(Or: China is a never-ending empty hole of nothingness and despairing misery.)
Kings and Emperors may build colossal monuments to themselves, and the poor may breed and spread their spawn in a vain hope to perpetuate their worthless genes, but ultimately all life derives from the sun. Glorious and magnificent, the sun treads the same slow path that it has carried out for millions of years, always burning bright and providing warmth and light for the billions of species that depend on it.
Yet, the only truth in this finite universe is entropy, and even the shining gods of the celestial heavens must one day burn out and extinguish. Ozymandias-like, all things must return to the vacuum from whence they came. When the great day finally comes, our Mother Sun will consume itself and leave nothing but a cold and empty void. Eight minutes of sunlight will be all the poor wretches of Earth have left once the sun disappears.
Eight minutes. The last dying rays of the sun will take eight minutes to race across the emptiness of space and reach our tiny insignificant home. Though the ignorant masses trapped within the confines of their own environment will not realise it, the sun that nourishes them will already be dead, and the warmth and comfort they enjoy for the moment will swiftly be replaced with an eternal and deathly darkness.
Eight minutes. Just as before, the gullible and the hopeful will pile away their savings into imaginary stock markets that cannot be seen or touched. The ancients prayed to the ephemeral gods of old, modern man prays to the equally ephemeral markets of now. They will cheat and lie and kill and steal, all for that extra ounce of gold that can be thrown into the stock market and hopefully multiplied into a fortune. They will dream of luxurious mansions and fast cars, each mansion and each car bigger and better than the one belonging to their neighbour whom they despise so very much. With each expected penny, the foolish and the boastful will thrust out their stomachs and proclaim their line successful for ten thousand generations. Yet, as they dance and sing amidst the bank queues and dream of perpetual profit, the darkness from the dead sun will be heading towards them with deadly certainty, destroying their naive delusions of grandeur forever. As the curtain falls, the poor will see their money become worthless first, but even the rich will find their fortunes useless when all surrounding life has died.
Eight minutes. The darkness will follow the light and will inevitably and eternally fall upon the Earth like a crushing blow. Unaware, and so blind to what is about to happen, the people below will boast and lie as they have always done before. In newspapers, journalists will talk of millennia old civilisation as if it was a never-ending concept that will expand beyond the stars. Using words which have been used countless times during the unoriginal history of man, they will hold up the supposed virtues of their hollow culture, oblivious to the fact that a few thousand years is nothing compared to the grandeur of infinity. On the Internet, the lonely and inexperienced will write out fantasies describing why certain groups of people are better than other groups of people, even though all of them are doomed to oblivion once the light ends. And in society, the greatest stage to which all humanity looks upon, great sporting events and performances will be held in futile defiance of fact. “Look at us!” The people will cry. “Look how wonderful we are! Look how strong and rich we have become!” Though the words will sound strong and confidant, they will be exposed as mere lies once the eight minutes have passed.
After eight minutes everything will come crashing down; finally and forever. But we will be blind to the fate approaching us, because we cannot see beyond the light we are already bathed in. As the eight minute deadline approaches, our brother planets of Mercury and Venus – symbols of Love and Communication – will have already been plunged into darkness and consumed by the void, even though some would argue that these two virtues ceased to exist a long time ago in certain areas of our own planet. And when the darkness falls, which it inevitably will, there will still be those who still seek to deny it. People will stand up and proclaim the blackness to be nothing but a temporary condition, or even a conspiracy created by bad elements in society or people from faraway countries. Some may even erect lights and lanterns in an effort to dispel the cold and dark from their homes, but eventually these too will fail as everything on the planet dies.
In some cultures, tomorrow literally means “a brighter day”. We assume that the light and warmth we enjoy now will always be delivered from that great fiery globe in the sky, that we as a race and the things we have created can only continue to grow in the endless brightness that we see all around. But one day, one inevitable and terrible day, the sun will stop shining, and we will only have eight minutes before everything we have created falls apart. The dark day is coming, and our bubbles will not protect us.