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By J.S. Watts
This is a story about a birth and what comes after, but to get to the birth and its conclusion we have to start at the beginning, the very beginning, or at least the very beginning of things that are relevant to this story.
In the beginning things began, such is the nature of beginnings. It is not for me to speculate about how or why: light overcoming dark, the breaking of an egg, flesh pulled from clay, the speaking of a word – of many words, the ultimate bang. Beginnings come about for many reasons and in many ways. It is only humankind that insists on reducing infinity to one way, one cause and effect and then believes it is acceptable to uncreate any of their kind that does not accept their particular negation of possibilities.
So, we have a beginning and in this particular beginning many, many things have come into existence. There is time, space, matter, anti-matter and life and all of it, and I do mean all of it, is, in some definition of the term, conscious of being. Existence is a humming, throbbing self-aware focus of energy, or perhaps energy is just another thing that exists. Perhaps this isn’t a beginning at all, because the very fact of there being a beginning implies a something before the beginning and a something after it, but here there is no before, no after, just now, creation without end, etcetera.
So it goes without saying, doesn’t it, that if there is no end, everything is going to be around for a very long time? Well, for ever really and initially that was just fine. In the first flush of being everything was shiny and new and plain Jim Dandy, thank you very much and for most of existence that carried on being the case. The stars kept on glittering with fresh diamond brilliance, the grass was enthusiastically green and time was happy just passing, but for humankind (it just had to be humankind, didn’t it?) things were not working out so well.
When humanity felt as shiny and new as the rest of existence, all was fine. In fact, everything in the garden was lovely. Men and women and all the genders in between worked side by side by side, cultivating and developing the world around them, living for the joy of the moment, each moment, every moment, all the moments – one after another after another after another and there were an awful lot of them, let me tell you. Humanity’s gift, or maybe its curse, or maybe both, is that it develops, never standing still, and so humankind evolved and got around to thinking: why spend each and every day working when there is always a day after tomorrow when we can do the self same work and no harm done? Perhaps a day off from time to time wouldn’t be such a bad thing?
First off they took a break one day in seven, then two days, then the weekend started on Friday and went on until Monday and became longer than the working week and then it was party, party, party; day in, night out. Mankind discovered the pleasure principle and developed new and fun ways of passing the time. His, or her, own body became an endless source of pleasure for him and he sat around for ever just playing with, well himself really, and then with a friend and then with some more friends: the concept of partying was continuing to evolve. The question is, did it make him happy? You bet your sweet, interestingly exciting, arse it did – for a while at least, but as someone would eventually write, casual whoring becomes dull and boring after a while, let alone an infinite period of time. Humanity collapsed into the doldrums of despair and degradation and endless repeats of morning television.
On the whole, the rest of existence wasn’t much concerned with what humanity did or did not get up to. What did anti-matter care if some aimless combinations of matter sat around all day doing fuck all? Time, however, was concerned: partially because she was a caring, in a strictly non-human sort of way, concept and partially because she was feeling guilty. She had come to the conclusion that if she hadn’t existed, eternity might not have been such a long haul for humanity. It was her constant passing by that engendered such an overwhelming sense of ennui in sentient life. For sure, plant life hadn’t started to suffer from debilitating boredom and a lack of purpose, but then its consciousness was limited and it had never learned to tell the time.
Time tried raising her concerns with the other elementals of existence, but no one else felt there was a problem. Humanity had life, had matter (and some anti-matter too, but just hadn’t realised it yet), had self realization: what more did it want, for existence sake? Hey, it could even tell the time, which was one up on grass. Some things just didn’t know when they had it good.
Nevertheless, time worried and fretted and passed, but humankind didn’t get any better. If anything, it got worse and some of the elements of existence came round to wondering if mankind was a bit of a failed experiment that needed terminating. It’s amazing how easy it is to erase things with floods, thunder bolts and sudden excessive sodium chloride crystallization. Time, however, did not feel that total annihilation was the solution. Even if not feeling anything ultimately helped humanity to feel better, or, to be more accurate, prevented it from feeling any worse, it wouldn’t ease her increasing sense of guilt.
She worried at the problem for eons and finally came up with a solution that worked for her: a sequence which would instil a sense of purpose into humanity and refresh its sense of urgency, whilst simultaneously taking into account the desire of the rest of existence to consign unproductive and whingeing mankind into the abyss of oblivion. She could engineer much of the solution herself, but needed some help from matter. He, however, was not interested. Fortunately time had plenty of herself to think things through. She enticed matter into a darkened corner of the multiverse, got him drunk on the possibilities of creation and nine hundred millennia later presented him with the fruit of their joint endeavours.
Time had given birth, not just to her and matter’s offspring, but also to the very concept of birth itself. From here on in, provided mankind paired up in a chromasomically meaningful way and used a specific orifice in his party games, he and she would find they had been gifted the power of creation in their own physical material. Humans would be able to create more humans and these little undeveloped humans would, in time, repay the effort of tending and nurturing them by growing and becoming creators themselves.
Time, however, was a canny entity and recognised that, given the nature of humans as so far evidenced, gifting them unlimited powers of creation across all eternity would only create further problems along the time continuum, both for them and existence as a whole. Still, as she cradled the tiny dark bundle that was infant Death, she couldn’t help but feel that she had addressed that particular issue quite elegantly and had done herself and the whole of existence one big favour.
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