The Complete Stories (Page 254)
The new project was sharpening his memory for so many more of the old, old, eons-old things. He flattened the energy vortex that made up the total of his individuality and its lines of force stretched beyond the stars.
Brock’s answering signal came.
Surely, Ames thought, he could tell Brock. Surely he could tell somebody.
Brock’s shifting energy pattern communed, "Aren’t you coming, Ames?"
"Will you take part in the contest?"
"Yes!" Ames’s lines of force pulsed erratically. "Most certainly. I have thought of a whole new art-form. Something really unusual."
"What a waste of effort! How can you think a new variation can be thought of after two hundred billion years. There can be nothing new."
For a moment Brock shifted out of phase and out of communion, so that Ames had to hurry to adjust his lines of force. He caught the drift of other-thoughts as he did so, the view of the powdered galaxies against the velvet of nothingness, and the lines of force pulsing in endless multitudes of energy-life, lying between the galaxies.
Ames said, "Please absorb my thoughts, Brock. Don’t close out. I’ve thought of manipulating Matter. Imagine! A symphony of Matter. Why bother with Energy. Of course, there’s nothing new in Energy; how can there be? Doesn’t that show we must deal with Matter?"
Ames interpreted Brock’s energy-vibrations as those of disgust.
He said, "Why not? We were once Matter ourselves back-back- Oh, a trillion years ago anyway! Why not build up objects in a Matter medium, or abstract forms or-listen, Brock-why not build up an imitation of ourselves in Matter, ourselves as we used to be?"
Brock said, "I don’t remember how that was. No one does."
"I do," said Ames with energy, "I’ve been thinking of nothing else and I am beginning to remember. Brock, let me show you. Tell me if I’m right. Tell me."
"No. This is silly. It’s-repulsive."
"Let me try, Brock. We’ve been friends; we’ve pulsed energy together from the beginning-from the moment we became what we are. Brock, please!"
Ames had not felt such a tremor along his own lines of force in-well, in how long? If he tried it now for Brock and it worked, he could dare manipulate Matter before the assembled Energy-beings who had so drearily waited over the eons for something new.
The Matter was thin out there between the galaxies, but Ames gathered it, scraping it together over the cubic light-years, choosing the atoms, achieving a clayey consistency and forcing matter into an ovoid form that spread out below.
"Don’t you remember, Brock?" he asked softly. "Wasn’t it something like this?"
Brock’s vortex trembled in phase. "Don’t make me remember. I don’t remember."
"That was the head. They called it the head. I remember it so clearly, I want to say it. I mean with sound." He waited, then said, "Look, do you remember that?"
On the upper front of the ovoid appeared HEAD.
"What is that?" asked Brock.
"That’s the word for head. The symbols that meant the word in sound. Tell me you remember, Brock!"
"There was something," said Brock hesitantly, "something in the middle." A vertical bulge formed.
Ames said, "Yes! Nose, that’s it!" And NOSE appeared upon it. "And those are eyes on either side," LEFT EYE-RIGHT EYE.
Ames regarded what he had formed, his lines of force pulsing slowly. Was he sure he liked this?
"Mouth," he said, in small quiverings, "and chin and Adam’s apple, and
the collarbones. How the words come back to me." They appeared on the form.
Brock said, "I haven’t thought of them for hundreds of billions of years. Why have you reminded me? Why?"
Ames was momentarily lost in his thoughts, "Something else. Organs to hear with; something for the sound waves. Ears! Where do they go? I don’t remember where to put them!"
Brock cried out, "Leave it alone! Ears and all else! Don’t remember!"
Ames said, uncertainly, "What is wrong with remembering?"
"Because the outside wasn’t rough and cold like that but smooth and warm. Because the eyes were tender and alive and the lips of the mouth trembled and were soft on mine." Brock’s lines of force beat and wavered, beat and wavered.
Ames said, "I’m sorry! I’m sorry!"
"You’re reminding me that once I was a woman and knew love; that eyes do more than see and I have none to do it for me."
With violence, she added matter to the rough-hewn head and said, "Then let them do it" and turned and fled.
And Ames saw and remembered, too, that once he had been a man. The force of his vortex split the head in two and he fled back across the galaxies on the energy-track of Brock-back to the endless doom of life.
And the eyes of the shattered head of Matter still glistened with the moisture that Brock had placed there to represent tears. The head of Matter did that which the energy-beings could do no longer and it wept for all humanity, and for the fragile beauty of the bodies they had once given up, a trillion years ago.
The surgeon looked up without expression. "Is he ready?"
"Ready is a relative term," said the med-eng. "We’re ready. He’s restless."
"They always are. . . . Well, it’s a serious operation."
"Serious or not, he should be thankful. He’s been chosen for it over an enormous number of possibles and frankly, I don’t think . . ."
"Don’t say it," said the surgeon. "The decision is not ours to make."