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The Big Crunch: A Sleepless Dream
(Excerpted from a 42-page letter, never sent)

...Another time, when I woke up at 3 a.m. and figured I was done sleeping for the night, I tried to imagine what things would be like if time started flowing backwards.

The scenario has been seriously proposed by some scientists as a potential outcome of Relativistic principles if it turns out there's enough dark matter to make this a closed universe.

(Sometimes there's more than enough dark matter in my closed universe.)

So, from the beginning of The Big Bang, time flows forward; from the beginning of The Big Crunch, time flows in reverse.

And we all come back to undo everything we've ever done.

As I lay in the darkness and thought about backward time, I concluded that we humans would be preoccupied with two things: Forgetting everything we ever knew, and making seeds.

And it occurred to me that, even in reverse time, two things will still be true: No one knows the future, and no one can change the past.

We make our choices and meet our fates now. Choice and chance and circumstance. Later, we all come back to undo all we've ever done—good and bad and everything in between.

Deja vu again.

No chance to choose a new course.

Predestination by our own design.

(Ironic? Oxymoronic? Moronic? You decide.)

No second chances for confronting those grade-school classmates who called me "Listerine," and telling them to "Go rinse and spit. Or ".tips dna esnir oG" as the case may be.

Reverse Death and Sex and Birth and Sex fascinated me most... In that order, of course.

I traced several lives backwards.

For the first generic soul I traced, I began by imagining the atoms that used to be him (and countless other things before and after and even during his previous existence).

Through billions of years of oblivion, the atoms had been scattered over vast expanses of space.

But now they were heading homeward, forming molecules and clusters of molecules when meeting up with kin along the way.

Some atoms had spent eons inside other suns or worlds which lived, grew younger, and were unborn, allowing the accreted matter that once formed them to be free and on its way. But now, the atoms close in on the space where old Sol is becoming undead.

And more eons pass.

Then the atoms are pulled down to the cinder that once was Earth. Sol retreats from its Red Giant stage and is stable again. Earth becomes undead. Everyone's home, more or less.

After another five billion years or so, and after spending time in countless other animals and vegetables and minerals, certain atoms and molecules finally come together to form much of what was once a human being.

A human.


At the right time, gravediggers dig him up.

There's a service.

The mourners have already forgotten the years of pain and anguish this time has caused them.

A few more days and this will all be over and forgotten for good.

Our Guy—and that's his name, Guy; but, of course, it's unspelled and unpronounced backwards in reverse time—is sent back to the mortuary where he is disembalmbed and then sent to the hospital.

At the hospital he becomes undead and then is taken back to the nursing home.

At the nursing home, he begins to remember.

When he remembers enough of the things he is destined to forget, he goes home to rejoin his recently undead wife, Gretchen.

Together, they forget and grow younger.

Their children unbirth and forget their own children. They unmarry and fall out of love in a glance. And they forget their respective mates. And they move back home to grow younger and forgetful more quickly than their parents, Gretchen and Guy.

The children become small and helpless and blissfully ignorant.

At the hospital, Gretchen cuddles and loves and unsuckles her newborn babe.


In its last moments out in the world, this tiny human being experiences unconditional love—total, pure.

Then it's back into the womb, feet first.

Painful, yes.

But soon baby's inside, and Mother and Child have forgotten their pain.

Pain and love. Pain and love.

And the baby becomes smaller and smaller and smaller as it drifts warmly and gently and sleepily and peacefully back into oblivion.

(It sure beats the way most of us return to oblivion in this timeflow.)

Nine months unpass.

And soon after the ovum and sperm separate, Gretchen and Guy have sex.

Perhaps they drift from contented slumber into a cozy semi-consciousness, cuddle awhile, unsmoke some cigarettes, cuddle some more, experience fantastic orgasms together, then proceed into foreplay.

Anyway, Gretchen inseminates her Guy.

Seeds have been created.

(The ovum became hers alone when her forgotten child faded into oblivion; and she will carry it in her till she herself fades into oblivion. And that's romantic, I think. And she had that one special sperm cell, the last vestige of her unborn child to share with her mate. And that's romantic too, I think. But there's little room for romance in thinking about where Gretchen got the rest of her semen—from bedsheets and maybe a towel recently soiled in the unwashing machine, maybe some from the toilet, maybe some from the shower. Who knows? Who wants to know?)

(But then again, there's really no romance in thinking about where Guy got the semen in this timeflow. Is there?)

(And so it goes. And so it has gone. And so it may ungo.)

In time, Gretchen and Guy will unmarry and fall out of love in a glance and forget each other and go live with their parents and grow young and return to the womb and turn into seeds and be totally forgotten on the kinder, gentler side of oblivion. Bless their hearts.

But for now, let's leave them here in bed, kissing and caressing and cuddling, lovingly soothing away each other's fevered arousal, touching and teasing and talking so softly.

One, becoming two.

It's a lazy Sunday evening.

They've the whole weekend ahead of them. Bless their hearts.

And the full moon is framed in their bedroom window, drifting ever eastward with the stars.

Bless the moon. Bless the stars.


When I thought about dealing with food in reverse time, I recognized that the topic could easily get into a whole scatological thing.

The word "poop" may look and sound the same in both timeflows, but it's two entirely different concepts, trust me.

The important thing to note here is that unexcreting and undigesting and uneating are all essential steps in the process of making seeds.

People unexcrete and undigest and uneat and uncook their suppers, package the food, and take it to the supermarket where they exchange it for money. From the supermarket, the food passes from distributor to processor to commodities broker to farmer.

The farmer puts produce on its vine or stalk so the whole plant can be pulled down into the ground to create a seed.

The farmer tends his unslaughtered livestock so the animals can unbreed and grow younger and be unborn and turn into seeds and be forgotten.

All just as nature unintended.


It was a long, long morning. To delay just a little longer, the overwhelming sweet misery of having you fill my mind, I traced several other lives in the reverse timeflow.

I won't go into all the details.

But I saw a woman in her mid-fifties become undead in a car crash. (It might have been Gretchen. I don't know.)

I watched as people worked 'round-the-clock to put corpses in great mounds of rubble in Mexico City so that, when the next earthquake hit, the buildings would spring up and everyone would be alive and well and ignorant and forgetful in his or her own apartment.

I saw soldiers in a village in some third-world jungle use their weapons to suck bullets and shrapnel out of villagers' bodies, revivifying everyone, making them whole again.

Bless 'em all.

Bless 'em all.

I felt I had stumbled upon something mystical and magical as I watched a man in his early-forties uncommit suicide.

He was dead.

Then he was alive, but unconscious. He had to unprocess the poisons in his system.

In time, he faded into a semi-conscious stupor, ungulped some Demon Rum into a glass and extracted dozens of perfect, little, dry, white pills from his mouth.

(Phenobarbital, I believe.)

Then when the grogginess faded, he ungulped more alcohol and produced another handful of pills from his mouth.

He put the booze and drugs away, unwrote a note, then sat around until he forgot he ever felt so desperate.

I had witnessed someone willing himself from oblivion into existence. (Neat trick in any timeflow!)

And I knew that he'd be carried by currents of time to a time when his pain would be gone and forgotten forever.

Bless him, too.

There was more. Much more. But in the end, my imagination was tired and I could only think of you.

Bless you, too.

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© 2001-2012 David R. Lister • All Rights Reserved.