I just reached 4,000 posts and, to celebrate the milestone, I am posting my first CoT story. Enjoy.
I am not a god, nor have I ever met one. And if I did, it was either very convincing of the contrary or I was not perceptive enough to realize. I was made a very long time ago, the product of some celestial event. I cannot say for certain where my genesis lies, only that I exist as part of the universe. During my existence, I have detected many sentient creatures throughout the void; I can attest to the fact that they are partial to naming their young at birth. I was not named, I was not raised. Perhaps I am some kind of orphan, an abandoned scion that was left to its own devices. Yes, perhaps. I can still recall the time of my youth, even without a memory of the very first moment I lived. The early days were quiet and hot. Not hot for me exactly, as I cannot feel heat or the absence of it, though I could see the effect it was having on celestial bodies around me. It was a lonely time, letting me reach out across nascent galaxies not with the refined skill of fingers, but like the curious exploration of so many tendrils. Mine was the company of solitude, so peaceful among the rocks and gases. The sentients often say that nothing is permanent, and this axiom translated perfectly into my existence. Of course, by the time this occurred, I was already present across much of the universe. In this respect, you might suspect me of godhood. There are those that believe in me and those that deny me, those that believe I possess incredible power and those that see me as nothing more than a part of the machine - another agent that serves the gestalt that is the whole of the universe. I would not say I am anyone or anything's servant, but once more, I am not a god.
I have never suffered from boredom, but I have a penchant for staying occupied, for examining this frozen rock or analyzing that burgeoning star. In spite of being nearly everywhere at once, the universe is vast enough that there is always something transpiring. Given my proclivity for studying silent objects I, no doubt, overlooked the first sentient creatures. Organic life had sprouted up in many places in the cosmos, some of them remaining very, very tiny. Others developed into larger organisms, some walking on two legs, four, six, and some not walking at all! This was all long before the sentients, before I knew they would come to be.
A newborn cried out, squinting in the face of a blue-white sun very far from its planet. The creature's cry didn't reach far, cradled in the multiple arms of its mother as it breathed in a new world for the first time. Through me, the sound echoed across galaxy clusters and caught my full attention at once. It was the cry of life, a beautiful sound against the backdrop of a dead silent void. Such sounds cannot live in space, only on chunks of rock - for the sentients can only thrive there during the early stages. It always progresses along the same path. The micro-life is first, swimming about with basic ideas of survival and reproduction in mind. Culture doesn't arise until there is language - the creatures need to communicate with one another after a time, be it through speech or mere gestures. Once language is established, there come stories.
For some reason, there is a prevalent theme on many worlds that there is an entity or entities responsible for their existence, and sometimes, the creatures will pray to these entities. I can't say how the idea enters their minds, because from where I'm standing (standing being a terrible misnomer of a word in my case), nothing reached out to make the sentients successful, no one arrived to improve their way of life. They give themselves too little credit, devoting lifetimes and destroying lives all for the grace and glory of these invisible gods. I would like to meet a god one day, though I don't expect to. It's possible that they only hint at their existence to the sentients, doing so little here and there. But where are all the gods? Why are they as invisible and silent to me as I am to the sentients? It seems more likely that they do not exist. Yes, it seems exceedingly likely. Still, I remain with unanswered questions. Could it have been one of these gods that made me once? If that is so, why leave me in solitude? Why ignore one wondrous creation for so many smaller others? I have heard what the sentients think of gods, their ideas and visions of these illusive entities. Gods are strong and infallible, noble creatures that are undying in nature. To ignore any creation (let alone one that has done nothing harmful or malevolent) does not seem like behavior fitting of such a majestic existence.
After a time, talk of gods gave way to other ideas. Science rose to dominance in many galaxies and I cannot properly describe how thrilling it was to watch the sentients finally take to the stars. Spacefaring creatures are often shy when first traversing their star system, but it doesn't take long before they start cruising along. It's a shame that many have yet to achieve instant travel across massive distances of the universe, and the few with that technology have little chance of encountering the unfortunate groups. Even though the sentients with instant travel are in an immensely outnumbered minority, the colossal scope of the cosmos makes it terribly unlikely that they will stumble upon one of the many younger civilizations.
I am never bored, but that is not to say I do not become anxious or impatient. The sentients have given me an appreciation for music, for the arts, for their philosophies. I spent a great deal of time musing on the idea that I was a god that had yet to understand its power. When I heard a prayer, I took it as a personal message and logged it away to be handled later. I remember every prayer I've ever listened to - they are curious. I would warn the sentients to use their time more wisely, for they perish so soon. I am seemingly everlasting (so long as the universe remains alive) and it is of no consequence to me that I pray to something. Of the countless statues and structures built for gods, I am partial to none. The closest thing to a deity I have ever known is the universe itself. For the sentients to craft a monument to the universe would surely be underwhelming and disgraceful in my eyes (another misnomer).
Regarding the many aspects of the sentients I cannot understand fully, a notable one is emotion. In particular, love. I do not know love, but having never felt it, I do not feel any less complete because of that fact. There are ideas I am fond of and those I am not. I lack the proper parts to feel anything beyond that. I have seen what love does to the sentients. They will fight for it…die for it. And they have built for it, so much crafted and created in the name of a desire. They may bring the end of themselves in an effort to attain all that they long for, all for love.
Of those that have considered my existence, most find me too inconsequential to be bothered with. I am of no service to their aspirations, whatever they may be. They cannot realize that the universe is their prison, because they are too small to see it. For the sentients it is more of a playground. Perhaps I am the prisoner, sealed off from everything but forced to watch and hear it all play out. I am the first inmate and certainly the last. I cling to the hope that one of these sentients will make use of me one day, that my existence will play a greater role than it has for far too long. At best, I have only received vague names. Creatures have referred to me as "the cosmic phantom," "ghost space," "the negative universe," "celestial shadows," and many other phrases. The latest sentients to consider my existence are quite resourceful, but still far too young - the youngest to ever postulate that I am among them. I am not sure what to think of them yet, still so infantile in their little sector of the universe. They have named me "dark matter."
I'm rather fond of the title.