"The term 'dialogism' is most commonly used to denote the quality of an instance of discourse that explicitly acknowledges that it is defined by its relationship to other instances, both past, to which it responds, and future, whose response it anticipates." – The Living Handbook of Narratology

The Tourist

The moment he hits the ground I feel it too. The pain, the shock, the complete obliteration of consciousness stabs at me as if a sword had just been driven through my chest, and without being able to fully explain why I find myself buckled over, heaving, unable to see. I wrap my arms tight around my chest, almost an attempt to keep him out, and even though I was not his intended victim it feels like he has somehow snaked his way up through my brain stem and possessed me as well.

Suddenly I'm in my office in Japan, idly letting the Millennium Eye slide between my fingers and wondering how it is that one piece of ancient gold can render people so completely vulnerable and intensely helpless.

For a moment I'm looking over my shoulder at the sunset-splattered destruction of Alcatraz as it rears towards the horizon then collapses back into the shore. I can bite down and taste blood and I imagine it is the blood of everything I have ever destroyed and abandoned. I'm eating everyone that has destroyed and abandoned me, chewing holes in my own tongue.

Suddenly I'm standing in Pegasus' dingy basement, only able to look on in terror as the life force of the only person I have ever loved is robbed from me. And I am completely impotent. As his spirit goes I feel mine draining as well, as if my spirit was dependent on his, as if he has been keeping me alive this entire time and I had never noticed it until just now.

For an instant my vision blurs and all my limbs are fighting me. They're staging an uprising, demanding that I stay alive. But my vision is just a narrow point of light. I'm breathing in burning ash and it's staining my brain black. Every sound in the universe joins together in a kind of astringent, senseless scream, telling me that it's time to die. It's just a metaphor, of course, just an illusion. But it's also real. And it's familiar. One thing you never expect is that dying will feel safe. But it does. It's comforting. It feels like coming home.

For a moment I'm standing on the table in the boardroom, my eyes burning a hole in that broken window. My hands are still hot and stinging, and I can feel the neat spider web trails of blood dripping off my fingers and onto the pristine white carpet floor.

For a second I'm seeing Noa for the last time, though I do not know that. Gozaburo pats me on the back, tells me I should be glad that I have won. I should be proud. Noa was the first of many adversaries that I will face, and my ruthlessness and exacting lack of compassion will certainly prove invaluable as I face the second set of challenges. I wonder where they are taking him, that little boy, but it doesn't occur to me to ask. I guess that I don't actually want to know.

Suddenly Mokuba is grabbing my finger at our father's funeral, and I know that in that gesture he's transferring that role to me. In his hand I hold the responsibility to be kind, to be wise, to always put his interests above my own and to protect him. I know that I have already failed to live up to these expectations, and at the thought that I have failed my first performance evaluation I grimace and feel close to fainting.

And, at last, I'm standing on the palace steps, and under the expectant eyes of my new subjects, I take the Millennium Puzzle and hurl it to the ground. As it shatters into dozens of golden pieces I realize that I have finally freed myself from the shackles of helplessness, from the continuous cycle of oppression, corruption, and misery and I realize that I have not understood a single event that has ever happened to me in my life until just now.

I didn't want to tell these parts of the story, but I realize now that—to a certain extent—refusing to look far enough back into the past is an assault on the truth. It's a kind of violence against myself.

As the last memory fades, I slowly regain consciousness. I feel like I've made some sort of gross violation—I have stolen someone else's memory and stolen his life as well.

Or has he stolen mine?

I watch, unable to breathe, as he battles with that creature inside him, wrestling himself to the ground and writhing with agony - curling in on himself and collapsing as his own mind aims to destroy everything that his heart holds dear. I watch as he clutches at his head and at his chest, realizing, gradually, with mounting horror, that the source of his unhappiness and his anger is all within himself - just lying latent and waiting for the opportune moment to metastasize. I watch as he wills himself to be free of some nameless evil, some persistent doom that has shadowed him his entire life, always just in the corner of his eye and impossible to confront directly.

But no matter how hard he wills it, it's just not good enough. No abstract intellectual commitment has never been enough to actually make him stop.

He would have lost it all if that girl hadn't been there, willing to save him. I still think about that. If she hadn't died for him.

With every moment he comes closer to freedom, and each step he takes makes me feel smaller. It feels like I've never opened my eyes before. I guess I haven't.

And then there's a breaking point. Like the sun cracking over the horizon and burning away the final traces of night. The sky lifts up and takes its weight with it, and I can finally breathe and I feel like I could lift up and fly anywhere.

Standing before me is the same man, and objectively I can see that we look similar enough. But I can no longer recognize him. His face is clear and composed, his eyes sparkling, standing so tall and so—calm. He is the same and yet completely transformed.

He stares at me in silence for a moment, his face is cool and coated with this contradictory kind of reserved empathy. Then he slowly turns away, calling over his shoulder. "You're welcome." His voice comes from every conceivable direction.

I stand rooted to my spot a moment longer, stunned, and shivering, feeling that my mass has been reduced by half. I watch as his figure diminishes but doesn't actually get any smaller. I am certain that our paths will not cross again, the same way that parallel lines never meet. Voice shaking and senses still off balance, I can only stammer out one thing:

"Thank you."