm to feel its texture, weight and temperature.
But there was something about the object that startled him, almost as if tiny fingers had reached out of the hairline crack and serrated the skin of his forefinger.
He switched the orb to his right hand and brought his left forefinger up close to his eyes.
Sure enough, he’d cut himself.
There was no blood of his but there was an odd stain.
He mentally wrote off the stain as dirt that had he had rubbed out of the crack in the glass.
What had the stranger said to him? “Those who can’t see the future are doomed, unless the Future wants them to see it.”
He had noticed a preternatural disposition to see the future the last few months.
Was the ochre stain a type of fortuneteller?
If it was everywhere, it would, theoretically, have access to the interconnectedness of everything.
Could it be the key he sought to open the door that shows time is an illusion?
Single-celled organisms were known to communicate with each other as one. They had thrived on Earth for hundreds of millions of years.
What did we know of extraterrestrial beings surviving space travel, crossing galactic distances as streams, swarms or colonies of single-celled organisms?
Were they sending him a message, and if so, why?
He had a lot to ponder, an ochre stain to study in his lab when he got home.
Another mystery to solve!