We thought they’d never get this far; that they’d self-destruct or get bored. Or just take long weekends to go shopping in Wal-Mart or Ikea and leave the ‘where do we come from’ pile of shit alone. I mean, we gave them enough scripts, and plays, and performances, and fables to keep them occupied. Or so we thought. The heretics, smug bastards, have been banging on forever about how, all the time we were busy putting together some flat-out awesome scene, like the aurora borealis for instance, they were niggling away at the cosmic onion and peeling bits of it back to get to the core. Sooner or later, they said, with serious eyebrows and wagging fingers, we’d be rumbled. But the rest of us just said ho hum yawn and got on with decorating the next set.
Of course there were awkward moments, usually down to a couple of individuals spending too much time in their heads and not enough in grovelling ignorance. We like ignorance because it keeps everything tidy and ticking over nicely. But now they’re loose and meddling with everything, pulling up the floorboards, unravelling the fabric of it all, and shifting the furniture to hoover up dust and stuff for their experiments. So we’ve had to start hoovering up first, and putting our own stuff away before they get their hands on, well, anomalies and things that would set them off ripping something else apart. They’ve even started inventing new scenarios to poke about in, and we’ve had to build the damn things to stop them wrecking the ones they’ve got. All that picking and spinning and throwing bits of stuff at other bits of stuff at ridiculous speeds.
The trouble is, the more we build, the more they come up with, and the more we have to go back and dismantle old sets for props and the like. Some parts of this place are almost gone now; lights switched off, contents redeployed and scattered over new builds. I liked Cassiopeia A best, before it was Cassiopeia A, of course. It’s a shame we had to nova that, but once they got off planet and parked Hubble, it was like someone pulling open your shower curtain while you were still in there. Very exposing. These images – and I can’t tell you the trouble we had with those because of all that spectral wavelength radiation and gravity distortion nonsense they’ve invented – well they’re all over their internet so every Tom, Dick, and Harry feels able to contribute a theory, and they’re hell-bent on digging up evidence for all of them.
Fortunately, their theories don’t include us. Unless you count the Tooth Fairy Agnostics who believe everything and nothing all at the same time and how ironically quantum is that? Even the ones who would like to think science is bullshit and there’s a Greater Purpose don’t exactly have us in mind. They’re thinking esoteric, grandiose and triumphal, which is a tad archetypal, if you ask me. They’d be mortified to find we’re just stagehands. The other lot; the sceptical, atheist, don’t-take-no-for-an-answer muckers about with matter, (and now dark matter for goodness sakes, and god knows we’ll have to find a way to make that soon), if they go shining their light into the right corner – you know, the one your eye doesn’t quite focus on till something moves and then when you look it’s gone – they’ll stop. But only for one blissful moment, then they’ll be after us with their gadgets and devices and things that steam and hiss and click and bellow and echo. Then we’ll all be in the shit.
So we have to keep feeding them bits more of our stuff to keep them going and today it’s a thing that has them salivating even though they know it barely exists. Which it didn’t, exist that is, until just now when we cobbled it together from some bits of the old Big Bang set and lobbed it into their fearsome engine. The God particle; dearie me, if only they knew.
First published in Roadside Attractions July 2012, and Readwave February 2014.
© suzanne conboy-hill 2017