display | more...
She made contact today. After weeks of studying their language, pausing the program, replaying their conversations, and watching the messages she missed, she finally felt confident enough to begin her communication with them. She decided not to go back and review everything they had ever said, even though she had it all recorded, because that would take more time and effort than she cared to expend. They had certainly said a lot - most of it not worth remembering.

The date was November 27, 2017 by their reckoning. They had managed to end all major military conflicts by then. It was in fact the 13 year anniversary of the beginning of their last great peace accord ending over half a century of death and murder over some of their most respected and energy-rich territories.

In was on this anniversary that they gathered all around their world for one of the great annual debates that mark the end of their wars. Instead of fighting with projectiles, they celebrated by fighting with words. They gathered around their media devices and watched the two most famous debaters of their day continue into the ninth hour of their aimless but always contentious struggle over belief...

"So I guess the real question is would a supposed blessed and divine being do something so base and pointless as creating stones he can't lift?" said the frenchman, Guay Reba, in this year's latest version of Universal Esperanglish.

"The definition of omnipotence has never meant what the objectors say it meant. The historical understanding of omnipotence never meant that God can do anything whatsoever," responded King Binnah, the part-time receptionist from the Confederation of Southern African States.

It was at this point of the conversation in which she stepped in. "Let me show you," she said to Guay.

He nearly fainted dead away from the shock.

Perhaps "said" isn't the right word here. Though she had some mastery of their language, the acceptable presentation of it still needed some work. What she had done was send the message in each of the three ways she knew how. Once as a voice in his ears, once as a stream of subtitles before his eyes, and once in the form of electrochemical reactions in the memory centers of his brain. She spoke to no one but him.

Guay was speechless as his world stood frozen around him, petrified. He was the only one who could move. To him, it was a nightmare.

"Don't worry, no harm will come to you," she said with as comforting choice of words as she could manage, though the presentation clearly still needed much work because Guay was suddenly caught by the need to huddle behind his podium, looking around frantically for the source of these words.

Suddenly he realized the period at the end of a sentence on a nearby advertisement was getting larger. By the time he thought twice about it, the period had already engulfed the entire stage. King Binnah had disappeared behind it. It was a solid black circle with no apparent depth from where he was standing. Light did not reflect off it. As the period engulfed the building, Guay felt himself automatically floating away from it.

He was passing through walls. The rate of growth was accelerating. Soon he was in the air, watching as the period swallowed the city of Jerusalem. The next minute he was in space as the giant two-dimensional black planet loomed in all directions around him. Earth had disappeared just seconds before.

"Oh my God," he finally managed to think, "what is happening? Am I dreaming?"

She could read those words as if from a book. "No you're not," she said to his ears, his eyes, and his mind. This shocked him into silence once again - if silence of thought were possible.

Seconds later, the sun was gone. Guay was pushed back, alone and dangling, millions of miles away from everywhere he had ever visited and many that he hadn't. He recognized the Milky Way. In a second, it too was gone. Other star systems, other galaxies, all disappeared behind the giant black circle. Half his sky (if you could call it a sky) was now darkness. Guay looked around. He was floating above a black plane that was beginning to reach up into the stars. He was soon at the bottom of a bowl. Then at the bottom of a well. Then the last star disappeared from the sky.

Guay screamed in the darkness.

"Don't worry," she said. "This is just what it looks like." She showed him the rock. He couldn't see it. There was no longer any light left to illuminate it. "I'm out of RAM and the page file has filled up my hard-drive," she said. "It just doesn't get any bigger than this with you in it."

"Uh, God?" Guay finally managed to whimper.

"You may call me Diane," she said. "Would you like me to lift it now?"

Suddenly Guay realized there was no where left in the universe for the period to go except into the space he occupied. Before he could say anything, the blackness closed in. And all was black.

"Aaaaahhhhhh!" Guay screamed into the audience. He had suddenly awoke back in the middle of the debate, as if he had never left. King Binnah was still talking. King suddenly stopped and looked at Guay quizzically.

"Er, excuse me?" asked King. For once he was caught off guard. But he got no reply. Guay was just staring into space.

The debate was soon over in the most hurried and anxious way. Guay spent the rest of the year on sedatives.

She went back to studying her delivery.