Ozymandias at the End of History
Here I sit amidst Heaven-spiting spires of concrete and plaster. Never higher towards Heaven have we built and never further from there in our hearts have we been.
There were my arcane halls of learning and there were my proud ramparts bristling thick with engines of carnage. Behind great iron doors were sealed stack after stack of twice abstracted currencies. All nations of the earth bowed at my feet and shook with terror at my displeasure.
There, ensconced in heights of comfort unseen in the annals of History, peaks of prowess in all things known, rot like gangrene on my wounded heart festered. For what else remains for a venal man when all his immediate pains are dulled, his base desires instantly gratified? He slowly goes mad.
In all my empire, I had everything: women, riches and slaves to be the twisted sports of my cruel pride. Doing whatever I wished, pouring dark poison into the hole in my heart, never wondering how this hole always seemed to grow larger.
I had everything except for a mirror, a true mirror and not just some petty, glass bauble of vanity. That which could’ve shown me the black-rot ugliness of my own heart and the true poverty of spirit surrounding me.
Now the blackness has claimed me, rot spreading and growing until it pulled down everything: stealing riches; absconding with women; freeing slaves; shattering high ramparts; burning halls of learning; vanquishing even my very soul, dragging it down, further down.
What was the penultimate insult? That my empire fell, that I was destroyed, and the world kept turning. History didn’t halt with a screech, careening over a cliff into nothingness with me. Rather, it hit the brakes, and I realized too late that I neither wore a seat belt nor had any airbags.
Now I own nothing in all my empire—what’s left of it—but a mirror, a true mirror. I don’t have this mirror to see myself—not anymore does this need unseen gnaw at me—and it doesn’t show me this either. In this blackness, I can see myself all around me.
No, this mirror shows me all that I could’ve been and was not; where I might be now, but am not because of the choices I made freely. Long years I labored foolishly to craft for myself a personal heaven, a paradise of pleasure, a personal salvation from conscience. Now I have my own personal Hades and my own personal torment for all of eternity.
Here I sit amidst the ruined ashes of my soul. Haunted by and haunting fire-scorched and empty halls of concrete and plaster. Nothing but ghosts of better days surround me in this place. My empire of the damned.