Some used to think the end of The Universe would be the beginning to something else. That nothing truly dies. That reality is change and preservation. Old Earth was filled to bursting with ideas on what happens after death. Some thought worm food, others liked the fantasy of becoming beings of light.
If nothing else Dang misses the optimism as he floats in the endless vacuum of The Universe. He long ago gave up all that. To him it doesn’t matter what happens after death, because he will never experience it.
As a laborer in the Saudi oil fields he stabbed his shovel into the polluted soil and with one pull of his over used shoulders freed an ancient lamp.
He rubbed it and in a puff of sweet spicy smoke a purple tinged being emerged in front of him.
“Your wish is my command,” it said.
Dang has spent many moments of his long life regretting his next words. As a child fantasizing about wishes it was the one wish that made the most sense. He clung to it for decades, but as the words, “I wish for boundless life,” escaped his lips he somehow knew it was not the right choice.
“As you wish my master,” it said. It because in memory the jinn had no sex. It was both male and female and neither at the same time. Black glowing eyes shone with mirth and sadness. It was duality. It was the ying and yang of Dangs youth in Vietnam.
And it stole from Dang his own polarity.
Dang got his wish and would never die and it would seem live forever.
Fifty years after his wish, when the oil fields no longer contained oil, he walked away from being a slave unchanged by his advanced age. He walked off the oil fields much like he floated away from what once was the planet when it stopped existing millions of years later.
Dang has not been limited to a single life but instead has been given eons of time for thought. During that time he has cast away Earth’s lost lore in favor of other ideas.
He has spent many moments on the question of the true nature of his reality.
Not so much the question anymore, but the answer he has come up with.
He has decided he is The Universe. That all that once existed and all that will exist again is him.
He was Genghis Khan, the moon, Solaris and every particle of dark matter.
He is it all.
He doesn’t remember when he first came to this conclusion. Time stopped mattering when matter stopped being.
The idea has led him to believe that maybe he was the Jinn also. He seeks to conjure it back to him. He has given up on philosophy, because the why stops mattering when one is everything. But what is everything when it cannot be added to a why?
Since then all stars have disappeared. All matter has been sucked into countless black holes. He wishes his eyes were able to pick up on different types of spectral light. He imagines the explosions around him are similar to volcanoes. Vibrant clouds, but invisible to him.
And really that is all he can do: imagine. It’s a strange sensation knowing that so much activity is happening around him and he is not privy to it.
Except in his mind.
And this is when his theory breaks down. If reality is not his mind and reality is the ice cold blackness of space, of what is he truly the master of.
A master of The Universe that will soon shed its cocoon and become something else. He has no doubt he will be there to see what it will become. He just need be patient for millions of years more and he will be there when that change is over also. He alone will be the master of everything that remains, that will be and what once was.
He has floated free in space since Earth’s Sun went supernova and took everything Dang knew away. It took the moon and Jupiter and exoplanets. It took his clothing. Ironically it took his last remaining will to live.
Earth in those last moments was something to see. Humanity had stretched its existence to that moment. There was no surprise, just celebration. The death of the human race was an event to remember. Two generations of partying with the knowledge the end of the massive epic called humanity had reached it’s last chapter.
Some of those last memories float free from the trillions of years worth of experiences logged in Dangs brain. He feels his mouth twitch into a small smile, but pushes it back. The only memory he really wants is that of the lamp.
He has built the thing up to be more than a rusting vessel for a supernatural being to reside.
In his mind it was taller than Everest and the jinn inside the most beautiful creature to ever have existed. He wonders again if with the destruction of the Earth the lamp has disappeared into the ether also.
Did the creature inside taste oblivion?
Did it know the sweet black kiss of death?
Dang does not know how he can still be alive if the creature that made him immortal died with the Earth.
He is just an emaciated thing in a sack of dried skin settled over a still mobile system of muscle and bone. How if he was not everything to have existed and will exist was he not also the Jinn with its lamp?
As weariness touches at him he can only hope it is true and that one day he will know for sure.
Dang closes his eyes hoping for eons to slip by. He does sleep and dreams and lives within that dream and is not alone for a time. But as always he awakes and is back in the reality of being. He is alone in the blackness again, but something is different.
He feels a pull. A tugging around the flaps of loose dried skin on his midsection. He pulls his head in the direction of the tugging and as usual when he attempts to move the effort causes him to flip over and over again. In the beginning this made him dizzy and nauseous though he had nothing in his stomach. With time the organs in his body have flatten so he does not experience this feeling now.
How he longs to feel something.
And he does.
Circling in a Dangcentric orbit is the lamp from his ancient past.
In the vacuum around he is uncertain how he is able to see it. No light reflects on it. He has not been able to see himself in millions of years due to this principle of physics.
Yet there it is.
A tarnished bronze and dirt stained lamp. He reaches for it and grabs hold of it and as he half denies its existence is possible gives the thing a quick rub. And in front of him, obliterating his loneliness, is the Jinn.
“Yes my master?” The Jinn’s black eyes are flecked with mischievous glee.
Dang is flabbergasted. In his mind he conjures up wish after wish, but with no fuel in his body to generate saliva he is forced to hold on to the lamp until he can speak words to its occupant.
And until that day The Universe is no longer alone just unsatisfied by life and drenched in the hysterical laughter of the lamp’s occupant.