Melchior’s Staff
Interactive Story Telling

The following is a piece of writing describing a personal myth based on actual life experiences. The telling of this story functioned as a performance, aided by several sound and lighting effects controlled interactively through TouchDesigner.

The Sorcerer
It’s a dusty morning when the sun came peeking over the hill like a hidden child. The first rays, travelling for precisely eight minutes and twenty two seconds, finally reach the sleepy village at the bottom of the valley. The beams discharge on the shimmering dust particles dancing in the air.

Melchior is always awake at this time of day, watching the village come alive from his secluded mountain. The first sounds responding to his attentive watch are usually those of livestock or children, but this morning something is off. As it is not the cows, nor the children playing that vibrate in his ear. It’s the bells. And these bells aren’t ever rung in the morning.

Melchior has been up on his mountain for years, searching for something he had lost. But today, as he hears the bells ringing frantically, panicking, a familiar sensation creeps into his gut. He recognises the feeling, and eerie sensation, because he had felt it before. The last time this vibration had told him to move up and retreat into the mountains. But this time it seemed to be calling him back. Back to the village that he’d left.

All these years of meditating in the mountains had, like water, eroded Melchior’s formerly stiff body language. Now he moved slowly, gracefully and ardently. And this exceptional morning he grabbed his staff and descended down the mountain with the pace of a river streaming down a hill. The situation seemed to carry the prescience of urgency. The way the wide open sleeves of Melchiors robe rolled in the air made it look as though the man had become the wind itself. Stepping on stones one after the other, rocks, moss and dirt. The braided sandals he’d made himself began to unwind, first losing the left, then the right in the descent down the hill. But what Melchior did not lose was the balance of his mind, as he equanimously noted that moving barefoot – feeling every little curvature and crevace of the earth – actually made him more balanced navigating this rugged terrain. His movement seemed like a graceful fall from the mountain and as he slowly curved onto even ground. He was now aware; he’d reached the valley.

The bells were ringing, and Melchior could make out people running from the village. It seemed as though the village was under attack. While nearing the outermost houses built on the outskirts of town a girl came running past. She screamed, but Melchior couldn’t exactly make out what. Moving closer and closer more people passed. “It returned!” “The Demon…” Something whispered in Melchiors ear. And again, he recognised the feeling pounding in his gut. A feeling of deep rooted fear.

When Melchior finally reached the center of town after exactly eight minutes and twenty two seconds, all the inhabitants were gone. It was as if all the villagers had dematerialized into thin air in the middle of what they were doing. A horse was there, with it’s saddle hanging half off on one side. Juice was dripping silently from a dirty cutting board. And it seemed as though somebody had left their house in the middle of painting with a vibrant lilac tint. But what was most stark in this unusual composition was the dark clouds hanging overhead, which slowly progressed as if they were covering the town in a blanket of black smoke.

A deep and voluminous voice coming out the darkness suddenly said; “we meet again young Melchior” “What a pleasure to finally see you again”

Melchior remained silent.

The darkness gradually enveloped him as he stood there, solemnly watching, fearful in his stomach but mentally unafraid. He was concentrating. Focussing all the energy that he had built up over the years and channeling it into his wooden staff. A tangible tension arose, as though the air was suddenly charged with electricity. The staff on the surface looked like an ordinary tree branch, but somehow it seemed to become more prominent, more exaggerated to the eye. Then Melchior raised his staff in the air, and for the first time in five years of exile; he spoke: “I have tolerated you, and I have learned, but now you shall return from whence you came”

As he lifted his staff high in the air, and set it down on the floor with a loud thump, waves of light started rolling away from him in a radial fashion. It was as if a gigantic rock was thrown into a tiny ocean. And if you listened carefully bells sounded in the atmosphere. But these were different bells from this morning. These were bells of youthful innocence ringing in a submerged way as though they were coming from some place deep.

And slowly the coat of darkness retreated to make space for light.

Projector, Smart Phone, Laptop, Wooden Staff


©2023 Jeroen Alexander Meijer