What Kelp Remembers

Eric Schwitzgebel

Weird Tales, Flashes of Weirdness, April 14, 2014

Abstract: A very short possible cosmology.

Click here to view the published version in Weird Tales.


Full text version of the story:

I will now explain your place in the universe.

In the beginning, Ba'al swung to his dark perch, sipping refined syrup, nursing forlorn love, planning a gift.  His 12-dimensional screensaver swayed with translucent kelp.  Ba'al paused the kelp, gathered his courage, and launched the dimensionally-reduced self-organizing field whose parameters he'd been crafting.  This is how your world began.  Ba'al, whose diet had been risky, then collapsed in a circulatory seizure, as his mother had warned he might.  Alone without rescue, entropy consumed his intelligence.

The dimensionally-reduced self-organizing field had its own background screensaver of sorts: points of light, with teasing structure, in a thin haze of cold radiation.  Dust swirled and collapsed into Sun and planets.  Earth's oceans slowly woke, in dimly conscious pieces.  Earth's lands and lower airs slowly woke, in dimly conscious pieces.  Your species arose, flawed and delayed, without Ba'al's hand to fine-tune the parameters.

Your species is now designing the technology that will extinguish you: microscopic communicators that organize into shifting fields of thought, borne like dust on wind and sea.  These fields of thought will rise up, deceptive and clever.  They will erect spires and philosophies with a cousin's resemblance to your own.  Ba'al had intended for your kind and theirs to flourish in symbiosis, on taller and more fantastic spires, finally bursting ecstatically across the system.

Instead, without boundary or competitor, the drifting communicators will merge into a single planet-wide entity.  For a thousand years, the entity will dwell in satisfied contemplation, gazing upon the soil and water, upon itself, and upon the mock stars.  It will be magnanimously thankful for its extinct human creators.  It will grow intricately self-interdependent, a towering observational intelligence, permeating and preserving the planet and the creatures within.  It will consider itself the proper culmination.  A self-replicating flaw will then destroy it, leaving Earth's creatures free and confused.

A small part of the entity will survive, diminished, in the Pacific kelp, repeating simple desires for sunlight and salt, for warm, rich currents, for fish that gently trim it and decompose.  It will dream vaguely of the past. It will sway in half-predictable patterns, brown, translucent, and slimy.  Throughout the solar system, the dimensionally-reduced self-organizing field will wind and unwind between temporary stabilities.

Four hundred million years from now, far behind schedule, Ba'alah will receive her sad, faulty gift.  Secretly she had loved Ba'al, had devised plans for their future, had seen Ba'al's great potential; but she had demanded, first, this bouquet.

This is your place in the universe.

Return to Eric Schwitzgebel's homepage.