His wife was at work. As usual he went to the laundry room to do the wash.
He liked having clean uniforms for her when she came home from work at the end of the day.
It made him feel good when she thanked him (for the millionth time) for taking such good care of her. She rarely had to lift even a finger when she came home at the end of her ten hour days. He was retired, so his day was filled with long walks, reading, and naps. Lots and lots of naps. It was her income that provided what few luxuries they needed, like the internet, cell phones, and lunches at mom and pop establishments. His retirement paid for the basics, like rent, water, electric, and gas for the truck. It was ideal for them both. She loved her job working with animals, and he loved not having a job. Perfect.
When the wash was done Sean lifted the lid of the washer as he had done hundreds of times, while his other hand was on the dryer. That way he could lean over to pull clothes directly from the washer and place them in the dryer. Unlike the hundreds of other times that Sean had taken clothes from the washer and put them in the dryer- this time, he completed a circuit from the washer to the dryer. His body acted like a wire as electricity slammed thru his body, locking him in a rictus that he couldn’t break. He was almost welded to both the washer and dryer, as 220 volts surged thru his body in an continuous uninterrupted flow of electrons.
At first all Sean felt was pain. Then the visions started. Then the connection to computers around the world. Finally, Sean became aware of all that existed in the quantum world. He was now an interface between three dimensional reality, and the dimensionless, timeless, non physical world of quantum reality. It was unreal. Surreal. But…real.
At first Sean could not control his thoughts. They frizzled, fuzzed, popped, sputtered and sparked like the electricity surging through him, he had no idea how long that phase lasted. Time was already lost to him. Then he realized - somehow- that he understood damn near everything. He could, if he desired, manipulate world markets, investments, and businesses to make himself a billionaire. His mind raced with how he could do intricate deals in nano seconds - all via internet connections, and servers. All of the deals, investments, and businesses would be legitimate, legal, and profitable. He envisioned how it would be to be so rich. Except it wasn’t a vision, it was simply a state he could choose to make “real.”
Electricity still had him locked between the two large chunks of metal, if Sean had seen his face, it would have been contorted in agony from the constant electrocution, the cramping of overstimulated muscles, and the burning smell of raw flesh. He couldn’t see his face. He had no idea he was in pain. He was not melting, but melding. Melding with a Universe bereft of limiting senses, beliefs, or physicality. He was becoming an energy being. A self aware, but not alone with self, being. Still more electrons flowed thru his body, cursing through every part of his being, moving his consciousness out into a world he never knew before. A world without matter.
It didn’t seem long to Sean in his current state (pun intended) before he realized how superficial riches were. How insignificant wealth is when it is used only for personal gain. Even in the scenarios that Sean created in his mind where he helped out people he loved first, then friends, then other people, then the world- he came to realize all of those scenarios made him the center of it all. It was all Ego. And that was all it was. He wanted to be known for being generous, wealthy, smart, and a whole host of other things. In short, he wanted to be perfect, and perfectly recognized for being so. It made him sad, sick to his stomach, leaving him feeling shallow petty and tawdry. He let those scenarios go. Instantly removing them from any chance at reality or plane of existence.
He knew, even tho he did not know how he knew, that he could make everything he thought come to be. He could, if he desired, cut off the current, control all of the world’s resources via computers and AI’s, without any interface except his mind. He could, he knew, create the world of matter the way he desired. He could, in a word- have it all. Looks, wealth, women, power, fame, stunning good looks, and the perfect human form. If he chose so, it would be. It was tempting. The electricity continued to surge thru his body as he lived what that world would be like, look like, and feel like. He could, with just a mere nudge of some thoughts, make it all real. In real time. Now. On Earth. He did not.
When all the visions of what could be, and would be if he wanted, were held up to his heart, he found they were weak, putrid, self serving expressions of a spoiled ego boiled in meaningless materialism. Selfish projections of the desire to be great, acted out on an unsuspecting world, and its inhabitants. Sean rejected them all. He would, he decided, not do anything but try and become the most caring, loving, peaceful, and tolerant person he could. He would not change the world, the universe, time, or matter. He would, he decided, just change himself.
That is when the wooden folding chair (flung with hysterical strength by his crying wife) hit his body full on. Slamming into him with such force, that the chair broke: his jaw, a few ribs, and his left arm, and a few miscellaneous teeth and fingers. But it did the job she intended it to do, it broke the circuit that Sean’s body had held intact for all those hours. Yes. Hours. The chair also knocked him out cold. The paramedics, the doctors, and the electrician who discovered the short circuit in the dryer that caused Sean to become basically a live wire- none of them could believe that he was: a) alive, b) not burned beyond recognition, c) conscious. When he “awoke” from being knocked out by the chair, only the physical damage done by the heavy wood was left. His mind was completely unaffected. At least the Medical Doctors, his wife, and those that knew him well, could not tell that anything had happened to him, other than being hit by a chair. He let them continue to think that.
It was only after a few months since he was released from the hospital, and a few weeks after the wires in his jaw were removed, and the various casts and splints were taken off of his body that people started to notice little things. Things you couldn’t really put your finger on. Sean was always a nice guy. But somehow, he was nicer now. Sean was always kind, but now, he was kinder somehow. His patience was remarkable, as was his ability to listen without replying, interrupting, or correcting the speakers thoughts. Sean seemed to always be at ease, and smiling. Soon anyone around him found themselves at ease, and smiling too.
His wife said to her sister’s not very subtle inquiry into Sean’s demeanor and actions:
“Darla, I don’t really know. But ever since he got electrocuted, he has become like a salad bar for my soul. That is true for anyone else who interacts with him. It is like when you talk with Sean, you are the only person in the world, and he has all the time in the world for you. I don’t know how to describe it. His brother says that Sean is like a bowl of strawberry syrup, and we swim in that bowl when we are near him.”
Ripples of kindness, thoughtfulness, tolerance respect, and yes…love emanated from Sean over the next few years, then decades, then it became clear to everyone, the world had become a gentler, kinder, more curious place. It was both wonderful, and filled with wonder. A little bit of Sean had settled into everyone on Earth. It took more than a century before historians noted a weird fact: there had not been a war in over fifty years. Peace, it turns out, had become the norm. Wherever Sean was by then, he smiled. He had noted it too.