by Susan Anwin
For Dad. Hope to see you again soon, you weed smokin' old hippie.
It was the most daring undertaking of mankind; to send a probe to
find the ultimate frontier; the end of the universe. If
it had an end – some argued space is limitless, just like the human
mind. Go on for long enough and you'll just end up back where you
The probe hurled across the vast, silent void long after its
original designers were gone. Built to go on indefinitely, repairing
itself if any of its parts broke or wore away, it flew faster than the
speed of light, as centuries grew into aeons.
Generations came and went on its home planet as the on-board
computers beeped away time.
Colonies on Mars were established, as Earth became more and more
uninhabitable. Eventually, mankind managed to eradicate itself in the
wars for the dwindling resources and the rest was taken care of in the
following nuclear fallout. Life did eventually recover and within a
couple of centuries flocks of birds were flying in primeval rainforests
and herds of beasts roamed the plains on the planet that looked pretty
much as it did before the coming of humans, apart from some crumbling
ruins slowly disappearing under the vegetation.
The colonies on Mars died out due to a series of conflicts over the
scarce water supplies, that couldn't support the ever-growing
Constellations fell apart and new continents formed, while the probe
kept on sending signals that no-one detected.
Oceans boiled away as the Sun heated up the atmosphere. Turning into
a Red Giant, it gobbled up its nearest planets, Earth among them. The
White Dwarf that the Sun dwindled into left behind a veil of leftover
material and gas particles; a planetary graveyard.
It picked up distress signals on its way from other colonies outside
the Solar System, cries for help from distant worlds and strange, long
On the probe flew, unaffected by galaxies collapsing into each
other, stars blowing up one after the other, plunging the universe into
cold, lifeless darkness.
The only structures left in space were black holes that swallowed
the last particles of matter, the last decaying nuclei. With time even
black holes evaporated to explode in a final, spectacular show of
fireworks, that illuminated the universe for a brief moment.
The last to go were rogue photons flashing out of existence. Still
the probe traveled on; its on-board computers displayed a time no human
mind would be able to interpret, were there any of them left. It kept
ticking away time when time itself didn't make sense anymore.
It floated in primordial darkness past time and matter, when its
sensors lit up. There was an obstruction ahead.
It was some kind of wall, going on forever in every direction. After
an unimaginable amount of distance it seemed to curve inwards. The
probe's sensors picked up another baffling detail. Had there been a
mankind to speak of, it would have shaken its most fundamental beliefs
of itself to the core. The wall was made of bone.
© 2021 Susan Anwin
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