I tell you, those lessons were hell. Seriously interesting, mind, but just the sheer quantity was what did it. Millennia after millennia of string theory, quantum mechanics and mathematics is enough to depress anyone, even Athena. Man, she was good at it. Hot too, but I never really got in there with her, despite concerted efforts. She was way out of my league, if you know what I mean. I was nowhere near cultured enough for her. It was just my background – I come from one of those conservative families, all fire and brimstone. She was much more, I don’t know, detailed. She was clever - she’s had literally hundreds of papers published now she’s at university, but she was funny and charming too. She had all those little skills too: embroidery, sculpture. You name it, she did it. You should have seen her father smile at the school speech days when she got prize after prize. We used to call him the “Big Z”. Not one to piss off, that’s for sure. Maybe that’s why she has never got a boyfriend – if they’re not put off by her formidable brain, then it was her even more formidable father.

Anyway, enough about my crush, that’s not the story. So, after all these lessons, it was finally time to make our sixtieth-form project – the culmination of sixty millennia of theory. We were allowed to organise ourselves into small groups to work with. Allah and I reckoned we could do it ourselves, while Athena and all her friends decided to group together and do it by committee. I can’t really blame her, she had so much on and the schools facilities were pretty primitive, so she decided to wait for university to begin her masterpiece that she was planning. She had already been accepted, so it wasn't really important. Allah was pretty laid back about the whole thing, as was I. We spent most of the planning stage sitting around on our arses, and when we decided to throw the bugger against a singularity and see if it stuck, it all went horribly wrong. We had taken our working for the membrane resonant constant from that foreign guy we called Raven in the other class, but he had clearly got it wrong. When we set up the ignition field, the oscillation took hold, but petered out after about one of your femtoseconds and we just had a hot containment hypersphere and nothing else.

Luckily for us, a short while later, Hephaestus took the hypersphere containing Athena’s group’s project in the central lab and vandalised it with his friends, including, incidentally, Raven. He was an odd one, that Hephaestus, no doubt about it- we could all see his obsession with her. He was a bit ham-fisted, only good at metalwork. This was before that horrible thing where he tried to rape Athena. She fought him off, but it caused all sorts of problems with Gaia. An ugly and complicated story. Anyway, Athena’s project was pretty robust (she had done the MRC calculations herself), so we just had to fix some of the more major vandalism. When we’d finished it wasn’t pretty by a long shot, but it was working. We had to roll back the universal wavefunction to the ground state, so we only had 3 dimensions and basic 2-spheres for most objects. You should have seen the things that Athena had made that we couldn't use with the new wavefunction. The rings around some of the planets were beautiful. Similar to what you call Möbius strips, but 5 dimensional.

So we had a working model, basic and with contamination from the vandalism, but working. We just about managed to get the fine structure constant tuned for life, but it was a primitive, scavenging kind of life. Although, some of the life forms turned out quite acceptable, especially those on a planet in the system I don't think you ever gave a name. Nine-winged avian creatures are surprisingly easy on the eye. Unfortunately, we found out too late that some of the vandalism had affected the higher (relatively speaking) life forms, and they got some funny ideas about us. Earlier life seemed to focus more on the creator’s and vandal’s influences. I tried to make Athena look good, being more than a bit soft on her. I never told her this, obviously. I don’t think she would have appreciated it after Hephaestus’ obsessive thing. That took a lot of time to get over. I keep coming back to her, don’t I? It doesn’t matter now, because I had a bit of an accident with a girl called Mary. Funny story – she was an escort for another friend and kind of ended up escorting me. She was a reasonably nice girl, conservative like myself, so we couldn’t do anything but wait it out and make do. We called him Jesus when he came. I'm drifting off topic again, I must stop this.

Later on, Allah and I had a fight and set up our own opposing religions. Thank goodness we never got found out for that – you can get into serious trouble for that kind of messing with minor minds, especially if you lead them against each other. Think of your RSPCA, same kind of idea. We started off quite well, but we quickly drifted apart, and then came the Crusades. That basically finished off the friendship, and we just abandoned our project then. My religion, as they call that interference pattern, split apart along with Allah’s. Mary even got her own branch, which instantly began fighting with everyone else. Typical – those patterns do tend to take after their progenitors.

We each put together our reports casting the other in a bad light, and both got D’s. It was good enough to get us into rubbish univerisities, but nothing special. I don’t know what Allah’s doing now. Nothing good, I would imagine. He was always a lazy bastard. Not that I can take any moral high ground – I was fired from my first summer job for stealing company quark-manifold designs and selling them on the side. I’ve had more than a few drug habits and they don’t come cheap.

So, I kept the project because I had a space for it in my mother’s loft, and Allah was moving house and couldn’t be bothered any more. I’ve been at university for a while now. That project has been sitting in my mum’s loft for hundreds of your years now. I’m at home now. It’s a holiday, which is why I have time to tell you this. She called up to me a moment ago – I think she is having a clear-out.

“Do you still want your first universe, dear?”

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