This is the second of three stories exploring immortality and the end of time. The Cosmology is 950 words and originally appeared in the November, 2007 issue of AnotheRealm. The publication awarded this story, my 16th published, their 2007 D.G.K. Goldberg Award for best horror story. Is this a horror story? You be the judge.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And God said, Let there be light; and there was light.
On the time scale of the universe, it took almost no time at all for mankind to be born. His star was only second generation, and he emerged while his star was still young and healthy. He formed civilizations, and built temples and cathedrals to worship his God. Time passed, and humanity built machines to assist with tasks physical, and later, tasks intellectual. He learned to unleash the primal forces, and used those forces against himself. But he learned from his mistakes. By learning, he lifted himself from his home and ventured into the solar system, but mankind was too short-lived to venture to the stars.
Mankind did achieve immortality, and as mankind’s unlimited time passed with no sense of urgency, he settled the stars, eventually achieving such an intellect that he outgrew his dependence on machines. Later, man transcended his need for a body, and for any planet on which to live.
He watched the Earth die, engulfed in the sun as red giant. He saw the sun shrink to a white dwarf, then cool to a cinder, cold and dead.
He watched the universe expand, exploring every distant corner as his mind grew to fill the whole of the universe. In his introspection, he found creatures strange and wonderful — warlike cultures conquering their galaxy by force, and peaceful societies by persuasion. All of them now dead and gone. And their stars also cold and dead. In all of his explorations and introspection, mankind never found another creature to have conquered mortality and transcend the need for all things physical.
The galaxies, too, were gone–long since burned out and cold. Where once there was light, now was darkness. Mankind finally had the answer to his eternal question: are we alone? In the distant past, when his star was still young and the question first asked, the answer was a resounding no, but all things do come to an end–civilizations, planets, stars, galaxies, and indeed, the universe itself. Now, he truly had his answer. He was completely and utterly alone in the universe. He was all that remained aside from the infinite void, for darkness was all that surrounded him. The Great I Am.
For billions of years, he believed the universe would expand forever, with matter disintegrating though proton decay and black holes evaporating via Hawking radiation, but the expansion of the universe did slow, came to a halt, and then fell back upon itself. The background radiation left over from the Big Bang followed suit. It cooled from the three degrees he remembered from mankind’s physical days. It cooled through two degrees, then one, and momentarily paused at zero as the universe passed through the inflection point and transitioned from expansion to contraction. The universe grew warmer, far warmer than mankind ever remembered.
As the universe contracted, humanity felt his space become cramped. All his days had been spent in an expanding universe, with each day bringing a greater expanse of the mind. He did not like having those expanses compressed with the universe. And, oh, how warm it had become. But he learned to consume the energy to make himself stronger. After two, perhaps three billion years (if time still meant anything) an idea came to humanity, an idea that shocked him. It shocked him because the idea was a question to which he had no answer. And humanity was, for the first time in several billion years, very afraid.
That question, the only idea to terrify humanity in all of that time, was this: What becomes of an immortal being at the end of time? It was the only question to remain unanswered, and it was much on his mind.
Mankind searched the far corners of the universe by searching his mind. Nobody. Nothing. Darkness. Void. How he longed for the days of discovery when populations filled the planets, and the universe was a crowded place. Now, nothing. And stronger still he became.
Time passed, and mankind let it pass, wallowing in his lonesome misery. How he longed for companionship. Immortality was a mistake. Oh, to have another chance to live as an individual inside a tiny body, mortal and ignorant, and to know the universe as constant, not as an evolving maelstrom of nothingness.
Brooding and depressed, time still passed, and when space was again very hot, he watched matter come together and fall into the vortices mankind once called black holes. When all of the matter was compressed, no energy could resist, and the collapse of the universe accelerated.
Mankind had an idea, a wonderful idea that had taken almost all of history to conceive, but it was an idea worth the wait. Could this universe truly be anthropic?
As the last remnants of the universe were pulled into the primal black hole of all matter, and all that was made was destroyed, humanity was also pulled inside. Once inside, he realized how to use the power he accumulated since the inflection. When all matter and all energy merged with humanity, he pressed outward with every bit of his being, outward against the singularity. He pressed and pressed, until the singularity finally gave way, bursting forth into a new existence.
In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And God said, Let there be light; and there was light.