Hellboy... Your fall should be like the fall of mountains... But I was before mountains. I was in the beginning and shall be forever... The first and the last... The world come full circle.
There are not many of them, all things considered: the truly old. Even on this planet, in this age, when people consider a mere hundred years, or a thousand, to be an unusual span. There are, for example, less than ten thousand humanoid individuals alive today who have personal memories of the saber-toothed tiger, the megatherium, the cave bear. There are today less than a thousand who walked the streets of Atlantis. (The first Atlantis. The other lands that bore that name were shadows, echo-Atlantises, and they came later.) There are less than five hundred living humans who remember the human civilizations that pre-dated the great lizards. (There were a few; fossil records are unreliable. Several of them lasted for millions of years.) There are roughly seventy people walking the Earth, human to all appearances (and in some cases, to all medical tests currently available) who were alive before the Earth had begun to congeal from gas and dust. How well do you know your friends, your neighbours, your lovers? Walk the streets of any city and stare carefully at the people who pass you, and know this: They are there too. The old ones.
I have lived three billion years. I might have grown huge enough to replace this entire universe. But there is a flaw in me that keeps me small. Frankenstein:
Let that be your epitaph, then.
Three million years!
The infinitely crowded panorama of human history, with its empires and its kings, its triumphs and its tragedies, covered barely one thousandth of this appalling span of time. Not only Man himself, but most of the animals now alive on Earth, did not even exist when the black enigma
was so carefully buried here, in the most brilliant and most spectacular of all the craters of the Moon.
Before the gods that made the gods
Had seen their sunrise pass,
The white horse of the white horse vale
Was cut out of the grass
I have seen thousands of millions of years, [Tavi]. In a time such as that, oceans swell and die away. Deserts become green farmlands. Mountains are ground to dust and valleys, and new mountains are born in fire. The earth itself flows like water, great ranges of land spinning and colliding, and the stars themselves spin and reel into new shapes. It is the great dance, Aleran, and the lifetime of your race is but a beat within a measure... In that time, I have seen the deaths of many things. Entire species come and go, like the sparks rising from a campfire.
I'd been alone for somewhere between 250 and 260 million years. I'd forgotten the exact date. Our prime had been the Devonian, and we'd been old news by the Permian. We'd become a joke by the Triassic and fish food by the Cretaceous. The Cenozoic had dragged by like the eon it was. At some point, I'd looked around and everyone else was gone
. I was still there, the spirit of a fish in the shape of a man
— The Creature From The Black Lagoon, by Jim Shepard
The notes were painstakingly detailed, describing the origins of each [weapon], the name of the craftsmen, and in some cases, who had owned the particular dagger, sword, or spear over the span of centuries.
Remy found himself lost in the pages and time periods, remembering snippets of his own past when weapons such as these were carried with as much ease as a designer purse or iPod.
— Dancing on the Head of a Pin: A Remy Chandler Novel
I REMEMBER WHEN THIS WILL BE AGAIN
The Tooth Fairy:
I do remember when the land was different. Ice. Many times of... ice. And the... what do you call them? The lands, the big lands... all different. Susan:
You mean continents? The Tooth Fairy:
...all different. I was the dark in the cave! The shadow in the trees! You've heard about... the primal scream? That was... at me! I was... and then... that thing, you know, that thing... all light and bright... lightning you could carry, hot little sunshine, and then there was no more dark, just shadows, and then you made axes, axes in the forests, and then...
Sometimes the discovery becomes massive and everybody in the world finds out at once and I end up on a pedestal. Sometimes they make me their leader, sometimes they call me an abomination, sometimes I get arrested and studied, usually it's all of this at once. I've been everywhere. I've done everything, spoken every language, built a pyramid, survived re-entry. History goes in cycles. If you watch it for long enough you can see the tipping points coming and be there when they happen. I invented fire, the wheel, the electric motor, antibiotics, you name it, every era, every country. Fought in X number of wars. Once, I actually ruled the whole world.
I've walked on the Moon barefoot.
"Five hundred and seventy-six thousand million, three thousand five hundred and seventy-nine years," said Marvin. "I counted them."
Eldest, that's what I am. Mark my words, my friends: Tom
was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn. He made paths before the Big People, and saw the Little People arriving. He was here before the Kings and the graves and the Barrow-wights. When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already, before the seas were bent
. He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless
- before the Dark Lord
came from Outside.
Ere iron was found or tree was hewn,
When young was mountain under moon;
was made, or wrought was woe,
It walked the forests long ago.
I was old when the Pharaohs first mounted
The jewel-deckd throne by the Nile;
I was old in those epochs uncounted
When I, and I only, was vile;
And Man, yet untainted and happy, dwelt in bliss on the far Arctic isle.
— Nemesis By H.P. Lovecraft
High up in the North in the land called Svithjod, there stands a rock. It is a hundred miles high and a hundred miles wide. Once every thousand years a little bird comes to this rock to sharpen its beak. When the rock has thus been worn away, then a single day of eternity will have gone by.
— Hendrik Willem Van Loon, The Story of Mankind
He certainly did have a lot of memories. If there had been a contest to see which single being, among all the universes inhabitants in all the endless eons of its existence, had the most in the way of stored-up memories to take out and chew over, Wan-To would have been the incontestable winner. If your mind remains clear, and Wan-To's had, you can remember a lot out of a lifetime of ten-to-the-fortieth years.
My name is Luru Parz. I was born in AD 5279, as humans once counted Time. Now I have lived so long that such dates have no meaning. We have lost the years, lost them in orders of magnitude.
Since the dawn of this universe, she'd
seen everything there was to see and been nearly everything there was to be. She'd swum the ocean depths as a plesiosaur and spent several hundred years as cave moss. She'd been there to see the invention of the wheel, the first flint axe, several hundred ice ages repeated over and over again on planets now dead and long forgotten. On this planet, she'd been there for the rise of the Roman Empire, the fall of Camelot, every Chinese dynasty, the Dark Ages, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution. She'd marvelled at the wonders of the written alphabet, the discovery of fire, and Velcro. And she'd witnessed the horrors of Genghis Khan's conquering hordes, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Pet Rock craze
: I miss the days when you didn't have to lather yourself with [sunscreen]. Adam
: You mean before people knew about the dangers of overexposure to the sun? Byrne
: No, I mean before there was a sun.
So, is this the part where you kill me? Death:
You have an inflated sense of your importance. To a thing like me, a thing like you, well... Think how you would feel if a bacterium sat at your table and started to get snarky.
This is one little planet
in one tiny solar system, in a galaxy that is barely out of its diapers. I'm old, Dean. Very old.
So I invite you to contemplate how insignificant I find you. (forks over some pizza
) Eat. Dean:
I gotta ask, how old are you? Death:
As old as God
, maybe older. Neither of us can remember anymore
. Life/Death, Chicken/Egg - regardless: at the end, I reap him too. Dean:
God? You will reap God
Oh yes. God will die too, Dean. Dean:
Well, this is way above my pay grade. Death:
Just a bit.
When your kind first huddled around the fire, I was the thing in the dark!
You know, I've been here for a very long time. I remember many things. I remember being on a shore-line, watching a little grey fish heave itself up on the beach. And an older brother saying "Don't step on that fish, Castiel. Big plans for that fish." I remember the Tower of Babel - all 37 feet of it, which I suppose was impressive at the time. And when it fell, they howled "Divine wrath!" But come on, dried dung can only be stacked so high. I remember Cain and Abel, David and Goliath, Sodom and Gomorrah.
I see in Your universal body many forms - expanded without limit, timeless. In You, there is no end, there is no beginning, and there is no middle.
A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old;
I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be.
When there were no watery depths, I was given birth, when there were no springs overflowing with water;
before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth,
before He made the world or its fields or any of the dust of the earth.
I was there when He set the heavens in place, when He marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
when He established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
when He gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when He marked out the foundations of the earth.
Then I was constantly at His side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in His presence,
rejoicing in His whole world
and delighting in mankind.
In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I am the one which was, who is, and who is yet to come. I am the Almighty.
Not all races have creation myths
. The aboleths
do not share myth stories for a simple reason: they believe it is an indisputable fact that they were the first, the primal race that existed before nearly all else, second only to the unknowable Elder Evils
that spawned them. They know this because they remember the ancient world with crystal clarity.
All else in the world is a pale imitation of their primal perfection. Even the deities themselves are subject to derision, for the aboleths know that they predate the gods. They have seen the world destroyed countless times by apocalypses both natural and artificial, yet each time the world remade itself and the aboleths survived. They are truly nightmares out of time.
Before Shinka's walls were built, before the torii at Okina stood, she was there, tall and proud against the sky, and she will be there long after they have fallen into dust.
ruled this domain before your race
was born, we shall rule it when you are but a distant memory.
—Rakranos the Ancient, Warhammer: Warriors Of Chaos Army
Book (7th edition)
When the Old Ones
first crafted their Gates
from the substance of stars, I was there to assist their labour. Down the long ages I have come, watching the rise and fall of you lesser races and your civilizations. Ive laid waste to knights and cities, burned fields and routed armies in my years. I could tell you much of the world that you have forgotten and more that you never knew, but I think not. You and yours are suited for nothing more than to provide me with amusement and the occasional graceful bauble
for my lair. I see little else worthwhile about you
What do humans know of our pain? We
have sung songs of lament since before your ancestors crawled on their bellies from the sea.
can remember when your language was nothing but quaint little grunts and sneezes. That you will be slaughtered at my leisure is a foregone conclusion. So, go ahead and run your chubby little heart out.
Are you claiming that your people have been on the surface for over ten million years? Rod:
Oh, my people have been down there for much
longer than that. No, I was just talking about me
, personally. (beat
) If your next question is about skin cream, save it for later.
: Conversion between my time scale and your own standard Earth years isn't hard, but there are a lot of zeroes. Rounding may introduce as much as a one percent margin of error. Reverend Theo
: The margin of error in your guess at your own age is bigger than the age of my whole species. Vog
: Like I said, I am having trouble understanding your perspective.
Even with the finest life-extending, mindframe-uploading]], and memory-sideboarding technology, seventy-three million years is a very
long time for a sapient creature.
It's less long if you're, say, a tectonic plate on your way to make mountains with a neighbor. It's just a fraction of the time you'll spend if you're a lifeless world waiting for your molten crust to cool off enough for your surface chemistry to have a go at things like self-replication, self-awareness, and anthropomorphic metaphor.
Back then, when Earth was busy being all hot and patient, life elsewhere was already old...
Before there was time, before there was anything, there was nothing. And before there was nothing... there were monsters
You're tiny and you're minuscule
Irrelevant, a speck
Upon the dark side of that rock
You're just a measly little fleck
Your life may last a century on Earth or maybe quicker
But up here, a hundred years is just a flash, a blip, a flickeeeeeer~!
It all began when your universe was forged in the crucible of the Big Bang. At this time, our civilization was already 17 years old.
For a trillion years, I dwelt in solitude, content with my job and my stamp collecting, but then I looked across immensity and saw the big bang, and I was like, "Whoa, who's that?" And I knew then that I was lonely.
, Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs
I lived ten thousand lifetimes before the first of your kind crawled out of the mud.
Our Galaxy is now in the brief springtime of its life — a springtime made glorious by such brilliant blue-white Stars!
as Vega and Sirius, and, on a more humble scale, our own Sun. Not until all these have flamed through their incandescent youth, in a few fleeting billions of years, will the real history of the universe begin.
It will be a history illuminated only by the reds and infra-reds of dully glowing stars that would be almost invisible to our eyes; yet the somber hues of that all-but-eternal universe may be full of color and beauty to whatever strange beings have adapted to it. They will know that before them lie, not the millions of years in which we measure the eras of geology, nor the billions of years which span the past lives of the stars, but years to be counted literally in trillions.
They will have time enough, in those endless aeons, to attempt all things, and to gather all knowledge. They will not be like gods, because no gods imagined by our minds have ever possessed the powers they will command. But for all that, they may envy us, basking in the bright afterglow of creation; for we knew the universe when it was young.
...no recorded event has occurred in the world but Damascus was in existence to receive the news of it. Go back as far as you will into the vague past, there was always a Damascus. In the writings of every century for more than four thousand years, its name has been mentioned and its praises sung. To Damascus, years are only moments, decades are only flitting trifles of time. She measures time, not by days and months and years, but by the empires she has seen rise, and prosper and crumble to ruin. She is a type of immortality. She saw the foundations of Baalbec, and Thebes, and Ephesus laid; she saw these villages grow into mighty cities, and amaze the world with their grandeur—and she has lived to see them desolate, deserted, and given over to the owls and the bats. She saw the Israelitish empire exalted, and she saw it annihilated. She saw Greece rise, and flourish two thousand years, and die. In her old age she saw Rome built; she saw it overshadow the world with its power; she saw it perish. The few hundreds of years of Genoese and Venetian might and splendor were, to grave old Damascus, only a trifling scintillation hardly worth remembering. Damascus has seen all that has ever occurred on earth, and still she lives. She has looked upon the dry bones of a thousand empires, and will see the tombs of a thousand more before she dies. Though another claims the name, old Damascus is by right the Eternal City.