THE RELUCTANT SAVIOR
To save the universe, now that's noble.
To save yourself, now that's nobler.
Isn't it strange how sometimes the shifting shadows of fog form images that aren't really there? Or, are they? Staring into the mist, his mind wasn't convinced what his eyes were observing. As the shadows took on more shape, there was no denying that his mind must now agree with his eyes. She stood -- and it definitely was a she according to her shape -- looking tentatively around her, either for some sign that she was on the right path or possibly whether or not another shape might be lurking in the fog. Her attire was very much out of place for this day and time, at least according to this small Irish town and its Brigadoon lifestyle. Then her dark eyes looked directly at him. Eyes that spoke, even though she did not. Eyes that told him she knew him intimately, even though he was quite sure that they had never met. At least, not in his waking hours.
"I'm looking for Daniel . . ." she stopped and stared intently into his face as recognition began to form on her own. "Daniel Blake! It’s you, isn't it, Daniel?" Her voice had startled him in the silence, and for a moment he almost wasn't sure she was standing in front of him.
"Yes, I'm Daniel Blake. Forgive me, but have we met?" he asked as she approached with a look that revealed that at least she had been acquainted with him at some time. This made him feel uneasy. As if something was about to happen that could change his quiet life as a college professor forever. For a moment he wondered if this woman would reveal some past sin that had forever been erased from his memory. He did not recognize anything about her, but prior to coming to the university everything was a blank. All he knew was today and today he felt that the past was about to find him.
"You 're much older than I expected. I had forgotten that you could age," she said with a sadness in her voice. "You don't remember me, do you?"
"I'm afraid you have me at a loss, uh, Miss. ..?"
Not answering his question she spoke in a lowered voice. "Maybe if I tell you a story you'll remember. You've got to remember. We all need you," she replied with moist, downcast eyes that said more about their past than he was ready to hear, "and I need you the most."
Coming close to him and lifting her eyes for a moment, she stared off into the fog as if what she had to say was painful and difficult to speak of. Then, relaxing for a moment, she sat next to him on the cold, damp rock wall. Turning her face toward his, she studied his eyes as if by searching into his soul he would remember. It was no use. He was quite sure that he had never met her before and that made him feel even more uncomfortable, because he was convinced she knew him or at least of him.
Stammering because of his uneasiness he said, "You'll have to forgive me, but I don't have any memory before coming to this town. If you know, uh ...if you know something about my past then you'll have to tell me, even though I'm not sure I want to hear it. I can't help but feel that . . ."
"Do you remember the name Karrea?"
"Karrea. Karrea," he repeated slowly half to himself and half to her as he looked into her eyes hoping that by repeating the name something magical would happen and he would remember. It did sound somewhat familiar, but he couldn't remember where. Maybe one of his students had that name, he wasn't quite sure and anyway he knew for a fact that he did not have any memory of that name with this woman.
Not answering, he continued to look into her eyes while his mind began to create wonderful images of love with this mysterious lady. He only wished for a moment that somehow they were true.
"They told me you would not remember who you were," and then lowering her eyes again she whispered, "and that you would not remember me. I had hoped that by seeing me somehow you would."
"I'm sorry, but who is 'they'?" Standing quickly, he looked down at her with a demanding pose, hoping it would somehow intimidate her and allow him to take control of what was happening. But this was clearly a woman that was not easily intimidated. She didn't even look up but just kept speaking in a low voice. Losing his composure, he sat back down and listened.
"I'm not sure if telling you will bring back what you need to remember, but I'm desperate. All will be lost if you don't return to help us."
"Return where? Lady, I don't have a clue about what you are getting at."
Then she looked up again into the fog as she told an amazing story of kingdoms far across the galaxies. She spoke of great wars between a people that had never known war and an evil race that only lived for domination and enslavement. Her voice trembled, recalling the details as if they were still somehow present before her eyes. He wasn't sure what to think about this incredible fable. How could it possibly be true? Those things only happen in books and movies. Or do they? Studying her more carefully, he noticed that she continued to gaze into the fog as if expecting someone or something to burst forth and continue the great war right here before them. Her hands squeezed the damp rock wall so tightly that he half expected her to crush it in her grip. Something was out there, he could sense it now. But what? Her voice lowered again as she continued the tale. She spoke almost reverently of one who came from across the universe. A man who never intended be their savior, but found that only he and his great sword could fulfill the prophecy the ancients had written about so long ago.
"Now hold on, sister! You expect me to believe that this fairy tale actually happened? What planet did you fall off of?"
Turning slowly toward him and looking straight into his eyes until he was forced to look away, she spoke with a firmness that made him lean back away from her, "I didn't fall off any planet. I came here to get you to return. The war has begun again and we will all perish if you don't come back with me."
Again he stood and moved cautiously away from her, not knowing what lunatic asylum this beautiful lady escaped from. That was a problem in his mind -- she was beautiful and he had really hoped that she would have revealed that they were lovers and that now that she had found him they would live happily ever after. No such luck! This woman had to be certifiable and he knew that somehow he better get her out of here or something bad would surely happen. He felt uneasy again with his back to the fog, so he sat down on the wall a little further away from her than before.
Speaking softly again with her eyes pleading with his to believe her story, she continued. "The ancients told me it might be difficult for you to remember. They said it was written that if you choose to return to the home of your birth, you would have no memory of who you were and what you had done." She looked away as she continued to speak quietly. "And they said you would no longer be immortal. That," she stammered, ". ..that you would grow old and die, finally."
His mouth dropped open as she spoke those words. This lady really believed this stuff, he thought to himself. She thinks that I'm some long, lost immortal savior who's going to fly to god knows where and save the universe. Man, why did she have to be nuts! He knew that one of them needed a shot of reality, so turning to her he started to speak, but she stood this time and faced him with a tenderness in her voice she spoke.
"Daniel, I know when you chose to leave and return here that I agreed to let you go, and if it wasn't for the sake of the people I wouldn't be here now. You're the only one who can save us. I can't do it alone now; the forces are too strong. I know you left because the thought of being immortal was something you couldn't live with having been a mortal once. I've never had to deal with that; it's always been that way for me. I know nothing else, but you...you knew what it is like and you could not let that go. It was hard to understand, but I let you go and the ancients told us then if you chose to return here you would forever be mortal and would die. They told us that the only thing that could change that is if you chose to remember who you were by your own free will and once that happened you would never be allowed to become mortal again. Believe me, coming here was the last thing I wanted to do to you, but I couldn't let the people perish without trying. I beg you, please remember and return with me. Please!"
"I'm sorry, Karre. It is Karre isn't it? But, I...I just don't believe all that stuff about wars and saviors and especially the part about me being the one who saved a universe or planet or whatever it is that you say you came from."
"Do you still have your sword?" she asked.
Surprised by this question, he answered, "Why yes, I have an old Spanish sword that I evidently have had for some time. It's rather beat up with a few nicks here and there, but uh ...How did you know I had a sword? Is that how you know me? Does the sword have something to do with you and me? You see, I don't know where I got it from, and if you…"
Interrupting him she asked, "Does the handle end with a fist grasping a green emerald?"
"Why, ...yes. How did you know that?" Scrutinizing her, he wondered if maybe she had been in his home and that's how she knew about the sword. It was just an old sword that he had acquired from somewhere in his past, and when he had had it appraised he learned that it was a fifteenth-century Spanish sword, but that's all.
"Below the hilt what is inscribed?"
His eyes opened wide as he remembered now just where he had heard, or rather seen, the name Karrea. It was inscribed on the sword just below the hilt. Of course, if she had been in his home she could have seen the sword and just used the name to suck him into her delusion. Still, for a moment he actually thought wouldn't it be fantastic if everything she told him was true. Imagine going from simple university professor to savior of the universe -- or was it the other way around? Man, he thought, how could anyone want to give up being a universal warrior and immortal? She said that he had been immortal. Wait a minute! This was her fantasy, not his. He may not remember his past, but one thing he was sure of was that he wasn't any savior.
"Listen, I don't know how you know about the sword and what's written on it, but I think it's time you leave . . . please."
Rising and looking back into the fog again for something she said, "I'll leave, but before I do would you please offer me a drink of water? It's been a long journey," appealing to his chivalry, hoping he couldn't deny her request.
Tentatively he rose and asked her to follow him into the house. Mistake, he thought. He knew this was a mistake to let her into his house. As they entered he made a mental note just where the sword stood, leaning up against the wall just behind the front door. It was his only weapon and he might need it with this crazy woman.
Suddenly something threw him to the floor and came rushing into the house straight toward the woman who in a flash was drawing a large sword of her own from underneath her cloak. Raising it in defense against the creature that had entered his house, she yelled for him.
"DANIEL! YOUR SWORD!"
Instinctively, he reached for the sword that rested behind the door and in one swift motion from the floor to standing he had swung the great sword at its mark with tremendous innate ability. The creature lay before his feet, or at least half of it did. The other half was thrown across the room from the sheer impact of his motion. Standing erect and looking deeply into her eyes he said with recognition, "Karrea."
"You remember," she said as she stepped over the lifeless creature and into his arms.
Holding her and smelling the perfume of her hair in his nostrils all the memory of his past came flooding back to him in an instance. He remembered everything, especially his love for Karrea. The thoughts about the long wars they waged together as immortals against such beasts as the one laying before him came so quickly that he recoiled from her embrace and took a few steps backward. Horror and fear showed in his face as he stood trembling with a bloodied sword in his hand. Then looking from the creature to Karrea, he spoke. "Karrea . . . I . . . I'm sorry; are you okay?"
"Daniel, I'm the one who should be apologizing. I allowed that creature to follow me here. I knew that it was unlikely that you would remember, and so I led it here hoping that when it appeared you would instinctively remember. I know it was a risk and I shouldn't have, but I was desperate! I needed you to remember; I just had to try. I'm sorry, but we need you. I need you."
“You needn't be sorry. You only did what you had to. But, I. ..I just can't go back with you."
The words ran like shock waves through her senses. How could he say no after seeing her and remembering the love they once had for each other? And, not only that, how could he turn his back on the people? Surely he realized they would all perish without him? How could he possibly find this mortal life more desirable than immortality? Stepping toward him and touching her hand to his face, she pleaded with her eyes, searching for some rationale to his answer.
"Karrea, I know you don't understand. You didn't the first time I made this decision, but to return means that I will be immortal forever. I will never again be allowed to choose again. I'm not sure I even understand it all myself, but I've known what it is to be mortal, and I long to finish this life out this time. I want to grow old, and . . . and I want to experience death. So many have died because of me . . . ." Looking away from her gaze, he trembled with his next few words, "I . . . I just can't, I just can't."
"You know everyone will perish without you, don't you?"
"No, I won't, but who would be left to serve? I can't even return to you because I won't be able to watch you grow old and die, too."
"I'm sorry, Karrea. I really am."
"Me, too," she replied as she turned to the door and walked out into the fog.