Not so much waking up, as coming into existence again. The last memory, the few moments of experience before consciousness was lost for the last time. At least it seemed so then.
Perhaps this is the afterlife?
It would make a very strange one. The room is dark, the walls lumpy and twisty, like the inside of a tree. Gravity feels insignificant here, although there is enough tug to indicate which way is down.
‘Hello.’ A deep voice startles.
Turning in the direction of the voice, there is something totally out of this world. Humanoid, two arms, two legs and a head, but distinctly not human. The figure loping across the chamber resembles a chiasmus of person and fungus.
‘Who are you?’
Despite appearances, and being without explanation for the current situation, there is no fear. The creature’s eyes, amber blobs of sap, somehow communicate kindliness, and its movements are slow and predictable.
‘My apologies, I have no name to tell you, I have not needed one for so long I no longer recall it.’
‘Where am I?’
‘Come with me and I’d show you.’
The figure strides across the floor and through to another chamber.
The creature lifts an arm and points to a gap in the wall, some form of window.
Outside an impossible mass of light and energy. It looks like a gargantuan firework exploding in slow motion. Continents of blazing colour swirl and spiral. Behind the star a blackness so complete it has its own pull.
‘Is that the sun?’
‘No that is not the star you would have known in your lifetime. Like myself this star has no name, as there has been nothing to name it for a long time.’
‘What is going on, what am I doing here, where is here?’
The tall tree/person thing continues gazing out the window, light sparkling in its gold eyes. ‘That is the last star in the universe. And this is the last vessel, a complex seed-pod grown for one purpose, to attach to dying stars and preserve life inside for as long as possible. It has kept me alive for eons, right until this very moment. Soon that star will collapse into a black hole, which will absorb us and any matter left in the universe, only existing itself for a few nanoseconds before being torn apart by the sheer nothingness, and all things will end.’
‘Why on earth did you bring me here, just to see the universe ending?’
The alien holds out his hand and reveals a tiny metallic device, it looks heavy in its gnarled fingers.
‘This is the Omega Device. I was able to use it to bring one person here from the past.’
‘But why wouldn’t you just bring one of your own species back?’
‘This may surprise you, but my species is the result of Homo Sapiens’ eventual evolution, through both natural and artificial selection. We are of the same creation. While it took me some time to learn to speak English in preparation for your arrival, it is no great burden to relate to you, I note that you feel the same.’
‘I could tell you much more, however there isn’t time.’
‘Yeah right.’ The vessel begins to rumble, more and more blank spots erupt across the dying supernova.
‘The Omega device was designed for one purpose, it is the culmination of all of scientific progress of sentient beings throughout the life of this universe.’
‘What does it do?’
‘When activated the device uses quantum chaos strings to recreate reality.’
‘The device creates a new reality that can survive the end of the last star.’
‘You’re going to save the universe?’
‘Not exactly. The Omega device turns reality into a massive quantum simulation.’ The creature touches a few buttons on the device and series of lights flick on. ‘If activated the Omega Device will recreate every single sentient organism that ever existed, along with an infinite amount of habitable planets and other environments. The simulation will be entrenched in the very fabric of reality and exist forever.’
‘I’m still struggling, what does that all mean, and what does it have to do with me?’
‘This device essentially will create an afterlife for all living beings. It will defy the end forever.’
‘So how come you haven’t switched it on already? And how come I am here?’
The creature lets out a sigh that is remarkably human. ‘Throughout all the eons of life and its philosophies, endless political and moral advancement, no-one has ever settled on whether it should be used or not.’
‘But why not?’
‘Using this device would remove the one constant that binds all reality: death.’
‘Doesn’t sound that bad.’
‘Yes, I tend to agree.’ The alien looks out at the decaying star. ‘Even after more thousands of years of life, my neurology still trembles at the thought of dying.’ It turns back to you. ‘But what of any true afterlife?’
‘Seems redundant doesn’t it?’
‘Quite the opposite. Activate the device and you will ensure everlasting existence for every intelligent being that has ever existed. There will be no choice in the matter once the device is activated. If there is an afterlife, we will never reach it. If any being does not want to live, they will have to find a way to endure it.’
‘Uh, so you’re saying if I push that button no one will get into Heaven or Hell? Haven’t you proven they don’t exist or something yet?’
‘Are you saying I have the choice to stop everyone from having to die, but on the odd chance God exists I’ll ruin all his plans?’
The rumbles of the dying star stop abruptly. The nova had reduced to a mere few slivers of glowing embers.
‘Quickly now, I brought you here to make the choice no-one else could. Preserve all life with the Device, or let us to our fates. One or the other.’
The creature pushes the Omega Device into your hands.
What will you choose?