|The little lamb cocked its head and looked at the sheaf of wheat in my hand. It ran forward, eager for a nibble. I held out the food and two adult sheep gobbled down a helping. Hearts floated above their heads before they merged. After a moment another lamb poofed into being and joined the group.
"Ever wonder why it happens that way?" Steve asked, sidling up next to me. He leaned against the fence and watched as the sheep pressed close. I stuffed the food in one of my pockets and the animals turned their backs, losing interest in us.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
Steve gestured at the sheep. "The way they spawn. Feed 'em a little and a new baby is born. And then there's this world. The mountains, the lakes, the caves, the skeleton archers, and zombies..." he trailed off.
I shrugged my shoulders. "Well, someone must have designed it all, I guess."
Steve rolled his eyes."You honestly think "someone" would be creative enough to invent a square sun? Or cobblestone that floats in the air when the blocks beneath it are removed? I mean, c'mon Alex, some of the laws of physics here are just plain insane!"
"It works, doesn't it?" I frowned as we walked back to our brick home. It had taken days to gather the clay, burn it into bricks using the coal we'd mined, and then craft it into blocks for building. The house was one of our greatest accomplishments.
"Besides," I pushed open our door and ran to a wooden chest to pull out an iron hoe, "The Programmer must have wanted it this way for a reason."
"You believe there's a Programmer?" Steve scoffed
I jogged out of the house to our garden. Steve caught up and silently watched as I swung the hoe, scratching out the top layers of the grass blocks. I could tell he was trying to hold his tongue. As the sun started to set I started dropping potatoes onto the squares of soil.
"So..." I tentatively glanced at Steve, "Where do you believe we came from, if not from a Programmer?"
Steve rubbed his hands together with glee, "I thought you'd never ask! You see, sixty-five thousand, five hundred thirty-five days ago there was a special block of TNT that was so small, you couldn't see it."
I cocked an eyebrow at him and Steve held up a hand to stop my protest, "Hear me out, Alex. All this happened before redstone existed. The TNT interacted with itself and exploded in empty space, creating lava. At first, there was nothing living in the lava, but then a Blaze bubbled out. After one hundred and twenty-seven days the Blaze morphed into an Enderman and the Enderman layered the blocks for our world."
My jaw dropped, "Enderman. And TNT."
"And pigs," Steve nodded, "Our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom are pigs. If you go to the Nether--"
I shuddered, "I refuse to go there again, Steve--"
"--then you'll see the last remnants of our common ancestors."
"Are you talking about the zombie pigmen?" I gasped.
"The evidence is there," Steve grunted.
Darkness had fallen while we were talking and a spider chittered from behind us. I pulled out an iron sword and Steve yanked out a bow from his backpack. Notching an arrow, he aimed into the glowing red eyes of the monstrous arachnid and let the projectile fly. The arrow hit the mark and the spider screeched and flashed red. Another arrow flew as the spider launched itself at us.
"Missed!" Steve cried.
"Yeah, but I won't!" I yelled back and brought the sword down on the spider's face. After two strikes it poofed out of being, leaving only a string of web to prove it had ever existed.
A zombie groaned and Steve and I exchanged glances before high-tailing it back to our brick fortress.
"That was close!" I huffed. Steve threw three sheaves of wheat from his supply onto our crafting table and pulled out a loaf of bread. He tossed it to me with a grin.
"Thanks," I chomped off a bite and tossed it back to him. I could immediately feel my health improve.
"So..." I bit my lip, "Your ideas on how this world came to be..." I trailed off, uncertain how to proceed.
"Yeah?" Steve looked up from the crafting table where he was merging two fishing poles to create one with higher health.
"Well, it seems unduly complicated. I mean, minuscule TNT somehow explodes by itself. No redstone anywhere around! And then lava appears out of nowhere. A Blaze somehow comes into existence and its coding completely changes into that of an Enderman...." I shook my head, flabbergasted. "It's just so...complex."
Steve frowned and stuck a piece of coal in our furnace. Throwing a couple of raw chickens above the coal, he set the meat to cooking.
"It's a lot more plausible than an 'intelligent Programmer' generating everything. Forgive me, Alex, but that idea is pretty simplistic. Besides, how do you know he or she exists? Have you ever seen him?"
"I don't have to see him to know he's there, Steve. All it takes is a good set of eyes to understand that all this stuff couldn't have just 'blown up' into life!"
Steve tucked the cooked chickens into our trunk and slammed the lid shut.
"I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree, Alex."
I smiled and patted his arm. "Sure, Steve."
With that, we hopped into our respective beds. I closed my eyes but a growl from outside the window startled me awake.
"There are monsters nearby," I sighed, "I guess we won't be getting any sleep tonight."
Steve sat up in his bed and cocked an eyebrow at me, "So," he chuckled, "Since we have a few minutes to kill before dawn...what do you believe about the Aether...?"