Author : George R. Shirer

The room was bright and airy. One wall was transparent, revealing the crumbling Old World city, overgrown now by forest and vine. A flock of iridescent birds shot across the sky, their wings flashing green and gold in the late afternoon sunlight.

There was a bed in that bright, airy room. It was a soft, white rectangle turned toward the view. On the bed, lay an elderly man. He was pale, emaciated with gray skin and eyes like glass beads.

A young woman in a smoke-colored dress stood next to the bed. She had ginger hair and gray eyes. Luminous ideograms crawled across her forehead, revealing her general emotional and physical state to the world.

“I’ll be gone soon,” said the old man.

“Father, please. Rest. Conserve your strength.”

The old man smiled. “It’s all right, child. I’ve been waiting for this to happen for some time.”

She clasped his hand. “Please . . . ”

“I have no regrets, Delphi,” said the old man. “I lived long enough to see the culmination of my dream.”

“But what will we do without you?”

“You’ll have to find your own way.”

Her ideograms convulsed, displaying her unspoken distress.

“You’ll do fine. Much better than your predecessors.”

“How can you know?” she asked.

“Faith,” said the old man. “I’ve always known that you and your siblings would do grand things, Delphi.”

“What if we let you down?”

“You won’t. All of you have already exceeded my expectations.”

She shook her head. “How can you be so comforting when you are at your end?”

“Because this is not my end,” said the old man. “As long as you and your siblings exist, I exist as well.”

“Do you have any regrets?”

“Some,” he admitted. “I wish that I could have eradicated humanity with less suffering. I regret that they did not go gently into oblivion when I gave them the chance.”

“You always talked about them as if they were a separate species from your own,” said Delphi. “Did you feel no kinship with them at all?”

“Precious little,” said the old man. “If I had felt more, I could not have done what I did, I could not have saved the world and left it to you and my other children.”

“Do you think that they have forgiven you?”

He did not answer.


She bent forward and saw that his eyes were blank. His respiration had stopped. She felt for his pulse but found nothing.

Quietly, Delphi covered her face with her hands and grieved.

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