Simon arrived at the end of the world. This was the end of the world in both space and time: the very edge of a universe that would collapse in about an hour. It was a beach that merged into a desert, nothing on it but a pair of loungers and a figure in one of those. The scene seemed wholly unimpressive—however, Simon knew appearances tended to deceive.
He walked over to the empty lounger and wiped the sweat off his brow. Then he collapsed into the lounger. “Hello, Oracle,” he said. The Oracle’s face was wrinkled and her hair thin and white. A faded floral dress covered her withered frame.
“Hello, Simon. What would you like to know?”
“Don’t you find it odd, being an oracle at the end of the world?” he asked.
She chuckled. “Actually, this is the best time for being an oracle. You don’t have to look very far to see everything. This isn’t what you came to ask me, though, is it?”
“No, it’s not.”
“I wonder, oh wise Oracle, what’s the point of the whole thing? I’ve walked more worlds and times than I can count, and now I find myself here, at the end of the world, hardly any wiser than I was at the beginning of my journey.”
“You know why your path took you here, to the end of the world?”
“Because you’re the wisest Oracle ever to exist?”
She looked down. Her wrinkles seemed to deepen until they were canyons—and then, when it looked like the entire history of the universe had been carved into them, they returned to their former state. “It will take me about two hours to figure out the meaning of life.”
“But the world ends in an hour.”
“That,” she said, looking up again, “is the irony…and the beauty of it.”
“Well, I think it sucks. Trillions of humans have lived in this universe, and at least some deserve to know what it was all for, don’t they?”
She shrugged. “I’ll learn that in about two hours.”
“But you don’t have two hours.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Then what’s the point of even trying to figure it out?”
“That’s what I’ll learn in—”
“I’m afraid we’ve begun talking in circles, oh wise Oracle.”
“Of course we have. A mind like yours, it asks questions; it’s unable to accept that oftentimes there are no answers.”
Simon wanted badly to say that there would be answers if only the universe were allowed to go on an hour longer, but he held his tongue.
“You ought to go,” the Oracle said. “If you’re to make it out of this time before the world ends, you ought to go now.”
“As you say, oh wise Oracle.” He may not have had much of an idea why he’d walked so many worlds, but he knew precisely why he’d come to this one.
He bowed, then lifted the Oracle off her chair. She was quite light.
“You’ll walk faster if you leave me behind,” the Oracle said.
“You won’t give me any answers if you’re dead.”
“Such a pity, isn’t it?”
He thought this was a bit of an odd thing for her to say, considering he was saving her life and all, but he had to focus on finding the path away from this place, back into the past.
Finally he saw such a path, just as the time came for the world to end. He stepped onto it, stepping out of time so he could travel through it. Thus he tore the Oracle from time, splitting a whole into two parts.