Khnum and the Pen
I awoke in the small room, having unintentionally dozed off, and sat up to discover that the markers I’d been drawing with had all dispersed and tumbled down off of the comforter and on to the floor. It wasn’t night yet it wasn’t day. I didn’t recognize the blank room, and I was swallowed by the unmistakable feeling of being inside of a great building where all light and passing of time was kept hidden from its halls. Fear stole over me, and I suddenly became aware that there was something unseen lurking in the room.
Quite as soon as this realization hit me, I looked down and watched my gray marker slide a few feet across the floor. The hair on my arms rose, dousing me with coldness, and I whispered names I thought might be near enough my heart to hear or feel my distress. The marker moved again against reason, and then it slid under the crack of the single door. I leapt up from the bed and threw open the door with panic rising in my throat, eager to greet the hallucinations of my head and disprove them. I searched the floor outside of the room and saw no trace of the marker.
I breathed a momentary sigh of relief, and then looked up, and there it was hovering before me, aloft in the air without a hand to hold it. I began to scream the names of all those who had ever helped me, of all those who could possibly hear me from my strange prison, and that was when I looked up and noticed the stairwell that led up from my room, and the great beast standing on the second landing.
It had the torso of a strong human, though woman or man I could not say, and on its shoulders the head of a ram bore its black eyes down upon me, its twisted horns casting ominous shadows across its face and the wall beside it. Its genitals lay bare and exposed between the railing, and I could now see that it was both a man and a woman in one.
Without speaking, it spoke to me.
“I am Khnum,” it said.
I tried to holler but no sound came. It had stolen my voice. I stood and trembled.
“I am the Maker of makers, the Father of fathers and the Mother of mothers. With my own clay I crafted you, that you would craft the others who have not come to be.”
With the boom of his soundless voice I felt inside me the tremendous love of a mother as if I were swaddled, the formidable and terrifying wrath of a vicious and merciless father in rage, the unsettling disappointment of a creator watching its most beloved creation destroy itself from inside out… I felt an amorous pining, a desperate grief; suicidal dejection so miserable it seemed insurmountable, yet so full of beauty it couldn’t be turned away from…
I saw suddenly in my own eyes a field of darkness where, even without light, radiating, vivid color and life drenched the air. I watched the sun rise over said field, and when the searing light hit me my heart peeled open. It tore itself asunder before my very eyes, gushing my lifeblood and soaking the earth with all of my love and pain and everything I’d ever felt. I fell to my knees, weeping as a child who first learns of the unreachable shadows of death by losing their most beloved to its silent jaws. I screamed as darkness descended again…
The vision passed away, and once more I saw only the beast, staring down at me from the top of the stair, and I could not meet its eyes for shame.
“I have made you in my fashion;” it said. “A creator of things which must needs exist. I did not betray thee, so betray not thy gift.”
And then I awoke.