Look at the sky. We are not alone.
--A. P. J. Abdul Kalam
More than once, living beings have mistaken Him for God. He was once the only mind in the ever expanding universe. He doesn’t know for sure, but there’s a large chance He was the first as well.
He starts at what is now known as a child, innocent and curious and naïve. He plays with the building blocks of matter—helium, hydrogen, oxygen, all His first toys. He travels, exploring the edges of the universe. He reaches the end by travelling as fast as it expands, and lays His being flat against the surface, feeling the thrum of creation.
He memorizes the galaxies, every planet and every gas cloud. He has no knowledge of time, so why should He be bored? He loses Himself in this vibrant but dead world, with no idea of love.
After five billion years, the first living planet is made, and it’s His downfall.
He watches them with every particle of His being, excitement-wonder-hope vibrating through His consciousness. He observes them evolve from single celled mindless things to these strange, cruel beings who breathe and talk and love, their flesh mingling with their planets.
They know where they have come from, how their bodies transformed to make them what they are now. They know their flesh the best, memorize their imperfections and this is what amazes Him. Their flesh is a light version of their sky, and their veins stand out with the copper colour of their blood. They run their hooked hands over the skin of their mates; mothers trace the pathways of blood on her son's arm as they shake from fever. Children use their hands to grapple and play fight with each other, rolling down hills and jumping on their heels.
Flesh is amazing, and He wishes He could have it.
Then one night, He sees a lone male, towering over a body, that beautiful copper colour over his hands and face and chest.
And in less than a millisecond, everything changes.
Now there are mates being torn apart by something called enveji and hyte and He doesn’t know. He doesn’t understand, until He watches the collapse of a star three hundred light years away and sees how everything falls apart only to be resurrected and He wants that, too.
He watches two of them fall in love for the first time and He knows that if He could feel (which He does, He feels more than He knows) and He just want them to know that they don’t have to, that they don’t need to be angry and sad and hurt. He loves them.
He loves them like a man loves His children and how, how could He not have noticed, with all their yelling and screaming and caring and running, they’re just so—
and He spreads His particles in a thin blanket and covers them, trying to tell them that one thing He longs to hear back. They are not alone, and they are loved, and no matter what, they will be forgiven. He whispers that vast truth, along with all His knowledge, for He cares and He knows and He wants.
They are not ready, and it’s His fault.
Clawing-biting-screaming, they throw themselves at each other.
He watches in horror as they dismember their loved ones, their friends, their family. Their claws now dig into eyes and chop off limbs. They scream, their vocal chords shattering from misuse. It’s terrible and they fling their bodies into the crazed fight. A mother beheads her daughter; a child rips off his best friend’s arm. They fight and tear and howl until only one is left, and he tears his eyes out and screams.
He watches it all; with the knowledge He caused it. If He had a body, He thinks, He would be crying.
Some people, when they get hurt, turn away and try to live on. Some find ways to dull the pain. Some don’t get over it. Some of them cut it out of their lives.
That’s what He did.
His (Heart) burns.
(He promises never to love again.)
He wanders. Now that He knew love, He knows cruelty. He becomes it, engraves the word love in goethite and locks it in a black hole. He wanders—but wandering isn’t the right word. Now, He knows what He’s looking for. He finds every single planet with the potential to harvest life and He destroys them, atom by atom, ripping them apart mechanically until they regroup to create stardust and darkness.
He’s decided to stay alone, and to ruin Himself instead of watching every other living being in creation be slaughtered by either His own hand. He can’t, can’t go through that pain again, can’t embed His existence again, can’t watch others be happy while He suffers for all of time. He knows it’s terribly selfish, but He can’t. He’s not strong enough.
He thinks of His children in irregular rhythms, can go for a millennium without thinking of them and then can’t stop. He’s not sure which one hurts more.
For so, so long, He’s stood by a code, double checking every niche He came across. He knew that one day, there would be a planet He was too late for, or too early. He just hoped it never came, or when it did, He would be long gone.
(Ironje is something He picked up from the beautiful-first-last-and-only-ones, and He’s never forgotten it.)
So He wanders, and misses’ one tiny forming planet is a solar system, the third and the only, and doesn’t dare to come back. Maybe its hope, but He doesn’t hope.
When He finds out, He’s furious.
Such a tiny, stupid planet and such a tiny, stupid mistake, but He made it, and He doesn’t know how He’s going to survive this. Somewhere, deep inside Him, a tiny voice whispers that He doesn’t particularly want to, and He ignores it. He knows what He has to do. He remembers what He has done.
One downside among countless others of not having a body is that He forgets nothing.
So He storms over, matter coiling and pulsing and crackling with a dark rage that builds into a climax, pure energy bouncing in the confines of non-reality, and as He nears the planet third from the star they call sun He draws back and
can’t Help Himself
and sees evolution and cells and chains inside of them multiplying and clinging and forming into something more and life, life, life—
and He hurls the bolt as far away as He can from it. It shatters the tenth planet instead.
He hates Himself, and He settles down to watch.
They are weak-soft-gentle-slow-not able to survive like this and He is so confused. Why would evolution create something so flawed if they could not live?
He reaches out and puts in emotion, just a trickle of it, and lets it flow to a roar. Their minds overflow with it, with creation and imagination and love. They hold on to it until they almost burst and He watches. He curses Himself for his weakness, because He can’t undo them now. It’s been so long but He’s forgotten the concept of time and He closes His mind and sees a mangled torn body of a chelid—
So He doesn’t interfere. And in a blink they’ve created clothing and blink art blink and cooking blink and language and blink families. He thinks about His children and knows He cannot love them.
(But then, He can’t hate them. He has never felt love in return and no longer minds, but He does and He lies.)
He leaves and walks the universe. He throws Himself into the Work, His particles (molecules? atoms? some infinitely small speck?) finding the planets and beckoning Him closer. He tries to continue, to destroy yet another one when His entire being throws itself against His will, and He gives up. He no longer has the energy.
The same actions He has done for so long cannot be done. He flees, finds another planet that’s too cold and too barren to sustain life, and He tucks Himself in a ball to block out everything for just a moment. A second. A millisecond. He shrinks Himself down to the smallest figure He can form and even then He shakes (vibrates, one piece of himself against another.)
There’s a trick to turning His mind quiet and He grasps it like a buoy. He doesn’t forget, but He doesn’t have to think about it. He wraps Himself in a cocoon of static. He pushes the term life out of his mind and again wanders. He’s not lonely, because He was never meant to have emotions, but lonli is the closest word for it.
He wishes for company.
He wishes for forgiveness.
He wishes for happiness.
He wishes for innocence.
He wishes for an end.
If He’d let His memories come back, He’d wish for death.
And then, somehow, somewhere, He doesn’t.
When He returns, after tens of thousands of years, they have made civilizations and systems and wars and crime and justice and stories and art and the wheel, for existence's sake. They laugh and cry and believe, have entire books full of stories they think are true.
He hears the word religion for the first time. He’s on the western hemisphere, and this is something He’s never heard before, not even with His vast age. It’s fascinating, and there are so many ideas and viewpoints and thoughts of death.
What happens to them when they die? Do they go to heaven? Or hell, perhaps? How do they look like? Do they exist? Is there anything waiting for us?
What will happen when I die?
Before He makes the conscious decision to step away, He finds Himself next to an old woman (damn Him, damn Him and His moral curiosity to the furthest reaches of an exploding supernova) her back gravity-bent and skin star-browned.
When she stills, nothing happens.
He can feel her essence, her soul, fluttering against her vessel as young and bright as the day she was born. It pushes at Him and He lets it go, watches as it loosens into a million particles (like His, and His whole mind throbs with wonder and understanding and He knows—)
They float away and He follows each and every piece as they separate and reassemble in a thousand new ways and a million new lives and a billion new stars, all alive and wonderfully beautifully amazingly alive.
(Energy cannot be created or destroyed, just changed in its shape or form, and when what they call a man says this for the first time he feels something close to preid.)
He follows each soul on their way up, making sure that they are never alone, never truly alone, like He was. He lets planets combine and grow and evolve. He isn’t sure why, and He doesn’t want to know in any case.
They have many names for him now. One of them is the Reaper.
These times, when He wanders, He has a place to come back to. So He goes and returns and helps and watches, and one day, He’ll finally go back to that first planet, a billion years in the future.
Maybe he’ll find life.