A Good Idea
Once upon a time – a very long, long time ago, as we now measure time – the Universe was nothing.
It was a very energetic nothing, though, full of activity. Species became and evolved, civilisations rose and fell, and creatures lived, loved, and died. Of course, since there was no time, at the time, all of this happened at the same time; so cities were crumbling even as they were being built, and creatures were dying even as they were being conceived. But that's just the way things were. We creatures of time can't be expected to understand it.
One of those creatures of that long, long time ago age, a particularly brilliant one whose name should never be forgot, had a remarkable idea.
"We know there's a here," he thought, "because we can see it, feel it, and measure it. But doesn't it follow that there must also be a 'there'?"
Well, this idea impressed all the other creatures, who wrote books about it, created religions around it, and discussed it during their rest breaks, until another of the creatures had a spark of intuition and figured out where 'there' was.
Working with some other creatures, and with the assistance of a lot more, he managed to work out a way to reach out to 'there'. And they did so.
Now, if the Universe could be said to think, then its thoughts at the time of those brilliant creatures' success would have been something like: "Hmm. That's very interesting. The way they've structured things is a lot less chaotic, and will be a lot easier to manage. It's a Good Idea!"
So the Universe, which always goes for the laziest option, became a line.
Unfortunately, the poor, doomed creatures had not realised that in reaching out from here to there they had created something else, called 'dimension', and because the Universe found it easier to have dimension than not to have dimension, they all died. For creatures who have no dimension cannot live in an ordered, dimensioned universe.
And because there was no time, it was not just their deaths that their brilliance caused, but their total non-existence. They never were.
So the Universe was a line, but a busy line. Creatures lived, loved, and died, civilisations rose and fell, and all the wonderful things that life brings to the Universe were to be found. Of course, none of this took any time, still, because there wasn't any; but when a male creature loves a female creature, he doesn't notice time.
Naturally, some of the creatures were particularly brilliant, and had brilliant ideas.
"We can go from here to there, and from there to here, but surely there must be other ways we can go."
And brilliant ideas cannot be taken back or put down, so experiments were carried out.
"What a Good Idea!!" said the Universe, and it became a plane.
Those poor, foolish, brilliant creatures. All gone, never to have been, and all because they did not realise that if you reach out to other 'theres', then you have created area; and creatures who have no area cannot live in a universe of area.
"I've been thinking," said a brilliant creature. "All the Lesser Ones do is go around and around in circles. We Great Ones should go up in the world!"
For these creatures were different. They knew nothing of science and meticulous analysis; they knew only the ways of magic, for magic thrived in a Universe that was a vast plane.
So they worked their magics, and chanted their spells, and reached out 'up'ward.
"What a Good Idea!" said the Universe.
In discovering 'up', they had found volume. And volume begat mass. And mass begat time. And creatures who have no time – no matter how powerful they be, and no matter the magics they command – cannot live in a universe of time.
Poor, foolish Demons and Magi. Since they had no time, they never were – or perhaps they always were and always will be. It's hard to tell, when you can't mark things off against a clock.
The door was already unlocked. Terry pulled his key back out of the lock, and pocketed it.
For Christ's sake, Geoff, he thought. We'll turn up one morning and find we've got no computers left.
He shut the door behind him and entered the lab.
Geoff was at his workstation.
"Have you been here all night?" Terry asked.
"Please don't talk," Geoff snapped, not pausing in his tappity-tap on the computer keyboard. "I have to concentrate."
Terry pottered through the morning rituals. The server was already running and the magnetic bottle was energised, which left him with less rituals than usual; so he made coffee, earning himself a sincere, if weary, 'thank-you' from Geoff.
The morning passed as all mornings pass.
"I'd guessed right about the leading edge vibrations." Geoff was at Terry's shoulder, twitching and fidgeting.
"You had? I have to admit it sounded plausible, just not very practical. Did you manage to figure it out?"
"Mm. I think so. I've been up all night working on the software to compensate for it. Sorry if I was ratty, but I had to keep so much in my head."
"Oh, don't worry about that; we've all been there. Let's have a look at what you've done."
What he had done was so complicated that it was simplicity itself.
"I'll be damned," Terry rubbed the back of his head in amazement. "It all fits into place! Now you've done this, it all just... works. Fantastic job."
"Thanks." Geoff was exhausted but elated. "Once the idea for stabilising it came to me, it all just fell together. I didn't dare stop, in case I lost it."
Terry lifted his hands, palms up. "Let's run it. See if we've got a time-machine."
So they did.
"What a Good Idea!" said the Universe.
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