The Diary of the Centurion

They call me the Centurion, but I don’t think I’m Roman. Most likely, I think, I’m from Northern Africa. That was a very long time ago.

I remember a woman. She may have been my mother, or my sister, or an aunt, or even just someone from my village. It must have been a village, because I don’t remember cities. She seemed old at the time, but she could have been any age at all. I was quite young and everyone seemed older.

My first lucid memory, the first memory I have start to finish of anything happening, was in a city. I don’t remember what city, but there were tapestries and people. It bustled, people shoved me past. The buildings had pointed arches and pale stone. Perhaps it was Constantinople. I must have been four or five hundred years old. A man tried to stab me and take my purse. The blade was old, and broke on my chest. I took the knife from him and beat him. Someone gave me a melon. He must have been a nuisance for anyone to be grateful. I left that city soon after.

Men can only remember so much. A single lifetime is full of thousands of forgotten moments, even stressful and poignant moments can vanish given enough time. I have lived more lifetimes than I can imagine.

I wonder, sometimes, if that’s affected me. If my father was distant as a child, but I cannot remember him in any case, will it change how I act? Perhaps he was an important part of my upbringing. Perhaps I never knew him. Either way, I remember a man, bald and tall. He cut me, once. As I recall, it was ritualistic. I have never bled since then.

I was married three times. Once, she was a young woman who I believe was from my hometown. She is a vague impression in my mind, a shape and a color. Her face and her name are long gone. I don’t even know why I married her. My next wife was from the Middle East. She spoke fluently and was well-educated. She was killed in a battle next to me – I was pressed into service during one of the Crusades. By that point, I had seen enough people die that it made little difference to me if I took a few more lives (I am sure that that thought will be edited out if this journaling is ever made public. A flagship hero should not have had a period in which life was a pittance). I do not recall if I cried over her. My last wife was an old woman, in Europe. I married her in order to take possession of her property when she died, so that I could turn it over to her children without it being seized by whatever they were calling the local officials. She was a lovely woman, in spite of being abundantly foolish.

I came to America twenty years ago, landing in Ellis Island. The humanity stank from the ship. I don’t know exactly why I came here. Possibly I was afraid that I would be pressed into service in the war brewing in Europe. There is irony, there, given that I partook in that war with more intensity than if I had been on the front lines murdering every Axis or Ally – however the cards may have fallen – with my own two hands.

An Australian named Oliphant found me in New York. He’d followed a legend, tracked me down. He said that the Axis had been conducting research in every direction. In fact, there are rumors they even had a darkly superstitious branch that conducted research into the field of Nuclear Physics. What exactly they hoped to uncover is unguessable. But many of their most skilled researchers were defecting. It is known now what atrocities they were committing, even hoping that their camps of mass murder could fuel rituals giving them more power. Such senseless death – The Power is not a bloodthirsty god, who will return more if his thirst is slaked. The Power simply is. But they believed that I was the key, and they took me to Rochester to study me. I believe that they were considering, if the destructive capabilities took them by surprise, to transport the research to another facility located somewhere in the western states. That, though, is another world and not this one.

I briefly met Doctor Oppenheimer in my time. Many people ask about him, though I do not fully understand the fascination. He seemed pleasant enough, though shaken by the idea of the undertaking.

The research produced a number of humans who could exhibit a powerful array of abilities. Men who could tear through a stone wall in seconds, women who could burn down a building in a moment. In a way, they beat me out. I have no such ability on my own – they offered to grant me a measure of superhuman strength, or of speed, or any number of other spells. I turned them down. I had no desire for my one enchantment, and adding more for an eternity of living could prove a disappointment that I could not outwait.

Or so I told them. I don’t believe they know that I kept a few of the spells for myself. Just in case.

You have already heard of the assault on Japan. The fearsome power that rocked the world, horrifying with absolute destruction even as it captured the eye of the nations. The USSR has their own mages now, stocking them up with an eye towards the Western world. I do not much care for the conflict. But I am the symbol of Salvation Incorporated, held up as the premier hero: The Centurion. It’s a joke to them, really.

I must go buy groceries now. I shall pen again soon.