Dance of the Cosmos

Author: Glenn Leung

The hive mind of Humanity had seen the dance of the Cosmos. When looked at by individual human minds, they would mean nothing. When seen all at once by five trillion pairs of eyes spanning a hundred thousand lightyears, connected by an immortal consciousness, a pattern emerged. Galaxies and clusters meet and part with the intimacy of love making, arranging in patterns akin to the finest embroidery. There is communication on a cosmic scale, and Humanity wants in.

Humanity set to task, covering stars across the galaxy with Dyson spheres. Over ten thousand Earth years, these spheres controlled the emission from the stars with spatial and temporal patterns derived from Universal Grammar. Whoever was arranging the cosmos was likely another hive mind species, so perhaps they used the same language that Humanity did. It was a long shot, since Humanity had no way of telling if Universal Grammar was truly ‘Universal’. The best They could do was estimate the time scales of thought and speech from the movement of celestial bodies, then match it with whatever They knew.

At first, there did not seem to be a response. There were some changes, like the Magellanic Clouds drifting North up the Celestial Hemisphere, but not much else. Thankfully, Humanity had time. They could wait. They continued sending the simple message of ‘Hello’, watching the Galactic sky, recording the dance.

A long time later, Humanity figured out what was actually happening. They had grossly underestimated the time scale of communication. Ten thousand years was what it took for the birth of a thought, the equivalent of a synapse firing in a human brain. The communication of this thought took ten million years. It soon became clear to Humanity that this was not another hive mind species. Another species would find much more efficient ways of speaking, like the Dyson spheres. No, They were talking to beings whose bodies spanned millions, maybe even billions of lightyears, comprising galaxies, clusters, and superclusters held together by the tenuous grasp of gravity. The way they spoke was a literal dance, a coded choreography of their astronomical bodies. The computing human units set to work piecing together the movements from the last ten million years. With little effort, the puzzle was solved.

The beings did speak Universal Grammar, just really slowly. They had replied with ‘We’.

It was clearly part of a longer message, but Humanity had time. Over the next five billion years, They continued receiving. Countless generations of human units passed. The Earth was consumed by the sun, and the sun whispered into nothingness. This was but a triviality, for nothing could be more important than listening. The Dyson spheres grew quiet as Humanity paid the beings Their utmost attention and respect. For all They know, they were the ‘God’ or ‘Gods’ mentioned in the religions of the Segregation Era, imparting their wisdom on a species that was finally ready.

Yet despite Their reverence, Humanity could not contain Their curiosity. Now adept at reading the dance, They could translate it into the motions of individual human bodies. It was then a matter of extrapolating the movements to predict the final message, using the rigor of Universal Grammar. This proved to be an unpleasant task, not because of its inherent difficulty, but because almost every prediction They made seem to bear ill tidings. Five billion years felt like an eternity.

When the wait was over, the message read: “We dreaming, wake soon.”

Humanity had time, maybe.


  1. rjerbacher

    Glenn, just had a chance to read your story now. I felt like I was dancing with the cosmos as I read it; spins and dips and celestial movement. Really enjoyed it. Thanks.

    • Glenn Leung

      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Hari Navarro

    Glenn, I have a personal aversion to certain forms of hard sci-fi but your work certainly does not fall into that lame ass failing on my part. For me your writing is lulling and so beautifully vivid in its explanations of the immense. This makes it, for me at least, so wonderfully accessible. Thank you.

    • Glenn Leung

      Hari, I think I know what you mean. I enjoy a very narrow band of hard sci-fi, as I feel most of them have the tendency to launch into college lectures. What you have described is the same feeling I get when I read Asimov’s stories, so your comment really means a lot to me. Thank you so much.
      I really appreciate your comments, not just on this work, but on my previous ones too.

  3. Adam Gerencser

    This story has a remarkable [scale to word count] ratio. Made my day.
    Now if we extrapolate, other than the listeners, the majority of mankind is probably sleeping in dream chambers, living a thousand simulated lives of adventure and bliss. One level up, the ancients might be dreaming for the same reason. Except a few were awake to respond to us and, perhaps, listen for messages further up the cosmic scale?

    • Glenn Leung

      Hi Adam,

      Thanks for your kind words. Your interpretation wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, but for me, part of the magic of flash fiction is that the reader and the writer are co-creators of the story, so what you said makes a lot of sense. Scale was certainly what I was going for, and it seems it stimulated your imagination to think of even bigger scales, so that’s fantastic! I’m glad it made your day.

      I would like other readers to come up with their own understanding, so I won’t reveal what exactly I had in mind. In case you are curious though, I drew my inspiration from three authors: Isaac Asimov, Ken Liu, and H.P. Lovecraft.

      • Adam Gerencser

        Hey Glenn, re: inspirations, your sources intersect with those cosmological writers our online mag looks up to as role models:
        You would likely enjoy Cixin Liu’s 3-body trilogy (tra. by Ken Liu).

        • Glenn Leung

          Indeed I do! That was how I got to know Ken Liu.
          Thanks for sharing the link. I’ll be sure to check it out.

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