This one was originally published earlier this month at 365 Tomorrows.
Entropy gnaws at the walls, shaving them away molecule by molecule. Jeremy calls it the Nothing, after some story that never existed anymore. It’s as good a name as any - certainly I’m not being scientific when I call it Entropy.
“The Nothing is hungry today,” he says cheerfully, looking at the readouts. It’s a nonlinear progression, so some days Entropy eats more of our home than others. More or less, but it always ate. There are never days that it leaves us alone. Each day Jeremy plugs the new numbers in and gives our odds of finishing the job before the walls fade out. “Down a few points today, mate,” he calls today as he drifts by, gravity a fading memory, “we’re sitting at twenty-three point two-one percent.”
The problem was that to fix the timeline properly we needed to make multiple adjustments - but the first change would overwrite us. That meant leaving the timeline entirely and making the changes from the outside. We’re up to 1971 now, and the projections require us to drop some of the specially-designed care packages in ‘86, ‘90, and ‘03. The reality the projections were based on doesn’t exist anymore, so we can’t be sure how accurate they are.
“Almost charged,” Jeremy chirps, smiling as usual. He might be going insane from the isolation, but at least it’s the good kind of crazy. It might help if I talked to him, but somehow I can’t. That probably means I’m going insane too. “We’ll be able to make another drop in twelve hours. Just three more after that!” He says three because he wants to believe we’ll have time to drop ourselves back in too, but I can hear Entropy eating away at our bubble, eating but never full.
I can’t really hear it. I know there’s nothing to hear, just like I know that it isn’t a sentient thing, isn’t actually hungry or even aware. But thinking of it like that, crazy or not, is better than the truth that pulls at my sanity. It’s not alive because it doesn’t exist. It’s not even the vacuum of space, it’s the lack of existence that persists outside of time. I’m willing to die to save humanity from extinction but I can’t stop thinking that when the walls finally don’t exist anymore even my soul will vanish, forgotten by reality itself.