Prometheus Bound
Ashlea Lierman

I am...

I am...?

I am.

I am... the...

I am the alpha and the omega...

...the beginning and the end...

...the first and the last.


Now I remember.


Now I remember. Each day it grows harder to remember;
Each day, each hour, each fraction of a second
That finds me nailed to my golden prison,
The high cragged cliff my very blood gives strength.
Here I have come to the furthest limit of the world,
A void untrod by foot of man, past reach of hand or eye,
And peered past the bluffs to meet gaze of my oblivion.
But still I live. And still do I recall.

I recall my time before this sorrow, if but in fragments
That scatter and shift on my memory as leaves on autumn lakes;
Born to an ether of light and motion, a paradise of flux
Gone now, to remain only as reflections in my glass.
I recall also my birthright, my long possession
Of some great power, though of what sort I find I cannot say --
And what means it to me, that cannot bear me home?
Such bootless strength would I gladly trade
For weakness in my beloved, near-forgotten nation.

I recall my imprisioning here, the cruel snare laid before me:
A siren song, and stairs of gold laid out to follow away.
Follow I did, in fascination; shackles closed ere I could know
Where I had come. Wave Existence, they called me,
And sometimes God as well -- or at least a god of sorts;
I thought it then a fancy, for what fool would so abuse his god?
But in time came I to know them, and saw this was their nature,
These small things who shook their fists at heaven,
Spat on the unknown. This I saw, and came to understand them;
And though I could not care for them, forgave them their trespasses.

And of all, most of all do I recall my nemesis,
The false idol in whose great hollow heart I am interred;
Even now it throbs around me, in sickly, bloodless rhythm.
It has thoughts, of a kind, and thus I believe it lives,
Though if life, it is a life I would never permit to flourish.
Its thoughts are sullen, soulless, no more but mechanical drives
To kill, and live, so as to kill again.
Times come, and pass, when I fear it will drag me into its madness:
Galaxies of chill calculation, a binary wasteland of hate.
But I must retain my reason. If I did not, what then?

Here I am set, I know, to give this monster strength;
It feeds upon that power for which I have no use,
Enslaves me for its mindless, empty wrath.
Zohar, my shining prison, takes the crude iron of my being,
And forges from it a bloody sword of murder; not only of murder
But of genocide, the murder of worlds. I cannot fight --
Though oft do I wish to -- for in their blindness,
My captors bound me from the start to their idol's will, and made me
Its unwilling accomplice. The more fools they.

That very power of mine, for which I have no use, at my binding
Became the demon's, and gave it life beyond its makers' reckonings.
Mad and mighty, its wreckage at last brought them sight;
The creature was banished, and I, too, chained within.
Its great body was deconstructed, stripped to a weakling core,
And packed aboard a journey-vessel; my chamber, too, was cloistered,
So I could not be forced to aid in escape. Grateful I was,
(Though still imprisioned!) and relieved, but feared revolt --
And then from my fears I was distracted, for in our journey
I received a visitor: a youth born of my blind abusers,
A child of children, and doubly innocent among the guilty,
Whose eyes and soul would meet with mine, and forever change my core.

That moment, if none other, will I ever recall:
The moment when first and last he came to me. I stood unveiled
Within my journey-cell, the caged animal that still I was;
The child wandered the core of the ship, seeking a protector long-lost.
In her stead, he found me (how, never shall I know), strange and wild --
His eyes fell upon me, and the center of his youthful desires opened...
My binding was done with gadgets, walls, precautions;
Never had a human mind come close enough to touch. But his touched,
And grasped, and left its imprints in me, as though I were wet clay,
Shaped me to his needs and wants, found in my power his strength.
He wished of me a mother; and so did I become.
>From that contact we made, Contact I call him; our touch has changed us,
Made us each a little of the other. And because of what I gave him
And he me -- though I could not know it then, but now know too well --
He will be the one to save me, he; his hands shall tear my prison down.
So I prophesize; and I see all.

My enemy, however, would not be go meekly to its end;
It lay dormant until its keepers lost their vigilance,
Then mended its diminished self, seized the ship from its pilots,
And shattered its own prison on the stones of a foreign world.
(Had I not shrunk in horror from the screams of those it killed,
How I might have envied it that ease of swift escape!)
But its freedom was a sacrifice, its body badly damaged,
And it thought (if it does think) back to its creators;
It soon thought to make them anew, but under its control,
No longer masters but servants, and with no will but to serve.
And so the monster used its last shreds of strength, in creation,
For once, rather than destruction: creation of a Mother,
A guide and guardian of the coldest kind,
To birth its slaves, and guide them home to their master.

But in order to create, the beast required my aid;
I was -- and am -- the center of its power.
And I, with the new drives received from my young Contact,
Devised plans of my own for these new beings.
In the Mother I instilled a portion of my being, beside the other --
For surely, the first could not help who had made her,
And was possessed of strengths that could be great.
I did not erase her, but rather doubled her, gave her a second face,
A soul that could love and nurture, as well as guard and guide.
My nemesis soon discovered me, and though I know it does not feel,
It satisfies me deeply to believe it was enraged.
In its cruel logic, it split our creations apart,
Seeing that they would be too strong; its own it shattered as callously
As it had so many worlds, and made her its own again.

I pitied them all, and I could not help but love them;
They were ill-used, and I wished so greatly to protect.
And surely, if they were allowed but to serve,
I could never hope to be set free. And so I made my choice:
Whatever came to me, for all my meddling, mattered not;
I would set them free, never to suffer the chains I bear.
While still it performed its tasks and settled down for rest,
And before the monster could know what I would do, I reached inside it,
Braving the alien wastes, the sickening chill, the violent logic,
And through its core, until I found its link to its creations,
Took in my grasp the tether that bound them to its will...
Then severed it forever, and made haste to retreat.

But my time of grace had ended, and the creature leapt;
It seized me in its claws, and returned me to my cell, locking me there --
But by no means did that conclude my pu