"You're a pretty big guy," he said. "You know that?"”
Of course I knew that. I was 19 years old and I was close to seven feet tall. I have fingers like bananas. I scare children. I'm unlikely to see my 40th birthday: people like me die young.
― Excerpt from Neil Gaiman's Goliath[src]
The unnamed Goliath (in reference to his physique) was born in 1958 London inside the Matrix. He was trained into a pilot within the Matrix before he was extracted by the Machines into the Real World. The Machines then ordered him out into space piloting a PL-47 spacecraft to defeat the alien ship currently bombarding Earth.
On 1977, when he was nineteen years old, working as a bookkeeper, and mulling over his RAF rejection, the world just suddenly started to melt away into a brightly colored puddle. While at this state, he met an Agent who explained to him how an explosion from an enemy missile had hit the London central processing unit, killing 200,000 humans, and causing their very brief disconnection. However, he failed to comprehend this and only understood that there was an attack.
After London was reconnected and back up running again, the man simply found himself back in the Matrix, experiencing a déjà vu and replaying his entire day. He continued and went on with his life, met, dated, then married Sandra, and had two normal-sized children with her. When their marriage failed, Sandra left and took the kids.
On 1986, the man was riding a train which then got stuck in a repeated loop of déjà vu. Soon after, his world once more faded and he again met the Agent. Picking up from their last chat, the Agent revealed that the Matrix was now running at an accelerated rate. This was in order to produce a solution to the ongoing threat which, to his surprise, was an alien invasion. He also learned that the alien spaceship was currently hurling asteroids at Earth and that only minutes, not years, had passed in the Real World since they last chatted. And then, just for a few seconds, he woke up from the Matrix and he saw his pod. Afterwards, he just found himself back in the train. On that train ride, he started talking to Susan, who later moved in with him. But she eventually left him when he, after finally connecting the dots, shared his suspicions of their reality.
The déjà vu started increasing in frequency and, one day, the man simply woke back up in 1975 and found himself to be sixteen years old again. He also only vaguely remembered his previous life. This time around, he was accepted into the RAF and, in the ten years that followed, was trained to be a pilot. He again met and married Sandra, having no recollection of their previous time together. They had no children, however, as he was warned of having been exposed to too much radiation. He also had the uncanny feeling that they were just replaying their life and that Sandra was about to leave him.
One day, the Agent visited the pilot at his home and commanded him to go fly something close to a PL-47. He was then woken up from the Matrix. The Machines placed him in a PL-47 capable of space flight and then ordered him to destroy the alien threat, divulging that he was genetically designed to be both bigger and have faster processing and reaction times than the average human. After succeeding in battle, the pilot was discarded by the Machines together with the threat of his spacecraft, and he was left to die in space with no way to return. The Machines, however, granted his final wish and plugged him back to the Matrix, returning him to the year 1984.
On 1999, he was happily married to Susan and they had a son together. And as he felt his life ending, he leaves Susan a letter explaining the truth.
Behind the scenes
- The title Goliath was in reference to the unnamed protagonist's large size. The Agent pointed his size out and referred to him as "a pretty big guy". But nowhere was the word "Goliath" actually ever used within the story.