It was the end of everything.
It was energy death on the widest scale possible.
Entropy would soon reign over all as cold silence spread in the blink of an eye across all of creation.
The universe took its last gasp before the lights went out.
The last child was birthed from the womb of a frozen world.
He opened his eyes. He weeped at what he saw.
And thus Merlin awoke all that was to become all that is.
Something was moving in the darkness. Scratch that, it was somethings. The elite Honor Guard moved through the rubble of a cold planet, one among countless others. Rupe, the captain of the Guard had learned since his awakening to not question their young prince's judgment. He was among the first to thaw out from the cold, and when his lord looked him in the eyes, he could not believe he survived the end of all things - the apocalypse. It came quickly and quietly, and within a moment every person alive laid down for an eternal, frozen sleep.
Before he was reborn he heard him crying. Rupe could not yet open his eyes, but he saw the infant wrapped in gold shedding a blinding light upon him. Nearby the babe laid helpless in the cold. He was the only light in the universe and impossible to miss. His warmth spread over Rupe and possessed him with the will to stand. He still had yet to open his eyes, but was guided by the light to find the newborn. Others stirred nearby, but Rupe was first to lay hands upon the princely infant.
These past three months since the awakening had been a time of unparalleled joy and mirth amongst the awakened. Humanity had been lost, but more so humanity's legacy would be gone, frozen forever. Merlin had saved them. For the first time in their lives, they experienced hope for the future. The impending dread of the energy death of the galaxy had somehow been subverted. Where ever he went, Merlin awoke the people, breathed life into the land, and lit the stars. Though not old enough to speak to them, still, he communicated with his followers. His wisdom was deeper than that of all the knowledge of frozen humankind. He fed the people from the tree of wisdom while providing the fruit of the tree of life to all else.
The people had nothing to fear for nothing but them lived in all of the universe. Still, the newborn prince urged them to arm themselves. The weapons they knew all too-well would not be made to work, and they alone were the exception of all things Merlin laid his eyes upon. The people forged weapons of old, of iron, of steel. The babe's mind past on lore long, long forgotten of ancient martial arts to prepare them for some unknown, nonexistent threat. The people knew not why they would need to protect themselves only that their prince commanded they be prepared.
Now the things moved in the dark. Strange alien things fueled by an unseen presence. The prince held his position of honor, wrapped tightly in gold on the back of the captain of the Guard. Rupe called his lieutenants forward to investigate the shadow that even the prince's light could not penetrate. They disappeared beyond the veil and moments later were flung across the open courtyard back towards their brothers and sisters of the Honor Guard.
Rupe feared that his first guess was right. He could see now that it wasn't an army hiding beyond their site. The thing in the dark was alone, monstrously huge, and unlike anything observed in the history of mankind. Rupe looked to his prince for guidance and realized with terror that not even Merlin knew of what lay beyond their sight deep within the shade.
Ok, so this might need a bit of an explanation. First, this is my entry in the latest Flash Fiction Challenge from Chuck Wendig over at Terrible Minds. This week's challenge was just as simple as ever: Baby Pulp.
There are a couple of concepts behind this story that might be useful to understand the story. First is the idea of the energy death of the universe. This is probably trillions of years away as it's the idea that eventually, since all things move towards entropy, that the universe as a whole will run out of energy. Long, long after we've mastered matter itself, eventually all energy will be used up and the universe will just quiet out. A moment after this happens is when the story begins.
The other bit of back story is the idea of Merlin in Arthurian folklore. One origin story of Merlin is that he's born at the end of tie and ages backwards. In other words, he's an old man by Arthurian times since it's so close to the beginning of the chronological time.
So put these two together, and you have me just telling the origin story of Merlin. I threw out all the high-tech weaponry (which alone, of all things, are not awoken by Merlin's presence) because I wanted it to be pulpy and more like medieval times, just, you know, with spaceships and cosmic horrors.
The style of writing, including the opening scrawl was inspired by one of my favorite cheesy Arthurian films - Excalibur. It's so over-wrought with the dialogue that I just had to transport that style to dying earth/far future sci-fi stuff.
Anyway, I'd love to know what you think!