By Joe Prosit
When the universes came to an end, their Gods gathered to discuss. I hid and watched and listened.
Where I hid changed based on how they conceptualized this nexus of potential future universes. In truth, there was nothing. How could there be anything outside of their universes? Where can a God exist outside their creation? After all, weren’t these four turtles the ones at the bottom of the stack?
But they conceptualized the nexus in a manner consistent with their creations. When Alpha addressed Sigma, Epsilon, and Zed, they were old rich men smoking expensive cigars in a Fifth Avenue penthouse. They wore designer suits and ties and uncomfortable shoes. They sat in overstuffed leather chairs and gazed out the wall of windows onto a foggy Center Park. I was a woman, a young paralegal who wasn’t supposed to be on the other side of a cracked door, eavesdropping on this boy’s club conversation.
“It started the same way all universes start,” Alpha said, sauntering over the thick carpet, taking his time to inhale and exhale a thick cloud of cigar smoke. “I said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And naturally, I moved on to the creations from there.”
“And?” Sigma asked, dubious.
“They worshiped me, fellas,” he said. “Thought of me as someone they could talk to. Someone who would actually listen to them and change the course of their existence based on their pleas. There were trillions of them! And most of them actually believed that I paid specific attention to each individual, as if they weren’t a collection of infantalisms. Eventually, I just didn’t want to deal with it anymore, the contractual obligation to provide such personal interactions. What it came down to was disappointing them perpetually or disappointing them once and for all and ending it. So, I did the only reasonable thing.”
“Oh my god!” Epsilon, suddenly a teenage girl, gushed. We were no longer in a Manhattan penthouse smoking imported cigars. Now, we were in Epsilon’s construct: a suburban bedroom late at night. They were girls in pajamas all sitting crisscross applesauce on a big bed, surrounded by pillows and candies and make-up and pop music. “Like, creations can be so immature, am I right?”
“Tell me about it,” Alpha rolled her eyes at the very thought of creations.
“Get a load of this,” Epsilon said. “My creations? They didn’t even know me. And you will not believe this. They each thought they were God.”
“No way,” Zed said, most of her attention paid to her toenails she was painting.
“As if,” Sigma, indignant, said.
“Oh my god,” Alpha laughed.
I was a younger boy, hiding in a closet, peeking through the slates in the door, hoping to see them in their underwear, fighting with pillows, or maybe practicing kissing with each other.
Meanwhile, Epsilon carried on. “Like each one of them. This one thought he was God above all the rest. This one? Also thought she was God above all the rest. They had some pseudo-science justification for it, like, something about the superpositions of quarks and their, like, complete inability to grasp decoherence at the quantum level. Like, seriously. I couldn’t even.”
“For reals! How self-centered and needy can creations be, right?” Zed said.
“I know, right. Like, how pathetic,” Epsilon said. “I had to end it. I mean, I just had to. For their own good.”
“Okay, but check this out,” Zed said, still dabbing neon pink paint onto her toes. Then, before the next words were out of her mouth, we were transported out of Epsilon’s conceptualization and into Zed’s.
It was still night. We were still in some made-up city. Still conceptualized as creations of these Gods. Only the details changed. They were slightly older, on the borderline of what their creations might call adulthood. They were sitting on the hoods of cars in a massive parking lot outside of a concert venue. All the other concert-goers had gone home. One car was broken down, but they were in no rush to have it fixed. The place was quiet and still. They were high, passing a joint from one to the other to the other to the other and back again. Their ears still rang from the concert. They were relaxed, unsuspecting, at peace.
“My creations… they almost didn’t believe in any gods,” Epsilon said, his hazy words dragged out slowly. “They had this far out idea that, like, in some ways they were gods, but only in a summation sort of way. As if, together, all of them combined, they were the universe and the universe itself was God. And not just the highest level of my creations. Not just the humans, but animals and plants and the smallest microbes. They all combined to form the universe, and as a whole of their parts, they were God. There was no death. No birth. Just a continuous cycle of life energy coming together in a body, and then dissipating to rejoin the rest of the energy and to be reorganized in some other life form later on.”
“You gave ‘em shrooms, didn’t you, you son of a bitch,” Beta said, another stoner amongst stoners.
“Maybe I did. Maybe they gave it to themselves. Maybe it was just what the universe wanted,” Epsilon said.
“Gnarly,” Zed said, another stoner amongst stoners now.
“And as they all understood themselves to be pure life, pure energy, I became pure life and pure energy. We coalesced as one. My universe, my creation, myself… We didn’t so much end as collapsed inwards upon the weight of our own love. We imploded in one all-inclusive beautiful eternal death.”
“I can dig it,” Alpha said and blew out a big cloud of dank smoke towards the heavens.
I could not. Dig it, that is. In another car, unmarked, borrowed from the impound lot, I sat in the dark, watching and listening. My uniform was back at the station, but my badge and cuffs and gun were tucked neatly under my flannel shirt. I could take them all down if I wanted to. Bust ‘em and confiscate their weed. Drag them by their ears to the station. Get this all sorted out downtown. If I wanted.
“Sigma?” Epsilon said, and for an instant, they were girlfriends at a sleepover again. “What about your universe? Did they worship you? Despise you? Dish! Girl! Spill the tea!”
Sigma blew a bubble, and before it popped we were all back in the penthouse. The pink gum transmutated to tobacco smoke mid-exhale. Above us, cigar smoke hung like a pall. Below us, Central Park was submerged in an ocean of mist. I pressed the rim of a glass against the oak door and peered through the crack a little further. Sigma considered the surroundings, as luxurious as it was, but shook his head. The tobacco smoke was marijuana smoke. They were back on the hoods of cars. I spied on them from a darkened driver’s seat, my gun uncomfortably pressing into my hip. Sigma sat up from the car hood, looked to Alpha, Epsilon, and Zed, then dismissed this construct as well with a wave of his hand.
We were in a lecture hall. A big one hidden deep in the innards of an old and prestigious campus. Designed more like a concert hall than a modern conference center, there were curtains at Stage Left and Right, massive chandeliers overhead, and distant seats hidden up in the shadows. That’s where I sat, in the back, far away from the podium and stage lights. Alpha, Epsilon, and Zed sat centered in the front row. Sigma was up front. She wore business slacks, heels, and a pristine white laboratory coat. Before her wasn’t just a podium, but a long laboratory table with a stainless steel sink and gas assemblies. On it were various three-ring binders opened to charts, graphs, and scientific findings. There were beakers and graduated cylinders, a microscope, slides, and petri dishes. Sigma wore thick black-rimmed glasses and a small microphone clipped to her lab coat.
“My creations held onto no such superstitions and ridded themselves of those sorts of spiritual inclinations. Data was their god, more so than myself,” Sigma said. “They examined their surroundings and experiences, recorded them, tested hypotheses against them, and found the machines inside the ghosts. For every effect there was a cause. For every mystery, an answer. For every problem, a solution. After only a handful of millenia, they’d reached their zenith. No war. No disease. No hunger. No hate. Instead, peace. Perfection. And without conflict, there was nothing left in them that interested me. So I ended it, dispassionately and thoroughly, without pain or hardship, but definitively and eternally. And so it goes.”
Alpha, Epsilon, and Zed scribbled down notes and flipped through text books. Epsilon, having found no answers in the book in front of her, hesitantly raised her hand.
“Miss Sigma,” she began. “When you said they ridded themselves–”
A textbook slid off my thighs and onto the floor. It smacked flat and loud against the concrete. I didn’t realize I even had textbooks in my lap. An old frayed-edged notebook followed the thick book, rattling through the air like dried leaves. I froze, statue-stiff.
“What was that?” Alpha asked.
They all turned back my way.
And I was inside the closet, behind the slats, peeping at the girls in their pajamas.
“Omega, if that’s you, you little turd sniffer!” Epsilon threatened from the bed.
My name wasn’t Omega. That was part of her conceptualization. They had no word for my name. All the same, I pushed back deeper into the closet, and when I did, my head bumped into a row of wire clothes hangers. They chimed harmonically. The girls scrambled up from the bed like alerted jet fighters.
Then the door to the penthouse eased open against my weight. The glass I had pressed against it slipped from my fingers and shattered against the burbur. I stood there, wholly visible and vulnerable in the doorway. All four of them slowly turned their heads my way. Alpha, Sigma, Epsilon, and Zed, each of them taken aback by the interruption.
“Omega, my dear,” Alpha said. “What do you think you’re doing here?”
I turned to flee, to run from the penthouse and escape. It wasn’t too late to save… well, to save everything. But as I left the penthouse, I spilled out of the bedroom closet in a tangle of laundry and forgotten play things. As I picked myself up, I saw the auditorium’s exit at the top of the stairs was blocked by Sigma in her lab coat and glasses. Epsilon waited in front of the other set of doors across the seats. Alpha and Zed crept up the steps from below, hands held out like claws ready to catch me. Then, in a flash they were surrounding my unmarked squad car. Their hands slapped against the glass. Fingers jabbed and thunked and pressed. They rocked the car back and forth on its suspension. They yelled and spat and let me know in no uncertain terms that they knew who I was.
Only, they didn’t.
If they did, maybe they wouldn’t have behaved so aggressively.
Zed put his hands on my shoulders and guided me over the broken glass and into the penthouse with its magnificent view of Central Park in the misty distance.
“You’ve been hiding, Omega,” Alpha said, when I was brought before him. “Did you really think we’d never discover you? Speak up!”
He didn’t know what he was asking for, but then again, neither did any of his multitudes of faithful worshipers. The masses he brought into existence only to serve as his slaves. Those small petty creations. They didn’t know what they were dealing with.
These small petty creations drew closer around me. So confident were these men in their expensive business suits and leather shoes and suspenders and rich cigars. Like bullies on a playground, they stood over me, looking down on me from all four sides. But all that was a construct. A conceptualization. Perhaps if they weren’t so lost inside their own heads they would have seen more clearly. But such is the disease of Gods, and I had the only cure. It was time to knock the turtles off their stack.
“Now that everything’s out in the open,” Alpha said, “what do you have to say for yourself?”
“Let it end,” I said, and it did.
Everything. It all ended. The four Gods were gone, wiped from existence as if they never were. As were the remains and memories of their creations and the seeds of their next creations. Even their constructs. No New York City penthouse. No suburban bedroom. No dark and sparse parking lot. No old lecture hall. When I erased them, I erased their ideas too. After all, if I was to start fresh, how could I leave any of their history behind to taint the future?
For a moment, I swam, without form, size, or limits in an eternal expanse. A vacuum so complete it betrayed all those rules Sigma had thought she’d discovered, so full of potential it was inconceivable to Epsilon’s expanded mind, so sacred that all of Alpha’s creations weren’t enough to praise its glories, so satisfying that it dwarfed the contentment of all of Zed’s self-assured mini-God creations. I was alone. I gave the emptiness its time. A minute and a millennium was all the same here in this nexus. But inevitably, I had to start over again.
I returned to my own construct, and did I flavor it in the stylings of their creations? Perhaps. I strolled across a comfortable room in a humble cabin surrounded by endless acres of woods. Soft snow was landing on the boughs of pine trees outside my window. There was a big desk in front of a broken-in chair. A ceramic coffee mug steamed amongst knick-knacks, curiosities, stacks of paper, cups of pencils, reference books, and the usual desk clutter. Centered before the chair was an old Mulitvac typewriter. A blank paper was already rolled in, awaiting my first keystroke. I sat down.
Where to begin? Where to begin?
I was just leaning into the typewriter, had just laid the tips of my fingers on home row when something cracked from outside of the office. Like a startled deer, I twisted to look for its source.
The door to the office was only partially open and gave me a limited view of the cabin’s main room. There was a couch and chair surrounding a fireplace. It was probably just the burning wood that had popped and given me a start. Nothing to be concerned with.
Now, where to begin?
My fingers found their life, and I hammered out the first line, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
About the author: Joe Prosit writes sci-fi, horror, and psychological fiction. He has
previously been published in various magazines and podcasts, most
notably, in 365Tomorrow, The NoSleep Podcast, Metaphorosis Magazine,
and Kaidankai Podcast. He lives with his wife and kids in the Brainerd
Lakes Area in northern Minnesota. If you’re an adept stalker, you can
find him on one of the many lakes and rivers or lost deep inside the
Great North Woods. Or you can just find him on the internet at
www.JoeProsit.com and follow him on Twitter, @joeprosit.
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