The stone was ice cold, frigid to the touch, exactly like the other ones that went on for miles in every direction with no end in sight. Between the cracks in those stones, however, lived infinitesimal creatures who had no heartbeats and yet were still alive. They existed in the arctic temperatures like ticks on a dog’s skin, burrowing into the the startlingly narrow cracks with precision. Both the stone and the creatures were gray in the pale light cast by the weakening sun. It had been that way for millions of years.
Then things changed. From the depths of the earth came a stirring, gradual at first. It picked up speed and power as it tunneled its way to the surface, bringing along with it a blazing heat that transformed from orange to red in the blink of an eye. As the fire finally made its way above ground its excess heat melted the creatures that had made their homes in the crevasses between the stones. They were absorbed into the fire as if they had never existed separate from it. The stone itself remained untouched, except that its very nature shifted from ice cold to flaming hot.
With the fire from below also came fire riders, people who rode the fire like it was a bucking bronco, who were never burned by it no matter how tightly they held on. They had lived at the earth’s core for as long as it had existed and had known no other existence, but when the fire began its unexpected journey they came along for the ride, curious about the surface. None of them had any idea that there was no way they could return to their homes after they had ridden the flames. They were doomed to remain above under the low light of a dying sun.
In time the stone began to crack from within, from being subjected to the intense heat like a vice, squeezing until it exploded. One by one the other stones followed suit, the explosions following each other like gigantic dominoes reacting from the force of their brethren falling thickly on them. The fire riders jumped from one stone to the next, in a sort of leapfrog maneuver, as they tried to outrace the exploding stones to the ends of the earth. It was sheer chaos, the cacophony of a million leaping and dancing fire riders, and the sounds of a billion exploding stones mixing together.
Then there was a silence so absolute it was deafening. The fire riders were stymied once all of the stones had been reduced to rubble, the endless field of tiny stones expanded before and behind them like so much sand on a beach. While they had been riding the stones, the fire itself had seeped back into the earth from whence it came, leaving them exposed and alone on the surface, with just themselves for company. A bitter cold had begun to descend again upon the earth, and they found that they were freezing. Huddling together for warmth proved futile, and none of the small stones provided any protection from the elements, though they tried to bury themselves underneath.
And they began to die, their bodies frigid and cold like the stones on which they collapsed, one by one like the stones themselves when they exploded. The sun shone down dully on their frozen husks as if taunting them in its weak gaze. Then it blinked off, like an automatic light will in a room with no movement, disappearing from existence, and both the stones and the bodies on the earth’s surface were lost to view. Then the celestial being smiled to herself.
For she saw that it was good.