She wasn’t the first human to meet one of them and she wouldn’t be the last. Billions of them, and other beings, had passed through but—no matter where they came from—many asked similar questions iterated in different forms.
‘Are we the only other beings?’
‘Are we special?’
‘What was the point of it all?’
‘Why did you create us?’
They—the creators—sometimes sighed but they were fairly patient and answered the question in the best way they could, through showing the beings, rather than just telling. They sat apart but they always thought together as if one unified being. They spoke soundlessly directly into the mind of other beings.
Tessa, welcome, we hope you enjoyed your time on the planet Earth. I understand this may be a little overwhelming…to say the least…but we would like to open the floor to you is there anything you like to ask? We will allow you one question now and one as our meeting comes to a close.
Tessa considered the question she would like to pose to the shimmering creatures who sat around her—the only objects amongst the complete darkness—watching her with a bland curiosity. The obvious question would be what the hell are these things? And why am I here? But, somehow, she knew what they were and why she was here. She was dead. The Earth was one of their many creations. Had they infused that knowledge into her brain to help with her confusion? To prevent fruitless and time-wasting conversation? Tessa pondered on what question to ask for a long-time, this didn’t seem to bother the beings. For them, human hours felt like less than a second.
‘How would you rate us humans?’
The creatures sat in silence for a while—this was not such a common question. Not that it had never been asked, but, it had been a day, and over 100,000 deaths, since one of them had asked it. It was a very human-centric question but they found it interesting when someone, facing their creator, was not curious as to the meaning of, or uniqueness, of their own existence. They thought it a fairly bland question. But, then again, they knew Tessa had been obsessing over such questions most of her young life and she’d reached the conclusion that the answer to them didn’t really matter so much.
What you mean by that is do we think you are good or bad…do you have value…that’s rhetorical…don’t say anything your time for questioning is over. It’s time for listening.
The beings disappeared into thin air and the surroundings became a scene on a different planet, a different universe of their creation. Tessa was astounded. The whole landscape was a strange grey, she looked closer, everything around her was made of different metals. She could smell it in the air and see fine particles floating in the atmosphere. There were creatures, not too dissimilar from humans but they were grey and naked like the landscape. They were spindly and emotionless, their limbs too long.
Here is a planet where there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ It’s pretty bland isn’t it…again rhetorical…you can see it is bland. All they do is act. They don’t even know why they act because they don’t have any feelings, no emotions. They cannot feel pain or pleasure.
Tessa stared at the strange beings moving around the grey landscape with no meaning, completely aimless. Why were they even moving? Some of them were picking random metal objects and then dropping them again. She looked closer at them. They didn’t have a nose or mouth, just a strange hole in the middle of their face—which emitted odd noises—and holes either side of their head, which she assumed were holes to hear with. The sounds they emitted made her shudder, they were like nails dragged across a metal chalkboard.
They don’t understand purpose. They don’t need to do anything to survive…apart from procreate…which we assure you, you don’t want to watch…we find them fascinating to watch now and again. To see what they have built. It seems even without emotion or need they still have a strange urge to build…to do something…perhaps it’s a bit of ourselves in them.
Tessa watched them as they worked across the landscape. They were chaotic, she could see no order to anything that they were doing, yet, they had built strange and senseless structures which had a eerie beauty. They looked as if they had been built and taken apart again many times over.
Would you like to be one of them…rhetorical…we know you wouldn’t…the thought of it makes you feel uneasy…we certainly wouldn’t either, but, at least, you can say that none of them are cruel or evil, right? You might feel sorry for them, that’s natural for a human…but they don’t feel sorry for themselves, they don’t suffer like you do…we rate them poorly, very poorly.
The landscape faded back into black while the creatures pondered where to send her to next.
Tessa found herself underwater in another universe, on a different planet. It was filled with the sounds of crying and shouting in a tongue she couldn’t understand. The scenery was filled with strange fish beings. They looked like a cross between humans and salmon. Like a demented version of a mermaid. Their faces were human-like but their bodies like fishes with strange little hands attached to their sides. She could see them dashing in and out of holes in simple underwater caves.
These are dalums, well that’s what they call themselves. As you can see, they are highly emotional. They do age and they do have needs but unlike you humans, they never grow emotionally past the mind-set of a toddler…they do not intentionally procreate, instead eggs just come out of their bodies as they die.
Tessa watched as a howling dalum sank to the bottom of the water, it’s playmates crying in a circle around them. It became completely still. A small sack of eggs floated out of a hole in its side. The eggs immediately started hatching into fresh dalum.
They don’t live very long. Approximately an hour in human time…but it feels like a lifetime to them most likely. They feel things with an intensity even you humans cannot match…interestingly, although they can be selfish…it is very rare that they kill or harm others…they like to play and tend to cry incessantly…it depends on the Dalum really.
Tessa watched as a freshly spawned dalum started to play with the rocks at the bottom of the water, the others started to play too, knocking the pebbles between each other with what could be construed as laughter. She watched as one of them accidentally bashed another on the head. Half of them started crying at the top of their lungs. The other half started throwing pebbles at each other in return.
Well, accidents do have their consequences…we don’t tend to stay here too long. It’s grating as I’m sure you are already finding it…but again they do not fully understand good or bad, they just understand pain and non-pain. There’s no one developed or old enough to teach them such lessons. We can’t rate them too highly though…overall, they’re pretty repetitive to watch.
Tessa found this one harder to ponder. She observed them for a few hours, watched as lives came and went before her eyes. Would she like to be a dalum? They wouldn’t understand love in an adult sense, or worry about many adult things, but then perhaps those understandings were just another reason for so much suffering. Dalum lived intensely but not for very long. They felt deep happiness and deep anguish. Some of them felt pure happiness and played with joy right up until the suffering of their death. A human life on earth could be extended suffering—depending on the circumstances; depending on their luck or bad luck of where they happened to be born. Still, Tessa thought she would not like to be a dalum, on reflection, her draw on earth hadn’t been too bad.
The dalums’ faded out of view and the surroundings became shrouded in darkness once again.
A tiny, flat planet came into view. It was the size of a miniature village. Tessa could wipe out every being on it with the thump of her fists. They were in the space above it looking down like a god. She leaned in closer to look at the little humans milling around across the landscape. They were living in what looked like hobbit holes. The scenery didn’t look too different from the national parks on earth, apart from the whole planet looked pristine.
This is planet Tunnock. They might look like humans. We noticed you pondering on why the planet is so pristine…they are not humans, they are bunions. They are not greedy or self-destructive. They are exactly the same as humans apart from one crucial thing, they do not have vices…they are hardwired to do good and never harm others…ergo, there is no conflict, there is no real need for morality or ethics. Really, this is the reality of your quite frankly daft idea of heaven.
Tessa watched them milling around. They were mostly laughing and singing as they went about their little days. Some of them looked a little aimless, almost like the grey creatures she had first encountered. The creators were bored and started striking their village with large bolts of lightning, frying some of the houses and sending the bunions into despair. She could hear their little screams of anguish as they tried to respond to the disaster. Tessa attempted to talk for the first time, their actions were upsetting her, but she found she couldn’t say anything. They knew exactly what she was thinking, they didn’t want her to talk as well.
Judge us how you like…they need disaster now and again. It gives them something to fight against. Many of them are happy but many of them also become depressed. There’s nothing to fight for here. No drama. No hero’s struggle. Watching them is like reading a novel with no plot, boring. Their existence is like a strange flat-line that isn’t coloured with the same roller-coaster of events as humans.
Tessa watched them quietly and wondered. Would she like to be them? As a human onlooking their lives looked boring but if she was one of them she wouldn’t know any different. Would she be a happy or depressed bunion? Why were any of them depressed?
This might seem more enticing to you than any of the others. It is difficult for you to comprehend a world with no conflict so it might sound like heaven. It’s a world with less contrast. Their creations are, on the whole, much more bland. Even if you humans reached a point of no conflict, as you can guess…this will never be the case…it would be sweeter because of your suffering…we rate this planet fairly low.
Tessa became confused as the scene turned to darkness again. Clearly they used a rating method not based on human values of morality but on a strange kind of entertainment value. An odd way of rating things.
Is it a strange way to rate things though…we don’t think it is. We create to entertain ourselves.When you are the creator of millions of different universes and beings morality becomes a strange and distant concept. We just watch. Occasionally, if we are bored, we prod—but mostly we create, we watch.
The creatures brought Tessa to earth, she was watching her funeral and all of her family weeping by her graveside. Strangely, she felt numb, detached. While she was dying she had felt a strange sensation of leaving her body, a deep grief had invaded her mind like strings attaching herself to earth. She felt herself holding on, grabbing onto them with anguish but slowly she had let them go and she floated away from everything that mattered to her. Now she looked down with a detached curiosity, they seemed alien, small—just like the bunions. Is this what they felt like? Would she want to be like her creators?
Your consciousness in itself is powerful…someone is imagining us right now…but, you are not in our image, we have created others who are just like us. You have the propensity to break through to our essence, to touch on higher reality but you have many limits…just like we have limits. We are your creators but our existence is not perfect…we can suffer a deep loneliness. We could choose to create nothing but we have a compulsion to create, it is our purpose and meaning. It fills our existence with beings and sounds.
The beings shrouded the room in darkness again but now the space was filled with millions of planets, like a wallpaper of universes, she could hear millions of voices surrounding her.
How do we rate you? In the lower quarter of our creations, but, our perception is limited…there are other creators and millions of other creations. You can imagine beings we rate more highly, they are better versions of yourself. We cannot show you the universes which are beyond your limited perception…there are layers above us, our creators, and layers above them still.
The room became dark and silent again.
You may ask your final question now.
Tessa had already decided on it. It was the most common question, the most natural question for any being. An answer that even her creators were only imagining the answer to.
‘Where am I going now?’
You are the essence of us. You will be part of the energy used to create universes and other beings. So, in a human sense, you will be dead but you will not be non-existent…you will be part of the same essence that we are made of and that we will go to when our time comes. Maybe you will be part of a tree on your childhood street or the eureka moment of a toddler…you will be in what we imagine as the highest reality, a being of nothingness and pure creativity. You will return to creation itself. To what we have always really been. You will be ‘god.’