Load Shot

He woke up to the cold light of dawn following the greatest triumph in his career with an oddly empty feeling and a strong seam of sadness dug deeply in his soul that he had never quite experienced before. While a bit of the buzz had hung over from the success of the previous day, even the knowledge that he had created something that would stand as his legacy for the rest of his life and probably for many years after was not enough to soothe the anxiety and strange sense of futility that hung about the air around him; if he had to put a word to it, it would be “bereft.” He felt bereft. He thought back to the moment when he unleashed his masterpiece on a waiting world — the sense of anticipation as he ushered it into the stream where a million eager eyes awaited, the brief bit of doubt he allowed himself to feel as he sat sweating out the response, the ultimate and gratifying shower of accolades as the crowds roared their approval and the calls and letters came in from those he had admired early on in his own career acknowledging him now as the master, regretfully but respectfully paying tribute to the way his genius had exceeded anything they had even dreamed of birthing into the world in their own lives. He focused on the moment of conception once again, the lightning that went through his veins at the instant of realization that he had come up with something even he had not known he was capable of creating, how it were as if the kind of divine inspiration of which he had heard the great poets speak but had never really given credence to before because it seemed so unlikely had now brushed him with its genius and allowed him to do with it what he would. And then he snapped back into the world in which he now lived, a world he had made, to be sure, but one that he ruefully realized would always now carry the tinge of the past, the increasingly diminishing memories of a moment in which he had become like a god, and every hour after where he could never quite scale that peak again. He tried to comfort himself with the knowledge that only a handful, perhaps two others at most, had ever even seen the vista from the vantage point from which he had once looked out, but regardless of what he told himself he kept being dragged down by the terrible truth that no matter how mighty his vision and how powerful his performance, he would never know such a sense of complete control again. He sighed and turned over, pulling the pillow over his head and closing his eyes tightly, trying to go back to sleep so that he might for at least a few minutes more avoid the tragic knowledge with which he would be forced to contend for each day of the rest of his existence: It was all downhill from here. And then he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer.