Trudging up the next dune, he peered over the top. Nestled in a natural bowl between the dunes, he saw a pool. Date palms lined two sides of the oasis. He attempted to run, and stumbled down the slope. When he rose to his feet, he ran the last few hundred metres to the water’s edge. Dropping to his knees, he sipped cautiously at first, fearing the water might have impurities. After his initial taste, he drank without abandon. Not only did he find the water palatable, but sweeter than anything he had ever drank before.
Once he had slated his thirst, he examined the copper lamp. He removed his keffiyeh and waded into the pool. The water rose chest high at its centre where he stopped to dunk his head. Ripples settled as he stared at his reflection on the surface. A full moon shone brightly, just above his right shoulder, giving him the opportunity to see himself in detail. He still remained scabrous and semi-devoid of hair. He upended the spout of the lamp over his head; nothing came out. The angel did tell him “he had to rub the lamp.”
Feeling self conscious, he began to rub. Somewhere in the sky he sensed, rather than heard, God laugh. A swarm of glowing dots poured from the spout and hovered as a cloud in front of him, like insects around a light globe. By their discipline, he sensed they were sentient beings, but not God; separate entities. He knew that because he still sensed God’s presence above.
Glen raised a hand to the glowing cloud and stared in wonder as part of it formed a tendril and caressed his fingers.
They’re like… “fleas,” he finished aloud.
The cloud collapsed and reformed into words. We are. They reformed again. Atomic. And again. Fleas.
It spelled the next phrase in stages.
Wash – your – hair.
The cloud descended on his scalp and covered his lower face. In his reflection, it looked as if he wore a glowing toupee and beard. He dabbed his fingers and his scalp and rubbed vigourously.
Some of the fleas pulled away from him.
He massaged his chin, working the fleas into what remained of his facial hair and his skin.
Rinse the fleas glowed on the water’s surface.
Glen dunked his head a few times to wash away the effects. When he rose for the final time, he stopped to examine his face on the water. The fleas had left him, forming a hovering cloud once more. His reflection mirrored his disappointment.
Wait, said the fleas.
Ever so gradually, his mange began to recede; replaced with a thick mop of hair and the bushy beard he remembered. The fleas funneled into a narrow stream, entering his beard. He couldn’t make out any sign of the glowing dots within.
Smiling fondly, he said, “I’m going to miss them.”
A glowing tendril spewed forth from his beard.
We’re here they wrote before returning.
He waded from the pool and stood dripping on the sand, looking up into the date palms.