The young man sat by the fireplace on an oaken stool, the left side of his face, red with the heat of the fire, the flickering flames dancing in the pupils of his eyes, eyes fixed on the wrinkled hands of the old man.
On the other side of the room, the old man reached down into the
earthen furnace and withdrew the glass sphere that he had earlier
planted there. The fierce fire had since cooled, and the glass bulb
was black with tar.
The young man’s eyes suddenly widened with astonishment as the old
man rubbed the glass with his work worn fingers. As the greasy
blackness of the tar rubbed off onto his hands, there appeared a faint
greenish glow from within, dimmed by the film of soot. The old man
removed a rag from his pocket, and firmly wiped the side of the sphere,
and all at once a bright shaft of light broke from the cleaned spot as
if ten candles flickered within.
The old man rubbed the whole sphere with a circular motion, and the
smearing tar made weaving patterns of light and shadow on the ceiling of
the hovel. As he cleaned, the light in the room slowly grew brighter
and brighter until it was as bright as day.
Satisfied with his work, the old man held up the sphere in front
of his face and gazed at the stange forms within. The young man had
moved his stool closer now, and was staring at the dancing, nebulous
flames within the glass. He could not speak for some time. Finally,
he whispered, “What is it, sir?”
The old man paused, drew a deep breath, as if he were finally
relieved of a heavy burden, and he spoke slowly, a faint smile spreading
across his lips, “It is the fire…” he drew another breath, his eyes
fixed on the flames, “from deep within the world.”
*Reposted from my old writing blog, Kosmosis.