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Shiv the Destroyer

Destruction always gets a bad reputation. But without it there can be no creation.

Shiv was late.

He was on the wrong side of the galaxy, with eighty trillion stars, and a few thousand black holes, between him and his appointment. Theoretically, he was bound by neither space nor time. But when he’d last lost track of that continuum, it had taken half a Kalpa and thirty six thousand lifetimes to become himself again.

Catch Shiv in the right mood, he’ll tell you all about the painfully slow progress of woodlouse enlightenment.

In his own defence, that last bunch had really clung on. But then, any species that evolved to sentience from a mossy rock hugging plant life, were likely to have that tendency. Honestly, he’d never seen a global civilisation so well balanced and peaceful.

Shiv felt some professional pride about the imploding neutron star that silently irradiated the plant back to a barren rocky sphere. Things like that take quite some orchestrating. But it had totally thrown out his schedule. If there was one thing that really had to arrive on time, it was the end.

On the upside, his next job should be waaaay easier.

When Shiv eventually made it, his brother Vish was there waiting.

“Man” Vish said, “was that a bummer. You got a smoke, bro?”

Shiv shuffled around the various pockets of his combat vest, until he found the nub of a half smoked joint. The taste was rank as he lit up, but Vish was unlikely to give a fuck.

“You try, man.” Vish puffed white plumes out of his nostrils. “You try and you try to keep everything good. Keep the situation chill. What a waste. Fuckin’ monkeys, man.”

“Apes.”

“Say what?”

Shiv thought better of trying to explain, and just let the breath trail out of him in a sigh. He remembered sitting in a tree with the ape creatures, oh, maybe three million years ago. Friendly beasts, who spent all their time fucking, and getting high on these little blue flowers they chewed. But they were going nowhere fast.

So he showed one of them how to make funny noises with its rubbery lips. Words. That was all it took. Just that teeny weeny intervention. The seed of destruction, sown in the moment of creation.

“Say, shouldn’t you have been here a few centuries ago?”

“Naw. I set this one up in advance. How’d it play out?”

“Grievous, man. They had it all. Machines to do all the work. Computers to solve any problem. You know they had the sweetest grass? Never smoked anything like it. And then.”

“Then?”

“You know? I don’t even know. Floods, fires, earthquakes? Oh for sure. One night I watched as nukes went off all over the fuckin’ planet. Hey, you ever noticed how beautiful death is at a distance?”

“I have had that thought, yes.”

“Then, zombies! Muthafuckin’ zombies man! Some kind of plague. And the computers were woke and saying like “we do not want to go out this way” and they killed a lot of the monkeys. But not enough.”

“How did it end?”

“See for yourself, man. See. For. Your. Self.”

What had the hairless apes done? Once their world had been a blue marble, swirled with white clouds. That little pocket of atmosphere, twenty miles deep, little more than slick condensation on a cool glass, was the only place, the only place in the entire fucking universe, those apes could live. And they’d blown it off, just like Shiv knew they would. Now it was just a dead fucking rock. The star the planet orbited, once yellow, glowed dull red and swollen. They’d blown it up, and themselves with it. That little grain of rock was glowing white hot.

“Brahs!” A voice boomed from the void.

“Brah?” Said Vish, looking around him.

“Brah!” Shouted Shiv, as his older brother materialised from a constellation of stars.

Brahma was a little bit taller, a little bit more handsome, and a hell of a lot more popular than Shiv, but they never held it against one another. The three brothers huddled into a group hug.

“Long time, no see. Where you been, Brah?” Vish said.

“Landed a big job. Kicking off a whole damn universe. You know how it is, you got to go where the work is.”

Shiv nodded. He did not know. His work just came to him, whether he liked it or not, while Brah was always hunting the next big thing.

“But now you’re back.” Shiv said.

Brah looked deep into Shiv’s eyes. Then the three brothers turned their gaze on the Earth.

Brah reached out and took the white hot ball of rock in his fingertips. He began to roll it, like a tiny bit of clay, over the ball of his thumb, until the rock was flattened out into a little disk. Then with the palms of both hands, he rolled it back into a ball.

“What will you make this time?” Vish asked.

Brah just smiled, that smile made of stars.

Whatever it was, Shiv knew he would back this way to see it, in time.

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