A Few Billion Years

We were so close.

I’m sure we were.

I think we were.

I like to believe we were.

I suppose it doesn’t matter really. Whether you miss it by minutes or hours or a few billion years, if you don’t have it in time, when you need it… well… as they say: that’s the ball game.

The clock on the wall is passed the red line. Even if we finished now, this very second, we couldn’t get mobilized fast enough. We weren’t the only one’s working on it of course. Hundreds, thousands, possibly millions were working on the same problem. Thousands more were working on other plans. All around the world. We had a machine in the corner keeping tabs on them all. Little lights on the screen that were supposed to turn green if even one of them had a success. Even if it was only one of the plans that would buy us a bit more time. We worked, and worked, and when we couldn’t work because we were testing, and praying that this time it would work, we would look at the screen, begging God for a red light to turn green. None of them did.

Ours was the last one. The threshold for all the other plans required even more time to work than ours would. If it had worked… it would have worked, we just didn’t have the time… it would have reversed the process. Completely fixing the damage we did. It was ambitious, but it would have worked. If only we’d had time.

And now… this is it, the end of all things.

Well, maybe not entirely.

I can’t help but chuckle as I press the key to upload the work to the time-capsule.

There should be just enough time to complete the file transfer.

If the math is right, if the process doesn’t accelerate faster than we thought, and if we’re very lucky, then the capsule should get far enough away before it happens.

I suppose it’s worth noting that not everyone has given up. There are still people, all over the globe, frantically searching for something we didn’t think of.

Even if they find it, we won’t have the time to implement it. They know this, but they keep going.

In a short time, we will be gone. In the wake of what is to come, there will be no ruins, no tombstones, no bones or relics for future generations to uncover. Even some vastly superior alien race will not be able to tell what was here.

They will know that ‘something’ was here (probably), and that it is not anymore, but all the details, the particulars, all the parts that make it unique and real, will be gone. Unlikely to ever be discovered despite our attempt at preservation via epitaph (the time capsule).

And they will not care. Why should they?

“Here was something. We will never know what. It was probably unimportant.”

Will they be wrong to think so? No, I suppose not.

Our final punishment: to be forgotten.

Such is life.

Others in the lab want to connect to a facility on the far side of the planet, who think they might be onto something with one of their ‘outside the box’ theories. I won’t be joining them. I am going home, to see my wife, my children. Before the fire takes us all. Before we are forgotten, and the universe moves on without us.

A man (his name is Julian) is sitting at a desk. It is getting late in the evening, and he is sipping coffee as he looks intently at his computer screen. This computer is receiving images from an unthinkably powerful telescope in orbit above his planet. The image he is looking at loads and reveals something. Something he did not expect to see.

“Hey, Diane, check this out.” He calls to a woman nearby, who until he called her name, was looking at her own computer screen. She stands and comes to lean over Julian’s desk, ‘checking this out’ as he implored her to do.

“Do you see that?” He asks.

She squints and then smiles, “Oh hey! Supernova. Cool.”

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