The End of All Things.
His vision greyed at the edges, and a kaliedascope of whirring stars and brilliant nebulae swam briefly in and out of focus before he could see no more. Fluid boiled through the pores of his skin; his tongue swelled; his lungs burned… and unconsciousness quickly took him.
Fry’s body spun through the void.
He drempt of Leela.
She was happy, laughing, smiling… and he was with her. They embraced in the midst of devestation and dispair – the world was in ruins around them; cities crumbled, civilization reduced to dust. But none of it mattered, because they were in each other’s arms.
Somewhere in the background, a cake talked endlessly, but the sound drifted away as they held each other.
He gazed into the depth of her perfect eye and saw the death and birth of a thousand worlds, the spinning ballet of fire and ice and life.
She spoke The Words.
“I love you.”
And he awoke.
Fry took a deep, shuddering breath, and exhaled slowly. The air had a strange minty scent to it, and his breath seemed to echo. He opened his eyes a fraction and grunted in surprise.
He still hung suspended in zero gravity, floating in space amid a backdrop of swirling stars and clouds of stellar matter exploding in silent plumes, light-years long. Accretion disks swirled around immense black holes that themselves seemed to circle a larger, less definable mass somewhere in an impenetrable centre of light toward which all matter seemed to be gradually flowing.
“Wow…” Fry breathed, gaping at the looming spectacle of cosmic destruction for long minutes before finally turning his attention to his own immediate vicinity. His first impression had been accurate – he was suspended in what appeared to be open space, though even he knew that breathing in a complete vacuum wasn’t possible.
“What’s going on?” he said loudly, again noting the echo. He had the sense that he was inside some kind of bubble. The time machine floated nearby, and he grabbed hold of it – the little LCD screen was blank and the device’s casing had been blackened by the lightning strike.
“No…” Fry gaped at the dead machine. “This can’t be… this can’t be happening. It’s impossible!”
“Denial of possibility is an unusual sentiment,” a warm voice said. “Especially considering recent turns of events, my good chum.”
Fry looked around in alarm, searcing for the source of the voice. He could see nobody, only the sprawl of dying stars on their black velvet backdrop.
“Who’s there?” Fry blurted.
“A difficult question to answer, Phillip,” the voice said, and Fry saw the inexplicable sequential flare of a system of stars that surrounded him, beating in time with the words being spoken. “Perhaps not so much of a ‘who’ as a ‘what’.”
Fry blinked. “…What?”
The voice was silent for a time, the the stars from which it seemed to emenate resumed their steady light. Fry cleared his throat.
“What are you?” he asked meekly. “Some kind of hallucination?”
“Possible,” the space entity replied, and again the stars flared accordingly in multiple colours. “You have had an unfortunate brush with mortality after all.”
“I was supposed to be on Earth,” Fry said, looking at the time machine. “This thing must be broken…”
“That seems probable,” the voice said. “However, even if it were not, you wouldn’t be able to find the Earth in this present time.”
Fry looked into the nearest star, narrowing his eyes against the glare. “Why not?” he asked, feeling a knot grow in his stomach.
“The Earth was destroyed about ninety billion years ago.”
Fry reeled. If he had been in a gravitational field, he would have fallen to his knees. “Ninety billion…”
“You seem upset,” the galactic voice remarked calmly.
Fry didn’t respond. He buried his head in his hands and floated there for the longest time, bent double.
At last he looked up, bleary-eyed and drained.
“Why am I alive,” he asked forlornly.
“Because I caught you,” the space entity replied. “All life in the Universe died out eons ago. I have grown lonely in these, my twilight years. Your company is not unwelcome.”
Fry gazed out into the collapsing cosmos through the invisible force field that surrounded him. “Are you God?” he asked quietly.
“That seems likely,” the space voice replied. “I am powerful and benevolent. And, like you, apparently timeless.”
“Like me?” Fry looked at the broken time machine in his hand. “So you know?”
“You’ve trodden your muddy footprints across history,” God said. “Your very incarnation is a result of such a jaunt.”
Fry squirmed uncomfortably.
“And now you’ve come at last to the end of time, where I had expected you to emerge,” God went on. “This Universe has a few short minutes of existence left in it, give or take a few millenia. All mass, space, and time, will soon converge…”
Fry looked out into the swirling celestial maelstrom and watched as galaxies silently tore themselves apart. “What will happen after that?” he asked.
“Oh,” God said with a chuckle, “that would be telling.”
Fry hung suspended for a while, watching the crashing, twirling bodies of stars. Time passed, as time has a tendency to do.
“Hey God?” Fry said at last. “You’re a God, right?”
“And you know everything, right?”
“Knowledge is an arbitrary concept,” God replied. “The socialist cockroaches in your apartment knew every square inch of the floorspace they inhabited. To their point of view, that was all there was to know.”
“But there was more than that,” Fry said. “There was a whole world of stuff the little commie bastards didn’t know… I don’t understand.”
“Philip, there is always more,” God said. “Higher truths, greater levels of understanding to be attained.”
“Even for you?”
“Even for me.”
“But… didn’t you create everything?”
“I don’t remember.”
Fry raised an eyebrow. “You’re joking?”
“That is probable,” God replied.
Fry stared at the sentient constellation for a long moment. “I… was wondering if you could help me,” he said at last.
“The Universe is about to end, my friend,” the deity responded with knowing humour. “Any help I can offer would be moot in the face of complete and total annihilation. You and I will soon be dead.”
Fry frowned. “But I travelled here through time,” he said.
“Yes, I saw,” God replied. “You were doing well until that suspiciously well-placed lightning bolt sent you here.”
“That… that was you… wasn’t it?” Fry stared at the constellation, aghast.
“A trifle cliché perhaps,” God admitted, “but necessary. Philip, do you know what the most precious and rare commodity in the Universe is?”
Fry shrugged. “Iunno… working public telephones?”
“Time,” God said. “Time is the only thing so scarse that all living things must share it at once, and yet it is also the most important facet of reality. Without the boundaries set by yesterday and tomorrow, the accomplishments of today cannot be defined. When boundaries are trampled, all things begin to bleed into one another – what has been done and what is yet to be done are no longer important if the page of history can rewritten over and over. What point would there be to the march of life, if all the marchers are going in different directions?”
Fry inclined his head. “I think I understand,” he said. “But… I don’t care about all that.”
“No, because…I love her.”
“Yes you do,” God said. “You still love her, even though she turned to dust billions of years ago. You love her now like you loved her then, so what has been lost?”
“She’s dead!” Fry said, tears welling in his eyes.
“All things that live will inevitably die,” God said. “Just as all things that begin must inevitably end. You, me, Leela, and here now – the very Universe itself.”
A star drifted by, with a vast trail of incandescent plasma being stripped from its corona by the tremendous forces of the Big Crush.
“You’re saying you won’t help me?” Fry whispered.
“That isn’t what I’m saying at all, my good chum,” God said, and Fry looked up with hopeful eyes. “In fact, I had hoped to ask for YOUR help in a small matter.”
“You need MY help?” Fry repeated, bewildered.
“I don’t encourage wilful abuses of time,” the space entity said. “Such incidences of cheating are problematic, as I mentioned, though occasionally… very occasionally… they can prove to be exactly the kind of underhanded tricks that a divine hustler can use to win a game of celestial snooker. The key is knowing when to allow rules to be bent – your own creation is an example of that.”
“She is important.”
“But you let her die.”
“Did I now?” God chuckled. “May I see that machine?”
Fry held the time machine aloft, and it floated out of his grip in an invisible field of energy. It quivered a few metres away and suddenly flew apart into a thousand individual esoteric components that hovered in a perfect pattern, turning this way and that, as though on display.
“Hmm,” God said. “Interesting.”
“Can you fix it?” Fry asked anxiously.
“I can now,” God replied. And with that, the device reassembled itself, fully repaired, recharged, and ready to use.
“Great!” Fry exclaimed joyously. “Now I can go back and save Leela!” he said.
“You may do what you feel you must – though this must be the last time you toy with time. I’ll drop you on the way,” God said. “Consider it repayment for use of your machine.”
“I waited for you, for this very reason,” God explained. “The method of travelling through time was unknown to me, though there is a task I need to complete before my own time is done, one that requires the brilliance of this piece of technology to fulfil.”
“Do you mean…?” Fry gaped, astounded. “Professor Farnsworth is actually smarter than God?”
“That appears likely,” God said. “Though I had counted on the Universe prodiving me with the solution to my problem.”
“What problem is that?”
“I need to go back to the beginning of time,” God said. “…So that I can create the Universe.”
“…But…” His eyes boggled and his brain hurt. “That doesn’t make any…”
“Well, so long,” God said quickly. “Remember what we talked about. What’s done is done, and you should cherish the memories you have – tell that to yourself when you get there, and good luck.”
Before Fry could respond, an invisible finger pushed the red button on the time machine, and a brilliant nova-like burst of light flared out, enveloping the entire constellation of stars, along with Fry as well. The massive distortion faded, leaving a section of empty space surrounded by the cataclysmic final throes of a dying reality.
Fry fell through time and space as before, only now there was another presence alongside him, guiding his passage. He felt the presence gently open a rend in the subspace plane and guide him toward a specific time and place.
“You love her now like you loved her then, so what has been lost?” the voice of God asked, as the vortex of creation twirled by.
“Nothing,” Fry said.
“Cherish the memories you have,” God said, and propelled Fry out into the timestream, before continuing backward through eons past, toward the origin of all things, in order to set that origin in motion…
------------------"I saw the colossal landscape, of which I never was a part..."