Sunday, May 24, 2015
Last of the King's Men, Chapter 40
First, there was nothing. Not silence, not darkness. Nothing.
Then, there was a presence. A consciousness. It became aware of itself, but only in the loosest capacity. It was unsure of time because for it, time did not yet exist.
Then came the pain. The pain was endless. It was eternal. It was an entire universe and it was everything that ever was.
The presence felt the pain. It could not scream because it had no mouth. The pain brought with it a brightness. It could not shield its eyes from the brightness of pain because it had no eyes and it had nothing to shield them with.
Eventually the presence began to accept the pain. The pain, powerful as it was, became the standard on which the presence learned to base all else.
Once the pain was accepted, the presence grew. It could not move because there was nowhere to move to. It became more aware of itself. It developed a memory, a mind, and a voice.
At first its memory held nothing but the pain. The pain never rose, never fell, never wavered; it was difficult to judge time. But it felt the passage of time, whether it understood or not.
The presence began to think. It knew, somehow, that there was a time before the pain. Before the pain was nothingness. But even before the nothingness was something. It was unsure of just what could have been before the nothingness.
The nothingness knew that it had a name. It did not quite understand what a name was, but it knew that it had one. It had a name, a home, and a life.
What was life, it wondered? If it had life in the time before the nothingness, what did it have now? What would it have in the future? Future was still a difficult notion to accept. The pain would certainly be in the future. The pain was still there, as strong as ever. The pain was a constant reminder of the here and now.
A word, if it could be described as a word, flickered through the presence’s mind.
What was death? Was death like life? Did the presence have a death like it had a life?
Was the pain death? Or was the pain life?
The presence remembered a world. It did not yet understand what a world was. But the world was still out there, separate from the pain. The world was before the nothingness. Maybe the pain was life. Maybe the world was death.
The presence remembered fear. It feared pain, but now pain was all. Pain was eternal. What was there to fear about pain?
It also feared death. It had feared death, but it knew that it had experienced death. If it understood what death was, it would have questioned how one could remember death if death was what death is. But it did not yet understand death. Death had brought the pain, the presence remembered- but wasn’t there also pain before death?
The presence became more tolerant of the pain. If the presence did not focus on it, the pain did not exist. It was always there, but it did not exist.
Filtering out the pain, the presence began to hear without ears and smell without nose. The sounds and the smells were familiar. They triggered memories- actual, formed memories- that the presence knew to be from before the pain, before the nothingness.
The presence was in its home. Its home was gone- it somehow knew that- but the presence was there. The smells and sounds told the presence that it was hiding. It was hiding, in a safe place. People- what were people, it wondered- passed by its hiding place, unaware. It knew that the hiding place was safe. It could hide. It could crawl- it didn’t know what crawling was- into its safe place. The people would just pass by.
The presence remembered the hiding place. It knew that the hiding place was gone- it remembered a fire. It did not know what fire was- when it tried to remember, it felt only pain. The fire tried to destroy the hiding place. Yet here it was. The presence was safe. It would stay in the hiding place forever.
Time passed. The presence could recognize the passage of time now. The pain, although eternal and ever-present, was now the presence’s companion.
The presence already had companions, before the nothingness. Would they find him? Would they find him in his hiding place?
He could hear them coming. The hiding place began to fade. The pain was growing. The hiding place was leaving him. Someone was coming. The pain was growing.
He couldn’t hear or smell the hiding place anymore.
The pain was growing.
He was remembering his name. He was remembering his life.
The pain was growing.
He was being called. His friends were calling.
The pain was growing.
Artemis, wake up.