Anticipation of the Night
Daniel K. Appelquist
Satan, the wiles of the immaculate beast return yet to further trouble my already derided spirit. And what should I have expected, I in my innermost protected sanctum, the fire light of those withered memories casting a pale black shadow upon my craggy pock-marked face.
It was only here, in the tower I created with my own pride, my foolish arrogance, that I felt truly safe, and it was here that the battle over my soul, having been planned and replanned for centuries, was finally fought, and lost. I say this in no uncertain terms, mind you. I have succumbed to that hate, that uncontrollable desire to which all pretend innocence. I have made my peace with it and in doing so I have surrendered, the half-truths of my life becoming full lies, at least now honest in their untruthfulness. I look upon others, those who pretend an existence apart from evil, apart from that which controls, that which contorts, and I laugh. In a corner of my heart I long for that time, the time of ignorance, of blindness punctuated by a joy so foreign to me now that I think I would not recognize it, or would mistake it for pain or anguish.
Call me, then, Jeremiah. I am a man, and yet my heart is the heart of the beast, the heart of the man before Man. My only hunger now is the burning Lack, that which drives me on to commit atrocity after atrocity in hope of fulfillment. The time of my mortal hunger has long passed. My corporeal nourishment provided to me by mechanisms and bodily subterfuge, I cheat Death of her prize quite glibly. Mine is the best life money can buy.
Ah Death, how fair you are, and yet how you must despise me for putting off our wedding date so rudely and so often. We will be joined, Death, you and I -- but not yet. I have a little business to attend to first.
And so in the first year of this, a new eon on Earth, I sit, awake, for, in this state, even sleep is robbed from my hardly human body. They come to me, my minions, my demons, and show me things, proofs of their atrocious acts, their foulness reeking through my mind as their memories become absorbed into my own. For them, I have become a bank, a God, and father confessor, rolled into an incongruous one. How they must revere me, my minions. They come to me to deposit their memories, and by doing so to share their experiences, thus to make each act they commit sacred in some small way. A link -- to transcend prayer, talk, all earthly modes of expression and cut to the quick. In the instant I sense their waking thoughts (unable to truly break through, to take ACTION!) I become more than myself, and I sense them becoming part of me, their life stories only sub-plots of my own. Perhaps some of them think they control me, perhaps they think they use me for their own purposes, but in their hearts, they fear.
'Jerem', they call me: 'The Reawakened'. My throne, a bed where my wasting body, beyond atrophy, sits vestigially, omnipotent. From there, I sit and relate to them visions of times long past, of things long forgotten; of days when men of power, ruling with steel fists, would stare eye to eye, knowing that even a flinch would silence a million voices, even the memories of whom would be reduced to a puff of smoke. There were such men, and I was among them. My memory of those days is crystal clear. I can lose myself in those memories and I often do, letting the players of my mind act out scenes from my past. It is only the most recent of memories that I now find strangely obscured, no doubt the product of my decrepit brain -- ah what a fair instrument you have been.
Some have said that the Brain is not the true center of one's soul; that in this explanation there is no beauty, no harmony to show God's divine influence. They know nothing. Within the beautiful symmetry of the Brain is the ability to have such thoughts, such awful, grinding examples of mortality, that even I have been loath to look upon them. I have known Brains, oh yes. So many that they defy counting. The myth of the mind, that attempt by man to raise his faculties above the level of a simple chemical reaction, beyond nerve and synapse, is his last, greatest lie to himself. There is no mind, only the Brain, that juicy repository of all that makes us truly and grittily human, even to the last.
It is not man we are truly searching for but the image of man, which is embellished within our consciousness through re-telling and re-telling. It is that archetypal hero for which we forever search, unable to come to terms, finally and satisfactorily with the idea that he does not exist, or has died away. In the time of death, perhaps, we come to this realization and grasp for life to be reborn into this new knowledge, but by then it is too late, the dying embers of our past cannot kindle anew the fire of our forbidden future. We are consigned to once more trace the same circle, forever going back and forth without ever truly knowing ourselves or those around us. For all real purposes, blind, deaf and dumb.
In my false death, my trickery, I have surpassed that terrible knowledge. I no longer search for man or for any sort of earthly fulfillment, save the one single sinking Purpose. See them gather around me in futile hope that they might absorb a measure of greatness, of ultimate power: my acolytes, my priests.
Once, I was possessed of earthly flesh, but that flesh has melted away. It exists, and yet it does so only as a convenience. Once my emotions were such that oftentimes I would close my eyes and weep inwardly, or smile the smile of true happiness. There is nothing that delights me now. I remember when I awoke, after they had taken my body from its cryogenic crypt. "Lead us," they had pleaded, those elite, those men of power. "Bring us power, for in the ways of distrust, we are mere pupils. You are the professor-professor."
I resented them at first. I thought them mad to bring me back. I did not want this Godhood that was being foisted upon me, so fresh out of the grave. But it was too late. I had been deified long before my awakening. I remember my morbid fascination with the texts that described my deeds of life. How inaccurate they often were, and sometimes how stunningly correct. They knew truths that had been kept, I thought, only between myself and my own inner confessor, but of my own inner thoughts they knew nothing. Thus my re-awakening, my bane. That I should have been brought back into this world, this never-ending pain.
How I resisted, then, and how they fought me. They did not ever openly oppose me, but their expectations were a ladder, each rung bringing more protestations, yet still leading downwards into unknown abysses. I know now that I was true evil from the moment lucky sperm met unexpectant egg.
And then, resigned to a life such as they had planned, I resolved myself to change this world, this ruined landscape of man's blind stupidity. "Has man not reached the stars?" I asked them in my foolishness. "A foolish dream." they replied. "The planets, then, what of the colonies, teeming with fresh insight, noble spirit and purpose," to which they replied "there never were such places. There never was such a spirit." And in that moment, I despaired. I thought then, in my ambition, that I would bring about a change, a tornado of progress that would shake the foundations of the earth. I was, instead, drawn into the whirlpool of an ever decaying, dead planet.
Now, my minions leave my fatherly care, to destroy, to rape whatever still exists in this filthy, dying world, to release the dragons. Ah, my sweet Delores, if only you could see me now. When I killed you I kept you with me throughout all time, forever reinventing your immaculate psyche. Now they release the Gorgon. Split the fragile egg of your own birthplace. Return its dust to that which, in a child's breath, created all that now is. I know you truly, now, Death. I am your angel. Encircle me with your eager arms and let us embrace.
Daniel K. Appelquist (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an Internet publishing trailblazer. He created Quanta, the on-line magazine of Science Fiction, in 1989. He lives in Washington, D.C.
InterText stories written by Daniel K. Appelquist: "A War In the Sand" (v1n1), "Anticipation of the Night" (v1n1), "Multiplication and the Devil" (v2n1), "A Handful of Dust" (v2n1), "Tracks" (v4n3), "In VR" (v5n1).
InterText Copyright © 1991-1999 Jason Snell. This story may only be distributed as part of the collected whole of Volume 1, Number 1 of InterText. This story Copyright © 1991 Daniel K. Appelquist.