Everything was dark, as it always had been. Everything was silent too. Everything was as empty as absolute nothingness tends to be, until a sound lumbered through the void that nothing heard. The sound was like a sigh, only much lower and much, much longer. Like the rumble of a mountain forming from the earth or the breath of a god. And that was how time began or unpaused or… something.
While time was getting around to sorting itself out, which may have taken anything from a moment to an eon (the invention of clocks was a lot further down the cosmic to-do list), space heaved itself into existence. This was a bit messier than the beginning of time (which tended to follow a straight enough line) and may have looked something like a sneeze, only much larger and in every direction all at once. This is purely speculation however as the lights hadn’t bothered with turning themselves on at this point.
During all of this chaos, little clumps of something that had appeared in the nothing began assembling themselves and clinging together to form shapes. One particular clump of something began stretching itself into the form of a disc, resting on the backs of four elephants and balanced on the back of a great turtle before it realised that none of these things existed yet. After some deliberation this idea was scrapped and a little sphere was decided on instead.
While this was happening, some of the other clumps of something decided that this whole mess would be a lot easier to sort out if there was a bit of light. These particular clumps of something became stars, and named themselves that after working out exactly how important to the whole set-up they were. The divas. Orbiting the stars were the planets and orbiting the planets were the moons and other things that weren’t quite as keen to orbit anything at all drifted about in between and became a bit of a nuisance for everything else. They’ve generally been referred to as ‘a load of nonsense’ ever since.
Some of the planets that happened to be lucky enough to orbit their stars at just the right distance had something altogether more fantastic happen in their bowels and on their surfaces. Pieces of the matter that made them up began to consume. After they had consumed enough they divided and multiplied and grew. After this they began to think. Rudimentary thoughts at first: consume more, multiply. Eventually this matter changed again and the thoughts grew more complex: consume more, don’t be consumed by that, multiply.
On one planet some of these creatures crawled from the oceans they had occupied for millenia and grew curious. After several more millenia, and a few ideas about how consuming these other wobbly pieces of matter (that tasted so wonderful) could be made easier, one of the creatures looked up at the dots of light in the night sky and said ‘why?’ And so, the first philosophers realised themselves into existence.
‘Just because, I guess,’ replied one.
‘Mmm, maybe. Maybe there’s more to it than that,’ said the first.
‘Fire. Very far away. Lighting other places like the big light that lights ours sometimes,’ said a third.
The group stopped and thought for a while. Some gazed at the lights in the sky and some stared into the burning embers of the cluster of branches and dead wood they were huddled around.
‘I think they’re just little holes in that big, dark thing up there,’ said a fourth.
‘Could be,’ said the first. ‘What’s behind it then?’
The fourth thought for a minute, poking his own stick into the fire and watching the flames crack and dance around it. ‘I dunno,’ he said.
‘A big thing that looks like us put them there,’ said a fifth. ‘Very old and very big… with strange powers. If we don’t do what it says, the lights will all go out.’
A second silence passed as the creatures tried to work this out. The air around the fire seemed to cool.
‘I think that’s a load of bollocks,’ said the third. Some of the others laughed and the warmth of the fire seemed to return, just a little.
‘He’s watching you,’ said the fifth. ‘And he’s not happy you said that.’
And it was a very, very long time before anyone questioned this.