The Potion - Chapter 1
"You are a fool to ask such a thing of me." I said while riffling through my desk papers.
"How can I not ask it?" He said, "I have only ever lived a half life. Too diseased to truly live, yet too alive to just die. I need your potion!"
"You don't know what you are asking." I replied, "You think you know, but you have no idea."
"What is it that I'm missing?" He persisted, "I take the potion and it makes me better. I'll be able to truly live without fear from disease or death."
This angered me. How could he not see the consequences that were so clear to me?
"You know nothing." I spat, "Taking the potion doesn't free you from death or disease! You'll still have to watch everyone you know get sick from everything imaginable. You'll still have to watch them die, and it will never end."
"Then why not share your potion with everyone?" He asked calmly, "Why not allow everyone a chance to everlasting life?"
"You don't understand..." I said, almost at the verge of tears. "You need to leave me now."
"You're right." He said clearly, "I don't understand, and I won't leave until you explain it to me."
I looked at him, wondering if this man was even worth the idea of explaining. He was still so young, even at the age of 35. He may not have had a great life due to luekemia, chron's disease and constant immune troubles, but he really had no idea what he was asking.
"I don't have the time to tell you a story so long," I said quietly, "And that's the only way I can think to make you understand."
The man pulled out a chair and sat down. "I'm not sure how much time my biological clock will give me," he said, "But I'm willing to spend every last bit of it right here until your story is done."
I looked at him, with a fierceness in his blue-grey eyes. I knew then that there would be no getting rid of him until I'd explained things to him. I wished then that there was another way to make him understand, but I couldn't think of any other solution.
"Fine." I said, "But I warn you that even if you don't understand at the end of my story, I still will not give you the potion or the recipe. So you must promise me that after I explain, you will no longer ask that of me again. Otherwise you might as well leave now."
The man's face looked dejected, but only a tiny bit. I could see that he was hoping that by telling him my story, I might loosen up. I could tell that he was still hoping that, but reluctantly he agreed to my terms. I think he knew that I was just as stubborn as he was, and that if he didn't promise, he would have to turn away now without knowing what would come at the end of the story.
"Good." I said, "Now let me think of where to begin..."
I took a moment to think about where and how to start while I puttered through the kitchen. I turned on the coffee pot, grabbed a box of cheeze squares and sat down in my favorite chair. The man came over and sat on the sofa across from me, giving me a curious look. This made me a bit uneasy, so I decided to pull out my pipe and green, so that I could continue with an easy nerve.
"In order to tell you my story," I said, "I must tell you the story of others who began before me and those who I crossed paths with after I learned how to create the potion..."
I sat there puffing on my pipe, considering my thoughts before continuing. I could see that even the story hadn't even begun yet, the man was hanging on the air around me, waiting to see what would happen next.
"What do you know about the myth of the Golden Age?" I asked
The man looked a bit taken aback that I had asked him a question, instead of just continuing the story. He sat back against the back of the sofa and ran his hand through his dark brown hair.
"Well..." He started, "As far as I know, it was supposed to be the first age of man. The ancient Greeks felt that it was a time when all humans lived in bliss and ignorance. No one died or wanted for anything. They had all the food, pleasure and health they could ever ask for."
"Good, you've done some of your homework I see." I praised him. "It wasn't until the nature of human curiosity got the better of us and Prometheus showed us that we could have so much more than we already did. At the time, the gods made sure we had plenty of food, but it was often the left overs of the gods. The bones, fat and grit of meat. The cores, seeds and rinds of fruits and vegetables. We didn't think anything of it until Prometheus pointed out how things would be so much better, and he tricked Chronus into giving up the best parts of everything to us."
"Chronus was so angry when he lost the bet to Prometheus that he took away fire from humans, making the nights horribly cold and suffering the world with great cold blizzards and climates. Prometheus helped us get fire back, but that resulted in Chronus chaining Prometheus to a rock where his liver would be eaten by a giant eagle and then regenerated every day for eternity."
"So after that followed myths such as the one about Pandora's box. Along with the plague of women, came diseases, famine, crime, greed, lust and every other sin imaginable. From there, humans were soon cast away from there paradise and entered the stone age. No longer was everything provided for mankind and on top of that, the human race now had to contend with continuing disease, death constantly following closely behind, pain, greed and all the ills we know today. The only true upside to this change was that we earned our free will. In the time of the golden age, most things were controlled, as the myths go... Humans were made to serve the gods and not to question anything. They had everything provided for them to keep from ever needing to question anything. Yet thanks to Prometheus, we may have gone from heaven on earth to hell in a handbasket, but at least we were now allowed to think and chose things for ourselves."
I could see him looking at me, still interested in the story, but even as I continued, I felt myself wondering where I was going with all this talk of the golden age. I giggled a little to myself while I continued.
"There is a little piece of the golden age myth that not many remember or have even ever heard of. I assume you've heard tales of the fountain of youth?" He nodded, "Most people assume that it was once a pool of water that was magically endowed with the powers to bring back eternal youth to anyone who drank from it. There are myths in every part of the world that talk of various different bodies of water with the fountain of youth power, and the idea of living forever young and strong, has been a preoccupation of humans since the end of the golden age."
"What most do not realize, is that there was never a fountain of youth." I caught the most curious look from the man through the corner of my eye as I stopped to take another puff. "There has never been a single fountain of youth, that's were the mistake is often made. Most people are looking for one magical fountain, pool, lake or something that can revitalize them, when in truth, there are dozens of youth giving bodies of water. Or at least there were a lot of them."
"This was how ancient gods kept us forever young and naive. They fed us from pools of water that kept us that way. Pretty much every bit of water ever known, was drugged with this concoction of youth and vitality. Not all bodies of water were youth fountains, but even the bland waters contained life giving nutrients that our bodies need to be healthy. This was said to be a gift from Gaia and that basic life giving essence still exists in water today, which is why it's so important for everyone to drink enough water."
"Still though, even though your basic water can help you live a healthier life, without the drug of the gods that was used in the golden age, water cannot give us back our bodily youth. It was never really the water that gave us back our youth anyways, it was the magical drug that did it. That drug stopped being created after Pandora was unleashed, as a part of our punishment for choosing free will. Because it was no longer created and added to our drinking water, most of the drug dried up, but it took thousands of years for it all to be diluted enough to be obsolete. Even then, there were a few pools that managed to hold onto the drug. Some were enclosed in caves where it took forever for the drug to evaporate and be gone. Other small bodies of water were hidden and protected, making them last longer. Some waters were even enchanted by powerful sourceror's and enchantresses who wanted to make the waters last forever."
I stopped when I heard the coffee pot spilling over a little bit, and went over to pour us some coffee. This was going to be a long night, and I knew the coffee pot would soon need to be refilled. I made both cups the way I like them, with lots of sugar and a little bit of cream, then handed one to the man on my sofa.
"In my youthful days, I spent a lot of time learning about these myths. I dedicated almost a decade to my study of it. It wasn't easy, since this was well before the days of the internet, even before the printing press was well established."
I saw the man giving me a wild look, he cleared his throat "What do you mean? You can't be that old. You don't look a day over 30."
"Well yes. I was 32 when I took the potion." I said, "So naturally I wouldn't look any older than that. Though I took the potion in 1717."
(To be continued)