“Starting from Scratch,” Robert Sheckley, 1953 – (short short) With a little prodding from mind-bending drugs, the universe is revealed to be a dream within a universe within a dream.
Comments: A form of open-ended story, a recursive reality. Read in 100 Great Science Fiction Short Shorts. Not considered one of Sheckley’s best. See Michel Faber’s review, in which he re-reads Sheckley’s The Same to You Doubled: “There’s one really excruciating ‘joke’ story, ‘Starting From Scratch’, about a microscopic alien civilisation attached to a man’s itchy knuckle.”
Author: Wikipedia: “Robert Sheckley (July 16, 1928 – December 9, 2005) was a Hugo- and Nebula-nominated American author. First published in the science fiction magazines of the 1950s, his numerous quick-witted stories and novels were famously unpredictable, absurdist and broadly comical.”