The Time Before Time

At the dawn of the world, there was no world. There was nothing, no thing at all. There was. What this existence can be called, there is no word, for words only came after it was no more. But whatever it was, it was. Some since its time have given it names–called it God, or the Whole, or the One. Others have called it the All, for in its time, there was nothing else.

This existence was lonesome, but as there was nothing such as companionship in this world, there was no loneliness either. However, the All knew it was alone, for the All could think of itself but could know nothing else. Limitless, the All sought to create something to exist alongside.

But no matter where the All turned its eyes, the only thing it saw was itself. The All searched to find every edge in existence; but the All was infinite without edge. Every breath of space was filled by nothing else, and nowhere in the world did anything else reside.

The All, now determined, filled with an urge like no other to create, realized there would be no space within which to create without first creating that space. The All withdrew into itself, held back its skin and flesh and spirit, and in this absence, a shell formed alongside this rim, this unearthly rift between existence and nothingness. The edge of the All; the edge of the world soon to be birthed within it.

The All moved with precision and directed beings to from this shell. They opened eyes that rested atop four-faced heads, spread wide five wings that pulled their bodies forward until at very long last the tips of their bound legs snapped from the rim.

The first vessel drew forth the shapeless darkness of the void into itself, grew haunting and shadowed as the second vessel filled itself with light that broke this shadow-land into a vibrant swirl of white and black.

Elsewhere along the rim a greater growth was giving birth to two more vessels intertwined with one another. Shaped the same as before, they broke apart in the expanse of light and dark flowing throughout the world. The first was deeper and darker, coldly fluid while the other, brighter if still blue, was airy and light. They drifted as if answering an unheard call toward the center of the expanse breathing inside the All as, it noticed, two more vessels had formed and were drifting toward them as well.

The first of these–the fifth vessel spawned–was earthen and brown, whereas the one following, thinner and more frail than the one before it, was lush and green.

The six vessels, each born of the rift between the All and the emptiness it had created, each entrusted with a glimmer of a spark of its infiniteness, came together in the center. Where they touched, their limbs broke apart–single legs into pairs, torsos separated suddenly from arms tipped in hands. Their fifth wings broke free and paired together, new vessels birthed by their binding, and of these, one separated into three, one into two, and the last stayed to its own.

The All watched all in this in wonder, transfixed upon the utopia that had been created within the emptiness it had toiled to withdraw from. And there, the All watched, as one by one the light inside the vessels dimmed and came to a halt. They no longer drifted, wings now too silent to propel them through the world, and became but a cemetery of shimmering shapes.

The All wailed in grief at its stricken creations, but avowed never to return to the loneliness it had now named. The All reached inside the world, passing through the rift rim with ease, and shaped the fallen figures into a new utopia. He opened a window in the shell surrounding the world and placed a piece of his infiniteness at its center, tying it in four tendrils of power that tethered this new vessel to the All, created a vein between the two through which its own lifeforce would swim, so that this new world would not face the same death as had the last.

Then, seeing the stillness of the world, the All crafted beasts and fowl, fish and monsters to fill the world; and as its final act, a tribute to the fallen vessels from which the world was built, the All shaped two beings in their visage, wingless but of the same form.

Then the All withdrew and watched as this new world came to life. The All spoke to the beings it had created, bid them to name all that had been crafted and to guard the world as if it were their own. And with a heaviness that bespoke great and imminent usurping, the All warned them not to near the great vessel at the world’s center, which had been disguised as a tree and bathed in eternal mist.

As time passed, however, the vessel at the world’s core grew dense and unstable as a measure of infinity flowed constantly into a finite space and the beings that tended the world forgot the warning once spoken. They felt a call toward the center, for the overflowing light of All formed words that found them, crying for release from its confines, and though many times they recalled their warning and dared not to stray too near the center, they grew tired of wariness.

The bubbling voice woke the younger in the dark of night, and fearing the other in danger, she strayed toward the voice. As she neared it, the trapped life boiling inside the vessel thrashed more wildly, yearning for its own escape, its own breath, and spoke more softly, more thickly toward the other. She approached through the mist, unknowing where she was, held out her hand to find the lost soul–

“Stop!” yelled her companion, woken from his slumber as she had been from hers, but no sooner had his word wafted through the mist than her hand had rested upon the gnarled tree at the world’s center. Its bark split at once, the infiniteness inside it too much to contain, and the four tethers snapped, breaking from where they had once touched the All and thrashing about the world violently. As the vessel continued to rupture, a slender crack from which great light spewed streaking up the height of the tree, the woman dashed to join her companion, and the moment they touched, the vessel shattered at once.

They held onto each other as a flood of infinite power washed over them, as fragments of the destroyed world formed eddies in the swirl and took shape again. And when, millennia later, the floods receded, they still held onto each other, but now found themselves amidst a greater world.

The All, safe from the eruptions behind the rim of the world, watched as its creation was reshaped before its very eyes. No longer could the All guard it from the hands of time. No longer could the All keep them its creation from death. The sparks of the All’s infinity still flowed throughout the veins of every living thing inside it, but no longer were they tied to the All, no longer were they whole.

The world was broken, doomed to die and suffer as had the first vessels, from whose bones this new world had ultimately been built. The All turned its eyes away, unable to watch its creation destroyed again, unable to watch as the world took to its own at last.

The Beginning

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2 thoughts on “The Time Before Time

  1. On that note, have you ever read up the creation story of Tolkien’s legendarium. _All_ knows there’s a lot more than just the Lord of the Rings, and his creation mythology is on par with, if not above, the Nordic one, which he of course studied intensively.

    To Asgard!

    (Did you know Loki engaged in so-described “rap battles” where he poetically insulted other gods? Fascinating bit of trivia.)

    • Actually, I have not read that before. (I do have The Silmarilion, which I have also not read, and I believe that chronicles the creation of Middle Earth, but not his creation of the idea of Middle Earth, which although similar, is not the same.)

      I did, however, know that he was heavily influenced by Nordic mythology, which I hope will be covered in my mythology course next semester, because my knowledge of it, although not nonexistent, is severely lacking.

      Ah, Loki. Who didn’t love him?

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