“Here, you should have this. It had been your idea.” My good friend Erikal hurried toward us and tossed me the recorder.
Cleo leaned in to take a look. She and I had been friends our entire lives, and that day we reclined and chatted on the mossy forest floor of the Commons, our tribe's social gathering place near my home. It lay in the center of the Deo Forest, which lay somewhere within our mortal world--the world between the earth and sky.
The articulated copper-gold object--cylindrical, with petals like an imaginary swamp flower about to bloom--teetered on my hand. Glints of Sunlight reflected off the metallic petals, and a tiny blue light appeared on the side. The item possessed a haunting beauty. No other such device existed, as far as I knew; although rumors of recorders and similar magical items had always filtered through our people like an opaque childhood memory.
We usually called devices magical when few had the knowledge or fortitude to make them. Their extreme rarity made them special; at least, that is how I understood it. The spirit residing in our computers helped us make everything, including such items. But I paid little attention to the design and creation of machines to which the computer-spirit bestowed intelligence, magical or otherwise.
The idea for this item came about several weeks before when Erikal had told me that he discovered, in his computer, the secret of how to record sound, which prompted me to ask if he could record my voice. I had not seen him since. He even missed my eighteenth birthday.
He stood over us and hurriedly explained how to use the device. “Make sure you have it recite back. You’ll be amazed.” He left as if returning to some vital task.
I shrugged and pressed one of its two buttons.
“Hello, recorder. Capture my voice,” I said.
To have it recite back, I pressed the other button.
“Hello, recorder. Capture my voice."
“That’s absolutely amazing,” Cleo said. “Do that again.”
"What should I say?"
"Pretend you're talking to people far away."
I again pressed the record button, placed it close to my lips, and said the first thing that bubbled up in my mind. “To the spirits and souls of the dead in the immortal province beyond the sky or the Underworld below, do you remember what a forest is? Shall I remind you while you sit in the quiet depths and the dim stolen light of the Sun, where the memory of your life has faded to a whisper?”
We again listened to it.
“Do I sound that funny?”
Cleo’s large beautiful eyes glistened. “It sounds like you. I like your imaginings. Tell it more.”
She loved it when I talked about far, unknown places. I again had it record. “To anyone in the world between the earth and sky, in the lands beyond the Deo--far, far away past the mountains or rumored islands of the sea--perhaps there is no forest there either. I'll introduce us..." I looked at her and thought about what to say.
“Tell them about the Deo. And maybe someday you can give them the recorder.”
“...we have everything we need in our forest," I said. " Many things around, such as the Deo trees and our tribe itself, are named after my family’s surname, Deo, because my ancestors first inhabited the lands.”
She slapped my arm. “Braggart."
“You told me to tell it more.”
“You’re a storyteller. Why don’t you tell those far-away people a story?”
"A traditional one?" I asked.
"If you prefer."
“Then I’d realize how awful I sound.”
She placed her hand on mine. “No, then you will hear what others hear.”
“Perhaps later.” Preferring to daydream with Cleo, I placed the little machine in my pocket. I did not bother to deactivate it. We smiled at one another, threw our arms behind our heads, and looked past the tree branches at clouds beyond.
Thinking of it as a curio, for three months I disinterestedly carted the little magic item about.
Two years in the future
Above that sky in the broad expanses of the immortals, a deity of extreme beauty and shimmering golden irises grasped the recording device.
Her named reverberated through its consciousness.
“...the goddess of Gold, the color of the morning Sun.”
In moments, everything it had contained entered her mind.
These may be my last mortal words, but I promised you, she whispered to herself. For an entire week, without rest, she talked and the device listened. The two years of conversations, soliloquies and thought within, she refashioned...
-as a story.