Here I lie in this hospice bed waiting for my death. Life transition HDs constantly hum about me, temporally prolonging organs that should have long since betrayed me. My chest hurts, and an HD does something to help my rasping lungs. My back hurts, and another HD does something to aid my failing kidneys. My head hurts, and yet another HD provides something to soothe my comatose like mind.
Throughout my long and blessed life I have been at the bedside of many that have died. I have often wondered about their thoughts and how their souls felt as it sloughed off the final restraints of mortal life.
My name is Tom. Tom Anderson. And I have accomplished only one significant thing in my life; the creation of the base program that allows HDs to bond with humans. In this single contribution I find great pride. It is my only achievement outside of my marriage worth telling. But strangely enough, I cannot take full credit for the interface program, nor can I generously bestow it to my beloved wife solely. The true credit of this revolutionary accomplishment of man-machine interface forever linked to my name, truly belongs to a strangely compelling woman, and her example of an unyielding and complete love of another. She has no doubt touched millions in a similar fashion as she touched me. Let me tell you of Areum, the Elder Immortal, through my dying eyes.
It was 300 years ago and I had just met my true love Lisa Bredergant. I was beginning my first year of internship at the small, but very cutting edge company called ManMachine Industries (MMI). For my first job I was given the opportunity to write the base code for the new HD 101 series. I eagerly jumped into my job working sixteen hours per day, seven days a week. My fleeting spare time was spent with Lisa or sleeping, or maybe the reverse.
In three month’s time I had accomplished what a team of ten engineers could not do in two years. I was hailed as a prodigy in organic machine interfaces, given a corner office, a large promotion to include my own division, and I hadn’t even reached fifty years of age. My meteoric rise into management was unheard of in that time, especially within MMI.
Ten years from that momentous achievement, I sat in a park across from the Museum of Natural History in New York, waiting for my beloved Lisa while watching all the people amble about with their HDs in tow. I loved to people watch, and I loved museums.
It was then that I saw the strangest thing; I witnessed two people walking with only one HD accompanying them. They casually made their way up the center steps of the great museum hand in hand in deep educated conversation. I was so taken aback that I swiftly left my perch and ran to catch up to them. I finally got inside the museum, and caught up to them.
“Hey, you.” I called and they both turned simultaneously amidst the shushing of the museum staff.
“How is it that you are accompanied by only one HD?” I asked.
“Only one stayed with us,” the man said with a smile. His wife stood silently smiling at me as well.
“The HDs arrive every day, sometimes more than once a day after the preceding one explodes,” the woman said.
“Explode! HDs do not explode!!” I answered incredulously.
“But they do child,” said the woman her continence of such peace that I could not even begin to argue with her, let alone feel any ire with this absurd conversation.
“Show me.” I said.
“Very well, follow us.” The man said.
“I am Ammon, and this is my true companion, Areum.”
Areum smiled at me, and my heart was filled with such happiness. I will never forget the peculiar words Areum spoke to me that day. So strange, initially, I was thinking about HDs, not lovers, as Areum spoke.
“I am known as the true companion, the ever faithful, the enricher of life, the one who brings to completion, the joy, and the blessing personified.”
As she completed the extensive definition of herself, we had entered into a relatively quiet section of the museum. Areum took ten brisk steps away from Ammon and the HD followed for five of those paces, shook suddenly, turned from a normal green status to an amber warning state, then to a red critical grade, and exploded.
I stood there, aghast! Looking at the two of them and listening to a few screams from passersby.
“How could that be? How is that possible?” I queried, as my beloved Lisa approached from behind and took my arm. We usually held hands but rarely did she take my arm in such a loving fashion, her breast held snuggly and warmly against my upper arm. I sheepishly looked around, self-conscious of the overt affection Lisa demonstrated.
“Lisa this is Areum and Ammon. They are quite extraordinary,” I said.
Before Lisa could respond, I continued.
“Honey, I must leave,” I gathered up the broken pieces of the HD and headed straight to my lab at MMI.
Three questions swirled in my head as I rode in the hover cab: Why was there only one HD for them both? What was Areum talking about? Why did the HD explode?
I reviewed in forensic fashion, and in isolation, the HD parts and its program. After four weeks of hard work that none in the company thought was needed, I prevailed with possible solutions. Every week or so I would personally configure and send to the couple two HDs. One would return to me without fail within hours, and the other would mysteriously explode, in some isolated location, preventing any fatalities; and I was told by Ammon or Areum where to find the remains. The only thing harmed was the HDs themselves and my pride. Finally, I gave up.
It was another 18 years before I was smart enough to ask my beloved Lisa to marry me, and of course she said yes. With my attention focused on my bride to be, and not those damned exploding HDs, I was the happiest man in the world. While on our honeymoon in Cairo, Egypt, we saw Areum and Ammon again, appropriately enough, they were standing outside the entrance to the lost artifacts of Imhotep.
“Hey you,” I called once again to the shush of the curator staff. Lisa and I approached with zeal. People in the surrounding area were more amorous than usual, including Lisa. I chalked it up to our honeymoon, but beneath that reason I knew that the amorous reaction all of us felt was because of this amazing couple.
Ammon looked at me and smiled. He said no words, but merely pointed; the single HD floating between them substantiating my bruised ego, that all those years of hard work had yielded no solution to this dilemma. This time I was smart enough to not ask Areum and Ammon to step apart.
Areum looked at Lisa and me, and with a voice of the most beautiful moonlit summer evening she spoke, and everything washed away from reality.
“My words are pure and unchallenged, my actions just, to love’s cause only. I am the one that Albus saw before he chose to walk away, forgiving the greatest sin by us. My name is Wife, she that nourishes and rejuvenates all unions.”
My heart pounded with such contentment that I fainted...
Many years have passed with Lisa and me since that day; and we have had the most wonderful union I have ever known. Just a year ago my beloved Lisa passed away. Now, I find myself in this hospice bed with my medical HDs linked to my emotions in perfect harmony. Although I must admit the link technology between humans is far more eloquent now, it gives my heart great pride that my baseline code still runs through this magnificent union of man and machine.
Slowly, and with great purpose, the door to my room opened and two silhouettes walked to my bedside. It was only when they stood directly next to me that I could see their faces, Areum and Ammon unchanged. Once again, Ammon only smiled and said nothing. He stepped back from the bed and his image all but vanished, leaving me in blissful isolation with her, with Areum.
She began to speak with words my mind could not fathom, but my soul leapt with joy to hear. I reached for her...
“You are almost there.” Areum said.
“And will I see her there?” I asked.
“Yes.” Areum said.
“And will she know me? Will my Lisa remember me?”
“Yes.” She said.
“Will there be others there? All the others I have loved and lost, will they be there too?” I asked with rasped breath.
“Yes, can you see the way to them?” Areum asked.
“Yes.” I said.
“Good, for the healthy mortals cannot see these paths.” Areum said.
“Will you be there as well?” I asked.
“I am in both worlds, altogether. I am as constant as the brightest star; I will forever be there, in both places.”
Suddenly, I could feel Lisa’s warmth, I could smell her, I could see her, I reached for her hand and she gently took mine.
I heard the HD explode. And I laughed...
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Footnote from the author.
Description of Areum - The feminine of the Lovers:
Areum, an Elder Immortal (EI), is the epitome of the "Bride and Wife." Her existence is the personification of life, peace, comfort, enlightenment, strength, and patience. In this writing the reader is given a glimpse of Areum and her Elder Immortal companion Ammon, through the dimmed eyes of Tom, a dying man; but it is clear that death may not be the end, albeit a powerful doorway that humans must journey.
Visit Areum in my novel, Origins - Testament of the One.