Billions of years after the great galactic empires have peaked and science was finished. The stars began to die and no new ones were made.
and somewhere in a remote patch of space a bear came upon a goose.
"Hello," Bear said, "do we know each other?"
"I don't think so," Goose said.
"Well, Which civilization do you come from?"
"I don't remember what they're called," Goose said, "I think they had a few wars and watched TV every now And then, I guess"
"Yeah," Bear said, "that sounds like my civilization, too. Is yours gone as well?"
"Well they're all gone," Goose said, "we're the last ones left don't you know."
Bear looked out at the universe and knew goose was right. All the nebulas were coming apart. All the galaxies were withering.
"How long do we have," Bear said.
"Oh, not long," goose replied, "Very soon now the universe will collapse back in on itself"
"Huh," bear said, "what happens then?"
"Oh, Everything will be gone," Goose said, "no more walking, no more fun, no more swimming."
"C'est la vie ménage toi (So it goes)"
"huh," bear said again, "What was your civilization like?"
"Hmm," goose said. She pointed with her wing
"You see that star, my whole civilization began there. And that galaxy, they spread through the whole thing. Made music, wrote books,
married, divorced, lived, died, had wars, apologized, had wars, blew everything up. A billion years of Empire, millions of languages,
thousands of planets, and now... all gone"
"All gone," Bear echoed.
"And how about yours?" goose said.
"Well, my civilization discovered the workings of nature, knew how it was all put together, saw the logic in the chaos, built enormous
Starships, traded with thousands of other empires, traveled the entire cosmos, learned everything there was to learn, then came right back to where they started,
saw everything, gave up."
"Pity," goose said, "anyway the end will be here soon. It's been lovely chatting"
Goose closed her eyes and was silent. Bear looked out again at the dying universe and felt very sad
"What was it all for?" he said finally.
"What was the point?"
"Oh, what's the point in anything," goose said. She closed her eyes again
An idea came to bear: "We know everything," bear said, "everything our civilizations knew"
"Sure," goose said.
"And we can do anything, we're all powerful."
"Well,. within limits."
"Well, Why don't we remake the universe?"
"Well that's impossible," goose said, "we couldn't survive the collapse, It's very close now
"Well, then we'll set the next universe up properly for whoever comes after"
Goose opened her eyes. "like how?"
"Well I don't know, make it more interesting, change the rules a bit. Come on, they'll never know. It'll be fun."
Goose considered this idea, she was very clever after all. Under different circumstances
She might have gone on TV talking about astrophysical matters, Neil Degoose Tyson perhaps
"All right," Goose said, "I'm listening."
"Well," bear said, "let's make everything based on subatomic particles this time. We'll call them..."
"quacks," goose said.
"hmm, a bit silly: quarks, how about that."
"Fair compromise," goose said.
Bear began setting up the new universe.
"And will make olives taste nice this time!"
"Okay, Good idea"
"And fruit will grow on trees"
"And every now and then after a good meal people will throw up a bit in their own mouths"
"What?" Goose said, "why?"
"I don't know, it'll be funny."
"Don't put that in," Goose said.
Bear put it in.
Then he organized physics and chemistry and biology and made them all interact, and built in emerging properties, invented quantum field theory
and debugged everything and added some DLC
He made water wet and deserts dry and Tom Hanks impossible to dislike and finally he was done
They marveled at the starting conditions of their new universe.
"It's still missing something," bear said, "Should we maybe add more purple"
"No, it doesn't need more purple," Goose said.
"Hey, maybe coffee should make everyone shit real bad."
"Don't put that in," Goose said
Bear put it in.
"There," he said, "perfect, let's get this sucker going."
"No wait," Goose said, "we're still missing something"
"We've got to make things... difficult."
"Difficult?" Bear said, "no
We'll make this the party cosmos: margaritas on trees, walking hamburgers that kind of thing"
"No," goose said, "look where that got our civilizations. Everything was boring, It was too easy"
"We'll make living tricky, but not too tricky. That way there'll be a point, at least for a while"
"We'll make the stars so far away, they'd have to get clever to reach them."
"We'll make nature just weird enough to be interesting, but not so weird they can't crack it"
"And we can't put the meaning of life in plain sight, it'll have to be a challenge"
"They'll need to fall in love or go backpacking or argue in the comments section of YouTube or something"
"All right," bear said. And made the changes.
They sat back then and admired their blueprint of the cosmos-to-be, no one could doubt that it was indeed: very pretty
Around them the stars were going out in bunches, now the light was dying. Infinite space was reclaiming its territory
"Is this it?" Bear said.
"This is it," goose replied.
"What will happen to us now?"
"Oh, we'll be gone, everything will be gone, then the new universe will start just how we designed it"
The darkness came down in silent curtains all around them. History was dying. Space gave a little whimper. The end was just moments away
"Goose, I'm scared," Bear said
"I know, Bear," Goose said,
"But it won't hurt, here put my wing in your paw and don't let go"
The last star died finally. Then space began to collapse into a point infinitely small, the laws of physics blurring into each other.
Time and space falling undone. Billions of years had come to this and soon it would be for nothing at all.
[The music fades to silence]
"Will they see?" Bear said, "In the next cycle, do you think they'll see how beautiful everything is."
"Sometimes," Goose said, "Only sometimes. All the time would be too much. Never would be too little.
"Every now and then. They'll see it sometimes"
"and that will be enough..."
Amazing as always, exurb1a