Endymioms Dream by Carl Teegerstrom

Endymion walked with his flocks in the fields as the sun set in the distance. The humble shepherd strolled down a slope that led down to a foggy river. He spotted something odd. A lotus grew from a black, thorny stem. He went over to investigate. As he walked toward it the flower opened up with hundreds upon thousands petals pulsing pink. He picked it carefully to avoid the thorns. The flower looked bright against the gray sky.

‘A grey sky’ he thought to himself. He turned around to see the sunset was gone, but the sky was still light. The stars, moon and darkness did not rise.

Endymion felt a cut on his hand. The blood dripped, no, rose from his hands. Each red drop looked like a pomegranate seed as it floated away.

‘I must be dreaming,’ he thought to himself, ‘but how long?’

Down by the banks of the river he saw a girl who seemed to be made of mists and moonlight. Endymion went down to see her. As he dropped the lotus it metamorphosed, the pedals becoming feathers and flew away.

“What is your name?” he asked her

“Shouldn’t you know?” she asked. The two continued walking. Slowly Endymion felt a mist growing all around them and forms therein, the forms of people. But, each was empty, like reflections in the river. But, as Endymion stared into the waters his was the only reflection he could see. He heard blood dripping on the stony shore. All this was real, somehow.

“Alms,” Endymion heard behind him, “Alms.” He turned and saw what looked like an old leper crawling toward him, begging. His mouth was bloody, and the voice faded as it crusted on his lips. 

“Alms,” he heard again and again, this time a pregnant woman, sallow, as if she died of starvation. Then, a legless soldier. Then more and more. Crawling. Reaching with fingers scraped into claws and each mouth rasping as his blood dried on their faces. He fell back as they swarmed about him. Suddenly, all was quiet.

The thump of an oar against a skiff echoed about the shore. The ghostly shades had vanished, and the woman Endymion saw earlier stood above him.

“Who are you?” Endymion asked the girl. 

“O father, you must have confused me with my sisters, there are so many, I am Half-moon, remember?”

“Father?” Endymion asked. Half-moon reached out her hand.

“Yes,” she said as she pulled him up, “You must have forgotten. Again.”

“Again?”

“Regardless, the ferry approaches and I must leave,” Half-moon said, “Are you coming to Hades?” Endymion heard his blood trickle to the shore again. The ferry landed. It was a black skiff manned by a black-robed figure so thin he looked like a bleached skeleton. His eyes beamed at them, to black pits with stars like Sirius, the plague star, shining from them.

“You can’t be coming to Hades. Mother is expecting your daughter at any minute.” Half-moon said.

“I must be dreaming.”

“Well, you’ve been dreaming so long you might as well be dead.”

“What do you mean?”

“Calm down,” Half-moon said, placing a hand on his shoulder, “look, you’ll be a father soon.” Half-moon pointed to a red light in the distance.

“Here,” she said, “A drink of water to calm you nerves.” Half-moon had cupped water between her hands from the nearby river. The river was still as a mirror and the water was wine-dark like the sea. Endymion felt light-headed, so he drank to clear his head.

Suddenly, he found himself lying on the banks of a hill. Grey grass waved in the breeze, and red light bathed all around him. He turned to see a red moon rising. The moon was huge and seemed to encompass the whole sky. The wind swirled, howled and screamed around him, louder and louder until, all of the sudden, it stopped. Many moments passed in near perfect silence.

“Hello love,” Endymion turned around to see a woman bathed in sweat and the red rays of the moon, “here she is.” He approached her and saw she held a baby girl. The child was bright, brighter than Sirius, the Sun and the Red Moon, as if light itself was a baby. “What will we name her, I thought Pandia would be best.”

“All-brightness,” Endymion nodded as the woman gave him the child to hold, “Yes, I like it.” For a moment, he forgot he was dreaming, and he genuinely felt like he was the father. He held the child close and felt its heart beat. He smiled, his heart becoming light in his chest. But, then he remembered he had been dreaming. Holding the baby in one hand he freed the other and saw the blood didn’t drop or float but clung to his hand.

“What’s wrong honey?” the woman asked.

“Nothing Selene, it’s just,” Endymion paused. ‘How do I know her name?’ he asked himself.

“Don’t worry love, everything is fine,” Selene moved toward him and kissed his forehead. He forgot. Everything went blank.

Selene cradled her daughter as Endymion tossed in his sleep. She worried as he writhed in his sleep, tormented by dreams she could never see. He always did this when his daughters were born, but now he was calming down. Selene smiled as Endymion rested calmly again on his side, as if curling around a child that wasn’t there.

“Pandia, say hello to father,” Selene said to herself as she rocked their newborn on the slopes of Mt. Latmus.