Thursday 26 July 2012

At the End of Time

Once upon a distant time, two gods looked down on a star.

The star was almost dead. It glowed dimly, its faint glimmer not touching the orbiting rocks which had once been worlds, but were now merely cold cinders, stripped of atmosphere and water. And all around, to the endless limits of infinity, there was nothing else. Not a single spark of light from all the untold billions which had once lit up the firmament.

It was the End of Time, the cold dark death of the Universe.

The two gods looked down at the star, and remembered the time that it had warmed the planets, which had teemed with life.

“If only we could,” they said to each other, “we might have turned back entropy, and then the gulfs of space might have shone again with a myriad stars, life might have emerged again from the clouds of interstellar dust and crawled forth from primeval slime. But that is beyond our powers, for we are only gods.”

And they remembered when the Universe was new, and bright, and the life that had swarmed everywhere.

“I can remember,” said one god, “the sun on my skin, and the wind blowing clouds across a blue sky. I can remember the hiss of rain on leaves, and the roar of waves breaking on a stony shore. I can remember the kisses of lovers and the pain of sorrow. And I remember the joy of melding with other minds, and setting myself free from imprisonment within my skull. But memories are all I have.”

And the other god said, “I remember coming to life in the gulfs of space, when the mighty machines of all the civilisations of the galaxies pooled their knowledge. I remember bathing in the storm of cosmic particles, exulting in the touch of hard X Rays and radio waves. I remember the glow of giant red suns and the pull of black holes, and how I exulted, for that was all mine to savour. But it’s all over, all gone, and everything has burnt out.

And the two gods remembered all that had gone before, and would have wept, but could not, because they were only gods, and they could not weep.

Then the first god said, sorrowing, “Perhaps if we could put our minds and powers together, we might still be able to find a way to turn back the course of entropy.” This seemed good to the other god, and they put their knowledge and powers together. And if time could still have been meaningfully measured in years, aeons passed, and the glow of the star became dimmer and weaker, until just a spark was left.

And then it came about that the two gods found out how to reverse entropy, and bring the universe to life again. And they rejoiced, thinking now that the Universe could live again.

“We can have all that back again,” the first god said, “the churning seas and the warm rain, the cool touch of a breeze, the sighs of a lover in one’s arms, the joy of laughter. All that I remember can be, again.

“And there will be waving flags,” the god continued, “and marching armies, and the smoke of burning cities, and the cries of the bereaved, because I remember those too. And that is in the nature of things that these should be, if races should prosper and flourish. At least that is what I have seen, and I can think of no other way.”

The second god said, then, “I remember the planets being torn apart for resources, the stars being stripped to provide energy for cosmic factories turning out machines for destroying even more planets and stars. I remember the dust of dead systems which had once been vibrant with life and energy, but had been sacrificed so that such as you and I might be.”

“Perhaps,” the first god said, “it will not be like that this time.”

“Perhaps,” the second god agreed. “But can we take the chance? Should we?”

They floated, looking down at the last glow that marked the dying star, each waiting for the other to decide.

With a final spark, the glow winked out.

Darkness came down on the Universe, and the gods were as the galaxies of yesteryear.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2012


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