This thought provoking science fiction story is Authored by Mace Marter, an Italian writer of thrills and suspense.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And then the murders began.
When humans were animals driven by their instinct, the act of killing had no purpose but the survival of the fittest. Humans were animals, and as animals, they hunted and were hunted.
In time, as their self-consciousness increased, they realized that they were different from the rest of the species. They had imagination. They could use it to build tools and to plan the future. Then, slowly but steadily, ambition began to corrupt their weak minds leveraging their inventiveness to find new ways to obtain what they wanted. Food, territories, sex, slaves; then money, power, proselytes.
Murder after murder, humanity built itself to become what it is now.
Or better, what it was.
No one could have imagined that the end of humanity as we know it, would have also marked the biggest murder in history.
Well, I’m just the narrator of this story. I’m a mere memory, lost in the space between parallel universes. I’m pure energy, nothing more, and I am here as the last trace of what it was. I serve no purpose: nobody exists any more to learn from the mistakes that ruined it all.
But strangely, time has some meaning even in a place like this, so I’ll tell you this story just for my words to be the proof of the existence of those events. And maybe – just maybe – it makes sense to retrace back to the moment everything began to end.
Robert thought he had finally found what he had been looking for for years.
He was a researcher in a private facility of applied physics and, together with his colleague Sabine, they were part of the team in charge of studying the basic numbers of the universe: the fundamental physical constants.
Humankind was at its peak. The discovery of the Unification Theory had led to incredible progress in science that had eventually brought the solution to one of the biggest problems afflicting the world: the ever-increasing need for energy.
Nuclear fusion power plants were a reality and were now providing all the energy needed. For free and as much as the earth was concerned, limitless.
Scientists had no time to rest, though. Every new progress in science had always increased humankind’s knowledge of the universe, but as they went deeper into the cosmos’ secrets new doubts had also arisen.
Too many questions were still to be solved, and Robert and Sabine were working on one of those: what was the shape of all the extra dimensions allowed by the Unification Theory? Was it the reason behind the value of the fundamental physical constraints?
In the early days, scientists had hypothesized tens of thousands of candidate shapes and vibrational patterns for those dimensions. However, there were an incredible amount of possible combinations that would be able to generate a coherent, stable universe. What was the combination forming our universe?
Two years before, Robert had a hunch. He thought he could use the Cohesion Equation defined in the Unification Theory to quickly discern the stable sets of shapes from the unstable ones.
Using the data of the four known dimensions – space and time – and adding theorized data of the missing ones, they could have shrunk the number of candidate sets of equations to a very low amount, maybe even to just one. They would have found the equations for all the universe dimensions.
When he had spoken about his theory to the Foundation Council, though, they had not believed in him. To get the financial coverage needed for his project, he had had to assure he would have gotten practical results in two years.
Like in the best of the fairy tales, though, almost two years later Robert and Sabine had indeed managed to shrink the set of admissible forms to just three allowed patterns.
They had in their hands the keys to the universe. The happy ending of their own tale.
But the night after the discovery Robert didn’t sleep well. He knew he had probably made the biggest discovery of the century. He was trembling with excitement thinking about what this would bring him: fame, money, power and women.
Robert loved science, yes, but he’d always somewhat envied the life of “the others,” of the ones without worries for the future, the ones commanding people like him, the ones deciding what he had to do – and how – like the members of the Council.
The problem was, he still had a strange sense of uneasiness about what he had discovered. Something didn’t sound right yet.
Of the three sets of equations he had found, one was most likely describing their universe. The other two, though, were defining a suitable canvas for a universe that wasn’t theirs. And unfortunately, Robert had no way to prove which set was the one they had been looking for.
From the calculations he had made, it seemed the concentrated energy of one Nuclear Fusion Power Plant would have been enough to try to artificially create one of the missing shapes. He knew, though, that messing with the extra dimensions without being completely sure about the outcome could end up being a very bad idea.
The next day Sabine had no good news for him either.
“If we apply those sets of shapes to the Cohesion Equation we get a very strange result: the energy necessary to maintain coherence in the matter rapidly increase to infinite.”
Her face became even more serious as she continued.
“I cannot see mistakes in the shape equations we have found. This means either the Cohesion Equation is wrong or-”
Robert knew the answer already.
“-the sets we calculated may not apply to the model of our universe.”
She sighed because she knew what she was going to say would not make Robert happy.
“The main problem is that to be certain of which set is the right one, we need access to other universes of which we don’t even know the existence.”
Robert had chosen her as a member of his team simply because she was the smartest person he had ever known. He felt both proud and sad because he knew the consequences of her reasoning.
“Our entire view of the universe is still based on axioms we made to describe it, from inside it. Gödel was as much of a genius as Einstein, unlike the latter though, he was a bearer of bad news.”
The weeks after went by very slowly. Neither Robert nor Sabine wanted to expose their discovery to others and as the days passed, they lost the confidence to do so.
Based on their knowledge of the universe, their data was right and so it was the Cohesion Equation. However, together they simply didn’t work as expected. Something was missing, something they could not verify because it wasn’t part of this world.
Three months had passed already and the final outcome of all calculations and experiments had turned to be a cul-de-sac. As experimental physicists they knew they had only one last resort: try to artificially create the set of needed shapes and manipulate the matter to vibrate in the way their equations required.
Robert had no time any more. The annual review with the Foundation Council was going to be in just a couple of days. His two allotted years had expired.
“We will need to issue a formal request to use the Giga Collider and the necessary energy.”
“They won’t give it to us,” Sabine said, hopelessly.
“I’ll find a way to mask the experiment and get the permission from them. After all, the only thing we are going to use is energy, and they’ve got plenty of it.”
In any case, Sabine was not going to withdraw. After all, she had fallen in love with this man long before but – shy as she was – she had never had the courage to confess it. Supporting him was the only way she knew to express her affection.
But she had to say it, she had to warn him.
“Robert, if we choose the wrong set for our experiment, if we create matter that doesn’t abide by the rules of our universe, there’s a chance the energy needed to maintain the shape stable will be uncontrollable. It is… it is too risky!”
“And yet, progress is made by trial and failure; by risky choices, isn’t it?”
Robert had already made up his mind. There was no other way to confirm they were right, no other way to show to the Foundation Council that he hadn’t been wasting their money for the past two years.
Failure was not what he had become a scientist for.
Failure was not what they had paid him for.
Failure was not allowed.
The fated day arrived.
Robert had managed to ask for permission to use the Giga Collider to the needed energy level. It had been easier than expected: the Foundation Council wasn’t made up of scientists and the few that were there were not able to understand completely the implications of his discovery.
He had promised them that if his experiment had born fruits, he would give them the keys to the exploitation of all the other dimensions. Greedy as they were, blinded by the fame and the money they could have gotten out of it, they had accepted.
The night of the experiment the moon was high and bright in the sky. A light breeze was refreshing the otherwise sultry summer air and God – as usual – wasn’t paying attention to the insignificance of two mere humans.
Robert was alone with Sabine in the control room of the Giga Collider. The energy of the two power plants had been already diverted to the facility, there was nothing to do any more than start the procedure.
Sabine had tried one last time to convince him to renounce it. If they were right, they had only one-third of the possibilities to succeed and in the other two-thirds, they had no idea of what the consequences could be. If they were wrong… Sabine felt a chill down her spine, and she knew it wasn’t because of the air conditioning in the laboratory.
Useless to say, Robert had not listened to her advice. His mind was already set to his objective, blinded by his ambition. In his eyes, Sabine could see a light she had never seen before. A light that she couldn’t identify as good or evil.
Robert switched on the particle accelerator and pressed the sequence initiation button. The energy levels increased as particles were spun through the enormous underground tunnel.
Sabine hugged him from behind and rested her head on his back. She thought it could be the last moment to show him her affection and even if she knew he wasn’t going to answer her feelings, it just felt right.
The indicators all turned green: there was enough energy to start the experiment. Robert pushed the final button, the one that would have aggregated all the necessary energy to create the new brick of matter. Then, as soon as the first new shape was created, the lights in the laboratory started to vibrate.
That single out-of-context brick of matter had begun re-mapping the structure around it. First, it sucked the energy out of the power plants, then the facility and the entire city fell into the darkness.
Sabine hugged Robert tightly, pressing her entire body against his back.
“The end”, were the two words she couldn’t pronounce. That single artificially created shape had initiated a new universe inside their own; a new universe that was fueling itself, consuming the energy of matter around it.
Everything disappeared, everything was engulfed in a bubble that in its strident sound began to eat the scientists’ universe.
Ambition had ultimately driven humankind to its end. With a simple gesture, a single human had murdered everyone and destroyed everything.
And like the meaningless sound of a tree falling alone in the forest, the crunch of the falling universe had no witnesses but God.
If you could imagine him as a being in the form of a human, you could say God looked at the energy spheres around him.
It happened often: eventually every universe, for one reason or another, would revert to its original state and merge back with the ocean of pure energy that was its starting point, its embryonic state.
In the universe he was looking at, something very rare had happened. The universe he lived in had re-mapped itself with new structural parameters that were creating fluctuations in the balances between all the other universes. That was a process that could not begin naturally: the rules of each universe were solid, almost unchangeable. It may have been only caused by an unexpected event or a sentient entity that had reached the necessary knowledge to do so.
As the creator of the universes, however, it was God’s task to preserve the balance between them, to maintain the only structural harmony that allowed them to co-exist. He didn’t linger on the cause of that sudden change, he didn’t need to. His acts were something no human being could understand.
As he had done countless times, God erased that out-of-place universe and reverted it to the vacuum energy necessary to give birth to another one. With the same structure of Robert and Sabine’s universe, the same dimensions, the same time, the same destiny.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And then the murders began.
(Thanks to Skylar for editing, to Mirka, Timothy and Hopee for all the good hints.)
Mace Marter, an Italian writer of thrills and suspense, lives in the fabulous city of Prague, Czech Republic. Passion is the driving force of his life – either for playing the flute, writing a new book or spending time with his children. His short stories abound with action, suspense and thrills, though his characters’ emotions always take center stage. His first full-length novel “Autonomous Intelligence” will be published in 2019.