A long time ago when all the worlds were new and your grandparents were yet young, there was a speck of gold.
It rests on a black disk the size of your hand. The disk is so dark you really can’t see it. There are voids in the modern universe, billions of light-years across, so profoundly empty and vast the surrounding galaxies cannot be seen within them. This disk is dark like that, a hole in the light surrounding it, finely made. You cannot tell if there is even a substance here.
If you reach out to touch it, will your finger touch a surface or disappear into a depthless void? It doesn’t matter, because the darkness holds in its unfathomable abyss something indescribably beautiful yet so tiny you really can’t see it.
One hundred and eight micrograms of gold, because such a particle flew away as stardust from a hypernova, traveled through space for a near-eternity, and then traveled through time for a near-eternity, and found itself enshrined in the altar of an ancient world where all the worlds would be born anew.
Were it not for the perfect blackness of the disk, the speck would be invisible. The disk rests on an altar so brilliant that a human cannot look upon it, or even stand next to it, without bursting into flame. Perhaps with the right sunglasses and a body made of liquid gold bound in its shape by love, you might resolve the details carved into this beautiful altar. Let’s say you’ve made the proper arrangements.
The altar is made of diamond, but there are no flat facets directing the light within to sparkle with polygonal flashes and fragments of rainbow, as a diamond on our world might have. Nothing so crude can be found here. Every curve, every angle, every detail is smooth and organic, yet calculated with precision and shaped with love. There are no shadows. There are no breaks, no imperfections, no occlusions of one thing by another. Wherever you stand the light passes through every aspect of the altar, focused and shaped by each diamond it passes through, until you see breathtaking universes refracted in every direction you look—even your gaze is drawn with gentle but irresistible force to some new perspective of beauty.
There are scenes here, shaped in diamonds and painted in the images of light dazzling in your eyes. You have no hope of viewing this Treasure without your heart bursting into flame, without your eyes filling with their own light and adding to the radiance of this glorious place—with a bit of extra shimmer because white-hot tears have flowed from your heart to your eyes like a rising tide.
You cannot speak to describe what you see; no words or song could paint the scene. Every atom of diamond here, arranged billions of years before or after (it doesn’t matter anymore) was placed specifically to direct the light to you, a luminous joy that enfolds the most precious memories and dreams and desires you’ve ever had across all your existences.
The architects knew exactly what they were doing when they created this place to make love to you, turning the light into a secret caress that no one will ever experience besides you at this precise moment. When you blink, or your liquid gold shifts just a little, the altar is built anew from starlight, from carbon ash and fusion trash, and your perception flows into another perfect experience of beauty and love.
If given the chance, you would remain here forever, merging into the altar’s exquisite stories with no thought to any other existence, and the architects knew of this possibility and built a failsafe. After a few centuries of delicious contemplation, you find the diamonds gently directing your gaze toward the little black disk—which somehow has always been part of the story this whole time but so perfectly integrated it didn’t even seem important to regard separately. But now you look at it, smiling at the soft touch, like a hand gently turning your head toward some beautiful thing you had not yet noticed.
In the very center of this void, you see the speck of gold that you have mostly forgotten in your rapture. It reflects the brilliance here like a star despite its smallness. This is why you came—no matter the ecstasy of diamonds.
The unique quantum properties of its constituent atoms normally paints gold a recognizable yellow, but you cannot see that here. The particle is microscopic, much smaller than a sand grain, and the light is just too intense and does not peak in the visible spectrum. Human eyes would see blinding violet in that moment before they burst into flame and rejoined the cloud of smoke that had once been a body.
You smile and caress your form of liquid gold, your hand melting into your chest like a river flowing into a sea. Even this body dissolves in the waves of light and needs to be created anew with every beat of your flaming heart, every drip of your tears that flow from you like the tide. The speck draws your attention now and holds it, and you stare with gentle amazement that something so tiny is so unaffected by the intensity of the surrounding environment.
You cannot sit because the altar rests not on ground but ripples of light—more diamonds perhaps, but an allotrope never seen elsewhere in the universe. It is like an ocean of liquid clarity, transparent as a still mountain pool undisturbed by the slightest wind, and you cannot tell its depth.
If you reach out to touch it, will your finger touch the bottom or disappear into a depthless void? It doesn’t matter, because the water holds in its unfathomable abyss something indescribably beautiful yet so evanescent you really can’t see it. And besides, you’re here to see the one hundred and eight micrograms of gold.
Since you cannot sit without getting drawn into the beautiful dreams flowing across the sea, you rise and enfold yourself into a comfortable, meditative seat. You create a lotus throne of your substance, a little cup of chai to rest in one hand and a mirror for the other since you’ve only bothered to make two just now. You sip the honeyed sweetness of the drink, an enrapturing flavor and fragrance that you spent eons perfecting, and when you are finished, you look in the mirror.
The things you have created—teacup, mirror, throne, body—all dissolve together into a perfect golden sphere. Upon the surface are all the images cast upon you by the diamonds, a blissful answer to the love that created this place. In this form you float over the altar, center yourself above the disk, and gaze down at the speck of gold.
You let your focus be drawn to the tiny perfect light in the center of the disk, so small you cannot tell if there is a shape or form. Is it a lumpy little nugget or a fractal tree of branching metal wires, or a perfect golden sphere? Drawn by happy curiosity, you let yourself shrink smaller and smaller, getting closer to the microscopic light.
The void eclipses your view of the altar below, but it doesn’t matter. Above, you see transparent stalactites of exquisite tapering, reaching shapes, seemingly trying to lay their fingertips upon the altar in reverence. Their forms have nothing to do with stone or dripping water, though—like everything else here they are diamond and you think perhaps they melted into place. And you are right. The intense light also fills the ceiling with a blaze of fiery purple. It is just so bright that this measureless cavern—perhaps kilometers, perhaps megameters—cannot dim the light of the Star above, only turn Her image into an endless shimmer through the ceiling.
The stalactites slowly drip molten diamonds and light.
Your gaze returns to the disk below that swallows all the light shined upon it, and for a moment you’re puzzled. The speck of gold still illuminates the cavern most brightly with its glorious reflection of the Star’s light—but for some reason you can’t see it anymore.