The gentle lapping of the ocean was the only sound. The long, rushing sigh as the tide rolled in, followed by a shorter, relieved exhalation of retreat. A slender crescent moon hung overhead. The sky was free of clouds and the air was so clean that the moon seemed to gleam like a polished sickle blade. There are no stars.
A cool, chilly breeze whispered briefly through cloth and hair. It carried the sting of salt and a smell of inland, peaty and clean. Strange that one of the cleanest scents should belong to soil, dirt.
The beach stretches out into the distance, curving gently off to the left. In the night it takes on the colour of dull silver, long neglected. The sand is unbroken. No shells, no pebbles left. They have all long since become sand themselves. Back along the beach from this vantage point stretches the faint suggestion of footprints, one set that much farther back was two. Time is meaningless, merely a marking off of one moment, then the next. The being standing on the beach is not aware of time. It is itself unchanging, so unaware of time passing. To see the world through an angel’s eyes is a unique and peculiar experience. It sees all of everything it will see at once. It appears to take actions, but has no choice, no freedom to act. Free will for such would be a terrible curse. Having freedom to choose which way to turn is only possible if one cannot perceive the entirety of their experience; otherwise what they could see would be constantly shifting and drive them mad. And so, instead, there is free will and a deep, abiding sense of phenomenal loss. This is what it means to experience time. To be left wondering what might have been, if only…
Lucifer had always been aware of the sight of great unrest and blurring confusion. He had moved through his existence aware that he would approach me and ask to experience free will, without having to understand why. It was a thing which would happen, and he would always, eventually, beg to be accepted back, to no longer live under the tyranny of choice. When he couldn’t remember what he had once perceived, he instead felt loss, and carried a vague sense of resentment.
It is hard to explain why I chose this. Impossible to justify. It was simply a thing which happened because it had to, because it was always going to. The pain one experiences in the course of a finite, limited existence can seem so important. It isn’t. It is merely a thing that happened, that was always going to happen.
Perhaps I am wrong. Not having yet experienced reality from a limited, finite viewpoint I suppose means my opinion of what is or is not relevant is, itself, irrelevant. There are no stars.
I recall the turmoil that arose from this discovery. Back when I started to diminish. Almost overnight I crushed the spirit of an entire species. Ending their suffering was the kindest thing I ever did for them. Not that their relative comfort was ever the point. I can imagine how badly humanity would have handled that if they were still around, or the qth’%gur/, or >high pitched chittering< or 1.0234678543966572205E6. I almost smile when I think of how calmly Hrath N’Garr would have accepted it.
The species of this world never knew stars. There is the world, the moon, the sun, and the coid. And that was all. This limited reality in no way limited their potential. They still had music, created art after a fashion. Were a lot more peaceful than most of the races I have imbued with the potential to achieve self-awareness. No war, very little conflict. Knowing this was all there is seems to have given them a comforting sort of fatalism. Not the most interesting race to have existed in the history of the universe, to be sure, but endowed with insights unique to them nevertheless.
I shift slightly in Lucifer’s arms, trying to get comfortable. My being is close to the end of this iteration. I sigh. It has been a very long time, and yet it is also just a moment in a grander scale of being. This world’s sun is gone now. The world remains, and the moon continues to glow because it pleases me that it does so.
No doubt humanity in particular would have derived pleasure in the tracks in the sand. Especially since Lucifer carried me when I could walk no further. I swallow the moon. Then the world. There is a void, an angel, a form carried in its arms. There are no stars.
I think the starry sky was my crowning achievement. All those myriad potentials just waiting for a push into existence, awareness. All those nigh-infinite ways of interpreting being, the countless reflections on what was, could be, might have been. Some lasted longer than others and once or twice even I was surprised. But every thing comes to an end. That is the single constant my grand experiment revealed.
There is only I, and Lucifer, now. Although of course he, like every other thing, is merely me. A part of me, broken off and set along a path to see what would happen. I reach up to cup his face with my palm and he gazes calmly back. Of all my puppets, he had the longest path to traverse, the biggest part to play. He was the most like me, although still greatly diminished. I feel strangely sentimental as I reach out to absorb him back into me. I wonder what, if any, additional insight I will gain from his experiences. He glows, fades, is gone. I am all that is, as it ever was.
And I know in that moment. My experiment has run its course and I understand all that I am.
I am everything.
I fill the nothing.
My why is whatever I choose.
I choose life, myriad forms and motivations, I choose…