“Where am I?”

The philosopher in the dark held a hand in front of his face. He could not see the hand but could sense its location in relation to his head. He closed it into a fist, felt the texture of his nails against his palm, then let his fingers stretch back out.

He pinched himself. He had a body that could feel and sense. He then briefly wondered how it was possible to hear himself speak. But that was just one of many questions that flooded his thoughts.

He stepped forward. There was no surface to walk on, yet he knew he had moved from one point in space to the next. How far, he could not tell. But it could have just been his mind playing tricks. For all he knew, he could be falling for eternity. But in order to fall, motion would have to exist, and space for the motion to move through.

“What is this place?”

Silence. He would have to figure it all out for himself. But how could he identify something that couldn’t be seen, touched, heard, or smelled? When all he had as a reference was himself? All around him was a void, utter nothingness.

That was it. He existed in a void. Then that thought led him to another thought.

“I exist.”

And if he existed here, surely others did, too. But he felt the wrongness to that rationale as soon as he had thought it.

“I am alone.”

And that knowledge made him weep. For how long he could not tell, not at first. Then he started to count the moments. A large number of moments passed in grief over his loneliness. If only there was some way to escape the darkness. Then he could…

Could what? There was nowhere else to go, only more empty space and vacuum. Oh, how he abhorred it!

He shook his fists and railed against the nothingness. “I am alone! Do you hear me? I am alone!”

Then the epiphany struck him. “I am.”

He existed, and before him nothing: no thought, no space, no time, and no existence. Those things he had created in the void by his self-awareness. “Yes, I exist, and because I exist, existence exists.”

He began to imagine all the possibilities, all the universes and realities that could spring from his self-awareness. He could reshape the void, or even himself if he so chose. Yes, but where to start?

As he looked around at the dark, he smiled and said, “Now, let’s start this off with a bang.”

Scott M. Sandridge’s first short story, “Treecutter,” was published in The Sword Review in July 2005. Since then, he’s gone on to publish more short stories, and write reviews for Tangent Online and The Fix. He’s also a columnist for the Double-Edged Publishing webzines, a Submissions Editor for Ray Gun Revival, and the Managing Editor of Fear and Trembling.

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  • rumjhum

    This story made me smile. 🙂

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Very good 🙂

  • Michael Ehart

    Nice story, Scott, as usual!

  • I’m with rumjhum. This story made me smile. I love it.

  • I smiled as well. Great job, Scott.

  • Nik

    I like the idea that a thinker “started it all.” What philosophical sources did you draw from, Scott?

  • Thanks for the awesome feedback everybody! 😀

    “I like the idea that a thinker “started it all.” What philosophical sources did you draw from, Scott?”

    Erm, is that a trick question? lol! Seriously, trying to figure out what my brain draws on for stuff is like trying to crack a 20-level high security encryption code. I got so much stuff stuck in my noggin that it all sort of leaks and runs and merges into each other. Some days I think I wouldn’t even remember my own name if people didn’t say it to me on a frequent basis.

    I think the Biblical passage where Moses asked for God’s name and he first answered “I am the I am.” before giving the name Yahweh.(KJV) Which transliterates into modern-day English as simply “I am” or “Just know that I exist”. And I always thought of God as being a great thinker/philosopher. After all, what other form of intellect could be capable of doing what He did? It says that God spoke the world into existence, and I remember an episode on Babylon 5 where a character (can’t remember which one) asked the question, “But what comes first? The word or the thought?” And since words are basically vocalized thoughts, I thought it was a very good question to ponder.

    So, several years later (and a couple years of exposure to propane fumes from leaky propane buffers which I blame for my I.Q. dropping by 20 points) that question eventually turned into this story one day after waking up with it (well, the rough first-draft version anyways)fully formed in my head.

  • wow…i honestly wasnt sure about the plot of this story until the end, and it was a stunning turnout indeed. Bloody brilliant is all i can say

  • Lyn

    Existential, Dude! 🙂

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  • Thanks!

    Y’know, I think this is the first time I’ve seen the words “existential” and “brilliant” used to describe one of my stories. I’m gonna be on Cloud Nine for a week! 🙂

  • Tommy B. Smith

    Nice concept and story, Scott.

  • Thanks Tommy! 🙂

  • Coming way late to the game, but had to say this was a nice piece of work. Congrats, Scott, on a thoughtful and enjoyable piece.

  • Thanks Rick! 🙂

  • jennifer walmsley

    So that who God is? Thanks for the great story.

  • Thank you for reading it! 🙂

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