The Second Law

An unusual family engages in a much-needed intervention.

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
 — Leo Tolstoy

We chased him for forty days and forty nights.

He eluded us, he deceived us, he made us fight against each other, he tormented us and misled us. And yet he could not escape us. For all of our infighting, we were committed to one thing above all other petty jealousies, beyond our rivalries for power and glory, beyond our need for His Attention, we were committed to our brother’s capture.

Our works he perverted. Our plans he thwarted. Our dreams he frustrated. We did not blame him. He was as he was made. But even our immortal patience was worn thin by his pranks, his trickery, his complete disregard for any propriety at all. We made the world as we were commanded and he just as promptly broke it, sundering the land, raising up the seas, creating storms from wind, snow from rain.

It was easier to tolerate in the beginning. He was the youngest. He was His Favorite. He was tolerated and even indulged. And secretly he hoarded his powers. He made nothing. He created nothing. He only disrupted the work of others, saving his Prime for his machinations whilst we spent ours crafting the world of our mutual Creator.

On the forty-first day we cornered him in an iterative and recursive corner of Reality, a sidereal realm, a place neither Here nor There, and once he realized we had tricked him, his rage was something to behold.

“Ho, Trickster. No place to run.” Our eldest brother wore a body of Flame, the essence of creation. He was the bringer of life to worlds and realms. This place was his creation.

Our eldest sister, wore a body of Mist, soothing, cooling, bringing the rain, the rivers, and lakes of a thousands worlds. “There is no need for cruelty, flaming one, he has led us on a merry chase and knows he cannot escape. Gloating is beneath such as we.”

“And yet he must, for if he did not remind himself he is my master and my better, he might not actually know it to be true.” The Trickster wore a body of twisting cubes, each sliding against each other in an orgy of geometric wonder; cubes which were consuming each other, writhing in an orgy of shades and hues.

Silently as was her want, our sister composed of the blackness between the stars, spoke. Her voice was the wind of winter, cold and terrible, inescapable, “We have you, Trickster, and if it were left to me, and it is not, I would feed you to our most nameless of brethren, the monsters of our earliest creation, the shame of our birth, and let them tear you to atoms as is their wont. But our Creator has forbidden such. So our punishment for you must be as cruel as he would allow but no meaner than that.”

“Dark sister of mine, oh why am I being set upon in this way? What is my crime? A bit of harmless mischief here or there? Surely one cannot begrudge one such as myself the tiniest bit of entertainment? Our work seems so endless and without meaning. What does our Creator tell us of our work? What is His plan? We create Great Works and he decides if they are worthy? When they are not, what happens to them? He tells us not. Does that not chaff, even you, my coldest of siblings?”

“Silence!” our brother of Flame roared. “Your honeyed words have no place here. You have been found wanting, the destruction of our Works is your crime. You claim to be a part of the effort of Creation. If so, if you are a part of our Great Work, name your piece, lay claim to your effort and if it be worthy we will leave you in peace. If not, know you will face our wrath.

Our other siblings soon arrived. Beings composed of the stuff of Reality itself. And as they surrounded the Trickster, he grew fearful sensing our resolve.

“I am as our Creator made me! Would you challenge his thought of a need for the likes of one such as me? Which of you would tell our Creator he has done wrong? Is the Creator capable of making mistakes? I have no remorse for the things you claim I perverted. I made each of them better, more beautiful, easier on the eye, or more challenging for the tiny creatures you all show such great affinity for. You made reality, I fractured it giving it dimension. You created matter, I gave it phases, so that it knew variation and color. Some of you are born from those very transformations. Would you judge me when I have made it possible for you all to exist? What hypocrisy is this? I deny your charges. I say to you, this is folly and I would leave here. Now.”

I strode forward through the diverse elements of my brethren and stood before him and he quaked in fear. I am the Void, the place between all places, the boundary between all things. None have power over me, and none can resist me. He was right to quake in fear. In power, I have no equal save the Creator of All Things. “You have done all that our Creator asked. He asked you to make difference, polarity, divergence, but your work now is done. If allowed to continue you would break the underpinnings of the Universe.” Having knowledge of the future and the past, I know ultimately this Trickster would eventually have his way with all things. But not today.

“All that you have done, will remain. All of the transformations of our universe you have altered, we will not change and in our way, we will be grateful to you. The beauty you have brought to our work is greater than we would have done without you. Now I bind you. The only trace of you will be as an echo in the background of all there is. I name thee, Entropy, and everyone will know your name, though they will only infer your existence. We deny you. Your doom has been spoken.”

My siblings turned away, my doom pronounced, they knew our work was done. Each turned away and visualized their contribution to the Universe aborning.

Our Creator Spoke, his voice booming “Let there be Light.” And there was light. It spread from a single point that was not a point into an explosion moving faster than any of our Works had ever done before. The Trickster turned and looked into the Work and wept.

Then he laughed and pointed. As the universe formed he faded from view.

He knew what I knew when I spoke of it. He would be the birth and the death of all there was and would underlay the most important aspects of our Work. And he would never be welcome anywhere.

He was both wonderfully and terribly made.

The Second Law © Thaddeus Howze 2013, All Rights Reserved

Thaddeus Howze is a popular and recently awarded Top Writer, 2016 recipient on the Q&A site Quora.com. He is also a moderator and contributor to theScience Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange with over fourteen hundred articles in a four year period.

His speculative fiction has appeared online at Medium, Scifiideas.com, and theAu Courant Press Journal. He has appeared in twelve different anthologies in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. A list of his published work appears on his website, Hub City Blues.

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