Chuck Wendig posted a Flash Fiction challenge today, and it’s been so long that I decided to accept. You can tell I’ve been reading a lot of N. K. Jemisin here. I’m just a little inspired. It’s pretty rough, needs a lot of work, and probably deserves to be spread out over a longer story, but I like what it is so far.
The God Factory
Before there was a beginning, there was a first. The Nothing had always existed and had not. From the Nothing came the Everything, and that was when I sprang forth. I was a god, by mortal standards, an infant as well. Unlike most creatures, I had no mother or father to teach me. My parents were existence in its purest form. But because the Nothing and the Everything have no solid consciousness, I was left without love or companionship—though such words meant nothing to me then.
They had gifted me with the ability to learn quickly, to understand such things no mortal ever could, and an abundance of creativity. I knew what they wished for me. That I would go on creating new things. I was happy to oblige, not only for them, but also for my entertainment. It was rather boring for the first few eons of my existence.
My first universe had been an utter failure. I hadn’t thought to put any physical laws into place and so planets refused to form around stars that had no idea how to burn. I left it there, empty and adrift, the dead evidence of my incompetence. To be fair, I was only a child.
It was my fifth universe that had at last been a total success. This one was painted in nebulae and a thousand thousand galaxies. Here I’d laid down the basic laws of physics I believed would hold it together. Unfortunately, no matter how successful this universe was, something seemed to be missing. I called out to my parents in a plea, “Help me.”
At this point I had no concept of life. I, myself, was not a living being. I merely existed and will continue to exist until the Nothing decides to end it. It was the Everything that spoke to me. (I say spoke, but it isn’t such a simple thing as that. It was more like a knowing, as though I had always known the idea the Everything planted within me.) “Life,” I whispered.
And my universe shivered.
Single-celled organisms were simple enough. They lived and died with no real understanding that they did so. When I attempted to clump them together, the results were often strange. One being lived for only a solitary day, and died knowing its existence was impossible. At last, after another eon had passed, I watched as plant life took hold. And soon creatures of the sea. Quickly, before this fragile thing I’d created could fail, I drew up requirements for life to continue existing.
I knew that I could not mold life alone. By now I’d learned that lesson several times over. Life needs to be free to transform itself. So I passed the reigns to nature. “Evolve,” I whispered, and it shivered. I did this to several more galaxies and waited once my seeds were sewn.
For another three billion years I traveled through my galaxies, observing as complex life took hold. I visited planets, mingled with its mortals. I even loved some of them. Love was new to me and took me, quite abruptly, by surprise. I had no idea that one could feel such deep emotions for creatures with such terribly short life-spans. Most of my time was spent on the oldest of my living planets.
Laku, its people called it. Beautiful, in its green and blue shimmer. I walked among its inhabitants, in corporeal form—sometimes male, sometimes female. Each of them knew me on sight. I had spent so much time among them that they had even named me: Ahn. I rather liked that name. In their language it meant “first.” While I wasn’t exactly the true first, for them I was, and so I kept it.
Time is a funny thing. Even for gods, who barely notice its passage, time is fickle. It lingers on and moves slowly as we sit in dull silence. And then it races ahead when we busy ourselves with tasks, mundane or exciting. Without realizing it, over four thousand years had passed as I moved among my mortals. Laku’s mortal population when I had arrived was no more than a few hundred thousand. Now it had reached over eight billion, and that number was still rising. As I had commanded of nature, they evolved. Most no longer used spoken words. Telepathy was as easy to them as breathing.
It was in this four thousandth year that I felt something change. It was subtle at first, no more than a gentle breeze. Yet as more time passed, I found myself struggling against the gale-force winds. Life had not only evolved within the rules of nature, but something else—something impossible—had sprung forth.
I raced across continents, losing corporeal form to avoid the laws of Laku’s gravity. She was on the other side, waiting for me. Back in corporeal form I found myself in the waiting room of a hospital. I glanced up to see the sign, maternity ward. My heart raced as I darted down the halls and burst into the room where she emerged. I knew when she opened her eyes. I knew. I knew.
Her mother smiled up at me, proud that the great Ahn would visit her during her difficult time. It broke my heart to know she wouldn’t last long. The daughter she’d born was impossible and impossible things destroy weaker beings. Only a god can survive the birth of a god. In a breath of a moment the mother’s smile faded, and her body stilled forever more.
The child, however was strong and healthy, and completely beyond the understanding of her handlers. I took her at once, without explanation and wisped her away to my home. (I had long ago claimed an island for myself on Laku, and on it I built an expansive fortress. No mortals argued or fought to take it from me. I was, after all, their creator.)
Ahntah, as I had named her, grew quickly. While she was born physically and in a corporeal body, she had the ability to be much more, and she knew it. She absorbed knowledge at a rate that astounded me. She touched parts of my soul with her beauty—inwardly and outwardly—and there ignited a flame. I had fallen in love.
It was another thousand years when Ahntah and I felt the winds again. Then five hundred years, then two hundred. Soon it became clear; Laku’s people were no longer simple mortals. There I stood with my mate, and thousands of her brothers and sisters. We were gods. Gods! In all of my existence I had never believed there could be more than just me, the lonely god in his dismal fortress.
Yet a singular problem remained. Though the Laku were now gods, there were still those drops of mortal in their souls. They knew hate and envy and rage just as much as they knew love and creativity and happiness. Ahntah was the first to say it aloud, and I nodded because I had known all along.
“They will fight amongst themselves and destroy this world and then your universe,” she whispered while wrapped in my arms.
“There is only one way to prevent it,” I answered.
We met one another’s eyes and reached out once more to the Everything.
Our universe shivered.
We exist as our universe’s only gods, Ahntah and me. The others have been granted their own universes and the capacity to create whatever worlds they wish. It is our job to ensure the gods born here are given the proper tools to create. As Ahntah once pointed out to me, our universe is the god factory.