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(Time and the Origin of Species)—A Short Story

Cries of a newborn...those vibrations that embody within them the very essence of life, resonated throughout the cold, metallic, and plastic room heated only by warm bodies; mainly the mother’s. She was calm and serene as her premature son’s skull protruded impatiently into an inhospitable orb ruled by laws, both produced and predetermined. The birth was painless. He was wet with one part oxygen, two parts hydrogen, womb, and blood. They named him Enoch, after his grandfather.

Nine months earlier, he sought shelter with the millions of his would-be brethren and, after a tireless effort, declared himself emperor, czar, and ruler of his mother’s temporary safety net. Nine years earlier, his mother scraped a note from the bottom of her locker. She had shared 11th grade physics with the boy’s father, where they said their hellos and exchanged hearts with starry smiles. Many more years earlier, machines grew from hands that once yielded spear and sword. Centuries before Newton’s decrees, temples were erected in geologically short periods of time and dedicated to gods now lost and forgotten. Their inhabitants spoke in ancient tongues and gathered in small masses around massive fires encircled by massive stones arranged to determine seasonal and celestial events such as solstices, eclipses, and a dazzling procession of the stars.

Eons before stargazers, the land was saturated from melted snow and new life was green and lush and ready for harvesting. Before that, thick ice upon more layers of ice extended its wings of flash freeze death and doom across the face of the sun for many ages. Cretaceous reptiles roamed the land with a cruel, yet, nurturing presence, only to be snuffed out of existence by a couple of big rocks. Continents, as if only tectonic jigsaw pieces in a puzzle for the gods, were interlocked as Laurasia, Gondwanaland, and eventually Pangaea. Torrents and tempests of rain pounded the Earth’s crust. Our oxidizing atmosphere, full of the necessary chemicals and split atoms swirled about our world, preventing ancient trees from being uprooted like military families during wars that haven’t yet occurred. Our starship Earth was bombarded by comet after comet until, eventually, the chaos stopped and a natural order was solidified. Solar systems revolved about neighboring solar systems. Stars formed clusters, twirling within newly formed galaxies swirling around other carbon copy galaxies. Nebula grew like fathers and mothers to raise their young stars into nurturing pillars of greatness. A universe was formed in a matter of seconds, still sifting through the structural beginnings of life. Dark matter condensed. Dark energy prevailed.

An explosion. The explosion. Millions upon millions of nuclear warheads strong fashioned continuous outward expansion. A single atom was all that was left of a collapsed multiverse…

A universe (before ours) was shrinking like Beetlejuice’s head when that voodoo man had sprinkled that fairy dust atop his scalp in that waiting room stage set yet to be constructed. That universe (before ours) reached the end of its expansion and instinctively did the only thing it knew to do; It contracted slowly and steadily again to its origin. That universe knew happiness, bad weather, and no doubt a few abysmal moments, recorded or otherwise. That universe was, in one form or another, ours as well. It was neat and chaotic, frozen and scorching, deceitful and caring, disgusting and delightfully polished on the pottery wheel of time with the foot peddle set to: unstoppable. It had stars and planets, wormholes and moons, life and death, love and hate, but nothing endured more greatly and spawned more rapidly than the intelligence of the food chain. A very hospitable orb, undeniably similar in chemical structure to our own, had reached its epitome. Peace was real. Tangible. Space stations were constructed. New life was beginning to be structured around a global effort. A community of life seekers instinctively did the only thing they knew to do. They expanded slowly outward, opposing their surrounding universe.

His birth name was Peace, though he lived his life as if the word was unknown to him. He was always remembered as the last man who died by the hand of another. Ironically enough, the man who fired the bullet that put the last nail in Peace’s coffin was named Abel. The last sound he heard was his mother sobbing softly when she held him as things faded to darkness. He felt three go through him. He felt two ricochet off his ribs. He felt one sink into his chest, beating inside the pulse of his heart. A parade of silver bullets flashed from the barrels of his pursuers. A mother screams as she sees her only son encircled by a band of revolutionaries with laser sighted Colts, closing in on him like their entire universe.

Before that, he was happy trying to forget the trouble he was in. They’re at home. It’s a family reunion. They’re all eating mashed potatoes, ham and broccoli (or a form of it). They are bantering and reminiscing of times passed. Before that, he was in college (or a form of it), high school (or a form of it), grade school (or a form of it). Then, as if like magic, back on his bike, rolling down the street with one good tire and the other nearly flat. He was a stubborn boy. He was defiantly feet first, premature, but healthy and headstrong. A mother’s screams of agony echoed through the cold plastic room. “Guess this means no pie for me tonight,” Peace’s father thought, expertly placing his soon-to-be mother into the vehicle. She saw stars for a moment, blacked out, and fell into the arms of a soon-to-be father.

Her water broke. She began to breathe with their universe, feeling sharp pains down her sides and through her calves and up her thighs. The sun melted through the blinds and flooded the kitchen with warmth, casting continuous shadows with locked opacity levels contrasting with the white ceramic tile. Wonderful life aromas filled the air as she placed the apple pie on the marble veneer windowsill. She slipped on a thermal padded mitt and pulled from the oven a love-evoking dessert. She took a few steps backwards and sat down in the kitchen chair and looked at the clock. “A couple more minutes,” she said to him with a smile, knowing her husband would enjoy a slice of what was baking to a crispy perfection in the oven before her. He kissed her and asked, “How much longer, sweetheart?” She walked from the study to the kitchen, circulating her silken hand around her bulging belly and the tantrum inside her calmed to a low rumble. She felt a kick and dropped her book to the ground, and as the pages fluttered, she felt another one, more painful than normal. She picked up her monthly read from her desk. The Origin of Species, authored by some dead genius with an unpronounceable name, and she took a much needed rest in the most unwelcoming mahogany chairs. Her father had made them as their wedding gift exactly 20 years prior; she felt guilty for never sitting in them.

That morning she had kissed her husband goodbye for the day and he headed off to work. He was in a hurry, as usual, saying they had nearly finished the preparations for the next launch. He was an astronaut; explorer of the galaxies. They walked backwards up the steps together and back into their bedroom. They proceeded to their bathroom backwardly and brushed their teeth, holding one another as they did. Their towels fell from their bodies as they stumbled back into the shower. They bathed in silence, smiling at each another while listening to the crickets still singing. The water gushing from the faucet jolted to a stop with a stammer. They were dry and rubbed the sleep back into their eyes as they stretched their way back into bed. The moon had yet to set. He was still snoring soundly, but her newly formed insomnia and the incessant night kickings awoke her. She looked up at the glow of the neon sticker stars and moons her and her husband had attached to the ceiling the same night they moved into their new home many years earlier.

She looked at him and stroked his uncharacteristically scruffy face. She stretched and yawned, careful not to wake the man beside her that still stirred emotions in her heart like a blender set to light speed. Her eyes closed. She was asleep, unconsciously caressing the life brewing inside her. Her starry eyes flickered beneath her eyelids as she dreamed of a multiverse that knows no bounds, no beginning, and no ending.