Once upon a time an old man sat at his kitchen table and stared at the smooth, white stone resting on his powder-blue tablecloth. For approximately the fifteen thousandth time he tried to use the power of his mind to lift the stone gently off the cloth. He stared at the stone until an afterimage-ridge of it seemed to make the stone vibrate. It did not budge. It never had except for once, and that was due to a mild earthquake, giving it a wobble that made his heart jump until other earthquakey stuff happened.
His mind had never made it budge, but the man never gave up, and when he grew old the attempted stone-lift became a comforting part of his evening ritual. Tonight, as ever, he gave up his efforts after a few seconds, sighed, sighed a little more contentedly, and put the stone back on top of the breadbox.
This night did turn out to be different, though, for after he turned in for the night the stone visited him in a dream. He was floating in an odd, chaotic space, and the stone floated too, about eighteen inches from his face, and spoke to him.
“Why do you waste your time with me?” the stone asked, using a voice similar to that of British actor Terence Stamp.
“It’s not a waste of time. Every time I try to lift you I get a little stronger. I can feel it.”
“You won’t lift me with strength, man,” said the stone in the voice of comedian Stephen Wright. “What you need is Knowledge.
“You don’t even know what I am. I’m Feldspar. I’m smooth because I was in a river for a few hundred years. Hard though I am, I eroded.
“And when you try to lift me you use an imaginary hand. You don’t have an imaginary hand and you never will. The only way you have the least hope of lifting me is if you work with me. I have plenty of ergs to supply the lift. All you need do is exploit my crystalling subatomics. Do that right and I become a nifty little hovercraft.”
“Stone, you talk like you have a brain and a mouth. You don’t. What gives?”
“Dude,” said the stone in a Jeff Bridges voice,”you’re having what is called a lucid dream. NO, I don’t have a brain, but I’m using yours. And I’m using your memory of other voices.
“But I’m also using myself. I am a stone, but when I am near you, I am also part of the stone part of you. You know about Monoliths. You and I together, with our special connection, are Duolithic.”
“Sounds like crap.”
“Wake up,” said the voice of Morgan Freeman. The man opened his eyes. The stone floated before him, then rose, and the man rose too, They passed through the ceiling, then roof shingles, then the stratosphere. Reality bent into a harsh monochromatic superspace, the man silhouetted, the stone became monolith-like and brighter, and threw off subselves. “Your life,” said the pulsing stoneblock, “has more holding it together than you can possibly imagine. Don’t waste it.” There was a crescendo of driving noice and a flash of All. “NOW wake up.”
The man opened his eyes. He was in bed. He went to the kitchen. The stone on top of the breadbox looked different. It was luminous, with pulsing golden flashes under its surface. They were fading. And after a minute or so the stone looked like it always had.
“Rise,” said the man to the stone. And it rose.