If you've read Warrior of the Ages, this little interview of the main character might be of interest to you. When I write, I write much more than goes into the book. Every time I think of a question, I write scenes out so that I know the where, why, and how of the book.
This is a scene I wrote as though someone Kahtar trusted and could speak to had asked him what it was like to die. In my mind he was speaking to Beth, a melancholy late night conversation where he opened up and said exactly the truth. Which, of course, you have to do when speaking to Beth.
Your comments would be much appreciated!
Kahtar’s Comments on Dying
There’s an emptiness between times. I mean after I die, and before I repeat again. I don’t ever remember being a baby, and I remember who I am about the age of consciousness, maybe four or five years old, but I’m sure about that emptiness between repeats, and that it has nothing to do with the time I don’t remember who I am yet. I sense something happens during the in-between, but I have nothing more than a vague sense that something did happen.
That’s not what you wanted to know though. You are curious about death.
It doesn’t define your life. Death is usually just one bad day. I would have a hard time pining what deaths went with which life most of the time. The lives stick out more, though some of the timeframe of deaths are easier to remember. I died from the plague three times – twice as a child – so I remember when and where. My entire clan died when a meteor hit that bay in what you now call Canada, I remember that.
Don’t misunderstand. I remember plenty of deaths. It is why I collect those weapons Beth insisted I put down in the basement. I just can’t usually remember which one went with which life. This will not be a pleasant topic. Are you certain you want to know?
Of course it hurts, don’t be ridiculous. I’m always a warrior though, so I’ve never had the pleasure of dying of old age, or in my sleep. I’ve often wished I’d someday know those deaths. I used to think that if I could choose one death, it would be to go while making love to a woman. Now that I have one - a woman that is - I wouldn’t want to waste a moment of lovemaking by dying during it.
The worse way? Dying with regret and failure, dying with no honor or purpose. Alone? We all die alone, that doesn’t matter.
I know what you meant by what’s the worse way. It’s hard to say what is the worst physical death. Torture is bad, there are many ways to hurt a man, but death is welcome then, a gift. I would not say death itself hurts at all, just the path there.
No, normally I don’t welcome it at all. I’m a warrior; I have my duty to live for. I fight death. I’ve particularly hated drowning – for example – when a ship goes down in a storm. Being able to scan makes it worse; you know there is no hope of rescue or land. You know you’ll die of thirst in the middle of all that water, but it would be dishonorable to give up and accept. So you fight it. You get so waterlogged your skin peels off, so sunburned you blister and bleed. If you’re lucky sharks find you. It doesn’t feel lucky when you sense them coming, or when they take a bite and drag you under. It is worse, though, when the sharks don’t come. You battle yourself then, so tempted to sink beneath the waves, but unable to allow it. It is not easy to be Covenant Keeper. It is not easy to be Warrior of ilu.
Both freezing to death and burning are horribly similar in some ways, but fire is worse. You actually burn eventually, like wood I mean. I know that I’ve been unable to fight it to the end with fire. That I breathed in smoke on purpose to end it. There comes a point with pain, when the man vanishes, and the animal takes control. It is horrible to witness…freezing hurts, but then you grow tired, unable to fight it and you sleep.
War? Battle? We do not have the adjectives. It is chaos and insanity, both in ancient wars and modern battlefields. As a Covenant Keeper I do not believe killing should ever be easy. You should look a man in the eye, and kill him with mercy when it must be done. There is an evil in killing by pushing a button. A detachment that is dangerous. Your soul knows though, perhaps the most dangerous part is you can’t heal after it. You must know and suffer what you inflict on others.
Poison is particularly gruesome. I breathed mustard gas in the Great War, separated from my clan I went the same way as the other men I fought beside. You cannot heal yourself. No, I don’t lament that fact, only state it. ilu thought of everything, we need each other to live, it is as it should be. The worst poison I ever ingested has blessedly been eradicated. It was not a Seeker poison, but a Covenant Keeper poison. I died for three years, it was indeed hell.
All rights reserved
by S. R. Karfelt
A bit melancholy isn't it? Kahtar is quite good at living with his part-time immortality, but he is only human despite it. I've always thought immortality would be horrific, obviously by this story. What do you think immortality would be like?