I knew the old stories. The first man and woman had disobeyed, and so they had been driven out of paradise. An angel had been placed in paradise to guard the tree.
I never heard any stories saying he left the garden.
I went to find the tree, to see if it really was worth getting kicked out of paradise. I’d seen the Fountain of Youth, Atlantis, and the Holy Grail. This was the next big thing. It was the edge of the Earth and beyond. It was further than Davy Jones’ Locker. It was paradise.
Some people told me the Holy Grail and the Fountain of Youth were the same thing. If you drank from the Holy Grail, you wouldn’t die. If you drank from the Fountain of Youth, you wouldn’t die. But I’ve seen them before. The Holy Grail is an ugly brown wooden cup. The Fountain of Youth isn’t more than a pool of stale water in the middle of a cave in South America. Atlantis was less of a disappointment, but it wanted to remain hidden. So I ventured out for the Garden of Eden, paradise, and the tree.
It was a journey that would take three lifetimes. I had a few extra to spare. When the world was a desolate place, deserted of mankind after a flood the likes of which we’d never seen before, you had time to spare for everything. Man didn’t deserve to be on this planet. Man didn’t deserve the Fountain of Youth, or the tree of life. We didn’t deserve paradise.
But I was going to find it. I was going to conquer it. I was going to take it.
It took three lifetimes to find the garden. I had fallen off the edge of the Earth to find it. I had gone further than Davy Jones’ Locker. I had died three times to finally see the garden.
I stood on the other side of a crystal clear stream, bubbling gently over stones. The garden had no gates. The river was its boundary. Its border. Its gate. I could see the tree from where I stood. It didn’t stand out from the others, didn’t bear fruit of extraordinary kind. I recognize it by the figure standing sentry in front of it, dull blade in its dead hand.
The angel. He wore dusty armour. A shield hung off his back. As I stared, the bones in his hand cracked. The blade fell to the ground at his feet. He was only a skeleton. I had lived three lifetimes to get to this point and he had died eons ago. The tree was unguarded.
The stream parted beneath my feet. Fresh flesh. Clean. Pure. Alive. The skeleton stared lifelessly as I passed. The fragile bones in its wings stretched twelve feet across. I picked up the sword. The dull blade was light as a feather, light as air. It no longer flamed. It no longer warded off mankind. I was the last. It didn’t recognize me.
I plucked a fruit from the tree and took a bite.
It was knowledge.