Her hips are dunes curved by the wind, Her eyes shine like summer heat. Two braids of hair hang down her back — Rich with water rings, her hair! My hands remember her skin, Fragrant as amber, flower-scented. Eyelids tremble with memories . . . I am stricken by love’s white flame!
The song sickened him. A tune for stupid creatures lost in sentimentality! As well sing to the dune-impregnated corpse Alia had seen. A figure moved in shadows of the balcony’s grillwork. Paul whirled. The ghola emerged into the sun’s full glare. His metal eyes glittered. “Is it Duncan Idaho or the man called Hayt?” Paul asked. The ghola came to a stop two paces from him. “Which would my Lord prefer?” The voice carried a soft ring of caution. “Play the Zensunni,” Paul said bitterly. Meanings within meanings! What could a Zensunni philosopher say or do to change one jot of the reality unrolling before them at this instant? “My Lord is troubled.” Paul turned away, stared at the Shield Wall’s distant scarp, saw wind-carved arches and buttresses, terrible mimicry of his city. Nature playing a joke on him! See what I can build! He recognized a slash in the distant massif, a place where sand spilled from a crevasse, and thought: There! Right there, we fought Sardaukar! “What troubles my lord?” the ghola asked. “A vision,” Paul whispered. “Ahhhhh, when the Tleilaxu first awakened me, I had visions. I was restless, lonely . . . not really knowing I was lonely. Not then. My visions revealed nothing! The Tleilaxu told me it was an intrusion of the flesh which men and gholas all suffer, a sickness, no more.” Paul turned, studied the ghola’s eyes, those pitted, steely balls without expression. What visions did those eyes see? “Duncan . . . Duncan . . .” Paul whispered. “I am called Hayt.” “I saw a moon fall,” Paul said. “It was gone, destroyed. I heard a great hissing. The earth shook.” “You are drunk on too much time,” the ghola said. “I ask for the Zensunni and get the mentat!” Paul said. “Very well! Play my vision through your logic, mentat. Analyze it and reduce it to mere words laid out for burial.” “Burial, indeed,” the ghola said. “You run from death. You strain at the next instant, refuse to live here and now. Augury! What a crutch for an Emperor!” Paul found himself fascinated by a well-remembered mole on the ghola’s chin. “Trying to live in this future,” the ghola said, “do you give substance to such a future? Do you make it real?” “If I go the way of my vision-future, I’ll be alive then,” Paul muttered. “What makes you think I want to live there?” The ghola shrugged. “You asked me for a substantial answer.” “Where is there substance in a universe composed of events?” Paul asked. “Is there a final answer? Doesn’t each solution produce new questions?” “You’ve digested so much time you have delusions of immortality,” the ghola said. “Even your Empire, my lord, must live its time and die.” “Don’t parade smoke-blackened altars before me,” Paul growled. “I’ve heard enough sad histories of gods and messiahs. Why should I need special powers to forecast ruins of my own like all those others? The lowliest servant of my kitchens could do this.” He shook his head. “The moon fell!” “You’ve not brought your mind to rest at its beginning,” the ghola said. “Is that how you destroy me?” Paul demanded. “Prevent me from collecting my thoughts?” “Can you collect chaos?” the ghola asked. “We Zensunni say: ‘Not collecting, that is the ultimate gathering.’ What can you gather without gathering yourself?” “I’m deviled by a vision and you spew nonsense!” Paul raged. “What do you know of prescience?” “I’ve seen the oracle at work,” the ghola said. “I’ve seen those who seek signs and omens for their individual destiny. They fear what they seek.” “My falling moon is real,” Paul whispered. He took a trembling breath. “It moves. It moves.” “Men always fear things which move by themselves,” the ghola said. “You fear your own powers. Things fall into your head from nowhere. When they fall out, where do they go?” “You comfort me with thorns,” Paul growled. An inner illumination came over the ghola’s face. For a moment, he became pure Duncan Idaho. “I give you what comfort I can,” he said. Paul wondered at that momentary spasm. Had the ghola felt grief which his mind rejected? Had Hayt put down a vision of his own? “My moon has a name,” Paul whispered. He let the vision flow over him then. Though his whole being shrieked, no sound escaped him. He was afraid to speak, fearful that his voice might betray him. The air of this terrifying future was thick with Chani’s absence. Flesh that had cried in ecstasy, eyes that had burned him with their desire, the voice that had charmed him because it played no tricks of subtle control — all gone, back into the water and the sand. Slowly, Paul turned away, looked out at the present and the plaza before Alia’s temple. Three shaven-headed pilgrims entered from the processional avenue. They wore grimy yellow robes and hurried with their heads bent against the afternoon’s wind. One walked with a limp, dragging his left foot. They beat their way against the wind, rounded a corner and were gone from his sight. Just as his moon would go, they were gone. Still, his vision lay before him. Its terrible purpose gave him no choice. The flesh surrenders itself, he thought. Eternity takes back its own. Our bodies stirred these waters briefly, danced with a certain intoxication before the love of life and self, dealt with a few strange ideas, then submitted to the instruments of Time. What can we say of this? I occurred. I am not . . . yet, I occurred.