For five thousand years he had floated, balanced on the boundary of the real and the dream. Who am I? There were times when the question made no sense to him at all; and then there were those other times, when images came, pictures of a paradise so achingly real that he knew they must have been true once.
A meadow of gray-green grass. A breeze. A deep blue sky. A dark, mysterious sea. Clouds, too, silver clouds fringed with gilt and purple; the moon that danced and the moon that wept. A twisted tower wrapped in vines that writhed as they sucked the vapor from the rock.
Warmth. A warm body pressed against his. A warm feeling, racing through blood and tendon and tissue. A warm star bathing him in comforting radiance.
Where did these sensations come from? In the here and now, there was no warmth. The place he was in was cold. He knew it must be cold, even though he had no neurons with which to sense the cold; he had no bones to ache, no blood to freeze. But he still knew it must be cold, just as his barely conscious self was fueled by a memory of warmth, and he knew the absence of warmth to be called cold. He also knew he was not meant to remember this much.
A stern voice. It reverberated within what must be his mind. He knew that the voice was there to be obeyed, that he had been created and programmed solely to show obedience to that voice, and that terrible things would happen if he listened to the other voices, the voices of warmth and comfort. He no longer remembered what those terrible things would be. Surely there was no worse punishment than this -- eternal exile from the warmth.
Forget these images! Concentrate on what you are now! What are you? Say it! the voice intoned.
I am vengeance, he answered, I am death.
Death, said the stern cold voice. And what do you bring?
I am the bringer of darkness. For five thousand years that conversation had played itself over and over in the sterile wasteland that was now his mind.
And what else do you bring?
And what else?
But what was death? Was this not death already, this endless journey through eternal cold, this sterile emptiness?
And how shall death come?
But oh, he thought, how long until that fire? How long until that cataclysm shatters the frozen night? He longed for fire. Even though it might last only a minute before the end came, at least that fire would not be cold.
The fire will come soon enough, said the voice, at the end of the endless journey.
Once, he thought, I ran in the hills. The light of two suns -- a river of quicksilver -- the dark eyes of a soft-spoken woman, and --
I had a name once!
I think I can remember it -- I think I can --
No! If I could only find the name -- if only I could find the key to who I am again -- and who these voices are -- and -- r
Why? It will only give you pain.
But even pain would be better than -- nothing!
Forget, child. Forget.
He traveled on, dreaming of warmth. The warmth had a name, if only he could remember it -- he himself had a name, if only he could dredge it out of the darkness within.
Forget, said the voice.
I'm trying, he answered, believe me. Trying to forget.
Copyright © 2003 Paramount Pictures