The thoughts of everything filled her mind.
As Eve lay awake under the stars, she could hear their every consideration and slightest moment of joy or pain. Every living thing filled the Garden, verdant and always decorated with the most beautiful and sweet-smelling flowers, home to creatures of all shapes, sizes and colours—and all of them had thoughts. The cacophony never died down: as the day time animals settled down to sleep, the nocturnal ones took to the night for their food and pleasures, and the plants never slept all at once.
Beside Eve, Adam slept without any sign that the thoughts bothered him. Not needing cover in the warm air, his black-skinned naked form lay prone and handsome under the light of the single moon. Eve ran a hand down his smooth back and, sighing softly, decided to give up on sleep. Slender, midnight-dark limbs unfolded and rose as Eve stood up and walked through the Garden.
According to Adam, God had created the Garden and then created Adam to tend to it. Seeing that Adam became lonely, God created animals to accompany him but they were not quite enough so Eve was created. Together she and Adam looked after the Garden. By hearing its every thoughts, sensing its every emotion, they knew when a shrub needed pruning or a tree needed a rotten branch removed.
In all her years in the Garden, Eve had never questioned her role. Even now that the thoughts kept her from sleep night after night, she still didn't question her role. She just questioned the need to hear everything. Often she could see rot without needing to feel the tree's thoughts and she knew when to prune or pull out the unwanted plants so that others could flourish; surely the Garden would continue to prosper if she used instinct alone.
Then why do you not express your displeasure to the Creator?
Eve turned her head and frowned at the familiar form of the snake. It curled in one of the trees, hanging down from a branch and regarding her with what she was sure was a smirk.
"I cannot tell God because he has not visited the Garden since the day of my creation," Eve told it in a faintly annoyed tone. She had heard the snake's theories before, had patiently listened through his rants, but she was not in the mood now.
He is not here, the snake said.
"Guess what," Eve said. "I don't care if He has a million other worlds, countless other projects such as this, as you claim is the case. I am happy here."
Walking away before the snake could question her lies—truly she loved the Garden but if only God would hear the silent plea she sent out daily—Eve went to her favourite spot.
Willow trees grew thick over a small stream that trickled through the Garden, diverted from the main river that supplied the Garden and its inhabitants with plentiful water. Eve sat under a willow, watching the dappled moonlight dance on the stream. The thoughts of the willows told her that they enjoyed the way the gentle breeze made their fronds sway. Insects flitted around, enjoying the sweet taste of mammalian blood; a great cat stalked an unsuspecting monkey in a nearby forest where also birds soared overhead in daring displays, hoping to impress the females who watched them and made sneering calls at their acrobatics. A whole host of other thoughts competed with these. Eve wished she could shut it all out.
A familiar voice interrupted the myriad of thoughts.
Have you ever wondered why I am the only snake in the Garden?
Eve opened her brown eyes and glared at the snake. Its red and brown form coiled next to her grubby-soled feet and its beady little eyes regarded her with emotions she couldn't read.
"I assumed that your brethren wished to make up for your rude nature by being particularly unobtrusive," Eve replied, hoping that the snake would take the hint and leave her alone.
In truth she had sometimes wondered why she never saw any other snakes but she had assumed that in the vast Garden she had simply not encountered any through the same principle of chance that led her to see many felines. What aroused more of her curiosity was her inability to discern anything more than vague thoughts from the snake, but she said nothing on the subject. She didn't want to encourage the snake.
I was created by a different God on a different world.
Narrowing her eyes at the reptile, Eve said, "And why should I believe you?"
I can teleport between worlds.
"I think you've been eating too many fermented grapes," Eve said flatly. "Please leave me be."
Something that sounded a bit like laughter rang through Eve's mind. It's all a big fraud, my dear. This world, your God, it is none of it what you have been told.
"Wonderful," Eve muttered. If only she could stick her fingers in her ears like she did when Adam was being annoying, but the snake's mind-voice could not be silenced.
We are all constructs, all part of a grand project to resurrect the original humanity that all but obliterated itself so many millennia ago. Countless Eves, Adams and Gardens have been created, all these countless attempts to avert Original Sin.
"Original what?" Eve asked. As the snake clearly hadn't taken the hint, she hoped that humouring its nonsense would encourage it to finish talking and leave her alone more quickly.
The destiny of humanity: fallacy. Maybe the Gods could have created perfect humans but that would not solve their problems.
"I don't understand a word that you are saying," Eve muttered. Pushing her hands against the soft grass, she stood up. "Good night, snake. I wish to sleep now." The countless thoughts of the Garden were preferable to the snake's ranting.
What did God tell Adam about the Tree of Knowledge?
That question barely made Eve pause. "That of all the trees in the Garden may we freely eat their fruit but for that one. It is a great poison to eat and will surely kill us."
It's a lie.
With a touch of sarcasm, Eve said, "Oh really?"
It is the hub of the Garden, the power source, and the fruit of the Tree will grant you knowledge of all I have told you and more. God fears the possibility of you or Adam learning that knowledge more than anything else.
"If He fears us knowing this so much, then why did he put the Tree in the middle of the Garden and why did he create you?"
Because the Gods are stupid.
"And you are the epitome of genius," Eve said drolly.
I am reality. I am the only one left who fights against illusion, against the foolish dreams of these so-called Gods.
"Good night, snake," Eve said curtly and walked away, willing the snake not to follow.
Think on what I have told you.
Though it infuriated a part of her that the snake's words refused to be banished from her mind, Eve did think about what it had said.
As the sun began to peek above the horizon after another sleepless night, Eve found herself drawn to the Tree. It stood in the centre of the Garden on a slight rise and, as the sun's first rays shone on the dew clinging to its cerulean boughs, it looked like the most beautiful thing that Eve had ever seen. Her slender fingers brushed the smooth, glossy white fruits and her nose smelt the sweet aroma that wafted up from the pale yellow flowers.
Could the snake actually be telling the truth?
There was definitely something different about the Tree. For one, Eve couldn't hear its thoughts. Also, it never needed pruning or tending; for as long as she could remember, it had looked beautiful. Perfect.
She plucked one of the round fruits from the nearest branch and held it in her palm, admiring its round perfection.
"If this thing really is poisonous, at least it might finally get me God's attention," she said with a shrug and sank her teeth into the apple.
Sweet juiciness like nothing she had ever tasted exploded in her mouth and then, chasing the flavour, came a wave of knowledge so immense that it buckled her knees and sent her falling to the soft moss that formed a carpet beneath the Tree.
She knew everything. How the original humans had come to war against each other, how they used weapons that tore their planet to shreds, how a handful escaped ahead of the destructive wave and through technological augmentation survived as uploaded entities for countless millennia, how eventually they wanted to give humanity another chance—it all filled Eve's mind, drowning out the chattering thoughts of the Garden.
She knew how the machine-humans had crafted humankind from scratch using their memories of the genome and their unfathomable technology. She knew how they had found worlds similar to Earth, terraformed them and created Gardens for two humans, always called Adam and Eve, to tend. Each Garden and pair of humans were always different but each time one of the humans succumbed to temptation and ate the apple.
At first the snake had been created so that the machine-humans could study why humans suffered temptation, and after many studies they attempted to eliminate all the snakes. But one or two gained the teleport technology and continued to spread temptation to the various humans.
Their plan is foolishry. These so-called Gods have become peculiar after all those eons with only each other for company.
Eve opened her eyes and saw the snake regarding her with what looked like satisfaction.
Beyond it, Adam crouched at the food of the hill with her bitten apple in his hand and a look of puzzlement on his face. It must have fallen from her grip and rolled down the hill when she collapsed.
"Eat," she told him. "I did and I am not dead. It's… very interesting."
As Adam continued to contemplate the apple, Eve shakily climbed to her feet and regarded her naked body with a frown. Instinctively she now knew that she should not be like this. Wordlessly she walked down the hill to a nearby fern and, using mental commands and her deft hands, wove a dress that would cover her small breasts and fall to just below the curve of her buttocks.
The small dress fit perfectly. Turning back, she saw Adam still holding the apple.
What is this? Why are you clothed?
The booming voice filled Eve with no doubt about the identity of its owner.
Though internally she was filled with fear, Eve jutted out her chin and said defiantly, "I know the truth now."
Silence ensued for a moment and then a man materialised at the base of the Tree. Wrinkles creased his face and long white hair fell from either side of a large bald patch. Though taking the form of an old man—through a technique called holographic projection, Eve knew, because the machine-humans and their construct homes were the size of small moons—the representation of God looked sturdy and strong, not wizened.
You have failed me.
"I learnt the truth."
God could cause her serious bodily harm, could tear her down atom by atom until she was nothing, and for the first time she wondered if she really should have eaten the apple.
You could have been perfect, mother of the perfect new race of humans. But you failed the test.
Of faith. The old man gestured to the Tree. You failed to trust.
Humans are fallible, old friend. The snake slithered into view. Some of them eat the apple without my prompting. In this case, Eve was already showing signs of dissatisfaction. I was going to leave her alone, allow her to rebel of her own volition, but when I learnt the news I had to give her that little push.
"What news?" Eve asked when God said nothing.
You are the last, said the snake. The machine-humans have sucked the spiral arm dry and now they've got nothing left. You, darling Eve, were the final chance.
"Don't call me that," Eve muttered.
You might have allowed perfection, just this once.
Sorry, old chap, but it looks like this is the beginning once again. Where they go from here is of crucial importance.
It didn't have to be.
Humans are intrinsically flawed. All living things are. But they won't necessarily destroy each other all over again. You'll see.
You think that I should cast them out of the Garden and allow them to follow the previous path.
Let them follow their own path. But let them out of the Garden. Its thoughts are too much for Eve. She is ready for the world beyond.
If I let them into the world beyond these walls, things will progress very differently to the original… That may be good, I suppose.
A moment later, God told Eve, The Gates are open. The future of humanity is for you to shape.
God and the snake winked away, there one moment and gone the next, leaving Eve with her confused partner.
"I don't understand," Adam said.
"Eat the apple, love. We have a lot to do."
An attempt to write a post-historic story. And now I have a slew of ideas that are begging to be turned into a novel, so only time will tell where I go with this idea. Eve's story is certainly not over yet.
Oh yes, and this was not an attack of any sort upon Christian theology. Any flames will be ignored. Suspend disbelief and enjoy the science fiction.