Contrary to popular belief, there was no beginning.
Everything was and wasn't from eternity onward. And then something happened.
Some call it divine intervention. Others justify it as the aftermath of a powerful reaction. Both are right, and not. But for all intents and purposes, the beginning happened after. Many centuries, or maybe they were millennia or aeons. Passed in the blink of an eye when I first lay my eyes on the world.
Of course, you have to understand that at the time, the earth was as far away from what it is today as it could have been. The reason, you see, is the glaring white it shone.
So hot was the earth that what is now rock, and dirt, and every other material you call matter flowed as freely as water, yet remained perfectly still. There was nowhere for it to go, you see. But so great was the heat of this molten material that its flames sprouted flame, which then burned to ash. So great was the heat that the illusion you might see at the end of your highway made one blind to what was not an inch in front of you. So great was the heat that even the clouds failed to form as they burned beneath the still white surface of materials. So great was the heat that came from your earth that the void itself was warmed for a distance so great it cannot be described.
And so that was the form of the planet for some aeons as distant objects cooled and began moving throughout the skies. Yet as time continued on, it seemed the earth would not change. It seemed as if I'd been cursed to watch nothing but a smooth drop of light for all coming eternities. It was as my impatient mind gave up to my fate, that something miraculous happened.
At first I thought I saw something in the sky. Something new, yet I dismissed it as impossible. Over centuries, I'd turn to look back at that object wondering why it had caught my attention. And over centuries, I watched as it grew larger and larger.
Distance is a fickle thing, you'll understand. It relies purely on proximity that simply did not exist at that time. Things grew large, or shrunk smaller, but it was impossible to tell if something had come closer until it had. Suddenly, the pure white of my post exploded with black. Smoke, for the first time ever, rose from the now tumultuous waves of orange as they started to bubble like a can of soda.
The heat lessened as centuries passed. Smoke soon turned the previously glowing surface beneath me to nothing but a new void. I could see nothing but the sky above me, which attempted to keep me entertained as I watched distant lights flicker into nothingness much like my own post. And when the smoke finally rose above me, even the sky fell to blackness for an eternity.
The noise at that time was quite something. The hiss of my carriage as it was absorbed by the molten planet it had been drawn to. Nothing but hissing could be heard, and I could do nothing but hope desperately for a different sound to end my eternal meditation. My everlasting boredom.
I slept for a time. Possibly a millennium. Possibly more, before the hissing finally stopped. I lay where I was in the silence that was more deafening than the void I'd come from. I waited for a sound, any at all and was rewarded as I heard a distant collection of hissing echo over what I could barely tell was an empty expanse. How I knew in my mind's eye where I lay, I do not know. Nor have I found out since. Yet I know simply because I do.
It was quickly that these sounds turned from the simple hiss of burning water to the gentle splash of accumulation. A mere century made the sound of heavy waves normal, as the weight slowly cracked the solid surface beneath me. Pushing, always pushing itself in between my bed and the rest of what I now accepted as my new home. Soon, the water overtook me and I heard nothing for what felt an eternity, even to one such as myself who had experienced many of them already.
It was only when I looked up through the blackness of my seat that I glimpsed the faintest shimmer of light from above. Like the bitter reminder of what I had once been able to see. It was then I realized I was surrounded by something vastly different than what I had been before closing my eyes to the blackness. Silky to the touch yet firm and impossible to capture, I examined the warm liquid I was submersed in and found I could rise through it with certain movements.
Above, it rolled with peaks and depressions. Ever-changing, and infinitely more entertaining than the stillness I was accustomed to. The sky was different now than it had been. The light distorted with something new. No longer did I feel the warmth of the nearby ball of fire that had kept my station warmed. No longer did I feel the heat from below me. Absent was the warmth I'd felt before, replaced now by a chill that I'd never feel again.
It was then as the ice moved that I realized what my station had become. Torn asunder by the explosion of the meteor's impact, and now frozen by the barrier of smoke that cut off any heat from the nearby sun, my station had been doomed to eternal turbulence.
Yet I couldn't bring myself to care. You see, calmness can be extremely boring. I had discovered something I never knew before, that I liked not just this change. But all change. Change that had happened already, and change that would happen next. I found myself anticipating it as I watched the ice shift slowly, slowly, as if moved by a gigantic hand.
Everything was silent for a great deal of time then. Interspersed with nothing but the constant rumble of my bed and the occasional crack of my prison as it moved along with my resting place. I had wondered if I'd ever be released from this prison. And then, I was.
I felt that I would like to move about after being encased in the frozen liquid for so long and quickly jumped to the surface. The sound of waves was calmer now, quieter than they had been before, but also more powerful. The hum of the world told me this as the waves moved as if to trick one into believing that was all they were. I listened to the cracking of rock as they wore away at what was left of the old home I'd had. Yet as the oceans ate at the rock, the earth replenished it as it continued to push more and more out from its depths. I've never seen this, but one doesn't need sight to hear the words of the earth.
Just as one needs not hear to see the amazing changes that continued to happen. Watching how everything moved and changed constantly was infinitely entertaining. I started seeing patterns in things that at first appeared random. I learnt that I enjoyed learning about these patterns. Sometimes it took centuries to identify a new one, but never did the patterns disappear. And amazingly, only slightly did they change as I looked for new patterns within the old to connect them.
So much was there I had to learn that I hardly paid attention to the sky above anymore. I watched as the water ate the rock. As the rock was pushed up. As the rain fell with abandon, as the winds tried to rip and tear at anything at all. My favourite thing was perhaps lightning. So unpredictable in path yet governed by strict rules. It lit the night skies with a white, though duller than my post at the beginning, told me that maybe my post had been improved instead of destroyed.
It was at that time I took notice of the noise that would rumble across the sky with enough force to shake even my unshakable bones. As if the voice of the planet itself was suddenly shouting with all its might. And with the sky, the earth did indeed rumble in response. An echo, perhaps in response to the call. And always different was the call and response, though in the same voices.
Unfortunately, another wave of calm soon descended. I felt the chill of my former prison beneath me now and I once again sank to the ground to await the return of the glorious voice of the earth. I soon found myself once again at the bottom of the ocean as the brief thaw froze again. Barely any time at all had passed since the last freeze, and I admit I gave up hope of hearing any sound but the continual rumble of the crust beneath me.
Even the next thaw, I did not trust enough to leave my bed and instead listened to the calm rumble of the planet beneath me.
I believe it was around that time that I turned my attention to the water once more. Each time it had been frozen, it had lost some of its energy on the surface, but gained strength beneath. It was able to cleave large pieces of the crust apart as if they were nothing but sand. But in this creature of power, I sensed otherness. A strangeness I had not felt before. I sensed a new pattern.
Life is a difficult word to define.
To some it means the ability to breathe or move, to others, simply the ability to exist. It is this that I thought about as I watched creatures that were infinitely small and equally simple, shifting, merging and killing each other as they grew. Eventually, as I watched from far off, the largest thing I'd ever seen moved slowly into my sight. It didn't last very long. Thousands if not millions of these giants all moved, swarming the tiny creatures I'd been watching. Yet they seemed to live for but a second before sinking to the bottom of the ocean and disappearing.
These creatures, though fascinating, soon lost my interest as I observed all the patterns they were able to exhibit. New yet uninteresting they were. Ironic that I'd think that when even watching the rock shift had fascinated me not half an aeon ago. I had changed, it seemed. Always observing, it was difficult to admit there was nothing new to learn.
Another freeze happened some time later. I do not know if any of those creatures I'd watched were still alive. I honestly didn't care. You see, while everything was freezing, the earth had once more shifted to push my perch up as if it were to reach the sky. A thousand centuries passed before the ice melted. As it shifted, it pressed the ridges of eroded sand flat as the water slowly drained away to leave nothing but an endless horizon under the bluest sky I'd seen yet.
And just before the ice receded back to the north, something new once again caught my attention.
Where there should have been water, was now dirt. Green growths bloomed from the black soil and it wasn't long before there was nothing but long flowing grasses as far as the eye could see. Though it wasn't like that everywhere.
To the north, large lakes formed as the ice melted. For a time, I feared the water would yet flood over the plains of my home once again, yet it remained contained. Streams and rivers flowed every which way from north to south and east to west, cutting their beds into the flat land. Finally, the ice finished its recession, bringing forth a lake greater than any other I'd seen yet.
And as I watched the lake, yet another development happened right under my nose.
Thousands of large four legged animals ran across the plains then. They galloped and trampled the grasses as they continued onward to some unknown goal. Their primal cries were magnificent and powerful as their cries of anger and fear, and contentment and happiness rang out. And they were of a great variety, making homes in forests, among the grasses, near the water's edge or sometimes far. The noise was of such tumultuous beauty at that time, long have I recalled the memory in times of silence.
It was a time before I sensed another freeze happening. I feared for these animals, yet I could do nothing to protect them. It is not my place to do such things, you see. I am only a listener. And the sounds faded, much as I expected them to, yet not how I expected them to. I had expected the gradual cessation of noise as had happened in the past, yet now I heard the retreat of a billion hooves as they ran for the slowly freezing north.
Much of the sound disappeared faster than it should have had the animals reached their salvation, yet it did not go silent. The chill of the air told me another age of ice and snow had descended on the land, yet there was noise. Muffled as it was by the endless prairies, the gentle rumble of large steps crunched snow as the creatures came and went, much like the others had before.
It wasn't long after that I could make out distant howls and the sharp cries of carnivorous birds. The creatures, while similar to the ones that had left, now tempered by the cold and heartless as the ice as they ripped into their meals to survive.
Soon enough, the ice started to melt away once more. This time I watched as the old lakes grew to twice their previous size and the large one swallowed up more than five times its old girth. I was so involved with comparing the lakes and rivers which now took new paths, that I almost missed what came next.
A distant sound of something new soon caught my attention. The sound of hundreds of animals with two feet crunching across the ice. They sometimes sounded to have three feet or sometimes four, yet it seemed to change often enough from one set to another that they indeed only possessed two.
That was a fascinating creature that walked across the plain, then. With two feet on which it stood tall and a pair of hands with which tools cut from their very surroundings. At night, they'd spark fire with flint and stone and hide within caves or shelters made of the very ice they travelled on.
They hunted all manner of small animals, yet did not let any go to waste as animals before had. Thus I decided to listen more intently as I anticipated something infinitely more complex and entertaining than the sounds of animals coming from them. But alas, I was disappointed in the outset. The sounds they made were no more intelligible than the animals they hunted, yet the longer I listened, the more I sensed a pattern. This was my first exposure to language.
Soon, the melt progressed far enough to trap a great number of animals on the continent I called home. But the most peculiar of them was one that appeared to be interested in more than just it's basic needs. The humans spoke with each other with words I couldn't hear, and danced around large fires at night. They sometimes slept in shelters, but other times beneath the stars. They often followed other animals which they hunted, but other times they stopped their pursuit for some apparently unknown reason. Rituals I'd never seen before were practiced, and even their dead were cared for to an extent I'd not seen in any creature before.
It took only a few years to identify and differentiate between languages. There were many variations, many dialects, but in their roots, they remained the same. These creatures spoke with intelligence. They spoke of their hunts, they spoke of their gods, they spoke of families and their oneness with the land. They trusted each other as equals and even other tribes, speaking different languages were respected.
Another set of these humans soon started travelling over the seas in cramped wooden boats. Their skin white like the death they brought with them. Their history filled with sorrow and plague on distant continents. No doubt they sought refuge from the world they had lived in, but they refused to give up their ways. It was yet another case of a war of evolution much like I'd watched with simpler creatures several ice ages ago.
The first humans were ill equipped to deal with these new humans. Lies were told by one group to those who had never lied. Goods were compared to magic and it was no wonder that a strain developed.
There were times of conflict, then. Rudimentary weapons once made for hunting, now used against each other in a way that left hundreds dead. And yet more humans kept immigrating. Their churches sprang up from the plains, and around them, cities. Bush was cleared and farms took over the land that was once travelled by the nomadic communities. The first humans were confined to areas of land the second humans deemed adequate and their children sent to specials schools.
It was a painful time for those people as they were forced to accept what Fate had given them. Separated families, the undeserved hate and racism of invaders of their land, the destruction of their hunting game and their sacred traditions. Yet as time continued, things went from bad to worse, if things could be worse.
The schools that had caused so much pain shut down and protests gained the original inhabitants equality with their occupiers. Their races mixed and melded as even more came from the east and west in equal measure, yet the old prejudices continued.
People went missing and for a time there was a large concern about them. And though those responsible for committing these crimes were often of the same race as the victims, the blame was put on other races. Immigrant races. Yet this too didn't last long. Time seemed to heal the deep wound between these races as another threat spread fear over them. Gatherings were threatened, and political agendas toyed with the safety of nations. It seemed that for a time, there was a growing unity in the face of these new dangers.
Fear distracted millions of these humans. They turned their attention to the south and it seemed that all animosity was forgotten. Yet suddenly, brilliant flashes of white with the brilliance of tiny suns blossomed over the horizon and soon engulfed everything, making the world seem, for an instant, as the bright glowing mass it had been at the dawn of time.
This time, the brightness disappeared quickly. Its light extinguished mere moments after it started, yet in its place it left the dead and dying. Cities were reduced to rubble, farms poisoned, water evaporated, and another ice age soon set in.
I travelled then, looking for any sight that might indicate the continued survival of these most brilliant of animals called human. Yet the ones I found were slowly dying off. Time went on and the race seemed to die out. A century or more passed before I finally gave up on the return of these humans. If they hadn't returned by now, they never would. Still, I held hope. Hope that another species like the humans would someday take root on this planet.
All was silent now, only the sound of the wind remaining. I could feel the bitter cold in the ground as one that would not leave. Doomed, it seemed the world was, by this nuclear energy that humans had so feared. An atomic winter like many humans had anticipated, everlasting. No, it was destiny that this world should end frozen like a picture, painted and then frozen in time to show others. If there are ever others, of what had once been.
The humans had destroyed their world much like many of their authors had once imagined in their tellings of fiction, and now there was nothing but silence on the plains. It seemed that I would once again have to get used to the silence as I waited for the next set of creatures to grace me with their cries.
The ice hadn't truly come like it had before. It was more frost now, yet it was never ending. The sun could not warm the irradiated atmosphere, no animal could live on the burned and dried plants, or in the poisoned water.
Yet the earth still rumbled, and shifted. The oceans did not freeze, and the wind did not cease. In that I took hope that in a while, something interesting might happen again. Though I knew it would not be for a long while. Life was too fragile to exist here now, but in a few millennia the radiation will die down and life may yet return. And so until that time, I will simply wait and imagine what fascination will come next. After all, it seemed each new age of life brought forth creatures infinitely more fascinating than those in the previous age.