The man's voice is gentle, almost musical. He's so very tall and his skin has a strange quality that makes it look like it glows, it's as if all his body was covered in a luminescent powder. His mane is long and so blonde it's almost white. He has piercing green eyes. His body is slender but toned. The first concept that comes to mind is angel.
"Sergeant," he says as he walks towards the bed where I lie. He moves with such grace it would seem like he floats over the floor.
Colonel Debrak, of the Phinaran, is now looking directly at the man. There's something in his eyes I cannot read ... is it fear? Devotion? Maybe a combination of both.
"I'm glad to finally be face to face with you, Sergeant," the tall man says in a soothing monotone.
He smiles at me. There's a sense of peace that seems to emanate from each of his gestures and moves as he speaks. I don't think he belongs in this world.
"Who are you?" I ask him.
He turns towards Colonel Debrak and speaks, "Colonel, your assistance will no longer be necessary. I'd like some time alone with our guest."
The Phinaran colonel nods and walks outside the room. He doesn't seem the same aggressive man who ambushed us in the cave, he's suddenly transformed into one docile creature.
"You are not human," I tell the man.
He grins and light seems to emanate from his mouth as he does so.
"You are right," he replies.
"What are you?"
"We've been called many things through the millennia. Gods, angels, demons, wizards, prophets. But to answer your question, you can think of us as inter-dimensional beings."
"I've never heard of a species such as yours."
"But surely you have heard of angels, demons and the sort."
"You might not have heard about species such as mine, because in essence we do not belong in universe. We have, however, existed in religion, legends and mythologies of several worlds and universes. We are those whose existence has never been proved because we have never left tangible evidence of our existence."
"We exist in a different plane of existence and we don't interact with beings native to this universe, actually, we are bound to never interfere. That's why we call ourselves watchers."
"But you have interfered. Legends and mythologies native to my world and others in this universe would not have originated had you not interacted with its different cultures and civilizations."
He grins, but says nothing.
"What's your name?" I ask.
"I've had many names through the ages. The Egyptians called me Heka; the Greek, Apollo; the Aztecs, Patécatl; the African, Jengu. The Phinaran called me Kalduk; The Rivulan Dor'mek. These days I go by the name of Alaunus."
"How long have you been alive?"
"Alive became such an alien concept to me so very long ago I can no longer remember."
"Are you immortal?"
"I guess you could use that word to make my existence a bit more understandable to you."
"What do you want with me? Why was I brought here?"
"Sergeant," he says, and he sounds a bit condescending as he does it, "I think you already know the answers to those questions. You are an intuitive man after all. You just don't want to see what has become evident to you."
"Chris, the man you love ..."
"Is one of you ..."
"How is that even possible?"
"When a Watcher interferes, anything is possible, Sergeant."
"But his mother and father ..."
"Allow me to enlighten you," he says beaming.
He walks all the way to the bed in which I am. He sits facing me and grins again. He places his hands over my temples. The minute his fingers touch my skin a feeling of tranquility invades me.
"This won't hurt a bit," he says.
His eyes level with mine and there's for a brief instant a feeling of nakedness, as if he could see deeply into the abyss of my soul. I've never felt so vulnerable and so protected at the same time, it is a feeling I cannot describe, so warm, so profound, so fulfilling.
Then, a flash of bright light blinds me.
Time is such a linear concept for most cultures in most universes. Only we can understand that time flows as an amalgam of every single moment, that we are one within that flow.
When I'm sitting inside my liquid window I experience a never ending flow of moments. Inside the window we connect with the time flow. Watchers call it The Essence. Don't ask me how. My Proctor says all Watchers have that ability, that it lies within our nature. I step inside my window, it's my turn to Watch.
There's a photo of Irina on her desk as she dresses for her prom. Rutger Dais, her best friend has asked her to prom. She's seventeen years old. She looks beautiful, just like the first time I saw her. Her dress is a metal shade of blue. Her wavy hair cascades down as she smiles. I'm standing right behind her and she turns to face me. She's so beautiful, probably the most beautiful creature in the never ending flow that is The Essence.
I sip from the mug. The sweet cinnamon-scented beverage is so soothing.
Irina's crying. She's barely six years old. Her mother has just left the room. Her father was a soldier for The Core. Irina has been told that her dad is never coming back home. Irina doesn't understand what's going on but she cries. She wants her daddy to come home. I show before her. I tell her not to be sad for her daddy. I have an unnerving need to comfort her, to make her feel protected.
This is not the life I would've chosen for myself. If I'd been given a choice, I would've not been a Watcher.
Irina's jaw drops open. She's shocked, I can tell. She's twenty four years old. The Doctor tells her she's pregnant. My feeling is one of utter happiness. She remains silent as the Doctor explains to her that as an active agent for the Phinaran, she'll have to be put on hold while her pregnancy lasts. She can't process the fact that she's pregnant. I'm hidden to both of them.
The life of a Watcher is so empty of life. We watch. We listen. We witness. We document.
Irina looks extremely beautiful as we make love. Her smile is the most beautiful smile in The Essence. Like the radiance of a thousand suns. She's twenty years old. We hold on to each other as I'm inside her. It's like The Essence doesn't exist, as if nothing matters while I'm there.
We can't interfere. Or better, we shouldn't interfere.
Irina's six years old. I tell her she has to be very strong because now that her daddy is gone, her mommy will be very sad. She says she wants her daddy to come home. I tell her that's not possible. But I smile and gently hand her Tommy, a pink and blue Teddy bear. Tommy's her favorite toy.
I can't just watch and stand aside. I cannot witness suffering and remain static. My Proctor tried hard to make me understand. He failed.
Irina's seventeen years old. She hugs me and tells me she wishes I were her date to prom. I smile and tell her I wish it were possible for me to be there. She kisses me. I have never kissed anyone in my life before. I want to say something, but I don't know what to say. She tells me not to say anything.
That's why I fell in love with Irina. She's such a sensitive woman.
Irina's twenty five years old. She's radiant as she holds our baby in her arms for the first time. There are tears in her eyes. There are tears in mine as well. I never thought such a small creature would make me feel so happy. Irina wants to call him Christopher. I say Christopher is a beautiful name.
I never thought loving would be so hard, so painful.
Irina and Rutger glide on the dance floor. They're seventeen years old. I'm standing at a dark corner looking at her. I can't forget she kissed me. What is this I feel inside? Is this what natives to this and many other Universes call love? There's a sense of completion inside me.
I am so happy. So sad. So complete. So empty. The life of a Watcher is so empty of life. And mine is not.
I can't understand all the feelings inside me as I climax inside Irina. She's twenty years old. She climaxes at the same time, our bodies becoming one. This is an act of love and passion. Irina tells me she loves me as I kiss her neck. I never knew my body would feel like this. It's an ecstasy I can't explain as my love and body explode along with her.
My life has never felt so complete. All these wonderful moments that are precious gems. Each of them shinning with a different color. Each of them special in its own way.
Tears keep rolling down my eyes as I look at Irina and our son. She's twenty five years old. I approach my face to Christopher's and he smiles. His eyes are bright blue, a shade of blue that does not belong in this universe, my heritage. I want to hold him and Irina hands him to me. He's so small, so fragile, and yet, he has changed my existence forever ... and forever is such a linear concept.
My punishment is one no living being should bear. But I broke the rules, and I have to pay for it.
Chris is two years old. Irina's twenty seven. They're both playing in the backyard of their home. Irina's met someone who has the best of intentions to her and her son, a good man who wants to marry her and be a father to little Christopher. I'm breaking inside. I never knew pain would feel like this. And never is such a linear concept. This is the last time, from a human perspective, that I`ll be with her. In my own perspective I'm always with her.
Two immortalities wouldn't be enough to help me bear the losses I have experienced once and again. Even though inside my window time flows and I'm always with Irina and Christopher, they know I'm not. Their pain has become mine, and no Watcher is prepared to process these feelings.
Chris is twelve years old and Irina's thirty seven. She has to leave him behind and she tries to explain. I don't dare interfere. I disappeared from their lives ten years before, so Chris doesn't know who I am. I have not been with him since he was two from his vantage point. From mine, I'm always with him. It isn't good for him to have memories of me. Jhonno is the only man he will always think of as a father. He's a great man and has been both a loving husband and a loving father. Chris holds on tight to his mother as she says things will be okay. She promises she'll come back for him soon. We all know she's lying.
I was selfish.
Irina's twenty eight years old. She looks beautiful in her wedding gown. Jhonno is wearing a white tuxedo. Chris is three years old. He's walking before his mother spreading rose petals for his mother and her husband on their way to the altar. I'm standing in the dark seeing the love of my life marry another man. A good man. Jhonno.
I was selfish and stupid. I tried to live a life that does not belong to me. I am a watcher. I watch. I listen. I witness. I must not interfere.
Chris is two years old. He's sleeping on his cradle, his mouth pouting in a very peculiar way. Irina's in tears as she tells me she's decided to marry Jhonno. I ask her not to cry. Sadness does not become her. I tell her it's the best for all of us. I tell her I've done things I should never have done. But I tell her I don't regret any of my actions. I kiss Chris' forehead as he sleeps.
But I did interfere.
Irina's in pain. She has killed a man for the first time. She's twenty two years old and all dressed in black, as it befits a Phinaran Intelligence agent. She's in shock. I stand before her and hug her. I tell her everything will be alright. But it won't. Irina will not be the same after today.
I was never meant to interfere in Irina's life. But I did. I have. I live every single moment once and again as time flows. Time flows.
Irina's thirty seven years old. She looks so beautiful even as she dies. I promised never to show myself to her again, but this I where her life expires ... at least for her. Hermes, our son's robotic replica looks from afar measuring our interactions. I'm kneeling before the bed where she breathes her last breaths of existence. Life is fading away from her as I tell her I love her. She smiles and for a brief instant her smile is the smile she wears at her prom as she tells me she wishes I could take her to prom. I tell her I wish it were possible.
Pain is as ever present as every single moment I live and re-live as I sip from the cinnamon-scented beverage.
I hold Chris in my arms. He's so small, so fragile, and yet, he has changed my existence forever. I can't explain what I feel inside me. I never thought I would feel something as deep as what I felt for Irina. But this little blue-eyed creature in my arms is my son ... my son. The love I feel inside me is so different and yet so similar. I was never meant to be a father, but cradling Chris in my arms and seeing him smile I know my life would've never been complete without him. My son.
I've only lived three centuries, but my Proctor says one day I'll stop measuring my life in terms of time. After all, time is a never ending flow. I don't think I will.
Irina's thirty seven years old. She's bought passage for her and Hermes on board a Paradisian cruiser and she's now on board. She sits on the bed and cries. I sit next to her but she doesn't now I'm there. I have no right to disturb her already fragile inner peace. She misses Jhonno, I can tell. And above all, she misses our son. She has done what had to be done. She whispers Jhonno's name as she cries in silence.
I don't think I was meant to be a Watcher. What is the purpose of witnessing and documenting if you're just a bystander? I can't bear the pain anymore.
Chris is being put in animated suspension. He's twelve years old. Far away from him Irina writes a new log in her personal computer. She's thirty seven and her life is coming to an end. She's afraid for our son. I wish I could comfort her. I wish I could tell her our son is fine. Chris is calmed inside the cryo-tube, as if he weren't afraid. I know he isn't afraid for he has foreseen the future. He is my son. He cannot experience life as I do, but he has glimpses of times past and times to come. As the procedure carries on, he smiles. A word escapes his mouth: Robbie.
Sometimes I wonder if I would've been better if I'd been mortal. But then again, I would've never met Irina. I would have never conceived Chris. Sometimes and never are such linear concepts.
Irina's thirty seven years old. She's afraid for our son. The Phinaran have found out things they weren't meant to find out. Irina writes another log in her personal computer. She's ordered a Link 7 android to protect Chris. She wants to hide Chris from them, she doesn't want them to experiment on our son.
I have been afraid of this for so long, but I have come to terms with my decision.
Jhonno is in such pain as he's told that both Irina and Chris perished while on vacation. He falls on his knees as he cries. From his vantage point, he's lost everything that was dear to him. He thinks of the tiny Athruvian box he gave Chris on his last birthday. He thinks of Irina on their wedding day. There's no limit to his pain. I look at him and wish I could comfort him. Jhonno is a good man.
I am just hoping judgment on me won't be too hard.
Hermes goes through his files one more time so he can be absolutely ready before de-activating himself. He goes through the memory files imprinted on him one more time. It's just a matter of time before Sergeant Ni'sugah shows up. I find comfort in the knowledge that my son will be loved and grow to be a happy man. I wish I could be with him when his time comes. But I won't.
The cinnamon-scented poison has finally made its way through my system. I hope my Proctor and fellow Watchers will understand why I've chosen to end my existence. I can't bear the pain anymore.
Irina's twenty years old. We've made love for the first time. She looks at me and tells me she loves me. I have never felt so happy in my life. She tells me we will always be together. But I know that's a lie, for she's twenty seven years old and she's marrying Jhonno. She looks so beautiful in her wedding gown. Chris is walking before his mother spreading rose petals for his mother and her husband on their way to the altar. I'm standing in the dark seeing the love of my life marry another man. Irina's twenty years old and she tells me we will always be together. There are tears in my eyes, because even as she tells me so, life is fading away from her and she's thirty seven years old. I tell her I love her. She smiles and for a brief instant her smile is the smile she wears at her prom as she tells me she wishes I could take her to prom. I tell her I wish it were possible. The Essence explodes as I make love to Irina.
Everything is darkness. I hear a voice in the distance, as it usually happens when you are asleep and cannot make out what people say around you. Little by little I start regaining consciousness, until I am able to fully understand.
"Sergeant ... Sergeant ... can you hear me?"
I open my eyes and see Alaunus over me, his piercing green eyes looking straight into mine.
The amount of alien memories and feelings inside me is so overwhelming I cannot process it in any other way than screaming to the top of my lungs. Deep in my head, there's all the knowledge and the moments this particular Watcher experienced through his life leading to his suicide. It's more than I can bear.
"Sergeant!" Alaunus says and his previously musical voice is now a thunderous sound which makes me focus only on his eyes.
His hands take my temples once again.
"Breathe!" he commands and I obey.
Little by little my breathing becomes even. Little by little, the feelings of the dead Watcher seem to decrease in intensity, becoming more a memory of events. Alaunus knows what he's doing and I eventually calm down.
"Are you alright?"
"There's so much sadness," I tell him, "so much despair."
"But a lot of love as well," he says and smiles.
"What was his name?"
"We called him Amyas. He is terribly missed. He was a renegade, that's true, but he was one of us nonetheless. You're exhausted," Alaunus says changing the subject.
"We'll talk about it sometime later, Sergeant. Right now, I think you have to go to sleep."
"What happened to me?"
"We call it The N'otu, the spiritual sharing of someone else's perceptions. The N'otu is the only way in which watchers co-exist. We share everything and we are one with each other. It is an extremely exhausting process for those who are not watchers."
As he speaks, little by little his voice becomes more of a blur, because I'm falling asleep. I am just so tired.