Witness the Ending of Alien Civilization in '500 Apocalypses'

"Our world," says entry 216, "is haunted by a billion stories." This game has 500, each about the death of an alien world.

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Dec 9 2016, 8:30pm

It is a strange artifact, the Encyclopedia Apocalyptica. Nobody quite knows where it came from, or how its contents are assembled. 

Nobody knows why entries continue to pour into it. Astronomers on Earth discovered it, apparently, in deep space, and it has taken "decades" to even work out how it can be interacted with.

This is what we know. It contains descriptions of apocalypses of all kinds, and the locations of the planets where they took place. And in the "memorial" of 500 Apocalypses, a game by Phantom Williams, visitors can browse through a neat five hundred of them at their leisure.

"Neat" is a word I've chosen carefully. The memorial is presented as a gigantic cascade of white dots, forming patterns and shapes and lines. They are regimental. Some of them are blue, and it is these 500 that are accessible as part of the memorial.

What is there to say? Each blue dot is the end of something. There are no beginnings in the Memorial, or none that I have found anyway. Five hundred is a very large number, it is a very large number of endings.

I can only manage ten entries at a time. I come back to the memorial every few weeks and grasp at another ten. I have never seen the same entry twice.

If I were to read one of them a day, make a ritual out of it, I would finish in the April of 2018. Perhaps it would be getting a little warmer as I read the final entries. I would have seen worlds end five hundred times.

Let's go through ten endings now, together:

A failed ritual, fire. Falling into a well. War. The earth becoming sky. [This one upset me, and I don't want to write it down]. The sun, burning. Music. Three children bring destruction.

Forty nine buried bodies.

Entry 114 reads, in its entirety, "She wept to see the king dressed in rags."

The memorial of 500 Apocalypses was built by Phantom Williams, and you can visit it for free right here.