Updated: Nov 21, 2021
My name is Zero. I can take one positive from my schizophrenic personalities. Inside me somewhere, split into different parts, is the potential to be truly at one with the universe. I remember being that person before and it’s all I want, all anyone would want.
It’s not easy being a full-time personality manager. I’ve tried some kind of system that might tell me, one day to the next, who was occupying me the last time I was out. At least then, I might know what to expect, get the apologies in early. But none of my other personalities bought into the idea.
I do know, 14 doesn’t get on with 17 for some reason so that’s a difficult transition. 8 is furiously jealous of 21. 4 is apparently psychopathic and 13, people say is just me on too many happy pills. The happy pills, prescribed or otherwise, failing to cure me, improve me or in any way inform me for some twenty years now. Solid investment. I call them my sweeties because they are equally useful.
37 is my favourite. 37 is my enlightened state, the place I need to be at one with the universe. 37 doesn’t show up often but when he does, people seem to like me for a while. Until 4 shows up and then I normally wake up with a bruise or two. The most annoying is 16. He does something my dog doesn’t like. Some mornings, Poppy gives me a look out the corner of her eye like I’ve said something horrible about her mother. She normally forgives me around eleven o’clock, because she’s my Poppy, but if ever I could communicate with another living being to say, “Please don’t blame me for me,” it’s with Poppy.
This morning, I woke up on a metal floor, like a grill. Poppy wasn’t here. That didn’t happen much either. I felt like Zero but there’s never any guarantee. As with most mornings, I had no idea where I was or how I got here. I got up, wrung out the aches and looked around.
As soon as I woke up, I heard the humming, maybe that’s what woke me up. Then the flashing lights. There was all manner of technology humming and flashing in the room. Apart from that and the floor space and a big chair in the middle of the room, everything else was a window. And outside that window was Space. I was in some craft. I was actually in space. I had to grin a little. After almost countless stories, personalities and dimensions, this, I believed, was a first.
I tried to get some sense out of the controls but the language was new to me, more like glyphs. I tried the doors but they were all locked and the signs were in the same language.
I’d played a VR game called Collision when I was a kid. I couldn’t stay away from it. It was the first thing I did when I woke up, last thing I did at night and anytime I didn’t get caught in between. Collision was a space exploration game, not unlike what I woke up to just now. Maybe it would give me a few pointers.
If the control screens make no sense, which they don’t, see if you can tell where you are by reading the stars. I tried that. My app said there was no known formation of stars on record.
Right. That’s all I’ve got. It looks like Collision can’t help me beyond that. I suppose I was five at the time.
And then I noticed a blob of red in the corner of the screen. It was growing. Was it coming for me or the other way round or both? A little panic blister erupted temporarily as my lack of any control of this thing meant I was free-falling. In the hands of probability. And the red blob was getting bigger.
Soon enough, the blob got big enough to see it was a star and my craft seemed to come to rest, just hanging there, observing this star.
After a few minutes, another small red blog appeared from the right and then a smaller blue blob from the left. They were planets.
It didn’t take long to tell they were heading straight for each other.
They must have trickled around the star’s equator a while ago, seen each-other in doomsday orbit for the first time, realising their end was unavoidable, and if planets could shit themselves, maybe done that.
This was a game of chicken that would end badly for both of them, destruction mutually assured.
I’d been put here just in time for one doozy of a collision. Another little panic blister itched at me as I wondered if I was a safe distance away. Come on. The energy released by two bodies colliding, how many trillion tons? Travelling at 70,000 mph. I couldn’t get there. I knew it was an awful lot and I was a long way away but was it far enough?
Finally beaten by my high school physics, just like Mr. Jarvis said. Richt, and so now, Mr. Jarvis was going to be my last memory of this existence.
Think about kissing Emma Jones. Think about kissing Emma Jones...
But then it all got a lot brighter and both planets started to change colour. They were starting to burn, starting to melt. The ultimate extinction event. And I was right in the middle of it.
I tried to see evidence of any life or civilization on either planet but I couldn’t. I prayed there wasn’t. If there was, whether they had tools and bread and dancing or not, I hoped they’d made peace with whoever they had to.
Closer the planets came. Like lovers moving in on their first kiss. They'd touch so gently and sink into each other, furious and boiling in their embrace of destruction.
What will become of the planets? Millions of years of gradually coalescing back into a new planet or just part of its very own asteroid belt?
Then I felt it.
“No. Do not come before I see this.”
The only one of the personalities I know is coming is 73. It starts by feeling like you haven’t eaten for days, hollow stomach, nauseous. Then I start thinking thoughts I know do not belong to Zero.
That’s why I know something about the character of 73. 73, I believe, is pure evil. Nice that he’s appearing just as everyone’s incinerated. Maybe that’s the universe’s plan for him.
Then, there was a flash and the third and final sign of occupation took me. Dizziness. I felt my legs go and felt myself hit the ground. I couldn’t breathe. The last thing I remember was the light.
Please vote for how the story should progress and use the comments facility to contribute to the story.
Does Zero survive and his story continues?
Is it 73’s story next?
It’s all been a VR game. Zero is still five years old.