People are strange creatures. In so many ways, I wonder about our species.
I'm no one in particular, although there are people out there who would contest that claim. If I am anything, then I am a traveler. I have been so many places and the one thing that remains the same is the capacity for humans to surprise me. But those are stories already told; some are even correct.
No, this time I am the story teller, and I am telling you the story of people. Of what makes us human and what exactly we are trying to do here.
Many people know the start, or a start, I should say, of my story. I came from the city. It doesn't matter which one, they are all – functionally – the same. I left the city. It doesn't matter why, but I left. Took some of my things and started walking. Then came the talking.
There are people everywhere. It doesn't really matter where you end up, you will always find someone who will sit down with you and share stories. And that's what I did for years and years. Moving from town to village to town, and yes, every so often I managed to sneak into a city.
Unlike cities, every person is different. There is a master mold that cities are built around, but no template exists for people.
I'm back in the city I started from. Nothing here is familiar, and no one remembers me. Or, at least, they pretend not to. Probably for the best. I have a habit of irritating people who are in charge and that tends to get people who know me hurt.
My point is that this city has changed; and cities do not change. For example, it’s bigger. Now, this I did expect, to a point, whats unusual is that the buildings are all the same as they used to be. Sure, there are one or two new new ones, but for the most part, I can still tell which building is which. Bridges across the river are the same, just bigger. Like everything just grew while I was gone.
Well, almost everything. Every place I used to frequent; the apartments I called home; even the places I told no one about are all gone. Nothing of the life I lived before is left. I told you, I annoy people. And despite all this, it’s exactly what I wanted to see when I got back.
People forget things. You never really sit down and think about those things though. If you did, they wouldn't be forgotten. But think about how old you are. All those years. Every day going somewhere, meeting someone, seeing something. And most of it has evaporated from your mind like so much steam and unless there is something specific you keep to remind you of something, it’s more than likely to go.
The people of this city have got rid of everything to do with me. All they have left are stories. Exaggerations, embellishments. They've gone one step further than forgetting, they've turned me into a legend. Which means the real me, the me they did forget, can walk around this place unmolested. They're giving me everything I need to bring it all down around their ears. Again.
Things can be burnt, buildings can be razed but you can’t get rid of people. Those in charge need people, even the ones who disagree with them. And those, specifically, are the people I need to find. It’s harder than you'd think. Even though I've been gone for years there are still ‘sightings’ of me all over the place and the powers that be are still on edge. Apparently there is some story they tell of me returning to wreak my revenge on those who wronged me before. Imagine.
But that’s not really why I came back. If you want to know the short version, it’s because everywhere I went, I was reminded of all I had left behind. Everyone I had left behind. So here I am, back to find them.
Some of them are dead. Figures. Many are still locked away. Annoying, but understandable. Others want nothing to do with me or anything I represent, which is fair enough, I suppose. Obviously it’s those who are left I'm interested in. But there aren't many of them left. Which is fine by me. I'm a patient person. Plus it gives me a chance to check out all the new little hidey-holes that have sprung up.
People surprise you. They do things that you can’t expect while all the while just being the people you know that they are. Which is why I was so speechless when I came across the shrine.
It was at the end of an alley in a less than safe part of the lower city. My face, or what was my face back then, was painted across the bricks, with candles and other bits and pieces assembled around it. Cushions were arranged in front, as if this place was used often.
I was standing there, in awe, when she arrived. One of the few people I would have thought of as consistent, stable and one of the least likely to surprise me.
“I did this,” she said in lieu of a greeting. “You had to die for some of them to come over. Killed by those machines you promised to rid us of.”
“They are gone,” I reminded her, waving my arms around at the robot-less sky.
“They'll be back.”
“Maybe. Probably. But they know that you'll all rise up again, like last time, and take them down.”
“We don't have a leader though. We have no one to rally behind.”
“Sure you do. You have him,” I waved at the mural. “But that's the least of it. You have what we did last time, all of it. Rally behind that. We won, and you don't need a leader or a martyr to do it again. And besides, they have you. If you can do this, then you can do what I did.”
“But you're back.”
“Am I? I'm dead, remember? Most people have forgotten me. Some have forgotten the mood that made me who I was. I'm no good to you alive. I'm more than you need dead.”
“What will you do?”
“Watch. Listen. Like always, I’ll do what I need to do. You won’t see me again but I’ll be around.”