by George Potter
God said 'Bang!', and all hell broke loose.
Raw energy fountained from non-existence; creating a pulsing, rushing sphere of space time, an expanding boiling soup of Being. It came from nowhere and created everywhere.
It waned and cooled as it grew. It broke and swirled and chopped and started dying. It broke into clumps and those clumps separated, still spreading. The clumps cooled and themselves began to break apart and become distinct. In their distinction the process continued. Clouds contracted, heating and transformed into stars-- chunks of compacted former energy that were too big not to burn again, little copies of the original process itself. Around the stars, in random symmetry, the same thing happened, but most of these smaller clumps did not burn, they merely boiled slightly on the inside.
God watched, intrigued.Time passed.
Mary brings Joe his dinner and sits it before him, then places her own on the opposite side of the table. It's not much of a dinner -- pinto beans and a little pile of fried potatoes, a wedge of cornbread -- because it's the end of the month and her disability check has been stretched to the breaking point. All the money they have left is contained in the little change jar on top of the fridge, laboriously saved and deposited there just for these last few belt-tight days.
Joe jumps a little and notices the plate of food before him. He nods at it, and begins to eat slowly.
"What's the matter with you today?" Mary asks him, between bites. Her husband has been unnaturally quiet all day, lost in thought even more than usual. He had woke her up this morning laughing in the bathroom, followed by what sounded suspiciously like sobbing. Then he'd emerged, walked into the living room, took his throne before the television, and flicked it on to stare at it without seeing it.
Joe just shrugs, and continues to eat methodically.
Mary sighs. It had been hard on him, losing the box factory job. And the unemployment had only lasted a few short months. And who was going to hire a sixty three year old man who had trouble talking at a normal volume and communicated mainly with body language? Nobody, that's who.
She is just about to launch into a tired pep talk when Joe sits his fork down, pushes the half finished plate away, and eyes her with a frank and open expression.
"I figured it out this morning." he says bluntly.
"Figured what out?" Mary asks, wishing she had some butter for the corn bread. It's a little dry.
"Everything." Joe informs her. "The meaning of life. The reason the universe is here. Why things happen the way they happen."
Mary almost laughs, but refrains. She almost shakes her head at his silly announcement, but just cocks it at a questioning angle.
"Okay, then Mister Wisdom, what is it all about?"
He tells her. It's just a few simple words. A single impossible statement.
Mary does laugh then, a non-derisive laugh that actually makes her feel
"Come on, hon. That can't be it. It's too simple."
But Joe is right.
God says 'Boom!' and the whole sprawling mess flashes into elementary particles and reassembles as a megamicropinprick deep below the limit of Being.
God moves away from his workspace, carrying the still frozen forms of Joe and Mary on the tip of its smallest extremity. It places them on the shelf where they join the stasis shape menagerie of the other Answerers. Their forms are vastly different from all the rest, of course, but little different in the eyes of God. There are uncounted trillions there on the shelves.
With great care, God scribes the ultimate answer to this latest universe into the records. It's a fairly obvious one now that it has been revealed, but it always seems that way. You can't figure out a universe existing outside of it. It has to come from some internal observation and reason.
Still, it's a bit disappointing that the answer is so prosaic. What's the point of making universes and watching them figure themselves out if the answers are never more than slightly amusing or marginally satisfying?
Perhaps, it thinks, I should fiddle with the presets a bit. Introduce some extra randomness, some noise. Maybe --
Maybe I should get a new hobby.