Iván Alejandro Ávalos Díaz


Table of Contents

1. Chapter 1. The machine
2. Chapter 2. The Ministry
3. Chapter 3. The Fundamental Problem
4. Chapter 4. The black hole
5. Chapter 5. The minds
6. Chapter 6. The ice pop
7. Chapter 7. The beginning

*License:* CC BY-SA 4.0

1 Chapter 1. The machine

  Once upon a time, the innovators of the Ministry were ahead of
  everyone: they invented a machine capable of taking a perfect
  photograph of space and time, which led them to discover something
  that no one else had ever conceived before, and which would change it
  all forever.

  When the innovators took the first photograph, the immense amount of
  light emitted by the machine to make it work nearly blinded the whole
  town, but no matter how many chaotic lights and sounds continued to
  swirl around the near atmosphere under the starry night sky, the
  newspapers did not report any deaths the next morning.

  The mist that came out of the machine after the capture might have
  looked like in sci-fi films, according to what bystanders thought they
  saw; but the innovators assured that this mist looked more akin to the
  one seen in modern horror movies, which differs from sci-fi mist in
  that it is created inside the mind.

  The capture taken by the machine was not something that the human mind
  could really grasp. To the naked eye, it looked like the blank sheet
  of paper in which you were supposed to write a school essay, but then
  you never got around to it, so it stayed blank until it made its way
  to the landfill and eventually got burnt to ashes. Whatever you could
  or could not see in the capture didn't matter, as it was intended to
  be processed by a thousand computers working together in order to
  create a giant, searchable database that would start making sense.

  The kind of sense that this database made was not usual, as the
  innovators would eventually come to realize as they sat around the
  table, in front of the screen. The patterns therein would have taken
  centuries for a silicon-based machine to learn, but this light-based
  computer ensemble was infinitely superior in every way, so it learned
  it all during the innovators' lunch break.

  “There is something off in the patterns,” was the consensus among the
  innovators, “time is nowhere to be seen as time.” Where was it hiding?
  The screen could display space at a moment in time, but as soon as
  they tried to visualize time at a moment in space, all they could see
  before their eyes was the blank essay burnt to ashes. It didn't make
  sense, so they spent hours hours discussing what could possibly be
  going on.

  One of the innovators dissociated just when this discussion was taking
  place, and after completing her journey through her internal universe,
  she brought some of its structured humor into the real world, and
  jokingly exclaimed, “Time is in the pixels!“ Her humor was not exactly
  the kind of humor that would come across as humor to other people, so
  everyone reacted in all seriousness, and they quickly looked at the
  pixels and noticed something strange: the pixels were telling a story.

  Dark matter connected matter through various layers of repeating
  patterns, producing variations consistent with all the laws of the
  universe known to humankind. The obvious conclusion to this was that
  time is a particle. The future could not be seen in the pixels, as the
  innovators would later discover during a late-night brainstorming
  session intended to further develop the initial theory.

  The theory proposed in this session was that time elapsed as an effect
  of dark energy flowing through the variating repetitions held together
  by dark matter in a consistent, albeit unknown, direction. As dark
  energy flowed through dark matter, new patterns containing the next
  moment in time were created, and so on.

  What if humanity was able to mutate dark matter and energy? Little was
  known about them at the time, but after this failed-humor-fueled
  discovery, at least one more thing was known. If it ever became
  possible to artificially mutate dark matter, would the Fundamental
  Problem finally be solvable? Would it be possible to mutate time and
  everything in it? What would the implications be?

  None of the implications would matter if matter was to be mutated in a
  way that would suddenly destroy the universe, with no time to turn it
  back. The innovators expressed their fear of becoming the first and
  last killers of everything, as some in the entertainment industry
  would portray it. No matter how much they feared it would happen, they
  could never abandon this potentially dangerous project, as it was
  their chance to bring meaning to their ever-knowledge-starved minds
  and solve the Fundamental Problem once and for all.

  The innovators spent their lives trying to figure out how to mutate
  dark matter and control dark energy, building all sorts of particle
  accelerators and surviving several assassination attempts by
  sociologists trying to save the world from black holes; but no success
  came out of their increasingly insane experiments, and one by one,
  they died, the last one lonelier than the first, but with their minds
  starved all alike, and a legacy that future generations of innovators
  would carry forward. No one would ever forget the original innovators.

2 Chapter 2. The Ministry

  Back in the age of silicon, a talented musician used computers to
  create the music that would later transform society into the peaceful
  world in which future generations would be born. Experts around the
  world once studied her music with fascination, and came to the
  conclusion that it was not music what they were hearing, but rather a
  transformative manifesto drenched in rhythmics and avant-pop
  synthesizers, carefully crafted to disturb and change those unwilling
  to change.

  Wars that were to be fought, were never fought, because there was no
  longer a need for them. Lives that would soon come to an end in the
  blink of an eye continued to be until time eventually faded them
  away. Those who lacked money would later climb as high as the moon as
  soon as poverty was eradicated. Nobody believed in music before, but
  then this musician came along.

  In the middle of that autumn fog, there was nothing to do but wonder
  what was beyond the fog. We are so small in the universe, that we
  can't see past a kilometer when the weather is unfortunate enough for
  those driving at high speeds. However, as dense as that day's
  low-altitude water vapor was, it was picturesque and memorable, not
  only because of the fog, but also because of the girl inside it, lying
  in her backyard, thinking about everything, and creatively generating
  the chain of thoughts that would later give birth to the Ministry.

  She was part of the first generation born in the new order, so neither
  her gender nor her geographic location mattered. At an early age, she
  learned the sciences and the technologies, and eager to be the one to
  solve the Fundamental Problem, she drafted her own crazy theories that
  didn't make sense to those around her. She didn't want to live in a
  world where no one could understand her, so she looked around
  relentlessly, hoping to find crazy, like-minded people to complement

  She travelled all around the world on her bicycle, collecting her
  sweat in a jar so that she could measure how much it took to find each
  person on her journey. No matter how long she pedaled around, she
  wouldn't have been able to find anyone if it hadn't been for her
  statistical knowledge of which places had more people per capita
  interested in science. Despite this, days went by, and she returned
  home with a full jar, having found no one at all.

  What she didn't know, however, was that she wasn't the only one
  carrying around a jar in a bicycle. She managed to get access to the
  sales records of the local store where she worked, and soon realized
  that at least five different people had previously purchased both a
  bicycle and a jar. She was able to track down the five buyers by
  matching the timestamps in the data with CCTV footage, and searching
  the town for a week.

  The five people she found turned out to be quite interesting. They had
  all sorts of creative ideas and their adventurous minds had no
  limits. The problem was that they were not well versed in science; but
  she was an excellent teacher, and the buyers were curious and willing
  to learn. Years later, they were all young masters of science, and she
  finally had people around her who could understand and even complement
  her theories.

  That day in the fog, she was not alone in her backyard. The five
  buyers turned passionate theorists were also looking at the sky next
  to her, wondering what was beyond the fog and how small we were in the
  universe. In a sudden moment of inspiration, the young and creative
  girl conceived her idea and expressed it to the five young
  theorists. At that moment, the Ministry was born in their minds, and
  that same year it materialized into its original incarnation.

  The young theorists then turned into the innovators that the world
  would come to know years later. They were no longer just theorists,
  but also scientists, physicists, and computer engineers. They created
  original and innovative research, that quickly positioned them in the
  global scientific and technological community. With the ever-growing
  body of knowledge in their minds, their possibilities expanded, and
  they soon attracted the interest of people who enabled them to advance
  their research. They moved their headquarters from the backyard to the
  Ministry, a building they jointly acquired that was located in their

  The more advanced their research became, the more computing power they
  needed, and increasingly often, no matter how much they could get, it
  was not enough. Silicon computers had a limit: power consumption and
  heat dissipation. So they came up with the concept of a new
  light-based computer that would require only light to function, and a
  minimal amount of energy to generate it. After all, what's faster than

  Light-based computers started being developed by computer engineers
  around the world based on the innovators' original research, and years
  later, the electron began to become obsolete in the computing realm as
  photons became the new standard. Simpler integrated circuit designs
  would allow for orders of magnitude more speed than anything seen
  before, and processing huge amounts of data was no longer a
  problem. Furthermore, multiple light computers could be linked
  together to create supercomputers that would allow scientists around
  the world to process and analyze massive amounts of data in fractions
  of a second.

  The world changed once more with this invention, and this could only
  mean one thing: humanity was closer than ever to solving the
  Fundamental Problem. However, there was only one remaining problem:
  where would the data come from? Solving a universal-scale problem
  would require a universal-scale amount of data, taken from the
  universe itself. The technology used at the time to capture the
  universe was limited because it could only capture space, not
  time. The innovators knew that this was their chance to innovate.

3 Chapter 3. The Fundamental Problem

  Long before the age of light and the new order, astronomers and
  physicists around the world discovered something strange in their
  cosmic microwave telescopes: the universe was behaving
  unpredictably. Strange phenomena caused measurements not to conform to
  the laws of physics known at the time, and some of this
  unpredictability had catastrophic results: stars exploded for no
  reason, entire galaxies collided into new compound galaxies, and the
  universe expanded at an alarming rate. Any of this could happen at an
  unfortunate time and place, and would inevitably lead to the
  extinction of humanity if we were close enough. This phenomenon would
  later come to be known as the Fundamental Problem.

  Humanity has historically used humor to relieve all kinds of anxiety,
  no matter how great or existential. The Fundamental Problem would soon
  be turned into comedy by expert humorists around the
  world. Eventually, decades later, people would laugh when told about
  the Fundamental Problem. It was a perfect kind of dark comedy: so
  dark, that when physicists theorized that unknown matter and energy
  were the causes of the Problem, they called them dark matter and dark
  energy, respectively.

  One hundred different cinematographers produced one hundred and one
  different films depicting catastrophes caused by the Fundamental
  Problem, creatively dramatizing them as intense and passionate comedic
  drama thrillers starring the world's most famous actors of the
  time. Award categories would be created for this specific type of
  film, because of the unfair advantage it had over other genres of

  Singers who traditionally sang about love, now sang about the
  Fundamental Problem. Music was no longer listened to feel emotions,
  but rather to avoid them, especially the negative ones. Guitars were
  now heavily distorted to represent the distortion of meaning that
  people experienced when dark humor was absent from their lives.

  The successful literary careers of ten writers would change after they
  published twelve non-comedic books about the Fundamental Problem in
  different languages and caused worldwide controversy for their lack of
  dark humor. Eventually, their careers would come to an end. It was not
  until millions of science activists created a movement against dark
  humor, that the Fundamental Problem could be seriously discussed

  The end of this dark chapter in human history marked the beginning of
  a new age of light, in which hundreds of scientists throughout history
  would begin to try to push their minds beyond their material limits,
  risking their mental health to find solutions to the existential
  threat that people had once laughed at,

  For decades, no amount of speculation could shine a light into the
  darkness of the Fundamental Problem, until the innovators came along
  with their sweat jars, bicycles, and unique minds, and saw things that
  no one else had ever seen before: they were the candles that humanity
  was in desperate need for. They eventually found new realms of
  darkness that their natural biological limitations kept them from
  exploring, for life is short for those who need it to last longer, and
  it's for the better.

4 Chapter 4. The black hole

  The next generation of innovators, born as innovators from the ashes
  of blank paper in the labs they no longer felt part of, would shed
  light on new areas of the Fundamental Problem, in ways that even the
  original innovators never thought of. The seven new innovators were
  kicked out of their original labs for going too far. They wouldn't let
  their mediocre labs stop them from pursuing their dreams.

  Contrary to popular belief, scientists have feelings too. The new
  innovators, with their stereotypical lab coats, and their social
  inadequacies, had noble goals, and were driven by pure and genuine
  love of humanity. Like the original innovators, solving the
  Fundamental Problem was not about fame. Their childlike curiosity and
  wild imaginations, not seen as age-appropriate by society, helped them
  advance humanity toward salvation.

  The Ministry, as revolutionary as life on Earth after eons of fire and
  chaos, had earned its place in popular culture, becoming the kind of
  story worth reading to children at bedtime. Millions of books were
  printed, schools around the world taught extensively about the
  Ministry and its accomplishments, and monuments were erected with the
  faces of the innovators in them, reminiscent of a mount that once
  existed; however, four of them would be destroyed by sociologists a
  few months after their inauguration.

  The new innovators knew that there was only one place where they could
  possibly belong: the Ministry. Coming from different places and
  cultures, they all eventually found their way to the same place, and
  as dark matter would have it, they brought the Ministry back to life,
  picking up where their predecessors had left off.

  First of all, they found several problems with the original particle
  accelerators, the main one being that dark energy was never taken into
  account in their designs. Days earlier, in a warm summer vacation at
  the beach, one of the innovators was trying to eat an ice pop that was
  as solid as a rock. He could only taste some of its flavor after
  exposing it directly to the sun for two minutes. This inspired him
  that day to suggest that perhaps dark matter could only be mutated
  when exposed directly to dark energy.

  Time occurs as an effect of dark energy flowing through dark matter
  and the patterns that contain the universe, as if it were a long film
  rolling behind a projector lens, one frame at a time. Each frame
  represents the universe at one moment in time, and it is separated
  from the next and previous frames by a thin line, which in this
  analogy would correspond to dark matter. Finally, the lens would be
  dark energy projecting each frame onto the screen.

  The logical implication of this is that there are small windows of
  time in which two frames and the line between them are under the
  projector's lens at the same time, allowing the particle accelerator
  to mutate dark energy if the ice-pop-lover's theory were true, and the
  accelerator was located in one of the horizontal sides of the frame.

  Where are the sides? If space were flat, the sides would be at the
  very edges of the universe. However, space is curved by gravity, so,
  in theory it should be possible to reach any of the sides by bending
  it enough. Black holes were known to bend it more than anything else,
  but sociologists hated them.

  By analyzing the photograph taken by the original innovators, they
  found that black holes were simply cracks in space where strands of
  dark energy converged and were captured. Interestingly, black holes
  didn't keep the energy they captured, but rather shot it out to all
  sides of the frame, all the way to dark matter, and then captured it
  back in an infinite loop, effectively acting as an artificial side.

  Small amounts of this energy made their way to the neighboring frames,
  where they would be captured by black holes in them and redirected to
  other frames. This process would create an infinite side channel in
  which all frames of the film could reach each other, no matter how far
  apart. The innovators thought that by somehow shooting unstable
  particles into a black hole, it would be possible to mutate any
  existing dark matter particle in the film. But first, they had to
  create the black hole, which posed many challenges.

  Sociologists eventually discovered their plans to build a black hole
  generator, so they worked together to boycott the project. As they
  grew in strength and ability, they strategically disguised themselves
  as scientists to fool the innovators and get into the Ministry. No
  matter how brilliant the innovators were, none of them were prepared
  to deal with this new generation of sociologists.

  What the sociologists didn't know was that the innovators had already
  tested a prototype of their new machine years before, and had
  successfully created a perfectly stable black hole. The sociologists
  only learned of their plans four years late. Countless unstable
  particles had already been shot into the black hole, with no
  result. The black hole could easily be dismantled by turning off the
  machine, so they turned it off and died from an explosion caused by
  improper handling of the electrical modules. Fortunately, the black
  hole was safely dismantled before the explosion.

  The Ministry would then be restored and the machine
  rebuilt. Sociologists around the world abandoned their violent means
  of saving the world from black holes, and instead created a regulatory
  body to ensure that scientific research and experimentation regarding
  black holes followed sound safety measures.

  During the four years of intensive experimentation with black holes,
  the innovators were consumed with fear and anxiety. They were very
  close to destroying humanity, and yet they couldn't just stop the
  experiments because it was possibly the only way to save it. When the
  innovators were finally able to build a stable black hole and
  experiment with it, their minds began to become unstable, to the point
  where they had to take a year off to go to rehab and recover from the
  stress and trauma. By the time the sociologists made it into the
  Ministry, the innovators had been in rehab for a month, isolated from
  the outside world and immersed in a fictional paradise. After leaving
  rehab and learning about what had happened, they had to return for
  another year.

5 Chapter 5. The minds

  The second generation of innovators would only last so long. Shortly
  after rehab, they decided to give up their careers as they felt their
  minds decay. They were still relatively young, but their minds were
  not: they had seen enough already. The innovators saw things that no
  one else had ever seen, and pushed their minds beyond anyone else in
  history. It was time for them to live their lives like everyone else,
  and forget about black holes until death.

  After their retirement became public news, a new wave in applied
  psychology began researching about possible mechanisms to protect the
  human mind from the burnout and trauma associated with what was now
  known as ”extreme science,” a field devoted to the research of
  existential threats and issues, of which the original innovators were
  considered the founders. The term was coined by psychologists
  themselves, years after the death of the original innovators.

  The new psychological research used light-based machines to analyze
  neural patterns in scientific minds to detect structural changes
  caused by intense and negative feelings combined with excessive
  knowledge. They discovered a small area of the brain that acted as a
  safeguard against insanity. It worked by locking down unstable parts
  of the brain to prevent decay. Scientific minds have this area
  underdeveloped, which means they're always working at unsafe levels of
  mental capacity, which eventually leads to serious problems given the
  right triggers, such as creating a black hole.

  The ”mental regulator” had neuronal pathways to different sensory
  organs, with the strongest ones connecting with the ears and eyes. Six
  simulations in light-based ensembles allowed psychologists to create
  sensory experiences that would keep this regulator working at safe
  levels, while attempting to compromise mental functioning as little as
  possible. This sensory experience consisted of a five second video
  that was named “the blank essay,” as nothing in it could be
  consciously seen or listened to, just like in a blank essay.

  This success in mental engineering alarmed the world. The ease with
  which a mind could be modified in order to change its functioning was
  not something that would be taken lightly by the majority. As soon as
  rumors about the blank essay caught media attention, the masses
  mobilized against the psychologists and mental engineers in order to
  impede the development of more blank essays. Governments, more
  democratic than ever, listened to the people and arrested all the
  psychologists suspected of being involved in mental engineering. No
  one wanted mental engineering to be used as a weapon.

  With the help of social engineers, the psycologists managed to
  convince everyone that the blank essay didn't exist, and that mind
  control was not possible with their research. This lie would last
  enough for the next innovators to rise and secretly acquire the blank
  essay. When the essay was found to be real, the psychologists had
  already abandoned their careers and disappeared, and soon, mental
  engineering became a clandestine field advanced only by people wanting
  to use it as a weapon.

  The psychologists involved in the blank essay then changed their faces
  and acquired new identities to become part of the third generation of
  innovators. They used their own essay on themselves to avoid living
  the same fate as the previous innovators. Extreme science and extreme
  psychology were different in every way, but this group of
  psychologists was versatile and their minds were special in their own
  way. It took them years to learn extreme science, but they caught up
  and joined the Ministry.

  When the psychologists-turned-innovators joined the Ministry, it had
  been audited several times by the sociologists. Some of the safety
  measures were not being followed by the black hole machines created by
  the previous innovators, so they had to redesign some of the modules,
  including the electrical one. The previous innovators didn't document
  the machines properly, so they had to do some reverse engineering to
  create their own manuals and documents. The new version of the machine
  cleared all the requirements in further audits.

  The work made to clear the audits, inadvertently caused an interesting
  difference in the black hole that was generated: it took on a
  hexagonal shape filled with a color gradient that slowly moved around
  a dark palette of colors. It was a different black hole, but somehow
  the innovators felt like there was something positive about it. They
  had invented a new kind of black hole, but they didn't know how it
  worked yet.

  The “dark hexagon” lacked darkness, which possibly meant that it only
  partially captured dark energy. After extensive analysis, they
  discovered that this new black hole created a new kind of hybrid
  energy with properties of both dark energy and regular energy, which
  the innovators called “gray energy.” Does gray energy imply the
  possibility of gray matter?

  In theory, gray energy should be easier for the innovators to interact
  with and manipulate, something that was once impossible without a
  black hole. If gray matter existed, it would also be easier to
  interact with, opening up all sorts of possibilities. If unstable
  particles were to be shot into the hexagon and turned into gray
  matter, they would be able to mutate the dark matter in the universe,
  so that's what they did.

  The innovators threw various types of radioactive particles into the
  hexagon, but they all somehow stabilized shortly after being sucked
  into it. The reason was unknown, and the more particles they threw in,
  the more questions arose. The hexagon was a perfect stabilizer for all
  kinds of atoms, including the human-made ones. What was left to try?

  One day, an innovator was eating an ice pop inside the lab,
  reminiscent of that earlier innovator being inspired by one. Eating
  inside the lab, near the machines, was against the rules imposed by
  the sociologists, but that day the innovator didn't care. The moment
  he turned on the machine, he felt his ice pop moving. It seemed to be
  getting attracted to the hexagon. Everyone did their best to keep the
  ice pop from making it into the hexagon, but it soon broke into
  cherry-flavored snow that the innovators couldn't stop. The scene was
  like in slow motion: the snow flying slowly towards the hexagon, and
  the innovators dancing around Apollo-esque in their attempt to stop
  the snow from getting sucked in.

6 Chapter 6. The ice pop

  The ice pop eventually made it into the hexagon, and instantly, an
  invisible expansion wave reached the entire universe. It couldn't be
  seen, only felt. The universe had changed, it was no longer the same;
  except that it had been the same all along. As soon as the wave
  reached the sociologists, they knew that the innovators were up to
  something. They walked all the way to the Ministry, two blocks away,
  and shouted “Stop!” The innovators couldn't hear them because they
  were shocked by what had just happened.

  Unsure of everything, as soon as their shock subsided enough for them
  to be able to move, they ran to the computers and created another
  universal capture, to see whether they had caused any catastrophic
  effect. The machine took five hours to prepare, so the capture could
  be timely announced. Everyone in town was wearing sunglasses at the
  time of the capture, but no matter how dark they were, they could all
  still see the modern horror mist invade their minds.

  The capture was taken and then analyzed using the light-based
  ensemble, and within minutes, the pixels were there on the screen to
  tell the truth. The innovators compared the new capture to the
  original and found no differences in the overlapping regions. Of
  course, new patterns had been created throughout the journey of dark
  energy, ever since the original capture was taken, and that's where
  the truth lied, just waiting to be discovered by material minds.

  Why did the ice pop cause the expansion wave? As the innovators would
  come to realize, regular and stable matter at low temperatures fed
  into the hexagon created a series of chain reactions due to
  thermodynamic inconsistencies that resulted in dark heat being
  aggressively transferred to the gray matter, causing gray atoms to
  explode in a way reminiscent of the deaths the avant-pop musician
  prevented before the original innovators were born.

  The innovators had inadvertently disrupted dark energy, creating a
  rift in space and time that had rippled back to the beginning of time,
  destabilizing all the dark matter in its path and causing the patterns
  to break in unpredictable ways. This rift had always disrupted the
  universe in many ways, and that's why the captures overlapped

  The innovators had turned into the creators of a mystery, unaware of
  its essence until their minds, akin to their light-based ensemble,
  began to quickly interconnect the knowledge they contained in all
  possible ways. In a matter of hours, they collectively reached an
  eureka moment, as if their minds were all linked together. They had
  cracked the mistery with dread in their souls.

  The innovators had just created something that scientists had been
  trying to solve all along. The root of the inconsistencies first
  observed in the cosmic wave telescopes, the main subject of toxic
  obsession in the age of dark humor, the cause of the failed careers of
  the writers, the sole motivation behind the mass movements against
  dark humor, and the very reason why the Ministry was born. All along,
  it was written in time that the innovators would create the very
  problem that generations of extreme scientists would trade their minds

  The wave soon became public news, and everyone was smart enough to
  suspect a certain group of people. In the days that followed, the
  world manifested against the Ministry and the innovators, demanding an
  explanation of the wave, and of any possible consequences that could
  follow from it. The innovators were not ready to explain anything yet,
  but they were running out of time. They crafted an honest public
  speech using their public speaking skills to explain everything and
  say goodbye to the world, knowing that they were already at the border
  of their career.

  On the day of the speech, it rained so hard that the Ministry turned
  white from its black paint wearing off, being torn apart by the speed
  of the water and gone with the wind as it blew harder than ever. The
  streets smelled of petrichor, a pleasant smell that contrasted with
  the bitterness of the scene, and brought a feeling that no one had
  ever felt before. No one had prepared for a storm, and before they
  knew it, they were swimming in a mirror as unreliable and distorted as
  the past, present and future.

  The innovator with the best speaking skills was chosen for the
  speech. Her mouth in front of the microphone and under a thick
  tarpaulin, began to produce some of its last structured noise
  patterns. The truth was told, exactly as it came out of the pixels,
  and unlike the water in which everyone was swimming, it was as clear
  as it could be. The capture, the dark matter, the dark energy, the
  film analogy, the black hole, the dark hexagon, the gray matter, the
  chain reaction, the rift, and finally the acceptance that the
  Fundamental Problem was their fault.

  In that memorable moment of silence, everything seemed to be under
  control. Everyone turned their backs on the innovators, and began
  swimming slowly toward their homes. But then an explosion ended it
  all. A diameter of half a kilometer saw light and heat obliterate
  everything in its path in less than the few seconds it took the
  innovators to say goodbye. The Ministry turned to ashes, and the
  matter that once belonged to the innovators and the people inside the
  diameter now floated in the air, useless in the form it had taken.

  The tragic news pictured in the light-emitting boxes, slightly
  distorted by static, reached everyone's eyes and ears, in a tone that
  communicated what a time to cry it was. The moment of silence and the
  mourning thereafter lasted for weeks. The world would never be the
  same after the speech and the explosion were printed into the contents
  of a universe that would become known metaphorically as a
  film. However, as tragic as the events were, most people went on with
  their lives, doing the things they used to do, in exactly the same way
  they used to do them, because life was there to enjoy.

  The explosion was traced back to a missile launched by the regime of
  an island where music had been historically forbidden. No revolution
  ever brought peace to this place, the only place on Earth where none
  of the avant-pop ever made it. Its inhabitants were known for not
  aligning with the principles of the new order, and were always
  excluded from global affairs. Out of resentment, they launched a
  technological revolution intended to violently overturn an order that
  had only brought suffering to them.

7 Chapter 7. The beginning

  Once upon a time, there was the beginning of the universe we'd come to
  live in. Infinite iterations would eventually lead to life in one of
  them; in fact, in an infinite number of them. However, only an
  infinite subset of that greater infinite would contain living
  organisms that would become capable of altering the fabric of reality.

  Chance in the form of dark matter, played its role, as it always has,
  in the creation of everything that we'd come to know, including
  ourselves. The longest chain of events in our timeline led to the
  birth of matter, energy, atoms, molecules, compounds, light, rocks,
  cells, plants, animals, bacteria, fish, dinosaurs, mammals, humans,
  thinkers, scientists, computers, innovators, light-based computers,
  and the dark hexagon. However, chance didn't play alone.

  Our universe has always been a chaotic yet beautiful choreography:
  galaxies dancing around and crashing into each other for no reason,
  vibrant rocks flying everywhere at high speeds instead of sinking all
  the way into the galactic bulge, gravitational disruptions causing
  stars to explode long before their expiration date, colorful nebulae
  and new planetary systems born out of exploding stars, vibrant rocks
  colliding with new planets, complex carbon structures emerging out of
  planets enriched by rocks, and then complex interactions between the
  complex carbon structures leading to the creation of structures
  capable of mutating reality in ways that would retroactively lead to
  their own existence.

  After the explosion, generations of scientists attempted to further
  advance the field of extreme science, but none of their achievements
  were significant enough to move humanity closer to solving the
  Fundamental Problem. There was something special about the
  Ministry-turned-legend, that brought out the best in those who ever
  inhabited it. The explosion managed to dissolve all the genius that
  made it all possible, ever since the first innovators created the
  universal camera.

  Eventually, decades later, the inhabitants of a long peaceful
  civilization were found to be living under sequestration by
  corporations secretly making use of clandestine mental engineering
  technology to dissolve any mobilization against the use of greenhouse
  gases for the construction of a perfect world of illusions: a world
  made out of lies, false needs and hypocritical motives, without regard
  for the damage being done to the only planet they would ever inhabit.

  Year after year, the effects of the manufactured environmental neglect
  became less and less deniable, to the point where mental engineering
  was no longer sufficient to control a population whose survival
  instincts were beginning to awaken. Life on the planet disintegrated,
  reorganized, and underwent multiple rebirths; but none of what was
  done or not mattered anymore, for there was no turning back.

  Populations and living species around the globe rapidly declined in
  number, and the once ubiquitous and taken-for-granted greens gradually
  turned into lifeless browns and blacks, reminiscent of Earth's
  primordial chaos before life arose, as fires and floods painted the
  landscape of a paradise turning into the hell that humans historically
  imagined dying to, rather than dying in.

  In this new picturesque landscape, trees were no longer trees, and
  plants were no longer plants, for they had all turned to ashes as
  quickly as the blank essay in the landfill. Lakes and rivers had no
  water in them, as it had all turned into useless clouds that only
  rained above ashes. Cities and towns slowly collapsed and turned into
  concrete ruins, filled with the false needs that were now nothing but

  After years of living in the flames, the remaining shards of humanity,
  one by one, began to succumb to the adversities of hell, collectively
  generating the last thoughts in the universe as they shared their last
  moments of existence with their loved ones. Life on Earth had its days
  counted, and no amount of genius in it would ever turn back what was
  now beyond genius.

  On the day that would never be remembered, the last human being to
  stand on Earth said to the last dog in a weak and agonized voice,
  “Look at us now, my long time friend, we're the last ones left in this
  planet, and we're both dying here, surrounded by our own consequences
  disguised as flames. All these years we thought the universe would
  destroy us, but in the end, we destroyed ourselves faster than we
  could even realize, in a way that we never imagined. You did not
  deserve any of this, my dear and loved friend, no one would ever
  forgive what we did to you, but I hope to see you in another life, and
  maybe there we can be happy for longer.”

  In a matter of minutes, the last tear evaporated, and Earth turned
  into a place with no reason. The universe was still there, virtually
  unaffected by the extinction of life, but once again, there was no one
  to contemplate its immense beauty, or speculate on the mysteries it
  concealed. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear
  it, does it make a sound?