Abu Ben Adam (may his tribe increase), awoke one night from a deep dream of peace, looked outside his tent, and saw that all his camels had disappeared.
He looked to the right. He looked to the left. He looked out in front. He looked out in back. No. They were gone. Quite gone. To assure himself that this was not a dream, he jumped back into bed, snored a few times, jumped out of bed and looked out his tent once again. The camels were most definitely completely gone.
Strange things happen in the desert. Abu Ben Adam knew that. He had been around long enough to know that. But this was not one of them. The odd camel may suddenly get bored with life and wander off into the desert night; a couple more may follow him out of sheer curiosity. But a whole herd of them! That was beyond strange. There could be only one explanation. The entire herd had been abducted by aliens. A spaceship had probably zoomed in, hovered over the camp-site, and while Abu Ben and his kin snored into the desert night, the aliens beamed down on the resting camels and transported/transmutated/levitated/whatever them into their waiting spaceship and whooshed off into the outer reaches of space.
Halfway across the world, away from all the sand and the heat, in another time and age, a University student of Quantum Physics turned in a term paper for evaluation. After submission his paper disappeared. The puzzled student wandered over to his professor’s office to discuss the disappearance of his paper and found that the professor had disappeared too. He went across to the Department Head’s office to complain about this strange occurrence and found him gone too. He walked out of his office, turned back and found the office gone as well. He whirled around and the department was gone. Before he knew it the whole building had become invisible. He ran out screaming into the University campus which suddenly was not there. The entire University had suddenly, very simply, vanished.
He closed his eyes, took a few deep breaths to calm his jangled nerves, when suddenly a vision of a horde of camels leapt out of nowhere and materialized in front of his eyes. He pinched himself a few times to make sure he wasn’t dreaming but the University campus stayed out of sight and three hundred invisible camels kept thundering around him. This was too much for him to handle and in a fit of pure panic he ran out into the invisible streets babbling about out of control camels and disappearing university professors.
Somewhere a long ways away from all the camels and vanishing universities, a fat round bald museum curator stood in the main hall and smiled to himself. If there was anything you noticed about him it had to be his smile. It is unlikely you would come across anyone who smiled so wide and smiled so long. Measured end to end his smile would have bridged a normal sized river bank to bank. It took a full four minutes for the smile to begin at one corner of his mouth and crawl its way across the geography of his face traversing several pounds of flesh amply laid on by his creator. And once it had attained full beaming status he kept it on for a good amount of time before letting it start its slow crawl back to its normal resting state. He went through large parts of his life with a near permanent grin plastered on his face. He did so because it was simply too much effort putting it on and then taking it off again. He was simply too fat. And too round. And too bald. But at this particular moment, even though his round face was shining like a full moon on a cloudless night, he had nothing to smile about.
The fat man stood in a state of complete shock. Every nerve in his body and each cell in his brain reverberated to the sound of alarm bells that had started jangling in his head the moment he realized that all the paintings in his museum had, yes you guessed it, disappeared. His brain had flashed the message to his facial muscles to get that grin off but it would be a good three minutes before the smile completed its reverse journey across his face. He couldn’t understand it. Security at his museum was very tight. There was no way anyone could have walked out with all the paintings without someone noticing. Harder still would have been walking in with the truckloads of flowers that suddenly somehow had replaced each painting that had previously hung on those walls. For, in exactly the very spot where each painting had stood, was a bunch of flowers. The fat round man, face minus smile now and very perplexed, stared at the wall and scratched his bald head. And suddenly without warning, there flashed through his mind an image of a horde of galloping camels thundering across a vast expanse of desert chasing a fat round bald man in long flowing robes.
Three different people. Three separate parts of the world. Three separate time periods. All face the ‘sudden disappearance’ phenomenon. What are the odds? What is the probability that this can happen? What are the chances that all three can have a common experience? Maybe very high. But what about the experience itself? There one minute. Gone the next. Wham. Just like that. Three hundred camels resting in the desert sand. Wham. Gone. An entire University complete with buildings, students, faculty and one submitted paper. Wham. Gone. A museum full of paintings. Wham. Gone. Wham. Wham. Wham. Now that doesn’t happen every day. Not even once a year. Not even once a century. When was the last time you heard of such a thing happening? Or read about such a thing happening? If you didn’t then it’s not surprising. Because it doesn’t happen. Camels simply do not vanish into the night.
But strange as it may sound, it did happen. And here is where the strange starts moving into the weird. For the three separate people we talked about in the story above are all the same person. And now we move from the weird into the bizarre. The same person above is me.
Yes. Abu Ben Adam, the University student and the fat round bald man are all me. Those camels that faded into the night were mine. The paper that disappeared was mine. The University that vanished was mine. The paintings that were replaced with flowers were mine. All mine. All there one minute. Gone the next. Ever since then I have been searching high and low for them, for an answer, an explanation, if nothing else. But none has been forthcoming.
Someday, somewhere I will find the answer. And when I do I will stride forth into whatever place it is where that evil force is holed up and reclaim my paintings and my writing and my camels. And then I shall take hold of this evil person/thing/whatever, tie him to one of the camels, and set the whole bunch free to roam the deserts of the world for all eternity. And how is all this going to happen? Well that’s for me to know and that camel grabber to see.