ed note: "Everywhere" is the sequel to Terry Bramlett's story "Waiting at the End of the World", which appeared in our last sci-fi issue, August 2001


Terry Bramlett

     "It's suicide."
     Dandra saw the purple flash from Baldur, who did not hide his anger or is fear. The ethereal body floated a few thousand meters from Dandra at the edge of the last surviving universe. An ancient memory imbued the energy creature with a human body. Dandra saw Baldur's brooding countenance, topped with wild, white hair pointing in all directions. The memory of human time faded. Dandra perceived Baldur's unease as lights flowed across the oval shape of the energy being.
     Dandra shrugged creating a rippling effect throughout his energy mass. "Hello, Baldur. Nice to see you again, too"
     Baldur moved closer, then stopped and extended his awareness toward the bulge of the offspring universe. "It will not expand in time to save us, Dandra," he said, a sadness in his words. "You still plan to enter the new universe and create the expansion. It is suicide."
     "And waiting for the last universe to collapse and take with it the lives of all of our species is not suicide?" Dandra emitted rebellion and
stubbornness. His aura turned green as he muted the emotions with respect. Baldur was his father in the old Earth sense. "If this works, we will survive."
     "And if it fails-"
     "Then I will die before you and the others," Dandra said. Irritation showed with blue light. "You chaired the Council that approved this action. Falia and I have studied the offspring for millennia, which is why I was chosen. If I fail, Falia takes my place. Either we cause the expansion, the Big Bang, or we all die with the collapse of our universe."
     "I cannot dissuade you, then." Baldur said with resignation, but Dandra felt a measure of respect emanating from his father.
     "We must be ready for the transfer," Dandra said. "The time draws near." Baldur's oval wavered and sagged as colors flowed mixing anger, fear, and resignation. And yet, Dandra sensed something hidden in his father. He sent love to the other light being. "I am glad you came."
     Baldur shut off his emotions and moved away without a word. Dandra stared as his father's light faded. "Good-bye, Dad," he said, using the old Earth words. When the light disappeared, Dandra moved into the void.
     Billions of years had passed since the sixth universe imploded upon itself. Dandra had traveled between the Seven Universes for much of his existence. He and Falia created many lives and intelligent species, trying to find one that would transform in the way their species of humanity had transformed. They failed. The universes exploded with the life he and Falia created, but each civilization killed themselves or the species just lost out to others. None of their creations survived and the other six universes died, cold and uncaring.
     Dandra floated outside the last universe, youngest of the seven, but the only universe to create an offspring. He drew his attention to the bulge a few parsecs away.
     The baby universe fed off its mother, pulling in hydrogen and other
elements, breaking them down, building toward the climatic moment. A
wormhole carried material to the infant, which gave nothing back. The
material became the primal soup for expansion, for an explosion, for a
     Dandra expanded his awareness, studying the mother. The universe shrank with each passing eon. He felt it pressing in even as he floated outside its confines. Emotions surrounded him, emanating from the remnant of humans who had transformed to energy. Fear and desperation from billions of entities overwhelmed his senses, and beneath it all, sadness permeated the vastness of the last universe. That sadness did not come from his species, but from the universe itself. Is it aware of its impending death? Dandra heard an answer, but discarded it as a wistful thought.
     He turned from the dying to the dead. Bright white patches occupied the void where mighty universes once existed. Dandra had wanted to explore the white holes, but the contraction of his own universe, the last universe, took precedence. Survival mattered to entities that have lived for so long and now they were the only entities left. Regret tingled through Dandra as he dove back into the worlds he knew.

     He moved through the layers until he reached a spiritual realm that he had not visited in quite some time. He found her easily and floated to the
surface of a galaxy-size mass. She had stayed behind as he and his father transformed into beings of light and energy. His mother smiled.
     "Danny, I am so glad to see you," his mother said. "My, but you are still a handsome boy."
    His energy formed a body when he visited this place due to the preconceived notions of humanity who had created this spiritual realm as a resting place for the dead. His mother called it Heaven. Others called it different things, but for all matter-based humans, it was life after death. Their transformation took a different form than his, Baldur's and Falia's. They were bound to this place by their narrow perceptions of reality. An ancient law crept into Dandra's awareness, prodded by the feel of a physical body encasing his being. Matter can be neither created nor destroyed, but one can be interchanged with the other.
     He glanced at hands and realized that this time his mother wanted to see her little boy rather than the young man he had been when the transformation took him from her. Dandra smiled. "Hi, Mom. How are you?"
     Her blue eyes welcomed him, conveying her emotions in the same way as Baldur had shown emotion with a rippling of color. His mother appeared younger than he remembered. She sat on a porch overlooking the ocean. Waves lapped the beach, a rhythmic sound that brought calm to Dandra. Blonde hair fell across the shoulder of a cotton dress. She smiled. "I'm fine, Danny. Have you come to say good-bye? Your father did."
     Danny scrunched his eyebrows and prodded a wild hair back into place. "Father's been here? When?"
     His mother shrugged. "Not too long ago. He just told me that he loved me and that we would all rest together, soon." She sighed. "I'll be glad. It's been such a long time." She stared past Dandra at the ocean. After a few moments, they talked as they had when they shared time on Earth. 
     Dandra took eons with her, but time pressures mounted. The universe still contracted. Dandra knew he must leave. "I love you, Momma." He pushed his way into her arms, feeling the warmth of her body, smelling the perfume she always wore, wishing he could meld with her. Matter was too limiting.
     "I love you, too, Danny. Will you be with your Father and me when we rest?" She stroked his hair. Dandra remembered many days she comforted him from hurts, physical and emotional, in the same manner. His heart ached. In his energy body, the lights of his emotion would have blinded her. She gave him life, billions of years ago on a planet that no longer existed, and that bond of birth strengthened as she held him.
     "I will always be with you, Momma," he said. Tears streamed down his face. "And I take you with me, always." His mother smiled. Dandra left.

     "I want to go inside with you," Falia said as they disengaged. "I think the two of us merged can expand the offspring."
     Dandra extended his love. Merged they shared everything: emotions, thoughts, essence. He thought she could be right, but knew that Falia was the only other entity that could possibly succeed if he failed. None of the others had studied the bulging universe. No one considered the addition of a new universe important until the other universes began to collapse. And even then, it was only the elders who had listened when he and Falia explained they could survive the death of their universe if the bulge expanded.
     "No, Falia," Dandra said. "If I fail, you must find out why. You are
humanity's last chance. This is what the Council decided."
     Falia displayed annoyance, flashing yellow light. "The Council ignored us for eons, Dandra. They only came around because they realized that even the universe did not last forever. They had to deal with their own mortality, something they had ignored since we left Earth."
     Dandra changed the subject. "Do you remember when we transformed, Falia?" She flashed yellow once, then quieted her irritation. Dandra knew she shared his memory.
     They had made love the night before and sat on the beach at sunrise holding each other as the sun rose. The tingling that enveloped them had frightened Falia, but Dandra knew what happened to them. He did not know why they had transformed into energy, but he knew it was natural for humans, at least some humans. The thing that separated Dandra and Falia from the others consisted of looking for the reason for transformation.
     Love smothered Dandra as Falia moved within him merging as they had merged in the billions of years since that morning. "I remember, Dandra," Falia said. "We share everything." They floated near the wormhole connecting the offspring to the mother. After a while, she disengaged again.
     "Dandra?" Falia sent a timid projection. "Survive."
     His love exploded toward her. "I intend to, Falia." Others moved near them. Billions of entities waited for the order to cross into the new universe. Provided, I succeed, Dandra thought. "Have them ready to move, Falia. Baldur and the council will help." He moved away toward the entrance to the wormhole.
     Another being entered his mind. "Good luck, my son."
     Dandra stopped. Baldur floated near the bulge. "Thank you, Baldur. Are they ready?"
     Baldur glowed green. "If you succeed, we will begin the migration. A few will share the fate of this universe." Baldur shrugged. "It is their
decision. We have lived a long time, some of the eldest welcome death."
     Dandra sent his understanding. His awareness reached for his father.
Something hidden hovered behind Baldur's emotional veil. If he wants me to know he will tell me, Dandra thought. He changed subjects. "Mother said you had visited."
     Regret and joy mixed in Baldur's response. "It was good to see her, one last time." Baldur covered his emotions and left. Dandra watched him float toward the mass of beings waiting at the edge of his awareness. Dandra continued toward the wormhole leading to the bulge.
     His heightened awareness gathered the emotions of his species. Again, he felt the deep sadness and resignation of the universe's impending death. Fear and a sense of wonder dominated Dandra as he approached the baby universe. Beneath his own emotions, he felt an alien presence, barely aware. Dandra pushed the emotions away, dampened his trepidation, and moved into the infant.
     Intense pressure and heat assaulted him. Dandra panicked as the infant universe pressed in on him. He contracted his particles trying to get away from the heat. A vision showed him burning, breaking down in the primordial soup of quanta.
 Dandra shrank from the voice, which reverberated around and through him. Hearing things, he thought. He calmed and looked for the right combination of quanta to manipulate. He had to create the explosion, the big bang, to induce the birth of this universe. Dandra expanded around the perimeter of the bulge, allowing his energy to mix with its contents.
     This time he realized the words came from without. "Who are you?"
     "You are the alien presence, I felt," he said, awed. "You are my universe."
     "Don't go!" Through the heat, Dandra felt alone. His being permeated every sub-particle of the infant. _EXPAND_, the old universe had said. Dandra concentrated. He realized that Time had stopped in his terms. The expanded infant lay before his awareness, as did the collapsed, old universe it would become. "Everything it has ever been, has not been, and will be is in this moment." Dandra doubled his concentration. Billions of his species lent their awareness. He felt most the presence of Baldur and Falia. Dandra expanded.
     An explosion rocked him. His energy spread with the expanding universe from the first second with its brilliance to the ever-reaching edges of the new space. Clouds formed within him as the universe cooled. In some, nuclear reactions began forming suns within galaxies. The joy and relief of his species reached Dandra as they flooded across the cooling universe, thankful for the extension of their lives. He realized he could reach anywhere with his awareness. He concentrated on the energy structures, where his species lived. Dandra had left the original cities so long ago; he had forgotten their beauty and reveled in their creation within him.
     NO! IT IS TOO SOON! The old universe screamed its agony as the final collapse began. In its place would be a white light. Dandra knew it opened a doorway to otherness. He felt the wormhole close and sensed that Baldur had caused the closing from the other side. That was what he hid, Dandra thought as he raced his awareness to the edge of his expanding body.
     "Father," Dandra cried, despair enveloping his being.
      IT IS FINISHED, the old universe said. IT IS AS IT EVER WAS.
     The old universe collapsed into the white hole of otherness. Dandra
projected his awareness toward the skeleton. "Father?" A weak emanation reached him.
     "I am here, son," Baldur said. "We are many. We are one. It is wonderful."
     "Oh, Father." Dandra's despair permeated the new universe as it continued its expansion. Building stopped in the cities as his species, his former species, reacted to the emotions of their new world.
     "Do not grieve, Dandra," Baldur said, the tenuous connection growing weaker. "You mother is with us."
     Dandra felt a caress and recognized his mother. The touch was fleeting.  "Good-bye, Mother. Father."
     Their answer came in a whisper. "Good-bye, son. In a few billion eons, you will join us." The connection cut.
     He returned to his universe, the one he created, the one he became. 
Dandra moved within himself at will and occupied space just outside the cities. He felt for Falia.
     "I am with you, Falia," he said. He was not sure if she could perceive his being now that he was within everything.
     Falia glowed green and red. Her love expanded toward Dandra's awareness, but she withdrew when she could not find him. Confusion tinged the love. Dandra knew her fear, as he knew the emotions and thoughts of all who inhabited his world, his awareness. "Dandra, where are you?"
     Dandra hesitated before answering. Galaxies formed within his body. Quasars pulsed and radiated their noise. His body expanded with the new universe. He sent Falia a measure of his love and felt her confusion deepen.
     "I am everywhere."

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