Once, in the time before our time began, all was darkness and chaos and heat. And in that dark hot chaos, there lived a small universe. It was a very happy universe. It danced the galactic swirl, it sang the songs of infinity and heat death, and it nommed on extremely tasty cheeseburgers.
One day the small universe was swirling through the Hot and Fast Forest, by the Lake of Infinite Reaction, when it was accosted by The Nommer of All Things.
The Nommer of All Things was very big, bigger than the universe by far. It dwarfed the cosmic Hot and Fast Forest. The Lake of Infinite Reaction barely covered its toes. All existence trembled before its size and its great hunger.
The small universe looked up at it and said, “You’re in my way. I have galactic swirling to do and songs to sing, songs of infinity and heat death. Please move.”
The Nommer of All Things laughed. Its laughter shook the particles as they charged into each other in the Hot and Fast Forest. The chemicals in the Lake of Infinite Reaction stopped their reactions, struck motionless in fear. The universe alone stood brave and straight and true, looking up and up and up into the one eye possessed by The Nommer of All Things. The universe glared at the eye meaningfully.
The eye was small and milky white, set in the center of The Nommer’s face and surrounded by mountainous yellow teeth. The eye looked back down at the universe. The teeth began to move.
“Little universe, do you dare ask me, The Nommer of All Things, to let you pass?” The Nommer’s voice boomed across the swirling void. “I should eat you all up, as fit punishment for your impudence.”
The small universe could feel its insides becoming very hot. It did not look away from the milky white eye. It gazed right into the eye and said, “Do it. Eat me.”
The Nommer’s laughter boomed out across infinity, shaking all the particles to their very core.
“No, little universe, not yet. You amuse me. Very well. I shall move out of the way and let you pass, if you can bring me three things. They are not things that are easy for a little universe to procure. Prove yourself worthy of your impudent swagger, and I shall not nom you.”
The inhabitants of the Hot and Fast Forest and the Lake of Infinite Reaction were silent and still, waiting for the universe’s answer. It looked up at the small milky eye surrounded by the mountainous yellow teeth, and it was not afraid.
“Three things shall you bring to me,” said The Nommer of All Things. “I require two extremely tasty cheeseburgers from The Diner Not Quite At But Very Near The End Of All Things, a googolplex of orphans, and one Infinite Red Hot Voidrock Candy Bar. Bring me all this, and I shall not nom you.”
The small universe said, “Sounds fair enough.” It spit upwards towards The Nommer of All Things, for in that time spitting was a sign of honor and agreement, and then it turned and swirled towards The Diner Not Quite At But Very Near The End Of All Things, singing its songs of infinity and heat death as it went.
The Diner Not Quite At But Very Near The End Of All Things was very far away from the Hot and Fast Forest and the Lake of Infinite Reaction, as you may imagine. The universe swirled and sang and traveled for quite some time before it arrived at the diner.
The diner is famous for its delicious cheeseburgers. The cheeseburgers are made of the deaths of civilizations, the smiles of pegasus kittens, and flecks of rust from the remains of the saddest playground in all infinity.
The small universe swirled up to the speaker outside the diner. Now, it may be very hard, if not impossible, for you or me to order fast food in the vacuum of space, but then we are not universes.
A small squeaky voice came from the speaker.
“Welcome to The Diner Not Quite At But Very Near The End Of All Things. How may I help you today?”
“I’ll have two cheeseburgers, with extra deaths of civilizations. Easy on the smiles of pegasus kittens.”
“Two cheeseburgers, extra deaths of civilizations, light smiles of pegasus kittens. Your total is five black holes and three charming quarks. Please swirl around to the second window.”
The universe swirled around, picked up its two cheeseburgers, and laughed. The Nommer must be very silly, to give the small universe such easy tasks. The universe bid a good eon to the cashier, stashed the cheeseburgers away safely, and swirled off in search of a googolplex of orphans.
Orphans do not advertise themselves in quite the same way that diners, especially diners very near but not quite at the end of all things, do. The small universe swirled over all creation, and it could not find a googolplex of orphans. It stopped laughing. After a few centuries, it stopped smiling.
One long hot dusty day, when it had been searching for hours and hours in The Mountains of Lost Socks, a star appeared. The star was very little and lost and lonely and sad. The universe felt sorry for it.
“Are you an orphan, little star? I have been searching for orphans for many centuries. I know of one who would like to adopt a whole googolplex of orphans, and if I do not bring them to him he will nom me.”
The star twinkled at the universe.
“Can you not speak, little star?”
The star twinkled some more.
“Are there others like you?”
The star twinkled one last time and then it disappeared. The small universe sighed a very deep sigh. Perhaps there would be orphans in The Spinning Stroboscopic Void. And if not, The Spinning Stroboscopic Void was always a good time anyway.
As the universe turned to go, one sad little twinkle far off in the distance caught its attention. Then there was another. And another. And another.
The universe turned back towards The Mountains of Lost Socks, and there it beheld a googolplex of orphaned stars and planets and asteroids.
The star it had first seen reappeared, twinkling furiously. The universe was taken aback.
“No, you cannot have my extremely delicious cheeseburgers from The Diner Not Quite At But Very Near The End Of All Things! However, if you come with me and help me find the Infinite Red Hot Voidrock Candy Bar, then once we get back to The Fast and Hot Forest and the Lake of Infinite Reaction I will provide you with all the cheeseburgers you could nom.”
The star twinkled excitedly.
The universe swirled out of The Mountains of Lost Socks, headed towards The Spinning Stroboscopic Void. A great host of stars, planets, and asteroids followed it.
The Spinning Stroboscopic Void is filled with music, music that thumps and pumps and bumps all day and all night, all through the eons. The music is so loud that not even a universe can hear itself think.
The universe swirled through the music, dancing the galactic slide. It sang its songs of infinity and heat death in tune to the beat. It looked back at its followers, the googolplex of orphans, infinitely repeated in infinite colors. The universe was very happy, and it nearly forgot its goal, the Infinite Red Hot Voidrock Candy Bar. It was reminded when a young black hole tugged on its edges.
“Please, universe, may we have the cheeseburgers?”
“No! They’re not for you! They are for The Nommer of All Things, who will nom us all unless we can find the Infinite Red Hot Voidrock Candy Bar!”
The music stopped. The infinite colors all disappeared, leaving only a milky whiteness.
The milky whiteness receded until it became a small spot of color in the darkness. The small universe stared into it.
Yellow mountainous teeth rose around the spot of milky whiteness.
“I have given you eons, little universe, and you have not brought me the three things I ask for.”
The universe trembled.
“I see you have gathered a googolplex of orphans, and I can smell the cheeseburgers on you. Very good decision, going light on the smiles of pegasus kittens. Thank you. But I do not sense the Infinite Red Hot Voidrock Candy Bar. You have failed. I shall nom all the things now.”
The mountainous yellow teeth separated in tectonic shifts as The Nommer of All Things opened its infinite mouth. The stars and planets and asteroids fell into the black hole. The cheeseburgers from The Diner Not Quite At But Very Near The End Of All Things were ripped from their hiding place and vacuumed up into the giant maw.
The small universe saw the star who had first greeted it in The Mountains of Lost Socks sliding by. The star was not twinkling now. Overcome by guilt for leading the poor thing to its death, the universe reached out. It took hold of the star, and it was sucked into the great mouth of The Nommer of All Things along with it.
It was very dark inside The Nommer of All Things. Dark and silent and still. The small universe was afraid.
It noticed the small lonely star trying to twinkle. Here, in the endless dark void of death, the star was trying to twinkle. It seemed to be twinkling at something. The universe looked upward, and saw one of the cheeseburgers from The Diner Not Quite At But Very Near The End Of All Things floating by. It reached out and grabbed the cheeseburger.
The star twinkled very brightly indeed.
“Do you want the cheeseburger? I guess you can have it now. I’m sorry. There’s no point. There’s no point to anything and we’ve been nommed and it’s all dark and dead and I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
The universe cried. It cried tears made of the birth of stars and the deaths of planets. It cried tears of infinity and heat death.
The star, nomming on the cheeseburger, twinkled at it.
The universe dried its tears. It watched the star nom on the cheeseburger, and it thought. It thought of the googolplex of stars and planets and asteroids in here with it, inside The Nommer of All Things. It thought of the heat rising within itself when The Nommer had first challenged it. It thought of Reality and Life and Things and Socks and Stroboscopic Voids and all the things it would miss, stuck here inside The Nommer, inside the dark void of nothingness.
The universe’s insides started to warm.
It could have found the Infinite Red Hot Voidrock Candy Bar. It could have, if it’d had enough time. But, the universe realized, The Nommer Of All Things would have nommed them all anyway. That was its plan all along. It would have never let the small universe escape.
The universe felt its insides zooming around, very hot and very fast and very angry.
The poor little star did not deserve this. The planets and the asteroids did not deserve stillness and death. It could give them life. It could give them a place to live. It could make The Nommer of All Things pay for betraying them all.
The universe exploded.
Once upon a time, our time began. Our star and its planets found a home inside a young universe, and our people found a home on one of those planets.
Go to sleep now, and know that the universe is watching over you. And don’t forget to give it the occasional hamburger.