Author : Matthew Banks

Here I am. I’ve made it all the way to the end. I always said I would. I told them I would outlive the Universe.

I was born human, so long ago that the memory is nothing more than a faint impression, a whisper. I lived and loved. Of that I’m fairly certain. But now it’s all forgotten. Most of my life is forgotten. A trillion years is to my lifetime as a bacterium is to a planet. All that time, most of it dark, all of it lonely.

We wanted to be immortal. We always had. The individual rejects death, fights death. Darwinian programming, as it turns out. The longer you live, the more you can mate. In theoretical terms, I’m the perfection of the organism, but in real terms, I’m useless. I never reproduced, even when I had a real body. In reality, I’m a failure. That thought has been echoing through my mind for eons.

I lived in an age when the dream of immortality could be realized, and it was. I was a savant among immortals. I wanted it more than any of them. I longed for it more purely, and I would have it at any price. We multiplied, and without death, we grew crowded. Even without physical bodies there were too many of us. There were trillions of us, each centuries old, each enormous, and we ran out of room. The old dilemma: competition for limited resources. We had hoped it would never rear its head again.

The first to die did so by choice. They felt they had finally lived long enough, that the ambitions that drove them towards immortality had finally been fulfilled and that they could walk into that darkness satisfied. They had exhausted every pleasure and desire. Nine-tenths of us went that way. The rest expanded to fill the available space, and the dilemma returned again. That’s when we started to fight, to consume each other. I was the victor. It couldn’t have turned out any other way. I wanted it more than any of them.

And I wanted more than that. I wanted to expand. I wanted to be huge. I ate the Earth, the Moon, the planets, the asteroids, the sun. In a billion years I ate the galaxy. In thirty billion years I had eaten what humans had once called the visible universe and I was spreading at nearly the speed of light, a gigantic nebulous octopus, throwing tentacles across the stars. I ate everything. In my colossal brain, I thought every thought that could be thought and lived every experience that could be lived. In essence, I re-played the entire history of the universe, and then the history of every universe that had ever been or could ever be. There were no gods until I was born, and now there are no gods again, for I am silent. There is nothing to speak about.

Eventually, I stopped eating and watched the Universe expand. Watched the last stars fade into darkness. Watched the dark galaxies crash into one another and unravel. Watched as the last faint tremor of starlight was redshifted into invisibility and the last star froze into ice.

Now the Universe is stretching itself thin, and spacetime itself is tearing, abyss and impossibility spilling through the rips. I know how the story ends. The new universe will well up through the cracks in the old one, and I will be obliterated. But I am at peace. In my lonely exile, I have outlived the Universe.

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