15 Minute Story #14: Ben And the Infinite

Bill and the Infinite 14

When Ben was little his parents took him to a Methodist Church. Some of his earliest memories were of responsive readings. He’d watch as the pastor said something to the congregation and the congregation would all respond. This would go one back and forth for a few minutes. He was too young to know that the congregation was reading the responses. All he saw was the pastor say something and the people say something back. He thought God was making them speak. And for some reason God wasn’t letting Ben know the right words to say.

Growing up, his family went to church less and less. He still believed in God, but didn’t this too much about it. Then as a teenager he met a girl who went to church. So he started going to church too. He got into it. He was in love and they were both totally into Jesus. They’d live their whole lives together and when they died be reunited in Heaven where they’d be together forever and ever.

But then the girl broke up with Ben. He stayed with the church a while more but it wasn’t the same. He started to think that maybe Jesus was exactly as reliable as his relationship had been. He started asking big questions. He thought about the Romans and the Norwegians and their Gods and Goddesses and how they believed their Gods were just as real as Jesus…and they were wrong.

In time Ben lost his faith and belief in God. He wanted to believe but simply saw no evidence of a God anywhere. He eventually accepted that he was now an atheist. This presented him with a significant problem. If there was no God, then when Ben died he would go back to the nothingness before he was born. He would stop existing. And Ben wanted to exist forever.

Ben looked at science. Cryonics could freeze him when he died and bring him back at some point in the future when the technology allowed him to come back. Then he’d be alive in the future and presumably they’d be able to stop him from dying again with all their technology…but eventually the Earth would be unlivable due to environmental changes or because the Sun exploded. Luckily there were already spaceships. Technology could save him yet again…but after hundreds of billions of years, the universe itself would collapse and where would Ben be then? He could see no way around it. If there was no God and he lived in a finite universe how might he escape? Time travel or dimension hopping he supposed….but how would he do that?  Well, he had a few hundred billion years to figure that one out.

Words by Jack Cameron
Illustration by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas

About 15 Minute Stories
It’s good for writers to write every day, but it’s easy for life to get in the way of that. One solution I read about recently was to write a 15 minute piece of short fiction every single day for a month. You may not have time to do NaNoWriMo every month, but if you like writing, you can always find 15 minutes.

So for the month of January, I’ll be writing and posting pieces of very short fiction that I took 15 minutes to write. I’ve asked that my friend, Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas join me by taking 15 minutes to draw an accompanying image for each story.  Ossaín is one of the owners of a local zine shop in Tacoma called The Nearsighted Narwhal

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