The story begins long ago, when the world was a very different place. The East, West, North and South were but a single landmass, negating any sense of foreignism. The water that cascaded endlessly into the horizon was as vast as the darkness in space, and as likely to be travelled. Things lived there, but their voices were unheard. Many voices were unheard in this time, as the unified voice of those on the land was much too loud to hear anything else.
The voice of the land burst from the Human Race. They lived in a tribal state, spending every moment of their day hunting for information. It was known that knowledge existed in its purest form inside every being, and so much time was spent in self-meditation. Humans would spend their days sitting in chairs and thinking, or pacing by the lake- or seawall, or watching sand skitter across sidewalks and blow into the air. Countless volumes were written daily, shipped to and fro, exchanged constantly and modified endlessly. Experiments and conversation was popular, but movement was not. No one felt the need to explore because there was nothing else for them to find.
There was one Man who lived alone at the peak of a shiny silver housing complex. Day in and day out, he would sit stationary in an armchair overlooking the vast everything beneath him and he would think. He would think with such intensity that it could be felt in the atmosphere if someone happened to join him in his abode. He would think so much that it pained him.
Once every few days he would leave his home and walk down the 30 flights of stairs to his elevator and exit on the ground. Without his palpable aura of thought, he was uncomfortable and distracted. He walked down quiet streets confused and lost, unsure where he was going or why he had even left the house. After a few hours of dismay, he would return to his haven and continue to think. This did not stop.
Despite his pained confusion, he did not feel alone, as he was often paid visits. One day, one of these visits began an important chain of events. A Woman wordlessly entered his room and waded through his brainwaves before standing next to him, clearing her throat. The Man willingly broke his train of thought, causing tangible ripples in the air, and stood to greet her. They were old friends. He offered her a drink and took one himself before they both retreated to a more secluded area of the apartment and delved into conversation.
There was much closeness in their speech, but there were things that they did not discuss. For the Man, his current lifestyle was never brought up by him, and glossed over if she were to ask about it. He could not bear to seek counsel from anyone else. He did not know why. Everyone shared a level of importance so that no one was looked down upon should they seek help nor seen as pretentious should they offer it. However the Man’s inability to make sense of his Life had driven him into a small corner of his soul, where he could not escape from. He felt somehow that revealing that he was inadequate, or that he was confused on a daily basis, would cause his friend to abandon him in disgust. And so he continued to suffer.
She spent the rest of her visit talking about what she had been meditating on lately. “And so it makes sense,” she was saying, “that the layers of the Vast Nothing would mirror the layers of the Human Race. And those would mirror the layers of the soul of each Human.”
“Insightful,” the Man replied. “But how can we be sure of the construction of the Vast Nothing? Never in my days have I perceived layers, although I am familiar with the theory. Perhaps the Human Race is just one of the layers among the Nothingness.”
“Mm…” said the Woman. She looked into her glass with the utterance of this murmur, and the Man grew uncomfortable. His suggestion seemed to have strangled the conversation. He wondered with great aggravation if his thoughts were becoming more alienated from his fellow Thinkers. Perhaps this was the root of his confusion: some sort of disease or distempered humour. He became scared, and for the first time in the company of another, retreated into his own thought.
The Woman spoke after: “You must show me the contents of your latest book, Gregor. I can tell you have been doing a great lot of thinking.” The Man called Gregor heard this and broke from his trance. “A-ah…” he muttered, unable to think clearly now. He could not picture his latest book. He could not recall when he had last printed ink into a leather tome. His bookshelves were dusty and unused, all from an era where he was a different man. He was no longer scared, but surprised.
The Man placated the Woman with some well-chosen words. He was distracted now, but with a burgeoning pleasure that he may have inadvertently realized the solution to his woes. Soon after, he shooed her from his home using the pretense of business. He sat back down in his chair facing a mighty window, and conceived a book.
His thoughts raced, fiercer and more stormy than usual. His mind harnessed this energy, corralling it into stables and forcing it to obey his commands. The book was formed in minutes. Without thinking, he drew up a small wooden desk that fit neatly over his knees, and fished a blank tome from a shelf beneath it. Bringing his printing device near to the first empty page, he smiled and wrote the first phrase: “The Vast Nothing”.
The printing device glowed and clicked as each letter seared into the page, with its neat, curvaceous script. Gregor wore a stoic and determined grin as he held his hand steady, feeding information to the printer, but as those three first words finished, his hand began to tremble. He stayed still for a few moments, watching the printer’s glowing dim as it faded into standby. His face fell, followed by his shoulders and eventually his hands. There was no more he could write.
Gregor meditated on this blockage. He knew that he had all the content he needed, but when he tried to transfer it to the printer, tried to translate it into written words, it did not come. His thoughts were clouded, but he was not defeated. As he thought harder, his book grew in proportion. It became many books, filling whole shelves with editions. Before long he had formulated a library in his mind. But he still could not translate it.
“This is what is wrong with me,” Gregor mused as he clutched his head one dark night. His jug of alcohol lay spilled but mostly empty near him, and his tome lay open before him, with still just the three words on it: “The Vast Nothing”. “This is what is wrong with me,” he repeated. “I have lost touch. I am unable to communicate. I am losing my place among Humans!”
Frustrated, Gregor spent much time attempting to reach out to others and allow them to infiltrate his mind, but none had anything to say that would shift his demeanor. He felt as though he had heard it all before. He found himself wishing that The Vast Nothing was not nothing after all and that there was somewhere for him to travel to that would inspire him. These thoughts drove him into further seclusion, and he still had told no one of his grievance.
In time, Gregor grew more alienated inwardly yet more respected outwardly. Those around him imagined that he was busy with other people when he was truly alone, unable to release any of his thoughts. He was a massive storehouse of information with only an entrance, but no exit. His tome lay open before him every moment of every day, but he didn’t dare move it lest inspiration struck. And so it went.
Eventually there came a time where Gregor had not contacted anyone for many months. Alone in his room, he sat in his chair overlooking a great expanse and he thought. He did not think about how his recent experiments had inspired scientific breakthroughs or how he was able to cure many psychological ailments with a few words of wisdom. He did not think about his friend or his jug of alcohol. He did not think about The Vast Nothing that stared back at him through the window. Instead, he merely thought. He manipulated the atmosphere so that the thoughts of those around him would be driven into his mind. He thought endlessly, day and night, with no sustenance or rest. His library became a font of data, which in turn exploded into streams of DNA and biological matter. Then, he fell asleep.