It Fades. It All Fades

This Week’s Prompt:36. Disintegration of all matter to electrons and finally empty space assured, just as devolution of energy to radiant heat is known. Case of acceleration—man passes into space.

This Week’s Research:The Gate To Nothing

A rock floats in a dark jetsam of nothingness. In the distance a dim, dying red light lands on the small rock. In prior ages, describing stone as rotted would perhaps be inappropriate. But by now, the general gradual decay and disintegration of the world has left us with few words for the crumbling state of existence then rotting. Holes of un-reality work their way through the foundations as I watch the solid stones laid long ago turn into ash and dust.

Such is the state of the world.

Randolph and I have grown up in the world this way. It was a bigger rock, and when I was little there were more stars. Stars that were all colors, stars far away and near. This last one was the one we ended up on, one of three scientific bets. We had a chance to fix things, and there were enough people back then for bets without certainty. Now there’s just the two of us, on this rock. We saw the last, glorious light of the distant blue star ages ago as it siphoned away into the void.

Such is the state of the world.

The state where our little garden, the New Eden of a New Jerusalem, has died. Died within months, actually. Ranolph was disappointed, he was hoping to see the pure red that happened when a dying stars light played on the blossoms of a rose. I expected them to die. But then, I expected him to die. That part isn’t true yet, not all the way. His limbs are only now starting to decay, the skin flaying as radiation takes its toll. But he’ll die.

There’s no way to reverse, yet. It’s the state of the world that’s causing it. Something got broken back when there were hundreds of stars, when as a little girl I could wake up and count them in the sky, and needed more than fingers and toes. Back before that even. I grew up on a world that wasn’t, in the beginning, ours. Our world was a heap of burning refuse by then, long forgotten at my birth. Maybe that’s what broke the whole of existence.

“There’s really no need for all this.” Randolph mutters, as I strap on his servo arm. “Arm’s still gonna catch it and my hand feels fine.”

“Feels fine, sure. But there’s more left of the bushes then your fingers, and I need a functioning assistant.” I say, frowning. He wasn’t wrong though. The energy released by the slow decay of his skin would wear it out too. Calling it a disease might be wrong, but decay and disrepair spread with no other good analog.

“You still think it will work then.” Randolph said, following me down into the basement.

“It can’t make things worse, can it?” I said, flicking the light switches on. Three buzzed on out of the twenty or so, barely lighting the room. They’d been going out one after another for weeks now. Some had broken down cords, others had shattered glasses. A lot were just that much more dust in the wind.


“It could make it faster. That’d be a bit worse, I think. Give us less time to enjoy things, wouldn’t it?” Randolph said, walking over to the console and flicking it on. The multiple redundancies kept it running well enough to appear normal. We only replaced a few buttons a week, most with the somewhat more intact duplicates. We’d get another two months out of it before it collapsed into dust, dust into component atoms, and finally atoms into particles, which would vibrate into the cosmic soup and void.

But for now, the console clicked and beeped. The great fans began whirling above us, grinding to life. They served the simple, if fundamentally necessary, purpose of clearing out all the rot and decay from the larger more elaborate machinery. The glass tubes took longer to decay, having been designed as self repairing on the atomic level. Eventually, a few particles too many would fall away, and that would be the end of that.

Then the actual mechanics began to buzz with light. Elaborate webs of tubes began to glow with flashes of energy, collisions of captured particles, thousands of careful combinations of the very foundations of reality.

“In all honesty, I wonder if this is causing things somehow.” Randolph said, as I examined the digital display. Paper couldn’t be wasted out here, there wasn’t enough stuff to keep permanent records. Our minds would last the longest, we hoped, so we memorized all the negative results.

“Yeah, maybe. But the alternative is that we just let it happen. And to hell with that. I want to see the stars again.”

“You think this is it then? That there’s really nothing else out there but us?”

“We haven’t heard anything from anywhere else.”

“Maybe their quiet?” he said, leaning on the wall. When I turn to look at him, I can’t really argue with him. Randolph’s back has been hollowed out some, like a burnt or collapsing tube. The flashes of decay are like sparks off a burning log.

“Maybe.” I said, looking up at the roof. Another hole has rotted in the supposedly perfectly stable crystalline. Dug by invisible termites and worms. “But we’d see them, wouldn’t we? So far away, you’d think they’d want to see us too.”


The whirling is gaining speed, the flashes are on the last few combinations.

“When things are falling apart,” Randolph continues, looking at the rapidly rusting hand of his, slowly turning green and red. The copper wires were becoming almost as thin as spider webs. I couldn’t keep looking at him. “When things fall apart, when the center cannot hold…sometimes things wind down and that is that. I don’t know. It feels far away.”

He’s getting far away, fading fast. I’d offer to replace more pieces, to rebuild his back and his arm, but we’re already short on matter. I have another hour. I have another hour of hoping the random blasts of particles and smaller things, things I can’t conceive, will create something again. Will reverse the trend.

We figure, we figured I suppose, with the rest gone on to that side of the sea that no one ever comes back from, we figured that if something as spontaneous as the Apollo missions could cause the world to collapse then something as small could set it all right again. Some small cancellation of the equation, a slight change in the balance would do the reverse.

And yet, for decades, centuries, who knew? Time didn’t work right without points of reference. For however long, nothing happened. Nothing changed. But we had time. We had generations to figure it out. My parents and their parents and their parents all saw the attempts to undo whatever harm our ancestors had brought into existence unwittingly. Theories at the exact cause were thrown and forgotten. Aether made a comeback as a possible source of the failure. But nothing.

Nothing. And now, we couldn’t hold much more than a few particles.

And I watched as nothing continued to happen on the screen. I felt slight pulses of heat as Randolph faded to nothing behind me. He wasn’t gone yet, as long as the dim heat continued. He wasn’t gone yet. He wasn’t gone yet.

“I wonder if we could adjust the speed by repairing the feed.” I said, keeping my eyes towards the machinery. You can’t look at someone leaving. It’s rude to stare. And what do we have left, here at the end of the world, if we don’t have are decency.

“Not much broken.”

“Maybe breaking it would help?” I say, ignoring the faintness of his voice. “Feed more particles, increase the odds of a reversal.”

Of course, really, I wonder if were looking through an infinite desert for one needle, one gleaming diamond in a great rubbish heap. It might come, it might come yet.

“Doubt it. You ever wonder if something comes next?”

“You remember butterflies?” I say, ignoring the question. “I wonder if they’ll be back first. Or if life’s too complex to come back like that, so soon.”

The heat was fading now. I could step closer, I could try and persist in pretending a little longer. Randolph certainly wasn’t moving any time soon. But I could. But I couldn’t. There was a weight. A weight that seemed to root my feet and eyes. It had been growing and growing and growing, and now it transfixed me to my spot waiting for what I knew was coming. I waited.

And I felt the heat stop.

Not suddenly. For a moment, it stayed as a memory. A residual touch, a distant feeling that worked its way through my skin.

And then there was a flash on the tube. And I watched as the minus, a minute late, became a small illuminated cross. And felt the dust began to build itself back together. And alone on that island in the deepest darkest of seas, I wept while the world was reborn.


I had trouble with making any horror in this. I settled on abandoning horror entirely, and writing something of a tragedy. Or maybe just something contemplative. I don’t know, honestly, what to call this thing I’ve made of bones and sinew. It’s strange and familiar, but painful to see. I suppose there’s something simple dour about what I’ve made. A feeling that I’ve had, knowing something dreadful was coming. But we’ll see.

Next week, a new topic. Something more…cheery. Something more innocent. Almost more…childish. Come and see!

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To the Beginning of It All

This Weeks Prompt: 34. Moving away from earth more swiftly than light—past gradually unfolded—horrible revelation.

The Research: The Start of It All

12.At the center of it all, at the dawn of it all, a fire burns. A single many colored point of light that sears itself into the minds and eyes of the three who behold it: philosopher, priest, and poet alike. It lingers there, igniting new candles beyond the glass veiwing station.


1.It was a voyage unlike any other, crossing not just the encircled worlds of space but trespassing deep into Time’s domain. No longer would Chronos be some unconquerable titan or unpassable gateway. Rather now he would, like his mother Gaia and father Ouranos , be rendered a domain of humanity’s stolen thunderbolt.

11.As they flew back, the three candles saw worlds come into existences from the coalescing smoke whirling out of that first primordial flame. They saw as strange lights flickered brilliantly out of the darkness, pale in the presence of their eyes now burning inside out with a blaze. They could feel, as the ship pulled itself lurching back in time, a sensation spreading out of their eyes.

2.The passengers on this most auspicious voyage were carefully chosen. Not just scientists went aboard, although they were many. No, for this most deep dive into the origin of it all, all had a say. Thousands went aboard the great ark, to be conveyed homeward and see the on edge of all that was. Priests came to see God’s face. Poets came to hear the song that came from the stars. Farmers came to see that origin of life, that thing which gave them work and began the greatest of all gardens. Craftsmen came to see themselves reflected in the unfurling of all.


10.As they flew back farther still, the fire spread within them. Most of them thought that their inside, their memories and their intuitions, their instincts and emotions would burn last. That the flame would strip first inhibitions and rules, that the inner id was an inflammable substance. They were grievously wrong. The fire was kin to those deep things, and caught them first. Flickering it stripped things bare. All those deep things sank into it as if it were a great vat of quicksand or a pit to the depths of the sea. And so it was as the planets cooled and the first stars died.

3.It was strange passing past earth and seeing the rise and fall of progressively smaller empires from miles away. Ripples seemed to cascade in waves over the world, astonishing everyone who watched. Jungles and forests spread, and then glaciers spread over them, and back and forth the eternal clock swung. As they passed farther out, they saw multitudes of other worlds coming into view.. Worlds that lacked the familiar buzz of comm chatter and radio signals. Worlds that they knew had been full of life when they began the journey.

9.The poet did as poets do when they find something new. He composed verses and rhymes and meters and couplets and similes and metaphors, relearning his trade first with the pastoral. And so, the fire spilled from his mouth and whole worlds were settled with things like shepherds as planets are like hills, and naiad inhabited rivers rolled out among the stars. Life began and ended as winters came and went with the poets unwavering diction. HE spoke not a word of language any would understand, but the language that all the world obeyed. For he had seen the fire.


4.The engines whirled as the passengers went on and on. As they grew farther past, those with telescopes saw the belt of broken stones assemble itself into a whole of fire and soot. The children delighted themselves with the fire works of supernovas in the distance. They played with toys that now stood like giants over distant shapes. A few clamored to see the lone planets, lost hunks of ice roaring about the solar systems as this ship now did.

8.The priest did what all priests do when they behold revelation. She preached. She told the world of God and heaven, of profound unities and theorems, of mystic bonds that transcended apparent flesh and matter. And so between still shapeless smoke, flickers became clearer. The shepherds of mountains felt communion with one another. And fire, across all worlds, fire spread and delighted. The suns came into being more crisply, to imitate that first holiest of lights. And at her bidding did the first of those hilly worlds whirl down tumbling into the center of those stars, a sacrifice to the great powers that filled her. And she and the poet with words quarreled on things, and on the shape of things they had seen.

5.As the passed the edge of the cosmos, the passengers saw more of those many formed galaxies than all but the stargazers had seen. A brilliant web spread across the sky as they drew closer and closer together. It transfixed and tired many to behold such a vast shimmering form, a tapestry woven out of the cosmos.


7.The philosopher first did what their kind always does when they behold new truth. Doubt. Question. Deny. It burned at the edges of the philosopher’s eyes, until at last it escaped. It sculpted around itself those unsightly laws. It molded worlds of it’s own accord, full of hypothetical creatures. Things built of solids, hive minds, dreamers without eyes who never knew their delusions from all that was. Gaseous forms that fed on stars, strange minds with axioms alien to any of the ancients or moderns. P-brane zombies, ideological impossibilities.

6.And so the two ships passed on silver streaks, most onboard the one sleeping as they passed into that realm that kept the priest, philosophic, and poet awake as they beheld the new wonders sweeping past.


That ends this tale. Here I tried something new with time as well as space. I hope the experimentation wasn’t too confusing. There isn’t much character here, and like many stories, I wish I had more time. But ah well. What did you conjure or concoct?

I’d also be remiss not to admit that this was the song that inspired most of this to a degree:

Next week, we step outside the cosmos. And see with new eyes.

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The Start of It All

This Weeks Prompt: 34. Moving away from earth more swiftly than light—past gradually unfolded—horrible revelation.

The Resulting Story :To the Beginning of It All

Well, this prompt is a bit peculiar. We are grounded in the motion of the narrative, a movement away from home into the past. The view expands both as we draw further back onto a larger horizon and as we travel back farther and farther into time. And of course, per Mr. Lovecraft’s usual, there is a horrifying revelation at the end of it all. Where to begin?

I will skip over how time travel occurs when one is moving at relativistic speeds, primarily because I am unqualified for such things. You, if you are interested, can find some sort of start here. Rather, lets begin by constructing something of a narrative arc out of the basics.

There sadly will not be much in the way of folklore or mythic routes this time until the end of the story, as time travel backwards is not a terribly common trope. Likewise, while some horrible revelation at the origin of all things might have something to work with, this will have to wait.

Rather we’ll start with the first beginning, the impetus for this fantastic voyage. And the clearest cause for that would be that most pure of scientific exploits: exploration. Mankind has been fascinated by it’s past and origins for as long as they have been forgotten, and the ability to view such an event would no doubt foster inquiry. There’s an entire novel in the build up, the people who would devise such a machine, and who would in the end put it to use.

But we don’t care about most of that. Instead, it is enough to say that such an engine has been built and sent a crew hurtling back through time, witnessing from greater and greater distance history flow in reverse. This will be the mid section of two great bulks of writing, as I’ve devised it. We must have an introduction to our characters, the conflicts in their lives, and the rules of the machinery at the start. Then we have this, the voyage itself, where we can include beautiful descriptions of the vision and where perhaps we will include the midpoint for the character conflict. It might instead itself by a the midpoint, a stunning display that changes the perspective on the world.


She’s our mum. WE GET IT.

And the high point, the climax, the horrible revelation. And it is a…well, I hate to disparage Mr. Lovecraft, but there is a certain obsession with horrifying origins isn’t there? I could talk of Chaos and Tiamat again as I did here, but I feel we should move in a different sort of horror then here. The first thought is a taint the crew creates by it’s finally stop in the past. That some how, at the end of the journey, they damage things irreparably. This notion is not uncommon in pop culture time travel stories, and is often half the reason to have them. Alternatively, the voyagers ensure some great calamity they sought to stop, dooming them tragically. This also is a common complication, and thus not one I’d like to entertain.

But a third option presents itself as I think about all of this. What if we reverse the nature of the contamination, so that it’s no longer damaging the past but the future? What if something in those first few glorious moments of existence was extinguished long ago (and for good reason) and now, by means of this craft, finds it’s way back?

Now that we have the basics of the plot, we should lay the ground work of a setting. Given the nature of the prompt, the setting here is worth spending sometime ruminating on. We are dealing with something like an elevator or bottle episode: we have a small cast in the same area for almost the entire story. Sure, they might look outside the window to see history whirl past. There is a vast expanse, however, of characterization and atmosphere that can be imbued within something as small and claustrophobic as a spaceship.


Vast, isn’t it? Messy too.

This is apparent in not only works of horror (Event Horizon and Alien both seem rather relevant here), but in science fiction in general. The feel of the Enterprise is fundamentally different then that of the TARDIS.

So what about ours?

Well, our ship is best served, it seems, by a contrast to the strangeness flowing outside. An articulate, clean, neat, and white room with a large viewing mirror might serve to separate it from the swirl of lights and colors and darkness out in the void of space that grows and grows. More importantly, it is easily susceptible to whatever form our primeval corruption takes. Alternatively, we might make it something more lived in. A place that is familiar to the modern reader, like an airplane or a…well, sea ship. Circular tables, nice seats and benches, drinks about. The parts of truly human life. Disruption to this shouldn’t be too hard, and it would move things away from the sort of clinical future that is more common these days.

Now we have a what happens, a where it happens, a vague notion of when (honestly, with times being what they are, is it any matter if it’s in a century or a millennia?), but not a who it happens too. So, who do we need for this little story? Who needs to see the start of everything?

I should mention now that I am in the midst of reading some science fiction myself, namely Dan Simmon’s Hyperion. The book hands questions of knowledge quite well, and I might take a bit from it in the broad strokes of some of it’s characters. Namely, we have in Hyperion a Scholar, a Poet, and a Priest. Each by profession bears a different understanding of what we might for a moment call philosophic truth. Each communicates knowledge in it’s own way. And thus each might present an interesting opportunity to explore this corrupting force from the start of the world.


The Yoruba Goddess Oya

The more I think on such a force, the less I like calling it corrupting however. I feel a more direct analog to creative forces might serve us better. Fire. Fire as a force at the start of existence has deep roots. The Eddas refer the fire of Muspelheim, the Yoruba of West Africa have Oya, and the reforming nature of volcanoes has been noted in the Pacific. All this in addition to fire’s…loaded symbolism as destroyer, refiner, creative spark, and maddening pain makes it a better start I feel than an abstract corruption or malady. Rather, some of that first fire at the dawn of all things follows the shuttle back.

And what happens when it returns? Hmph. That is a question I don’t yet have an answer too. I suppose it does what an especially creative fire does. Consume and filter and refine the world in the image of it’s wielder.

What did you dredge up from the edge of space dear reader? Have you seen some other horrid revelation sweeping the nations?

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