The gateway of flame—a blazing quilt of blue, green, and violet—opened before me, and I gathered my nerve to step through…
Then I jolted awake, and sat bolt upright at my desk.
Never before had one of my recalls been so vivid, so convincing to me of its reality. Now I knew beyond doubt that I was doing the right thing. For hours, days, or weeks, the company would hum along just fine without me. I had higher, more urgent priorities.
I had to find the source of memories that could not be mine.
A few minutes sufficed to make sure that Becca, my assistant, had everything in hand. She could reach me, but would do so only in case of dire emergency. My best people would handle any problems that came their way; I knew that.
Although I needed to step away from my business, the mere act of exiting the building reminded me of all that I had built there. Transpheri Technologies occupied two square miles within sight of Tampa Bay, a short drive from both Tampa and St. Petersburg. I had founded it as a space startup, but it had a much more sweeping purpose: to solve great problems through brilliant, uniquely innovative technology. After Transpheri’s forty years of existence, I could not be prouder that I did not actually furnish most of those solutions. A solid majority came from the most gifted mortals that a god had ever known the good fortune to employ.
This early in the afternoon, the vast parking lot was close to full. Nonetheless, it took me little time to reach my designated parking spot. I hopped into my decadent toy, a red 1964 Corvette Stingray, and took off.
An hour later, I turned off the main highway and onto a smaller, two-lane road. At once, the exposed sky above thinned to a narrow blue pathway lined by high palms. Decades before, I had purchased a small lot of undeveloped land hidden in the trees. It struck me as a great place to get away from it all, to hear myself think when I needed that most. Now it might matter more than anything had for a very long time.
After about three miles on the two-lane highway, I reached my parcel. Other than the road itself and a short dirt driveway, no signs of civilization lingered. The trees obscured even power lines, or else none existed out here. On my five acres, I kept nothing made by humanity, only the handiwork of gods would confront me. Not for millennia had that particular condition seemed so appropriate.
I left my car, unafraid that any mortal would touch it in my absence, let alone try to steal it. I had built certain protections into my Stingray that literally no other entity had ever thought of.
I strode into the woods, which quickly obscured the highway and the car. I had chosen my five acres well: although small, it could conceal a person strangely well from the outside world, and vice versa. Such spots of mystery still remain on the earth, and I took a moment to feel gratitude for that.Now I had made myself alone with my thoughts, and I could confront the issue that had arisen before me. I am the god Hephaestus. I have lived for thousands of years, and seen mortals grow from farmers and shepherds to builders of cities and warheads, computers and spaceships. So why does it seem that I’ve seen all of this before?