Illustrated by Modita Kathpalia.

1002 by Jon Alston

New Doc 31_1
Illustrated by Modita Kathpalia.

It is written it took 1001 nights for Scheherazade to win over Shahryar, 1001 tales to calm his murderous temper with incompletion. She told another story, after their nuptial. With such a tradition of story, Shahryar desired Scheherazade’s entertainment to continue. So she revealed to him this dream:
A fall day. Thin brushed clouds add dimension to the thick blue sky. And between the white lines a large grey pelican drifts, wings carried with a warm zephyr. She floats with the clouds, west, a slow journey across the indefinite blue expanse. Mounted on her back, gripping her neck feathers, sits a young boy: Ahn-jin. His black hair snaps in the wind, the white sherwani trimmed in gold clings tight to his white churidars. He keeps his eyes shut, to feel the sky, the wind, the thin air above the mountains, to breathe the miasma between earth and the heavens. His grandmother spoke often of gods, that above the mountains they watched men struggle and fight. And die. Ahn-jin wanted to find the gods, to speak with them about his father. But he was unsure where to look, so much openness to explore, limitless from peak to peak. Along he brought a bowl of steamed rice, his grandmother’s stories filled with offerings. For years Ahn-jin and the pelican hovered above the land, searching; always searching. He came to believe the gods were invisible, no need for form between worlds; the reason he closed his eyes the first time while in flight on the pelican: thirteen the last age he saw. Made no difference, he knew no truth existed in sight which his body could not feel. Over long years the pelican flew through all the sky, circumnavigating earth over and over, Ahn-jin never losing hope to find the elusive deities. But they never found them. And time stretched on until no one spoke of Ahn-jin, or the pelican. Or the gods. Those who once knew him said, while they still believe he existed (somewhere), that he burned in the sun. Centuries pass, troubadours and storyweavers begin telling his tale, each ending Ahn-jin’s adventure differently: the pelican, with age, falls from the sky, the two disappearing in the trees; the two become one, conquering the sky, becoming god over the wind. But none knows for certain.
When Scheherazade finished her story, Shahryar asked:
“Is that the end?”
She answered:
Shahryar leaned close to kiss his new bride:
“You will always tell me these stories, my love?”
His lips graced her forehead, but she flinched.
“Does the sky have its end?”

About the Author

Jon Alston

Jon Alston has an MA in Creative Writing. Good for him. He writes things from time to time, and sometimes people publish them. Good for him. On occasion, he will photograph things (or people), and maybe write about them; sometimes there is money exchanged for his services. Good for him. He is married and has two children of both genders. Way to reproduce. He is the Executive Editor and founder of From Sac, a literary journal for Northern California. How about that? Currently he teaches English at Brigham Young University, Idaho among the frozen potato fields and Mormons. Good for you, Jon.

About the Illustrator


Modita is doing engineering in UIET, Panjab University, Chandigarh. She aims to travel
the world, and has becoming famous as an artist on her bucket list. Her Plan A is to make her parents proud and Plan B is to open up an Art Gallery. You can find her works on Instagram and her Facebook page.

1002 is one of the many amazing submissions we have received for the second edition of the literary collection The Machinery. You can read the first edition here.



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