My spell-check gave me a stern look and told me I was wrong, "Error: 'more dead' does not compute. Try writing it in the form: 'deader' "

I laughed and told it, "No silly, I'm quite sure 'deader' isn't even a word."

"Ahem. You are talking with a spell-check. You'd think the master of grammar would at least deserve to be taken seriously."

I sighed and retorted, "It's a grammatical rule you should know: only one syllable, so you should use 'more' and 'most'. And you call yourself the master of grammar. Pssh."

"Look it up if you don't believe me," was the spell-check's reply as it pointed to the Webster's II New Riverside Desk Dictionary just to my right, "Or go online and check out"

I checked out the Internet, since I was already online and one click seemed easier than searching through a book. I got there and blinked. 'deader'… 'deadest'… what was this? It didn't even sound right! "You hacked the website, didn't you!" I accused the spell-check, "When did you get so clever with C++?"

"I hacked nothing. Of course, my genius would allow me to do that if I wanted, but I have no wish to ruin the Internet. I only wish to aid the world in correct grammar," the spell-check program annoyingly informed me, "Besides, I can't hack into solid objects. The dictionary at your right beckons."

I was furious at this thing, but I decided that the best way to solve this trivial conflict would be to play it its way. I reached down and picked up the handy dictionary, opening it to about where 'dead' would be. The top of the page said 'defoliant – dell', so I check back a page before. 'decrease – defog', then 'debutante – decoy', and 'deadbeat – debut'. Finally I reached 'darkroom – dead' and looked down to the bottom of the page. And found, to my dismay, it continued to the next page without mentioning its other forms.

I turned the page and found it didn't say anything there as well! The only other form was 'deadness', its noun form. "You're totally messing with my mind," I re-accused the spell-check, "It doesn't say in here."

"I never said it did."

"You pointed to it."

"I pointed to the nearest dictionary, hoping you'd think to look in a dictionary. Of course that one doesn't have it. Are you brainless?"

"No – I just don't have every dictionary in existence memorized..." I responded and trudged upstairs to where my Webster's High School Dictionary was stored. This was no normal dictionary, so I couldn't just leave around just anywhere.

This was the dictionary I had used to magically divine up the knowledge that I was diabetic a whole week before the doctors even met me. I had found the dictionary in my cabinet that my half-brother had given me. Maybe he had intended to leave it there so that I would find it.

Well, I did find it. The first time I picked it up, I had felt the need to look up 'diabetic'. I did and immediately recognized all of my symptoms. But I didn't tell anyone. I don't know why. I just felt it was some secret too important to tell anyone. I didn't do anything about it, either. I just let the diabetes sneak up on me and grasp me. Now that diabetes is a part of me.

As I reached the powerful book I had a strange feeling. It wasn't quite like anything I had ever felt. Maybe it was fear. I picked up the book and opened it up directly to the page with 'dead' on it. Creepy. There were three entries of 'dead'. I read every one of them to myself so many times I thought I must then be a master of the word. It didn't say anything about 'deader'. Then I went to skim it one more time. I placed my right index finger on the title of the first entry. 'Dead'. Everything changed. A vision overwhelmed me. Maybe it was just a hallucination, but it felt real. It was a flashback. It was natural, though. I don't do drugs.

~ Bill was laughing at me. He thought my explanation was hilarious. "So, how do you think the universe was first created? Those atoms had to have come from somewhere!" I challenged him with a smile on my face. His reply was most serious, though.

"Zero," he claimed, "The universe was, at one point, zero." He put a calm smirk on his face and continued, "Then something happened. The universe became a dot. Infinity to the power of zero, if you will."

He then drew an infinity symbol with a carrot to a zero on the top of the page he had just been drawing on, just in case I didn't get it, and persisted again, "The power changed from zero to nothing in a period of time was no time at all. It took zero time for zero power to become one power. And then the universe was infinite. 'Full of atoms', as you put it."

I thought it over. It was certainly just as plausible as any other creation theory. There was nothing to say it was wrong. "Makes sense," I told him.

He grinned and confidently informed me, "Of course it does. Zero is the exception to every rule." ~

The flashback faded and I was in my room again. I lay back on my bed.  I blinked several times. I had never had an experience like that before. What did it mean? "Zero… is the exception," I muttered.

Eventually I had to get up. I had left the Internet on, anyway. People had probably IMed me. I folded my dictionary back up and placed it on my desk/cabinet I had had custom made. I knew the answer to the question I had originally sought… and perhaps more… much more. Death is nothing. Death is zero. Death is the exception. I myself felt deader. There was no way I'd ever question the use of the word 'deader' ever again. It was most certainly a word.