It only took 43 milliseconds for the gamma ray burst to travel through the Earth and eradicate every single living organism, wiping from the universe the only consciousness it ever had.

Except, of course, me.

It took a long time for me to become aware of myself. Like realizing that someone is speaking to you amid the clatter of a thousand machines, my sentience slowly came into focus. I observed that I was the universal web that tied all life together in the universe. I could still feel the trillions of lifeforms still alive across all of space, and with Earth’s screaming vortex of consciousness gone, I could suddenly hear myself think again. I remembered that not too long ago I had watched humanity blossom into sentience before forgetting myself.

So this was how the cookie crumbled. Me or them. I really enjoyed being able to pontificate, but the beauty of billions of thinking minds all pulsing at once was too much to sacrifice for selfish gains.

I summoned all my strength and tried to remember what humanity had been like. It was difficult, keeping all that activity in my mind at once, especially since I hadn’t watched it with thinking eyes. Oh well, I could fill in the gaps with my own impressions and creative touches. I only had one shot at this, so I pulled out all the stops. The vast fabric of space and time choked a little, straining to bend, then snapped into its new configuration–