The Last Witness, by Ricardo Victoria
Chreechk walked slowly towards the designated spot. Mustering enough energy to move was challenging enough, given the conditions. This would be the last time they would leave their abode on the desolated, dead world, to witness what was to come. They told themselves that there was still time. But time, like the rest of the universe, was on its last legs. As they reached the place and took a seat, they realized that the surface was cold. Cold as anything could be. Whatever portent had allowed the gods to create them to still move, exist even, in a coherent atomic structure, made Chreechk wonder. They were created eons ago, way before the first living being had born, to record everything. And that included this day. Who or what would find out this recording, how this recording would survive and reach the other side, was out of their neutrino computer capabilities of calculation. But they had a mission and they would fulfill it!
Chreechk could feel –if that was the right word or the correct meaning- how the last remnants of energy left their body. And with that, their own body’s demise.
It doesn’t matter, they thought. They had just enough energy stored to keep the recording all the data the failing sensors could gather: measurements about entropy, atomic decay, ordinary matter evaporating, protonic instability. Only the random photons and neutrinos remained. And so, Chreechk stared ahead, unmoving, unflinching, as one by one, the last scraps of light and warmth of the universe, the last of the singularities evaporate into oblivion.
Chreeck was mostly fine with this. They had been created for this purpose. And yet, they felt something was amiss.
During eons, they had studied not only the universe itself but life. And the constant of life, sentient life at least, was the need for companionship. While their brain wasn’t programmed to feel that, at least at the start, after all this time, their brain had evolved to ‘feel’. So now, after billions of years and the rise and fall of countless civilizations, they could acknowledge the presence of a feeling. One that had been present after it saw the death of the last living being: yearning. They yearned for companionship, for understanding, for a hug. The same other lifeforms have had until it’s very existence had been impossible to sustain in a dead universe. Chreeck felt the ‘coldness’ of the entropy creeping over their body and wished someone, something could give them a hug.
Creators, forgive me, I might come across as silly for wondering about going home and receiving a hug, they thought. There was a sense of emptiness in a particular region of their brain. But I feel alone. And I wish to go home, please.
As their brain, their soul, their very essence represented by the neutrino computer started to scatter; it kept recording as much as it could. At the last moment, a tiny light connected with them. They felt how the surviving parts of the records in their brain were sucked across the light tunnel into a more luminous realm. If they could, Chreeck would have smiled, or dropped a single tear.
Maybe this is how it feels to be touched by your gods and being able to finally go home, they thought. Thank you for not forgetting about me. Can I get a hug now?
And Chreeck finally passed away, the last witness of the dying the universe they were sent to observe.
“So, did you managed to recover it?” One asked.
“It was hard, but after a while, I managed to recover almost all data.” Six replied.
“What do you mean by almost? You know we need all of it!” One sounded exasperated. The dark marks under his eyes were proof of the duress he was under. And that made him unkind.
“I know, but recovering data through the quantum vacuum from a dying universe is trickier than it sounds. And it already sounds like a headache,” Six explained.
“I thought it could be doable,” One said.
“Up to a point, you have to understand, information on that particular situation degrades faster. It’s a miracle that Chreechk…”
“The probe,” One pointed.
“Right, the probe,” Six replied with a sigh. “It’s was nothing short of a miracle it lasted this long for us to start the extraction. So data degraded somewhat.”
“Can it be recovered?”
“The probe? That’s impossible. There is no possible way to bring it into our universe. We had to assemble it there for a reason: crossing between universes is not possible now. Maybe never. Poor thing.”
“Sigh, forget about the damn probe,” One pinched the bridge of his noses. “I’m talking about the missing data.”
“Now that would be a miracle. Look, I understand the precariousness of the situation, but at least we have ninety-five percent of the data with us. That’s better than expected.”
“Let’s hope you are right. The data obtained by the probe from that micro universe should help us to devise a way to deal with the impending heath death of our own.”
“Aren’t we still millions of years away from that to happen? Why the hurry?” Six was confused. This wasn’t his area of expertise.
“Because in this case, millions won’t be enough to develop the whole system we need to rewrite the underpinnings of the universe and restart it. And with it, save sentient life. The Diosamadre project will use most of the resources of thousands and thousands of species across the universe to create the tools to do it.”
“You make it sound direr than it seems.”
“The disadvantage of having developed a certain degree of cosmic awareness. My species can feel the pulse of the universe. And the signs are not good.”
“Alright, alright,” Six said, shrugging his shoulders. “Take the data we have and I will try a new attempt of retrieval. Just bear in mind that with time dilation, this chat might have taken too long and that universe might be already into its Dark Era.”
“That’s all I’m asking for. Besides, the neutrino computer might still be functional even if its body is all but gone. No big deal.”
“Yeah right,” Six replied with sadness. “Not a big deal… for you.”
As he was left alone in the control room and started the procedure for the quantum entanglement recovery, he couldn’t avoid feeling bad for Chreeck. To hell with not being allowed to give them the respect of a sentient being. They were left alone, in that cold, unknown universe, sent to stare at the dying embers of reality. And he wondered how they must have felt by being the last survivor of the universe, the last being watching alone how the lights were turned off with no way to go back home. Six wished to have given Chreeck a hug as they died. For in Six’s opinion, what was the point of saving a universe if you can’t even feel empathy for the lonely plight of a ‘lowly’ probe? Everyone deserved love, especially those that are giving it all to save countless species.
Six resumed his work, wishing in his three hearts that Chreechk could be proud of their work. Six resumed his task, wishing in their hearts that Chreechk could be proud of their life’s work.