A Dream of an Alchemist

September 27, 2008
“…in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
From Genesis 3:5

Dark. Cold

My heart was heavy from the freezing air, my skin, hard from the icy winds. I could feel my ears being stabbed by the cold winds, but I withheld the pain as I approached the door. A rush of warm air overcame me as I opened the door to the house. “Is that you my boy?” said a trembling voice. The voice was weak and bitter, but I wasn’t afraid; I knew him.

“Yes Ahab, I came as fast I could after I received your message,” I said. The room was dark for it was only lighted by a dim lamp. “Hurry and come near boy, I called you for an important reason,” he said. As I stepped closer, his face became clear under the faint lamp. His face was old and dark. I knew that he was only about 40, but he looked older behind the dark burnt face. I sat down on a wooden chair while Ahab sat down across me in his big cushioned chair, which was not fancy at all, but was old and comfy, just like Ahab himself.

“It’s already late Ahab. Please don’t tell me that you are going to perform another experiment tonight,” I said, trying not to offend him too much.

“Ho, but I am. Now, you go and start the fire to that pot,” said Ahab, I noticed a little smile pushing up his wrinkles. After obediently starting a fire, I adroitly bellowed the flames. I have done this for several years now, helping Ahab with his works. After seeing the fire gracefully dance about, I sat back into my little chair.

“Tell me what it is this time Ahab.”

“Yes, of course. You see my boy, last night, I believe I finally discovered the true combination of gold,” he said.

“What? Do you mean finally succeeded?” I asked, standing up. It was Ahab’s life-time goal to make gold out of cheap metals; meaning that he’s an alchemist.

“No, do not get carried away my boy and sit down,” he said, “I said I found the right combination, but I haven’t made it yet. You see, last night, I believe I’ve met the Philosopher last night.”

“The Philosopher? You mean the legendary alchemist who succeeded in making gold? I thought he was just a myth,” I said, almost standing again.

“Yes. That is the one. He came to me in my sleep and told me the truth,” said Ahab, looking up to the lamp that hung above him, idolizing the light as it was the Philosopher himself. “He revealed to me the truth that all alchemists seek, the composition of gold.”

“Really? You already tried hundreds of thousands of formulas for years. Your experiments started even before I was born, but you were never fruitful in making of gold. Ahab, are you sure you saw this… ‘man’? I asked. My head was between my shoulders, but I managed to lift up an eyebrow to see his response.

“I am sure of it my boy. As for the Philosopher, he may be a god or a devil; I care not,” said Ahab, his back shuddering from either the cold or excitement. “He told me the exact proportion of the precious metal. It included copper, tin, lead, iron, mercury, and the ultimate secrete ingredient; gold,” he replied, picking up a little nugget of gold from a pile of ingredients.

“Gold? You need gold to make gold? Then what’s the use of making gold if it needs gold?” I said, now a little upset.

“Hush, you are hurting the old man’s ears,” he said, I thought it was kind of odd how he referred to himself as an old man. “The requirement of gold is little yet, very crucial. You see, that was the reason for my years of failures. The composition requires something like a seed, a catalyst of some kind,” he finished, but his eyes were still looking at gold with the same eyes that were looking at the lamp.

It made sense. One must notify the spirit what you are trying to make. I felt a little foolish. I saw his eyes, worshiping the nugget of gold. And suddenly, I unconsciously blurted out , “You are obsessed with gold.” I instantly regretted what I said. His eyes lighted up as he looked at me.

“Gold? This gold is nothing but a piece of perfect material that God has buried in earth for us humans to dig like rats and look for. Oh, how I desperately sought to step in to God’s divine level. To make gold, to make the complete element, is like tasting the ethereal power of God, who just looks at us alchemists from heavens above and does not share his powers. No, boy, I do not believe that the man I saw was God; he was just the Philosopher; a human being who succeeded in stepping into God’s divine level, thus, becoming god-like. The ‘truth’, it is so close that it seems as if I stretch my hand just a little bit more, I can grasp it within my own palms. But it just moves away farther as much as I’ve reached. I stretched and stretched more and more until my arms broke apart. Now, my arms cannot reach any farther. This is the last reach, a struggle of an old man from all his soul and body,” he said, his chest pumping up and down.

Ahab’s anger started toward me, but as he continued, he looked up at the lamp, as if he was throwing his years of rage toward someone in the “heavens above”. He looked at the gold in his palm. For a second I thought he was going to throw it into the fire, but he realized its sad need and set it back down.
Ahab looked into the lamp as his breath calmed and his eyes softened. I, surprised by the side of him I never knew, was just knotting my fingers.
“Come my boy, I must get you home before sun break,” said he, walking toward the pot. “I will tell you the procedure as we do it.” The nugget of gold glistened under the glowing lamp and the alchemist’s shadow stretched farther and farther. I rose and walked to the pot, hoping that this time, this time, the alchemist would ascend in to some thing, something more than just human.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Dream_Roxanne said...
Oct. 14, 2008 at 5:13 pm
I loved it. I loved it all.
Rubs said...
Oct. 1, 2008 at 9:26 pm
I don't think I understand all the symbolisms in this, But totally LOVE the story! BTW, isn't Ahab the name of the captain in Moby Dick?
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