I sat down on the front steps of my apartment and Jack stepped closer, as if to comfort me.
"There there," he said, "it could have been anyone, really. Well, no, actually, it couldn't. It had to have been someone in the cell who read those words with the mind of a child. It was quite a coincidence that it happened to you, really. Cheer up!"
"Cheer up?" I said. "I caused the end of the fucking world, how am I supposed to cheer up?"
"It's not the end of the world," Jack said. "The world will keep turning. Man will be quite extinct, but the world will keep going. For a little while at least."
"How do I stop it?" I asked. "Can I...break the chain or something?"
"You can't," Jack said. "The chain is self-repairing. Freshly forged, you might say. The only way is to, I don't know, find the place where the idea came from and break it there."
"That'll work?" I asked.
"Oh yes," Jack said. "If you break the chain where it meets the anvil, well, no more meme. Everyone goes back to normal. It'll be like none of this ever happened."
"How do I break it though?" I asked. "You said it was a metaphorical chain. A chain of thought. So...what, do I just disrupt the thought? Upload a virus to the mothership or something?"
"Ha!" Jack laughed. "Someone's been watching too many movies. No, I said the chain was metaphorical here. Over there, well, metaphors tend to become the thing they represent. Thoughts become things. The chain is an actual chain, is what I'm saying."
"Over...where?" I asked.
His smile seemed to grow wider. "His prison," he said. "The prison. The prison at the bottom of the universe. Some call it the Planck Level. I call it the Singularity Cell." He extended his hand and said, "I can take you there."
"Getting back, however, that's your concern."