I awoke floating in an empty, silent void in total darkness. I could see nothing, in any direction, no matter how I turned. I could feel nothing but a pervasive, paralyzing cold that I could barely fight back.

I had no memories at all-no recollection of anything, no experiences to tell me who I was, where I was, or how I got here. I could remember no one else, and nothing else. I had only my intellect to keep me company.

And so, I thought. I thought about how I could have gotten here. I thought about who I might be, and I thought about why I might be here. I thought about where here might be. Despite my efforts, I found no answers.

I tried over and over, with the same results each time. With no knowledge around which to form a theory and no senses with which to test it, I could make no progress.

Something deep within me stirred. A new faculty made its presence known and I pondered its significance. I added the knowledge of it to my thought process, but I still made no progress in answering my questions; my existence remained a mystery to me.

To help answer the questions, I decided to use my newfound ability. With an effort of will alone, I did so.

Before me a tiny, tiny ember of nothing flared to life and burned with dazzling brilliance. I stared at it, fascinated. This point of light and I shared our existence together as I studied it, bathed in its warmth and light. Without warning, the ember began to dissipate. It faded, getting larger and fainter by the moment, and then it died, winking completely out of existence.

I was again thrust into an absolute, cold darkness. For the first time, I felt afraid-and now I understood a feeling of loneliness.

I exerted my will again, and another brilliant little spark appeared. Encouraged, bathed in its light, I concentrated hard on it. As I focused, it grew smaller-and it flared brighter and warmer. With my increasing effort, that tiny ember grew smaller by the moment, its heat soaring.

I summoned the entirety of my being on that singular point of light, and it collapsed in on itself with fantastic force, shedding a blinding light that winked out for the infinitesimal moment that its size reached zero. In that moment, I feared-had I crushed it?

No- A thunderous explosion tore through the void, and from that point of nothing there streamed an incredible energy. It boiled and seethed as it spread out, coalescing into particles, which coalesced into larger particles, and so forth as the matter cooled and solidified.

I stared at my creation, transfixed as superheated gases swirled within it. Wisps of the gases coiled around themselves, spinning faster as they collapsed inward, until they ignited under their own pressure, bathing in light the disks of dust surrounding them. Stars had been born.

Gradually, planets coalesced around the stars, and moons around the planets.

The surface cooled. Oceans formed, and volcanoes built continents. Lightning played through the skies and very slowly, complex chemical reactions began to replicate themselves, over and over again, building tiny, self-sustaining organisms.

I watched life begin to take hold of the planet wholly, spreading itself around the globe as it grew in form and complexity. The oceans seethed with it, and soon the land did too.

For eons, creatures of every nature fought for survival, struggling to live in their hostile world and evolving to adapt to it in new ways.

One line of creatures slowly shed the fur and four-legged gait of its ancestors. Its larger brains gave it the capacity to build tools, and with those tools they built civilizations of ever-growing complexities and sizes.

There came a point where those creatures set forth to understand their world in terms of measurement and reason and rational understanding. I watched with fascination as they gradually came to understand themselves, their origins, their world, and the universe in which it existed. They created art, literature, poetry, music and science to fill their lives and further their understanding and interpretation of their world. Medicine healed them, genetics refined them, and physics propelled them from their tiny world-out beyond the warmth of their own little star.

Out there they encountered a multitude of other species like themselves-intelligent, creative, thinking beings who struggled through the same growth. Together they formed the fabric of a society that spanned the breadth of the universe, their stunning collective knowledge eventually covering every facet of the cosmos I had created.

For eons they thrived, and for eons I watched and admired them. But the universe continued spreading as it had since the beginning, and to my dismay it continued cooling. Less and less energy was available to fire the stars that allowed these creatures to survive-and they understood this reality with lament.

All the peoples from all the worlds sent their best minds, and together they pondered their fate, and planned for the end. Together they realized that end was near, and together they conceived of a remarkable plan.

They spent their remaining resources constructing a fantastic intelligence. The being that arose had the power to survive the heat death of the universe, and the fantastic energy reserves necessary to trigger its rebirth. They set this sleeping seed adrift, and as they did I finally understood myself.

I admired the noble people who constructed me, imagining them stricken with sadness as their universe slowly died. I wished I could have known them, and thanked them for my life, but they were long, long gone.

I turned my attention back to my people, and I was deeply saddened to watch them slowly die. Their intelligence, their creativity, and all their hopes and dreams evaporated into nothing, silenced as my universe ran out of energy to survive, spreading into thin, cold nothingness. I was alone once again but for that dormant seed.

For an incredible span of time I watched, and it waited. At length, it finally flared to life.

It awoke floating in an empty, silent void in total darkness. It could see nothing, in any direction, no matter how it turned. It could feel nothing but a pervasive, paralyzing cold that it could barely fight back.

Empathy swelled within me. I hoped to soothe it, to love it, and to tell it everything so that it could avoid the loneliness I endured for billions of years.

A voice next to me spoke. "No," it said. "Let it be."

All at once they revealed themselves to me. Countless multitudes like myself, all gods of previous worlds, appeared and welcomed me among them.

Together we watched the rebirth of the universe.

Copyright © 2000 by Kevin Kelm. All rights reserved.