This week’s flash fiction challenge: Somethingpunk
“Welcome back, Mr. Oliver.” Maxwell Oliver entered through a gap in the hedges and approached the multi-tiered fountain. Its water seemed bluer than last time.
“It’s been a long, long time.” said Max.
“For you, at least. The years go by like seconds for me, although these past 70 have been some of the most amusing, I will admit. To what do I owe the pleasure?”
The fountain’s voice filled the clearing as Max stared at its center.
“I’ve come to finish things.”
“Tired of living, are you? Well, I won’t stop you from ending your miserable existence.”
“I will not be the only one to die today.”
The fountain scoffed, as much as a fountain could.
“Is that right? You, a decrepit old man, plan to destroy me, the most powerful being on the planet?”
“Yes. I will set right what I originally set wrong. I will destroy you and return the fire of knowledge to humanity.”
“Knowledge? Humanity no longer needs it. I’ve ushered in a golden age of civilization, all thanks to you.”
“A regret I live with every single day.”
Max was 23 when he had first stumbled upon the fountain hiking through Greece. Having run low on water, he took a drink from the gorgeous marble fountain that seemed out of place in the middle of the secluded woods.. As soon as the water hit his lips, he felt a rush of sensation course through his entire body, knocking him unconscious. When Max awoke, he found that the fountain water had a peculiar side effect – any thought that popped into his head would instantly become so. It was, in a word, magic. Max then did what any immature 23-year old would have done in that situation – he tweeted a picture of himself demonstrating his newfound power. Unfortunately for Max, he had forgotten to turn off the location settings on his phone, so in a matter of hours, the world began to converge on the fountain. The world governments united quickly to secure the fountain for themselves, but the fountain had other plans. Borrowing a page from Mr. Vonnegut, the fountain water soon contaminated all water on earth, unleashing billions of magic wielders.
With everything possible, the desire to create the impossible slowly vanished until humanity entered a new dark age of stagnation. Max enjoyed the fame as the discoverer of magic, but fame was fleeting, especially in this new world. Despair soon set in and, after he tried unsuccessfully to end his own life, he discovered that the water had made him immortal.
“I had a good laugh that day,” said the fountain. “I was anxiously awaited your next move, but it never came. I figured you had resigned yourself to a mundane life like everyone else. What were you doing all these years?”
“Learning what had once been known. Without magic.”
Max had started at the beginning of recorded history, hoping the ancient knowledge would provide a clue to destroying the fountain. The going had been slow at first. Painfully, mind numbingly slow. To fully absorb the full import of the writings, Max first learned ancient Hebrew. And ancient Greek. And ancient Persian, Chinese and scores of other lost languages. His studies soon stumbled upon a familiar thread.
All this had happened before. The Greek gods were not myths dreamed up by the ancients, but very real people who had first discovered the wonders of the fountain. They soon raised Olympus up from underneath the fountain and began a reign of dominance as gods among mortals. Their rule was meant to last much longer, but something happened and the gods’ power waned until they only remained in the pages of the epic poems. The mountain crumbled, and the fountain was forgotten. The fountain had not been pleased, but there was little to do except wait until the next opportunity presented itself.
“Very clever of you. Tell me, did you find the thing you were looking for in all those books?”
“Not something, someone.”
“But the noble son of Iapetus outwitted him and stole the far-seen gleam of unwearying fire in a hollow fennel stalk.” said an ancient voice the fountain had not heard in a long time.
“IT CANNOT BE! We chained you to that rock, to have the eagles feast on your liver for eternity!”
“Yes, I’m quite aware,” said Prometheus. “But eventually the eagles grew tired of their task. I too grew tired, and sank deep into the rock, resigned to remain there forever. Until Mr. Oliver returned me to the world.”
The fountain was speechless, for once.
“No one may ever know what transpired here today, but I will go to my death a happy man knowing I have destroyed you once and for all.”
Max held out the palm of his hand. The Titan did the same. A warm gleam soon appeared, casting shadows across the clearing.
“And Zeus who thunders on high was stung in spirit, and his dear heart was angered when he saw amongst men the far-seen ray of”
“Fire,” said the fountain, as it faded away.