Stanley Miller was floating in the air over a brilliant crystalline city, which gleamed brilliantly in the light, despite the lack of any sun in the sky.

“This,” he said out loud, “is strange.”

“As strange as a wizard showing up in your office?”

Stanley turned to look at the voice, though he wasn’t sure how he managed such a feat while in his state of inexplicable hovering. He found himself facing… Stanley Miller, or something that looked awfully like him. He was rather confident, however, that he had never worn the arrogant smirk displayed on the features of Stanley Number Two.

“I would say that this is arguably stranger.”

“Strangeness is only that which is not yet understood. Is your own mind really that unknown to you?”

Stanley remembered, then, what had happened with the wizard. He and his companions had explained they came from a world of magic – and for some reason needed his help. The wizard had done something… and Stanley remembered collapsing into unconsciousness.

Which explained where he was after all.

“That’s right. This…” said Stanley Number Two, spreading his arms wide, “Is the city of your hopes and dreams, memories and desires, thoughts and ideas. The sum of your knowledge. The seat of your soul.”

“I’ve noticed,” said Stanley Number One, carefully looking around, “that you don’t seem much like me at all.”

“I’m a part of you, Stan, and as unique as you are, you have to deal with me like everybody else. But is that really the question you want to ask?”

“I suppose not.” The city beneath them was a beautiful think. Buildings – crystals – arranged in a pattern so elaborate that Stanley almost was unable to see it.

And it was growing.

At the edge of his vision he could see it, looking towards the horizon in each and every direction. Crystals erupting out of the ground, connecting to the already existing structure, and pushing through into the boundaries of nothingness that had formally surrounded the city – and was now being swept away beneath the crystalline tide of construction.

Stanley asked the important question: “What is happening to my mind?”

Stanley Number Two’s expression grew serious. “It’s growing. Dangerously fast, but that can’t be helped. You’ve spent too much of your life living in a simple world, but there are countless infinities out there, and your mind has briefly touched upon them.”

“When that man – Tailos – cast his spell.”

“That’s right. Your mind grabbed hold of the magic, drank it up, and took in the sight of all those worlds, of the multiverse that dwarfs the reality you were born in. It’s adapting, accepting them, acknowledging them, understanding them. That’s what you do.”

“I make sense of things.” It wasn’t a question, but Stanley Number Two nodded.

“Ordinary people are people of belief. Your new friends are having a hard time of it in your world – people don’t want to believe in magic, so they are giving them trouble. But even the people that would accept what they can do, that’s only the case because they want to believe in magic. It all comes down to their faith, and what they believe in. Except for you.”

Stanley Number One nodded this time. “In school, in math, I always insisted on knowing why it worked. In proving it to myself that the formulas were correct. In defining everything in my terms and in my mind. In putting everything in its proper place.”

“You adapt to knowledge. You take it in, you absorb it, you make it part of yourself. And now you’ve tapped into a well of knowledge that throws the beliefs of your world into disarray – and it is taking time to organize it all, and internalize it.”

“Well then, I guess there is just one thing to do.”

“That’s right.”

Stanley glanced down at the city beneath him, noting out of the corner of his mind that his double was did the same with an absolutely identical moment. The crystalline city was even more breathtaking before, but now he knew where the light its walls reflected was coming from, as he could feel it pulsing out of his skin with every breath.

Stanley Miller opened his eyes, and woke up to the sweltering heat of the Amazon.