At The End of the Universe Part 1: Principium

“The meteor that was on pace to hit earth sometime later this year has changed direction. Scientists predict that the change in course will lead it to avoid earth entirely.  More news after the break.” The radio was turned off in Henry’s sedan as he pulled into a parking space on the street.

Henry got out of the car, straightened his tie and walked into the lobby. Henry was an average-sized man well into his 20’s with dark blond hair.  He had a rugged face and charming blue-green eyes.  His smile was a little crooked but it was always bright and willingly shown. His agent was ready to meet him and he walked into her office. 

“Hello Henry, I’ve been waiting to talk to you about this new script.” His agent Elaina said as he sat down in the chair across from her deep brown stained desk.

“So, what did you think?” Henry asked excitedly

Elaina was a reedy girl in her late 20’s, with straight chestnut hair, olive skin and deep green eyes. She had a narrow jawline and high set cheekbones.  She was stern in her job and was mostly an aloof person in general.  She wore reading glasses and was well organized.

“What am I supposed to do with this? I mean honestly. Lawnmower Cop 2: A Good Day to Mow Hard?” Elaina sighed

“The first one was a moderate hit. I mean, I feel like there is really a great story here that needs to be told with a sequel.” Henry replied defensively

“It’s about a rogue cop who runs criminals over with a lawn mower. What story is there to tell here? The only reason the first one made any money is because it gets played on Cinemax at 4AM right after all the softcore porn ends.” Elaina replied

“What do you want me to say Elaina? You know it’s been tough for me the past year.” Henry said

“I need a screenplay with more substance. I mean, when was the last time you really put your heart into something? I remember reading your screenplay for The Mime’s Lamentation and I felt so inspired afterward. Then you wrote A Meeting of Dreams and it won 2 SAG awards. I want that Henry back again.” Elaina answered

“Did you even read it? How can you not feel inspired by that last line?”

“You mean the line that says ‘It’s time to make some fertilizer’ then the main character cuts a guy in half with a weed whacker and shoves him in a wood chipper?” Elaina retorted

“Yeah, that’s badass. Imagine Arnold or Wesley Snipes saying that line. It’s a silly action film, not a statement on post-modern love.”  Henry responded

Elaina picked up the script from the table and flipped through it.

“I guess I can shop it around. Maybe some lower level studio will pick it up but… I doubt I can get much out of this.”

“Well thanks. I mean, I’m really trying to come up with something but…”

“How long did you spend on this script? Be honest.” Elaina asked, interrupting

“Like 9 weeks.” Henry replied

“I can’t… This is why your movies have been going downhill recently. Do I really need to tell you how arrogant it is to think I can make a screenplay that was written in 2 and a half months into something that big-name directors want to work with?”

“The amount of time I spend on a script doesn’t necessarily affect the quality negative…” Henry started

“I mean, you barely put this in the correct format, I’m going to have to work on it a lot just to get anybody to even look at it. This is part of why we broke up Henry, you have no perspective. You just assume everybody views things the same way you do.” Elaina interjected angrily.

Henry slumped back in his chair.

“I’m sorry Elaina, I’ll go back and work on it some more.” Henry conceded.

“Look, I’ll make some calls and workshop it a bit and see what I can do alright, just get to work on something better.  Really try to find that fire that you had when I first met you. Please, for your own sake.” Elaina said as Henry stood up. Henry nodded to the receptionist and walked out back to his car.

Henry arrived at his gated home in the Hollywood hills where he drove up his long gravel driveway to his house.  It was moderately sized, professionally decorated, but not as big as many of the ones around him.  As he walked up to his front porch, he saw a tall woman, wearing a gold and black cape with a necklace of rubies and sapphires around her neck.  Her skin was ghostly pale white and she had a bouffant mass of silver hair raising from her head. Her lips were painted pitch black.  

“Um excuse me, mam. This is a private property.” Henry said

“Ah yes, mortal.  Can you point me to the nearest shrine or palace of worship?” The woman said.

“I’m sorry, I have no idea what you mean, but you need to get off my property right now or I’m calling the police.” Henry replied, his voice raising in anger. “Fucking druggies man. This state is going to shit.” He muttered under his breath, pulling out his phone.  Suddenly, it flew out of his hand and was suspended in mid-air.

“I ask you again nicely mortal, lead me to the nearest shrine of worship.” The woman said

“Look, I don’t know who you are, but I’m about to go get my 12 gauge if you don’t get the fuck off my prop…” Henry started but was cut off as he was suspended in the air, and then mounted to his front door with 4 glowing black chains.

“I am the Goddess of Death, and you dare to speak to me this way?” Namoira yelled, pointing her staff in his face “I don’t expect much out of mortals. I don’t ask them to shower me with praise or dedicated their life to my worship.” She said, walking back in forth in front of the trembling Henry

“For my job is a thankless, necessary evil to keep the cycle of life in check. I am the bringer of eternal order in this universe, and you will learn to respect me or you will incur my wrath.” She boomed.

“Ok… Alright, I’m sorry Miss Goddess of Death. Can… Can… You let me down now please. I’ll let you in.” Henry stammered. Namoira let him down and he hit the front porch with a thud. 

The two entered the house and Namoira made a golden throne appear out of thin air.  A jewel encrusted goblet full of wine also appeared in her hand. 

“So, let me get this straight… You’re a god. Like an actual… God.” Henry said, sitting down at the dining room table, his hands shaking.

“Yes.” Namoira replied simply

“Like, you’re an omnipotent, omnipresent being…” He said, head in his hands.

“Yes, as I said in my little monologue, I’m the goddess of death.” Namoira replied “I’m not sure what you’re finding so difficult to understand about all this, it’s quite tiring.” Namoira spoke in a posh accent. Her staff was gold with a monstrance clock at the head. It had a constantly spinning mobius sphere around the top and gave off a soft white light.

“I’m sorry that finding out that all my preconceived notions about the universe, afterlife, god, religion and my own reality completely falling apart causing an existential crisis is mildly inconveniencing you. Meeting you totally invalidates everything I’ve ever thought about our creation and purpose in life.” He said, out of breath and on the verge of tears.

“Well, it doesn’t invalidate all religion.” Namoira replied “Just all Judeo-Christian religions, all monotheistic ones, almost all Eastern religions, the vast majority of cults and any and all historical religions.”

“So, did any of us even get close to getting it right?” Henry asked

“Surprisingly, Alan Moore.” She said in a snarky tone

“Really?”

“Well, he got the snake god part right at least. We have one of those.  Although I’d argue conquest and petulance are redundant with my job.” Namoira mused

Henry stood up and started pacing nervously around the kitchen.

“So why are you here? And why am I the one who you’re talking with?” He asked

“I was banished from the realm of the gods until I learn the worth of mortals or some rubbish. Like I’m supposed to know what that means.”

“Yes, but why me specifically? Is it just chance you landed on my property?”

“If you wish to be poetic, sure call it fate.  It’s difficult to explain, you see, I don’t perceive time linearly like you mortals do.”  

“So freewill isn’t a thing?” Henry asked

“Yes and no. Some things about your life are predetermined and some are left up to your choices.” Namoira responded, taking a sip.

The two sat in silence for a moment while Namoira gulped down her wine.

“Wait, if you were cast out from wherever the rest of the gods are, why didn’t they take your powers away?”

“And create a world without death? Could you even imagine?” Namoira snickered.

“If you are all knowing and all seeing, why don’t you know exactly what you’re here to do?” Henry pondered

“Look my child, stop trying to find plot holes and help me get on with what I was sent here to achieve.” Namoira said.

Henry stood up and walked to the fridge to get himself a bottle of ice-cold water.  He sat back down and cracked it open, drinking most of it. 

“You’re here to help mortals you said, so you’re here to help me fix my relationship with my estranged ex-girlfriend?” Henry asked hopefully

“Not really my field of expertise. That one’s more of a job for the goddess of love.” Namoira retorted

“Well, are you going to inspire me to write an amazing screenplay? One that changes the world?” Henry questioned once more, excitedly.

“Again, not my department” Namoira sighed “That’s for the god of fertility, wine and drama, and yes, we really thought that combination was a good idea.” Namoira answered, rolling her eyes.

“Wait so if parts of my life are predetermined, then do you know when I die?” Henry asked nervously

“Of course, I do. And no, I won’t tell you when it is either. Unless you want to keep asking ridiculous questions then I can assure you it will be very soon.” Namoira answered impatiently.

“I’m sorry, I just have so many thoughts going through my head right now, it’s a lot to take in.”

“Do mortals always ask this many questions? If so, then I’ll just end the bloody universe now and save myself the time.”  Namoira sighed

“Y-you can do that?” Henry said, astonished

“I could tap my finger against the arm of this chair and all living things throughout the universe and across all realities would instantly perish.” Namoira answered

“Wait, so you’re saying extra-terrestrials exi…” Henry started to ask but Namoira put her pointer finger out on the arm of the throne, hovering it menacingly in the air, almost threatening to put it down while simultaneously sipping from her newly refilled goblet of wine In a nonchalant manner.

“Sorry. So, where do we start getting you back to the realm of the gods?” Henry asked. He was now leaning against the tan granite countertop on his

“You said you had an estranged lover or whatever, maybe we can work on your love life, as much as I’m not qualified for that.” Namoira conceded.

Henry washed his hands in the sink then wiped the sweat from his brow with a paper towel. He pulled out his cell phone and scrolled through it. He put it up to his head and waited as it rang. 

“Hi Henry.” Elaina answered from the other end.

“Hey, I just wanted to ask if you could meet up tomorrow at 11 to talk about the script.  We can go to that diner you like for brunch.” Henry asked a bit nervously

“As long as this is purely about business, that would be great. I’ve looked over it, we can work out the kinks and think about our plan going forward with it.” Elaina replied

“Sounds great, see you then.” Henry replied, trying to hide his excitement.  He ended the call and turned to Namoira, giving her a thumbs up.

Namoira was sitting sideways in her chair, legs over the arm and her staff leaned against her shoulder, examining her finger nails.

“I just set up a meeting with my ex-girlfriend.” Henry said

“Oh, was I supposed to be paying attention. Sorry, I have an extraordinarily short attention span for somebody with the amount of power I possess, please forgive me.” She replied sardonically “Besides, that sounded more like a call with your agent.”

“That was my agent. My ex is my agent.” Henry explained

“Well, I don’t need to be the goddess of love to know that’s a messy situation.” Namoira responded under her breath.

“It’s fine, we keep things civil and professional.” Anyway, I’m going to go watch TV in my room, so I guess you can crash on the couch if you want.” Henry offered

“Crash on the couch? You do realize I don’t need to sleep right? My body isn’t bound to mortal constructs like energy. I only take on this form to exist in the metaphysical world, and also so they can use my image on novelty tee shirts.” Namoira replied

“Well, fine. Whatever it is that gods do… Do it in the living room.” Henry said, walking into his bedroom.  

Henry awoke in the morning to the sound of loud heavy metal music blaring over his living room sound system.

“SPIRIT CRUSSSSSHHHHHHHERRRRRRRR” The singer screeched.

Henry got up quickly and rushed into the living room, turning off the sound on the TV. Namoira was sitting at the table reading the newspaper.  

“I have neighbors and it’s early in the morning. You can’t be blasting music this loud.  And what the hell are you even listening to anyway?” Henry yelled

“It’s a band called Death.” Namoira said without looking away from her paper

“I… I’m honestly not sure what I expected you to listen to.” Henry sighed. He went over to the coffee maker and started to make a cup. Suddenly, his favorite mug appeared out of nowhere, filled to the brim with piping hot coffee. Confused, Henry took a sip.

“How did you know exactly how I like my coffee?” Henry asked

Namoira folded the newspaper down and gave him a stern glance over the top of it.

“Ok, sorry that I haven’t gotten accustomed to living with an all-seeing and all-knowing deity as a roommate yet.” Henry continued, walking around behind her to sit on the other side of the table. “…Are you reading the obituaries?”

“Yes, you’re an artist, you’ve never stopped to admire your own work?” She replied without looking up

“I’ve seen my own movies of course, but I mean there’s a difference between that and … Whatever the hell you’re doing. I mean… Whatever the… Nonspecific, non-Christian, polytheistic afterlife you’re doing” Henry answered “Anyway, I better get going. I don’t want to be late.”

“Yes, do whatever it is you wish. Wouldn’t want to impede on that all important freewill.” Namoira said dismissively.