18th October 2003: Under Milk Dune, a Child’s Christmas on Arrakis

You’re going to be missing huge chunks of context if you haven’t read (a) Frank Herbert’s Dune and (b) Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood.

Under Milk Dune: A Play for Voices

First Voice: It is night, night in the deep desert. Listen. Only you can hear the song of the stars in the high dark, the sough of the wind on the sand. The stars lie in drifts like the starlight-diffracting sand, and here between them there is only the night.

Listen harder. Far down beneath the sand are the worms, turning, the makers turning water into spice, making the worms way, the hard road, the fast road, the thread that nets the stars together.

Walk with me now across the sands, feel the chill of night under the unsleeping stars, walk with slow sliding steps with no rhythm, no thump to call up the wild worm-howling sudden out of sand. Walk slow and slant across the wind-humped dunes and rock-studded sloughs of the sands. Stop here, look, here in the shadow of the rock, here, asleep, a mother and son tucked up close in a cloak, as snug as babes on far Caladon, snug and water-fat, snug as nobody should be here in dark desert Arrakis where water is wealth and hope and life itself.

Look closer. The boy is waking, blinking, look into his eyes, blue as noonday, dark as space between the stars. Is he the Kwisatz Haderach, the promised one? He has crossed the stars to come here. His eyes close again and he goes down into sleep. Shall we follow? Shall his dreams show his messiah mind? Dreaming he goes forward and back, back and forward like the swift-tailed desert-mouse. Dreaming he sees:

Chani: Me, Chani, daughter of the desert. Fremen from my Stillsuit covered head to my stilsuit covered toe, but utterly delectable all the same, and knowing it. And knowing the value of water to the nearest micro-millilitre. I lean towards him provocatively in his future-foretelling dream letting him see the shape of me, me who he hasn’t met yet, but will soon, and I croon gently “Tell me about the waters of your birthworld, Usul.”

Paul: Oh Chani, Chani, am I the messiah?

Chani: It’s a cold night in the desert and you’ve come to save us, if that’s not the messiah what is?

Paul: Then it must be Christmas morning. Jessica and Leto will be bringing me presents.

Duke Leto, sadly: I’ve no head to bring presents to you now, son.

First Voice: Paul stirs, but does not wake, and in his dream the dunes of Arrakis are covered with ornament-dangling light-sparkling Christmas trees, and there is the sound of sleigh bells.

Posted in Whimsy