(Image from Flickr – Brian Jackson)
The midday sun blazes in the sky, a burning eyeball glaring ceaselessly into his unblinking gaze. By contrast the surrounding sky is dark, a deep indigo that fades into cerulean at the horizon. No clouds float on the heavenly sea to torment him with their promise of water. The world seems to hold its breath as his tenuous grip on consciousness slips. Each tiny rockslide shakes the enchantment loose, his decaying body soon to be a lump of dry-baked earth.
The last Golem tries to lift his head, to gaze upon his brothers. Once they were deep raw umber, rich with pigmentation from the hidden places of the earth. Now they are bleached to brittle bone, their secrets laid bare.
From the sweaty earth he was conjured—dark and moist and riddled with worms and crawling things. Water lubricated his joints; mud kept him supple. With his brothers he marched, a relentless army needing neither sleep nor food. The rumble of their voices struck fear in the hearts of their master’s enemies. The ground trembled at their birth and quaked as they stomped, a vast ruinous behemoth. Together they tore down pyramids and crushed cities, but as the sun seared them they dried out. One by one they toppled, their earthen bodies succumbing to a dry, parching rot. Without water to sustain them they crumbled, their unnatural bodies returning to the earth that bore them.
The last Golem lies in gritty sand. “Water,” he croaks but the human slaves fled hours ago. His brothers are pottery boulders, scattered around him like so many termite mounds. He wishes he could shut his eyes, but what need does a Golem have for eyelids? The sun mocks him, his doom blinding his ensorcelled eyes.
He mourns the worms, who have retreated to the innermost caverns of his body. As he breaks apart they will lie helplessly exposed. They will wither and die. Or perhaps he will become an oven and roast them. He feels them huddled in a mass, a squirming slimy heart within the clay. The roaches will surely survive, but the other crawling creatures scurry through the cracks and tunnels. He feels their panic as their world disintegrates.
Where is the magician now? He proclaimed his power, his Godlike abilities as he sundered the ground and called forth his armies. Destruction has been his legacy—his creations a pale imitation of life. Where is he now, as his armies lie under an indifferent sky, fading into dust and memory?
The last Golem’s mouth disintegrates, sending an avalanche down the cliff-face of his cheek. As if this is a signal, the rest of his head begins to fragment, the pieces falling apart without grace.
The magic shivers free. The world sighs—a melancholy out-breath carried on a zephyr.