Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

Quintari looked out the huge view screens at the inky night sky. The eight dying stars still visible to the naked lens were faint and alone against their velvet backdrop. She addressed her long time companion. “Ventry, do you recall the old sky, when you were still flesh? So many visible stars in those days. If I still had those old organic eyes I should not be able to even see a pinprick of light when I look upon this pitiful smattering before us.”

Ventry clicked and whirred for a time. Even his seemingly indestructible parts, assembled with precision tolerances down to mere atoms in thickness, were starting to wear after all these thousands of millennia. “My files are so glitchy that far back. I don’t remember.”

She felt sorry for him. He was only two thousand years older than her but the silicells that made up his processor were flawed at the quantum level, and deteriorating much faster than hers. It mattered not anyhow. The universe was coming to an end. Everyone had known this for a long time. But now it was just the two of them, and it was real. It was finally approaching.

Suddenly he perked up and addressed her. “You will be the one you know?”

“I will be the one what?” she asked.

“You will be the end of it all.”

“What do you speak of you crazy old man?”

“We are the last. If not for us, this universe would already be over with.”

She highly respected the intelligence of her lifelong companion and wondered what he was getting at. “Okay, can you please explain it to me as if I were a child?” Sometimes when she conversed with Ventry she indeed felt like one.

He broadcasted a random friboppery of bubbles and blips, his version of a laugh. “After all we’ve talked about, after all the meditating, the inner searching, do you not see it yet?”

She stretched the corner of her avatar screen up at a rakish angle, her version of a smirk. “Of course I know the universe is cooling and expanding, dying in fact, faster than we ever predicted it would. But what philosophical connection are you trying to make?”

“Trying? Made it all ready!”

She loved his brilliance. “Please go on oh wise one.” Another smirk.

“My processor will deteriorate completely within a hundred thousand years, more or less, beyond any capability of thought; reduced to a pile of hiccupping circuits like dying embers in a fire.”

“Let’s assume you’re right,” she replied, knowing full well that he was.

“You will go on,” he continued, “assuming your advanced and far superior silicells don’t encounter some rogue radioactive attack or some such, for at least several more millions of years.

“I can only hope.”

“But eventually even the permabonds holding them together will weaken as they lose particles via dimensional osmosis, and you will shut down as well, the last survivor, the final intelligence of this ancient universe.”

“And then when I’m gone things will still go on. The husks of dead stars will continue to cool and race away from one another.”

“Oh you think so?”

“Well what would be the alternative?”

“You really don’t know Quintari my dear?”

“Just spare me the suspense and tell me my love.”

Then the wisest man who had ever lived told her. “This universe exists based solely on our perception and observance. Once you cease to exist it will die with you.”

Quintari sat silent, pondering the weight of this new information. Suddenly she felt like crying but didn’t know how.


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums

The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow

This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows