Note: Here is a short, short story by your’s truly … Ken Korczak
As soon as Mike Fykeman received his copy of “Dream and Grow Rich” in the mail, he plunged into the book and began to read, tossing aside the half dozen bills and debt collection letters that had also arrived.
Ten hours later, his mind was swirling with possibilities!
Just think of it! he thought. The book said “Satisfaction” came to Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards in a dream! The song earned millions! The vast oil fields of Kuwait were discovered in a dream by English explorer H.P.R. Dickson! And Robert Louis Stevenson got all his best ideas from dreams — including the plot for “Dr. Jykle and Mr. Hyde!”
If these people did it, I can too! Fykeman thought. At least that’s what the book says.
Fykeman prepared himself to program a dream of wealth, using the instructions of the book. The technique was called “front-end loading.” The idea was to cram your mind with the subject matter you wanted to dream about, and to do it for at least 18 hours nonstop. Then you crash exhausted into bed, giving yourself the “pre-sleep suggestion” that you will have a wealth creating dream.
If your lucky, the book said, you might experience an advanced kind of dream called a “lucid dream.” That’s a dream in which the dreamer knows he is dreaming –having conscious volition within a dream!
To get front-end loading material for his dream, Fykeman visited his library. His eyes fell upon an intriguing title: “The Wealth of Babylon.” It was about the ancient principles of creating wealth.
Fykeman checked the book out and went home to absorb it. He spent the entire day finishing all 280 pages, and went back over the book time and again. Finally with his marathon of cramming done, Fykeman fell into his bed exhausted, his head brimming with the ancient money-making secrets of Babylon!
Soon Fykeman was dreaming. He found himself standing in a congested marketplace amid throngs of strangely dressed people — most of them looked filthy. They wore drab gray-white tunics, not much more than rags hanging loose or belted at the waist with grimy ropes. Most were barefoot, but a few wore sandals. Here and there were soldiers wearing helmets and crude breastplates of armor made of hardened leather.
Fykeman was momentarily disoriented, but his dream programming kicked in. He suddenly realized he was dreaming! And not only dreaming — he knew it! With fantastic beginner’s luck, Fykeman had induced a lucid dream!
He whirled around to take in the scene. The crowded marketplace was lined with rude stands of wood or dried mud brick, displaying everything — food, bolts of cloth, raw wool, hides, bronze implements, bone or ivory fetishes. Stacked everywhere were clay pots, jars and bowls — some filled with grain, other with fruits, some with thick, grainy beer. Slabs of butchered animals and birds hung from hooks or ropes or lay piled on wooden tables. A hot sun beat down on all. Flies swarmed and buzzed.
Fykeman had little time. The book said that holding a lucid dream state was tenuous, and could abruptly end without warning, or switch to another dream. Also, a noise in his room could wake him up. So Fykeman gathered his wits and set out to achieve his goal.
He stepped up to a shanty made of sticks and reeds, where a man with a long, ragged beard and tangled hair was selling the severed heads of goats, sheep and cattle.
“Excuse me, sir,” Fykeman said cautiously, thinking there might be a language barrier, but this was his dream so the man answered him in common English.
“Sheep’s head, mister?” the filthy man said. “Only two groats!”
Fykeman gave a cursory glance of disgust at the bloody heads, swollen black tongues gaping out, eyes still staring with the shock of death, blood pooling black and congealed underneath them.
“No thank you,” Fykeman said. “I only need information … I …
“Oh, you want information,” the man said, his beard splitting in a smile of rotten brown and yellow teeth. “That’ll be three groats.”
Fykeman looked into the mans mean eyes and avaricious face. But he was ready for him. “Dream and Grow Rich” said to never be intimidated by any character you meet in a dream because, after all, this is your dream. Fykeman now employed a phrase the book had suggested: “I am the dreamer and you are the dream. Do as I say.”
With this, the greedy man behind the pile of bloody heads stopped grinning and put on a look of obedience, but also mild of contempt.
“Now,” Fykeman said feeling wonderfully confident, “tell me where I can find the richest and wisest man in the kingdom.”
With poor grace, the man said: “The one you seek is Baruk. He’s the richest merchant in Babylon. You’ll find him at the Temple of S’bell this time of day.”
The man pointed toward the center of the city where rose a truncated step pyramid which lurched sluggishly, but magnificently into the blue sky. Fykeman made his way through the throngs of the ancient city streets and presently found himself at the foot of the pyramid, climbed the steps and found his way inside. After asking around a bit, he was soon directed to where he could find Baruk, the richest man in Babylon.
Baruk was a large barrel-chested man with a rectangular-shaped beard and bushy eyebrows. He wore fine silks and a few implements of dazzling jewelry. On his feet were sandals of Ostrich leather. After haggling with an undersecretary for Baruk, Fykeman was finally granted an interview with the important man.
Baruk eyed Fykeman with a narrow gaze of guarded curiosity. Finally he said, “Well, young man? My time is precious. What are your needs?”
“Mr. Baruk, my name is Mike Fykeman. I have traveled far to seek your wisdom, and gain your secrets of wealth. Please, tell me, how can I get rich fast?”
“Ah!” Baruk said, in a thundering voice. “A seeker, a fellow entrepreneur! I am eager to help you! Let me ask you a question — do you have any gold, on hand, I mean?”
Fykeman was about to say no, but again reminded himself that this was a dream. Here, he could have anything his mind allowed. So he decided to play along. He said: “Yes, I have gold,” and as he spoke these words a large sack heavy with bright yellow metal appeared in his hands. He dropped it in front of Baruk. The gold jangled to the floor.
Baruk’s eyes lighted. “Excellent! he said. “I have a wonderful opportunity for you to triple the size of your purse, and quickly. As we speak, I am arranging for a ship to sail for Phoenicia to purchase timber. Prime lumber is plentiful there, and cheap. I can bring it back here and sell it for triple price. With your gold, we can commission a second ship, and we all profit the greater!”
Fykeman stared at him blankly, thinking. “I appreciate the offer,” Fykeman said. “But what I need is a specific idea I can use back from where I come from — in my own land. I’m seeking an idea, a universal truth of wealth I can use to profit from anywhere.”
Baruk stepped forward and fixed his powerful, oil black eyes upon him.
“Ask, and you shall receive, my friend. But such wisdom does not come without a price. Now as to this bag of gold …”
“Take it!” Fykeman said. “I give you that and more if you simply tell me an ancient truth, a secret wealth building technique I can carry with me for the rest of my life and use anywhere!”
“Very well,” Baruk said, scooping up Fykeman’s proffered bag of gold and handing it to an assistant, who bowed and took it away to be weighed on a large scale.
“If it’s unlimited wealth and prosperity you seek, then do what I have done my entire life to great profit!”
“Yes! Yes!” Fykeman said, anxious to hear the words as he felt the entire dream scene began to waver and fade as his body stirred back in his bed. “Tell me! Tell me quickly!”
Baruk stepped up to Fykeman, put both his hand on his shoulders and stared him straight in the face. He moved his face closer to Fykeman’s and looked side to side furtively before whispering in his ear: “Buy low, sell high, my son! By low, sell high!”
With that, a moment of confusion, a swirl of colors, then blackness. Fykeman awoke in his bed with the words of Baruk still ringing in his ears. Babylon was gone. Fykeman was back in his cramped one-room apartment, lying awake on his lumpy bed.
He rose, his mind dazed, and still feeling a sense of wonder, but at the same time, a profound sense of dejection. Fykeman sat down at the kitchen table still piled with credit card bills, overdue notices and a pink slip threatening to shot off his electricity. And as he stared blankly at the depressing pile, the words of mighty and wise Baruk rang in his ears:
“But low, my son! Buy low, sell high!”