He looked out and all he surveyed was his. Sea, land, sky, space, the very light from the stars. He was a ruler without parallel. His word was law, his every desire realised. His rule was one of time and space, for such was his legend that were he to simply disappear one day he would merely transform into godhood, an eternal presence in the minds and actions of his servants. Under his control were an armada of ships that could blot out the sun, quite literally in fact as, on a whim, he had once called forth the inconceivable numbers of his ships to encircle a star so that no light from it could escape his clutch. As the ships then dispersed he displayed the completeness of his rule over time and space as people on worlds across the universe would look to that star, perhaps billions of years in the future, and they would see it disappear then reappear. They would know that even the heavens bowed to his rule. At times, he would hold the fate of worlds in his hands, condemn them to death and then reverse his decision just so they knew they lived at his pleasure. He did this without question or resistance for to do so would be as unfeasible as to question or resist the laws of nature. He was all of this. He was omnipotence incarnate, and he was terrified.
The ruler had not recognised the feeling at first and so had called on a physician to examine him, believing that some ailment had been so bold as to afflict him. The trembling wretch had pronounced his ruler the pinnacle of health, such that his very touch could be a salve or balm for the feeble masses of the universe. He sent the physician from his sight and eventually came to the conclusion that he was in fact terrified.
He was terrified because people were forgetting him.
It had all started one day when he was walking through some filthy neighbourhood, simply because he could. In fear and deference, the local population had fled into their dwellings at the news of his coming. That is all except for one adolescent. The ruler had rounded a corner to be confronted by this peasant. Rather than realising its mistake and removing its presence, the fiend had greeted the ruler as it would anyone who was of no consequence. In his rage, the ruler obliterated the obnoxious whelp before his guards had even moved a muscle. He removed himself from that place and had it burned to the ground to prevent any other misguided individuals afflicting him with their presence.
He had thought no more of it and had continued with his glorious reign. Then it happened again. He entered his private chamber to find someone still cleaning. Ordinarily he would have just removed such a failure from his service and sent it to the most fearsome gaol he could find. But this one had the audacity to ask him if he was the one who lived there and made so much mess. He had it fired into a star.
These two incidents had left the ruler exhausted, so he resolved to go to a more agreeable planet. He asked his ship’s captain to land next to a certain lake on a planet which he found supremely picturesque and soothing. His cruisers were always allowed to land wherever it was he desired. Normal protocols did not apply to him. He was therefore apoplectic when he was informed that a security team from the planet had been launched and were informing the captain they could not land there and would be boarded if they did not stop. As the ruler watched the planet burn under a hail of asteroids he had his fleet pick from near orbit and rain down upon it, he could only wonder what the hell was happening?
The ruler resolved that the next time an incident like this occurred he would attempt to contain his rage and have the insolent being that dared forget him, the most powerful being in existence, examined. He did not have to wait long. He entered his throne room to find all his personal guards standing to attention. All that is, except for one who remained seated and looked with confusion as to why its fellow guards were standing to attention. It looked quizzically at the being who had just entered the room. The ruler saw there was no recollection in its eyes. The forgetful guard was taken to be examined.
The ruler waited impatiently for news of why the guard had forgotten him. He had told his best physicians to leave no stone unturned, to rip the guard apart atom by atom if they had to and examine each particle of its being to find the reason it would forget the ruler. The plebeian who had first forgotten him could well have been mentally inferior to such a level that it did not recognise its ruler. But not one of his guards. They were handpicked for their physical and mental superiority, and their distinct lack of deficiencies or disloyalty. It should have been impossible for one of them to fail so appallingly, and yet it had happened. A thousand possibilities passed through his great mind. Had it been drugged? could it have been caused by a cyber implant? perhaps some strange disease had warped its mind? Whatever the reason, he was sure his physicians would find it.
They found nothing. No reason for why the guard would forget the great and terrible being that it guarded. The ruler’s personal guards were closely monitored physically so that only those in peak condition were put on active duty, so there were plenty of records for comparison. But they showed no anomalies or abnormalities. The guard was physically the same as it had been before. Every test they had done showed that it spoke what it thought was the truth and was not feigning ignorance. The ruler had the guard destroyed, it being no longer of any use, but his rage continued unabated.
Soon they numbered in their hundreds. Not long after there were thousands. Beings across the universe forgot their incomparable ruler and were taken to be examined. The ruler enacted a decree that twice a day every single being under his rule would be forced to declare their unfailing loyalty to their ruler and they would speak his name. Anyone failing to come to his officials was taken for examination. Anyone that came but had forgotten his name was taken. Any official that forgot who the name belonged to that people kept saying to them was taken. Physicians, scientists, mystics, shamans, spiritualists, all were used to try and uncover why the ruler was being forgotten. But to no avail. They were forgetting him, and more and more kept on forgetting him.
A man woke up one day. He was surprised because he did not remember going to sleep. In fact, he did not remember anything at all. The room he was in was audaciously grand, and large. He thought he would surely remember being in this place before, but he did not. The man left the room to try and find out something, anything, about where he was, and more importantly who he was. The entire building, or palace he supposed was a better word for it, was just as grand and ostentatious as the room he had awoken in.
The man heard a commotion somewhere up ahead and went toward it, hoping to encounter someone who knew more than he did. As he went he passed a mirror and looked at his reflection. The man was surprised to see he was clothed incredibly richly, regally one might say. But he had no clue as to why he would be wearing them. More importantly he was looking at a face that he did not recognise, even if the face was his.
The man came to the source of the commotion. It was in a room that was full of impressive and expensive looking items. Well, less full than it had been. There were dozens of people going about with arms full of artefacts and pieces that must have been priceless. One of them noticed him enter the room. “Hey,” it called out to him. “Where did you find the clothes? Are their more?”
“I don’t know. I woke up wearing them. Who lives here?” the man replied.
“I don’t know. Nobody does. But its full of expensive stuff like this so it might as well be mine.” The thief went to make off but the man stopped him before he went.
“Excuse me, but do you know who I am?” the man said. The thief would have just left him for asking such a stupid question, but something in the man’s voice made him wait. “No I don’t. Why who are you?”
“I don’t know,” said the man. As the thief made off with his haul the man muttered “I’ve forgotten.”