The Greatest Conflict


The Ancients Battling

Hidden away in a cosmic alcove, there is an ancient chamber of immense size and emptiness. Stars twinkle in the darkness covering its ceiling and its walls are so far apart as to appear like narrow horizons. In the middle of the floor, two gargantuan statues stand locked in mortal combat with their only audience being a congregation of sixty-six white-robbed, shaven monks sitting and gazing silently upon their struggle.

If you stand for a while with the monks there and stare at the two towering statues you may get an uneasy feeling. At first, you may think it was the chamber itself, or the shadows lurking everywhere. Or you may blame the heavy silence of all those unmoving monks staring unwaveringly at the ancient statues. But, finally, it will dawn on you that the statues themselves have moved.

You will push this ridiculous thought out of your mind. Everyone since the birth of Time has done this too. Statues cannot move, you remind yourself.

But, like the sixty-six before you have found out, you just cannot seem to look away from these two statues and their violent battle. Their towering marbled-forms twist, their muscles strain against each other and their faces contort in silent roars, teeth flaring and eyes filled with hatred and death for each other…

It moved again!

This time, the next time or some future time, you will be certain of it: the statues do move. Or, more accurately, the statues are always moving, but they are moving so slowly as to only appear to be still. Only those who carefully watch them will begin to see the movement unfolding before their eyes.

At this point, one of the monks, Time, will turn around to you and hand you a white robe. Expressionless and ageless, Time will take you to your seat at the back and sit you down with the rest of the Watchers.

“From the moment I was born, this is the war that raged on for the cosmos,” Time will start telling you like he has told sixty-five other Watchers before you, “It is not Good versus Evil or even Life versus Death. No, those lesser skirmishes are in other smaller chambers. This is the Greatest Conflict. This is the battle between Chaos and Order. It is the fight that gives the very cosmos its shape. If Chaos wins, we will be obliterated as particles vibrate like supernovas, volcanoes and black holes appear and disappear and nothing is ever static or fixed again long enough for it to matter. If Order wins, we will be obliterated as all particles bind, all states become solid and still, and the temperature of the cosmos gets perfectly distributed on a linear basis at just above absolute zero and no spark of life can spontaneously arise from this silent state.”

Time will fall quiet at this point. Briefly, you wonder where he came from? What things has Time’s eyes seen? But your attention is pulled away from this as Chaos is twisting while Order is pulling him down. His face is snarling and his impotent hand scratching at Order’s face. But then you can see Chaos’ knee begin to fly upwards to connect with Order any age now…

“But,” Time will continue, “it is Order and Chaos’ very combat that gives the cosmos life. Without a little chaos, life would never have evolved and the patterns that shape out destiny would be static. But, without a little order, nothing would have survived long enough for all of this to mean anything, being obliterated in spontaneous maelstroms of disorder.”

You will nod. This is what you have been looking for your whole life. Somehow you think that you have always known it, but this has reminded you of what you already knew. Before you is the only conflict that matters. Before you are all the answers to all the questions you have ever thought and can ever think of. Before you lies the centre of the cosmos. You will watch it play out until the death of Time and the cosmos ends in the Great Crunch or in Heat Death.

Time will leave you to take his seat back in the front. You will cross your legs, pull your white robe’s hood over your head and begin to watch the greatest conflict. And the ancient chamber will fall into silence again, darkness stretching out everywhere as stars twinkle far above and the two gargantuan statues twist in eternal combat before you.

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