He had cut himself on a piece of glass and, watching it, began to worry about infection.
"It looks as if an infection has started..." said Melody.
They were staying at The Snow View Hotel, and Mrs. Mendies, the ex-Canadian owner, said, "You should do something about it before it spreads."
The action which he took was to go to the clinic run by Christian doctors at Jawalakhal. Everyone got a number, and as he waited in the mass of sarii-clad mothers, crying babies, bandaged Nepali men and a few Tibetan men and women, he wondered if he would be exposed to more illness there than what he wished to prevent.
Melody gave up after two hours. "No use our both wasting a day. I'll see you later."
That did not make the wait any easier. He concentrated on flower and stripe designs on clothing close to where he sat. Number fourteen took forever to arrive. Number eight. Number nine.
"What time is it?" a handsome Nepali man asked. He looked up.
"I don't know," and the other immediately ignored him. He, however, did not miss the opportunity to use up minutes by curiously studying the other. The Asian who was concerned with time.
The young man was Nepali physically, but dressed in clothing which was more related to a New York City pimp. He was an amazing sight with black and white shoes, highlyshined, a pastel pink pair of trousers, and a vibrantly-colored striped shirt. His hair was tortured into what appeared to be a high pompadour from some World War II movie--jitterbugger, greaser, or something which was profane, especially in a hospital waiting-room with sad-eyed mothers, blotchy-skinned babies, and loose-skinned, skeletal old men coughing. The young man looked too healthy to be there. Maybe he had venereal disease symptoms. Who knew? But he was a good subject for killing time. Time had to be killed while he waited.
New faces appeared at the doors. Numbers twenty-five to thirty, perhaps? A hunched, long-armed man hopped in behind some dark-eyed weeping women. Who was that? He turned and grinned, revealing a mouthful of teeth, from ear to ear.
Someone called him. "Dorje!" And he turned away and
merged into the mass of waiting patientsin the long corridor.
He did not see him again. But that fact disturbed him and
he did not know why.
"Peculiar looking..." and he almost said "ape" but actually spoke aloud, "....fellow. I could have used up a lot of time with him...Hours and hours."
Days and days.
The hills began to vanish.
The rocks began to vanish.
The snow began to close in.
Everything was blue. The sky was so blue that it hurt his eyes! He blinked and closed them.
Orange and gold coated the inside of his eyelids. They shivered and hovered. They became spots of robin-egg blue. They shimmered and hovered.
He opened his eyes.
Blue. Everything was blue!
The snow covered the rocks. No cracks could be seen. The eyes of the cracks were covered. But the undulations in the snow revealed where they were, where the first melting could open them again. He could not see them, but how thick was the snow?
Where was he? And where was Sri Khatvanga? Nothing was blue any longer. BLUE... LIGHT ... GONE!
"Where is the Black Guru, Geshe-la?" asked Drelhu, hopping from one foot to the other.
The lama nodded into the unlit alleyway of Kathmandu.
"He disappeared again..." he sighed. "I had hoped reason....
"Reason? What would that do.... " squinted the other.
"Reason," sighed the monk, adjusting his robes. "Now we must try prayers..."
"Magic?" whispered the long-armed man. "We .... use magic ... ah!"
"No!" scowled the lama. "I use no magic..."
"Ah, Geshe-la!" whined the other, leaping in front of him and walking backwards as he spoke. "Why not? Let us ... Let you... use magic..."
"I am no magician," said the monk to the flagstones. "I can only pray."
Far ahead of them a square lighted window floated in the air. Its yellow radiance indicated solid reality, a destination, as opposed to the sinking negativity of the
darkness about them.
"There is Dolma's house," grinned Drelhu.
The monk looked up wearily. "I see, Drelhu, I see."
And then he began to smile.
Drelhu saw the smile and thought that it meant that the lama was looking forward to some food and a cup of tea. He was mistaken. It was neither shelter nor food that he contemplated. It was the woman Dolma herself.
Dharma Dorje nodded his head in a peculiar yes/no shake. "Yes," he thought. "Dolma will help me with this KhatvangaChamba crisis. She must help me."
"Hello! Dolma!" called the fidgety man, hopping from foot to foot. Right foot to left foot. Left foot to right foot.
" It is IF Dorje Drelhul and Lama Geshe! Dharma Dorje! Open the door and let ... us''in!"
"Oh, it is you," her head appeared. "I thought you both had died! You've been gone away so long!One moment ... one ...
A black painted triangle, pointing upwards. Within it was a long vertical slit of a hole. The wood in the vicinity, on either side, right and left, was worn of paint by generations of hands leaning and looking into the darkness within. Light entered from three other slits on three other sides of the small square chamber. Dimly within he could see the ring of the yoni pierced by the rearing pillar of the lingam. He smelled stale time taking the form of incense and flowers. He heard crows far overhead. And he thought he heard Drelhu arguing with them.
Where was Sri Khatvanga? He had to find him!
Then he had to tell him! It would be time to tell him!
Running down the dark streets, he stumbled on sudden steps, he splashed in unseen puddles. Once he ran into a man. "AH!" Both were startled in the pitch blackness but continued on their own hurried ways.
He heard the sounds of a growling dog closing in from behind him and cursed, "If I had a weapon! A weapon ...
And, perspiring, he thought, "What good would that do!" and tried to increase his speed.
Behind him came a great savage howl. It mingled with a human scream.
"The man... !" he thought, in relief. "It mistook him for me! "
The sounds of growling and snapping came to him from a distance. As he ran, they became so faint that he thought they were merely sounds in his imagination.
He thought, "No man has died in my place. I have just escaped it. That is all."
Sri Khatvanga was furious.
"He has learned more than I thought! I must truly kill him now ... not out of pride, but necessity!"
"It is too early," said Drelhu. "It is too late..." said the lama. "This could end it all," he said.
"Chamba," said Dolma.
"I am not Chamba," he said. "I am ......
"Chamba..." she said, holding up the baby, chubby and gurgling. He looked with distaste at the child, with its dribbling nose.
"This is your baby son, " she said.
"Dammit!" he exploded. "I'm not Chamba and that's not my baby.. "
"Oh," she wrinkled her forehead. "You are his father......"
He scowled and gnashed his teeth. "I'm not Chamba... and I'm not his father...."
The baby smiled and Dolma smirked, holding the infant out to him. "In fact..." he said, thrusting out one hot hand, index finger touching his thumb, the palm facing Dolma,
"There is..." the lines moved in his chest, "no," and into his arm and out of his hand! "Baby!"
The baby vanished.
He stared in disbelief and shock. "What..." he said.
"Look!" she wailed. "See! What you have done!"
"I didn't do anything! How could I ... ?" he asked incredulously.
"You have killed our baby!" And Dolma's sharp fingernails tore at his face, her weight pushing him back.
"Stop!" he yelled, closing his eyes, thrusting out his hands. "Stop!"
Suddenly she was not attacking. She was gone.
The room was empty.
He touched the bloody scratches on his face. They stopped bleeding. Then the scratches vanished.
"What ... what..." he said, shaking and shivering.
"Chamba," said a voice.
Without thinking, he turned. Dorje Drelhu stood in the doorway. The lama was behind him.
"A trick," he said. "You're tricking me ...
"No, not at all," said Dharma Dorje. "We're doing nothing...."
"What ... What's going on?" he,,stammered, staring at the place where Dolma and the child had been.
They did not answer, but sat cross-legged on the floor near him.
"Sit down," he was told. He did so without questioning.
"You've got to admit it" said the lama.
"Admit what? I'm not anyone's father"
"No, no," said the lama. "That you're"
Drelhu hopped and interrupted. "You may have been," he laughed, "everyone's father"
He gave him a sharp glance.
" in previous lives EVERYONE'S There's been enough time EONS of time! Everyone's father"
"Dammit Drelhu!" he cursed.
"Be still, Drelhu," said the monk.
"We have other matters of more importance."
He sat, unbelieving.
"Listen," continued the monk. "You've got to remember."
"What?" he asked, dazed, holding his head.
"Hell, that's just a name you gave me!" fiercely flinging his right hand out in a gesture of rejection.
"Yes and no," said Drelhu, grimacing and scratching.
"Same name many lives!"
"I don't believe that stuff"
"You must" started Drelhu.
"Wait a moment," said the lama. "Wait a moment."
An uncomfortable silence fell. The lama broke it.
"It doesn't make any difference"
"Yeah," he muttered.
"I mean, it doesn't make any difference if you believe it or not... "
"Oh?" said Drelhu, now puzzled.
"Hmmm," he said, watching the monk's grey-green eyes.
"Someone believes it. And they are going to cause you trouble, true or not!"
He watched and listened.
"A new approach," he smiled.
"Logical," smiled the monk, waving his hands palm upwards. "You must act as if it were true ... for then you can anticipate them and protect yourself..."
"Slick move, Geshe-la, if I do say so ... " He shook his head.
. You must be on your guard. It is dangerous..."
"Miere's the woman Dolma? Where'd the baby go?" he frowned.
"They never existed," said Drelhu.
The lama glared at him. "Yes they did. Yes and no. But they are now gone."
He was even more mystified, looking about the empty room. "Okay. If I'm Chamba ... or someone thinks that I am who am I to be afraid of? Who's after me?"
The lama stroked his wispy beard.
"Well?" "Well ... you must know! Remember?"
"No, dammit! Who?"
"You said they .... who else?"
"Dolma," whispered the monk.
He was more puzzled than ever. If Dolma did not exist or at least had stopped existing, what did he have to be concerned about in that direction?
"Dolma is dead?" he gently asked. The monk and Drelhu exchanged glances.
"Yes..." said Drelhu.
"No," said Dharma Dorje.
"Oh... I don't get it! Unless the two of you are trying to play games with me! Is she ... or isn't she?"
The lama spoke, pulling on his left earlobe. "You should consider her alive."
Drelhu almost spoke, but was quieted by a sharp look from the monk.
"Hmmm. Well, that'll be easier than having to worry about ghosts. But before..."
"Yes. The baby and Dolma both vanished. How ... What-?" He did not know how to continue.
"Did one of you hypnotize me? Was she an illusion? How she...."
"Too fast, too fast," said Dharma Dorje.
"No hypnotism!" said Drelhu, grinning, shifting from foot to foot. "And yes she was an illusion."
"But she scratched my face-blood... it hurt!"
The lama stood up, looking out the doorway. He turned. "She was no illusion...it was real blood... "
"Illusion! Illusion!" Drelhu grimaced, speaking almost too loudly, certainly too disrespectfully.
The lama was surprised but said nothing. Drelhu continued. "Geshe-la has told me many times ... Everything is an illusion-all things are..."
"As if..." said the lama patiently. "They are like an illusion, made by..."
A sudden silence. No one finished the sentence, although they all waited for one of the others to do so.
Since it never happened, he asked, "Who is Sri Khatvanga?"
"A magician whispered Drelhu. The lama looked
elsewhere and seemed to be tasting his own lower lip.
"A magician," repeated Drelhu. "Long dead ... very dead..."
He raised his eyebrows and caused forehead wrinkles.
"Dead?" he asked them both.
"He has become ancient dust..." said Drelhu.
"And..." he looked at the lama, whose grey-green eyes were already speaking.
"You," he said softly, "should consider him as being alive."
There were no more words that evening. There were no more words the next morning. At noon, he asked again.
And he received the same answer.
"Dust," said Drelhu. "Living dust."
Recognition struck him like a thunderbolt. The house!
The lock! He had opened it! Now it ...he....
"Oh, my God!" he muttered.
Drelhu did not understand. "No, no, Chamba. Not your God, your Guru! Sri Khatvanga was your teacher! Long, long ago!"
This information this statement-made him very angry. It reached deep into his bones, it sank hotly into his teeth, causing his lips to tighten and grow cold. His eyes began to ache and he felt them bulging, shifting focus--far off, nearby. A relative of dread ran with his anger, charging the tips of all the hair on his body.
"Yes," whispered the lama.
"Wants to kill me? The living dust?"
Yes," even quieter.
Thunder ran through his cheekbones, lightning fell deepwithin his skull, connecting his head to his spine, rippling and shimmering out into his body. The branches of that light were fire-dragons, fossil trees--every bone in his being.
"I shall kill him first"
"He cannot be destroyed" someone said.
"I shall..." he wearily repeated.
"You have no weapons..." the voice said. Drelhu? Dharma Dorje? They sounded alike again.
"I shall..." and he felt energy draining, as if all of his blood was pouring out of his body, through his open hands, off his outstretched fingers.
"Oh! I am so...."
He staggered and fell into a heap.
The lama looked down at him. "Khatvanga will kill him..."
"No, never!" shouted Drelhu, all agitated. "I will not allow it!"
The lama smiled sadly and looked at the monkey man.
"You? What can you do?"
"I will teach Chamba!" He squatted down next to the unconscious body of the man.
"Ha ha hahahah!" laughed the monk, holding his sides. "Forgive me. But...Ha ha hahahah! What do you know?"
"Magic! Magic weapons!" snarled Drelhu, baring his white teeth, wrinkling his nose.
Dharma Dorje controlled his laughter. "Magic? And where did you learn magic?"
"Oh, Master!" said Drelhu, putting his palms together and bowing. "You taught me magic ......
The lama continued to smile and to shake his head.
"Impossible, for I don't know any..."
Drelhu pursed his lips and squinted, red-eyed. "It is very secret, Geshe-la! You taught me in a secret way... "
"How?" the doubting lama continued.
"Secret! Secret!" laughed the other, jumping from foot to foot, scratching one ear and then another. "It can not be said aloud! You never said it aloud so I cannot."
The lama frowned, studying his friend.
"How then did you learn it?"
"I listened carefully! I smelled it! I tasted it!"
The lama was no longer smiling.
"But most of allI saw it!"
Dharma Dorje was silent.
"And most of all" Drelhu laughed. "Most of all comes twice!"
The lama frowned.
"Most of all," grimaced the other, "I Just did it!"
"Show me an example" said the lama.
"Is there danger now?"
"No But show me a sample"
"Oh, Geshe-lal" whimpered Drelhu, hunching up his shoulders and intertwining his fingers in a gesture of supplication. "I cannot show off! I would lose powers! I must not obey you this time!"
The lama was startled. The monkey-man knew something! He had in his book-reading, secret-gesture-reading, discovered something! The lama was completely flabberghasted.
"Now we both know how to wield the forces" chuckled Drelhu.
The lama felt tired. He glanced at Drelhu. "Speak for yourself. I know no magic..."
Drelhu grinned and looking at the tip of his own nose, scratched it. "As Geshe-la says. If Geshe-la does not want to reveal-anything... I will not let anyone know. Ha ha hahahah."
But the monk did not laugh.
As the afternoon sun descended, a dark pyramid of a shadow moved up the white wall of the gompa.
A dog was howling, first in the south, then in the north.
Around and around.
Closer and closer.
He could not make out the village. The rain came down like a blud...like a bludgeon! Oh! It hurt him!
It was some time after Dolma had let them into the house before Dharma Dorje spoke his mind. He had waited patiently as the high-cheeked woman had breast-fed her baby. He watched the happy baby, observed her full breasts, saturated with milk. The baby had fallen asleep in her
arms, mouth near one nipple and little hand playing with the other. Dolma looked at the monk, smiling serenely.
"What is it, Geshe-la? You have something to say?"
"Yes," he hesitated. She was all eyes, dark and moist.
"What is it?"
The lama looked across at Drelhu, but he was staring out into the dark streets, as if on guard.
"Ah," he said, preparing himself, adjusting his robes. "This concerns Chamba. "
She was putting down the sleeping baby, all smiles
vanished. "Chamba is dead. He has been dead for months .... "
"Yes. Poor Chamba," said the lama.
Drelhu turned to look at them, but returned his watchful eyes to the street without saying anything. He was very quiet for Drelhu.
"Ah," she sighed. "He never saw his son! He fell into the river before ..."
"He did not fall!" interjected Drelhu. The lama caught his attention and he stopped talking.
Dolma was startled. "Was he pushed?"
"He was not pushed either," said the lama.
"But, but..." she broke off, looking from the monk to the baby and back again.
"Never mind that," continued Dharma Dorje. "There is something to be done."
She looked at her hands in her lap, right palm up upon left. "What is there to be done now! It is too late... "
"Not too late," said the monk. "Not yet ..."
She did not answer, but sat staring with unblinking eyes at his grey-green eyes. He finally spoke.
"Sri Khatvanga wishes to bring him back to life!"
Air escaped her lips and she smiled. "OH! How wonderf ul! That is such good news! The baby..."
"No!" cut in the monk. "You do not understand! It is terrible!"
This silenced the perplexed woman, who turned to stare at the baby now.
"The black guru just wants ... just wants ... " The lama could not speak.
"Magic," said Drelhu, as if to himself, nostrils twitching at some smell rising from the dark city.
"To use..." continued the lama, "Chamba..."
A puzzled expression moved upon Dolma's face. "But he would be alive...."
"Perhaps," said the lama. "Yes and no..."
"And not for long," muttered the monkey man at the window.
"Oh, but to have him for a moment..." she started.
"You would not have him at all! Not for a moment!" said the lama.
"But Geshe-la! I ... he-the baby boy!" Her eyes were full of moisture, gathering on the lashes, about to overflow.
The lama clasped his left fist with his right hand. "You must forget that... it is finished!"
"But now when you said that he ... could be brought back to life... !"
The lama shook his head. "An illusion, an illusion! Put no hope in that! But we must do something...
"Something?" she asked numbly.
"Yes, to stop Sri Khatvanga from doing it!"
Three lines appeared on her forehead, joined by sadness on her face, "...to stop ... him... ?"
"Yes," said the monk, relaxing his hands, placing one upon his right knee and one upon his left knee. "Sri Khatvanga must be stopped! He is already too dangerous ... too evil ... for everyone in the world!"
Dolma was surprised by the monk's agitation. "What are you going to do?" she asked, almost disinterestedly now.
"I? Nothing," answered Dharma Dorje. "There is nothing which I can do."
"Then?" she hesitated to ask.
The lama did not speak, but moved his finger on his knee, making little patterns. Drelhu spoke. "You, Dolma, will have to do it!"
Melody crossed the subway station platform. She had just left an express train and was walking towards the local side of the platform. He was startled to see her. She looked fresh and younger than he remembered. He stood still as she walked directly towards him. He waited for the moment of recognition. She looked directly into his eyes, but there was not a bit of light, not a glimmer of memory. Before she passed, he muttered, "Melody."
She stopped and looked at him directly, puzzled.
"Do I know you?" she asked.
He was shocked, having images of her body intertwined with his in New York, in Srinagar, and in Khatmandu.
"Yes," he said hoarsely, surprised -b~ the genuine lack of recognition displayed on the soft face before him. "I...my name is..."
"Sorry," she said frowning. "I don't recall ... You've made a mistake." She started to turn away and he reached out gently to touch her elbow.
"We ... we were...lovers," he said.
Her reaction was immediate. She pulled away from him and clenched her fists at her side, clutching her shoulderstrap purse tightly against her body with her arm.
"Move off buddy! You weirdo!"
He heard the rumble deep in the tunnel of the approaching subway train. It almost sounded like a dog.
"But..." he started.
"Leave me alone!" she said loudly, attracting the attention of other waiting passengers. The train came screeching in, drowning out her further words. He could see her lips moving, but the noise! The great growling and screeching!
He stood speechless, watching in disbelief as she quickly boarded the train, not looking back at all. He saw her face as the cars pulled away. She was frightened and relieved to have gotten away from him. But worse. He could recognize the other quality too easily. She really did not know who he was.
It was late. Two or three in the morning. And it was cold.
He sat in the waiting room at Penn Station, waiting. There were a few passengers waiting, alone or with others, for trains to go south, west, or north. He was not waiting for any of these.
Maintenance crews were sweeping and then mopping amongst and past the seated people, the empty seats. Wraithes inthe form of bums or would-be bums appeared from around corners. Some of these were battered, with swollen eyes. Some staggered in patterns, precise and random, across the large spaces. One was going from chair to
chair, babbling something, and sometimes getting cigarettes. This barefooted man approached him, smiling as if in recognition, a sure mark. This one! He will give me...
"Buddy!" he said. It was English. It was not Hindi, nor Urdu, nor Nepali, as he half-expected. His face was white-stubbled against a deep leather color, but he was caucasian. "Buddy, gimmee..." pleasantly.
He looked up, cold eyes looking.
"No." The other started and frowned.
"Hey!" he said, grimacing with a mouth almost empty of teeth, full of saliva. "Don't get nasty!" waving his hands to the right and left of his body, almost losing his balance. "I need... I want ... and... " glaring with red squinting eyes, all watery. "You're gonna give me ... or...
The cold eyes did not register upon the toothless man. The sound of a soft hiss from the seated man did. He paused, swaying. That stopped when the other suddenly reached out with his right index finger and softly touched him on his forehead. He became completely motionless, staring into space.
He left him like that.
At the stairs., he met the young girl. At first he thought she was a man, a midget. She had strangely swollen looking features and twitched. He wondered if it were a mannerism or an act.
"Mister," she said huskily. "Yah wanna do sometin?"
"What do you mean?" he asked, staring at her.
"Go somewhere?" Half-smirk, half-sneer.
"How old are you?"
She paused and shrugged, pursing her lips, shrugging her shoulders. "Ah dunno. How old wood-ya like me ta-bee?"
He smiled, laughing at her to himself. Transparent, he thought. This may be what he was looking for.
"Fourteen," he said, staring at the distorted little
"Jush right!" she chuckled. "Egg-zactly whal Ah am!"
"Allright," he said.
She squinted at him. "Fallah mee...."
They left the station. It was even colder outside. As they went down the block, he looked about.
"Where is Sri Khatvanga? He must be here!
The girl moved quickly ahead of him, putting space between them.
"Wait a minute," he said, fearing that she would get away.
Suddenly a figure stepped into his path, separating them. It was a large dark man. He put one huge palm up and spoke.
"What's yer rush, man?"
It was no one that he knew.
Impatiently, he said, "Get out of my way."
The other popped white eyes at him and smiled. He tried to look around him to see where the girl was going. But she was gone.
A long blade suddenly entered the conversation.
"Din-nint yah heah mee?" smiled the man, pointing it at his throat.
He paused. The other smiled.
"Less have yer mon-nee, man!"
But what he got was a quick foot in the stomach, hurling him back breathlessly onto the pavement.
"The hell with you!" he said. But before he could do anything else, a pair of arms caught him around the middle almost lifting him from the sidewalk. His arms were pinned helplessly against his sides.
"You sons of bitches!" he yelled. "Let go-before it's too late!"
The man with the knife got up in a rage. "It's already too late-fer you!" plunging at his chest with the knife.
His cold eyes moved.
The knife did not hit its intended target. He was suddenly gone. The other man was holding an armful of emptiness. The shock of the event did not last long for him, for the moving blade struck him full in the chest and deep into his heart. His eyes were open in disbelief as he fell. The other, caught in the xtion, held onto the knife until his friend was almost to the sidewalk. Then, gasping in terror, he screamed, falling to the ground, whining like a true bitch's son. Shivering and shaking, he crawled, low against the cold cement. He whined and whimpered until he was out of sight.
"Ha ha hahahah," came laughter. "You stupid fools!"
The voice was not Drelhu's. The voice was not Dharma Dorje's.
"What is it that you have for me?" asked Sri Khatvanga.
Dolma opened her robe, revealing her full breasts, without saying anything.
The black guru smiled, looking down at the woodgrain in the floor planking. "And what is the reason for this? Do you know me?" he asked. She stammered, "wish to know you. I Will give. .. "
"I will take?" he asked, stroking his dark beard, eyeing her waist, the tight navel, the hint of dark luxurious hair.
"Yes, yes," she said, shivering, her hands tightly clenched on the edges of the robe, opening it more, bit by bit.
. Why?" he frowned, dark vertical wrinkles between his bushy eyebrows. "What is the purpose of this... ah..." he smiled, licking his lips, "...gift?"
"Chamba," she whispered.
He looked to the right and left, spun on his heel and
looked at the closed door behind him and then whispered hoarsely, "Chamba is dead."
"I ... I ... know... " she said, dropping the robe to the floor.
His eyes traced the left edge of her torso. He said nothing.
"But," she said, trembling, "you can bring him... back..."
"Back?" smiled Sri Khatvanga, studying the tiny folds of her navel, which seemed to be gathering moisture. "What do you mean?"
"...to life!! Bring him back to life!" she exclaimed.
"You want me to bring him back to life?" he asked, stepping forward and holding her by both shouders at arm's length. His nostrils flared and his lips turned into a sneer. Foolish woman!
"Yes!" she exclaimed, confusedly. "Yes! I want him back! The lama sent me to..."
The black guru dropped his hands and stepped back angrily. "Dharma Dorje? He sent you?"
"Oh but..." she pleaded. "He wants to stop you. I agreed to help him ... but..."
"You agreed to help him?" he sneered, looking at her nude body. "Now you've changed your mind?"
"Y-yes," she stuttered. "I need-want..."
"Chamba?" he asked.
"Yes. I don't care about what Geshe-la said...
She looked at the floor. Sri Khatvanga frowned. "This is for Chamba?" he asked. She nodded, saying nothing. "Anything?" he glared at her. "You will obey me in anything that I wish?"
"Anything," she said.
He clenched his teeth tightly and shook his head. "Well, you do give me an... idea," he said. "Sit down." He indicated a platform. She obeyed, about to recline fully.
"No," he said. "Sit!"
He kneeled in front of her, reaching up to grab a full breast in either hand. "Whatever?" he asked, looking into her frightened eyes.
"W-whatever you w-wish," she said. "Anything that I have..."
"So," he mumbled as he drew his mouth to one of the breasts. "The lama sent you?"
"But-oh!" she reacted, tensing her body. "I ... changed ... oh! ... my ... oh!..."
He lifted his lips from her. "He thought that you could," he smiled, "weaken me?"
"I don't know what..." she started to reply when suddenly he was again at a nipple. "...oh!"
She was beginning to respond to his lips. She felt the milk moving. He smiled and pulled his head away.
"The lama is wrong. He made a mistake. I will not stop...."
"Oh!" she said, looking at his dark face. "But ... I... don't want you to stop-Chamba..."
"Chamba!" he snapped, glaring at her. The eyes tore at her. Air escaped her lungs, and she fell back. She was dead.
"Foolish woman," he said, looking down at her breasts. He moved, leaned forward, and drank again while the body was still warm.
"Geshe-la! Look!" exclaimed Drelhu, pointing. "What is it?" "The baby!" said the monkey man. "Where is it?" asked the monk,, puzzled. Drelhu popped his eyes, sniffed the air and looked to and fro. "That's it! That's what I mean! It is gone!" "Gone?" "I saw it! I saw it vanish!" "Vanish?" "Yes! In a burst of red light! Oh! Oh! What does it mean?"
The monk looked at the floor for a long time. F1 it means," he said at last, "that Dolma is dead. The baby is dead."
"We failed..." whispered the lama.
In the darkness shone the yellow eyes of the dog. It came into the light of the room in response to its master's call.
"Hmmm," said the dark-eyed man when he saw the dog sniff and the body. "Are you interested?"
The animal made a soft growl. The man laughed.
"Later," he said. "First we must use..."
The man tore at the body of the woman with his teeth. The animal tore at the body of the baby.
In the morning, when they were finished, Sri Khatvanga said one word.
The head of the dark dog began to change. Its fur grew longer and began to appear as long hair. Suddenly it stood up on its hind legs, swaying to and fro. Sri Khatvanga encouraged it with strange words.
"Kha! Nga! Da, la, la, la!"
The dog shimmered and grew tall as a person, legs forming and hands forming in the vacillating image of itself. Fuller here, thinner there. Its tail shrank and vanished.
"Ah!" said the black guru. The image stabilized itself.
"Can you speak?"
"Yes," it answered.
"Good!" laughed the magician, who then pointed to the bed. "Pick that up!"
It did. Dolma picked up the baby and held it to her breast.
"Ha ha hahahah!" laughed the man.
"Ha ha hahahah!" laughed the woman.
The baby gurgled.
He walked towards the unseen village. Rain continued to fall. It seemed to have been falling for eternities. Pebbles tumbled and fell past him. The mud underfoot began to slide. The mountain itself seemed to begin to slide. "No," he said. "No! Don't collapse!"
Long white clouds strayed above him in horizontal streaks. He wondered where he was. How long had he slept? Where were the others?