The energetic ring of the phone was what eventually woke Khaled up. Seeing his mother’s name flashing across the screen he regretted having stirred. “What more could the woman want?” he wondered. He had given her an apartment that paid her a princely rent. And yet Khaled’s mother, lacking the appropriate shame at having already taken so much, appeared to say through the presently inanimate phone, “Can I have some more?”
It was almost a year now since his first dream. Until then he boasted a humbler state of affairs. No three room apartment, no private billiard room, practically nothing at all, at least not enough for his mother to care to ring so early in the morning. He hardly remembered that life now.
He used to live in a run down, one room apartment along with his mother, in a poor colony. That was until he had one of his prophetic dreams and predicted the exact details of a sensational murder. He described this dream as a story, and wrote it down. The story was published in an innocuous daily (that supplied Khaled with the primary part if his meagre income). The story, Khaled and the innocuous daily rose to fame when a reader pointed out the analogy between the story and the murder. The details were almost identical. The eerie coincidence generated interest sufficient to make Khaled famous, famous enough to write his own book. Fortunately unlike most books written by overnight successes, Khaled’s story wasn’t autobiographical.
Instead he used his dreams to provide him with stories; he made a small fortune and ever the entrepreneur, he had capitalized by advertising his unique talent. He narrated his dreams. It had been an instant hit-“the dream writer”. The coincidence that had spurred on Khaled’s initial success was never repeated, yet his title as “the dream writer” ensured him readership, in fact it ensured him a fan following. He moved out of his one room apartment, into a larger house in an affluent colony. He also provided his mother with a separate apartment and the facilities enough to live comfortably; thus his chagrin at his mother’s unending demands.
Providence having provided thus for his dreams to beget his dreams, Khaled now hardly felt the need to dream or write anymore. Two books full of his dreams and with sufficient literate people in the world, he was now a satisfied man. He now longed for a life of idleness, restful, dreamless and motherless.
Yet, one dream had been troubling him, the one that had repeated itself for the third time that morning before his mother’s untimely intervention. He had vowed to idleness after his second book matched the success of the first. However: this dream compelled more attention.
It was strange. For the first time in a year he had had an equivocal dream: with no clear plot, unlike the rest of his stories. The ambiguity troubled him. What troubled him more was his inability to recollect the finer details. All he remembered was a steep jagged cliff with the deep blue sea beneath. He also recollected some one jumping off it. His only reassurance was the apparent suicide, death at least being something that matched the pattern of the rest of his stories. It irritated him to think about the dream. It seemed to compel him to take an effort, something he had sworn he would never do again.
It was time for his first meal, a luxury he could enjoy now daily; served by that efficient woman: Miss Moppet. Having a housekeeper was a privilege that truly awakened him to the magnitude of his success. Thus his spirits were considerably lifted, as he sat at the breakfast table, watching miss moppet lay out his favoured morning meal.
He had started wolfing down his food when the efficient woman coughed, a dry, artificial cough.
This being repeated at spaces of time Khaled finally asked.
“Are you down with something Miss Moppet?”
“Is your throat sore?
“Then I would ask you to stop coughing, particularly over my food.”
“I beg your pardon sir; I wanted to speak with you about something?”
“Yes?”, said Khaled who could vaguely see what was coming.
“About my salary…I was hoping for some money”
“Well I’m all for the magnanimous spirits of our community .I wish you the best of luck in obtaining your money.” he said and added as an after thought, “though I hope you don’t intend to steal the money. That would dent my character. It would affect my sales and your salary.”
“Well sir, it’s my salary I was talking about .I was hoping for a raise”
“I see.” said Khaled leisurely sipping the last dregs of his coffee.” and what has caused this sudden necessity for material gain?”
Miss Moppet seemed prepared for this.
“It’s my mother sir”, she said sobbing,” her heart isn’t good anymore. And my brother, he needs a job, but we can’t mange that, because my father …”
This was too much for Khaled’s already stricken nerves to bear
“Stop it, stop it!” he rasped,” there is no need to make such a fuss. You share the plight of more than half the people of this country. If you want to interrupt my meal, you might as well have something original to say.’
“So I’m not getting a raise?”
“Your quick grasp of the situation is admirable. No you aren’t.”
“That’s your final word?”
“So I wish it to be yours… for a considerably long time.”
“Very well sir, I’m handing in my months notice.”
“You needn’t do anything of the sort. The taxi service is fairly efficient in this part of town. I advise you call for one and leave with all your possessions as soon as your competence permits.”
And so Mrs. Moppet strode out, leaving Khaled with his first headache and the first frustrating start to the day he’d had In a year.
Being a firm believer in the wonders of alcohol regardless of the time of the day he proceeded to mix a drink and having consumed it he decided to try sleeping. He did actually sleep, but even there the evil fate of the day disturbed him. And he dreamt again about the strange leap into the swelling ocean and soon woke up far more disturbed than he was before his siesta.
On waking up he heard the doorbell ring. It seemed to have a sinister longevity in its call. Khaled attended the call and found in front of him a man of substantial size and build with a grimace lurking from his dull eyebrows to his inexpressive lips.
“You is Mary’s employer?”
“I beg your pardon.”
“Is you the one who fired Mary?”
“No I mean, Mary?” asked Khaled stressing the M.
“Yerrs Mary. An’ you bloody well remember her.”
“But… Mary who?”
“Mary Moppet. You blasted scoundrel. “
“Ah! Miss Moppet. Yes, yes…”
“You fired her?”
“And how might this be your concern?”
“I am her brother.”
Khaled was more than a little taken aback-one does not generally count on these menacing brothers. The position of affairs became amply clear to Khaled who despite his usual lackadaisical approach to life did not flinch when attempting to save his own.
He locked the door with one swift movement. The blundering brother, who had probably not counted on such hasty recourse, stared blankly for a moment. Then as his mind brought up to date with the present situation of things he concluded very accurately that the door had been shut. And in one more deliberate process he received the impulse to smash the door: which he proceeded to do with swift vigorous kicks. The stark contrast between the time taken to react and the actual speed of the action was what jolted Khaled into action. He would, had his door been stronger, liked to explain to the brute the principles of diplomacy and negotiation. But the wooden door did not permit this.
Khaled reacted quickly again. This time using the facility of the back staircase, so that by the time the brother had broken open the door Khaled was rushing onto the sidewalks in a rather athletic fashion.. He caught the first cab that he could, and by the time the thug had come down Khaled was being safely transported by the cabbie to “anywhere out of town.”
The cabbie had been reassured that any length travelled would be compensated, Khaled being bright enough to pick up his wallet before leaving.
“Anywhere out of town” soon turned into the first stretch of coastline and beach. Khaled feeling, as safe a distance away as he could possibly desire, proceeded to pay the cabbie. This too he did so with much haggling.
And then when finally satisfied, he proceeded to climb a gently sloped hill located in one corner of the strip of beach… He found the walk up the hill soothing, and as he proceeded further up the hill the ocean revealed itself to him in a breath taking view.
It was at this point that Khaled’s strange dream renewed its persistent prodding. As he climbed higher Khaled was convinced that
This was all part of his recurring dream. In fact every detail of the hill was exactly the same.
He could scarcely believe the resemblance. Every detail came crashing through in vivid detail, including the crazed man whom he had seen jumping into the swelling abyss below. Khaled approached the edge cautiously, fully expecting to witness a body floating somewhere below. He wondered if the morning’s whimsical misunderstanding was meant to lead him to something bigger. Probably his best story yet. He could see the reports flashing across the dailies, “Psychic author finds body; story a bestseller”. The inertia that had kept him away from his dreams seemed to vanish with his desire for one more story, one more success that would surely push him well beyond the last elements of life that still troubled him. H could live the perfect life, untroubled by his mother; he could hire a dozen moppets and ensure they did not have threatening brothers. In fact the more he considered the situation the more convinced he became that this finally was his crowning moment, his step to rise above all humanity and slowly move towards the realm of the divine.
His caution receded. He had reached the edge. He bent down to try and see if he could distinguish any human figure in the sea below. All he could see were the jagged rocks. No trace of a corpse. A little disappointed he considered that the corpse may not be visible from his elevated view point and decided to go down to check He turned around in one swift motion, eager to get down and reach his promising corpse. As he did he felt something slip out of his pocket. He turned in a flash to observe his wallet falling into the abyss.
He lurched to try and catch it, his feet slipped over some loose rock at the edge, he was unable to maintain balance. His faltering feet tripped and in one desperate motion he fell over, into the abyss, in pursuit of his one last story, of his step towards a perfect life. The step proved fatal as Khaled crashed against the jagged rocks, to fulfil his own prophecy and conclude his own dream, and to become the corpse that had promised him divinity.