The stars burned grey overhead. They had for millennia now. No stopping it now. All we could do is watch, in the dark. Tell stories while we held each other, & wait.
That had always been our great coping mechanism. Tell stories, obfuscate the real problem & pretend it would go away. Often it did. Fate was funny like that. The end of the world one day leads clean into the next sunrise.
The Sun is but a morning star, wrote one prophet. A star, but ours, we thought. Warm & gold. Still, one of a countless number. Always growing, always getting further away. Another node in the grid.
As our eyes adjusted to the night, it became clear to us in a way that it had not been for hundreds of years. Ever since the earliest days of torched blubber & scorched bone, we got further from the dark truth. Something we didn’t want to see.
So we chose to forget. We locked it away, removed it from the collective consciousness, & moved on. Towards progress, & science; to war, to market, to death. We built vast industries to keep the lights on, as if the stars didn’t do their job. All the while, dimming their glow & reducing their pull, littering the beyond with our cheaply made reproduction light.
That’s not to say all that time was waiting. From the beginning, we told stories about the globes we saw, drew lines between them to make them more familiar to our primitive gaze. We made tribes around different smatterings, assigned ourselves qualities based on their spin & tilt. A cosmic dance, so imperfect, so regular.
We made models, but always gave ourselves too much sway. It was hard to tell ourselves we were just specs of dust in the dark. Even when we were convinced it was all the byproduct of a die roll, we didn’t see the truth. Not until the lights went out.
A great flare swept out from our mourning star, & in an instance the gears grinding away at the mountains ceased. Everything stopped. Those inside ventured out to join those already there. Only the constellations burned in the sky.
The lines came back, slowly at first, then all at once. The doors thrown open. But we only saw from our one little pinprick in the fabric of space. Too small to understand. Too vain not to try.
Spiraling out, past Pleiades & Praesepe, you’d see the grid extending back. Row upon row, what seems random is but tightly ordered, node connected to node, morning star to Winter sun, spiraling through the universe. The small connections of dark matter, naked to our eyes, send neurons thousands of light years beyond the veil.
This stacking of stars forms a macrocircuit, the universe engine, the only computer capable of running on its own simulation. But you’d never see it from here.