PART 1,2 , 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 910,11,121314
"Damn leeches! Everywhere!"
"...look! In the eyelets of my boot..."
"My own blood..."
He shook his head.
He sprinkled salt, to discourage the leeches.
Dee waited in the darkness outside the gompa.
Melody struggled with the rope and got up on the flat roof. No one was there.
A glint of light revealed the clearstory.
"The flashlight..." she said.
Looking down, she could see what she took for the three men. "Well? What's keeping you?" she called.
"We told you to wait..." the darkness said.
Melody-grunted and slid down the rope. "Honey," she said, "what's wrong?"
He did not answer.
"Nothing," said Joseph. "He just slipped ...
"Are you okay?" she asked.
"Yeah," the shadow said. "Yeah, I'm...I'm ... just fine!"
A noise signalled Dee hammering on the door.
"Damn her! Open that, Joseph!" snapped Patrick.
"Open it? It's got this god damn monster of a hook on it ... on the other side of the door!"
The lightbeam swung around. "That bench-we'll use the bench..."
And the two of them used it as a battering-ram.
"Step back! DEE! Step back..."
The shattered door swung open. In came th,e shadow that was Dee.
"About time," she muttered. "It's beginning to rain again!"
Joseph and Patrick went out into the temple courtyard.
"Help me," said Joseph, and the two of them struggled with a heavy pack, dragging it on the ground and into the shrine-room.
"Damn! Buddhas sure weigh a lot..."
Then they stumbled out for the other one, struggling with that pack also.
"Dead weight," muttered Patrick.
A minute later, Patrick laughed. "Okay, all you kiddees, now hear this! This is your scout leader! Lights out! We've got work to do tomorrow!"
He was already asleep. The others let him lie where he was while they unrolled sleeping bags.
"Anyone for a horse-see ride?" giggled Melody.
"Shut up, Melody," said Dee.
Joseph ignored them.
Patrick said, "Good night..."
And the flashlight went,
All was darkness.
The rain became heavy that night. Some fell on his face, awakening him.
In the darkness he heard Joseph snoring, a "hee-haw" snore. He coud hear Dee and Melody whispering to each other, but could not make it out.
"Damn them!" he thought, touching his head carefully, finding a bloody wet spot.
"Damn me, as well!"
He stopped trying to listen to the women and fell into a plunging, sliding and tilting sleep. He kept adjusting his idea of up and down. His right ear rang with sounds and he felt dizzy. Sliding towards an edge ... the edge.
"There's a sea of mud out there!" said Dee. "Don't exaggerate..." Patrick answered. "The rain is still coming down..." said Joseph. Patrick spoke no further. Melody was tying up a bundle of rolled banner paintings in her poncho to keep them dry.
He sat near the puddle rippling on the floor in the center of the shrine.
"Thousands of ripples," he thought. "Each with a center, a bubble..."
His companions ignored him.
" ... and then, they're gone! POOF! Like that!" he said.
"What, Honey...?" asked Melody, but then realized that he was talking to himself. "Is he allright?" she asked Patrick.
"Yeah, sure," he answered. "Fine. Just a little bump on the head when he slipped on the trail..."
"He almost..." she began.
"But he didn't..." snapped Patrick. "No use thinking about near-disasters!"
She remained silent.
Everything moveable had been packed. All that remained were the murals on the walls.
"No way to take them?" asked Dee.
"Don't be a jackass! That's like taking the building!"
Touching the dried blood on his head, he stared at a demonic figure weilding a weapon, stamping little figures under his foot. He cringed.
The water splashed from the ceiling, spreading on the floor.
"When is Tharpa due?"
"Tomorrow," said Patrick.
"Tomorrow? In this downpour?"
"Tomorrow," whispered Dee.
"Well Joseph," said Patrick, "you'd better head for the army."
Joseph glared. "The hell I will! That rain ... the leeches!"
"We've got to..." said Dee. Joseph scowled. "We'll both go..."
"The hell with it!" said Joseph. "I ain't walking in that.... It looks like the world is turning into a blasted pudding!"
"But he's due tomorrow!"
"He'll come with or without a telegram!"
Joseph did not go.
The helicopter did not come.
"You got any food?" "No," answered Patrick, lying. "I thought you had some biscuits?" said Joseph. "I said no!" "Okay... just asking."
"Perhaps," said Melody, "someone should go to the army post ... after all..."
"It's the rain," said Joseph, "not the wireless!"
The rain fell.
Dee fell into a raging silence, but not until she had declared, "What a jerk-up plan this was! No food-no..."
"Shut up," whispered Patrick.
Melody looked at the three-eyed blue monsters dancing in their halos of flames. Water was pouring from the roof, down the face of the paintings. A weapon was washed away. A clawed hand-The rain became streaks of color, red next to yellow, next to brown, next to white. A face blurred, its mouth moved.
He could not bear watching the moving colored lines.
"I'll go," he said.
"Are you up to it, Honey?"
"Yeah?" asked Patrick. "You know the way?"
His eyes seemed to be deeper in his skull than they had been the day before. "I KNOW the way..."
"Not only to the post," reminded Patrick, "but all the way back ... to ... to..."
"Yeah," he grinned a horrible grin, which they tried to ignore. "I know the way HOME... like a good horse-see!"
He vanished into the rain and the fog. But he never got to the army post.
The weather had a temporary break. The helicopter came through the broken clouds.
"Hey! Hey! Here!" jumped Joseph, up and down.
"Cool it!" snapped Patrick. "He can see the damn temple!"
Luckily there was little or no wind that morning.
They started to load their treasures. "He got a wire through, huh?" asked Joseph.
"Who?" said Tharpa. Then, "Nobody wired ... Let's go... LET'S GO! The weather will change and we will hit the side of a mountain..."
"But..." said Melody.
Patrick glared, first at her and then at the sky. It's okay ... He'll get out! He walked this far..."
"He'll walk out! " snapped Dee.
The helicopter sluggishly lifted with its burden.
"We're not going to make it!" said Tharpa.
Joseph bit his lip watching the rocks on the cliffside close in. Dee framed her face with both hands, fingers fluttering.
"Oh my God..." she said.
Melody looked at her scornfully.
The 'copter tilted and slid sideways, wobbling in the air, shifting towards the rock-face.
Crossing a log bridge, he felt his ears ring. KLING KLING-ng-ngng. And he slipped. He fell into the river and was swept out of sight.
The 'copter sat on a deserted piece of the trail. Everyone except Tharpa was standing outside looking either at the hillside with its cascading muddy streams or at the sky. Tharpa was inside at the controls, doing this and that, causing the motor to cough and roar in turns. "WHAT'S WRONG?" shouted Patrick.
"NOTHING! " yelled the other. . "Just too much, weight 1
"We can try again," Melody said to Dee.
Joseph shook his head. "The hell with that ... I'd rather walkand take my chances with the leeches!"
"YES-S-S-S!" shouted Dee. "We'll see you in the valley!"
"As you wish," smiled Patrick. Then to Melody, "Come on, climb up on the flying horse-see!"
It lifted off easily, leaving two figures who quickly vanished in the rising mist.
Sitting on the rock in the river, he yelled at the orange flames. "Help!! Help me... The ghosts tried, but failed. "JUMP!" thev said. "Jump into the river!" But he would not.
On the wet hillside, in the dark Himalayan night, he realized that he was completely lost.
"But why did he double-cross Tharpa?"
"Greed, simple greed."
"Maybe Tharpa double-crossed him"
"No, greed, just greed
"But what about Tharpa's friends?"
"Who cares?" answered Dee. "Here, oil me up!" She handed Joseph a bottle of lotion and turned onto her stomach.
Joseph poured some on his hands and soon was spreading it over her body, across her back, down her legs.
"Everywhere" laughed Dee, instructing him.
"Sure, sure. How's this?"
"Fine," she said. "Fine."
They were completely alone on a beach in Goa.
"Glad to be" said Joseph, "of service."
"Where?" started Dee.
"What?" asked the man.
"do you think Patrick and Melody are right now?"
"Ah. Who knows? They might not even be together anymore.
"They're together allright," contemplated Dee. "He's notgoing to let go of........She's not going to let him get away with... "
"The loot?" smiled Joseph.
"Yes-s-s-s, the Buddha-loot" purred Dee. "Rub a little more there...."
Chanba flew above the rooftops of Kathmandu. He was invisible. He knew that, for no one pointed, no one saw him. He knew he was flying. He knew he was not dreaming.
However, even in magical flight, he could not find the location of Sri Khatvanga's house. He swooped low and followed the streets, first to the right and then to the left. He saw the merchants and bicycle riders. He saw the vendors in the market, young and old. He saw an old woman offering a passerby a long green and yellow striped squash. He saw the customers of the banana sellers carrying them away. He saw the strange metal vehicles.
He could not find Sri Khatvanga's house. It was no surprise to him that it was gone. After all, it had been a number of hundred years ago that it had been a kitemaker's shop.
He flew to the airport and landed, unseen.
Meba and Charnba were returning to the valley,-making their way along the threads of trails among the mountains.
Chamba was shaking his head and looking at his companion now and then.
"Chamba," she said, "please watch where you are walking and do not look at me so often!" he said stopping, so he could take a long look at her. "I cannot get over you..."
She stopped too.
"What do you mean?"
"Don't act so innocent!" he said. "You know exactly what I mean!"
She fluttered her eyelashes and scratched her right ear. "No. What do you mean?"
Chamba hesitated, now that he was facing it directly. But finally, "The rock! The giant rock!"
Meba looked at her fingernails.
"You..." said Chamba, "made it...it was... of
"Yes?"her eyes looked up.
"It was tumbling down the mountain directly towards us! There was nothing to do..."
"Therewas something to do," she corrected, smiling shyly.
"You lifted your hand! You lifted your hand, as if to ward it off and... and..." stammered Chamba. "When it touched you... It vanished!"
"An illusion," said Meba.
"Which?" he asked. "The falling rock, or your making it vanish?"
"Both, I guess."
"Meba," Chamba addressed her. learn to do that?"
Meba giggled and blushed.
"Meba! Answer me!"
"Yes, Chamba-ji," she said, suddenly becoming formal. "Whatever my guru wishes to hear I will say..."
"Enough of that! Answer me!"
"When ... how... did you"
She was grinning from ear to ear, one hand playing with a strand of her hair. "You taught me. You know the answer...
"I? I am supposed to be the magician, but you..."
"But you ... are my teacher! I am your pupil! You taught me!"
,, But..." started Chamba, "How ... ah ... Hmmmm." He paused and considered. "Of course. Of course. Let us continue homeward."
"Yes, Guru-ji," she smiled. "You do not wish to fly home instead of walking?"
"Ah..." said Chamba, Another day ... er...not today. perhaps."
"What else?" asked Sri Khatvanga.
"That is all, Guru-ji," answered Chamba.
"Is there anything else which you learned?" repeated the black guru.
Meba was irritated, and spoke before she thought better
"Why must Chamba reveal everything to you? If you know it already?"
Sri Khatvanga scowled, the whirlpool of hairs moving. Then as he spoke, his expression changed into a smile.
"Meba ... Ah... It is merely for verification. To insure Chamba that he has it correctly...Ah... "
"It seems senseless to me... " she started again.
The dog's sleeping eyes opened and fixed themselves on her.
"But then-what do I know of such things? A mere woman..."
Sri Khatvanga squinted at her, examining her expression, remembering her tone. "Yes," he finally said. "WHAT do you know? Tell me-what vou have learned?"
Chamba looked back and forth between them. He was concerned. Had he said something which revealed his feelings that Meba now had powers? He did not think he had.
"Sri Khatvanga ... Master Magician!" Meba smiled. "I have learned..."
And inadvertantly the black guru leaned forward.
She squinted and scratched behind an ear. "...not to ask foolish questions of those wiser than I!"
The black guru clenched his jaw-muscles and thought to himself, "She is clever or knows nothing. In either case, there is no use pursuing this any further."
Chamba was relieved. He had willingly told his teacher the secrets which he had learned in the tomb, but for some reason he did not wish the magician to know of the magical developments pertaining to Meba. He had promised to tell his guru anything which he would learn, while he remained under his protection. But he did not see how this held for Meba's discoveries. This semiwithholding disturbed him, but he kept his partial silence nonetheless. After all, he had no way of sharing something which he himself, as yet, did not have knowledge of.
The yellow eyes blinked. The dog stood up and stepped towards Pleba, growling.
Chamba looked at the magician. He did not seem to care what the animal did.
"Stop!" said Chamba.
The animal did not listen, crouching as if ready to leap at the young woman.
Meba took this all in, sneering disdainfully. With only a quick look at Sri Khatvanga, she kept her eyes fixed on the baleful yellow pair.
Sri Khatvangals voice spoke, Bweetly and softly.
"Chamba, I would like to study Meba's amulet..."
Chamba was horrified at the thought of Meba without the protection of the star-shaped charm.
"Get me..." the magician continued, "the charm. Give me...."
"Guru-ji!" exclaimed Chamba. "Please do not order me to remove it from... "
"Are you not my disciple?" Sri Khatvanga now said loudly. "Get it for me!"
"Ah!" exclaimed Chamba, who had never disobeyed a direct order of his teacher's before. "Maha-Guru-ji ......
"Give it to me!"
All the while, woman and dog kept their eyes fixed upon each other's.
Meba spoke above the growling, without moving her eyes.
"Here ... Chamba ... here is a gift for you... It is not time for you to disobey your guru..."
With one hand she removed her necklace with the star amulet. "Here," she repeated, and tossed it towards Chamba's voice.
He had hardly had time to catch it when the black guru reached out and snatched it from his grasp.
"HA HA hahahah!" laughed the magician.
The black beast suddenly leaped for the young woman's throat.
Dor.jel,,Drelhu watched for a short time from above. He knew that once Dorje Chamba reached the village he would be beyond any help which he could offer. He folded his arms
and jolted to a two-footed landing on a flat rock.
"There he goes," he observed. "He has reached the outskirts of the village of the skeletons."
Drelhu leaped into space, swooped to the 1eft and then lifted smoothly into the blue sky. Then he turned and returned to Cho Tabla.
Everywhere Dorje Chamba looked was decay and putrification. The trail leading to the village was surrounded by grassy hillsides that were rotting and dusty with white mold. The stench moved back and forth with the wind. In the stangant rice-paddies, covered with a green scum, lay the carcasses of bloated oxen, eyes pressed out in death, figures enlarged by the gases of decay. They were sleek in outline, like inflated balloons, artificially inflated. Their skins rippled this way and that way, with the motions of the feasting maggots directly beneath them.
He covered his face with his sleeve and entered the village's gateway chorten. He could barely bring himself to do it. He had to break through what appeared to be a curtain of slime, shimmering, glistening like vertical strings. Within, he held his breath. Looking up and about, he saw no images to reassure him. Everything was flaking and moldering. The wood was sagging above his head, as if the entire weight above him might come crashing down at any moment.He wondered whose awful remains were poised above him.
All the wood was fissured and splintered, with no evidence of termites or insect borings to explain the potential collapsing structure.
"Rot," he said, through his sleeve. "Simply rot, wet, stinking decay ... collapse ... rot!"
Chips of wood fell past him. He exited onto the path to the first houses. Human thigh-bones lined the way, like a fence, like a regiment of soldiers waiting for him, at attention. Some were bleached white, but all had a layer of green dusting, facing the north.
He looked at the village.
"Is it deserted?" he wondered.
He did not have to wait long for an answer. The sounds began. It may have been music, but he was not sure. It clattered and banged, in a harsh and hard percussion. Clattered and cracked...
"A strange rhythm," he thought, and found himself walking in step with it before he was aware of the fact. He skipped a step, to break its increasing fascination upon his attention.
"Clat! Clat! clatclatclat!"
"Crack! Crack! Crack.ca.rack!"
This continued as he went further into the village. The sounds were soon coming from all the windows and all the doorways, ahead of him or behind him. They seemed to grow louder.
Then they suddenly stopped.
From one doorway to his right came a voice.
"Namaste, Chamba! Would you like some tea?"
It had taken him a moment to realize that it was a voice. It had squealed and rasped terribly, almost out of human hearing range. That it addressed him by name was of less concern to him than its existence.
"Drelhu said that this was a village with only dead peopl," he thought. "Who is speaking, then?"
"I am," answered the screeching voice, as if in answer to his thoughts, "I am ... here!"
He looked into the dim room, with a hand on either side of the doorway. He held his breath against the stench.
inside was a pyramid of shredded clothing. Atop it was the head of a man, ghastly in his shrivelled old age, more skull than skin. His eyes seemed to be completely visible in the sockets. They moved.
"Wel-come," they said, scratching the air with their vibrations. "Come in..."
He hesitated and then entered, looking to see if there was anyone else. No. They were alone.
"Sit," scratch scratch. "Sit."
He did, trying not to breathe too heavily.
The bundle stirred and a thin hand appeared waving. Then the entire pyramid stirred and the old man stood up, dropping the shredded folds from him. As he stood, he revealed how little there was of him, bones wrapped in connecting threads of muscles, sunken flesh clinging tightly like a layer of paint upon bones, almostall of which were visible. The garment fell to the floor, raising a strange dust. He was horrified to see that it was not cloth at all. It was flesh.
And as he stared at the standing man, the skin and flesh continued to fall to the floor, bit by bit.
"Wel-come," the grinning skull said. "We have been waiting for you."
Amidst the rasping words, the pieces of skin continued to fall, like flakes of rotting leaves.
"Would you like some-tea?"
Chamba pretended to drink. However, he had no intention of swallowing anything in this village.When the tea maker turned his or her back, he tossedthe contents of his cup out the doorway, then pretended to wipe his mouth.
"You like it?" squealed and scratched the voice.
"Fine!" he said, smiling at the apparition before him. "It was just fine!"
Before he could stop the action, his cup was filled with the strange-looking tea once more.
"Have..." rasp, "mo-r-r-rel"
"Thank you," he frowned, looking about for a clue.
"Where is the weapon ... Where is the syllable of this place?"
Nothing caught him in any way in regards to his search.
At a window, h,e suddenly saw three faces. All were skulls, grinning with crooked or broken teeth. All were alive, clattering and wagging tongues, rolling eyeballs. It would have been amusing except for the sheer impossibility of it all. Bits of hair clung to bits of skin. None of the skulls was bone-white. All had tissues holding piece to piece, and those to neck and that to shoulders and out of sight to some other support.
"Quiet!" rasped the tea-maker. "Our guest will join us in a moment!"
He did not know what that meant and did not look forward to discovering its full meaning. Outside, the strange clattering and clicking rhythms were building up again. They came from nearby and they came from farther and farther away. Some seemed to be approaching, causing the volume to raise itself. Louder and louder.
"Clat! Clat! clatclatclat!"
"Crack! Crack! Crack.ca.rack!"
He could not pour the tea out of the door. It was filled with limb-waving figures, making their noises. He could see, in horror, what was making the noises. The teeth! The bones! Handbones against thigh-bones!
"Clat! Clat! Clatclatclat!"
"Crack! Crack! Crack.ca.rack!"
Fingers against ribs!
Tongues waggled loosely in skinless mouths. The eyeballs rolled in skinless sockets. Noises came from every-;,. where. He could not follow all of them to their sources. voices came in the midst of them.
"Come to the d-d-dance-ce-ce-ce!"
"We-e-e-e-e wa-a-a-a-nt him!"
The skeletal teamaker, dropping bits of his body each time he moved, said, "Patience! He has not finishshshshed! His-s-s-s tea!"
He shuddered. He was glad there was a delay even if it was the peculiar cup full of tea which he held in his hand.
"Dr-r-r-rink!Dr-r-r-rink!" the voices called.
He would not. Now it was for two reasons. The tea itself was one. The unknown event, the dance to follow, was the other. He held the cup near to his lips and looked over the rim at the newer figures in the doorway.
The figures seemed to have more flesh upon them. But he was not sure, for their bodies had more clothing draped across them. There were dresses, trousers, and tunics.A sash tightly bound held some of them together. He couldalmost say that this one was female and that one was male. But it was guesswork. And he did not wish to study these possibilities too closely. Their lack of male and female characteristics disturbed him the most.
The teamaker suddenly made a move and grabbed his hand. In a sharp boney grip, he pushed the teacup towards his lips. "Drink!" he said.
"Meba!" Chamba cried in horror.
But it was too late. The animal was flying through the air.
"KLING! KLING! KLING-NG-NG-NGV'
A brightness filled the air and Chamba blinked.
Sri Khatvanga also blinked when he saw the black dog go through the image of Meba. It kept moving and struck the wall beyond her, tumbling to the floor.
Meba turned, laughing, to face the roaring beast. It leaped again. And again, it repeated the flight through her. It mingled in a dazzling light for a moment, obliterating both woman and dog. But then it was landing heavily beyond her. It twisted and glared, crouching, as if to leap again. Meba turned, laughing.
"Ha Ha Hahahah."
Chamba was baffled as much as the black guru was angry.
"Wait!" commanded Sri Khatvanga. The yellow eyes looked at him where he stood holding the dangling amulet in his hand.
"GURU-JI..." started Chamba, shivering in the coldness which began to fill the room. He could say nothing further.
"Sri Khatvanga," Meba's melodious voice began, "your... ah ... animal is helpless against me ... You are incapable of harming me! "
"Foolish woman!" the magician shouted. "We'll see about that!" And he nodded to the black beast. It turned and glared at Chamba, who shivered between them.
"Now!" the black guru whispered in a rasping voice. "Now! it
And the beast leaped for Chamba's throat. He threw up an arm in horror to protect himself. The teeth clamped upon it instead and he heard the bones snap within.
He fell over backwards with the black form upon him, growling and looking for another chance at his throat.
"Drink! -K! K!" said the teamaker.
Dorje Chamba resisted and the cup went flying, spilling its contents on the packed clay floor before it shattered itself into six pieces.
"NOW-OW-OW!" said the other skeletons. "NOW-OW-OW!
The tea is FINISH-SH-SH-ED!"
The teamaker grinned and exhaled the gases of a cesspool.
"Yes-s-s-s!" he rasped.
They came rushing forward in a great clatter of limbs and clicking of teeth.
"Come! DANCE-CE! WITH US-S-S!"
They were pinching and pulling at him, dragging him to the door. He felt as if their fingers were metal tools, clamping upon him. He felt as if his very bones were being bruised. And that if he did not escape their grip, the very flesh would be pulled from him!
Blood was pouring down his arm and his hand hung limply. Arrows of pain ran up to his brain. He felt the anguish rush to his eyes and empty into the room.
Now Meba, not smiling, faced the sneering magician. Neither moved, but ignored Chamba, keeping their eyes upon each other.
"Well, Meba?" the magician grinned.
She squinted and from the corner of her eye watched the bloody struggle.
"I will not interfere, If she said. "He is- Your disciple...."
"You cannot interfere," mocked Sri Khatvanga.
"I will not..." she repeated.
"GURU-JI!" shouted Chamba, holding the dog's throat with his free hand. "Help! Help me!"
The magician took a quick look. When he glanced back, Meba had vanished.
Chamba saw this too and felt a great loss of energy, as if it were leaving the room. His numb fingers loosened on the animal's throat. The yellow eyes flashed in victory. The fangs shone with the blood from his arm.
"Ah Cha!" the black guru muttered, just as the dog freed itself from Chamba's grip, looking at his throat.
It sounded like a flute. One long, flat note. Again. It was coming from somewhere nearby. He could not see from where, and he did not concern himself immediately. The pinching fingers, the bruising grips, were foremost in his mind. They were pulling him along the alleyways of the village, past doorways full of grimacing faces, clacking and clicking.
CLICK! CLICK! CLI-CLICKI
"What!" he screamed. "What are you .... doing?"
They did not answer him directly, jumping and clattering before him and behind. He plunged forward, held by the tight vises on his body.
"DANCE-CE-CEI"They rolled their eyes.
He choked, passing sources of stench, unseen rotting pits of corruption. He gasped and almost swooned. However, the pain of the tight bone fingers kept him aware.
"AH! " he struggled. "AH! "
His eyes rolled in his head. Their eyes rolled in their dry sockets, tongues flapping like dry flags.
"Soon-n-n! Soon-n-n! He will-1-1 JOIN-JOIN US-S-S!" Voices squealed and rasped about him.
He felt that he was going to faint. There was no air! It was horrible to breathe. He had to force himself to inhale.
"AUH-H!"He felt nauseous.
Now he was literally being dragged along. His feet did not move at all. He took no steps. But it did not slow the movement of his captors at all. He and they moved speedily onward.
"Where to?" he wondered.
"Here!" they shrieked, almost too shrilly for his ears to bear. "Here .... we ... A-A-ARE! Now he joins us-s-s!"
Suddenly they let go of him. He collapsed into a heap, feeling sunshine burn on the back of his neck. His nostrils told him that decay was extremely dense around him. Blearily looking up, he saw that he was surrounded by perhaps a hundred skeletal figures ... all quiet now.
Without moving his head, he could see that he was in a large courtyard, with leaning buildings all about. He could not see how he had entered this enclosed space. He continued to breathe shallow breaths to avoid the smell of death. Towards one side he could see objects which looked like paper bulls-eyes on straw targets. His eyes hurt when he moved them. What was he going to do?
"There is no syllable here," he thought. "I can find none here. What AM I going to do?"
The figures moved again. Click! Click! Click Ca-Click! And the whistling, as if of a flute, began again.
They were embracing and dancing in pairs.
CLICK Click Click-ca-lick!
And embracing ... blowing kisses ...
"Akg!" he thought, moving his eyes ....
They took turns blowing into noseless skulls.
The wind was like a whistle. They pulled apart and laughed.
"Clack! Clack! Clack Clack Clack!"
More flat notes, as if of a flute. And again, "Clack! Clack! Clackclackclack!" one, obviously once female, dressed in woman's clothes, turned to him, wagging her tongue in the air.
"We ... You... !" she said. "We ... dance ... Now!" She pulled him helplessly to his feet. He could not break loose, paralyzed with fear.
Bits of the other's skin and hair kept sliding off her skull. He gasped in stupid fascination.
"Ha Ha hahahah!" she shrieked, as if to call a supersonic dog.
"I don't ... wish ... " he started, not knowing how to prevent the dance. The crowd cheered her on in "CLACK CLACK."
She grinned, all teeth, all skull.
"A present-t-t! You wa-a-a-ANT a present-t-t!"
And before he could reply, she pulled out her left eye and pushed it towards his open mouth.
Chamba threw up his other arm to protect himself SNAP! SNAP! CRACK! CA-RACK! The animal sank its fangs into it. CRACK - CRACK CA-RACK! He screamed and watched the dark purple within his skull come pouring over his consciousness. "Ha Ha Hahahah!" laughed Sri Khatvanga.
CRACK! CRACK - CA - RACK!
Chamba closed his mouth and refused the offered eyeball. The empty socket was like an inactive volcano. The woman's skull shrieked with laughter when the eyeball went bouncing away.
Dorje Chamba could not remember. He tried to remember. what had Drelhu said to him?
"You must throw the fire!" he had said.
"Throw it? Like a stone?"
"NO, NO!" explained the monkey-man. "Like water.....water!"
"Water?" he had asked, puzzled.
"Yes ... Yes-s-s!" the broad mask grimaced.
"Like a stream ... pushing..." Chamba suggested. "Like a fire-hose?"
Drelhu was confused. "I do not understand ... what is that? "
"Well," Chamba struggled, "like a WATERFALL? A Stream of RAIN?"
The broad face brightened. "Yes...Yes-s-s! Like that! But..."
"But," he nodded, laughing, "SIDEWAYS...."
"Yes-s-s," answered Drelhu. "AWAY FROM YOU ... Like a waterfall ... I"
Chamba laughed. "Yes ... I understand!"
The monkey-man squinted. "Can you do it?"
"Perhaps, but which syllable?"
"You start with Au ... GNI .... Remember?"
"AU...? Oh, yes! I remember."
He was remembering.
CLACK! CLACK! CL--CLACKI