The Point Of It
Written by Ethan Yen during Spring 2010
I opened the door and was met by the jingling of chimes, whispering their welcome. Their voices lingered for sometime as I walked into the store. The room was dimly lit by warm lamps. Black paper covered the windows, preventing the afternoon sunlight from seeping in. Ancient furniture and objects were randomly scattered around the room. Old books lay on top of dusty end tables, and chipped figurines on top of the books. An old grandfather clock stood against one wall. I could hear the faint ticking sound as the gears clicked on and on, counting the seconds. The environment strangely reminded me of my home world: dark, cool, and old.
A young human male, no older than fourteen years of age, sat behind the counter, chewing a substance known as “bubble gum.” He eyed me suspiciously as I walked into the store, and for a second, I thought he had seen through my disguise. But I soon realized that it would be impossible for any mere human to discern my true form. Relaxing, I decided to wander about and browse the objects, hoping to finally find what I had been searching for. I took off my right glove and flexed my human fingers. Closing my eyes, I took a deep breath, attempting to expand my aura throughout the room. Slowly, I walked around, lightly touching each object I encountered with my fingertips, the vibrations in the atoms connecting to my mind. As I was searching, I sensed the young male get up from his seat and walk off to the back room. It was no matter; it simply allowed me to concentrate without interruption.
I could hear the whispers of each object I connected to. I could hear their stories, revealing their secrets, their histories. But I could not find the answer I was looking for. There was not a book, furniture, or object that was old enough to answer my question. Frustrated, I attempted to expand my aura even further, to reach the entire store, but a polite cough interrupted my process. I hissed, slightly annoyed, and opened my eyes, to find the young boy, accompanied by an old man, presumably the owner of the store. He looked quite healthy for his old age, still standing tall with quite a bit of white hair on his head. It was he who had coughed.
“Pardon me, sir, but I must ask you to refrain from touching the antiques,” he said, his aura was full of wisdom and experience. “Unless,” he continued, smiling, “you expect to buy something?” One of his arms was on the shoulder of the young male, who was looking up at me, still suspicious.
I retracted my fingers from the current furniture I was connected to and placed my hand back into the glove. I had not had many human conversations since I had landed, but I attempted to do the best I could in their language.
“Sorry sir,” I said in the most genuine voice possible, and attempted to mimic the old man’s smile, “I was wondering if you possess any objects from older times than these?” The old man gave a slight chuckle and walked over to where I was.
“These objects are quite old. I pride myself in having the most antique collection in town. This chair for instance,” he motioned toward the wooden rocking chair I had just connected to, “was made in 1762, and is still in prime condition. It was crafted by-“
“Ethan Allen, American Revolutionary War Hero, born January 21, 1738, died February 12, 1789. The chair was a wedding present to his first wife, Mary Brownson.” I interrupted, relaying the information I had learned from the chair itself, “It was received well, although Ms. Brownson did not like the color all too well.” The old man looked stunned, squinting at me suspiciously. The room was silent, except for the ticking of the grandfather clock and the chewing of the young male. I waited in silence as the old man examined me. Finding no apparent fault in my perfectly emotionless face, he laughed again, and patted my back.
“Ha ha! Correct sir! Although the bit about the color is new to me. It appears that I am in the presence of a knowledgeable antiques collector!” He then shook my hand. I winced as I could slightly feel his aura through my leather glove. I noticed that the old man had noticed, as he too, look surprised at the sudden spark at our contact. But he quickly shook it off and continued to talk. “May I inquire as to whom I am talking?”
“I am called John by the people here.”
“Just John? No last name? Where you from John?” I was beginning to tire of the conversation and wished to return to my original mission.
“As I said earlier sir,” I said, a hint of annoyance in my voice, “do you possess any objects older than the ones here?” The man shut his mouth, a little put off by my abrupt questioning. He raised his arms in mock fear.
“Woah there, didn’t mean to sound so nosy. Who you are is your business I suppose, just trying to be friendly.” The old man turned around and walked off into the backroom, “You want to see some rare stuff, huh? Follow me then.” The young male followed silently, looking at me one last time before turning away. I was beginning to worry that the boy had somehow figured out who I truly was. Because the human race was not aware of extraterrestrial life, my mission was to be as covert as possible in order to prevent unnecessary attention.
I walked silently to the back room of the store, hoping that all this time was worth spending. I needed my answer soon, or I would have to return empty handed. The instant I walked in, I felt the ancient aura all around me. Before I could even see the room, I knew that I was in the presence of very ancient objects. Perhaps these objects could be of more use.
“Ah, I see you’ve noticed where you are,” the old man said, examining my surprised face. He was sitting on a stool, the young boy next to him. The room was setup in a more organized fashion, with each object displayed in glass cases around the room. The blinds were opened to allow light into the room, and I could see each object. There were paintings, intricate carvings, and other rare objects. Each radiated an aura of knowledge, and I knew that I had reached my destination. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, stretching my aura to touch each object.
“Grandpa, what is he doing?” I could hear the young boy whisper. The old man scolded him and told him shush, but I could tell that he too was curious as to what I was doing. I decided to leave them to their thoughts and concentrate at the task at hand. A smile escaped my lips, as I could feel the sheer knowledge that each object possessed, whispering their thoughts to me, I did not even have to touch them. And then, I felt a strong presence intrude upon my mind. It was sharp, and it surprised me.
Hello Traveler, how do you do?
I opened my eyes, and was shocked at the sudden greeting. I looked around the room, seeing the confused faces of the two humans; I could sense no other beings within in the room. Which could only mean one thing: the voice was that of one of the objects.
What are you? I asked mentally, attempting to locate the object.
In the drawer, to your right. I found the drawer, and walked over, attempting to open it. It was locked. I swiveled around, frustrated, and barked at the old man.
“Open the drawer!” The old man was surprised at my sudden change of attitude, and knew better than to get in the way. He quickly took out his ring of keys and went up to the drawer, finding an old silver key and turning the lock. He then stepped away.
“I must warn you sir, but this object isn’t for-” He didn’t finish his sentence, as I brushed him aside and opened the drawer, looking greedily inside. A dull looking six-inch knife lay in the drawer, resting on a bed of red cloth. It was quite plain, with only an iron weave pattern on the hilt.
“What is this?” I growled in confusion. This knife did not seem to be of much value, and yet, it was placed with the rest of the objects. The old man was about to reply, before the voice cut in, and I raised my hand for silence.
I am a knife. Giver of Life and Death! Child of the forge and fire! I am the terrible tool of the Human Race! I am the eternal –
“Enough!” I roared, my temper rising. The two humans jumped in their spots, clearly scared at my appearance. I pointed at the knife and turned toward the shop owner. “Why is this knife here?”
The old man trembled, but replied “It’s an old knife from before the Roman Empire, quite old. It’s been passed from generation to generation by a noble family in Italy. It just recently fell into my hands.”
My ears twitched as I realized how old this knife was. It could possibly give me the answer I needed.
Knife, I addressed it in a more pleasant tone, how is it that you are able to contact my mind without touch?
I’m no ordinary knife, it replied proudly, you use the vibrations in the atoms as well as your aura radiating from your brain to read the history of objects. Different objects contain different remnants of aura from their previous owners, the energy stored in between the atoms. I can contact you simply because the auras within my atoms are old, and when combined, powerful. I contain much knowledge and experience within my metal frame; it is only natural that I eventually attain sentience, even if these poor humans cannot hope to realize it. But you, you are no human, I can tell. You use your aura well. Your psychometric skill is quite practiced. Who are you Traveler?
I am called Golxidarilliondoro by my people, I hail from a planet far from Earth. I have been sent here in order to search for an answer in order to save my people. The humans here on Earth are quite similar to us genetically, aside from being less-evolved than I and my brethren. Humans are to us as the apes are to them. We have learned the ways of reading atoms within materials to reveal their histories. Our planet and race is dying, and I hope to attain an answer suitable enough here on Earth to save my people. I sense you are of much age and, therefore, have much information within your being. Would you be so kind as to divulge this information?
Of course, it replied. I grow weary of being locked in this drawer. You are the first being I have encountered that has the ability to communicate with me, I would be glad to show you my knowledge. But I give you no false hope. The human condition is incurable, and you yourself have admitted your likeness to them. I can only present the observations… it is up to you to change…if you can.
Thank you. I then briefly broke the connection, turning back to the two humans. They were both looking at me with worried looks on their faces. The old man seemed very confused, while the young boy had a look of fear and curiosity. They would only be interruptions, so I decided it was best to get them out of the way.
“Leave me,” I replied, trying to calm my voice down. I had not felt this emotion of excitement in centuries, and I was still attempting to control it. Wordlessly, the two humans got up and left the room, closing the door behind them. I then resumed the connection.
You may begin.
Very well. The following are all accounts by my point of view. Being an ‘inanimate object,’ by human standards, I have no bias and, therefore, I believe represent a fair and accurate record of the human condition. My very nature of being a knife – one of the oldest tools of the race, grants me much knowledge of the subject. All my knowledge is collected from years of conversing with fellow knives, and their ancestors before them.
I was created in the year 1200 BC, during the time so aptly named the Iron Age. I was forged by a lowly peasant of the City of Troy, only to be used humbly as a tool for carving and simple cutting. It was not the grandest of purposes, but I was content. From the dawn of human civilization, early knives served as the guardians of humankind. We protected them from predators, and aided them in their constructions of weapons, more tools, and to shape wood and rock into livable structures. We were a proud kind, and without us, there would be no humans to walk upon this earth. Your history books must have recorded similar accounts. Do the knives of your planet not say so?
I do not know, I replied grimly. Our recordings were wiped out in the wars. Our weapons were disintegrated to prevent further bloodshed. It was a necessary precaution, but a costly one. Much of our history was lost. Otherwise, I would not be here. I could feel a slight tremor in the aura of the knife. Clearly, it disliked the idea of an “object-cide,” the destruction of an entire tool.
Hmmm…that is…unsettling, but I understand the reasons. As I was saying, we knifes were created as the ultimate tool to aid in human survival, and for a time, it was good. But it was not long before human emotions such as jealousy and anger took control of our use. We soon found ourselves plunged into the hearts of men, crossing blades with fellow knives, and becoming the symbol for greed, betrayal, and assassination. How quickly the humans had discovered the malicious possibilities of our pointed tips. Humanity had a taint, twisting everything they possessed into desecrators of nature. It was a sick concept, we, made of the very minerals of the earth, created to destroy sentient life.
I remained silent, as I listened to the knife talk. Pictures of my home world flashed within my mind, of wars against nature, technology, and each other.
And yet, the object continued, I was created with the simple intention of helping a poor peasant continue to live and protect his home and family. Compared to what other knives were used for, I was one of the lucky ones, and considered myself blessed. I was in the hands of a human with simple needs, and simple desires. Ignorance protected the Earth and all who lived on it.
But then, there was talk amongst the objects that had been to the marketplace, Paris of Troy, had stolen the wife of King Menelaus, Ruler of Sparta. The king was deeply angered, and was sending a grand army to storm the city and take back his wife. Do you not see traveler? I witnessed the very extent of human greed. Greed that was so selfish that it put an entire city at risk, greed that would cause the deaths of so many. And just to win the affection of a female no less. This is only one example of such actions throughout history. I am clearly not of human make, and do not possess emotions such as they, but even you would agree that such an action would seem ludicrous, and illogical.
True. But that is the nature of humans. Emotion is the polar opposite of logic.
You are correct, and there in fact, lies the problem…and the solution. If you would be so kind as to remove me from this drawer, I would like to show you something.
What do you mean? I asked, as I gingerly removed the blade from the red cloth bedding, and held it in the palms of both my gloved hands.
You have great skill at controlling your aura – your brain energy, and that is the reason why we can communicate. You are also quite skilled in Psychometry, the ability to feel the vibrations in atom, and, therefore, can read the pattern of reality and view scenes in both the past and present. It is this ability that I would like you to access now, for I would like to show you something.
Slightly puzzled, I laid the knife down on the windowsill and removed one glove from my hand, flexing the fingers. I picked up the knife with my gloved hand, and taking a deep breath, touched the cold ancient metal to my fingertip.
The effect was immediate. I felt the familiar sensation of the images coursing through my brain, but greatly amplified. I saw flashes of the knife’s history, from present to past. As it passed hands, from son to father, to grandfather, to grandmother, and backwards in such a way it was almost overwhelming. Finally, the images stopped, to reveal a scene of the knife safely tucked away in a leather sheath on a man’s belt. Presumably it was the simple peasant the knife had previously mentioned.
I watched as the man knelt down and opened his arms wide to receive a hug from a small female human, most likely his daughter. They were laughing, and playing. The sun was shining brightly upon their faces and a gentle breeze blew around their bodies. It was a joyous moment, even for the knife. The man reached behind his pocket and revealed a wrapped gift for his daughter. The daughter clapped her hands in delight and unwrapped the gift.
I helped create it for her. The knife said. I could detect an attempt at pride in its voice.
The present was a wooden carving, in the shape of a dove, wings outstretched. The little girl laughed in surprise and quickly hugged her father, who chuckled quietly and watched as the little girl ran off to play with her friends. The scene dissolved slowly and there was blackness.
That is it? I asked, still confused at the purpose of the scene.
The next scene was immediately mind-blowing for the senses. The knife was in the hand of the peasant, but this time, the sun was not radiating happily, but shining a deep red crimson as it set in the horizon. Pain and anger filled the air around him, and battle cries arose from all sides. Men dressed in rags and armor were fighting each other, some with swords and some with spears. The peasant only wielded the knife and was looking frantically around, clearly afraid. The battle was on a shore, and a few hundred yards away, ships were anchored at sea. But all those sights were quickly blurred as the peasant received a blow to the head by a mace, and all was lost…
I don’t understand, I said. Why did the image cease? Were you still not with him?
I was, the knife responded solemnly, but out of respect for my creator, I will not show him in such pain and agony. But did you grasp the point I was making?
I thought hard, as the blackness faded away back into reality. I withdrew my fingertip and put the glove back on, furrowing my eyebrows as I tried to come up with a reason. No, I do not understand.
The Human Condition is the disease. And the Human Condition is the Cure. I, as a knife, am the very embodiment of that ideal. We can be used for survival, and the creation of art, or we can be used as the bringer of death. Humans possess emotion that can drive them to self-destruction, as your race has nearly done. But they can also use the emotions of love and selflessness to create a better world. Sadly, these traits are not so greatly rewarded as they should be, and may contribute the reason to the eventual downfall of humanity, and your race as well. This is what it means to be Human.
Then, I asked vainly, is there no hope for my people?
Hope is a gift that only you can give. All sentient beings have been gifted with free will, but this drive for self-preservation denies the development of a better world. However, there is only so much one can do, and from what you tell me, and what I have gained from our connections, the time of your people is almost up. You yourself claim that you are an evolved form of the human being. Yet here you stand, and no matter how hard you try to conceal it, you possess the same emotions as they do. But you have spent longer in this reality and, therefore, have progressed further through the Human Condition. Your people have lived a long and rich life, full of both turmoil and peace. But it is only fitting, and only logical, that with emotion, comes the price of self-destruction. The time has come for your people, and only you can accept the fact.
I stood dazed. The information the knife told me was too much to comprehend. All my years spent searching for an answer…all for nothing. It was hard for me to accept the answer, but the knife’s logic was sound. And in review, it was correct in its observations about me, and my race. Emotion was the savior and destroyer of our race, and the humans as well. It determined actions of creation or consumption. It seemed overwhelmingly depressing, but it was a fact I must accept.
But that does not mean your life is without purpose, Traveler.
What do you mean? I asked, puzzled.
You are here on Earth, with a race much younger than yourself, still a newborn baby. There is no point in returning to your homeworld. You have the experience, the knowledge, and now, the wisdom. Use it to help teach this race how to survive, and hopefully change the outcome of its destiny. You may only be one being, but another well-commended trait of humanity is the ability to do something in the face of all insurmountable odds.
I looked at the knife, lying in my hand, and a small smile crept upon my lips, a smile that I had not experienced in centuries. I gently placed the knife back into its resting place and closed the drawer.
No, thank you. The knife said with a hint of humor. If you do your job right, maybe I won’t get disintegrated. And with that remark, the knife broke off contact. I took a deep breath and opened the door to the room, walking back to the storefront. The old man and the young boy were both sitting at the counter, apparently relieved that I had finally come out of the room. The old man looked at me for a second, attempting to hide his confusion, and after a quick examination to confirm I had not stolen anything, walked back to the backroom to lock the drawer. I stood in the middle of the storefront, surrounded by the antiques around me, full of history and knowledge. The grandfather clock boomed as its minute hand struck the two. The young boy looked at me curiously, still chewing his gum.
“Who are you?” he asked innocently, still staring at me.
“I am many things,” I responded. “I am a traveler of the stars, and just like you, I am a destroyer and creator. I am the disease and the cure. I am freewill. And most of all,” I smiled and the image of the knife flashed in my head one last time, “I am human.”