"Hello, who am I?" said the naked man in the meadow. He looked around, and saw a naked woman nearby. "I mean, who are we?" He didn't even think to include the old man in robes, whom he was addressing. Somehow, he automatically knew he was separate, higher somehow. Someone who knew things. Which was why he was asking him.
"You are the first man and woman on this world. I, as you have already guessed, am God."
"Ah. It is an honor to meet you, I'm sure. But, I mean... why are we here? What are our names? What is the world? Um... and anything else you think we should know."
"As for your names, you may call yourselves whatever you like, or you may ask me to name you."
"Hmmm..." he turned to the woman. "What do you think, woman?"
"I... I think Bridget. How about you?"
"Uh... Connor sounds nice."
"Very well," said God. "Now, why are you here? Well, I'll tell you. I created you, and this world. I've done this sort of thing before, you know. I thought I was perfect, back then, and I've tried to keep up that image, back there on the other worlds I created. I've done so with mixed success. But I've realized that I'm not perfectly perfect. I do make a few mistakes, and I'm trying to learn from them. That's one reason I created this world. I'm trying to make a few less mistakes this time around. So I'm going to tell you more than I used to tell the first people of new worlds.
"Which brings me to what the world is, in fact. It's a planet, and it circles a star, and there's a moon that circles your planet, and there are other planets circling your star, some of which have one or more moons of their own. There are lots of other stars out there far, far away, and together they make up the galaxy. There are lots of galaxies that make up the Universe. But your kind won't have to worry much about all that for thousands of years, I expect. For now, the world alone is a very big place. The two of you will never see anywhere near all of it, but what little you do see will be enough.
"Your distant descendants, however, will spread out over most of the world, and explore all of it. This will take many generations, but it will be done. And eventually, after many more generations, your descendants will spread out across the star system, and later still the galaxy. Then they'll meet people from some of my other worlds, and that hopefully should make things a lot better for everyone.
"For now, though, just enjoy yourselves. Learn what you can. Start giving things proper names. Get to work on producing the next generation. If you ever have any questions, just ask me. Even if I'm not around, I'll hear you. And I'll probably answer."
"You say," said Brigitte, "that there are other people like us elsewhere in the galaxy? But we won't meet them? Why not? Hasn't it been long enough yet for some of them to start exploring the galaxy?"
"Yeah, well, it has. Some of them are already thinking about it. No one's out of their star systems yet, but they will be long before you. And they'll start settling colonies on uninhabited worlds around other stars. Maybe they'll even meet people from other places, but I'm doing my best to set things up so no one meets any aliens until they're ready. I might not be entirely successful about that, but at least I should be able to set things up so the general public doesn't find out that people have met aliens, before they're ready. And definitely, I have things set up so no one will find you for a couple thousand years at least. I may not be perfectly perfect, but I'm close. I've learned when sure is sure, and I'm sure of this. I mean it. Seriously, kids, no aliens will show up here for thousands of years. I'm God, dammit, and I make the rules. I mean it. Did I say that already? Yeah. Well, anyway, you get the drift."
God had been looking rather distant for a lot of that bit, his face was glazed over. Connor and Bridget got the eerie feeling that he was talking to someone else, though obviously there was no one about to hear him. Connor wondered briefly if there might be some sort of unseen spirits lurking about, things between man and god. He shuddered.
And decided to say something. "Um... yeah. God, hello?"
God shook his head. "What? Sorry?" He looked back to the humans, and they could see he was seeing them again. "Oh. Yes, sorry. Where was I? Oh. Uh... so anyway, was there anything else you wanted to know?"
"Well," said Connor, "I think it's kinda funny that we know how to talk. I don't know why that should seem strange. On a logical level, it seems... well, logical. But still..."
"You too?" asked Bridget. "I didn't want to say anything, but I did have this funny feeling about that..."
"Yes, well," said God, "that's as may be. But you do know how to speak. In fact, since I'm doing my best to save time here, I'll let you know how to write, too." And suddenly, they knew. "You're gonna have to go find your own ways of implementing the skill, though. You're clever kids, I've seen to that. I'm sure you'll figure something out."
"So," said Bridget, "what exactly is the world called? I mean, if there're more than one of them, we should have a name to distinguish ours."
"Like I said, you're going to have to start giving things proper names. I've already provided you with an automatic language, so you know what to call things generally. Specifics are up to you. You've already done alright with your own names."
Connor and Bridget discussed this for a few minutes. "We like the name 'Earth,'" they said together. Bridget continued, "I mean, I know it's a general word for the ground, but-"
God shook his head. "Already taken. In fact, that was one of my earliest worlds. Not quite the first, but close."
"Oh," said Brigitte. "Damn." Suddenly she reddened. "I don't know why, but I suddenly feel I shouldn't say that word."
"Oh, there'll be other words you feel that way about. Don't worry about it, they're just words, same as any others. On some worlds, people never did get to quite understand that, or most people don't. But their ideas of which words are bad keep changing. By the time they get over thinking of one set of words as bad, they've thought up another set. I've started you out in a late stage of that process. But please, don't worry about it so much. The only bad words are those which unwarrantably put others down."
"Why would anyone want to do that?" asked Connor.
God sighed. "The fault of some of my early mistakes, I'm afraid. Hopefully, it won't happen here. Of course, I suppose if you wanted to put someone down in jest, and they knew you were just joking and intended no harm, and they were okay with that, then you could do it. But as long as you don't do it seriously, and not if they don't want you to joke around like that."
"Okay," said the humans in unison.
"Now let me see, was there anything else? ...Oh, yes. Time. Try to keep proper track of it. People have had problems with that on other worlds. Messed it up badly, I'm afraid. Have you noticed that it's warm here, but not stiflingly so?"
"Yes," said Connor.
"Well, that's because I put you in a very nice part of the world. In some places, it will be always cold. In some places it will be sometimes cold and sometimes warm. Here, it will be always warm, pretty much. Maybe you'll have occasional bad weather, so you should see about setting up some kind of shelter for yourselves. You can wear clothes too, if you like."
"Clothes?" asked Brigitte. "You mean like you're wearing?"
"Yeah," said Connor. "What's the deal with that?"
"Again, one of my early mistakes. I didn't do a very good job of protecting worlds from corruption by certain outside forces. So I've instilled in you an innate sense of right and wrong, and a desire to do what's right. Not all of your descendants may feel that way, but most of them will at least understand the difference. And, I'm gonna try to be more accessible to you all, though I may have to phase out my visits in time. And, as I've said, I'm gonna let you in on more knowledge right from the start. For example, you're naked."
"I noticed," said Connor. "Is this a bad thing?"
"No. But people on most other worlds have a problem with public nudity, so you might as well get used to it, because you will meet them someday. Besides, clothes do have practical uses. They can protect you from the elements, which will be especially important in bad weather, which your descendants will see more of when they explore the world. They can be fashionable. They can... well, you'll see. They're not too important yet, but I know you'll get to appreciate them, or future generations will, anyway.
"But back to my original point. The weather. It's nice here, but elsewhere in the world, it is quite cold right now. It's the middle of the winter, the first month of the year. I've set things up so that most of the big time periods will be the same on each world- day, week, month, year, and so forth. You can break the day down however you like, but most people like to call smaller units hours, minutes, and seconds. Someday your descendants will find uses for smaller units still, but for now, seconds will do.
"And, I've started the year off in the same place they do on other worlds. Which is a somewhat illogical time, I'll admit. I'd rather start the year at the start of spring, but, this will someday be more convenient, for interstellar relations." And at this, God chuckled. "These similarities of time, as well as certain other things I'm setting up, will have to seem more than coincidence when people from different worlds meet, and help them straighten religion out.
"Anyway, you can name the months if you like. I've already named the seasons for you. Like I say, it's currently the middle of winter, and the first day of the first month of the year. You'll have to number the days and months and years. This year is One. Keep track of that. Don't mess up the numbering of the years, whatever you do. It always causes such headaches and debates when that happens."
"Okay," said Connor, "we'll keep it straight."
"Good. I can't tell you how relieved I am. If you do keep it straight, I should be able to set things up so that someday people from other worlds can properly retrace their own histories, based on the age of your world- you still haven't named it, have you?- to figure out exactly when each inhabited world was created. Some have already tried that sort of thing based on other things, and sometimes they come close, but they're never perfectly accurate."
"Well, we should get to thinking about a name for this place," said Bridget.
"Okay," said God. "I'll leave you to that. If you ever have any questions, just call me. Especially if anyone ever shows up wanting to talk with you, and it isn't me."
"I thought you said no one would be here for thousands of years." said Connor.
"People, aliens. They won't."
"Are there other natives of this world, elsewhere?" asked Brigitte.
"No, not yet," he said, smiling. "You're half right, Connor, more or less." And with that, he disappeared.
"What did he mean by that?" asked Bridget.
"Spirits, I imagine. I was thinking about that earlier. Things between man and god. Well, we'll see about that someday."
"Okay. Well, let's get to work on shelter and words and stuff."
"Okay. And we should get to know each other. And ourselves."
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