Home Tales of the World
The End of All Things
by Michael Bard
Michael Bard -- all rights reserved

She awoke.

Why was she awake?

She raised her snout and looked around, the water dripping out of her open mouth. It wasn't day, but it wasn't night either. Neither Vashigan lighting the day, nor Luani lighting the night, were in the heavens.

Nothing was.

She stared up at the sky. It wasn't dark. In fact it seemed to end. Beyond it there was only a silvery nothingness, that sparkled, or seemed to. But it wasn't. Her mind couldn't interpret what her eyes were seeing. But she recognized it. It was the chaos beyond The World. But how had it gotten so close?

And what had happened to the lake?

That was what had woken her up. Her sea dragon body needed water to breath. She finally realized that she was getting short of breath. In fact so short that her body was beginning to die.

She was a goddess. She couldn't die.

She tried to shift to human, but her sea dragon body died. She, of course, didn't. Instead she became a human trapped in the corpse of a Sea Dragon. There was no air there, either.

She ordered the dragon's corpse to split open and release her. Dutifully it did. She pulled her naked and blood drenched body out of the cooling corpse and then stood on the dragon's back and looked around. Blood and gore dripped unnoticed from her waist length hair.

Although it wasn't day, and wasn't night, it wasn't dark. The light was certainly dim, but she had no trouble seeing. Her old body lay below her, long, covered in stony plates that were obscured by sea growths. Most of them were dead and dried out. The lower portion of her body was still covered in water to a depth of two or three feet and the legs and tail were still sunk into the lake bottom. She could smell the stink of her former body, but below it could scent the wonderful earthy smells of mud and decay.

She looked around. As far as she could see the lake was gone, only a little remained around her and the corpse of her former body. She had been asleep in the deepest depths of the lake but now all that remained was a shallow pond. What was going on? It was time to find out.

She changed into a golden crane and leapt off the corpse and into the air. She circled her former body, and then rose above the remains of the sea dragon. As she rose higher, the former lake bottom stretched out before her. It was dried out. She circled some more and off in the distance saw some lights.

They weren't stars, and they didn't look like magic. In fact they looked electric. My children have been busy, she thought. I wonder how long I was asleep?

She stopped circling and headed towards the lights.

It wasn't long until she reached the lights and saw that they were, indeed, part of a city. The harbour, what was left of it, was long abandoned. There were pipes going out into the lake and ending in taps. But no sign of anyone.

She landed at one of the taps and willed it to turn. Some liquid dribbled out - she tasted it. It was thick, and nutritious, some kind of food. So that was what had happened to the water in her lake. But where was everyone?

She winged her way back into the air and flapped further into the city. Finally she recognized her temple. It was indeed the Holy City of Gandala. She could see the primal chaos already starting to engulf the city. But where was everyone? The streets were all empty. And why was the edge of The World so close?

She flew towards her temple. As she got closer she realized that the courtyard in front of it was brightly lit with a flickering light, from some kind of fire. Ah yes, my children have come to beg me for my help. She reached the edge of the courtyard, landed on the edge of a roof, and looked down.

The flicking wasn't from torches, but instead from her temple as fire roared higher and higher to consume it. What are my children doing? In front of her temple, in the courtyard, she could see hundreds of humans in the flickering light. Most were naked, but a few wore jumpsuits. Most were covered and streaked in dirt and blood. Some were dancing; others were running and screaming. Many were copulating on the ground in groups.

She saw one woman run up and wrap some kind of wire around the neck of a man and cut off his head. She grabbed the it by it's hair and held the dripping neck above her mouth, drinking down the blood.

My children are doing this?

She leaped off the roof and changed into an immense dragon, her scales an earthy brown. She glided down and over the courtyard.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!", she roared out.

Some people looked up at her. A few of those turned and fled. But most just went back to their revelry along with the majority who didn't even acknowledge her existence.

She landed in the courtyard, oblivious to those she crushed beneath her. Her huge toes sunk into the soft flesh and she could feel the blood and gore oozing between her toes. But she was too mad to care.

She roared and exhaled fire high into the sky. A couple of humans were flying above her with some kind of belts and they dove into her flame and screamed in joy as the fire consumed them.

She stopped her flame, as one of the charred bodies fell onto her back and slid to the ground, and looked around. The revelry was continuing. She saw a couple of women throw a man onto the pyre of her burning temple. He wasn't resisting.

What in heaven were her children doing?

She noticed a different light above and looked up at it.

Drifting in the sky above the courtyard was a giant neon sign: "Only 57 days left until The End of All Things".

Then it mutated to change the day counter to 56 days.

There was a cheer from the crowd as they saw the sign change.

She looked back down and grabbed a man in her front, left talons and brought him up in front of her muzzle. Her huge eyes glared at him.

"WHAT IS GOING ON?!" she roared at him.

His hair was blown back by the wind of her words. "It's the end of the world!", he shouted out. There were more cheers from the crowd below. She sniffed him - she couldn't smell the least trace of fear.

She forced herself to calm. She was the Goddess of the Earth. She was Gaenan. She would have control. Finally, she asked, "What happened to the Gods?"

"My parents watched through a telescope forty years ago as the edge consumed them. They watched as Vashigan was absorbed and the sun went out."

She didn't know what to say. Were all the rest dead? The human slipped from her claws and plummeted to the ground, screaming in delight. She reached out and grabbed a woman.

"What happened to the mages, the priests?"

The woman just laughed and shouted out in glee. She, too, tried to wiggle free but Gaenan wouldn't let her.

She squeezed the woman until she stopped laughing. "I am Gaenan. The Earthmother! Answer my question!"

The woman laughed some more. "The gods are all dead. The souls of the dead are all gone, consumed by the chaos. I've seen tapes of the stars that were the souls of the dead winking out. Even the faerie are gone. Nothing matters, for we're all doomed!"

"What happened to my priestesses?"

"There haven't been any for decades. Why bother? The god's are all dead. The mages all fled into their own little bubbles of reality in the chaos. Nothing matters anymore."

Gaenan dropped the woman and dimly heard her splat on the pavement below. She leapt into the air. She had to get away from this madness. She flew higher, and higher. Then the world ended.

Her head stuck out into the chaos. There was no light, but no darkness either. It wasn't warm, and it wasn't cold. There was no air, but she felt no need to breathe. It wasn't uncomfortable.

Then she was falling back into the world, her neck pulled back into reality as her body began to fall. She fell for almost a mile before her head cleared and she spread her wings into a glide.

So, what now?, she asked herself. All the rest of the god's are gone. The world is being consumed. No. I am a goddess! I will save the world! I will return reality to the way that it was.

She stopped circling and flew off to the edge of the world, in a direction that felt right. As she got closer she looked. She saw a tree, naked of branches and dead, half in reality, and half out. She couldn't see it being consumed, but if she looked at something else and then looked back she could see that some more of it was missing. She looked carefully. There was no life, no humans, no Caldayans, nothing.

She looked further and then she spotted him. A lion-centaur, a lone Caldayan, standing near the edge looking out. She landed beside him and changed back to her human form. She made sure that all the blood and gore were gone. She also remembered something else important - clothes. She created robes to dress herself.

"Gaenan I presume?", the Caldayan asked. He didn't even turn to face her.

He would give her the respect she was due! She willed him to turn around and bow before her, but nothing happened. Were her powers going too?

"Don't you recognize me?", the Caldayan asked, still looking out over the void.

"Should I?"

"I am your brother, Kor. We're the last."

"Kor?"

"Your lover, your mate, Death, the Trickster." He finally turned around to face her and then he shrugged. "Take your pick."

"Why are you still alive? What happened?"

"Our machines gradually broke down. The chaos reclaimed the reality we'd created. I saw it coming and left. The others had forgotten, they thought they were Gods and that they were indestructible. They were consumed by the chaos."

She grabbed him. "It figures that you would survive. You never cared about anything!"

He sighed. You've forgotten too. You've been a God so long you've forgotten your origins."

"We birthed the world together, you and I. We created the faerie, the humans. Of course we're Gods!"

"No we never were."

"What?"

"Don't you remember? It was, I think, 10,000 years ago. We fled the heat death of our own universe. In our ship we went beyond our universe's edge into the primal chaos. We made our machines and created our own world. Eventually we created life for it and we became its Gods."

"We formed out of the chaos and together we birthed The World."

He turned away and looked into the chaos. "Its been too long. You had all forgotten. I had forgotten. The truth was gone, all that remained was the myths we had created."

"If all this is true, then how come you remember?"

"Remember after I killed Vashigan, but before I brought him back?"

She nodded.

"I was forced into a mortal body, cut off from the machines while I looked for his soul. It was then that I remembered. I remembered my own mortality. When my Caldayan body finally died, I stayed away from the Gods for I finally remembered the truth. I tried to wake you from your sleep at the bottom of your lake - you fled there after we all swore never to interfere again. We were all bored. You hid in your dreams, and the rest gradually lost their minds and became automatons performing their jobs."

She let him go. "Its a trick!"

He leaped onto her and together they fell to the ground. He remained on top. "Forget the myths! We loved each other once!" His four paws pinned her and he used his hands to grab her head.

She looked up into his leonine face.

"I will make you remember. I will give you my memories." He closed his eyes and began pouring his memories into her.

"No!", she screamed, but then she was overwhelmed with images. Planets that were spheres and orbited great balls of gas and fire. Massive engineering projects to create new stars that gradually faded and weren't replaced as the hydrogen became more and more dispersed. A desperate plan to create massive gravity engines to collapse the universe, and the failure of that, and all the rest of the grandiose schemes. Groups fleeing into the non-creation beyond reality. She and Kor having the machines create their ship. Boarding with their companions. All of them trying various shapes and settling on human. Journeying through artificial wormholes to the edge and then beyond. The ship slowly disintegrating until she willed it to stopped. Their amazement as it did. Their creation of the energy lattices to make up the computers that could force a reality upon the chaos. The pushing of the button and the creation of the world. Her mind faded into unconsciousness.

She dreamed. She dreamed she was swimming through the clouds, circling around streams of orange, ropes of red mist. She could feel the hydrogen wind howling against her wings; she could feel the immense gravity pulling her down. But she and Kor just laughed and flung their love into the heavens. The tips of their wings touched, and their tails entwined and they began to fall to the heart of the world. But they had lots of time before they hit the boiling hydrogen seas, lots of time to embrace and mate with their passion.

Sometime later she awoke.

She sat up and looked around. Finally she saw Kor, now as a human, standing at the edge, watching it slowly being consumed.

She finally remembered it all. The computers, the dreams, the creation of life for companionship. The myths this life created. Battles of will against their creations. Ten thousand years of godhood. She stood up and walked over to Kor.

"Do you remember anything?", he asked. He just kept staring at the chaos.

"I remember everything."

Kor turned around. He reached over and grabbed hold of her hand and led her away from the edge. He made a cushioned bench appear and together they sat down. "Here we are, once again at the twilight of our universe."

She just looked back at him. "Its been so long. How could I have forgotten my past?"

"It was a long time. We all did. I did." After that they both remained silent. Finally Kor asked, "Why is it going to end like this?

"Like what?"

"Another universe about to die. Entire races wiped out by the primal chaos..."

"Well fine, we'll just fix the computers and restart everything. Bring it all back."

"Why. It'll just delay this point. Besides, the computers are junk."

"What do you mean? They can't be - I still have my abilities."

"So do I. Why, I have no idea. I think that over the millennia our minds grew more, attuned?, to controlling the chaos. Now we can do it at will, all on our own. Unfortunately, like the mages, the affect is only local. Nowhere near enough to recreate our little world."

"Fine. We'll just create new computers then and have them do it."

"But why should we. Another world. Another ten thousand years of life, of watching our creations live and suffer, and then we get back to this point. Who knows, maybe we've already done it a hundred times but have simply forgotten." He sighed.

"Then what can we do? Shouldn't we create a new world to at least save the survivors here?"

"But why? I put up the neon sign with the countdown to try and shock them to calmness, but it only made them more insane. And then, in 10,000 years, we'll be at this point again."

Neither spoke for a long time. They just sat and looked at the approaching chaos. The tree's trunk was finally fully consumed, and the remaining branches, no longer supported, fell to the ground.

Finally Gaenan asked, "Are we finally ready to die?"

Kor turned towards her. "I've been, ever since I died as a mortal Caldayan. Shortly after my rebirth as a god I checked the system - even then the machines were failing and The World was starting to crumble. I knew then that my endless life would eventually end."

"Why didn't you tell us then?"

"I did. You just laughed at me."

She began to cry. "I remember." She leaned into him and let him hold her as she began to sob. Finally she was able to continue. "I think...", she paused until she could go on, "...its time to die."

"I wish I knew what would happen then. Probably nothing."

"That's all that science proved. Its why we came here and created our own little world in the first place."

"Well, lets find out then."

"Do you remember when we first met?"

Kor nodded.

"You were a Sembali. I remember changing into one of your race and swimming with you through the ammonia clouds of your world."

Kor smiled at the memory

"Let's do that again. Its how I want to die."

"What? Where?"

She pointed out past the edge. "Out there. In the formless void. Let's end our lives with our love." She was silent while waiting for Kor to speak. Millennia of life certainly teaches patience.

"Let's."

"What's the best way?"

"We run and leap off the edge, and then change. We hold and we love."

"Yes, let's. Right now."

Kor nodded. They stood up, and then, with the knowledge of lifetimes of love, they both knew when to hold hands and when to start running. They ran across the dirt and stone, leaping over the logs of dead trees. They reached the edge and leapt over.

They could feel themselves begin to fall for a second, but then there was no gravity at all. It wasn't warm, and it wasn't cold. They couldn't breath but they didn't need to. She looked to where Kor was beside her and saw his form rippling and flattening. He became huge, monstrous, flattening into a monstrous ray. She laughed and followed suit and felt her form flatten and grow hollow, and then begin to blossom into a monster matching Kor.

They grew larger, and larger, eventually reaching their hundred's of feet of wingspan. Their tails extended back into The World, and they could feel the ground underneath as their tails twisted and entwined. Then they laughed, and rubbed their wings together and sped out into the chaos.

They couldn't fly like they had so long ago, but they seemed to. They seemed to remember the hydrogen wind against their vanes. Maybe they created the wind, maybe they just remembered the memories.

They embraced each other with their wings and their tails, and spiraled away into the chaos. They embraced with all the force of their ages of love, even though it had sometimes been forgotten, but never unremembered. They screamed out their love into the roaring hydrogen wind, and Kor pumped his seed into Gaenan's waiting embrace.

Eventually the passion passed, and they loosened their grip on each other. Their tails remained entwined and they just drifted. They could feel the chaos starting to consume their forms, but together decided not to fight it.

But they were no longer alone.

Neither noticed - they just thought of each other and remembered the past, and slowly let the chaos consume them. They were finally tired of life.

But their child wasn't. It had no memory, it was barely formed, even though it existed. It could feel its parents starting to fade, but it refused. It hadn't experienced anything.

It wouldn't die.

It's soul flared with the force of its life as its parents faded around it. The flare combined with the love of its parents, and then a miracle occurred.

The flare and the love pushed back the chaos.

The newborn screamed out its defiance at death.

And then the flare of a new soul, and the love of two ancient beings, combined and turned into a spark of glory. And the spark shone, and twisted, and spun. And eventually it exploded in a kaleidoscope of light and matter and energy.

And a newborn sighed as it exploded into a new universe.

 

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