Ahmed and the Oblivion Machines

This story was inspired by Little Nemo in Slumberland, the comic. We begin with Ahmed who falls off of his camel and loses the caravan he was following and notices a bird, wondering where it was going and if he or his father would fly one day, his father replying it would be another year; In this sense the story is already strange, this conversation with his father occurring before he’d fallen and been left behind, asleep and getting covered by sand until morning, when he realizes he’s now alone and thinking of what he could have done wrong to be living with such a dire fate he expects will come from his current situation. Ahmed soon uncovers a figure under the sand and prays for direction and hope his life won’t end so young, not getting and answer until he wept upon the face. Ahmed doesn’t notice the first movements of the god though, until he speaks, surprising Ahmed, the two then introducing themselves and we learning the god is named Gonn-Ben-Allah. Gonn requests Ahmed to finish digging him up, stating he shouldn’t fear death any longer if he finishes releasing him. Soon Ahmed is seeing darkness surround them, asking Gonn what it was and getting the answer of it being the “Enemy” as the other half was the “Savior”.

We then learn what the enemy is, Gonn needing Ahmed’s help as strength to the cause. Soon Gonn is making it so Ahmed’s wish of flight will come true, speaking the words which would give Ahmed the gift of flight and upon getting his first taste of this, he then learns Gonn had the plan of needing to go to a place called Yestermorrow. Ahmed soon discovers what Gonn had in mind for him to see, which would be a place both in the past and future. When Ahmed soon believes he sees his father, it becomes a bad omen to Ahmed and brings both he and Gonn, falling to the sand. Gonn disappears beneath the sand and Ahmed tries to dig him out and only being able to again uncover him when he lets the thought of his father go, then being told he must dance and sing upon Gonn’s “grave”. When Ahmed had done enough, Gonn was able to burst out and take them both back into the air; This is reminding me a little of the Peter Pan way of thought, one needing to let go of their family: the past, in order to live freely for themselves in the future. With Ahmed properly letting go, he then sees the scenery has changed and creatures he hadn’t seen before soaring off of cliffs. The two then see recognizable characters from Greek mythology, a boy and his father and a set of golden wings about to be tried out and teaching Ahmed the value of trying everything worth experiencing, at least in Gonn’s words.

As Gonn explains his reasoning for this, they are distracted by an airship made of such delicate materials it’s blown away by Ahmed’s sneeze, they then seeing a hot-air balloon, one of the balloon’s not staying in the air for long, again giving Gonn the opportunity to remind Ahmed not to refuse any sight for they all will teach a lesson. Then they see another man trying to feel the gift of flight by attaching himself to a home-made kite, which takes him up in the air, only not for long; This part reminds me of a short story in The Flying Machine which is from the Emperor’s perspective, since the man on the kite is shot down by arrows with an Emperor’s sign on the darts. This gets no response from Ahmed this time and he then confides in Gonn of how he wishes he could see his father, the god then advising him he must be patient to help give him life, since he was more like a dream in this current state and Ahmed could help him become “real”. Gonn then shows Ahmed tall buildings which men would build so high as to touch the sky and saw men who wished to fly so badly as to fling themselves off buildings with carpets under them and shouting words of flight which didn’t help their cause. Ahmed then sees the sky fill with machines Gonn dictating what words Ahmed must say to insure their forever existing. Ahmed continues to be coached by Gonn to get those asleep in bed to see the grand sight of all the machines in the air, this being the moment Gonn is horror-stricken with the idea he was going to fall out of the sky.

Ahmed soon understands why Gonn has thought this, it having to do with the sleepers who won’t awaken or won’t believe the sight to be seen, the gluttons and lazy people who will only sleep. Gonn soon is noticeably thinning to which Ahmed then decides he’ll be the one to save him, being the only one awake and powerful enough, he “proving” this by informing Gonn so and he taking his former girth. Ahmed then shares how he wished to learn more from Gonn about how he can make those who don’t, hear what he would shout to them, in essence, to be able to fly higher, faster, and longer. Gonn then confirms Ahmed had learned enough to take over where he’d left off and to return them to where he’d found him so he could cry happy tears to let him move on. Gonn confessing how he’d left his thumbprint on Ahmed when he was born and going into deeper symbology as he explains. Before Gonn goes back the way he’d come he makes an agreement with Ahmed for when he can return to see him once more, then Ahmed cries to allow Gonn back into the sand. Gonn helps Ahmed remember how to fly once more from within the sand and Ahmed then sees the caravan, his father the only one awake and mourning Ahmed, who bumps into him and praises Allah he was found. When Ahmed is about to go to sleep he makes certain Gonn is still with him who wished to be called by another name, then giving Ahmed a dream of his future.

This story was an odd, but entertaining, definitely a learning tool for children still wondering why certain days are tough and how to get through hurt feelings. Worth the read.

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