"An Oral History of the Apocalypse".

Paula Stiles


Summary: A historian interviews Methos about his 1000 years as Death on a Horse.

Disclaimer: Davis/Panzer Productions, Rysher Entertainment, and Gaumont Television own the Highlander universe. I am also cheerfully quoting one of Smirnoff's "No Imperfections" ad campaign commercials, and making absolutely no financial profit from it, whatsoever. I wouldn't be making any money off of this, even if the following interview were real.

Note: This is set three years after 'Armed Intervention.'



AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE APOCALYPSE

Pierson [waving a hand in front of the camera]: A video camera? Huh.

Monterey: Um, yeah. It came in useful when I taped some interviews of RPCV's for an article last year.

Pierson: RPCV's? You mean the United States Peace Corps?

Monterey: Yeah, yes. They call the ones who have finished their service "Returned Peace Corps Volunteers". They've got these three goals, and the third one is to tell people about their experiences after they get back. So, they don't ever call them, um, "ex"-Volunteers, because they're seen as remaining members of the organization, even after they finish their service. Kind of creepy, that....

Pierson: Like the Watchers, you mean.

Monterey: Yeah, come to think of it. Anyway, I did the video bit because people who are immersed in different cultures like that--they pick up these non-verbal habits like [claps a fist into an open palm, then spreads hands slowly] that, for example. That's a very common Cameroonian version of a shrug.

Pierson [sticking his tongue out at the camera and crossing his eyes]: Really? Interesting.... I wouldn't rely too much on that here, though. It's been, um...well, it's been a really long time since the period you want to talk about. I've changed quite a bit.

Monterey: Yeah? How do you--No, wait. Let me--let me just get a time signature in on this first [faces camera]. Um...this is Alice Monterey, PhD postgraduate in the Department of Greek and Latin, University College London, interviewing Adam Pierson--AKA, Methos--November 21, 2005, at 15:01 Greenwich Standard Time--yeah, that oughtta do it....

Pierson: Now--Alice is it? Can I call you Alice?

Monterey: Sure. Should I call you Adam? Methos? Mr. Pierson? What?

Pierson: Adam is fine. Yeah, that should be fine. You said you talked to Joe about this?

Monterey [laughs]: Yeah. Yeah, I did. I guess the Watchers must be pretty desperate this year if they want to recruit me. Not that this is for the Chronicles.

Pierson: No? What is it for, then?

Monterey: Well, I got to talking to Joe one night about how it was difficult doing any social history for longer than the previous century or so because everybody who'd lived then is dead. You lose all these nuances--things that never, ever get written down. Then, I got caught up in that mess with you and the Watchers last year, and found out about Immortals.

Pierson: Joe had you translate that email I sent him?

Monterey: Yeah. He needed somebody on the outside. He didn't trust the other Watchers with it. Anyway, we got to talking after it was all done, and I was saying that it seemed a shame that when an Immortal dies--well, you lose all of this unique experience, all this oral history that nobody else has. So, Joe, I think, got it into his head to talk to you about it--

Pierson: And here we are.

Monterey: Yes, here we are.... I'm just curious--why did you agree to do this, anyway?

Pierson [meditative pause]: I'm easily amused?

Monterey [laughs]: Huh. I've heard that about you.

Pierson: From Joe, no doubt. Seriously, though--that trouble with the Watchers that you mentioned from last year? Well, I noticed at the time that my story--my voice, you could say--did not seem to be heard very much in that affair. People make all sorts of assumptions about me, all the time. If, as you were saying, something were to, well, happen to me, this is one way to correct that problem, I think.

Monterey: Fair enough. I take it that you and the Watchers are not currently on good terms.

Pierson: You could say that. I am now officially an excommunicate Watcher, which is a step up from a renegade, my previous status, I suppose. At least I'm not being hunted, anymore. Not actively, at any rate.

Monterey: Well, just to let you know--you get a copy of this, of course, and the Watchers don't, not during my lifetime. And I'm not telling anybody about it. Aside from the fact that I don't want to end up in a psych ward, well, people shouldn't have to suffer for telling their own stories, you know?

Pierson: Yes, well, I have written some things down....

Monterey: Yeah, but I'm sure you didn't write down everything. Joe says that you tell these amazing stories at the Bar. It's much easier to free-associate verbally than in writing. I'd just be using this--well, you know what it's like. You just finished a PhD at the University of Paris, right?

Pierson [laughs]: Yesss. My advisor was beginning to get pretty skeptical about my ever submitting my thesis, for awhile, but I did finally defend it last winter.

Monterey: And now you're teaching?

Pierson: Off and on. My personal life's been a bit chaotic, lately. Plays Hell with the resume, I'm afraid.

Monterey: Yeah. I hear that. Well, basically, I would just be using these interviews as a sort of check against what archaeological and literary evidence we now have. If I had an overall idea about how things really happened back then, it would help me stay on track better in formulating some methodological theory about that era.

Pierson: Ah. It's an intriguing idea, but you know, I really don't remember things that far back nearly as well as people assume that I do.

Monterey: That's a common thing in oral history. People don't ever remember things exactly the same way--not even eye-witnesses to the same event. Don't worry about it.

Pierson: I could be lying through my teeth throughout the whole thing, too, you know.

Monterey [laughs]: Ulterior motivation is a pretty common element of oral history, as well.

Pierson: Okay. So, now that we've worked our way through the methodology of this project--what do you want to know?

Monterey: Is there anything that you want to start with?

Pierson: Mmm, not offhand. What do you know already?

Monterey: Not much, really. I understand that you're about 5000 years old--at least, that's how far back you remember.

Pierson: Yes.

Monterey: And that you were one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse for a millennium back in the Bronze Age. You were Death.

Pierson [muttering]: Huh. 'Not much'. Thanks, Joe.

Monterey: Sorry?

Pierson: No, don't worry about it. Not your problem.

Monterey: Okaay. And I understand that the other three Horsemen are recently (relatively speaking) deceased.

Pierson [quietly]: Yeah....They are.

Monterey: Is that going to be a problem for you? I don't want to reopen old wounds.

Pierson: Nono. That's all right. Let's move on, shall we? Are you going to have a problem with, um, interviewing somebody out of the Bible? Any religious issues about that?

Monterey: Not really, no. I understand that the Number of the Beast--

Pierson: 666, you mean?

Monterey: Yeah, that. I understand that that was a secret code for Nero. So, no, I'm not easily freaked out by 2000 year old propaganda, you know?

Pierson [laughs]: Got it. Good point.

Monterey: I mean, God, if you've got a Smirnoff's Vodka commercial with the Anti-Christ getting his 666 tattoo taken off and turning into an angel....

Pierson [laughs harder]: Oh, yeah! I saw that one. A *lecherous* angel.

Monterey: "Would you like another cherry, Brother Damien?"

Pierson [deep voice]: "Mmm, you read my mind, Sister."

Monterey: Arf. You do that a little too well [both laugh very hard].

*Pause, while interviewer and interviewee get themselves back under control.*

Pierson: Meanwhile, back at the Horsemen camp....

Monterey: So to speak. Um, now, you said earlier that you didn't remember everything exactly, that you didn't have total recall?

Pierson: Well, no, of course not. I'm only Human. As far as I know, the only real difference between Immortals and Mortals is that we heal faster, that we can survive fatal wounds--

Monterey: Except for a beheading.

Pierson: My, Joe has a big mouth, doesn't he? I'm gonna have a talk with him about that, I think. Except for a beheading, yes. And, oh, yes, we're sterile, and nobody seems to know where we come from. We are all foundlings.

Monterey: And then, there's the Quickening.

Pierson: Well, true, there is that. But you know, that could just be that we have very, very active--I dunno--central nervous systems, maybe. But no, everything else is pretty Human. So, I really don't have any extra space up here [taps head], you know? I forget things all the time. I just can't hold onto it all when I only have space for a century's worth, or so.

Monterey: So, remembering yesterday's breakfast is a pretty low priority, I take it?

Pierson: Hell, remembering *today's* breakfast, even while I'm eating it, is a pretty low priority. It's not as though I'm going to die of malnutrition, now is it?

Monterey: No. I suppose not.

Pierson: I mean, don't get me wrong. I do remember meals from 3000-4000 years ago, some of them quite clearly. It's like a story, though, that I heard once, not so much like a memory. It's like what I've heard people say about their childhoods. You remember images, sounds, but not events coherently strung together. Some memories stay with you, the way that fossils are preserved in the ground, and others are lost forever. You don't know why, and you probably never did.

Monterey: Do Immortals remember their childhoods?

Pierson: Well, I don't. I don't have any childhood memories at all. But that's just me. Something happened during my first Quickening that blocked everything that came before. Maybe I took a head on Holy Ground. I don't know--

Monterey: That's bad?

Pierson: What?

Monterey: Fighting on Holy Ground is bad?

Pierson: Oh, yes. Every Immortal treats Holy Ground--any Holy Ground--as a neutral zone. Nobody really knows what would happen if one of us took a head there. But it's a very strong superstition, that's been passed down since before my time, that whatever would happen would be bad. But from what I've heard, yes, most Immortals do remember their childhoods. I don't think that our memories are built any differently than Mortals'. It's just that, after a full lifespan or so, some sort of relativistic time dilation sets in, you know? Maybe it is to compensate for the fact that our brains aren't really big enough to hold more than that.

Monterey: So, if it's not important to your survival, it's not worth remembering.

Pierson: It is not just about survival--I may tell people that, but that's not exactly what I mean. I like life. Survival is enjoying life as well as prolonging it. If you're not enjoying yourself, then what is the point? I'm not sure that other Immortals, younger Immortals, always get that. They think that it's all about taking heads, gaining power. Well, I did that for a long, long time, and I did not learn a thing from it.

Monterey: Have you....um.

Pierson: Yes?

Monterey: Have you had a lot of, um, Challenges?

Pierson: You mean, have I killed a lot of people?

Monterey: You don't have to answer the question if it makes you uncomfortable.

Pierson: You want concrete numbers?

Monterey: You remember them all? Really?

Pierson: You sound surprised.

Monterey: Well, 5000 years. That's a long time. And for 1000 of those years you were in a pretty violent line of work. I mean, if you only took one Challenge per year, that would be, uh, 5000 challenges, yes? And I take it that you went on a lot of raids as a Horseman.

Pierson: Oh [laughs]. Oh, yeah. That was sort of our main modus operandi, you could say.

Monterey: So, even if you killed only a couple of hundred people per year--that would be a fairly low figure?

Pierson: Mm, it depended on the year. It would make a half-way decent average, I suppose. I did recently take a 200 year hiatus from taking any Challenges.

Monterey: Okay, granted. But if you killed a couple of hundred Mortals per year during your time as a Horseman, that would be--what? 10,000? 20,000?

Pierson [looks at the floor for over a minute before answering]: God, it sounds so cold, saying it like that, doesn't it? I suppose it could have been more than that. Not any less, though. Not 5000 Challenges, either. Maybe around 1000, or so. You know, I honestly don't remember. It all runs together in the end...and those aren't exactly the memories that I like to hold onto, you know?

Monterey: No. I suppose not. So, how did you join the Horsemen, anyway?

Pierson: Ohhh, that's a long story--not a very pleasant one, either. I guess you could say that I had a nice, long nervous breakdown, and then took my sweet time recovering from it.

Monterey: Uh, okay. Was this a really long time?

Pierson: The breakdown? Oh, yes. About two centuries, I think. I'm not sure. At one point, somebody whacked me over the head and threw me in a bog for a few generations. That's when I lost track. I'd been--oh, how do they put it now--'fragile' for a good century or so before that. So, burying me alive for several decades pretty much finished the job.

Monterey: I see. How did you hook up with the Horsemen?

Pierson: Well, Kronos met me right after I escaped the Bog People (no really--don't ask). He helped me get some distance from the situation, you could say. He was.... I don't know what Joe told you, but really, Kronos wasn't all that bad. It wasn't all bad--well, *always* bad between us. At the beginning, you know, Kronos was the moderating influence in the Horsemen. He was a killer, of course, but he had limits. Me, now. I was profoundly claustrophobic from being in that bloody bog. I heard voices. I was convinced--really, really convinced--that I was Death. I thought that the voices were my henchdemons reporting to me from all across the land [laughs]. I believed that I could talk to the dead. Can you believe that? Talk about a poster child for Bronze Age thorazine. I scared the Hell out of the three of them--Kronos, Silas, even Caspian. They'd just do whatever I told them to, at first, because I think that they feared that I'd fly into some sort of frenzy and go for their heads. I wouldn't have, of course. They were my brothers. They were the only stability I had left.

Monterey: So, you lived in a tent all the time--

Pierson: Mostly outside, as much as I could, in the beginning. I got over the claustrophobia, eventually. You can get over most things--even being a psychopath--in a thousand years, if you work at it.

Monterey: And you formed the Horsemen?

Pierson: I had the idea, yes. I made the decisions, yes--in the beginning. Over time, though, things changed.

Monterey: What things?

Pierson: Me, mostly. I got better after five or six centuries. Once I began to think clearly again, I lost that berserker edge. Maybe Kronos had gotten so used to the way I'd been before--I dunno. Odd, to think that rationality, being in control, can seem like a weakness when you're completely out of control. Maybe I made *them* crazy, my brothers. I still wonder about it. I just haven't found any real answers, yet.

Monterey: Do you miss them?

Pierson [stares off into space]: Yeah. Yeah, I do. I miss them a lot.

[pause in tape]

Monterey: So, how did you leave?

Pierson: What, you mean the Horsemen?

Monterey: Yes. How did you decide to leave them?

Pierson: Well, we were always a loose-knit group, you know. *I'd* wander off for decades at a time. Ironically, I had a rather better reputation on my own than as a Horseman.

Monterey: Really? Why?

Pierson: Why did I wander off, or why did I have a better reputation?

Monterey: Well...either one.

Pierson: Oh, I don't know. The others drove me a bit mad from time to time--especially Caspian. On bad days, it was all I could do not to just take his head and be done with it. He was so irritating--serial killers really are not as much fun company on a daily basis as they are for two hours on a movie screen, you know. I got bored. I wandered off.

Monterey: And your reputation?

Pierson: Well, on my own, I suppose I looked like an easier target, while still looking just dangerous enough to be competition. So, every time I rode through some pathetic town or city, I'd get stick from the local authorities. I don't much like being bullied--never did--so whoever came after me usually ended up dead. Whoever they'd been making miserable in that settlement tended to see me as a hero for that. Call it the 'Mad Max' phenomenon, if you will. I guess, in a violent world, I made for a pretty useful nutter, sometimes. Human beings are funny.

Monterey: What do you mean?

Pierson: Oh, you know, the value judgments that we make about people, based simply on their relative usefulness to us. Useful? You must be a hero. Not useful? You're a waste of space. Dangerous? You are evil, and you must be destroyed. It doesn't have anything to do with any objective measure of good and evil.

Monterey: Hmm. Pretty cynical, that.

Pierson: Pretty realistic, too.

Monterey: So, you left the Horsemen....

Pierson: Oh, yes. That. Well, governments were becoming more organized. You couldn't just ride down into the Mediterranean from the steppes and pillage at will, the way we once had. Rome and Carthage were on the rise. Greek civilization was in full bloom. Compared to Rome or Athens, living in a tent started to look pretty unappetizing, I suppose.

Monterey: This was when?

Pierson: Oh, first or second century B.C.E., I think. Yeah, around then. Anyway, I went down to Rome and got caught up in the culture down there. Hard to believe where they'd got to, considering that we'd sacked the place only three centuries before, but I liked their energy, their drive. Of course, then I led that slave revolt--

Monterey: Excuse me?

Pierson [grimaces]: Oh. Right. Why am I surprised? Joe tells you all the gory details about my being a Horseman of the Apocalypse, but conveniently forgets to mention that I was Spartacus for three years. Thank you, Joe.

Monterey: You? Spartacus?

Pierson: Now, *there's* a common reaction. He was supposed to have been a Thracian, you know--southeastern Europe? That was just south of where we rode for most of a thousand years. [pause] Is it really that unbelievable?

Monterey: Um, okay, fine. Anyway, you led a slave revolt....

Pierson: Right. And after that, well, I just lost my taste for killing for awhile. I still liked the Mediterranean, though. So, I went down to Egypt, and fell in with Julius Caesar. Nothing remarkable.

Monterey: And the other Horsemen? What did they do?

Pierson: Well, eventually, Kronos came looking for me. I was in Greece, studying, by then, not at all interested in going back to rape and pillage. Kronos insisted, so I poisoned him and tossed him into a well.

Monterey: Why didn't he come after you when he woke up?

Pierson: Oh, I hammered a cover over the well's mouth and eventually set a bunch of monks to guard it. [Monterey looks skeptical] Hey, it worked for a thousand years. You can't do much better than that.

Monterey: And the other Horsemen?

Pierson: They wandered off, I guess. I didn't go looking for them, and Silas and Caspian weren't nearly as persistent as Kronos.

Monterey: So, you didn't kill him.

Pierson: Kronos? No. Oh, I made a few half-hearted attempts, but no. I could take Caspian's head without too much sorrow. Killing Silas--that hurt. I really liked Silas; he had a gentle heart. I even tried to talk him into running off with me after we all got together, but he just wasn't interested. In the end, he died calling me a traitor and that damned near killed me. Taking out Kronos would have been ten times worse. That would have been, oh, just impossible.

Monterey: Why? Because he was your brother?

Pierson: Oh, yes. I know it sounds mad. I know, really I do. It's just that...well, the legend of Cain, of his being marked for killing Abel, that's very old. It goes back almost to my time. And I suppose it just seemed a far worse crime to me to kill a brother than it was to let him kill others. And I was hardly a virgin in that area, you know? I didn't have any moral high ground to stand on, I'm afraid. Sorry.

Monterey: So, what you're saying is that your moral code didn't allow you to judge, or kill, members of your own family, no matter how much damage they were doing to the surrounding society?

Pierson [looks taken aback]: Well...yes. I mean, I know that I should have stopped Kronos, that killing him when I did have the chance would have saved many, many lives. It's just that...I couldn't.

Monterey: You know, this is just a stab in the dark from what I've learned about societies back in your, um, period, but.... Well, I'm just wondering why you are judging yourself, and allowing yourself to be judged, by cultural standards that didn't even exist until about, oh, 250 years ago. Don't you find that a bit odd?

Pierson [disbelieving laugh]: Odd? Uh, what do you mean?

Monterey: Well, the personal moral standard that you seem to be projecting here is downright biblical--pre-biblical, if we're being pedantic. That's a very decentralized, tribal, communal code. Very violent, very unforgiving, very final. Expecting somebody with that code to just change over to a universal, kinder and gentler, humanistic code of morals--just because some of the society around him has decided that that's the way to go--seems anachronistic. Even cruel.

Pierson [defensively]: Well, we can't have the Four Horsemen rampaging around 20th century Europe, now can we? We have to learn to adapt.

Monterey [slowly and thoughtfully]: Adapt? Yeah. Change our basic natures? No. [pause] Don't you agree? [longer pause] Adam?

Pierson [sighs]: Ask me in another 5000 years.

Monterey: I can't. I'm only Mortal.

Pierson: So am I. Ask me then--if we're both still around.

Monterey: But for that I'd have to be.... Is there something you're not--

Pierson: You know, we've been at this for awhile. I'm getting a bit of a headache. Why don't we call it a day, go get a beer down at Joe's?

Monterey: But--

Pierson [smiling crookedly]: I'll buy you dinner. We can talk some more then. I want to hear more about your thesis.

Monterey: Um, well, okay. End of interview. The time is 15:33 Greenwich Standard Time....

END