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We came upon it in the desolate and sandy wastes between kingdoms. At first we assumed it to be simply some great monument to ruler so long decayed that even their empire was long ground to dust. It was weathered and pitted and caked with sand such that it had appeared to be stone from afar. In these empty wastes scale and proportion were difficult to judge and it seemed for a while that it was farther from us that we believed. Finally we trudged up the sandy hill to the great slab of stone upon which the head stood.
Its face was human, but the back of the skull suggested a bone carapace or shell instead of hair. Other less immediately obvious differences made themselves known after time. The eyes were not quite right, nor the shape of its mouth or nose. In silence we studied it with only the blowing of sand and wind and the creaking of our packs to beat back the silence.
Finally I had filled a page of my book with a sketch of the great object, and my love had charted the location to the stars and our known travel. We had not spoken, in part because there was little to say, this was beyond us, and in part to conserve what little moisture might be lost behind out reclamation masks. I don't know why I did so, but I said aloud, floating the question on the dry winds, "What are you?" My tone must have been one of bafflement and confusion, but my reaction was nothing short of absolute surprise.
"I am memory," the great head replied. Encrustations of sand cracked and fell away from the great object's face though what lay under was no less stone than what had covered it. Still the eyes moved to regard us, the mouth and lips changed, forming each word as surely as my own.
I recovered from my shock first and stammered out another question, eager to see if I had simply imagined its reply. "Are you alive?"
"I am memory," it replied again. "Memory does not live it is. It does not grow without experience. It does not change under weight of age."
"Are you a computer?" I asked without thinking.
"I am memory. I recall, and accumulate, but I do not act or alter or analyze." It paused, it unnerving dead gaze falling upon me like a weight of ancient stone. "I am a repository of knowledge. I am memory."