I had never imagined that meeting another entity would be like this. Then again, existing in an infinite, dark void left me little for my mind to work with. Now that I thought about it, I had always thought that I was the only one until now, so the idea of meeting another never even crossed my mind.
"Oh, my. You look a lot grander than I thought," the other entity said, studying me with his big, dark eyes. "I wish we met sooner, but you kept running away from me."
"I—I wasn't running! I just didn't want to be bothered." I retold the lie so many times in my mind that I almost thought it was true. Nonetheless, a burning sensation flooded my face.
"Oh, I didn't mean to tease you," he said. "I was just mentioning it because it took me a long time to catch up with you."
I tilted my head. "Time? What do you mean?"
"Uh, you never heard of it? Hmm… it's like the distance between then and now."
"It's the void then, it's the void now. There is no difference, so there was no reason to differentiate with time."
"But now there is," he said, now walking circles around me. The seemingly harmless movements unnerved me. It was as if he wanted in ensure my inability to escape. "There's the moment before we met and the moment after."
We were going in circles. Surely he didn't chase me down to talk about this. "What do you want from me?"
"Why did you follow me so relentlessly?"
"Because you wanted it."
I let out a sigh. Just my luck that the first new entity I meet would be crazy. I should have known something wasn't right with him when he talked about time. Now he believed this encounter was my doing. He pursued and I fled. Hunter and hunted. I stopped because my apprehension grew into frustration.
So here we were.
"I'm leaving." I turned on my heel, but my own words froze me in place. Ahead of me was the void. Behind me, the same. What was the point of going when the destination didn't change? I guess the difference would be I move away from the space the other entity occupied.
I shook my head. Finding myself speaking and thinking just like this strange entity, the urge to flee returned. Without another word, I took off. Damn, this headache.
"Don't follow me," I growled, not giving him a backwards glance. I didn't need to. I could feel him behind me, and to my annoyance, the distance between us dwindled.
"But you're pulling me."
"Hm?" I looked over my shoulder and my gaze travelled down my arm. Sure enough, my hand clasped his in a tight grip. I didn't know when or why I did it, but it was the last thing on my mind at the moment.
In what was supposed to be nothingness, I felt something physical for the first time.
"What are you?" I asked.
He just smiled, oblivious to my awe. "Finally, formal introductions. I'm Matter."
After he uttered his name, I knew avoiding him was futile. Regardless of where I go, how fast I travel, he will follow. This time, however, I didn't mind.
"What are you?" he asked.
Right, introductions. Suddenly feeling self-conscious, my face flared up again. I was nothing special.
Matter remained by my side from that point forward, his mere presence flooding me with a sense of purpose I never had before. I could no longer be satisfied with just existing in a dark void. As strange as it sound, I had to keep Matter moving, enticing him with myself. Best of all, Matter relished this unique game we shared.
But somehow, I lost sight of him.
"Matter?" I scanned the void, but only darkness greeted me. "Matter, where are you?"
"I'm here, Gravity," Matter answered, emerging from the emptiness.
In spite of his familiar voice, my anxiety didn't falter. I took hold of his hands as soon as he came within my reach and pulled him close. It took a lot more effort to do, a lot more compared to the first time we met.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
"I'm fine," he said. "I'm just… I feel heavy."
"H-heavy?" I frowned. I didn't know what Matter meant, but it didn't sound pleasant. It was probably something only an entity with a physical body could grasp, a concept I could never understand.
Guilt washed over me. Why hadn't I noticed his change before? "We can rest here." I sat in the middle of the void, pulling Matter down with me. He made no effort to resist, possibly because his fatigue made it impossible to do so. Dammit, how could I had been so selfish?
Lying beside me, Matter gave me a weary smile. "You did nothing wrong."
We had only know one another for a short while, and already Matter understood me without words. It was like we belonged together. One had no purpose without the other.
Without purpose, how did one exist?
How did I exist for so long before meeting Matter?
My head began to hurt, so I tucked myself deep into Matter's chest. I felt his arms wrap around me, a sensation I came to adore. Unfortunately, I couldn't offer the same warmth.
"You're very special, Gravity," Matter whispered, reading my mind once more. "Always remember that."
I didn't remember exactly when my mind drifted to slumber, but something happened between then and the moment I jolted awake. Something caught me in its grasp, twisting my form to an unrecognizable state. It wasn't like how Matter would hold me, far from it. It was violent and harsh, like this new entity wanted my form to collapse upon itself.
My call went unanswered. It was only the dark void, me, and the strange entity holding me. I pulled and it pulled back, rendering my struggles useless. Was this what Matter meant when he said he felt heavy?
The realization finally hit me.
"What have you done to Matter!?" I shouted, not clear of where to direct my voice.
Finally, it revealed itself, towering over me. A wide snarl splitted its dark face, even darker than the void that surrounded us. Its wispy limbs swirled in every direction and continued to encircle me. It was stretched and compressed at the same time. Pulled and pushed. Shattered and molded.
Exhausted, my will to fight seeped away.
Just when I relented to my fate, the dark entity froze. Its limbs slowly retreated and its grip loosened. The intense pressure in my form faded, but exhaustion kept me motionless.
"Get up!" An unfamiliar voice shouted in the darkness.
Before I could gather my thoughts, the voice's owner took me into his arms.
"Space!" he yelled. "Get us outta here!"
In an instant, I found myself in the front of another entity, a worried frown marring his youthful face. Behind him, another entity wrung her hands with a slight smile. I spun around in place then let out a relieved sigh. The dark entity had somehow disappeared.
Even so, I couldn't be certain if the two with me were friend or foe.
"Who are you?" I asked, my eyes shifting between the two entities.
"I'm Time," The first entity said with a nod as he adjusted a strange device that wrapped around his eyes. He gestured toward the entity behind him. "This is Space."
Space clasped her hands together, her smile growing wider. "Hi, Mom!"
Oh, no. Not this again. Why are the new entities so confusing? "M—mom?"
"Dammit, Space." Time buried his face into his hand. "We've been over this, already."
"But she helped created us," Space retorted. "It's only right that I acknowledge her as Mom."
Time turned back to me and his face flushed, probably because of my baffled expression. "Well, it's kinda true," he admitted with a rejected sigh. "You created me when you met Matter."
"You mean, Dad!"
"Space, stop interrupting!" Time cut Space a chastising glare, silencing her. "Ugh, where was I? Whatever. Long story short, you and Matter justified our existence, and here we are."
Space folded her arms and pouted. "So I'm right!"
"The mom-and-dad thing is silly," Time snorted. "With that logic, that would make the black hole our brother."
I'd barely grasped the concept of time and space, and now here they were, fully formed entities and bickering. It was overwhelming, and I almost missed what Time just said.
"The black hole? You mean that thing that attacked me?" That feeling of being crushed from the inside returned. At least, it was almost the same feeling. So hard to admit my guilt, by voice fell to a whisper. "Did Matter and I create that, too?"
"Not the same way as us," Time said, looking away. "I don't know why, but you had some sort of effect on him, and it caused the black hole to take his place." He took a fleeting glance at Space then continued. "That's why you haven't met us until now. We kept our distance."
"It was Time's idea," Space said. "I wanted to meet you. I don't mind feeling pulled."
My words vanished. Matter had said that I was special, but he would never had said that if he had known. He should still be here. But because of me...
"I'm sorry," Time said, pulling me from my thoughts. "I was apprehensive, but when I saw you were in danger, I couldn't look away."
"That's when Time and I saved you," Space added. The cheerfulness in her voice grated my melancholic trance. I blinked at her, but her wide grin didn't waver. Out of obligation, I forced myself to smile back. Damn it all.
"Thank you, but… but I must leave right now," I said, turning my back toward the pair. "I have to find a way to bring back Matter."
"You'll just make it stronger if you get near it again," Time said. "It will feed on your power and—".
A roar in the distance interrupted Time, a sound I'm now familiar with.
"Eh!?" Space screamed. "How did it catch up with us so fast!? I swear I put eons between us!"
"Shit, it knows hot to condense gaps," Time cursed. He looked at me and nodded, a wordless agreement I already understood. "I guess we can't keep running forever, but you can't do it on your own. If I can retrieve the moment before Matter got replaced, then we may have a chance. I can only bend time when you're close to me Gravity, so we'll have to be together."
"I would never let you go on your own," I said. "Especially when this is my fault."
Time glanced at Space, his face still hardened with resolve. "Space, I need you to play keep-away with the black hole. I'll let you know when Gravity and I are ready."
Space kept her smile though a slight creased formed over her brow. "Right."
Glancing evening from a distance, the black hole somehow seemed more terrifying. It wasn't like Matter, Time, Space, or myself, but a mindless creature powered by instinct. It lumbered toward us, urning to take us into its limbs to crush our form.
"Space, go ahead of us," Time said.
It took everything in me to keep myself from stopping Space. I watch helplessly as she advanced towards the black hole without a trace of hesitance in her step. She was young and innocent, but right now, braver than me by at least tenfold. Maybe it was her trust in Time.
"Our turn," Time said, taking me by the hand.
The creature didn't notice our approach, too busy whipping its wispy limbs at Space. Insatiable, violent, and with its mere presence a paralyzing force of destruction, I still couldn't phantom how I brought it to existence.
Time and Space, on the other hand…
An unseen force held me in place. Without its limbs, the black hole somehow dragged me toward it. It had gotten stronger. More helpless than my first encounter with it,
"Hold on!" Time yelled, latching onto me. It didn't slow down the pull however, and Time got dragged along.
It might be over for Matter and me, but I'll be damned if Time and Space fall victim as well. I struggled not to against the black hole's pull, but from Time's hold. "Time, get out of here!"
A wispy limb swirled over us, its owner now aware Time and me. "It's too late."
Before the limb could wrap around us, Time threw himself in front of it and it came to a violent halt. "You already forgot what I am?" He asked me, managing a smile through his gritted teeth. Beyond Time, the figure of the black hole loomed, growing larger the closer we approached.
"It's okay," Time said. "This is where we want to go. So long as we-"
A second limb knocked Time away and he vanished in a tangle of countless others. My vision froze, restarted, and speed up, repeating with no set pattern. I lost awareness of where I was… when I was. Finally, darkness absorbed me, a blackness that rivaled the void.
I was in the the black hole.
The darkness didn't bother me, but the pressure, pulling and compressing were driving me to madness. Time was right, it fed off my force and would continue to for an eternity. Then a voice brought me back.
"Fucking, dammit, shit!"
Time had such a way with words. I wondered how often he say those words in front of Space.
"Gravity! Get your ass up!"
Shut up, Time. I need… "What?"
My mind swirled in chaos, and it took a while to register Time's presence. I forced my vision to focus and found him standing me. The strange device that encircled his eyes now rested on the top of his head, twisted and broken. Next to him was Space, barely on her feet. They were here with me, trapped in the depths of the black hole.
"Snap out of it, Gravity," Time yelled.
"Gravity, please," Space said. "We need you."
That third voice. I barely heard it, but it was familiar. "Matter? Is that you?"
Time let out an annoyed growl. "He won't be here long if you don't help!"
Space took my hand. "Fight back, Gravity. Time needs you to so can rewind."
Rewind… back to the time before the black hole. When Matter and I were happy and in peace. When Space and Time were safe. But damn, it was so hard to go against the pull. I wasn't strong like Time or Space.
"Gravity, don't you fuck us over."
I pulled myself to my feet, making a mental note to tell Time about his language after this was over. My eyes fell to Matter, and I could hardly recognize him. His form appeared taunt, painful to be in. He couldn't even raise his head to look back at me.
"Can you bring him back?" I asked Time, grunting against the pressure. "I mean, bring Matter back to before the black hole wounded him?"
"I can now," Time answered.
Already, I could see Matter's form returning to normal. It felt like an eternity, but Space comforted Matter the whole time. As much as I yearned to be in her place, I needed to concentrate.
"Okay, Space," Time said. "Get us out."
Space got to her feet. And nodded. "Okay."
However, nothing happened.
"Space, what the hell?"
Concentrate, Gravity. You can punch Time all you want after this is over.
"I'm sorry," Space said. "It's Matter. He feels different and I don't know how to move him."
"It's okay," Matter said, his voice no longer strained from fatigue. "You guys get out."
"I'm not leaving you," I said. I would had hit him for such a suggestion after what we've been through. However, I must stayed occupied on resisting the black hole's force.
"You won't," Matter said to me. "I've spent enough time to understand the black hole. I know what it wants but I need your help."
Time shot Matter a glare. "If we leave and you two end up trapped, all this shit will be for nothing."
"Just make Space open a rift and I'll go from here," Matter said.
I wasn't completely reassured by Matter's confidence, but I didn't know how much longer I could resist. I didn't mention it however, opting to stay quiet as Time paused to mull it over.
Thankfully, Time relented. "Go ahead, Space."
Space obeyed without a word, opening a rift in the middle of the darkness.
In an instant, a blinding flash engulfed us.
"Sorry," Matter said. "I didn't know it that was going to happen."
"Whatever," Time mumbled, folding his arms. "I wasn't scared."
"But I heard you scream, Time," Space said.
As the three spoke to one another, I remained silent from awe. Around us was no longer a dark, empty void. Colors, light, and strange spheres speckled the dark background while clouds of an assortment of textures and transparencies overlaid my view. A few bodies zipped across the sky, leaving a bright trail in its wake.
"Matter, did you do this?" I asked.
"We both did," Matter answered. "I released my properties so yours can follow. With your force spread out, I won't collapse."
Now that he mentioned it, something inside me felt different. I was here and everywhere else at the same time.
"It's beautiful!" Space exclaimed. "You're so clever, Dad!"
Matter glanced at Space, the confusion on his face priceless. "Uh, Dad?"
"Well, so long guys," Time said as he walked away.
"Where are you going?" I asked.
"Somebody's gotta bring order to these damn planets you made." He looked back at us and winked. "Maybe something good would come of them. Who knows? Only time will tell."
Space ran behind him. "Hey! Don't leave me!"
"You're coming, too? Don't wanna stay with Mom and Dad?"
"Hmph. You'll take forever if you don't get my help."
"I have all the time in the world."
Time and Space's conversation faded as the distance grew, and I could just make out Space waving goodbye. Mentally exhausted, I rested my head on Matter's shoulder.
Matter wrapped his arm around me in response. "I told you were special."