Each act is an island in time, to be judged on its own.

Alan Lightman, Einstein’s Dreams


“Light is zee constant.”  A voice speaks in my ear, vaguely Germanic.  In the distance, I see a ball of light spring into existence and slowly expand.  A rolling wave of sound strikes, a world of buffeting thunder.  When I recover, there are stars everywhere, twinkling against a black canvas.

            “Bang!”  The voice says, “Such good lights.  Zee darkness is only zee distance between zee lights.  Yet zee light is always zere.  Trillions of neutrinos flow through zee dark, invisible to zee human eyes.”

            I turn and behold, Albert Einstein stands (floats?) beside me in the cosmos, his hair a frenzied white halo exploding off his head.

            “In fact, zee human body is made of zee same light.  It just looks different.  Difference, and darkness, zee perception of zese things is all relative.”  He smiles.  “How much light can you see?”

            I laugh at his voice, it is reminiscent of a bad German accent I did in a school play long ago and far away.  No one really talks like that.

            “Whether he sees it or not is not zee question.  It is how much darkness is in him?”  Another voice, again vaguely Germanic, perhaps my idea of Viennese.  That old headshrinker, Freud, has appeared.

            We look out over the cosmos, and it becomes a backdrop for scenes of me, rescuing people from the middle of a battle in the snow, and at the same time Reza is killing my friends while wearing my face.

            “He unleashed his darkest impulses, lost control of the Id.  Rage, violence, destruction.  He must be held responsible,” Freud declares.

            “The gravity of this situation,” a British voice says.  I turn and see a proper English gentleman of the seventeenth century, complete with a powdered wig.  He is tossing an apple up and down in his hand.  I guess this is supposed to be Isaac Newton.  “Interesting universe you’ve created here.”

            “He was destructive,” Freud snaps.

            “Matter is neither created nor destroyed.”  Newton continues.  “Whether the discussion is theological or scientific, the conversation is about the same world.  The lights still shape each other, energy upon energy.  No matter how much darkness there is, the light is not extinguished.  It’s just spread out further, its strongest concentrations further away from each other.”

            “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”  This figure might be Lao-tzu, but he shifts between looking like Gandhi and Buddha.  I have no idea what Lao should look like.

            “His internal struggle creates tension, preventing progress.”  Freud maintains.  “Every step forward, sooner or later he takes a step back.  Inertia results.  But, more important, his rage ended the journeys of others.  They could not walk towards the light in their own time because he cast them into darkness.”

            Freud is sounding less and less Germanic, and looks more and more like Perry Mason, or a district attorney from Law and Order.  I can’t make up my mind.

            “So, relative to your perspective, he has separated from zee light?”  Einstein inquires.

            “Absolutely.  Let him remain in darkness.” 

            “Well, we have heard from the Prosecuting Attorney.”  Newton says.  “In all investigations, all the facts must be assembled and logic employed to test the arguments.  Is there anyone here to speak for the Defence?”

            “I AM.”  He’s back from the riverside, wearing homespun clothes and sandals.  “He called on me in his last moments.  At the last he sought the light, no matter how much darkness existed before.  He is mine.”

            Around us the universe swirls and gavottes, a miasma of colour and light.

            “You will take his place?” Freud asks.  “In an ordinary circumstance, one might ask if you had a Messiah complex.”

            They all laugh, an inside joke I suppose.  The stars grow dim as my saviour walks up a distant hill and opens his arms so they can nail him to his tree.  I have knowledge that this is for my own good, but it seems so evil.

            “Care for a piece of fruit?”  Newton offers me the apple.  I know it must be bitter.

            “NO!”  I cry, understanding what’s going on.  I run forward to stop the piercing but it’s too late.  I am struck by blinding light, raise my hands to protect my face, and am lost once again.

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