Grayscale flowers

A Prophecy in a Gray World

by Alan Dwight

Jarren was a curious boy. At 15, he constantly asked questions of his grandfather, with whom he lived. His favorite room in the old house was Grandfather’s library. It had 20-foot-high ceilings, and the walls were lined with bookcases which reached from floor to ceiling. There was a tall ladder which moved on a track to any part of the library walls. From it, a reader could retrieve any book in the library.

The boy loved to read. He wasn’t into adventure stories or any other fiction. He liked to read books which gave him information.

“Grandfather,” he asked one time, “have you read all the books in the library?”

“Goodness no,” Grandfather sighed. “I don’t think I could do that in one lifetime. Most of the books were here when I was born and I grew up picking and choosing which to read, as you do. I’ve also added some more recent ones.”

One day, Jarren rolled the ladder to a corner of the room he had never explored before. He climbed to the top and looked at the dusty books. Since everything in his world was colored in gradations of black, gray, and white, the covers of the books were black with white lettering, or nearly white with gray or black lettering.

He pulled a thin volume at random from the bookcase and read the title: The Graying of the Planet, by Argius. Hmmm, he said to himself. I wonder if this will tell me anything worth knowing? It seemed very old. Holding it in one hand, he descended to the floor and took a seat in a comfortable, overstuffed armchair. Scrunching about until he was comfortable, he opened the book and began to read.

Many centuries ago, when the creator first put humans on our planet of Nerlia, it was his intention that the humans would care for the planet and the animals thereon. Sadly that has not been the case.

As Jarren read on, he discovered that at creation there were flowers and trees and animals of many colors, which the author described as ‘beautiful’. Having lived in a black and white environment, Jarren had no idea what the word ‘color’ meant. Looking in the dictionary, he read, “Color – a hue as contrasted with black, white, or gray.” There was much more that he didn’t begin to understand. Looking under ‘hue’, he found it defined as ‘color’. It was typical of his experiences with a dictionary which sent him in circles, and he knew no more when he finished than he had when he began.

Continuing with the book, he read from another page, Mankind is greedy, and rather than acting as custodians of the planet, people have begun to exploit it.

Hmmm, thought Jarren, Argius certainly didn’t think much of us humans. I guess he’s like all prophets, rather down on humanity. Jarren almost stopped reading, but he wondered where the prophet was going, so he read on.

If this continues, in time, the water and the air will become polluted. Wild animals will become extinct, and the planet which had once been alive with color will begin to change. The colors will fade, and eventually everything will become black and white and gray. How sad, thought Jarren. Then he realized that change had come. I wish I could see the colors as they used to be, he thought.

“Grandfather,” he asked holding up the book, “did you ever read this book?”

“Yes,” Grandfather replied, “but it was a long time ago.”

“Do you know what Argius means by ‘colors’?”

“No, I didn’t know then and I don’t know now. I suppose that’s why I gave up on the book, because I didn’t know what he was talking about.”

Sighing, Jarren closed the book and went outdoors. Behind the house there was an area which had always been called ‘the garden’. To Jarren, it looked just like the rest of the open ground. Plants were struggling to grow there. At first they appeared to be strong and healthy. But as time went on, they withered and died.

I wonder, thought Jarren, if plants here used to be colors? From his reading he had learned words, like red, green, yellow, and blue, but he had no idea what they really meant.

Without even really thinking, he squatted down and began to loosen the soil around the plants. He brought water to them and trimmed the dead branches and leaves off them. The sun was very warm and he soon removed his shirt, leaving it on the porch and wearing only his shorts. He worked all afternoon, and when Grandfather called him for supper, he was pleased with what he had done although he still didn’t know why he had done it.

The next morning when he returned to the garden the plants he had worked on appeared to be a little healthier. He worked on various through much of the day, not with any particular purpose but simply for something to do. From time to time he wished he had someone else to talk to.

Several days later, in the afternoon as he was looking down pulling out plants that seemed to be choking others, he saw a pair of bare feet about the size of his own.

Looking up, he saw a boy roughly his own age also wearing only a pair of shorts. The boy was his size, sturdy, and clearly strong. His skin was a light gray, lighter than Jarren’s. His hair was swept back from his forehead and down over his ears.

“Who are you?” Jarren asked.

“Argius,” replied the boy.

Startled by the name, Jarren asked, “Did you write The Graying of the Planet?”

The boy laughed and replied, “No, that was Argius the First. I’m Argius CCCLXXIV. I’ve never even seen the book. My father says copies are very rare.”

Jarren took a moment to decipher the odd numerals and then asked, “So are you his descendant?”

“Yes. In every generation of my family, the oldest boy has been named Argius.”

Jarren thought again. “Was there ever a generation that had no boys?”

Argius laughed and flipped his head to move his hair away from his eyes. Jarren was warmed by the merry, musical sound. “No, but almost. Argius CLXXXVI had eighteen older sisters. His parents just kept trying until they finally got a boy.”

Argius look down where Jarren had been working and asked, “What are you doing?”

“I’m just puttering about. I guess I’m trying to help these plants live. Would you like to help me?”

“I would, but I’m not supposed to be here. We live in the woods and have nothing to do with other people, who my father says are greedy and destroying the planet. I really should go.” He plunged into the forest.

Jarren was sad to see him leave. He had no friends his own age. The neighbors, those who even cared, thought that Jarren and Grandfather were odd, and generally they stayed away.

I’m not greedy, thought Jarren, or at least I don’t think I am.

He worked in the garden for at least a part of each day, noticing that the plants were beginning to look healthier.

One afternoon as he was digging around a plant the bare feet reappeared in his vision.

Looking up, Jarren asked, “Why are you here if you think I’m greedy?”

Argius thought about that before answering, “I think I’m lonely. I need a friend.”

“Did you ever have a friend?” asked Jarren.

“No. Do you have friends?

“I don’t suppose so,” Jarren replied. “I guess Grandfather is a friend, but he is really the only person I know… or I knew until you came along.”

Following a short silence, Argius said, “I suppose it wouldn’t do any harm to help you for a while. What should I do?”

Smiling, Jarren showed him how he’d been working, and Argius joined in. As they worked, they chatted amicably. Argius told Jarren about his family. Then he asked Jarren if he had family.

“Only Grandfather,” Jarren replied. “I have no idea what became of my parents and Grandfather won’t tell me.”

That’s sad, thought Argius. He pointed to some taller plants in one corner of the garden and asked, “Why are those plants taller?”

“I don’t know,” said Jarren. “I haven’t really looked there because the other day, Brewster, our pony, dumped a big load there and it smells.”

“Do you think the horse manure made the plants grow?”

“I have no idea, but there are probably books in Grandfather’s library that would tell us.”

Inviting Argius to join him, Jarren walked to the back door of the house. Inside, he stopped at the kitchen sink and washed the dirt off his hands. Argius copied him.

“We need to go quietly because Grandfather is probably having his afternoon nap,” said Jarren. “He naps a great deal now.”

“How old is he?” asked Argius quietly.

“I’ve no idea. He says he’s old but when I ask him how old? he just smiles and won’t answer. Jarren led the way out of the kitchen, down the hall, and into the library. Sure enough, Grandfather was dozing in his chair, a book opened on his lap.

Argius stared around the room, open-mouthed. Never in his life had he seen so many books. First, Jarren showed Argius his grandfather’s copy of The Graying of the Planet. Argius held it as though it was sacred. He sat to read it while Jarren began to search for books about plants. Having found some, he settled down to read.

“Aha,” whispered Jarren later. “This book talks about something called ‘fertilizer’, which helps plants grow. Apparently there are natural fertilizers, and horse poop is one of them, although cow poop is better.”

Argius was still absorbed in his book, and barely heard his new friend. Jarren shrugged his shoulders and went on learning about plants.

When Argius finished reading, he closed the book and said, “No wonder Father always spoke of Argius the First as a curmudgeon.”

“It must be sad to go through life always thinking the worst of everybody,” Jarren commented.

“That’s what my father does,” replied Argius. “I wonder if it’s genetic.”

“Do you feel that way about people?”

Argius thought hard about that question, finally saying, “Honestly, I don’t know but I don’t think I do. Mother certainly doesn’t.”

The boys headed outside, and Argius suggested that they collect the pony’s droppings and spread them among the plants. They went to the little shed where Brewster the pony lived and gathered more droppings, which they put in buckets and carried to the garden. Using trowels they spread the droppings about, commenting about how smelly the work was and acknowledging that they would need more. As they worked, they chattered away like a couple of magpies.

“Does your father ask where you go when you’re not with him?” asked Jarren.

“Not yet,” replied Argius, “and I have no idea how I’ll answer him when he does.”
By the time they finished, they both stank. “I need to get cleaned off before I go home or my father will ask me what I’ve been doing,” said Argius.

There was a pond on the property, but Grandfather said that it was badly polluted, so Jarren took his friend back into the house and into a bathroom with a shower.

Thinking nothing of it, he stripped off his shorts and looked expectantly at Argius, who was looking at him. And it wasn’t Jarren’s face that Argius was examining.

“Are you going to shower in your shorts?” Jarren asked with a little giggle.

Argius’s face grew hot, but he slowly removed his shorts and tossed them on the floor. Jarren nodded and the boys climbed into the shower together. They washed slowly, cleansing as much of their bodies as they could reach. Then they soaped each other’s backs. When they were facing each other, they discovered that their cocks were equally hard. They both giggled before they climbed out of the shower and toweled themselves off. Jarren loaned Argius a pair of his shorts to replace his friend’s smelly ones, and then they went to the kitchen to get a drink. As they sat drinking quietly, Argius asked, “Why are we doing this?”

“Doing what?”

“Working with the plants. What good will it do us?”

Jarren thought a minute before saying, “I think that’s what Argius the First was talking about when he wrote that humans grew greedy. He thought they were always looking for things that would benefit them, not thinking about anyone or anything else. And what he said still applies, I think.”

They both reflected on that thought for a while before Argius said, “But even if we are doing what Argius the First wanted, there’s no way we can change the world. It’s wasted effort.”

“Maybe,” said Jarren. “Maybe not. At the very least the garden will look and grow better.”

As night began to fall, Argius said, “I need to get home. Can I come back tomorrow?”

“Sure,” replied Jarren, thinking to himself that he’d really enjoyed having a boy his own age working with him. He’d especially enjoyed their time in the shower together and the feeling of Argius’s hands on his back.

When Jarren awoke in the morning it was raining, that nice gentle rain which soaked into the ground without flooding anything.

As he ate his breakfast, Jarren told Grandfather what he’d been doing. Grandfather smiled and nodded, saying that perhaps Jarren wouldn’t change the world, but he certainly wouldn’t hurt it.

Jarren spent the day reading. He hoped Argius would appear, but he didn’t. That night he lay in bed remembering the touch of Argius’s hand on his back. His cock began to grow hard, and he reached down, gently stroking it and enjoying the feeling.

The next morning the sun returned, and when Jarren went outside, Argius was already there, working in a part of the garden which they hadn’t touched yet. They worked in companionable silence until Jarren’s stomach rumbled, reminding him it was time for lunch.

He and Argius went into the house and washed their hands thoroughly before Jarren fixed some sandwiches.

Returning to the garden after lunch, Argius noticed something. Near the door there was a rose bush, and he saw that there was just the faintest tinge of color on the flowers. He didn’t know what it was of course, but he pointed it out to Jarren, who likewise didn’t know what it was but thought it odd.

They worked through the afternoon until the white, warm sun began to set. Returning to the house, they stripped off their shorts and showered together. When they had washed each other’s backs, Jarren reached around Argius and began lathering his friend’s cock. Argius turned and did the same for Jarren. In time, they felt a tension growing in their groins and they both spurted out white, sticky fluid.

“What’s that?” asked Argius.

“I’ve no idea,” replied Jarren, “but after supper I’ll try to find out.”

Waving his friend goodbye, Jarren helped Grandfather prepare a simple supper as usual. He had no secrets from Grandfather, and he was curious about the white, sticky fluid, so he asked about it. Grandfather smiled and after supper took him into the library where he found a couple of books for the boy. One was titled Boys and Sex, and the other was A Boy’s Guide to Sex. He sat in his favorite chair and opened the guide. He had heard of sex, but he had never thought that it applied to him. He didn’t really like the guide. It was full of cartoons which meant to be cute but weren’t. So, he took the other book, which had no cartoons but some interesting diagrams. He read and he read. He finished the entire book and went back to some parts he wanted to read again. He read about ejaculation and what the white fluid was. He read that it was a sign of a boy’s body maturing and was completely natural. As he read, he felt his cock growing hard and he wanted to touch it, but he didn’t because Grandfather was right there.

In bed that night, he again thought about Argius’s hand, first on his back and then on his cock, which he learned was termed a penis. Again, he held it in his hand and began stroking, and soon his penis was throbbing in the most delicious way and ejaculating the white fluid, which he had learned contained millions of sperm.

In the morning when Jarren went out to the garden, he saw some other flowers with faint tints of pink and yellow. He found the pastel colors delightful. He still didn’t know what was happening but then it occurred to him that perhaps what he was seeing was colors.

When Argius arrived, Jarren showed him the delicate pastel colors of some of the flowers and they speculated over what the changes meant.

Later over lunch, Jarren showed Boys and Sex to Argius, who was not interested at first. As he read, however, he became engrossed.

That afternoon as they worked in the garden spreading more of Brewster’s contributions, they talked about the book. It had told them a lot, but when it talked about mating, it only mentioned love between a man and a woman, never between two boys or two men. As they talked and examined the book, each boy secretly wondered if two boys could love each other.

As usual, they went to the shower to clean off and enjoyed the pleasure of each other’s touches.

The next morning, as Jarren was finishing the breakfast dishes, he heard Argius call him. Going out to the garden he saw that there was more change. The plants were no longer black or gray or white. The colors, pink, yellow, blue, and a lot of green, had become more intense. Of course the boys didn’t know the names of the colors, but they believed they knew what was happening. The question was why?

They returned to work with renewed vigor. Over the next few days as they continued to work, the colors grew increasingly intense and delightful, but the changes weren’t only in the flowers.

They continued their late-afternoon showers, becoming aware of changes in each other. Although the boys couldn’t name the changes, Argius’s skin became the color of honey. His eyes were flashing blue with little gold flecks and his hair was black. Jarren’s skin was the color of chestnuts, while his eyes were an enchanting green and his hair was yellow.

Through the following days, their fondling turned more serious. It was accompanied by much kissing, which they both found loving and exciting. There came a time when standing in the shower wasn’t enough and after they had dried themselves off, they retired to Jarren’s bed.

Grandfather, who never seemed to go out to the garden, nevertheless went at Jarren’s urging. He was amazed. There were the colors Argius the First had talked about generations earlier. The odd thing was that the colors were only on his property. Everything else was still black or gray or white. The sky above the garden was blue but elsewhere it was gray.

Soon, word passed among the neighbors, and they came to see the colors.

At last one day, Argius’s father asked him where he had been going every day. Argius tried to tell him about the garden, but as soon as he mentioned being with another boy, his father grew furious and forbade him from returning to his friend.

“Why?” asked Argius, tears streaming down his face.

At that point, his mother intervened. She suggested to Arguis’s father that, before he took that step, perhaps they should at least meet Argius’s friend and see what they had been doing.

As the family entered Grandfather’s property, their skin became the color of honey and their eyes became bright blue with flecks of gold. Argius’s family looked at each other in amazement. After a few moments his father, gesturing at the colorful flowers, asked, “How did all this happen? Is it magic?”

Jarren ran across the garden to greet his friend with a big hug. Then the boys told him what they had been doing, and Jarren said, “I think if you love the world enough, maybe the world will love you back.”

Argius’s father decided that perhaps Argius the First had been wrong and not all humans were greedy. He and his family slowly began to make contact with others nearby.

Grandfather invited Argius’s family to supper one night. It was a merry affair as everyone seemed to talk at once. Arguis’s younger siblings were enthralled by the garden and, since the first changes, colors had also appeared in the house, especially in the library, where books were suddenly red or blue or green or brown.

Jarren had found an old book about love between boys. He read about ancient Greece and Rome, and the stories of men who loved each other even when their society frowned on such love. He read too about tribes which considered such lovers special, and suddenly everything made sense to him. Surreptitiously he loaned the book to Argius, who agreed that was what they were experiencing and that it appeared to be normal.

As neighbors came to the garden and asked how the boys had achieved their results, other gardens and plots of land began to show signs of color. Soon the entire area, as far as anyone could travel, was full of color, and Jarren realized that while he couldn’t change the whole world by himself, as others copied his example his love for the world spread.

At Grandfather’s invitation, Argius began spending nights with Jarren. On those nights, as they cuddled in bed, they kissed and stroked one another until their penises were hard. That usually happened quite quickly, and the boys learned how to prolong their sensations. The boys grew to young men and their love grew apace. Argius moved in with Jarren, not even trying to hide the love he felt. At first, his father was not happy but his mother managed to convince him that, so long as the boys loved each other and were kind, that was all they could ask.

In time, Grandfather died, and the boys buried him in a special place in the garden, covering his grave with brilliant flowers. There was a very gentle rain that day, and first they were a little sad the day hadn’t been brighter. Then Jarren looked up and gasped. Argius followed his gaze and they stared into the sky at a vibrant double rainbow.

They always welcomed visitors to their garden, telling them about Argius the First’s prophecy and how the visitors could also achieve the bright colors.

Were they able to rid the world of greedy people? Of course not, but they were able to help many people recognize their own selfishness and work against it. Thanks to the prophecy and the boys, their world became a better, happier, much more colorful place.

Colorful flowers

Many thanks to my editors, who carefully help me correct many of my errors,
and to Mike for maintaining this great site.