The joke was always on me. From Pharaoh’s scroll and the labyrinth beneath the royal palace, to my quest by the Silk Road and the expedition into space, I was a fool. But for you to understand why, I must start at the very beginning—the time when I learned I could live forever.
It was a time before yours—a time when people spoke different tongues, when the oceans were too great to traverse, when there were more gods than there were men, and when I was but an orphan child in a house made of clay. I cannot remember who my parents were—their faces have long faded from my memory. But what I can remember—my only recollection from that time—was the day he stormed into my home. He didn’t come to pillage. He had a different mission. The towering burly man, with a brown cloth hiding half of his face from recognition, pinned me to the ground. He lifted a glistening dagger above his head. And with a narrowed gaze, he drove the blade into my chest.
Just like him, I thought my short life was over. With a searing pain in my chest, I awaited my last breath. But as my blood saturated my tunic—the warmth ushering me into the afterlife—the pain abated. And shortly after my killer retreated, believing he had succeeded, I inhaled a new breath without a scar from the event. I was alive. I didn’t die. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t. And when more like him came after me, I knew I was indestructible.
I was neither a man nor a god. The ancient scroll, gifted to me by Tutankhamun, accounted only of the deities in the sky. The ink made no mention of a creature like myself, dwelling between the heavens and the earth. For a century, I believed that I had descended from above. But the more I learned, the more I was certain—a god had more power than immortality. A god couldn’t feel pain, fear, or rejection. And it was only in the millennium after, when I finally accepted my lack of an identity, that I journeyed north.
During my years of study, I came upon the tale of a beast that roamed the labyrinth beneath the Palace of Knossos—a beast with knowledge of the universe that should you slay, you would gain its abundant wisdom. Hoping to uncover my origin, I crossed the Mediterranean Sea. I had a plan involving a donkey as a distraction and a sword as a weapon. Alas, I was centuries too late. There was no beast but a hollow of a labyrinth beneath a fallen structure claimed by disaster. However, all hope was not lost—or so it seemed, in a time as such.
In the rubble of what was once a grand and complex architectural beauty, I found an etched map on a broken stone tablet—a route that connected to the east—that led to a world of ancient magic. It ran parallel to the common route for traders except that it wasn’t for the common man. And when I found it, I was reassured of my uncommon descent. But what I truly am was still a mystery.
It was on the path by the Silk Road, where the human traders journeyed through the celestial world unaware, that I sought for the legendary carpet. Fei Long, a dragon I met as I neared the east end, said the carpet was capable of bringing me anywhere—even through the very fabric of time that connected me to this world. And so I spent five centuries, questioning ethereal creatures and bargaining with superlunary beasts, in hopes of acquiring the carpet. But when mankind no longer found use of the road, so did the mystical world. And when there was no path left to traverse, my quest came to an end.
You see, the joke was always on me—a life whose sole purpose was to find purpose. Yet strangely, despite the many years without an answer, I kept scouring the earth. Even in light of extinction—the death of humanity—I continued on my search. Though, I wouldn’t have died if I lingered. I could have been a god—claiming the identity I’ve always wanted. Alas, as coincidental as my encounters in the past, I found myself on the last shuttle to space. Despite knowing, deep down in my being—perhaps a ‘soul’—that my answer wouldn’t be amongst the stars, I looked once more. Ah, a fool I was and a fool I am… for never once looking within.
Ink, carpet, and donkey were words given by Chrystin on Facebook.
I wasn’t sure what to write for these words as they weren’t easy ones to work together, but since April 1st was a few days ago, I thought ‘something along the lines of a joke and a fool’ might be a good story. So this is it—not what I was expecting for sure!
Now, it’s your turn! Write a story of your own with the three words given. And if you have three words you’d like to challenge me with, leave it in the comments below!
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3 Words, 1 Story © 2019 by Jeyna Grace. All rights reserved.
(Click HERE for a list of stories in this writing challenge.)