From Another Realm: Midas

Share

Written by Fahmy Hady

Night flowed overhead as rivers fell from her eyes. Their stomachs became their curse, as empty as their hearts, rumbling with starvation as the ocean with its waves, the ache marking the hunger they felt, hunger as vicious as a thousand blades. She cried herself to sleep as she did every night and he said, “Good night my love,” in a remorseful, hoarse voice; a voice as harsh as nature yet fragile and trembling. The night passed like ages of torture and the day felt no better.

“Their stomachs became their curse, as empty as their hearts…”

The sun burned; a ruthless dictator lighting the surroundings. He left their hut; a hut that felt to him as small as their world. Hunting was his purpose and his plight, for what the wicked eye of the forest had to offer was a barren land, rusted grass, critters, and herbs. The forest was beautiful but his sorrow was not, the trees were high as if they were pillars that carried the sky. But he felt as if the sky was falling over him, overwhelming him. He sat beside a tree and tears grew on his cheeks as the leaves trickled with sunlight.

He could linger no longer; he had to find supplement, for his wife has grown weak and weary. Heavy with sickness she was, in the flimsy roses of her dress. With mischievous innocence she lay in bed humming with a frail voice.

‘A flood of meat and and grain and wheat

Shall be carried at full speed

A flood of meat and grain and wheat

Brought to me, brought to me’

“The forest was beautiful but his sorrow was not, the trees were high as if they were pillars that carried the sky.” Photo by Elizabeth Gadd.

Clouds herded together in the sky. He came back home carrying one brittle rabbit with a pained smile on his face. With his lips as dry as a salty sea, he said “I’m sorry love, that’s all the forest had to give.” She grinned and spoke in a sad voice masquerading in cheerfulness: “The gods have bestowed upon us, a fine feast we shall have.” He sat down on a wooden chair next to the fire and threw a couple of wooden planks in the fire that was burning like a miniature limbo. And he cooked the rabbit, not much to cook.

They ate a feast fit for dwarfed dwarves and time ran like a madman while they watched the fish-less river flow, till night’s grasp held their universe and they carried themselves to their agonized sleep.

Before the mesmerizing world of dreams took hold of him, he whispered prayers to the gods; everyday he’d ask for forgiveness for whatever sins they had committed and for a better life. And for one particular wish, he’d ask for hands of gold that turned all they touched to that same precious yellow metal. And every day the gods would ignore him, for his wish wasn’t the wish of a humble man, but a greedy one.

Until that night he had an iridescent dream; a dream as bewitching as a spell and as haunting as one’s own desires; he dreamt of gold, of deserts made of gold, of gold flowing in oceans and gold-coloured skies in a sun dappled day. In the dream, he looked at his hands and they were both made of gold. Quickly, the scenery changed and he was in his hut; he looked around and everything was the same except that his wife wasn’t there and her voice was calling out to him from the forest. He stepped outside and followed the voice, his muscles were tense and he was floating as if walking on a cloud. The voice’s tone intensified and his wife was now crying for help, shrieking. He ran like a soldier struck with bloodlust, his maniacal eyes searched the periphery for her. Suddenly the trees grew longer and the branches thickened, blotting out the sun. He stood in complete darkness, heeding his wife’s frightened voice and turning in his place. His head throbbed and fear became embedded in his heart, but he saw light, shining like a king’s throne. The voice stopped; he followed the light walking through tall grass and thickets. He reached the source and it was his wife, shining as a gold statue. He stroked her face as tears fled his eyes upon the sight of her solidified, and he screamed in denial.

“He dreamt of gold…” Photo by Ana Luísa Pinto.

He woke up screaming and quickly realized the nightmare. He looked at his hands and he thought he saw smithereens of gold melting through his veins. He left the hut early before his wife woke up, hoping to find something hearty to eat that day. He found nothing. But as he sat on the dying grass to rest, and wiped his forehead, he noticed the particles of gold fusing in his hands again. He thought it was the malnutrition getting hold of him, but when he stood up and grabbed his spear, it suddenly turned to gold.

He was struck; in disbelief he carried it and gave it a scrutinizing look. He bit on it with his decaying teeth and it was gold, real gold. The golden spear was as extravagant as a feast and as cold as his wife’s skin.

He touched some grass and it turned to stripes of gold as pale as his wife’s words. Unbidden, he screamed of joy. He thanked the gods and kissed the earth. He ran back home to his wife to show her what he had become capable of. With similar joy she accepted what the gods had granted them. In a matter of minutes, their entire hut was made of gold. He went to the markets and bought food, the food didn’t turn to gold. The gods had been merciful with him and gave him a gift that understood his intentions and answered to them.

In no more than a few days he lived in a palace with his wife, now in good health. A palace vast like the sky, with gold paved floors. He sat on clouds and drank from the gods’ chalices. A life fit for kings, more than kings, a life fit for gods. He’d thank them for his bliss on every occasion and he prayed that he would never go back to his blighted life.

“But as he sat on the dying grass to rest, and wiped his forehead, he noticed the particles of gold fusing in his hands again.”

Suddenly, while in his palace, the vision of his old hut began to recur; where he saw his wife sleeping on a feather bed, he saw one made of stone. Where he saw pillars as high as his mountain of gold, he saw a decaying wooden wall. He began hearing a faint voice, but couldn’t quite interpret it. He felt heavy and sick, he couldn’t move. The palace, the wealth and the god-like life were the last hallucinations of a dying man.

As he let go into eternal darkness that was as seducing as a debauchee he clearly discerned:

‘A flood of meat and grain and wheat

Shall be carried at full speed

A flood of meat and grain and wheat

Brought to me, brought to me’

 

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *