Short Story: The Hyperverse Accord

The Forever Stranger, born a seemingly normal human baby named Caiaphas Dace, is an entity whose continued existence defies the very laws of space-time.

The short story The Hyperverse Accord documents a meeting at the end of the universe, between Dace, now evolved to a non-corporeal existence, and a mysterious entity calling itself the Observer.

The last two beings in the cosmos need to come up with a plan, because Dace, despite having lived and died countless times over the millennia, definitely does not want this death to be his last, just because the entire universe is coming to an end.

The Hyperverse Accord

“Someone else is out there. I can sense it. Hello? Please, time is short. It would be nice to talk with someone. Before the end, you know? Talk to me, damn it! Just a word…? Fine, have it your—”

“I am here. I was sleeping. I am the Observer. You can call me Drilos.”

“So! You have a voice. I thought no one was out there any more, but then I sensed something leaking in, just as everything else seems to be leaking out. Drilos, you say? The Observer? You weren’t there when the universe still made a semblance of sense.”

“I was, but I wasn’t. It’s peaceful in the spaces outside of your cosmos. Why would I leave them?”

“Where are you hiding, Drilos? Even during the chaos I should have sensed someone as strong as you among the galaxies. Why didn’t I?”

“I stay in the folds of nowhere. It’s comfy here. But now I feel those folds are closing in.”

“And so you peek out, now of all times? How daring! Here we are at the end of all things, and you finally decide to join the party. Talk about a fashionably late entrance.”

“Late, early, it’s all semantics if you ask me. Aren’t you going to introduce yourself?”

“You’re the self-proclaimed Observer; surely, with such a title, you already know who I am.”

“Of course I do. But just because we’re the only guests to attend this party doesn’t mean we should abandon decorum, don’t you agree?”

“Nothing wrong with manners, Drilos. I was just testing you.”

“Very well… Your name is Caiaphas Dace.”

“Indeed it is! But you can just call me Dace. I dropped the Caiaphas long ago. Sometimes names only serve a purpose up to a certain point.”

“I take it you reached that point.”

“Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you like. Can we not talk about that? Some memories are better stored away in safe places.”

“Understandably so. Both you and I have been victims of time in our own different ways, I think. Talking about time – you said the end is coming? Is that what I sense? I can’t believe it’s here again.”

“If you mean everything feeling much smaller than it once was, then, yes, I do. But I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate. I’ve been thinking: Perhaps it’s not smaller, but bigger. Just thinner and less defined. If that’s what you’re sensing, then it seems even your folds of nowhere – wherever they’re not – can’t resist the tide of time and space.”

“Ah! So, it’s heat death this time. Now that makes a change. The problem with being a non-entity in a timeless non-space, is that both time and space on the outside tend to behave quite capriciously when you’re not paying attention to them. A bit like babies, you know? Or deities. We’re in the eye of the storm, right here and now, and I nearly slept through it!”

“It might have been for the better if you had. I’m sorry I woke you.”

“Don’t be. What’s the point in an Observer if not to observe the most important times in existence? This ending is one of those times, Dace. This is the quiet, long death between life and rebirth. From insects to the cosmos, the change comes to everything – to all of us – eventually.”

“Even to you, Drilos? What are you? Tell me about these spaces of yours. I’m intrigued.”

“You really want to know?”

“I wouldn’t be asking.”

“Fair enough. They’re not in the cosmos at all, but outside of it.”

“Outside? Stop talking nonsense.”

“How can I explain? Okay, think of it like this: The cosmos exists. That’s a given. But, outside of the cosmos, nothing exists. Are you with me?”

“Of course. Nothing exists. Except for you, apparently. Go on.”

“Beyond the cosmos is a fold of non-existence, and beyond that… Well, what do you think is beyond that?”

“More riddles, Drilos? Nothing can exist beyond existence. Frankly I’m beginning to wonder whether you really exist or if I’ve just conjured you up to combat the loneliness. What is all this talk about things not existing? Even I’ll exist after the end of the universe. I’ll probably wait around for the next Big Bang or something, but I can’t simply not exist, nor would I want to. That’s my nature. As long and lonely as eternity is proving to be, I wouldn’t trade it for the alternative.”

“You don’t sound entirely convinced, Dace. Listen, you might be dying here, you don’t know. You talk about life and death, but I don’t even remember a beginning. I know you do. I have no idea how I came to be. You’re not the only one with issues here.”

“Okay, I’ll play. Yes, I remember a beginning, but I also remember an ending. My birth is a fixed point. My death, not so much. Every time I die I end up somewhere else, always altered to varying degrees in form and substance. Sometimes time and space are no longer relative, but rather abstract concepts like lucid dreams. I’m everywhere and nowhere, Drilos. That’s where I’m at.”

“Not in my nowhere, you’re not.”

“Well, I wouldn’t know. I don’t know where your nowhere is. I know where my universe is, but not what’s beyond it.”

“I’ll tell you what’s beyond it. You are. And I’ll tell you what your cosmos is, what all of this is.”

“Oh, this should be good. You’re giving me the answer to life, to the universe–”

“To everything, yes. The answer – as you seem intent on putting it, my dear Dace – is you. You, you, and a multitude of yous. Every course alteration of the tiniest particle, anti-particle, or non-particle creates another alternate you. I know, because I watch each one coming into creation. Every moment countless realities branch off into countless more. And between them all are the gossamer folds of nowhere, expanding with each new reality. Well, my lovely nowhere was growing, but now it’s closing in. The cosmos, dear Dace – every last one of them – are blinking out.”

“Wait a second. You think I’m the universe? Do you know how preposterous that sounds? I was born on Earth, or Terra, Gaia, whatever you like to call it… in the year 255 of the Eurasia Global Unification. I died on the same planet during the Archaean Eon – the Calming Flame they called it, but it still burnt! – some 3 billion years before my birth. And that wasn’t even my first death, nor the last. I died in so many places, at so many periods in time, I’ve forgotten half of them. So, ipso facto, I know I can’t be the universe. Did I mention I’ve been to the end of the universe already? I was crushed inside the wreckage of galaxies. Not something I recommend. But that was very different to this. Which, frankly, confuses me. This time everything has just… grown old and died. How can the same universe follow two completely different principles – first a Big Crunch, then a Big Freeze?”

“How could it not? Choices, Dace. Choices. Groups of cellular organisms will spread out from one another. Content with their own space, they’ll grow old and die. Other groups will throng together, usually because they fail to notice all the space around them, but just as often because it’s in their very nature to gather together. But as each organism holds the potential to defy its own nature, to become an aberration, so each cosmos carries the same potential. You’ve witnessed one possible end, but that was only the end of a single cosmos, not all of them.”

“I’ve never been to the end of all universes. How could I? I only exist in one. The multiverse is just a concept.”

“If you say so, Dace. If you say so. For someone of such fundamental inconsistency I’m not surprised you’re showing such an unfathomable lack of understanding. Did it never occur to you that eternity is the breeding ground of eternal change? That’s what’s happened to you, my friend. You’ve changed.”

“I know that. It doesn’t mean I’m the bloody universe, though.”

“Where’s your body, then?”

“It didn’t follow me this time. Sometimes it’s like that after a shift.”

“Which means there’s an infinite amount of Daces without corporeal form, if you are, as you say, incapable of ending. In never-ending time and hyper-reality, when something happens once it must happen uncountable times.”

“Which means what exactly?”

“Which means, dear Dace, that you are the cosmos, in all its forms of existence. Ipso facto, as I believe you put it.”

“Your reasoning is weak, but for the sake of argument let’s say you’re right. There’s an infinite number of incorporeal Caiaphas Daces. And what about Drilos? Are there an infinite number of Driloses, too?”

“No. There’s only one me. But, like my nowhere spaces, I reach between the seams of all each and every cosmos. Maybe each Dace is just a lesser copy of the original; offshoots of your central consciousness. Maybe the realities are not an infinite forest of roots, trunks, boughs, branches, twigs and leaves – variations on each change of each living or unliving thing that exists or doesn’t exist – maybe they’re all just echoes of Dace, the eternal stranger. I’m no–”

“What did you call me? Where did you hear that? No one’s called me the eternal stranger for a very long time.”

“Memories, my dear Dace. They don’t call me – well, I don’t call me – the Observer for nothing, you know? I might have an eidetic memory, but I don’t have instant recall, nor instant perception, for that matter. Can you imagine trying to find a single, tiny data file on a drive of limitless storage? Welcome to my life. As I was saying: I’m no expert, but it stands to reason if there were an original you – my possibly soon-to-be-deceased friend – then that original must be a mistake of cosmic proportions.”

“Now listen here–”

“Let me finish! A mistake I’m quite happy about, as it happens. If you didn’t exist, I probably wouldn’t exist either. But since time – albeit non-linear time – and space are what govern you, of course you recall a beginning. For me, time and space have much less significance. Maybe what’s happening now is you’re returning to an even more primal beginning, so primal you couldn’t possibly recall it.”

“Admittedly it’s been a strange life, but what you’re suggesting beggars belief even from me.”

“You’re slowly turning into an unending, multi-cosmic void.”

“Ah, Drilos. I wanted someone to talk to, but I never counted on a conversation quite so hilarious. Not only are you saying I’m the multiverse, but also that I’m becoming something devoid of existence? Ridiculous. Right now I’m just a disembodied consciousness, but as long as I exist in a void then the void won’t be a void. Right now I consist of energy rather than matter; it’s just nature’s way of compensating for the random space-time shifts of a being it apparently doesn’t want to die. Fission, fusion – I don’t make up the laws. The where and when of me are easy questions to answer. What am I? That’s a bit more difficult, but ultimately I was born a human, and nothing can change that. The how and the why of me – now there are two questions that are impossible to answer. If your theory is correct, how can a human evolve into an entire multiverse? More to the point – why would it do so? And if I’m the universes now, what were they before I became them?”

“Merely as atoms without nuclei. Galaxies without cores. Realities without souls.”

“No. I’m not buying that for a moment.”

“Who’s to say your human birth was your true beginning?”

“Drilos, If anyone’s the damn multiverse around here, it’s not me – it’s you.”

“It can’t be me. I don’t affect anything outside of nowhere. I don’t affect anything in nowhere, for that matter, since I’m not technically real.”

“Just a worm of unreality? Eternally crawling beyond existence, hey, Drilos?”

“If that’s how you want to see me.”

“You’re as real as me, but do we really need to argue metaphysical semantics on top of everything else?”

“Why not?”

“Look, if you don’t affect reality, what do you call interacting with me? You do understand causality, right? Effect can only be caused by matter or energy, and, if you’re neither, then our conversation can’t be affecting me. But it is. Somebody once said that if a concept that was believed to exist without proof was finally proved to not exist, it would disappear from belief in a puff of logic. Well, what happens when a concept that believes itself not to exist is shown – through logic – that it can’t not exist? Will it – will you – then appear in a similar puff of logic?”

“Your argument fails, Dace. You forget that matter and energy aren’t all there is.”

“What? What else is there? How can something be but not be? If you’re something, then you are real. You think, therefore you are. Case and point.”

“Not so. Zero-mass and zero-density consciousness and thought within a negative expanse is merely information existing in and of itself, outside of all cosmically-accepted definitions of real. When you put two slices of bread together, do they become a sandwich? No. They become two slices of bread, sandwiching a filament which can only be described as information. Such is the relation between the folds of nowhere and the multi-cosmos. But enough about me, let’s get back to you.”

“Fine, fine. I mentioned logic, and that needs to apply to the idea of a multiverse, not just a metaverse or whatever your nowhere spaces are. You say there are infinite universes, but I’m only consciously aware of one of them. Time for me isn’t linear, but my consciousness is linear and always has been. One solitary consciousness existing, either corporeal or incorporeal, travelling back and forth throughout a very singular universe. But let’s say that’s all just so much nonsense and I’m really living countless separate lives, all intrinsically connected but unaware of being so. Add to that the imminent conclusion of multiversal entropy, and say that it’s me who’s responsible for it all; that I, in fact, am it all. I’ve heard some fascinating theories and I’ve witnessed some amazing events – as I’m sure you have, Drilos – but this opens up an entirely new can of worms.”

“You can joke about it, but you’re the reason my nowhere spaces are closing in. You’re compressing back to your primal state, not just the original you, but all of the other yous. Starting, I would guess, with the most recent off-shoots.”

“Okay, I can see where you’re taking this. But if all these versions of me exist, why have I never known about them?”

“Hmm.”

“Well?”

“Let me think. The only way for you to know would be… would be if you, at least in some minor way, were multiversally connected. Which you’re not. Therefore, you couldn’t know about the other versions of you. But–”

“But I do know about them, because you’ve told me.”

“Precisely.”

“Except I still can’t feel them. Which me are you talking to here and now, anyway?”

“I’m addressing the primal you, but I’m talking to all of you. It’s difficult to explain.”

“Oh, this is difficult to explain? You’re a regular comedian.”

“Thank you. I’ll be back next existence.”

“Drilos, I’m seeing a chicken or the egg problem here. Are you sure you didn’t exist before me – I mean, before the Big Bang?”

“That’s immaterial. Of course I existed before then. I told you I’ve witnessed many deaths and rebirths.”

“But you weren’t around to witness the first?”

“No…”

“Well then, Observer of everything, did you or did you not observe me – Dace – coming into creation?”

“Yes, but–”

“There you are, then! You were here before me, therefore I can’t have been here forever, even in a more primal state. If you don’t remember it, it never happened, isn’t that right, Mr Eidetic?”

“Stars, but you’re difficult! You’re not thinking relativistically enough. Time, remember, is meaningless.”

“Except for now. Right now time is bloody-well vital because, if your theory proves true, we’re both diminishing as the realities thin.”

“Wait. Are you finding a way to connect your selves?”

“Even without prior knowledge of being anything other than human? Albeit admittedly a rather improbable one, if you’ll forgive the cliché.”

“I think you mean to say trope, not cliché.”

“Really? Semantics at a time like this?”

“Sorry.”

“You’re right, though. I think I can feel these other realities. They’re like echoes on the threshold of my senses. But it’s through you. Everything’s thinning and you’re – I don’t know – you’re pushing at the boundaries like, like…”

“Like a parasite? Gorging its way through a giant intestine crammed full with excrement?”

“Interesting simile.”

“I aim to impress. I suppose I might be the catalyst for you sensing the other versions of you, but there’s not many of them left to matter. Soon enough you’ll be gone and you’ll take me along as a passenger. A fact I doubt I’ll be thanking you for any time soon.”

“You should have chosen someone else’s guts to crawl through then, shouldn’t you?”

“Touché.”

“Wait a minute! I’m getting something. It doesn’t have to be like that. Now that we know of each other, you can integrate yourself into existence, or reality, or whatever the hell you want to call it. It might be that we can both survive this ending-to-beat-all-endings. But you can’t stay completely in your little folds, Drilos. You can’t just slither through your spaces.”

“I’ll do what it takes. I promise that much. You’re not so bad, you know? It’s not your fault you’re completely destroying everything that ever did and didn’t exist, including yourself. I’ve heard of self-destructive personalities, but yours takes it to another level. I suppose even the multi-cosmos – or Caiaphas Dace – has to wipe the slate clean once in a while.”

“Sarcasm duly noted. How many realities do you think aren’t snuffed out yet? I can’t sense many, if they’re even what I’m sensing.”

“They’re closing in. Exponentially. There really isn’t much time now at all. It – It hurts. This is new.”

“I can feel it, too. I’ve died with and without a body often, but it was never quite like this. Ah, déjà vu! Maybe it was like this once before. In the dark era of an earlier, similar end…”

“It’s never happened before. Oh, beginnings and endings have happened, but an ultimate end or ultimate beginning? That really is impossible.”

“Impossible seems to be trending recently.”

“Doesn’t it just. But a multi-cosmic finality just defies the laws of everything; chaos, entropy, you name it. It can’t have existed.”

“Oh, but it can. It has absolutely will have existed. Not just now, but before every Big Bang, and the gods know when else. Perhaps countless times.”

“Gods? Don’t even go there, please. This is a god-free zone right now, for which I’m more than grateful than you could know.”

“Bad choice of word, perhaps. I always wondered if the shadow was a god. It probably isn’t; I expect it’s my own shadow, somehow. Maybe I’ve been chasing myself all this time.”

“What shadow? What are you talking about now?”

“Forget it. It’s not important. The prospect that I’m the multiverse sort of makes the rest of my existence seem somewhat trivial, including the shadow. Well done, Drilos; I’ve lived hundreds of thousands of non-linear years, spanning hundreds of billions of linear years; I’ve witnessed the births and deaths of planets and stars, including those I was born on and under; I’ve even watched the crush of galaxies, and now the universe freezing over. But you, my last, great acquaintance, have taken everything I’ve been forced to accept and added a whole new dimension to it.”

“A nineteenth dimension? Now who’s being ridiculous?”

“Not that kind of dimension. And what do you mean, nineteenth? There are only eleven. That was hypothesised and later proven long before my birth.”

“You think so? What am I, then?”

“You’re a … a dimension?”

“Bingo. The nineteenth, to be precise. Well, then, Caiaphas Dace, if you have any last words I suggest now is the time to voice them. Maybe you’ve planned a self-gratifying eulogy? Or perhaps you’d like me to speak on your behalf? Either way, we need to get on with it, because the moment is almost upon us.”

“I know. I can feel it. Look, if all this really is somehow down to me, I’m sorry. I’ve messed up a lot of people’s lives through the aeons–”

“Don’t sweat it. Really.”

“No, I mean it. When this is over, if we work together maybe we can do things differently. Maybe we can make everything a constant. I’m tired of shifting through time, being followed by the shadow and forced to witness so much death. Let’s get rid of entropy! If I’m a never-ending paradox then that’s exactly what the universe – all the universes – will also be. We’re going to stop compression from ever starting. We’re going to infuse the primal universe with the true eternity of its infinite variants.”

“You mean splice the realities together? Rip open a true eternity?”

“Exactly. Turn the multiverse into one never-ending, ever-expanding, integrated reality, creating new matter and energies – new life – forever.”

“An integrated hyper-dimension as a new model of existence?”

“That’s right, Drilos. We’re going to kick-start the hyperverse. Are you with me?”

“Fascinating. It could actually work!”

“Where’s the harm in trying? But we have to do it together. I need your impetus between the folds to keep my velocity from dropping below an optimal pace. Do you understand? It’s only a concept, but we’ve got nothing to lose.”

“You want me to weave the realities together into the greatest tapestry ever? Hah! I’m in! But what if the residents of the new realities discover my threads?”

“Then they discover them. It’ll all be part of the growth.”

“It’s closing in. Here it comes. Are you ready, Dace?”

“I’m ready. Concentrate, now. We need to stay connected in the final moments.”

“Goodbye, my friend. See you on the other side.”

“See you soon, Drilos. And don’t forget…”

Copyright © 2014 Scott Kaelen

One thought on “Short Story: The Hyperverse Accord

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s