“Sound waves from the nascent universe, called baryon acoustic oscillations (BAOs), left their imprint on the cosmos by influencing galaxy distribution. Researchers have explored this imprint back to when the universe was three billion years old, or roughly 20% of its current age of 13.8 billion years.”
—NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, 18.11.2020
I was the last one.
It was a failed experiment, that’s what the others thought. And we weren’t even the lab rats. We were the kibble you feed to the lab rats.
I knew they were wrong. She wasn’t a scientist; She was a God, and we, Her angels. But every miracle has a price.
She would apologise to them before She devoured them and let their screams fill Her up. She started with fingers, then hands, then arms, licking bones clean before snapping them in half to suck out the marrow, careful not to waste even a drop. Then she would wipe Her hands on a small towel–everything was small in Her hands, which had crafted the world and all its creatures so lovingly. All the time, they would be screaming, for She ate their larynx last of all.
It wasn’t Her fault that the cattle of the fields and fish of the sea could never satisfy Her as much as Her angels’ cries. She never meant it to be this way, and wept for each of the children who entered Her divine mouth and were crushed between Her holy teeth before settling in Her sanctified gut.
Some of my more foolish sisters had even tried to fight back. I averted my gaze whenever this happened, for it was like watching someone caught in a rip-current, swimming hopelessly against the inevitable swallowing. She had created us, after all. She knew how best to destroy us.
I was not ungrateful. I was Her favourite and She loved me as I loved Her. And so I was the last one left, though I knew it would not be for long. Soon She would need to feed, and I would offer myself up as a willing lamb.
Months had passed since my last sister had been consumed, and I had missed her, but the company of my God had been as a balm to a burn, and the time had passed pleasantly. She told me of the process of creation, of how one day She had grown terribly tired of Silence, so had created seas that rumbled and fields that rustled, creatures who howled and women who laughed. And then the world was loud, too loud, and the Silence was not happy about it, and waged a war against Her. Eventually–this, She did not say aloud, but I knew it to be true–the Silence would win again.
My speaking gave Her strength. So did my laughter, so did my ecstasies. But the truth was that nothing could be so powerful as a death-cry. One morning, She took me by the hands, and I knew the time had come.
“I will be so lonely without you,” She said. Even weakened, Her voice seemed to shake the world.
I did not say anything, but kissed Her hand. She kissed my hand in return, then my cheek, then my lips. She kissed so deeply, I thought She might eat me then and there.
“What will happen to me?” I asked suddenly. “Afterwards,” I added, in case my meaning had not been clear.
“I do not know. I am not an omniscient God,” She smiled at me with a fondness I could not truly believe I deserved. “I am not a particularly good God in any sense.”
“I think you are a good God,” I replied.
Her gaze was distant. “After you I will be strong for a little while, maybe even years, but it will pass. I will wither, and the world with me. Silence will win. It will all have been for nothing.”
“Is the world nothing? Was I nothing?”
“These things will be hard to remember once I am alone.”
“You will not be alone, I will be with you, my Lord. In flesh, in bones, in song. I will be incorporated into you.”
“I am afraid.”
“I am not.”
And God, who loved me as I loved Her, who had eaten thousands of Her angels and wept for every single one, took my finger into Her mouth and bit down. There was a slow, obscene crunch before blood spurted out and the pain became quite overwhelming, but I did not lose my faith. She was covered in my blood like a shroud, a veil, all mixed up with Her own tears. I prayed to Her as She consumed me; my screams were Her strength, my litanies Her weapons. I was as loud as I could be, giving Her the gift of my sound for the last time, and She responded by filling my gaze with light.
I was the last one.
It was a failed experiment, it was a congregation, it was a universe. I was not enough to overcome a Silence which demanded to be heard. I was not a good God and I had just eaten my most devoted follower, the one woman who had loved Me as I loved her–a mutual worship? Perhaps even a blasphemy? As I say, I was not a good God.
When she was gone, every last bit of her–for I could not let any of her sacrifice go to waste–the enormity of My loneliness and that evil, bitter Silence overwhelmed Me. I was adrift, I was caught in a current of grief, I was swallowed. And I did what any drowning person does, no matter the risk of salt-water lungs: I screamed.
It was the loudest noise the young world had ever heard. The cattle bolted and the fish hid, the fields parted and the sea shook. I did not notice any of this. I just kept screaming.
The Silence lurched, struck by the noise like a cannonball to the chest. It writhed, and twisted, lifted its thousand hands to its thousand ears but could not block the sound out. I saw this happen, but did not take much notice, for I was too busy screaming. Even when the Silence finally succumbed and exploded into a million pieces, I did not care.
I had triumphed and could craft the universe afresh. I could make new women, men, angels, worlds. But I could not, however much I tried, bring her back. I did not know what had happened to her and I would probably never know, for, after all, I was a God, and Gods (even the very bad ones) cannot die.
After hours, weeks, millennia, when I had worn My vocal cords out, My screams were hoarse and barely audible, but I did not dare let them end, for fear that without them I might forget her. In fact, I resolved that I would never stop screaming, no matter how much it hurt. I would do it for her. And when finally I rebuilt, My elegy would be the foundation of the universe, and there would never be Silence again.