Online Exclusive: “Nexus” by Gunnar De Winter

dreamstime_xxl_66468862-smallI see you. I see the particles that make you. I see the planet you inhabit. I see the universe that your young species is only beginning to discover. That is my reason for existing. I observe. Information from all over the universe comes to me. And it leaves again, unaffected by its passage. I am the only one of my kind, as it should be. I have been here for a long time. So long that it lies beyond the comprehension of the current species living in the universe that is home to us all.

I have seen the rise of the first intelligent civilizations. I have seen them and their successors disappear into the darkness of extinction. I have seen the origination of simple single-celled life that outlived them all, but failed to
reach their level of complexity. I have seen intergalactic empires, their wars and eventual unavoidable demise. Few were ever aware of my existence. Fewer still approached me. And only a handful of these understood.

I am not a deity of any kind. There is no piece of information that hints at the reality of such a being, even though almost all civilizations, in their incipient stages at least, praise and revere an imaginary all-powerful entity of their own making. Most of them move beyond this phase when they begin to explore the universe. Then, they learn that there can be wonders without wonderworker and that omnipotence is an illusion. Some laws can’t be broken, no matter how hard one tries.

I am not omnipotent. Nor omniscient. Chronicling is what I do. Born alongside this universe, I will perish alongside it as well. Such is my fate. In the meantime, I watch and remember. Without goal or purpose. Condoning nor condemning. Recording all events in the cosmos in general, and those that concern life in particular. I have done so since the beginning, and will continue to do so until the end.
There is much life out there. Yet it is so ephemeral. Its beauty is short-lived, like a meteoroid burning up in the atmosphere of a planet. And it is exactly that sentiment that was the seed of my greatest mistake. In times long forgotten by all but me, I reached out to a promising civilization. They had overcome many of the hurdles incipient galaxy-travelers face and had slowly conquered their own vicious nature, evolving into a species of rational, peaceful beings.

This praiseworthy victory over themselves is what spurred me on. It was my desire to discover if the short-lived weed that is life could grow into a mighty, perennial yggdrasil, defying time and extinction. When they learned of my existence, they approached me with a laudable combination of caution and curiosity. Pleased, I eagerly shared information and knowledge, nurturing their development. They grew so fast, spreading throughout space, uncovering mysteries that had been hidden behind a thick, dark veil of epistemic darkness before. Soon, I came to realize my grave error.

The marvelous tree had grown too much, absorbing the light of others, unintentionally thwarting the rise of new
weeds in its huge shadow. My vast informational resources allowed me to foresee all the life-forms that would never be. The first action I ever undertook, besides passive observing, had prevented entire civilizations from ever coming into being. And the recipients of my gifts continued unabated, unaware of this pre-emptive genocide on massive scale.

There was no choice but to inform them. Yggdrasil cracked. Some were willing to halt their expansion and confine themselves to a smaller area of their galaxy, leaving the rest undisturbed until civilizations were ripe for contact. Others were eager to push on, to keep spreading, to continue colonizing the universe and hungrily exploring its many marvels. Within this once united species, factions arose. Initially, there were political discussions. Their philosophers’ voices were heard, arguments handled with great care as if it were fragile crystals. Slowly, however,
action of the mind turned into action of the body. After millennia of peace, war was born. And it was a vile one. Their incredible knowledge, my foolish donation to them, was turned to goals of death and destruction.

My mind wept. But I kept recording everything. I saw the great tree collapse under its own weight until only dead, rotten wood remained. But as the light returned, so did the weeds. Mourning my failed intervention, I still rejoiced in the arrival of new, exciting species. The lesson was well-learned. My reason for being is not to aid others by sharing knowledge, but to observe and record. Let them find their own way, expand at their own pace. That is how it has to be, I see that now.

And yet, a part of me is eager to see another tree arise. Without my help this time. And with the realization that they should not stifle others in their growth. Not like a tree casting a vast shadow, but rather like a womb, gently cultivating others to reach for greatness. I yearn to see this universe populated by wise species, living in harmony and mutual understanding. And maybe, just maybe, one day I will be able to learn something from them. Perhaps they can one day do what I’ve never been able to: look past this universe into the other ones, for I have reasons to
seriously consider their existence.

Then, I might be able to answer questions that have been plaguing me for eons. Am I truly alone? Or are their others like me, each of them in their own universe? Am I an anomaly, or a member of a species? If the former, so be it, at least I will know, and there will be entire new universes to explore. If the latter, imagine all the knowledge that is out there, waiting to be shared. Perhaps, if there are others like me, we can connect and distribute all we have observed, forming an informational nexus across universes.

The mind of the multiverse.


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