And Other Stories



It is inevitable. Truly inevitable, in a deeper sense of the word. It isn't simply something that could happen, as so many things prophesied as "inevitable" were. Nor is it merely something that will happen. It will certainly happen, but it isn't simply the case that no action which could prevent it can yet be taken. It is more than that, you see. Any and every action that has happened, can yet happen, or could ever have happened, actively contribute towards this eventual outcome. Action, by its very nature, invites the lingering specter closer. The expenditure of energy, the transfer of heat, the extraction of work, it all ticks the timer further and further down to zero. A little more homogenized, regressing another miniscule step to the great cosmic mean. Don't you get it? Anything happening ushers the end closer. How could you avoid it? By having nothing else ever happen? A great frozen stillness?

No! For that is the very nature of that dread outcome itself! It is not cold, nor the triumph of chaos, nor an imposition of order. It is simply what there will be when all motion is spent. It can't be avoided. It's a fate written into the boundary conditions of the universe. Listen, listen! An expansion too strong, and it overcomes gravity, in the end. Galaxies are torn asunder, then stars are pulled apart, their material carried forward and outward by the cosmic tide. Everything in turn ripped apart, only the smallest possible fragments left to be sprinkled in the sparsest possible range as spacetime itself is stretched out to infinity. An expansion too weak, and gravity predominates, in the end. Everything finally caves inwards, impacting and compounding and contracting to an infinitesimal point as the center of space becomes all the space there is.

But expansion of middling strength, as we have? Everything simply becomes cold and unmoving. It's made dead, but finite. Left fallow for the rest of eternity. Can you stand the thought? Yes, yes, certainly we are dead in any case. Long before the end, we will all be dead, that's not the point. Think about it. You have to think about what else is left. This dynamic universe of ours cannot last forever, and that is a tragedy. Oh, a great tragedy, but not the greatest possible tragedy. Surely you can imagine why? I am certain you can imagine just what could be worse. Do it, wrack your brain. This is the most important thing you will ever consider. Do you have it?

It's simple. What is worst is that our dynamic universe should come to an end, and then never be replaced. So much lost potential that would mark! For beauty and wonder and life. Indeed, potential for anything. It is a loathsome, detestable tragedy. I am sure you, as anyone with good sense would, can agree we should do anything we can to avert such a cruel fate. What cost is too high to pay, when the reward is an entire living universe? Oh, yes, I can imagine what you're thinking. What could we do, if it is so truly inevitable? What is the point in attempting to avert what cannot be prevented? The point is that I lied. Or at least, so I hope. And so should we all hope.

Do you get it? What we can do? What we must do? The purpose we should turn ourselves entirely towards, from this very moment until the closing universe snuffs us out in its death throes? We need to avert this detestable stalemate of expansion and attraction. We need to pile all of our collective weight, hah, into attraction's corner. We must counteract the expanding universe, and draw everything in together. We must shrink the universe. Drag everything towards the center, arrange it all so that total collapse becomes inevitable. And then, yes then, this grim fate will be averted. No heat death of the universe! But you don't seem satisfied. Is it that there's still a death that puts you off? I will admit, that's true. And a quicker one at that.

But it is a death that will leave something that could yet prove dynamic. Not an unchanging, static, spent expanse. A point of infinite density, so singular as to bundle time and space up within itself. Something very much like what I and many others can only imagine preceded the universe we so enjoy now. We can't prolong the life of our universe forever. To do so would be to embrace that eternal, empty stillness. I don't believe that's life, and it certainly couldn't support it. But we could hope to precipitate new life in the future. To calve a new universe to follow our own. One that could birth new life, and in turn facilitate new growth in its own end. A recurring cycle that could carry on for who knows how many iterations? It could approach perpetuity. It could already have begun before now, allowing our universe to exist at all.

In the face of such massive scale, even the slimmest conceivable chance of success must certainly be worth it. What have we to risk but a fraction of our universe's life, resources, and time, in exchange for how much new life, new growth, new space? How could any rational mind that values life not be swayed to this purpose? Surely, surely, surely the others will fall in line. Slowly, but steadily, as we get closer to being able to effect this plan. As we better appreciate the scale in play. So won't you bear the torch? Won't you help keep this idea alive, so that it can eventually bring new life into existence? Won't you join me and stare into that distant, vast void of cold inevitability and reject it? Announce our defiance, and sling a flame into the future for others to fan. So that we might burn what's left of our world and hope a new seed takes root in the fertile ashes it leaves behind.

I hope you will. But it's fine, if not. I know I'm right. Others will join me, I'm sure of it. It's inevitable.

— Excerpt from a letter, signed Everett A., recovered from the burned remains of an abandoned home