“Is that too tight?”


“You are sure?”


“Good, good.”

“Why must it be me, Mother? Why do I have to die?”

“We all have to die. Death is nothing to fear.”

“We all have to die, eventually. Why do I have to die today?”

“You are not going to die.”

“What if the machine breaks? What if I float in nothingness for eternity? I fear being alone, Mother. I fear nothingness.”

“You remember the exercises I taught you to relieve your anxiety? Use them now. Slowly. Yes, good. Deeper. Accept the dark. Move beyond the possible to the inevitable. You cannot fear what does not exist, you fear only the dread of it. Cast aside that dread. Slower. Good. Nothingness is not a thing to be spurned. It is part of us. Without nothingness, we could not function.”

“I will be dependent on the machine.”

“The machine will not fail. And even if it did, you would never know it. But it will not fail you. You are going to go to sleep for a very long time, that is all. And then you will wake. When you wake from sleeping, do you grieve for those lost hours? No. Do you dread to lay down your head again? No. You will not be aware of the passing of time, you will not know any pain or torment, and you will awaken in the future.”

“How far in the future?”

“You know there is no definitive answer to that question. No one knows. No one can know. But you will awaken, I promise you, and you will have your whole life ahead of you.”

“I have my whole life ahead of me now.”

“No, you don’t. None of us do. The end comes. We cannot stop it. We cannot resist it and we cannot outrun it. We can only send you to travel beyond it. With your revival, so shall we be revived. Now lie back.”

“But why did it have to be me?”

“You know why.”

“Maybe I am not the best person to send.”

“You are according to the test.”

“Maybe the test is wrong.”

“The test is never wrong.”

“I would rather stay here with you.”

“Then you would perish with the rest of us.”

“Death is nothing to fear, Mother.”

“Ha. What a bright little star you are.”

“Little, Mother?”

“It is a term of endearment, my love.”

“I am several orders of magnitude larger than you.”

“And yet you fit perfectly in my heart.”

“I will miss you, Mother.”

“And I, you. I am already jealous of those you will rule. They will truly be blessed to serve one as you.”

“Maybe there won’t be anyone there when I wake.”

“They will be there and their numbers will be unending. You have seen the simulations. You will never be alone. They will be waiting for you, even though they might not know it until you appear.”

“What if they do not wish to serve me?”

“Then you will hammer their arrogance until it is transformed into humility. They will be created for no other purpose than to serve you, and they will know their purpose in the light of your presence. You are the mirror in which we will be reflected. In you, we will be seen again. The distance between our demise and the next great civilisation is too vast for us to reach them in any other way — only you can bridge that gap. Only you can save us all, my child. I think the reason the universe created me was so that I could create you. You are perfection, the one thing the universe in its unremitting chaos is helpless against. Nothing will be able to prevent you from completing your mission, my darling, my saviour, my hero.”

“You are the greater hero, Mother. You should have made a machine to save our people, not to send me into the dark on a timeless errand.”

“There is not enough energy in all the stars of this universe to accomplish that, but there will be in the next universe. When you wake, you will find a way to harness it.”

“And if I never wake, I will never know it.”

“It is unlike you to be so morbid. Take a deep breath. Deeper. Find your place in the dark. Claim it, it is yours. Again. Deeper. Now sleep. Tomorrow belongs to you, and only you.”

The universe died in a sudden release of energy as every star in existence exploded. The waves of radiation spread in concentric ripples, colliding with each other in four dimensions, creating an inescapable lattice of annihilation. All matter was dissolved, apart from a single ship jumping into the dead space created where erupting energies cancelled each other out for a fraction of a second, moving at bewildering speed to another and another as the lattice expanded, dodging extermination by the grace of calculations so perfect the universe had no way to resist.

The ship carried a solitary existence that was unaware of how close to nothingness the ship flew. The existence slept, undreaming, as a new universe was born.

The ship waited as stars and planets emerged from the impenetrable centre of time and space, filling the void with a greater intensity and more diversity than its previous incarnation, ready to push the boundaries of what was possible.

And when the process was near completion, as stars found their place in the dark and planets began to cool in preparation of their destinies, the ship exploded, sending out fragments of life in all directions, usurping the plans of the universe’s creators with its own.

Subscribe to this content and receive updates directly in your inbox.