Thursday, August 9, 2012

Contemplation at the End of Time, part 1

A bloated red sun covers half the sky, bathing the earth in dull, scarlet light.  Vast fires boil visibly on its surface, but its heat is scant, and barely warms the sands that stretch as far as the eye can see.  On the western horizon, the red sky fades to black and a myriad of brightly colored stars are visible in the darkness.  Also visible above are the broken remains of a moon, with trailing and leading clouds of debris.
In all directions, the ruins of long-lost civilizations thrust upward through the covering layer of sand.  Ancient buildings, statues, and shards of unknown objects are scattered everywhere, casting vague shadows in the dim red light.  A dry wind whistles across the landscape, pushing piles of sand against every stone jutting from the surface.   Ancient riverbeds hold only sand and no sign of water or life is evident.
Far to the east, on the horizon beneath the blood-red sun, a lone figure appears.  It meanders to and fro, scrambling over the ruins, apparently searching, but moving ever westward.  The figure is tall and lanky, unclothed, hairless, and seemingly genderless.  Its eyes are large, unblinking, and violet, and it stares intently at everything it passes as it moves.
As it continues west, it seems to notice the dark sky for the first time.  It pauses, and stares upward at the stars.   As it scans the heavens, a look of confusion crosses its face, but it returns to scanning the ruins, and heads into the darkness to the west.
                Later, as the sky begins to lighten again, the being comes upon an area swept clean of sand.  It is a black stone platform, rising waist-high above the sand.  The roughly circular platform is a hundred times the creature’s height in diameter, and its near edges are rough and pitted, as though it were a thousand thousand years old.  Seated upon the platform are hundreds of figures, with legs crossed, and eyes closed, as still and silent as statues.
“Hear me, Elders, and awaken, for I have need of your assistance!” shouts the figure in a voice that echoes in the stillness.  Thrice more the figure calls out, as hours pass, and the great red sun crests at high noon.  Again the figure calls out, “Hear me, Elders, and awaken, for I have need of your assistance!”
This time, there is movement on the platform.  Eyes open, and the figures begin to move and stretch, as though waking from a deep sleep.  The nearest figure responds with a question, “What is your need, Seeker?”
“I believe I have heard my Call!”
“And what would that be, Seeker?”
“In all my journeys across the world, I have studied both the ruins and the statues that rise from the sand, and I believe I am Called to understand why they are so varied; why no two statues seem to show the same race of beings, and why none of them appear as we do…”
“Ah, Seeker, a worthy Calling, but one that has already been answered… for they are the remains of the Peoples of the Dawn, some our ancient forebears, others visitors from other worlds, but all faded to dust and lost to time.  Has any other subject piqued your curiosity in your years of Seeking?”
“Yes, I may have heard another Call.  Just recently, I happened to glance up at the stars, and was struck by how much brighter and yellower they appear than our own… I have walked the world twice since I noticed this, and in every direction, the stars nearest our own appear much younger than ours.  Our sun has aged much faster than its neighbors, and I suspect it to be twice as old as any of them”
“This is a new line of inquiry, and a fine Calling.  Have you gathered enough data to join us here in contemplation, or will you continue to Seek for a time?”
“I must continue Seeking, and will return when I am ready to join you.”  The Seeker turns and walks off, scanning the both the sky and the ruins in its path.  The beings on the platform slowly settle, and close their eyes again.

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