The big crunch


To think it all started in a big explosion. A singularity, a flash of light, and a bunch of dust flying off in every direction. Barely more than molten rocks, a mineral soup.


Then all this dust just fleeted in every direction at inconceivable speed, colliding, aggregating, merging or exploding. They separated into clusters that would later be called galaxies, and self-organized into spinning star systems following the laws of gravity.


In this primordial chaos, elements were jumbled all over. Some planets inherited mostly gazes, some other were rock-based. The lucky ones got a bit more diversity, and Earth was one of these.


It was simply random that this little sphere got the right balance of water and carbon, that they were surrounded by diverse minerals, that living cells managed to get there and survive, that these cells developed, mutated and evolved… It was an unbelievable accumulation of coincidences, the odds were basically non existent. And yet it somehow happened.


It spun over billions of years, but genetics paved the way for a wide spectrum of animal species. Cellular organisms became more and more complex until both land and ocean were filled with a diverse well balanced ecosystem.


And that is not where it stopped, for as the structure of their organisms became more complex, so to did the structure of the information they were able to process. Animals with brain marked the dawn of conscious thoughts, and a little breakthrough later, mankind was born.


From there, things started to get really fast. In the blink of an eye, tools were developed, cultures were woven, nations rose and fell… They quickly gained a more and more thorough understanding of their environment and of abstract reflection. In no time, they figured out how to act upon it, and how to master it. Their technology rose to an incredible high, shaping the world as they desired.


They built a huge communication network that would join up everyone on the planet, they crossed fierce oceans or the cold void of space to explore new territories. They looked further outward than ever before, at the whole of the universe, and further downwards, at the most elementary fabric of reality. No physical law could remain unknown, untested and somehow vanquished.


The maximal speed reachable within the universe was no exception. Of course, if one played by the rules, it was not possible to go faster than the speed of light. That meant interplanetary travel would be almost impossible, for even light took inconceivable amount of time to travel these distances. But mankind had never been bound by common rules, so they made it happen. The trick was simple enough: rather than moving within the fabric of the universe, all that was needed was to move the fabric itself.


No one fully understood what it actually meant.


Mankind as a whole was not that great at self-reflection. So when a crew embarked upon the first faster than light trip, they did not realize what it was they were doing. Of course, everything was neatly planned and well calculated, as good science would have it. The trajectory was precisely computed, and the ship was filled with the most impressive technological equipment ever designed. But as it often goes, one cannot fully anticipate all the ramifications of something before it actually happens.


On the day of the departure, everyone was obviously excited. The chosen few bid their teary goodbyes to their loved ones who watched them proudly depart towards places no one had ever gone before. The main emotions were excitation and anticipation. They all looked forward to the trip, but the whole crew looked backwards as the planet they were leaving grew smaller and smaller during the takeoff.


From there, things started to get really fast. In the blink of an eye, they were out of the solar system. The lack of parasitic atmosphere and the very high quality equipment they had on board allowed them to look around in a way that was only possible for a few probes before them. And when they turned the observation equipment towards their home planet, they witnessed something they were not ready for. Since they travelled faster than light, the photons they were observing had left before them. They saw themselves boarding the shuttle.


And that is not where it stopped. As the ship was gaining speed, the images they saw unfold in front of their very eyes were older and older. They saw their life pass them by, and their parents’, and their parents’ parents’… They had an unbelievable chance to witness first hand major historical events, the progress of civilization, borders coming and going… Except that it was all in rewind. And, after a while, mankind was gone.


They saw more than billions of years, as their acceleration made the film on their screen accelerate in a similar way. They saw all kinds of plants and animal regress to simpler life forms and collapse back into the sea.


It was simply pictures, images on screens and in their retinas, vivid phantoms of a past long gone. It’s not like any of them could act in any way upon the events unfolding in front of their eyes, that had already happened for billions of years. They were the unprepared witnesses of the whole history of the universe. It is such an unbelievable concept that a single life form would get to see all of this in front of their very own eyes. And yet it somehow happened.


Things started to get chaotic in their field of view. Planets collapsed into dust or vanished into nothingness. It was as if the universe was somehow fading away,


Then all this dust just darted in the same direction, in trails of ashes converging towards a single point. Galaxies collided and merged until there was barely more than molten rocks, a mineral soup.


To see it all ending in a big explosion. Everywhere they looked was only a singularity, a flash of light, as if they were bathed in the primordial glow of the universe.

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