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Read "Clockwise," Fiction by a UPrep Student

Senior Oliver L., pictured above, wrote this story for his Creative Writing: Short Fiction class; all students in this class submitted their work to a contest or publication.  

12th grade student Oliver L. wrote this short story for an English class

A shooting star whirls above my head. It’s moving much faster than my own asteroid, allowing it the opportunity to grace my eyes for what might be the last time. I sit down in a relatively fitting groove in the rock surface, just slightly larger than my body. A small star floats past my brittle meteor - or rather I float past it - and I take a deep breath while gazing into the near infinite cosmos. It’s likely the last time I’ll look at this universe for… well, ever. After all, the big crunch is coming, and it’s not much longer until this existence collapses into itself, marking the end of all things.

At least the end of all other things. I’m not exactly prone to death. In fact, I’m not entirely sure my existence is even capable of stopping to begin with. About nine-and-a-half billion years ago, an asteroid containing my body slammed into the celestial formation TRRA-64, and ever since then my consciousness has yet to cease functioning. I scarcely remember my infantile years. The sky was dark, still clouded and ashy from the asteroid's impact. At first I could see the corpses of large beasts strewn about the land, although they were swiftly coated with a thick layer of dust. Before long those skeletal remains had all but disappeared, and it was just me, along with some smaller mammalian creatures seeking refuge in tunnels they had burrowed out. It was a humorous solution to the extremely toxic air, and although I was far too large to fit in a tunnel crudely carved into the ash, my eternal lifespan not only removed the danger of the air, but the need to breathe altogether.

By the time I reached adulthood, I was quite bored with my surroundings. The local fauna wasn’t much entertainment aside from a few pets I could keep around, and the novelty of the oceans wore off after the 400th square mile of blue. I was trapped in a truly uninteresting life, until one species sprouted into the world. They were mammals, short, hunched over, and covered in fur. More notably, however, is that they shared features that almost identically mirrored my own. They walked on two legs, and had five full fingers, something I had only noted in myself up until this point. Soon enough, they were using those hands for more than traversal, and were instead utilizing them for more advanced feats of civilization. Tools, communications, all the staples of a society blossomed into existence. The small apes advanced quickly, eventually losing their fur and standing proudly atop the monuments they had built. The once-small creatures had earned my respect, a feat few others have achieved since.

I snap back to the asteroid, glancing briefly at a star next to me. The lack of air resistance, or air at all, makes flying through space at a thousand miles a second oddly relaxing. It’s something I’ve always taken for granted how peaceful the cosmos is. In their prime, the TRRA-64 inhabitants wrote some truly fascinating fictions about the monstrous terrors that could be lying in wait millions of lightyears away. As interesting as that would be, it’s simple fiction, designed to tease the mind. In reality, the universe is a quiet, gentle soul that’s perfectly content with housing all of us in it. I laugh to myself. Silently, of course, as my small rock is notably lacking an atmosphere. Looking into the dark blanket again, I take notice of the stars and galaxies too far away to measure, slowly fading into the void as the crunch catches up to them.

Entities larger than life, almost too unimaginably massive to measure, blinking away just like that. I might be immortal, but I’ve never been able to conquer those beasts. Nothing has. Until this end, I suppose. Not even black holes - things destined only to destroy and ravage were safe from the collapse of the universe. I pause. If this destined death is to occur to every star, every planet, every being, why would I be exempt?

My heart quickens, a feeling I haven’t felt in a few eras. What would happen when the crunch reaches me? My consciousness can’t fade, right? I can’t die, I’m sure of it. But … What if I don’t die? At least not entirely. What if the crunch takes my body and leaves my mind to an eternal solitude? A fate worse than death, to be sure. I panic. I jolt from the crater I was formerly relaxed in and start pacing. I can’t die. I can’t die! I’ve lived through crash landings at a hundred meters a second. I’ve never known defeat. Never been bested by the universe’s inane attempts to kill me. But this is different. This is the end of everything. I find it hard to believe that whatever predetermining figure looms over our existence has made an exception for me. My heart is thumping hard enough to send tremors throughout my body, my silvery skin shaking in the aftershock of each heartbeat. I need to calm down.

Taking a few deep breaths - something functionally useless to me but calming nonetheless - I finally manage to lower my heart rate. I should think about this rationally. Judging from the distance of stars that are presently fading into nothing, I should have maybe a few hours before I too am consumed by the universe collapsing into me, if I even have that long. Relativity states that time will accelerate as a stronger gravitational force is placed onto me, meaning I might have far less time than I thought. Assuming that I’ll die alongside everything else, that means that no matter what I do, as long as I stay in this universe I’m doomed. Hmm… have I run into any species that have figured out how to upload their consciousnesses to a different universe? If memory serves, the Loweks did something along those lines… living a life outside of their bodies. A few eons back, I remember discovering one of their “tombs”: Mass graves of sleeping Loweks living an alternate life without a usual consciousness. In any case, it’s my best shot. I just need to find the Loweks and convince those mortals to let me use their technology. Now the question is how to get to them in the short time I have left. I’d have to teleport, and the closest civilization with that technology to do that… the Nomans? Relatively close to my asteroid, residing primarily on BTHL-14, a small planet located within my current system. I position myself carefully on my lovely rock and say a quick goodbye, before squatting down, and launching myself upwards. The jump is powerful enough to shatter the asteroid, and I zip through the void faster than any mortal would be able to withstand, facing squarely in the direction of BTHL-14.

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