The Sweetest Melon

Somewhere a man and a woman are dreaming. The dream is of small pieces of sliced up melon falling as rain. The melon is falling onto a local park field, which is freshly mown. The dream field is a real field near to both of their beds. The rain is green and pink and succulent. The good juices run down the drains and the pieces of melon melt into the grass and mud.

*

The sun is just coming up as the woman and man enter the park from opposite sides. They spot each other and look hopefully at one another across the distance, then simultaneously start walking calmly towards each other across the lovely smelling, damp grass. They meet in the middle of the field and make eye contact and this makes them happy. He has a spade and she has a brightly coloured rucksack across one shoulder.

His name is Joe, her name is Mary. They are grown-ups of the same age but had gone to different schools across town. Both are single and live alone in rented accommodation on opposite sides of a large English town.

“Good morning, I am Joe,” he says easily.

“Hello, morning. Hi. I am Mary.”

She feels this has gone well and smiles wider, then looks down at the ground between them. She draws an X on the dewy ground, which looks disturbed and says

“Well … X marks the spot.”

“Yes,” he grips the spade with both hands now and starts digging.

Not far down he taps something hard, then kneels down to uncover it – It is a solid gold bar! Mary’s face becomes serious as she kneels down to watch Joe gather it up with both hands. Attached to the gold bar with an elastic band is a note on a scrap of paper, which they both look at together. But the writing is in Chinese so they don’t know what it says. There are also drawings of a tombstone and an unhappy face underneath the Chinese symbols. Joe and Mary look at each other and debate what the note means, but a few seconds later the note is screwed up and cast aside.

Joe holds the gold up high above them and it sparkles in the summer morning sun. They both look at it for a few seconds with mouths slightly agape. They both have a rush of adrenaline. Then Joe says flatly and quickly

“I think we should be getting this to a bank where we can sell it for many thousands of pounds.”

“I agree. And we should go there now. There is a Swiss bank in the market, it probably opens at nine. We can get there via that path along the river,” she replies in a similar tone.

“Yes, lets go, here put it in your bag,” he hands the gold over looking left and right to see if there are any dog walkers or early morning runners etc, which there aren’t. The bar is heavy and has a pleasing texture Mary notices as she drops it into the bag and looks over her shoulder to see if there are any early morning runners or people doing Tai chi etc, which there aren’t. Then they stash the spade in some bushes and leave the park through a gap in the fence.

They walk swiftly through a posh housing estate, under a pylon and then leave the houses and roads behind and are quickly amongst trees and flowers, on a sandy path which leads to another stonier path along the river. Both are wondering if they will stay together when they get the money. Both hope they will and go on holiday together somewhere exotic. Mary feels excited and says, whilst breaking into a kind of skip

“What will you spend your money on Joe!?”
He laughs and says, swinging his arms higher,

“I don’t know, I’m thinking a Ferrari and a holiday to somewhere hot and far away.”

“Yes, a good plan.”

“What about you?”

“Erm … a car and holiday yes. And a new wardrobe naturally ha ha.”

“Ha ha ha,” he laughs

The man and woman turn a corner and stop for a moment. The path leads downhill to the darker path, which heads to the market. They can see the church steeple in the distance. But something else has caught their eye, something very strange indeed.

There is a field ahead and to the right which usually holds a few horses, but today there are no horses. They look at each other, a little afraid and Joe says

“Er, what the!?”

“Erm, no idea!”

There is a very tall human like figure bounding around the edge of the field. It is jet black and naked with a large monstrous head. The skin looks hard and smooth in the sun even from a distance, like a beetle. It seems to look at them grimly for a second as it turns ninety degrees and continues running in large strides, looking almost human but at least ten feet tall, towards the other side of the field, away to Mary and Joe’s right hand side. The pair look at each other again and Joe says, with eyebrows looking only a bit worried

“I have a feeling we are safe. Come on, the bank is that way isn’t it,” he points past the field

“Yes, I think we can sneak past safely, don’t ask me how I know, but I feel that creature is harmless,” she rubs her hands together only a bit nervously and checks the weight of the bag again. But both just stand there for a few minutes mesmerised by the lonely black figure galloping around the edge of the field along next to the wooden fencing.

They stand still and can hear the river rushing away from them down to their left. The sun is climbing higher. They know the bank will be closed so they could take a detour but feel compelled now to maybe even talk to the strange figure. They watch it circle the field a few more times before Joe and Mary head down towards it determined now to find out why it is running and what it is anyway!

They lean on the fence feeling strangely relaxed and wait for the black runner to get round to them. It approaches and slows down breathing loudly and glistening with sweat. It’s skin is indeed smooth and hard looking. The limbs are long and thin with long talons at the tips. The face is sad and frightening. The eyes are large and sad and glow golden in colour. It stops on the other side of the fence, which is no protection, and says in an alien voice

“Greetings.”

“Hi there,” Joe and Mary say together and then look further into the crazy vortexes of the creatures eyes.

“I trust you are well,” says the creature

“Yes, thanks. We are wondering what you are,” Joe says in a friendly tone

“I am the Featherweight singular shape shifting dream runner,” says the creature

“Oh, how odd!” says Mary

“Yes,” says the runner sadly

“WHY do you run round this field?” asks Joe
The Dream Runner looks up at the warm sun and spreads his arms in the cool breeze, his form radiating sadness and ancient searching. The river can be heard.
“Because there is nothing better to do … I know of your find somehow, I know it from the plants. I have waited for you at this running place, running round and round and round, slightly bending the grasses to their liking. I once had wealth even greater than yours when I dreamt in the body of a human male…,” says the shape shifter

“Please go on, what happened?” says Joe

“Yes, and what is the meaning of all this?” asks Mary

“The meaning? Search me! Ha ha ha – Yes, I was richer than the King. Oil made me wealthy but I decided to give it all to disabled African children because I was becoming obsessed and had stopped my running. The African children spent the money on digging equipment and managed to dig a well and they bought food and farming equipment and built homes and lived in peace. I visited every spring and was very pleased and had resumed my running, dreaming fantastic things. But the tribe soon started spending the money on guns and missiles and other weapons. They no longer allowed me near their village and last I heard, they had declared war on a neighbouring tribe.”

“Oh!” say Joe and Mary together.

“Hmmm. Anyway. Now we have made eye contact. Destiny. Good,” says the dream runner in a very sad way.

“hmm … good …, ” whispers Mary, audible to all three, looking at the mad clouds over the Dream Runners shoulder. A looming abyss of torture flashes through Joe’s mind for an instant.
“See ya,” says the Runner determinedly and lightly, and with that the black dream runner starts running again away from Joe and Mary.

“Bye!” shouts Joe in a friendly way to the creature’s back. The Runner turns his head in a strange motion and grins hideously and hilariously before looking away again.
Mary and Joe look at each other and just nod.

Mary and Joe carry on down the stony path that runs along the river. They are both deep in thought thinking of the dream runner and it’s story. As they turn a corner they both look back reaching out to the runner with their hope. They see the dream runner still running round the field and then it is out of sight and Mary and Joe carry on in silence, holding hands now.

They know the story could be seen as a warning to them somehow but there is no way they are turning back now, not with many thousands of pounds within their grasp! Anyway the Dream Runner would have probably told them straight if he somehow knew for certain that they were heading for jail or death or worse, they think. So they carry on excited, walking faster now thinking of money, money, lots of money to spend on themselves!! They are thinking of mansions, jet skis and home cinema kits. Nothing wrong with any of that they say to each other! What could possibly go wrong? Nothing, they decide together – not as long as there are shops to spend it in! Anyway, maybe the lesson of the story is not to give the money away! Fine by them they laugh!

The air is still now and it is warm, Joe knows the gold must be pleasingly heavy – and it is. Joe coughs. Mary sniffs.

They walk in silence for a minute. The path crunches beneath them sounding the salvation, sin and confusion etc, in the air. Joe frowns slightly (so does Mary).

Joe worries about the note that had been attached to the gold bar, but he admits to himself that he can’t wait to get the money and start spending it. So the ominous tombstone image and the sad face picture are ignored again along with any implications that they might give.

The market is closer now and the church sounds the half-hour bells. Mary says brightly

“Chin up.”

“Yes.”

*

Suddenly a mound appears on the path in front of them and out pops a giant mole! He is about two-foot tall and is wearing a yellow miners helmet complete with torch and a utility belt with various tools! He starts dancing up and down, one foot to the other and shouting in a mole’s voice

“The gold! The gold! I wan’ it! I wan’ it! It’s mine, it mine!” the mole’s short arms are up at forty-five degrees and have sharp pointy claws on the end and a pads of grey skin for palms.
Mary is amused by this and says

“Well you can’t have it! Find your own gold!”

“That gold mine! MINE!” cries the mole, and then does something to Joe which shows he is not joking around:
The mole switches a switch on his helmet and a beam of red circular lights fire out of the torch and hits Joe in the forehead. Joe collapses to the ground and Mary screams

“What have you done!?” and then she quickly reaches into her bag and brings out a mace pepper spray kneeling down and aiming it at the mole who dances again, screeching and then charges at Mary and Joe but is held back by the mace and screeches louder and rubs his eyes backtracking to his emergence hole. Then the mole attacks again but Mary’s aim with the spray is great and the mole is sent backwards again. This goes on for several minutes.

Joe is in a nightmare, which has haunted him for years, a nightmare of doom – His bladder is full but he is unable to empty it or even pass a single drop no matter where he goes or what he tries. He goes from tree to tree or toilet cubicle to cubicle and back again but just stands there in misery and distress, all he can think of is his desperate need to urinate. There are people looking through the cracks of the cubicle or watching him across the field. His confidence is shaken. Even standing in a dark, empty and silent cave a hundred miles from anyone still he can’t go – he hops from foot to foot walking around and around and back and forth in utter hopelessness. His discomfort and desperation are vast and his panic rises as the thought dawns that this will never end…

Soon his mind and body focus even more intensely on this agony and in anguish he sees a ball. The ball is static and has shapes and patterns and things moving quickly across and around its surface. The ball is, and confirms, complete anguish for his being and is the only visual in this hell.

His soul is tortured, he and the ball are static, and this is the end of the line.

Mary watches the mole jump up in the air and dive back down into his hole. Then she kneels down beside Joe and touches his shoulder.

Joe sees something to break into the torture! A white, red and purple chicken egg shape appears at the edge of his vision! It circles the ball in his minds eye and Joe sees it circle closer and closer to the ball. He watches in wonder and hope now but still the need to go to the toilet stabs at him. He watches the egg intently and suddenly feels an explosion of relief and joy somewhere in his soul.

As the egg touches the ball, the ball turns into a tunnel and Joe and the egg fly into the tunnel and…

This is where Joe now realises he is facing a tree urinating fiercely and wonderfully! His jeans and boxers are halfway down his thighs and he looks behind him, delirious with relief, and sees Mary sitting on the other side of the path facing the other way looking at a small flowery hill. Joe looks at the growing puddle between his feet. The wee is strong and dark, it is acidic and smells of terrible victory.

The power-jet waterfall of urine goes on and on, and eventually slows – a small rainbow even appears nearby.

He makes a noise like “Ahhgh huuuuu,” as he forces, with diabolical pleasure, the last drops of urine out. Then his eyelids flutter uncontrollably. His legs and fingers twitch in tentative ecstasy. Then he allows his whole body to shudder with grateful pleasure and happiness.

He realises this moment is crystal clear: His bladder is now one hundred percent empty.

*

Joe and Mary continue down the path that leads to the market and great riches. But Joe is not thinking about the gold right now. He is walking slowly. He says to Mary

“Do you mind if I have a lie down?”

“No not at all! There is a world war two crater up here that we can rest in.”

“Good. Thankyou.”

The crater is away from the right hand side of the path and is full of soft, bright green grass and flowers and a bush with berries on. Joe is simply happy that his bladder has very recently been completely emptied.

Lying down flat on his back, he says trustingly

“Please wake me if I sleep for a ages.”

“I will. I’ve got two sandwiches in here, I’ll save you one.”
Joe nods three times in appreciation and agreement. The sun is shining and Joe is breathing deeply and slowly with a new kind of smile on his face, eyes closed gently adoring a strange egg…

*

Normally the nightmare torments him until he wakes gasping for freedom. Then he will go and stand grimly over his toilet in awful fear of his doom. Eventually he is always able to pass water and then falls back into bed experiencing his empty bladder and wild confusion.

In the crater with Mary he rests the nightmare defeated in a way that seems as if it could be everlasting.

*

Mary sits eating her cheese sandwich knowing she could easily take the bag and do a runner but she does not do this and looks at Joe with love in her heart. Mary makes a daisy chain and puts it around her neck then she goes and watches the river from the ledge above the crater.

She wonders about the note that had been attached to the gold bar etc and her expression is fixed then as she watches planes come in to land for a couple of hours or so.

*

Joe opens his eyes and sees Mary looking at the bush close up, leaning on her elbows. He yawns and Mary turns and says, looking at her watch

“The bank will be open soon enough. Nervous?”

“A bit, yes,” he smiles

“Yes I am too,” then “I’m gonna buy us a big breakfast to celebrate once the money is ours! Here is that sandwich I promised,” Mary throws over a soft white barm of cheese, onion and lettuce wrapped in tinfoil. Joe says thanks and gobbles it down. Mary is amused at how fast he eats.

Soon they stand up to leave the crater but are startled by a shrill voice coming from the direction of the bush!

“HALT!” says the voice, and then “Joe and Mary. Listen very carefully. Can you hear me?”

“Yes,” they innocently say together trying to see where the voice is coming from, it seems to be coming from the bush itself!

“Come closer to the bush, I am sitting atop it. Look for a grey worm, that is I.” So they creep closer and look and sure enough there is a grey worm with a smiley but deadly serious human face sitting on a leaf! Both Mary and Joe are aghast.

“Listen. You must listen to my warning. DO YOU HEAR ME?”

“Yes, yes!” says Mary

“We are listening. Go on Mr worm what is the warning?” says Joe starting to worry.

“ I will say this now. You MUST return the gold bar to where you found it, it is cursed!” Joe and Mary both get a nasty sinking feeling but Joe asks hopefully

“Are you sure? What is the curse?”

“Joe – yes I am sure, as sure a sugar,” he says grimly, then continues “It is a known curse amongst my few brothers and possibly others, so please trust me.” Mary and Joe nod in growing disappointment. The tiny mouth of the worm opens again to say “Joe, if you hand over that gold to a bank or gold merchant or anyone else with the intention of gaining great sums of money, you will only ever be able to half empty your bladder while you are still alive. When you are dead? – Your bladder will be full but you won’t be able to pass a single drop, EVER! Yes Joe, I am told that that means EVER!” Joe is shocked and starts to panic. “Mary, if you continue with your plans with Joe to sell the gold … well we both know what fate would await you don’t we lass?” Mary makes a horrified noise of panic and terrible fear, eyes widening. “Now you have heard me, I will go but I must send you both into deep sleep now for the day and nearly all the night. The sleep will be nice. When it fades you will doze together and all your, those, negative things will not exist for a time. Then when you snap out of it you will remember about the gold and know which path to choose, as if you don’t already know. Joe? Go to the toilet now please and then come back please, ok?”

“Yes … yes. Be back soon.”
Mary and the worm stand in silence while Joe walks, stunned, back along the path to his tree. Mary sits down so as not to watch. She starts crying now and her hands are shaking at the threats of the grey worm. She fears their doom and feels desperate to be rid of the gold. She looks at the bag on the floor with sickening loathing and remembers again the note that had been attached to the gold.

When Joe returns (having being able to urinate on demand!!!) the worm orders them to kneel before him, which they do holding hands in fear and love. The worm takes a long breath in and blows a cloud of grey smoke into Mary and Joe’s faces and they sink slowly to the ground already in a dreamy sleep. Happy smiles appear on their faces as they settle on the ground. The worm nods knowing he has done all he can. Then he looks up and up into the blue sky before rolling into a ball and falling off the bush, then wriggling away over the edge of the crater…

*

Joe and Mary meet up in their dreams. A feeling of supernatural calm is all around as Mary and Joe spot each other and start laughing, feeling like fun is to be had. There is a table between them a few paces away. They approach. On the table is a large fresh watermelon and a small sign with dark orange letters saying “Free melon. Help yourself” so Mary and Joe do just that! Joe cuts the watermelon up into slices with an invisible knife and Mary watches smiling, looking forward the taste. Mary and Joe start laughing uncontrollably and the serious business of eating the melon becomes their focus so both pick up a slice of melon. They start munching and are very, very pleased at the taste, which is real. They agree that it is the sweetest melon that they have ever tasted!

*

When their deep sleep fades simultaneously, they look at each other and their minds are filled with sleepy satisfaction and infinite peace. The stars above the crater look like a bear, a saucepan, two fish.

Some time later they both look slowly down at their feet where a brightly coloured rucksack lies. Then they remember the day just gone and sit up anxious and tingling with fear. Joe whispers

“Come on, come on, we’ve got to get that THING back to the park.”

“Yes, yes. Now! Please Joe lets hurry” she was weeping.

*

As the sky is changing colour again just before the start of a new day the cursed gold bar is back where Mary and Joe found it. Joe is patting the ground down above the bar with the spade that they had found still hidden in the bushes.

Attached to the gold bar with the elastic band from yesterday (which Joe found in his pocket) is a note. Mary had written the note on a scrap of paper that she found in her bag while walking back along the stony path (walking cautiously around the Miner Mole’s hole) then next to the Dream Runner’s field (Which contained five horses, and no shape shifting dream runner). The scrap had had a phone number on it, which she tore off and luckily she had also found a pen in her bag as well, when back in the crater. The note read “Beware. This gold bar is cursed. Do not sell.” Underneath that she had drawn a tombstone and an unhappy face. While Mary had written the note Joe had searched for the Chinese note, but it was nowhere to be found.

Joe thoroughly pats down the ground and Mary watches him with eager patience. Then Joe stands up and looks at Mary and a feeling of relief engulfs them and they reach out both hands and then hold each other close for a while.

They walk slowly away from the cursed gold bar hand in hand, Joe using the spade as a walking stick. Both are hoping the gold will not trouble anyone else again but both know it could someday be unearthed again. They grip each other tighter. Mary asks Joe

“What now?”

“How about we walk the streets until somewhere that sells coffee opens?”
Mary pats her jeans pocket where a few coins are safely held

“Yes,” she smiles leaning against Joe as they walk.

As they approach the edge of the field it starts raining strawberries, Mary says softly

“How nice.”

Somewhere a man and a woman are dreaming.

THE END

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