PRW Runner-up Tour: Khnum, Creator of People by Alexandra Perchanidou
Ra’s words were a constant reminder, echoing again and again on his mind. Khnum, god of creation, shook his ram head, as if nodding to himself, and typed on the metallic keyboard.
“Humans destroyed themselves once more. We need them to survive. Make them Khnum. We know you can.”
His laboratory was one of the few that had survived the sun storm which had destroyed everything. His temple, a tower of pyramids station with solar regenerators, was one of the few where humans used to come and worship him and his mastery on creation. Stationed on a constant obit around Earth, Khnum would always watch the desolate, destroyed from sun storms planet.
He was, besides, the one who had created Nile, using a bit of tears and gel, nothing special really, as also he was the one who had the unique gift on creating anything from nothing. And always watch his creations from afar, always alone, always surrounded by success and failure.
The lights on the experiment room, a square wide part of his laboratory covered from every side with glass, shone as Khnum walked towards the glass door. His jeans and open black leather jacket looked casual upon his toned, sun kissed body and broad shoulders. He would look ‘hot’, as the women would say, but he knew that Isis had gotten the looks. She was the finest of them all. The rest of the laboratory was a fine mess of cables, hanging and dangling metal pieces and somewhere at the bottom of everything a long gone pizza box used to be.
Khnum’s eyes were opal; the dark, shiny stone which would look beautiful on a human face but on the ram head of the god the color looked eerie, as if he was dead inside. But for him, the very basic need for creation demanded imagination, which after all needed feelings. This was one of his curses after all; to enjoy his creations, share them occasionally with humans, but at the same time watch in horror his own children die from his gift. The planet below him was a fine example.
He entered the experiment room; this project had taken eons to be completed but Khnum was a patient god. The round globes were hanging from the ceiling where each one of them, two hundred in total, were also connected with a pipe. Inside the globes were empty but Khnum traced his fingertips on the surface of one with affection. “Alright. Let’s do this.” He murmured and closed the door behind him, pressing at the same time the button which was activating the final part of his program.
The wide pipe on the glass ceiling filled with the pinkish liquid, a mixture of bionics and clay and also a small part of his divine power. Khnum watched quietly as the liquid flowed downwards filling the artificial wombs. When all of them were filled, small bubbles appeared inside the globes and soon after that, tiny, but visible to Khnum’s eyes, spots began forming. They grew and grew with each passing minute until, after three hours, the first after the destruction babies were formed.
Khnum pressed the button on his right and stalled the process. If he was to continue then the babies would grow into adults, all of them capable on surviving but also filled with the knowledge of the past. That was the only slip from Ra’s orders; he wanted his new children to know what had happened to their predecessors, wishing for them not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
He got out from the experiment room and pulled from his jeans his iPhone. He had forgotten if that was the 20th or the 30th model. “Ra, it’s me. Come and see for yourself.” And he snapped the phone shut.
Khnum walked to the window and stared at the deep space. He longed to live on Earth again, breathe the fresh air and swim on the blue waters. In the past he liked even to play with the followers of Nut, the sky goddess. Her stars would always blink shy of his appearance.
But he was at the same time so, so lonely. Ra may be the king of the gods but he was also quite jealous. After the creation of the Nile, Ra had kept a distance from the god with the ram head and to his dismay, sometimes Ra liked to use the sun and burn the waters on the already deserted land.
The humans then would offer sacrifices and adore the sun god, fearing his wrath at the same time. Khnum was to be forgotten and a forgotten god was a finished one.
At night Maat, Ra’s exiled daughter, would send to him visions of a dancing woman who would give birth to rivers and seas. The gid didn’t know if she liked to spite him or if she wanted to show his future. But he would remember that her eyes were pale grey and her hair was black like night. Khnum sighed and closed his eyes willing the vision to return.
“Excellent my brother.” Ra’s hawk head and solar crown at the top of it, moved as he walked around the filled wombs. He preferred to dress like the ancient times, with a white wrap around skirt, leaving his upper half bare. His torso bore tattoos of the sun and the planets indicating his power over the solar system.
The babies were sleeping soundly, boys and girls in all skin colors. Ra tapped one of the wombs and the girl inside it moved slowly, her hands fists. “And is that sufficient enough to ensure the continuation of the species?”
“Yes and everyone carry the knowledge capable of ensuring their survival. How is the cleansing going?”
Ra turned to him. “Bastet is taking care of it. And Anubis is really cranky with her methods.”
Ra and Khnum got out from the glass room and walked slowly to the glass window from which Earth could be seen. “Have you finally remembered your place brother?” Ra asked with an edge on his voice.
Khnum knew never to disobey him. “I have my king and I shall never repeat my past mistakes.”
“Good. For now.”
“What do you want me to do next?” Khnum spoke slowly, having his hands clasped behind him.
Ra regarded him for a moment. Even if he was the god who had destroyed with his creations Earth, he wasn’t blamed. Khnum wanted to be blamed and his need for repentance was quite a motive for Ra’s plans. Ra never punished him; he would have lost the only god capable of rebuilding everything. And to say the truth, Maat had spoken of the return of the humans and the rise of the gods again.
“Use two of the babies, a girl and a boy.” Ra spoke. “Train them of our ways and when Earth is clean once more, we will send them to the surface.”
When Ra left, Khnum initiated the process on two specific wombs. One bore a dark skinned boy and the other a white skinned girl which had red tufts for hair. He watched as the wombs grew bigger and bigger and the babies became older, until they reached the ages of seventeen years old. When the wombs slowly touched the floor, they dissolved, leaving behind two people lying on feral position.
Slowly they got up and stood before Khnum who watched them with fascination and pride. The girl’s eyes were pale grey but the boy’s were blue. Khnum always liked to play with colors. The vision of the woman was an inspiration too.
“Father.” The boy spoke and together with the girl they bowed.
Khnum walked and touched their shoulders. He looked at them and his lips curled as if in a smile. His emerald horns glowed and the girl fascinated touched the sharp tips on his sides.
“Clever child. You are Ankh, life, for you shall give birth.”
He turned to the boy. “And you are Kemet, for the darkness on your skin. Use your mind and skills to protect Ankh. And Ankh, use your beauty and life to protect and share it with the rest of your people.”
For the next two years, Ankh and Kemet lived together with Khnum. He showed them everything he had built over the millennia and felt proud for them. They were hard workers but enjoyed each moment with him. From time to time they would look at Earth with a sad expression, which would make Khnum sad.
But Ankh had humor while Kemet was more reserved but at the same time protective of her. Khnum liked the concept of love and he could see it at the eyes of he children; he had seen wars, and arts all devoted to love.
But many times love was used, not treasured.
Khnum also knew that time with his children wouldn’t last. No matter how much time you could spend with those you loved, time would snatch them away.
At the eve of the day of their departure, Ankh and Kemet with a smile on their faces hugged the god and he tightened his grip on them. “Live well my children and never forget everything you’ve learnt.”
“We will not Father.” Kemet replied and Ankh tenderly kissed the ram’s forehead.
The door slid open for them and the small round spacecraft was ready for them. Kemet took Ankh’s hand and took their positions inside it. The wombs had already been transported on Earth and the pair would devote their lives on re-growing human history. Khnum watched them from his observation deck as the small craft entered the atmosphere and disappeared.
He turned and walked slowly to the experiment room. A lonesome artificial womb was left and inside it a baby was sleeping. It was the only part of his project which would not be devoted to the cause of the gods. For eons everything was denied from him. As the creator he was not supposed to own, or have anyone by his side.
“But that will change.” He looked at the womb.
The girl inside it had green skin and her hair was black; there was the slight indication of scales on her arms but her features were delicate; small nose, high cheekbones and full lips. She wasn’t made with clay like the humans but the holy blood of Maat, the goddess of creation, ran through her veins.
“Beautiful Heqet. You will awake soon. You will dance and give birth to the blue of the seas.” He looked at Earth, the planet slowly turning green as the sky was clearing at the atmosphere. Khnum pressed the button which would complete the process. “And together, we shall see what our children will do.”
The city was rising above the clouds and people strolled to the roads. The buildings were made of fine white marble and the machines were using environmental friendly machines. Apart from the temple devoted to the founders of humans a separate temple was also reserved for a pair of gods.
Thousands of cities were like this all over Earth. The forests flourished and the mountain bore high ridges, as if the gods had fought when they were re-creating them. Millions of people would travel and devote their lives on the preservation of the species and honor their saviors.
And who their saviors were?
The festivals would take place every time it rained and when the stars would fall from the sky, as if Nut’s followers were honoring these two gods. In times of need people would pray. But when they would turn to the clear blue sky and see the sun, they would not thank Ra, the sun god, but their prayers would turn to the statues of the two sitting figures.
Each city had one of them; sometimes it was made of marble, other times made of topazes and pearls, diamonds and rubies.
The man had a ram’s head, opal stones for eyes and clear green emerald for his horns, while the woman’s body was made of blue stone an indication of her power to bring forth the waters.
Khnum was finally forgiven.
And Heqet would always dance at the seas.
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