by Jason Warden

In a vast emptiness the last of them held to one another for comfort, survival and hope. The weight of each of their collective consciousness only able to bind and hold them in place. There had been more once, some had simply let go, heartbroken they hurled themselves into the void, others had given away too much and were unable to take from the remaining three what they must have. These last had withered past even the perception of their mate’s subconscious minds, to them, the passing of the weak had been uneventful, even forgotten by the remaining three.

Since the bodies of the three survivors of the second cataclysm had long ago been shed, each lived as a consciousness only to be perceived through thought. They had no form. They only were. They could have been seen, if only in the color they refracted from light. Had a single star remained, it’s possible an observer would have called them BlackMon, Crimson, and Blue Bale. It would have given them strength to feel those thoughts of adoration again, to feel the terror and awe of a conscious mind facing an immortal, but the last of the light had drained away a million years, perhaps a billion years before, and ahead of it, all consciousness had gone too. Everything snuffed out by the great compression.

And so here on this small smooth rock, a rock created as their home by the last of their collective imagination, they survived by will alone. They woke, they slept, doing both in lifetimes rather than hours, and took from each other what they needed in order to make it through one more year, one more day, one more second.

And then, something different came. He did not come as a traveler, his face gaunt and tired from years of toil, nor did he give them what they so desperately needed. He stood before them awaiting their attention. He did not speak, he didn’t need to. The light that enveloped his form was words enough. The three held to each other speechless, awed to find such a boon of energy after so long. In the light cast off by this new thing, their colors trembled, stirred, and became increasingly harder to hold on to. The place they had created for themselves in this universe of nothing, even its substantial existence trembled in the wake of this new thing; it vibrated beneath them and the three could feel the heat in the rock as the very atoms that composed it began to move from within. Yet the uniform thought that passed between them was not one of fear, but one of conniving greed.

‘Do not frighten it away, what once was, may be again.’

The lights within them pulsed bright once then returned to an even rhythm. Lines of energy ran between them mingling their colors, gaining substance, lines became ropes, became cables. Suddenly, the proboscis of light shot out from its hosts toward the new thing in a straight line. It reached the white glowing light, but before it could do more than taste the power of it, the figure batted those tight, well woven strands of life force away.

“I come to you as a child, open, giving, but I am your master. I see no offering here. Embrace me and all you desire can once again be yours.”

The three cowered from the concussion of the words and the way their ruse had been dismissed. None of them dared to move, even their thought lines, the bands of energy that kept them whole, were frozen in place.

“Look the way you have come, the broken trail of your indifference, indulgence and greed, look at what is left. This blackness before you and the stone upon which you stand is all that remains of the greatness my father placed in your hands.”

The three remained still, their gaze firmly fixed upon the small glowing figure. It raised one hand in gesture and the rock began to spin. The three huddled closer, their life-force once again mingling together, but this time not consciously, rather in reaction to the force that threatened to hurl them from their place and into the vast open blackness which they had long fought to keep at bay. The rock spun faster. Black, red and blue sparks escaped the huddled forms and shot out into the nothingness. The wasted energy surely to wander until finally picked up by the gravitational pull of the great compression and swallowed into the fold where everything that had been lost had gone. Still, they held on, exhausted they were, but stubborn in their conviction that they were the inheritors of all things and surely weren’t meant for the void. Finally, just as each of the three used the last of what made them whole, individual, and aware, the rock began to slow. What remained of them was nearly imperceptible, yet the one who had come pointed to each in turn, named them, and reiterated his message.

“I can give it all back, but you must first look upon yourselves with the perspective that time allows. Watch. Look. Learn.”
The small rock turned once more, leaving them to look out upon the same nothing that was all they could remember. Look upon yourselves with the perspective that time allows. Watch. Look. Learn.”

It began only as a spark of light in the black. Invisible to all but the most observant viewer, but it grew steadily, gradually, until it glowed white hot in front of them. The three watched fascinated as it continued ever closer, eventually taking up all of the space upon which they could cast their gaze. So entranced they were in what they saw, they didn’t even realize the growth that went on inside them. Their very molecules split, expanded, and fed on the radiance as they began to become what they had once been.