"Two CCs of adrenaline
The needle found its way through
his chest and into the failing heart. A nurse snatched the
curtain around the stretcher. Nests of colored wires, oxygen
tubes, and humming machinery surrounded the figure. White
coated men and women worked frantically in the confined area.
The mechanical tone of his
pulse in the air went deadly flat.
"We're losing him!"
The old man's eyes popped
open with the sharp smell of antiseptic and frantic sounds
around him. His gnarled left hand still clenched a small,
worn silver cross as paralyzing pain shot down his arm.
"How the hell can he
be awake? Mr. Horn, can you hear me?"
His eyes rolled back in their
sockets, eyelids fluttering like leaves caught in a spring
storm. With a final convulsive spasm, his body lay still on
Gabe felt the crushing grip
surrounding his heart slowly retreat. The pain no longer burned
fiercely; only a spreading cold remained. Lord, he
thought, I'm on my way home, for you have promised that
whosoever believeth in your son should not perish, but have
An uneasy calm came over him
in those last few moments, interrupted by a strange tightness
in his thinking. A single thought flared across his mind:
his wife. My sweet Sarah, 'til death do us reunite.
Between the moment his
eyes closed for the last time and opened for the first, the
universe changed. Billions of galaxies rose from the vast
darkness of space, completed their endless dance, and quietly
died. The universe began its slow, inevitable collapse, completing
the circle; but sentient life resisted, as it always had,
and stubbornly triumphed.
* * *
Gabe slowly opened his eyes
as if he'd just awoken from a deep, refreshing sleep, surprised,
but alert. He found himself lounging in a long forgotten easy
chair. Gentle spring sunlight spilled through a half open
window across his face. The smell of freshly baked bread and
newly cut hay assaulted his nose as forgotten hints of the
family farm surfaced. Before he could gather his thoughts,
a voice jerked him around.
"Welcome home, son."
"Oh my God," whispered
"Been a long time, boy."
The man before him was the father he remembered from childhood,
a man whose features hadn't been weathered down by living
"Father? Is that really
"Still unsure of yerself,
boy, even dead? And you the church goer."
"Dead?" said Gabe.
He started trembling as his
father's voice faded. Where are the Pearly Gates? Could
this be Hell? Gabe straightened up in the chair, shifting
his gaze towards his father.
He rubbed his worn, faithful
cross out of habit while looking around the house. "This
looks like the farm I grew up on. It's not exactly my idea
of Heaven. Where are we?"
His father's eyes narrowed
as he looked back at his son. "I don't seem to remember
God askin' yer opinion."
Before his father could say
any more, a wave of emotions overwhelmed Gabe. He rose from
his chair and moved to embrace his father, but his father's
eyes darkened, and the man stepped back.
"You haven't changed.
We're dead and you haven't changed," said Gabe.
An easy grin appeared on the
older man's face. "How 'bout a cup of coffee?" his
father said, turning towards the stove. "Nothin' like
a good cup of coffee on a fine spring mornin'. At least that's
one thing we can agree on."
Gabe watched as his father
walked over to the stove and poured two cups of black coffee
from an ancient blue coffee pot. Handing a cup to his son,
Gabe's father said, "To answer where we are, we're in
"But this is not
what I expected. Scripture clearly shows"
His father slammed down his
coffee cup on the table and moved to within inches of his
son's face. "Don't quote me scripture, boy."
Gabe glanced down, avoiding
his father's penetrating eyes.
"I had a lifetime of
learnin' scripture for yer mother's sake, and what did it
get me? Nothin'! It didn't bring in the crops. It didn't put
clothes on yer back, and it sure didn't save yer mother's
life, did it?" He picked up his cup and took a sip, his
smoldering eyes still locked on his son. "And what about
Sarah? It didn't do her no good either."
Gabe's head snapped up with
a jerk, his eyes widening. The slow burn in his father's eyes
couldn't match the bonfire in his. "How dare you
bring Sarah up. She loved me more than you ever did or showed.
You have no right to talk about her!"
He father's eyes softened
slightly. "You always found the courage to fight back
when you cared about something. I can see there'll be no right
time to tell ya this, Gabe. Yer mother couldn't accept the
truth, but you might.
"You were so obsessed
yer damn religion after Sarah died that you never considered
other possibilities. What gives you or anyone else a direct
line to universal truth? A book? A book written by men for
men? How many changes has it gone through? How many alterations
have men made to match their own views? And that's only yer
Christianity. You've ignored thousands of other religions
based upon the same flimsy evidence, books written by man
to control man." He finished the last of his coffee and
walked over to the open window.
His father turned to face
him and sat against the window ledge. "The only thing
yer Christianity was right about was life after death. The
only problem is, there ain't no Christian god and there ain't
no Jesus. You see, this is the only afterlife, the
universal afterlife. All forms of life throughout the
universe exist here." As he spoke, light from the early
morning spilled through the window surrounding the older man
with a soft, golden halo.
"If this is some kind
His father's eyes darkened.
"Boy, when have I ever joked?"
Gabe stared defiantly back.
"It doesn't matter if He has other Children in other
shapes, we're all His children. If we're dead, then God exists
by the fact we're alive again through his perfection and grace."
Gabe expected his father's rage to crash upon him like the
fall of night, inevitable and absolute.
His father only smiled. "Yer
on the right track, boy, but ya got a long way to go yet.
Perfect God, perfect book, huh? II Samuel 24:1-2 and I Chronicles
21:1-2 might change yer mind about that. But yer close, real
close. I think it's time for a little journey. Now."
Between one thought and the
next, Gabe's world changed.
A cool, gentle breeze had
drifted through the farm window a moment ago; now a hot, arid
wind caressed Gabe's body as he stood at the outskirts of
an ancient city, sand shifting uneasily under his feet while
the desert sun beat down upon his head.
"Where are we?"
"Where the truth begins,"
Gabe's father replied.
"Christianity, boy, what
Gabe became a shadow, a passive
observer alongside another, his Saviour, living Christ's life
He was a young boy, growing
and exploring as boys do. The years quickly melted away while
unrest grew in the young man. His fellow man was too cruel,
too unjust. Jesus began preaching love and tolerance, an unheard
of concept at the time. Surviving was too difficult for such
thoughts in the desert, yet he persevered. Ultimately, he
paid for his beliefs with his life but not before touching
many other lives with his ideas. Knowledge backed by truth
is far stronger and more powerful than swords.
Gabe snapped back to the farm
house with a jolt that rocked him on his feet. Everything
was exactly as they'd left it, but for Gabe, thirty-three
years had passed in an instant.
"He was a man,"
Gabe's father said, "flesh and blood like us. The only
difference was that his words and deeds lived long after he
was gone. I wanted you to see how he actually lived and died
so you'd know the truth."
"The truth? What the
hell do you know about truth? I'm not sure I know what the
truth is anymore. What's nextturning Sarah's love and
memory against me? Thoughts of being with her again were the
only thing that kept me sane."
His father smiled again. "Yer
ready for the last step."
Gabe's universe changed again.
In the beginning there
was darkness, a darkness so absolute that neither time nor
space existed. A critical potential was reached on the outside
and the inside unfolded.
seconds, gravity separated from the other three forces: electromagnetic,
strong nuclear, and weak interaction.
At 10-10 seconds, electromagnetic
and weak interaction separated.
At 10-6 seconds, quarks
combined to form particles.
At three minutes, light
nuclei started forming.
700,000 years passed before
true complex atoms formed.
Hundreds of millions of
years later gaseous clouds of hydrogen and helium began to
condense into proto-galaxies and stars. Another billion years
passed before rudimentary life appeared.
Life blossomed and evolved
over the next one hundred billion years. Civilizations rose
and fell by the millions as some destroyed each other or themselves
while others fell to natural disasters. Wherever it was found,
life clung to existence with stubborn persistence.
But the end was near as
the universe started its slow collapse. Beings all over the
universe strove to avoid the heat death. Sentience struggled
to find answers to questions that have plagued intelligent
life throughout the ages. In the end they created their own
Emulated life guided the
universal collapse in one direction, cheated the heat death,
and the Omega Point was reached.
"My God," Gabe whispered.
"No, our God," said
"I don't understand."
"Dammit boy, open yer
eyes! You needed answers and you were given answers. Yer body
died billions of years ago. Man and other life continually
looked for their gods but failed. The Omega Point or god or
whatever you want to call it was created."
All the blood ran out of Gabe's
face. "That can't be. I'm alive again, we're alive because
we have immortal souls. We must
" Gabe sat down
heavily. He gazed off aimlessly, his eyes unfocused.
"We are now immortal
but not because we have souls. There is only one criterion
that defines a man, a being: experience. Experience is the
tool by which a man's soul is forged.
"The Omega Point encompasses
all, the entire universe. It permeates everything and is everything.
It was created by sentient beings and continually evolved
until all life both past and present exists within it now.
We are both sustained and protected from the universal heat
death by it, but not physically.
"We are emulated Turing
subsets of the Omega Point."
Gabe closed his eyes as a
slow sigh escaped between his lips. "Are you trying to
tell me I'm a computer program within some giant computer
god?" He shuddered slightly. Oh Sarah.
"That's too simplistic,
boy," his father replied. "The substrate upon which
life exists and continues is unimportant. Physical existence
or emulated, it doesn't matter. The Omega Point is the pinnacle
of life's continued struggle to survive. We exist now because
the Omega Point was reached before the final collapse of the
universe, but paradoxically it was the very collapse which
allows us to survive. And not only survive, but experience
infinite personal time in finite objective time.
"Life cannot survive
in any other form within the collapse. Emulation is an exact
reproduction. Once you emulate something, the difference between
the emulation and the actual object becomes meaningless. The
emulation is the object. Because we exist as emulations, we
cannot die again and we can forever experience and grow."
Gabe's father moved around
the chair to stand in front of his son. Gabe's head was still
lowered and eyes closed, his fingers rubbing at the small,
worn cross. "The choice is yours, Gabriel. You've seen
the truth. Now you must choose between truth or what you believe
"Sarah's already made
Gabe's eyes snapped open.
He stared up at his father as tears welled up. A drop escaped
and rolled slowly down his cheek.
"Sarah," Gabe said
in a ragged whisper. The silver cross dropped to the wooden
floor with small, bouncing clicks. His breathing came in tattered
There was only one choice
The tsunami broke.
The door at the far end of
the room began to open as both men turned to look. Bright
gold light streamed out from around the frame. Gabe couldn't
make out the figure in the doorway walking towards him, but
he knew who it was, who it must be.
A light breeze brushed across
his face, bringing memories of a lazy, cool autumn afternoon
of days long past. His heart beat fiercely in his chest. A
beat strong with the prospect of a long journey ending, or
maybe just beginning.
Slowly, he could make out
a familiar smile surrounded by soft, cascading, auburn hair.
It was the smile of old promises kept and those yet to come.