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The Rich Dance
A short story from Cheeseburger Brown
CHAPTERS 1|2|3 ALTERNATIVE FORMATS iPhone-iPad/EPUB | PDF | Printed Book
The Rich Dance, a short story by Cheeseburger Brown, illustration by Matthew Hemming

CHAPTER 1

Her name is Name. She is the last.

Once, when the world was rich, she was a queen and a mother and a singer of the long songs. She swam and popped among many, back when the sky was full of stars swarmed by living things.

But time times, and events unfurl with history's momentum until all history is spent. Now there is nothing to stand against the cold. The last galaxies are dim, red smears separated by nearly infinite lakes of stultifying dark -- lonely scabs, evaporating away in feeble, guttering jets of X-ray foam.

It's so very quiet.

There are wonders, still, for the patient observer. Even when almost nothing is possible anymore the last of the actual describe their throes through pathways unconsidered and inspired. There are few straight trajectories into the final cold, as what's left burns at all by virtue of its own unlikelihood.

The final deaths are the province of the strangest attractors. Some of it gasps or shatters when it ends, and Name is satisfied by that beauty. Poof. Bang. Smudge. Something changes, and Name delights. And then the cold comes. It always does, and with it the probability of any further event drops so low that even the vacuum ceases to roil.

That part horrifies her.

She flees. She steps aside hyper-sideways, then burns a singularity or two until she calms, soothed by the spark and the din.

Her name is Name. She is alone in the Universe's graveyard. It is her playground, and her temple. It is both her home and her self. It is her legacy and her identity, for she is the only one who remembers that the Universe ever happened.

Soon, time will stop. The cold will have everything, and then everything will be nothing.

This depresses Name. She tries not to think about it.

Another thing flares as it succumbs, and she is distracted for a billion years. She thinks it's pretty. She cherishes the fresh memory for another era. Around her there is only blackness, for the stretch of space has outpaced the light. She drifts, streamers of matter slush trailing from the actualized aspects of her lowest tendrils. She draws lazy circles in the current, watching the vacuum flash and fizzle in the resulting wake of possibilities.

She yawns.




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