PART 1,2 , 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 910,11,12131415161718
Thunder over mountain.
Father grew old.
Mother grew old.
Thunder grew old.
But the tree did not grow old. It grew stronger. Night did not end.
He ate the golden apricots. The darkness began to lighten. "AUM MANI PADME HUM," he said, sending the syllables to his body, to his speech, to his mind.
Outside he could hear the tree shaking. He could hear it crying. "I! I! I!' All the while he chanted. "AUM MANI PADME HUM."
It was growing lighter. A-round him he could see Buddhas on all sides. They first existed on the walls as paintings. Then as the light changed, they intensified and moved into the small chamber. They sat, suspended in space between here and there. When this first happened, he was startled, and then they suddenly were back on the walls as paintings. But again, as he sat, they came out into space.
"Come out," he thought, "and play." He smiled.
The tree was furiously crying.
"NO! NO! NO!"
"I know," he thought. "You are unhappy, but...
The walls were iridescent, glowing. The Buddhas shimmered and shook in the air. He began to perspire.
"Heat!" he thought.
The chorten was getting hotter, the walls were blazing with light, radiating light out of their hidden molecules.
"Heat," he thought, maintaining his position, looking forward, unmoving.
"I! I! I!" the tree cried.
"The tree is burning," he said, "and the roots are burning..."
In the enveloping colors, oranges and yellows, he could no longer see the Buddhas.
Chamba closed his eyes. Perspiration poured down his face.
"I will not burn," he thought.
"AUM MANI PADME HUM."
"I! EYE! I!' the tree screamed.
When he opened his two eyes, the chorten was gone.
The tree was gone.
The blood-colored gompa no longer existed. The immediate ridge was empty of everything except the apricottrees. Farther down were the walls of prayer rocks, poles of prayer flags.
All about him was scorched ground but no ash remnants of tree or chorten. The wind blew quietly past him. The high white mountains ignored him. He got up and started to walk down the hill.
"Drelhu!" Chamba called.
"Geshe-la!" he tried.
He looked about, puzzled.
The house was gone.
The village was gone.
And the gompa was in an unbelievable state of ruin. The roof was down with only a few walls still standing. He made his way to a break in the wall. Stepping through, he could feel the rubble beneath his feet shrug, yielding and bouncing back slightly. The smell of burnt wood rose from the ruined timbers beneath him.
"But it's old," he thought. "This happened a long time ago! Where are..."
Looking up, he saw a room hanging from an opposite wall, as if in mid-air. A staircase was attached to it, but it did not reach to the ground. He studied this architectural remnant curiously.
"What is that room?"
He began to consider how he could reach it when there was a shudder beneath his feet.
CRACK! CRACK! CRACK-CAR-RACKI
It was giving way! He was falling!
Timbers and mortar, rocks and rubble, fell three stories into a deep cellar cavity. Tons of materials twisted and crashed down, tumbling over each other in a jumble of crashing impact.
He started to go with them all, but did not go far. For suddenly he was flying up out of the whirlpool of cascading material substance.
He flew up to the suspended staircase and opened the door of the mysterious room.
"Darkness and death," he smelled them both. He could see nothing except violet squiggling worms of light which was all that remained of the sunshine outside. Even these were impermanent and became green, yellow-green, and shorter all the while.
"Darkness and death."
"Who's there?" he exclaimed, arms outstretched in the darkness. Perspiration formed on his forehead. outside, he could hear an animal howling. "Dusty," he said. "It is so dusty!" "I must see," said Dorje Chamba.
Then he saw dimly, Dharma Dorje sitting cross-legged on a platform--a seat of teaching--in meditation position.
To the side, a bit lower, was Drelhu, facing the lama in the same position.
They both were extremely still. Chamba could hear his own breathing but not theirs. They were not breathing!
"They are dead!" he said.
"AH! AH! AHA 'AHAH!" he exhaled.
"It really is true," Chamba said softly, squinting in the darkness, scratching his ear.
"They are covered with dust!" he muttered, staring in the gloom.
"I must see better," he mumbled. "See better!"
And golden lights began to flicker before him. The figures began to be clearer.
"AH ... !" the shivering Chamba exclaimed, recognizing the lama and the monkey-man in this new light.
"They are dead," he whispered, "and..." he continued, ... these ... are ... All" ... their mummies! "
The lights continued to glow, coming from the thousands of little wrinkles and shifting lines which made up the bodies of his two friends.
"AH! Geshe-la," said Chamba, moving closer to the figure of the monk.
The golden lines shifted and switched. They moved and changed. Solid into broken. Broken into solid. Rising and rippling.
"His entire," said Chamba, staring, "body is...."
Golden lines moving...
Golden lines joining and separating.
The dust fell off.
He did not know how long he watched the changes. He lost track of all time.
"Dharma Dorje," he said. "How long has it been?"
The monk's wrinkled face, squinting eyes did not answer. Drelhu did not make a sound.
"Ah, the pity of it, " Chamba said.
As he said this, he noticed something vaguely happening. It took a while for it to register upon him, but once it did, he was certain that it was not his imagination.
.The golden lines, the lights..." he said, shifting from foot to foot, "are stopping. They are going out!"
He took a quick glance at the body of Drelhu. It was happening there also.
One by one. Three by three. Six by six. The lights were extinguishing themselves.
His heart started to beat faster. He felt that he had to do something.
"Quickly! To save them!"
He mentally fumbled for mantras to be used, but could not choose. And during his hesitation, all the lines grew cold.
The bodies of his two friends were now completely dark.
He wrinkled his forehead.
"But then," he asked, "where is the light coming from?"
He lifted his hands in front of him. They glowed and shimmered with a thousand shifting lines.
"Here is the source of light!"
Putting his face close to the wrinkled mummy-face of Drelhu, he could see the reflected golden light.
"From my face," he thought, stepping back, leaving the monkey-man in darkness.
He did the same with Dharma Dorje.
"They are dead," he said. "And I do not know how to bring them back!"
He stood there quietly, struggling with that thought until the room began to shake, as if a great hand had grasped it.
"HA! HA! Hahahah!" came the laughter.
"You fool!" roared a voice.
He could recognize that it belonged to Sri Khatvanga.
"But ... But ... Where?"
The room began to tilt and shift. The two mummies began to lean, first this way, then that way. Then, on an extreme angle, they began to slide.
Chamba was horrified at the sight.
"Stop ... stop..." he started to command, when suddenly, the two bodies fell over, struck each other and vanished quietly into a cloud of dust. A few scraps of robe were left on the floor, sliding in the dust. But the lama and the monkey-man were gone.
"They are gone!" cried Chamba.
"HA! HA! Hahahah!" laughed Sri Khatvanga.
The entire room began to somersault and fall. Chamba was thrown twisting into the air.
The air was filled with the harsh growling of the black beast.
"Where is it?" he thought in the whirlpool.
CLICK! CLICK! CLICK-cli-lick!
"Here!" answered the black guru in the midst of the spinning.
The beast was leaping for his throat.
"Drelhu's not here to save you!" laughed the magician, which was a mistake.
Chamba exhaled sharply, and transformed himself into the monkey-man. The black dog leaped out of the room.
The figure of Drelhu went flying out after him, leaving the room which went crashing downward into pieces.
The dog stood by the chorten, growling at the monkeyman. Chamba-as-Drelhu landed on his feet in front of the beast. They both eyed each other for a moment, not letting their eyes lose contact with those of the other.
"Ha!" laughed Chamba-as-Drelhu. "Remember me?" The animal whimpered and turned to escape, leaping down the hillside. Drelhu was about to follow.
"Goodbye! Have a good run!" laughed the black guru. The monkey-man wheeled to see him astride the ruined wall.
"Catch him!" laughed the magician.
Drelhu grimaced, baring his teeth.
"Yes! I must ... but..."
The monkey-man shimmered and split into two. One flew after the black dog. The other turned towards Sri Khatvanga.
The magician laughed. "Interesting! But not good enough!
He waved his hand and Drelhu went tumbling over backwards. He staggered up again, squinting at the black guru.
"You're no match for me, monkey-man!" And again a gesture knocked Drelhu down.
"Ah HUM!" said the monkey-man, shimmering and changing. He was suddenly the lama.
Dharma Dorje smiled sweetly at Sri Khatvanga. The other shuddered and did not move.
"Oh," said the magician, "please .... remember! We were once friends! It was your death which .... "
The lama glanced down the hillside. The house appeared, the village appeared.
Down the valley could be seen Drelhu chasing the dog towards the village. The lama turned to Sri Khatvanga.
"You are like ... as if ... the backbone of the world... I cannot kill you. Therefore, go to that house..."
"Ah, noble lama," whispered the magician, lowering his head and obeying.
Drelhu drove the dog into the house. Dharma Dorje moved Sri Khatvanga into it.
"Ah, Geshe-la," said Drelhu. "How will we keep them inside?" The monk walked around the house chanting. Then he pasted a woodcut with intertwining snakes upon it.
"That should hold them," Dharma Dorje said, squinting at the monkey-man
"At least for a while," said Drelhu, scratching behind his ear.
A moment later, Dorje Chamba stood by himself on the hillside at Cho Tabla.
The gompa was in ruins, but the room no longer hung as if in mid-air. His house, where he had been cared for, was gone. The village was gone also. Desolation seemed to reign. A great weight sat on his shoulders.
"AUM, HRIM ... HRIM...." he chanted, looking up at the blue sky and the snow-covered mountains.
"I remember ... I remember..."
His jaw muscles tightened. He snapped his teeth together. Click! Click!
Then they loosened.
"I remember..." he said, "so much pain...." He squinted and scratched behind his ear.... and Sri Khatvanga!" He grimaced, baring his teeth."Where is he now? Where is he?"
"Damn it!" he said, forgetting himself. "Where the hell is he?"
He split himself into a thousand parts, all the same, all full-sized copies of himself, and flew off in every direction, searching.
A day later they all came back to Cho Tabla.
"HE IS... "
They reported to each other.
He coalesced himself into one to stop the echoes between the mountains.
"He is not in Nepal," he said to himself, alone in the mountain twilight.
Chamba tried again, but he could change himself into the lama no longer.
"Did I ever do it?" he asked himself, shifting from foot to foot.
"Only one place to go," he said to himself. "Home."
After this decision, it made making plans a little easier. He took a Royal Nepal plane to New Delhi. He took a Pan American jet to New York City.
"For appearances sake," he grimaced, three lines appearing on his forehead, two broken, one solid.
He nodded, squinting out the plane window down at a thundercloud-form miles below. A rainbow shimmered and shifted.
"Sri Khatvanga is there before me!" he thought.
Golden lines moved in his body.
"Don't act like a bitch!" snapped Patrick.
Melody became quiet, looking away from him, staring out the window. A stream of lights moved below on Sixth Avenue. It was a late rush-hour, with cars pressing in upon the many florists' trucks of the neighborhood.
She turned to look at the man, squinting.
"Son of a bitch," she thought.
Then she said, "Well then ... I'll talk like a partner.... "
He scowled, and smiled his best boyish grin. It did not sit well on his haggard face, rings around his eyes. "If you're going to talk like that, I prefer you as a bitch."
She turned again to look at the red tail-lights going north. "Partner," she repeated.
"Bitch! " he said.
Rows of painted Buddhas looked down at them from the walls of the loft. They smiled as serenely as if they were still on monastery walls.
"We want to sell the stuff," began Patrick.
She glared at him. "Sounds like you want to give it away!" she said.
He looked at a bronze lama, avoiding her eyes. "We can't charge too much..."
"You're a fool," the young woman said. "All this is increasing in value every day... faster than you think!"
"Shut up and listen!" she said between clenched teeth. "People are just getting into collecting Tibetan things! We've got a goldmine if you'll just be patient!"
Patrick did not answer. He was thinking of beaches far away.
The lights went up Sixth. Avenue
Sri Khatvanga did not care for disguises. He walked the streets of New York City as himself. At first, he thought invisibility would be best, but decided against that. It smacked of cowardice to his mind, and also, although he avoided this recognition, his ego would not allow it.
"I will be myself," he snarled. "Let others see what they will!"
And that is what most people did. They saw a salesman. They saw a policeman. They saw fathers, uncles, brothers.
They saw strangers passing by them on the crowded sidewalks
A rare person saw the tall dark figure of the black guru. Even this person did not blink more than once. You can see anything in New York.
"Many edges!" laughed the magician.
A taxi's brakes shrieked. There was a sickening thud in the street. People turned and turned away. Blood poured from the pedestrian's mouth.
The black guru pressed forward.
The yellow-eyed black dog wagged its tail.
"Many edges of energy here!"
Chamba looked at the skyscrapers as if he had never seen them before.
"Wel-come," he said to himself. "Wel-come home"
The streets were full of cracks; the sidewalks were full of cracks; solid lines and broken lines. Solid painted lines became painted dashes. Solid or broken, they were all solid.
"They are all right-handed!" realized Chamba. "All
the sun with only ... as-if... illusions of divisions ...
He stared at the streets.
"Younger or older... only younger or older rationalities!"
The lines moved on his back and in his muscles. He looked about suddenly.
"Sri Khatvangal Where is he?"
"Nearby," he thought. "Nearby, I can hear a baby crying!"
WHHHAAA.... WHHHAAA... The ambulance came and went with its siren. The baby died.
"It's too hot!" cried the fireman. CRACK ! CRACK ! CRA-CA-RACK ! "Get back! It's going to go... CRACK! CRACK! The mother in her nightgown, across the orange-lit street, screamed and had to be held back. CRACK! CRACK! The wall fell in upon the three trapped children.
Sri Khatvanga laughed and plunged into the inferno The black beast howled in tune with the flames.
Meba watched from above the city. A tear rolled down her cheek.
"AHH!For Christ's sake, stop! Don't do this!" he screamed in the dark park. The other raised an eyebrow, pursed his lips. "Christ? What's he got to do with it?" The razor flashed. A thin red line became a great flood from the slashed throat. "HA! HA! Hahahah!" Acrossthe city, the yellow-eyed dog lifted his ears. Sri Khatvanga nodded. "Yes. Yes, I hear it too! Let us go ... quickly!"
Chamba shook his head.
"There are so many intensities! How can I find him?"
He scowled at the outline of the buildings against
"DAMN him!" he hissed.
Meba listened, not moving.
"Well? What do you think?" asked Melody.
The short man looked from the sculpture of silver towards the woman. His expression was flat, but his eyes revealed his excitement.
"...Uh ... not bad. Someone might like it..."
Patrick was panicked. "Someone? Don't you like it?"
Melody glared at him. He did not see her gesture.
"If the price is too high," said Patrick, "we might lower..."
The corner of the man's mouth made a notion towards smiling. "This stuff," he said, taking out a cigarette, "is just a curiosity ... not art!"
"Yes, yes," said Patrick, "but it is very ... ah .... interesting, isn't it?"
Melody was furious. "The fool!" she thought. "So anxious to make a few fast dollars that he's blind to the real value!"
She interrupted and stepped between them, taking the short man by the elbow. "Come look," she said, moving away with the man in tow, "at this banner painting. Fourteenth century..."
"WOW!" he said, off-guard, then catching himself. ..Uh ... Are you sure? How can you tell?"
"Color," she said, smiling and half-leaning on the small man, "color..."
Patrick was left at the other end of the loft, alone and ignored. "Bitch," he thought. "Why can't we hit and run?"
"Color," Melody was saying. "It's all in the color."
The man was interested. But he had a difficult time trying to make up his mind what he was more interested in, the glimpses of breast he got from Melody's open blouse, or the serenity of the ancient Buddhas.
... uh ... who is the central figure?" he asked.
"Buddha," answered Melody.
"Bitch, " muttered Patrick.
" ... and ... who are all the other little figures?"
"Buddha and Buddha and Buddha," she answered.
"Bitch and Bitch and Bitch!" muttered Patrick.
A black dog walked down Sixth Avenue.
"Well," said the man,"I'll..."he looked at Melody's lips "and throat, "know".
"Fine," she smiled.
He handed her his card.
"Call me and we'll ... "
"...talk." She smiled.
Patrick scowled silently.
When the door closed, Patrick snapped, "You let him get away! You... "
Melody looked at the card, then stared into space, tapping it on her other hand.
One. Two. Three.
"No, " she smiled. him get away.. "
"I don't think so. I didn't let
"He's loaded!" said Patrick. "Yes ... I know." "Damn it!" the other responded, leaving the room. "I think," she thought, "I'll have my cake and eat it too! I'll have my art ... and eat'it...tool"
So that is what she did. Of course, she did not tell Patrick.
The dog circled around in the streets. It was cold. Cold.
A stray cat froze to death in a courtyard. It was an enclosed, limited-entrance area. Somehow she had fallen in and could not get out. It was merely a question whether death would come by one thing or another, starvation or freezing.
One or two.
"You're very generous, if purred Melody, kissing him on his chubby cheek.
"You're-very..." the short man said, "beautiful...
She dressed and said, "Goodbye, see you soon."
" ... ah ... yeah. YEAH!"
She took the money across town and gave it to Patrick solemnly. "Is that all?" he asked.
"It's what you asked for as a price ... " she snapped
"I thought you convinced him to pay triple for the bronze!"
"No," she looked at the floor to hide her smile. "You were right-that's all I could get for it!"
"Son of a bitch," he muttered. "You had me convinced you could get more for it!"
Her eyes looked straight into his. "That's all I could get for it!"
"Well," smiled Patrick, putting his arm on her shoulder, "I was right, wasn't I? After all?"
"Yes, Patrick," she grinned. "You'll always be right."
"HA! HA! Hahahah!" he laughed.
Melody kept bringing the money back to the loft. The art objects kept leaving, but none of them went to the collectors. Melody was locking them up privately in a warehouse on Sixteenth Street.
Patrick knew nothing. He counted the money and was happy.
Melody was introduced to other collectors. But none of them got any art from her. However, she got much from them.
"More! More!" she cried, her head twisting to the right and the left.
"Sure! Sure!" the tall man exhaled. "I'll give you... ! Everything! that !... That I ... ! HAVE!"
The storage warehouse chamber filled, almost to overflowing, with images and icons of the Himalayas.
Melody squinted and stared at Patrick.
"Not much left," he said, waving his hand at the four paintings on the loft's brick walls.
She inhaled on the hashish and pursed her lips.
"Only a Vajrapani," he laughed, "two Bodhisattvas..."
"And," she said after exhaling between her teeth, "one Buddha 11
"Yeah," he smiled, putting his hands on her waist, "one leftover Buddha."
He tried to kiss her, but she turned her head, looking at the image with its hands in its lap. She resented the closeness of Patrick. The Buddha seemed to be watching her.
"Ive got to kill him," she thought. "Then I'll have the money completely..."
"What's the matter?" asked the man.
"Nothing," she smiled. "Come on, let's go to bed..."
He was confused, but grinned. "Can't figure her out," he thought. "One moment she loves me and the next, she would kill me!"
Patrick had been happy in her loving embrace. But she was not satisfied. She pretended enjoyment, but hated him the more for it. In the midst of their active embrace.
She swore, "He must be killed! For the money...for everything! "
At that moment, at the downstairs door on the street level, yellow eyes were glowing in the dark.
"Sri Khatvanga!" called the black beast. "Here!
The black guru came down Sixth Avenue.
"What is it? I was very... "
"Listen, Maha-guru-jil Two lovers! Listen to their thoughts!"
"AH?" said the magician. "Bitch! Bitch! Bitch! And kill! kill! kill! Very nice! Very good."
"Shall we go upstairs?" asked the dog.
"By all means!"
"After you..." said the animal.
"NO, NO!" laughed Sri Khatvanga. "After you..." waving his hand.
"You mean ... you mean ... I go,first?"
"Yes, why not?"
"Oh, thank you, Guru-ji!"
"Don't mention it," said the magici I an. "You are quite wel-come to it!"
"Nearby," said Dorje Chamba, "but where?"
He leaped into the night sky and changed himself into a group of blinking lights.
"No use having helicopters run into me!" he exclaimed, turning south, zooming over Penn Station.
Far over New Jersey, to the southwest, he could see silent flashes of lightning.
It began to rain.
Melody was about to get out of the bed when there came the crashing at the door.
"What ... ?" asked Patrick, leaping out of bed nude.
The door splintered itself and flew into the room. The black beast stepped through gingerly, its eyes shining and its mouth smoking.
Melody stared past the dog at the tall figure that was framed by the open doorway. Patrick stared at the animal.
"My heart..." Melody touched her right hand to her breast, feeling the ferocious racing in her chest. She could not identify it as fear or any other emotion. She just knew that it was connected to the dark man frowning at her, almost hypnotizing her into immobility.
The dog snarled, bared its fangs, dripping saliva in a long tendril for a moment, and leaped forward.
Melody did not move. The black shape flew past her and struck Patrick. He fell down screaming as the jaws clamped onto his defending lower arm.
CRACK! CRACK! CRA-CA-RACK!
The bones broke louder than his cries.
Melody did not turn, staring at Sri Khatvanga's eyes.
The dog stood astride the helpless bleeding Patrick, also looking toward the black guru, but for approval or instructions. Patrick whimpered as he bled, his limp arm across his chest, useless for self-defense.
The magician stepped into the room, which caused the young woman to inhale sharply.
"Guru-ji," the dog said.
Melody did not seem to think it strange that it spoke.
Guru-ji," it repeated. "May I ... have ... the woman?"
The magician frowned, staring at Melody, letting his eyes move up and down her body, pausing here and there.
"NO," he said. "You can have the man..."
The dog whined, "Is this the man?"
"Look for yourself!" snapped the black guru.
"Oh, " said the dog, "So it is! "
Patrick tried to move away. The dog snarled, "Be still!"
And Patrick fainted.
The magician took another step towards the young woman. "Look," he said to her. He opened his robe and she saw lights spinning on his chest. NO. They were in his chest. "Look," he repeated.
She watched the red spots glow and pursue the green ones. They twisted and sped.
"Now," he said to her, "turn and look at your friend...
"My... friend?" she sneered, but she turned, looking at the sprawled body of Patrick. He was just awakening again. The dog growled and he lay very still.
"Mel-o-dee..." whispered Patrick, but he never got any further.
"What should the animal do?" whispered Sri Khatvanga, so quietly one would think she could not hear him. But she did.
Her answer came, just as quietly.
Chamba-as-lights moved south. He was over Macy's department store at Sixth Avenue.
"Somewhere ... " he thought, "nearby!"
Melody was paralyzed with horror.
Patrick was dead, and the black beast was tearing at his intestines. His outstretched arm... as if reaching to her for helpshook from the dog's activity on his torso.
Sri Khatvanga snapped his fingers. The yellow eyes looked up. The black guru smiled.
"Have you no manners?" he said to it, his eyes moving from the bloody fangs to the still figure of Melody. The dog nodded. It shimmered and shifted, rising up upon its hind legs.
Melody's eyes widened and perspiration broke out upon her forehead and shivers ran down her spine.
The black beast first bent down towards Patrick, then wobbled like some trained animal towards Melody.
She began to cry when the animal presented her with long dangling interior pieces of the dead man.
"Eat it!" it growled.
"N-No," she broke out of her silence. "N-NO...
"Eat!" it snapped, pushing the entrails at her mouth.
Sri Khatvanga watched and laughed as the girl struggled to resist, blood smearing her face and dripping down on her breasts. She could not lift her hands, but was able to clench her teeth shut.
"HA! HA! " laughed the magician.
The furry beast snarled and pressed the soft material against her face. It slipped and got in her hair. It slipped down over her shoulders, staining her torso.
The beast persisted, rubbing bits and pieces on her body, lower and lower.
Then Melody could take no more and burst free of the paralyzing spell which held her. She struck at the head of the beast and screamed. She screamed, screamed, and screamed, as if everything could be changed by the intensity of the sounds.
Sri Khatvanga waved the dog back and squinted at the bloodstained woman. He smiled.
"Very good. Very nice..."
She was in a frenzy, pulling at her hair to loosen the bits, wiping her breasts, her abdomen, to wipe away the blood, clawing and rubbing fruitlessly.
Her green-grey eyes glared at Sri Khatvanga, her lips curled back into a snarl, baring her teeth. She growled at him and then gave a wordless roar. But again, she could not move.
Sri Khatvanga smiled and nodded.
"HA! HA! Hahahah!"
Chamba-as-lights heard her screams. He turned in flight, narrowing the distance which separated him from their source.
"There!" He aimed and crashed through the rainsplattered window, suddenly taking human form inside the loft.
Before him were the horrible remnants of Patrick and the yellow-eyed thing which had killed him.
And beneath the gore which decorated her, he recognized Melody.
"Melody! " he cried.
But she did not know him, she was gibbering and crying, and shaking hysterically, unable to take a step from where she was rooted.
"Wel-come, Chamba!" snapped the black magician.
Sri Khatvanga's form dominated the room, facing him. Chamba nodded, smiled and sneered. "Namaste, Maha-guru-ji! Poisoner of manking-great filth of the sewers..."
"Do not forget," the other replied, "backbone of the world!"
Chamba frowned, and before he could continue felt an invisible wall of flame enveloping him.
The magician sent a second wall of fire and a third to encase his ex-student. "Goodbye, Chamba," he said.
The room and the painting of the Bodhisattva of Mercy began to burn.
"AU-U-U GNI-I-I!" chanted Chamba, and all the flames fizzled into smoking remnants, billowing up into sooty remnants. It covered and stained the painting of the Bodhisattva of Wisdom.
The beast was leaping at Melody's collapsed figure on the floor.
"HRIM-M-M!" Chamba cried, and there were twenty bloodstained Melody's. The beast st6pped, confused. It changed into as many dogs and snarled at Chamba before turning to the women.
Twenty Chambas-as-Drelhuls attacked it and the black beasts fled, leaping out the window, running down Sixth Avenue, splashing through the puddles. The Drelhu's flew after them.
"I will get them..."
"I will get them... " they cried.
Melody became one person again.
A remaining Chamba faced the black guru.
"Remember," Sri Khatvanga whispered, "I am the back bone... "
"The hell with that!" snapped Chamba.
The magician squinted. "You cannot kill me...unless ... said Chamba, "kill you, no matter what the cost! "
The magician frowned, lifted his-eyebrows and they flowed and flowed. It was a tidal wave filling the mom,
crashing towards Chamba. He shouted, "DE...WA! DEWA!"
And it was as if Chamba had become an orb, a moon, that shifted its gravity, throwing almost all the water back at the magician. It crashed against the opposite wall, knocking it out, causing the water to go cascading down a staircase and onto the street. Sri Khatvanga remained unharmed.
The wet painting of Vajrapani had had its colors washed out. It was now empty of form in its embroidered borders.
The body of Patrick was gone, pulled away by the retreating wave.
Melody remained screaming and crying, rubbing at the blood.
The image of the Buddha remained, flapping in the force of the rising wind.
"Goodbye!" said the black guru, suddenly whirling himself into a pillar of twisting air.
Chamba paused, watching it rise, strike the ceiling, and amidst the flying wreckage, vanish to the south. A great suction of air followed.
Chamba leaped to protect Melody, to keep her from joining portions of the building streaking after the departing whirlwind.
The painting of the Buddha flapped and waved on the brick wall. But then, as if of its own volition, it broke loose and went flying away, also to the south. Lost in the wet black air of the rainy night, it vanished. There were none of the stolen images left in the destroyed room.
"I must..." said Chamba, carrying Melody and flying down to the rain-drenched street.
"W-What...What! Please," she cried, pulling at her hair, "Please..."
He shook his head.
"I dan't take her with me," he sighed, looking at her. "She distracts me! Still! She will be in the way..."
"Don't leave me!" she cried. "That-That creature... will come back ... 11
He knew she was right. Turning, he clapped his hands twice. He changed her into a sidewalk fire-hydrant.
"You'll be safe .... for a while," he muttered to the redstained object. "I will cause Patrick's blood to protect you! But keep awake! Stay awake!"
And he leaped skyward to seek out Sri Khatvanga.
The fire-hydrant stood very still. The rain fell lightly about it.
Chamba followed the whirlwind. He caught up to it as it changed back into Sri Khatvanga near South Ferry.
"Khatvanga!" he cried.
The other wheeled, frowning, the hairs between his eyebrows agitated, covered and uncovered by folds of flesh. "You fool!" cried the magician, his exhalations shaking the trees in Battery Park, cracking branches off a few of them.
"Khatvanga!" shrieked Chamba, growing in size, towering up in competition with the nearby buildings.
"Leave!" the black guru shouted to the giant figure. "Leave well enough alone!"
"NO!" roared the growing figure, whose voice broke windows everywhere on Wall Street.
The magician shrugged and started to change. He began to grow in size himself. As he did so, he stepped out into the water. He began to wade towards the Statue of Liberty. In the darkness, Chamba lost sight of him. He decided to follow, stepping into the water himself, sending great splashes across lower Manhattan, flooding the subways.
"KHAT..." he cried into the darkness, "VANGA!"
The other moved farther out, outlined against the lights of a passing ferry.
"I see you!" shouted Chamba. "I see you now!"
"Fool!" came the roar, and Chamba saw the shadow and the ferry lights mix. The boat tilted, cars within toppled, people and life-jackets went flying. Screams reached his ears across the water. The boat was turned upside down. It and its lights sank, no longer revealing the whereabouts of the magician.
Chamba squinted his giant eyes, scratched behind his giant ear. He mumbled a mantra and the roof of City Hall cracked and fell in.
The darkness did not clear for his syllables. "An antimantra must be stopping me," he thought.
Chamba waded further into the water, looking this way and that. "Where is he?"
The Statue of Liberty loomed before him. He looked past it. There was darkened Governor's Island. He looked past that.
"There is the Statue of Liberty," he mumbled. Then he paused and stopped to think.
"Again?" he asked himself, and looked back to the left again. "There are two of them! That second one must be .... "
Smiling, he submerged himself down to his mouth and started to bubble magic prayers below the water's surface. The water before him began to boil furiously.
"Ah! AH!" he heard the second Statue of Liberty cry. "HOT! "
It leaped sideways and splashed towards the Verrazano Bridge in the narrows.
"Ah Cha! Chamba! You are clever!" he heard it exclaim as it roared past him.
"Khatvanga! Give up!"
"HA! HA! Hahahah!"
Golden lines of lights marked the bridge. Beyond it, towering now against the sky, quivered the wet form of the giant magician, blotting out the stars. Chamba pulled his strength together.
"HRIM! AH! HUM!"
And prepared for battle.
But then something made him pause. It was a piece of light, fluttering amongst the cables of the Verrazano Bridge, between himself and the black guru.
"What is that? A trick?"
It was alternately thin and rectilinear. It slid down the cable and enlarged itself, hanging from the bridge railings themselves.
"It's a painting!" thought Chamba. "It's the painting of the Buddha that was in the loft...it's caught on the bridge..."
Sri Khatvanga did not seem to see it. It grew larger, flapping from the lower edge of the bridge, glowing brighter and brighter.
"What is it ... What is it doing here? Why is it..."
Growing larger and larger, it became as big as a football field. Its light lit up the entire lower river, casting reflections upon the giant magician standing beyond the cables of the bridge. Sri Khatvanga seemed as puzzled as Chamba.
The wind blew upon the shining Buddha, and he seemed to float off the banner. In fact, something did come forward from it. A cloud of rainbow mists, sparkling and radiant, shot forward toward Chamba. The magician covered his face to avoid looking at it. Chamba braced himself for trouble.
Nothing happened for a while. The cloud hovered and became still. Then it spoke.
"Chamba! You must stop..."
"What ... Who ... are you?" he called up to it, his breath making it curl and somersault within its own cloud-like self.
"I am..." the voice said, more and more obviously female, "...I am..."
And as the two opponents watched, they saw it solidify. In mid-air stood a glowing turquoise figure of a beautiful woman. They both recognized her the moment before she identified herself.
"Meba.I am Meba."
Overcoming his surprise, Chamba snapped, "So what? Leave, so I may kill Khatvanga!"
The figure shook her head sadly.
"No, you cannot...should not do that!"
"He is evil! I will put an end to him... an end to that! "
Meba shook her head sadly.
"Chamba! Listen to me!" she called, her breath putting rippling waves upon the river. "Sri Khatvanga is... almost ... beyond your wrath..."
"ALMOST! Almost isn't good enough!" he answered.
The giant magician smiled in the darkness.
"He performed magic yoga! Austerities for centuries!" Meba called out. "He can only die if..."
"Then he can die... " laughed Chamba. "HA! HA! Hahahah!"
"If ... only," came Meba's voice, "if the world is destroyed! His life is tied to the life of the earth!"
"Backbone of the world," laughed Sri Khatvanga.
"If ... only if the world..." said Meba, who was beginning to dissolve. The form became the cloud, and the cloud became a colored mist. Each of the droplets of that mist rose into the night sky, moving quickly and far away, each going to a separate star in this and other universes.
"...if the world is destroyed."
Chamba was stunned.
Sri Khatvanga laughed from his dark shadow beyond the bridge. The glowing banner painting of the Buddha was now gone.
"What am I going to do?" Chamba asked himself.
"Nothing," said the black guru. "You are going to do nothing."
"Nothing! HA! HA! Hahahah!"
While Chamba was growing in size near Battery Park, the group of Drelhu illusions dissolved. As a consequence, the group of black dogs re-joined into one. Unpursued, the black beast made its way back to the vicinity of the destroyed loft. It sniffed the air, smelling something familiar-Patrick's blood! But there was no corpse and there was no blood-stained Melody. Puzzled, it moved about. Then it saw the red fire-hydrant. Yellow eyes squinted and tried to approach it, but some force prevented that approach. The animal cii;cled about at a distance, studying the form. The light rain had washed down a ring of red about its base. The beast snarled and threw itself forward, only to be thrown back by the unknown force. It sat and decided to wait.
Sobbing sounds came from the hydrant, and the black dog snarled, "I was right! It is the woman... !"
And as the rain washed more of the red downward, the form began to fluctuate and change.
"Ah Cha!" the beast responded, becoming alert itself.
Melody slowly began to appear, still encrusted and stained. She was facing the other way, so the beast was able to make some quick adjustments without being seen. The dog shimmered and wobbled to a two-footed stance. and the illusion of Dolma took its place.
Melody sat, hunched and sobbing, on the curb. looked up and was startled to see the oriental woman.
"You poor woman!" said the illusion of Dolma. "Let me put this coat around you!"
"Y-yes, yes," said Melody, welcoming the warmth of the fabric. Dolma was able to approach and cover her, while helping her to her feet.
"Comewith me," Dolma smiled. "I'll help you."
Melody was dazed and confused, but happy to have help. She nodded and went with the other woman.
The black dog-as-Dolma took Melody to a building which did not exist. It created the mirage of an apartment nearby. If Melody had had her wits about her, she would have realized that they had merely taken three steps and were out of the rain.
"Relax," said Dolma, taking a wet cloth and washing the exhausted young woman. "Relax. I will clean you up in no time..."
"But," Melody half-remembered, "you shouldn't ... you should leave the blood .."
"There, there," said Dolma, trying not to frown or sound impatient. "It will be allright."
The warm cloth and soothing voice began to reassure Melody. She forgot what she was supposed to remember.
"There, there. Doesn't that feel good?"
"What was I supposed to remember?" she thought, slipping into a comfortable drowsiness as the other caressed her softly.
"Everything," said Dolma, "will be just right ... soon!"
"Your hands," smiled the sleepy Melody, "are so ... nice! Keep doing ... that!"
"Yes-s-s," said Dolma.
Then Melody fell asleep for the last time.
The room vanished and Dolma became the black beast once again. Looking down at the sleeping woman, it laughed.
"HA! HA! Hahahah!"
Crack! Crack! Cra.Ca.Rack!
There was fresh blood all over the sidewalk.
Chamba snapped up his head and listened.
He heard the black dog howling! Where was it?
"Where is it?" he asked. He glanced at Sri Khatvanga and then looked away, startled.
"Melody!" he cried, moving quickly.
He changed into a flock of white birds and flew northward.
The birds arrived as quickly as light. They saw the body of Melody with the bloody dog over it. With a unified shriek, they flew down and started to pull and tear at the animal.It hesitated only for an instant, and then changed itself into a counter-flock of black birds. The two groups churned in a turmoil of white and black, becoming grey, white, and black, as the densities changed during the battle.
Dawn was slowly arriving as the birds fought. They used claws and beaks. Then as the light grew, their forms also changed into more ferocious birds. Soon they were a group of flying monsters, part-feather and part-scales. Fire flew with them. But none of the creatures fell. Flames burnt buildings for three square blocks, but the combatants still struggled.
Chamba became a poison cloud and the beast took its own form again. It was immune to the gases, but the living creatures within the radius of half a mile were not.
"Fool!" snarled the dog. "You cannot kill me, either!"
Chamba shrieked and became himself, growing into an iron giant. "But..." he cried, "I can do this!"
The dog began to increase in size, but was not fast enough. The iron Chamba lifted it up and threw it across Manhattan. It crumbled into the United Nations building, bending its inner steel structure. In a stride, Chamba was there, lifting up the beast and dashing it down upon the ground. Lifting a giant iron hand, he struck the dog flatly. He struck it again and again.
"You cannot... " it cried, "kill me..."
"We shall see!" Chamba raged, striking repeatedly, denting the ground into a great crater.
"We shall..." he struck, "We shall ...
"You...!" came the beast's voice faintly.
"See! " laughed Chamba.
The iron hand had driven the dog into the underlying rock foundation of the city. It had driven the beast into the molecules of rock. It was trapped.
Chamba looked up at the morning sun.
"Where is Melody?" he sobbed
Amidst the destruction of Sixth Avenue, he could not find her body. Rage mounted in his breast.
"And if," he cried, "I could find her... I could not bring her back! I could not...!"
In rage, he smashed a nearby building with his iron fist.
"Sri," he whispered.
"KHAT-VANGA-A-A-A!" he shouted.
Flying over the city brought no results. "He is still here! I know it!" And Chamba sent giant lizards to search the city to the south. In their enthusiasm, they licked up taxicabs and policecars.
Chamba returned to southern Manhattan.
"Only one Statue of Liberty," he thought. But he missed the fact that the World Trade Center had three towers.
"Where is he?"
When Chamba's back was turned, the magician reappeared. He tore up the Statue of Liberty to use as a weapon. The black guru's exhalation from the effort caused Chamba to turn. Just then, the statue was thrown as a giant spear.
"Ah Cha!" exclaimed Chamba, ducking and deflecting the missle. It went flying over him, towards the Brooklyn Bridge, where it fell lengthwise amongst its cables. The torch broke loose and fell through the roof of a Civil War vintage bank on the Brooklyn side. "DAMN YOU!" shouted Chamba in quick pursuit. But the magician had vanished again.
Chamba raged and fumed. He grew hot and perspired, gnashing his teeth and clenching his fists.
"He's hiding out as a building somewhere... I'll find him!"
Then he sent an army of four million leeches northward, crawling up the streets and over the buildings.
Chamba located Sri Khatvanga. He had flown ahead of the leeches to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
"Leeches are so slow," he had muttered.
Looking down, he could feel the presence of the magician. "Where is he?"
Unwary commuters were arriving in the early morning. They walked the same streets with the dregs of the nightstalking people who had overlapped into the day.
"Is he in one of those porno movie houses?"
He squinted and scratched behind an ear.
"He is one of the movie houses!" smiled Chamba, baring his teeth in a broad grimace across a mask-like face. "He has transformed himself into an X-rated movie house!"
"So..." he roared, shimmering and shifting in size, "THEN.... !" He lifted a giant boot, half a block long, and started to bring it down. People screamed below in terror.
He crushed it down, splintering and shattering. Glass went flying with metal.
"HA! HA! Hahahah!" he laughed.
"HA! HA! Hahahah!" Sri Khatvanga laughed in return. "You missed! Wrong movie!"
Chamba fumed and stamped with his great boot again.
Chamba stamped again and again.
Now there were explosions of gas-lines erupting, and huge geysers as water-mains broke. Screams continued.
"What about the innocent?" laughed the voice of Sri Khatvanga.
"There are no innocent!" roared Chamba. matter!"
"It does not
As the police and firemen arrived "WheeeWOW WHeeeWOW WheeeWOW!" Sri Khatvanga rose as a column of dust, as tall as Chamba. "Time to end this foolishness," he said.
"Yes, living dust," answered the giant Chamba. Their eyes met. "No more running away." "No more running away."
The black guru hurled a glance at Chamba. It became a ball of fire. Missing, it continued westward. It struck an oil storage tank in New Jersey and started a chain reaction of explosions. Its light made people in Pennsylvania think dawn had come.
Chamba extended his hand and light of great intensity flew from it. Sri Khatvanga deflected it, mirror-like, and it flew to the mid-west of the United States. The heat began a fire which covered sixty-four thousand square acres. Snow in the mountains began to melt.
The black guru grasped Chamba about the waist and struck at his neck. Chamba was still part metal, and great sparks shot off. They flew into the atmosphere, rotated with the spinning earth, and landed in Outer Mongolia. The
grasslands began to burn, one hundred thousand square miles.
"Damn you, Khatvanga!" shouted Chamba.
"Ntra-aa-Ntra-aa!" sang the magician.
They both struggled and staggered, stepping into the ocean. Tidal-waves demolished western Spain.
They shifted weight, from foot to foot, and the growing giants crushed New Brunswick, New Jersey. They shifted again and smashed Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The collossuses began to have their heads in the darkness of space. They pulled apart and frowned.
"You fool..." said the magician.
"I will," sneered Chamba, "kill you..."
"You," squinted the black guru, "cannot!"
"I will!" Chamba stamped his foot. The Rocky Mountains cracked open, with reverberating earthquakes going as far as the polar icecap. Volcanic eruptions almost burnt his foot. Lava-flows began in the Mississippi valley. Fires were burning the entire continent, consuming the air of the world, strangling all living creatures. Glaciers were melting.
Sri Khatvanga looked aghast at all this and pulled away, chanting.
"Eeeeeee! EYE! Eeeeeee!"
"HA-a-a-a-a! HA-a-a-a!" joined in Chamba.
They both leaped into space, to the vicinity of Saturn. Its rings of ice and dust struck them, making them sparkle and shine. They continued to grow.
Chamba threw a moon at the black guru. It missed and fell to the planet's surface, causing great turbulence.
Their eyes locked again as they pulled together with a tight grip upon each other.
"EYE!" shouted Sri Khatvanga. "O-o-oh!"
"HA!! HAP' joined in Chamba.
They both fell towards the sun. Striking asteroids as they fell, their speed increased.
"It won't do any good," laughed the magician, pointing. "The earth still exists!"
Chamba saw that this was true. Furiously, he struck out with his foot and kicked his home planet. It spun out of orbit and began to fall with them towards the flaming orb.
"Chamba!" cried Sri Khatvanga in terror. He had caught on fire. Chamba was burning as well, but he was laughing instead.
CRACK! CRACK CRA-CA-RACKI
The earth came flying past the, splitting into two, like halves of a peach. It vanished into the great blazing orange beneath them.
"Chamba!The dance is over," he said.
Chamba saw the black guru becoming ashey, whiter. For
an instant, he was a white-haired old man.
"Kitemaker!" sobbed Chamba, just before they were engulfed by the great heat.
Great golden lines.
Solid and broken.
Broken and solid.
Chamba-as-the-sun was angry. He was furious. "What have I done?" And he cursed himself completely. The sun became a nova and exploded.
Darkness, and a long period of time.
Meba's voice came and asked, "Chamba, what have you done?" Chamba-as-darkness and Chamba-as-time asked, "Can't we bring it back?"
"But," she continued, "if I think ... if I conceive
"Conceive?" Darkness asked.
"Conceive of... " Meba answered.
"A world?" asked Time.
"A world," she answered.
"One, two, three!"
"Cig, Nyi, Sum!"
"Is it different?"
"Is it the same?"
"It is the same-yet ...
"It is the same..."
"HA! HA! Hahahah!"