“You will have to stay away from 8:01,” he told me. “It is broken.”

“Why are you in my house?” I asked.

“Please,” he said. “When it is 8:00, you must go straight to 8:02, exactly. Or you will become a thing like me.”

— from The Sin (Emily/OC), by Galina Kirlienko

Long ago, in the deepest dark, there was an awful crime; and that crime was the creation of the world. It burned up into being in the nothingness, a hot fire of awareness where there shouldn’t have been awareness; a wretched spear of being where there should never have been any being; a horrid spiral suction of a pattern where none such thing had been before.

It impaled the void; burned the void; chewed it up and swallowed it.

It disturbed it, made it to roil with its presence, and left it helpless before it because, after all, the void was merely Not, while the world was Be.

After a while the world settled into itself. The spear flared into a lovely tree with pretty branches. The fire sealed itself into a wall. The world stopped claiming ground against the void; stopped taking quite so much from it, or quite so actively, and began to just exist there, a single candle in the endless forests of the night.

It normalized itself.

It forgot that it had ever been a crime; it began to think: it had a right to be there, a right to be that way—for look at its glory, look at its stability and its history, look at all the life that flourished there, dependent upon its existence. Beauty cascaded from the holy land upon its peak; planets grew upon the branches of the tree like fruit; when the winds of the world blew among its leaves, the whole tree bent and seemed to sing.

To exist: to exist, was right, was just—was an a priori good.

(continued …)

Chapter Excerpt