There was never really much of a question. Things came, things went, the Earth turned, the Sun rolled across the sky, just like any other day within memory. You don't really question that kind of stuff. We knew about eclipses, we were a scientific people. We had pinned down the origin of the universe. The big bang was a lot bigger than a lot of people theorized, and a lot smaller. You see, energy has this unique property (and it's all energy after all). When it is diffused across space at a specific density (Yeah, energy has density too, it's just not quite the same) it becomes highly volatile. The big bang was a reaction that converted all the matter in the universe to energy, and back to matter again. As it turns out, the eventual heat-death of the universe isn't death at all, except maybe in the sense of the tarot card.

We should have gotten the hint then. Dark matter and quintessence don't follow the rules, but we just made up new rules that they do follow; that's how we always did things, since the beginning. The trouble was that the rules were a lot simpler than we were willing to believe. With each new breakthrough we were getting just a little further from the truth.

So, we launched the first shuttles. We were shooting for the moon, I think they were playing hearts when the ship landed, but that isn't important. People watched the landing on TV, peering through the grainy images, and the crystal-clear photographs. For years after that astronomers would try to locate the flag and the footsteps and the plaque on the moon, but their telescopes would never find it. We faked that moon landing, no one told us about it for a long time. As it turns out, no-one really cared about the moon anyway, they just cared about the Ruskies. Science seems to follow politics in ambiguous ways, contradicting, acting as a foil, opposing the establishment, only to strengthen it ultimately. We still had heretics in those days, they just didn't call them that anymore.

Of course, the "landing" didn't end wars. We had plenty of wars after that. They were notably smaller, but no less brutal. Advancement never ended a problem that wasn't caused by earlier advancements, and most of the time it just made those worse.

Back in the forties there were some resurgences of classical paganism. That and non-classical paganism, and pretty much every other kind of paganism. It was just a resurgence of existing entities. The Templar to the Rosicrucians to the Golden Dawn and the Ordo Templi Orientis. Most everyone thought they were quacks, and, granted, they were. There is a thing about movements like this though, behind all the quacks who take center stage there is a whole mass of people practicing on their own. Most of us never know, but we're part of it too. You don't have to be doing it on purpose, you just have to be doing it.

Time went on, of course, and conflict arose as always. The Churches attacked the pagan festivals like they always have. No longer chopping heads off, thankfully, but instead converting and bullying. The pagans never fought back, at first, but it was inevitable. People were outraged when they did, but eventually gained perspective. It had been going on in Ireland for years, they said.

Here is where the problem came in: These two groups didn't know that they were on the same side. Science won out, and they didn't even know that they were fighting in this battle. If they knew what they were fighting for they would have stopped long ago.

So, anyway, the Golden Dawn had broken up over internal conflict and that Crowley guy, and the Ordo Templi Orientis finally went under too. With the Christian Church locked in conflict with the Wiccan Church (which had grown incredibly in size by that time) western spirituality had all but died out. The Wiccan emphasis on rituals waned as they turned to politics and conflict. The Christian Church was already prepared for such eventualities. In the meantime, China had been occupied by communism, which wasn't evil in and of itself, and, in fact, began to bring prosperity to the nation. Exports from China were always high, and the population control and family planning programs finally took hold. The place turned prosperous. People never realized how important suffering was, though. With the rich cultural heritage of China in shambles, the only link they had to their past being tired Tai-Chi demonstrations and a few books about Confucius, the people turned to science; eclipses, evolution, kinetics, entropy. They became an enlightened people, and the world was a more prosperous place.

As the International Center for Disease Control gained additional funding from newly developing nations in Africa, the newly-westernized Middle-East, and sovereign Israel, research moved in leaps and bounds. New vaccines for common diseases, and a new system of immunization that worked to keep natural resistance up, instead of allowing it to atrophy. A new era of prosperity had begun. The second wave of smallpox released by a rogue scientist in Russia was stopped within weeks of manifestation; fewer than 1,000 casualties. Bubonic Plague was wiped out for good. Cancer was curable in all typical victims up until the age of 150. Aging itself was being reduced.

Portions of the middle east joined the EU, and the Magellic League of Nations, named in homage to Ferdinand Magellan, did much more than its predecessor, the UN, in the way of keeping world peace. Within decades every developed nation in the world was a member. Nuclear disarmament followed, though it was severely held up by politics. Environmentalism picked up too, but it took a new form. The MLN mandated forestry guidelines and fuel guidelines and, even though there was some natural resistance at first, everyone was soon on board. Now there are miles and miles of pristinely manicured groves, growing in infinite lines across the Amazon basin. They don't get ill or infested; they're genetically engineered not to. They're glutton trees, engineered to produce far more oxygen than they need so that the entire worlds air supply can be provided by just the forest on one continent.

Since the adoption of key "Trade Languages" the entire population of the world now speaks Chinese, English, and French. There used to be thousands and thousands of living languages on this planet, but now there are less than fifty. After the industrialization of New Guinea and the "Bush" regions of Australia, as well as the transformation of the Amazon into a grove, there have been a few movements dedicated solely to discovery and civilization "savages."

No one studies language anymore, they just learn the three. There are no more historians, only archivist. You see, mankind has finally learned from its mistakes and broken the cycle of history. There is no more literature, and precious little art. No one studies Shinto or Hinduism anymore. There might still be a Buddhist monastery in Tibet, but they're hard-pressed to survive.

The scientists are having a good time. It seems that the ambient radiation of space has cleared up some in the past years. Radio transmissions are more clear, spectral analysis of distant galaxies is simpler, and your satellite TV is easier than ever to install. SETI is working overtime now, but still to no avail. We never did find any life out there in the universe; it's as if the whole thing were made just for us.

There is something the scientists don't see yet. They won't know what to think if they ever do. The quantity of dark matter in the universe is decreasing, the quintessence is destabilizing. Cosmic forces unseen to man, once stable and constant, are now syncopated, erratic. Galaxies far flung from our own are starting to lean in toward each other. The distribution of matter in the universe is shifting, curdling like milk. What they never figured out was that entropy has nothing to do with heat, radiant energy, friction, or matter at all. The universe takes care of itself. The real law of entropy was this: No interaction may occur in which the sole result is the transfer of ideas without some suffering ultimately resulting. The real entropy has finally set in, suffering has been stopped, and entropy of the spirit has arrived. The world has become culturally homogeneous and this is the true heat-death of the universe.

The universe has run its course a million times before, and after each one it started again, but not this time. This time the universe will diffuse out into nothingness, becoming eventually so rare as to no longer exist.

The lights in the bar faded, neon signs making little noises as the energy flow ceased. The piano man turned to the last page of his book: Moonlight Sonata.

Last call, the bar is closing

Hurry up please, it's time...

The tired men shifted from their seats slowly, some with women in tow, those at the bar always alone. Few women came to this bar without persuasion, it was one of those places. The bartender washed out the glasses, pouring the last ones and the piano man played softly. The hordes shambled out, shoes scratching at the wooden floor, and the place was empty... Except for Shiva, who stayed behind to dance the last dance...

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