A group of soldiers are in the room; not noticing the one man who
was staring out the window.
He was old, not in body, but in mind. Two years in a never ending
war will do that to you; the images of the dead and the smell of
blood, of decay and death, will ravage your brain, show up in
your sleep, and conquer your dreams, until you are a beaten soul,
overpowered by your very thoughts. While his physical form was
robust and young and strong, his eyes were as ancient as the
crumbling pyramids of Egypt.
The soldier would spend his days gazing out of the window,
stationary, and unmoving. While the other recruits (his age, yet
so much younger than him) would talk and laugh and socialize, he
sat alone, and away. Sometimes, a Rubik's Cube would occupy his
hands, but he never played with it, never even glanced at it.
Instead, his brain was filled with thoughts about the universe.
For war, with all its death and ironic glory, made you stop, and
really, truly think. Many philosophers have puzzled about the key
to the universe, but none were as close to the truth as the ones
who had killed for their country, who had seen people blown to
bits and eradicated within seconds.
He thought about the world, even as he fought on the battlefield;
even when blood saturated the ground and seeped into the holes in
his boots. It was the only thing that kept him sane, although in
a way, he was already crazed. When he was young, he was outgoing
and kind and sociable; now, he was cagey and crafty, his
movements jerky and quick and furtive. Sometimes, when he put his
Cube down, his hands would twitch and wriggle and squirm as he
thought and thought and thought.
The other soldiers would stare and point at him, talking behind
his back, but he didn't mind. For him, they did not exist any
longer. They were simply the others, not important, not
even substantial. In fact, all humankind had ceased to exist, and
in his mind, there was only him, and the universe danced before
his eyes, even while he slept.
One day, a new soldier walked up to him. He talked for a bit, but
the man just stared at him dumbly, for his thoughts were beyond
mere words and sentences and communication. Finally the
(for that was all he was, an other
pointed at the Rubik's Cube, and the man stared at the toy in
amazement, as if he were seeing it for the first time. Then, his
war-wizened hands closed over it, pulling it towards himself,
protecting it from the other.
As soon as the other had walked away, the man pulled
out the Cube immediately, his eyes bright and shiny and
feverish with an unknown light. His hands moved, as if
possessed, and he slowly and surly twisted and turned the
interlocking pieces of the Cube. Little by little, the colors
matched with each other, until he sat, stunned, with a
completed Rubik's Cube in his hands.
He stared at it for a moment, his mind working quickly. And
suddenly, he understood. This, this, was the key to
the universe! Yes, the universe was exactly like the Cube! The
universe was a brightly colored object, and it was for someone
else's amusement. It was a toy, yes, of different pieces, ever
changing, never truly matching, every square a different shade.
It all made sense to him for a moment, and then it didn't. And
then he understood, and then he couldn't possibly explain it.
And he laughed and laughed and laughed, laughing at the
universe and at death and then lights danced before his old,
old eyes, and he was laughing as he embraced them, laughing,
A group of soldiers are in the room; not noticing as the one
man who understood the universe simply… disappeared.