The careening cosmos, physicists tell us, is just stuffed with dark matter.

Well…, duh.

Apparently there’s not enough regular matter in the universe to make things behave the way they do. So scientists have hypothesized the existence of dark matter.

Just last week I got a tick bite, and sure enough by Saturday night – when all the clinics were closed – I was feeling achy and feverish and just shitty in general.

Normal, everyday matter boings around, bouncing off of other everyday matter, and even colliding with the local radiation. Dark matter, on the other hand, doesn’t directly touch anything. It just passes through everything, even itself. Even us.

By Sunday night my neck and shoulder joints felt like they were being gnawed on by famished piranhas. I took aspirin. I took whatever pain reliever I could find in the cabinet.

Really the only thing dark matter does is gravity – which is to say it brings things down. This is all the cosmologists need it to do.

Sometime in the middle of the night I got up to use the bathroom. While I was there I passed out. Everything went black. And I fell into the bathtub.

So it turns out that all around us and in us there’s this heavy dark stuff that is somehow helping to hold it all in place.

At the emergency room they stapled my scalp back together and gave me doxycycline for the Lyme. “Out of the sunlight for three weeks,” they said.

Dark matter is made up of Weakly Interactive Massive Particles. WIMPs.

The next night I got up again and stopped to look out the window into the dark field south of our house. It was filled with tiny fireflies, circling low over the grass. There are lots of creatures who feel totally at home in the deep and murky shadows of the night. But I don’t know any that have turned the table on dark matter the way fireflies have.

Scientists haven’t discovered WIMPs yet. They have nevertheless already named them. It’s all about branding.

Male fireflies flutter in, around and through the darkness, flashing their butt beacons to the ladies on the ground. Allowing the gravity of the world to pull them down only when they are ready for sex.

There’s also this stuff called dark energy.

Well…, duh.

Posted by Kevin McMullin

Kevin McMullin is a storyteller and author who lives in Northwestern Wisconsin. His book, “Into the Black Sea: Stories of Darkness and Light” is available at his website,

One Comment

  1. Kevin, I was so sorry to read that you got bitten by a tick and had such a terrible reaction. Can’t the Universe give a guy a break once in a while? I hope you can mine some spiritual gold from the darkness of Lyme and dark matter. I wish i could attend the book signing. Be well.


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