Hello, friends, and welcome to the final episode of this year’s A to Z Challenge.  All month, I’ve been telling you about the universe of Tomorrow News Network, my upcoming Sci-Fi adventure series.

For today’s post, I’d like to wrap things up with a short story.  This story has appeared on my blog before, but I think it’s a good time for me to post it again.  While this year’s A to Z Challenge is coming to an end, this story is about the beginning.

TIME INDEX ZERO

We were all that ever was, all that ever is, all that ever would be.  We were everything and we were nothing, and we were content.  To say that we were alive would be misleading, for there was no meaningful distinction to be made between life and non-life.  To say we were conscious or self-aware would equally be a mistake.  Nothing existed for us to be conscious of, and we had no meaningful concept of self to be made aware of, for there can be no concept of a self without a concept of others.

That changed when we… perceived the broadcast.  It would be wrong to say we saw it or heard it, for we did not yet have physical senses of that kind.  But we did abruptly become aware of it.  The broadcast commanded our attention:

“This is the Tomorrow News Network, bringing you tomorrow’s news today since the year twenty billion.”

We did not understand what this meant.  We had no concept of a tomorrow or a today, no concept of time in any sense of the word.  Even the idea of words, of communication, of information that could be passed from one individual being to another—why should such a thing be necessary when all is unity, all is harmony, all is one?  These ideas were strange and fascinating to us—and frightening.  The broadcast continued.  It could not be ignored, nor did we wish to ignore it.

And that, we would later come to understand, was the trap. The future is, by its very nature, an unknown quantity, a changeable quantity.  But to learn of the future, to be informed about future events (or in our case, to become aware that future events exist at all) transformed this unknown, changeable quantity into an inevitable, unchangeable fact.

One of the Tomorrow News Network reporters was explaining what religion would be.  She was a confusing creature.  We did not understand what she was.  We did not know yet about humans, or females, or eyes, or the color violet; and yet the instant we perceived this female human we knew the color of her eyes was wrong.  Unnatural.  A sign of danger.

“The birth of the universe,” this violet-eyed creature was saying, “will be known by many different names among many different peoples: the Rifting, the Great Hatching, the Big Bang, the Primal Illumination. But the most widely accepted name, at least among chronotheorists, will be Time Index Zero.”

We were appalled.  Not only would there be separation and division, a plurality of people spread across a plurality of worlds believing a plurality of things—but all those people could not even agree to call a singular event by a singular name.  Could nothing in this new universe be unified?  Could nothing be made whole?  We refused to accept this… or rather, I refused to accept it.  The new universe was wrong.  It should not be allowed to happen.

And yet, even in thinking that thought, a thought distinct and separate from the thoughts of the others, I realized the damage had already been done.  We were no longer one.  I was myself now.  The others were others, and we no longer existed together in a state of harmony.

“What shall be must be,” one of the others assured me.

“No, it must not,” I replied, but it was too late.  Our quiescent non-existent existence was over.  Our slumbering pre-universe was coming to an end.  As separate entities, we all experienced the irresistible force of time: a sudden rushing-forward sensation from which there could be no escape.  And then, it all began.

22 responses »

  1. slippery stuff. Well done, James. I’ve really enjoyed this month’s posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liam says:

    Congrats on completing another great A to Z Challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great story. You had me captured until the end.
    Congrats on beating the challenge.

    Monstrous Love from A to Z

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent! I still see this as TNN starting the war in heaven, possibly from the perspective of the not-so-loyal opposition.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We finished! Congratulations !
    I enjoyed your theme this year looking forward to the series.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved reading every post of yours. So unique, so creative!
    I’m glad I found your blog 🙂

    Congratulations on completing the A-Z challenge!!

    Z is for Zeal
    https://thedreamgirlwrites.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/zeal/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Anne Nydam says:

    What a great finish to the A-Z! I’ve enjoyed your posts.
    (Click the Blog link on the second row) : Z is for Zany

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Frédérique says:

    Great prologue/epilogue! Congratulations on ending beautifully this challenge, and for your posts I enjoyed reading. Take care, stay safe 😉
    Z is for Zakka

    Liked by 1 person

  9. jlennidorner says:

    Very creative post. Congratulations on reaching z.

    I hope you and yours are staying safe and healthy during this difficult time.

    J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

    Liked by 1 person

    • J.S. Pailly says:

      Thank you! And I have to say the A to Z Challenge couldn’t have come at a better time for me. This was exactly what I needed to help keep my mind off of all the scary stuff happening in the world right now.

      Like

  10. karengadient says:

    Really enjoyed this! Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

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