"Yet .... Yet .... "
In the right hand were golden lines which meant the sun.
In the left hand were golden lines which meant the moon.
He understood that but he did not know why.
Just as others meant the horizontal sweeping rainclouds over the broad river before the gorge, before the turmoil beyond rapids. The marks of the rockslides ran across his body. The torrents of falling waterfalls, tumbling mudfalls, ran through his mind. There was little place for his feet to stand. Except for golden footprints where someone had built bridges, fragile as they were. Golden footprints across the mist-shrouded abyss. The bridge could only carry one.
"Yet ... Yet ... "
The knowledge of who had been attacked and torn by the creature came to him slowly. But it was least important of what he seemed to learn, or seemed to remember. That identity was no treasure to hoarde. In fact, it was no treasure to spend or give away either. There was no value attached to it. The exchange rate was zero. There was too much, too little of it. The moving colors, molten gold, within him was another matter. He had to wrestle with that. But it was beyond him. All he discovered was who he had been. What his name had been and his identity. Nothing important.
And the lines moved as solid lightning and broken lightnings.
Yet in their movements he found questions in their answers.
mountain over a swamp.
mountain above a thunderstorm.
Golden shimmering mountain, swamp and thunderstorm.
Moonlight mixed within! flowing out of sunshine.
"Where is Geshe-la?" he asked Dorje Drelhu impatiently.
"Hmmm?" the other said, looking up from a long thin manuscript which he held horizontally across his lap.
"Geshe Dharma Dorje," he emphasized irritably.
"Geshe Dharma Dorje-LA," laughed the fuzzy-eared mask.
He frowned at the other in response. "You know what mean..."
"Of course," said the other, looking back at the small bundle of Tibetan pages. "But you know what I mean also."
"Well?" the red-rimmed eyes returned.
"Where he emphasized "is," slowly, "Geshe Dharma Dorje-LA?"
"He is not here," the other replied, placing the pages upon a square of cloth, folding one corner over after another, and when the pages had been wrapped, closing them with the binding ribbons over the middle. He touched the package to his forehead, and jumped effortlessly to his feet.
"Where is ......
Dorje Drelhu returned the manuscript to a shelf with others, their labeled portions aiming into the room. Then he gave the other his complete attention.
"Just because you I ve remembered who you are is no reason to expect him to come running..."
"How-How did you know?"
Dorje Drelhu looked at the floor and shifted his weight. "Obvious. Obvious. Your manner changed completely..
"What do you..." in surprise.
"You disconnected yourself from the room. You were fidgetyfidgety... scowling.... calm and then noisy in your movements...."
"I didn't tell you...."
"Needless to tell me," answered the red eyes, staring into his own.
"To observe you was tiresome. You ate energy in the room. You were a drain on the light. It was obvious..." he turned his back and reaching up, touched the label on one of the manuscripts, "that your identity was foremost in your mind. Too bad."
Silence suddenly claimed the air. Dorje froze with his fingers touching. It is difficult to say how long this lasted. When the sounds of rocks striking rocks came up from the village, the suspended moment ended.
"Lucky," said Dorje, staring past him out the window, "that the scriptures were here to stop the loss of virtue."
That puzzled him, but his annoyance at being anticipated in the matter of his remembering his identity swept past that. It claimed the center of the stage.
"Aren't you curious?"
"Not particularly. If you mean that past person that you remember."
His jaw muscles tightened. "Not the past person! Me. Now!"
Dorje scratched his ear and smiled, almost too sympathetically. "The one who had not met a Yeti is here?"
"The continuation of that person is!" he blurted.
Dorje seemed to hunch down, swiAng his arms, and then slapped his thighs. "Ha Ha Hahahah. You ... haha...do not understand, do you!"
The fury that rose up his body and into his face was swift. But his eyes blinked. Neither fury nor eyes were fast enough to see Dorje leave. He seemed to vanish into thin air.
There were only the sounds of stones striking stones in the village, down below somewhere, completely unseen.
Dorje Drelhu was gone, and he was standing in the room alone.
The lama moved his index finger in strange little patterns on his own right knee.
"I remember the past," he tentatively started.
"How much of it?" was the reply, without looking up.
"All of it!" He took courage.
Thegrey-green eyes looked up, surprised.
"Back to my childhood" he began.
Geshe Dharma Dorje smiled, sniffed and pursed his lips, as if to cover the smile. "That is not very much .... It goes back much further...."
"In your beliefs...but..." he could not continue, for he did not want this man to smile at his words again. He was too unsure for that.
"In reality," said the monk, "the past goes back very very far."
"I remember who I am!" he insisted.
"Good," the lama's nostrils tightened. The lips did not move. The eyes stared through him, while the finger traced patterns busily.
"I have not been very good..." he started, and then continued, "...not a good person..." not knowing why he said it.
The lama looked at the fingernails of his left hand.
"...I have done some .... bad things..."
Dharma Dorje looked at him with deep sadness.
"I have been greedy and.. . "
"The yeti..." the monk whispered.
"What has the yeti got to do with it?" he snapped, surprised at himself.
"The yeti has taken care of much of that evil...."
His lips tightened, and he felt blood drain from them. "The yeti did nothing for me! He attacked me ... he tore me ... I tried to get away..." Perspiration flooded his body.
The lama sat quietly and watched the man put up his hands while his entire body shook. His eyes were far away. They were in the Himalayan night, seeing torches coming. But too slowly!
"Those villagers! If they had come sooner!" he cried out.
The lama was silent, watching.
"The yeti ... did not help me," he now screamed. He killed me!"
"Killed you?" asked the whisper.
"Ah. No!" shaking his head to and fro violently, at last covering his face with his hands. "It was a bear! A bear! And you ......
"It was a yeti..." came the whisper, with stones striking stones. "And he...."
"Killed me?" he asked, sobbing "Killed you," came the answer. "But do not worry. It is not important now."
The moon rose. It reached above the upward-pointing triangles. It slanted amongst the rocks, passing the five sunrises, the five circles of orange that burnt with the aloneness of winter. Up. Above, the look down, the look downs below.
In the darkness he was angry. He stared up at the darkness, eyes wide. What had happened? Why was he such a fool? What was all that about with Dharma Dorje? It was needless and stupid. He had revealed too much. And he had been a hysterical idiot.
Perhaps it was part of the aftershock of the wounds. The lama had, after all, taken care of him. He was no enemy.
But had he? Had he really done anything? If he was cured of wounds ... where were the scars? If... if it really had happened, why wasn't he dead? Really dead, instead of all this dead and alive talk. Even if it were a bear. A bear would have destroyed him with one hug, with one raking of his claws. But instead of destruction he had these mental golden lines. Instead of scars, he had these almost invisible ... invisible ... pine-needles ....
The pine forest was receding further and further to the south with the woodcutters pushing its edge back. They were after lumber and fuel. The trees held the mountains together. Without them... In the monsoons, the rains came. Now and then they came. Sometimes the torrents cried down the hills, wept them into chocolate rivers full of rocks and mica. The paths were waterfalls, the waterfalls highways of mud. Where were the trees? The greatest mountains in the world were falling, falling to the woodcutter's axe.
He shook his head in the dark. There were colors. Purples and blues that circled around each other slowly, falling into each other. He lifted his hand to see if in the darkness whether or not it would hide the colors. Instead, he saw the golden glow on it. The pine-needle patterns shifted at the sharp intake of his breath. Then they changed, six golden lines, one above another.
"Father," he said. "Father in heaven!
Drelhu was striking a flint to start a fire. Its spark caught the few shavings that acted as tinder and soon he was blowing hard. He puffed and blew. Smoke and flame exchanged places. He was compact and all balled up as he squatted, tending the baby fire.
"Drelhu. . . " he said.
Red eyes looked up, and quickly back at the flames. "Yes?" he said, without looking.
"What does Chamba mean?"
"It is a name, that is all," puffing and adding a thin piece of wood.
"Isn't that the name of a future Buddha?"
"Future Buddha?" Red eyes laughed directly through him.
,, Yes," he hesitated, "a Buddha not yet come."
"Of course, of course," turning to the flames. "Everyone will eventually ... event ... tually-be a Buddha, so therefore..."
"No. I mean the one called Maitreya!"
"Maitreya....Oh!" And his eyes grew large as he put his two palms together. "He is future Buddha! Ah yes!"
"And am" He hesitated.
Eyebrows raised first. Then Drelhu jumped to his feet, waving his arms at the smoke.
"Ha ha hahahah. No no. You are not MAITREYA! You are not that future Buddha ......
He was irritated by this response. Not because he believed, or wanted to believe, but because of the amusement in Drelhu's response. It stung. Doubly, for he had thought he was beginning to figure out what they were about with him. Now it seemed....
It seemed. "Why not?" he snapped. Drelhu stood still with his hands on his hips, shoulders hunched. "Because of the yeti!"
"Yeti? You mean the bear?" He frowned, half-looking through the wall in his mind's eye, half-seeing the perfect darkness of that night. "What has that got to do with it?"
"Yeti was not comfortable?" Drelhu asked, hesitantly, eyes all whiteness it seemed. It seemed.
"Yeti not comfortable!" he exclaimed. "What about me?"
"That is what I mean, really mean." Drelhu squinted, shifted his weight three or four times, sniffed audibly. "He hurt you?"
"Hurt! Hurt is...." he started loudly, and slowly sank to a whisper, memorizing the grain in the wooden floor planking, "...hardly the word. There is no .... word."
"Yes-s-s," hissed Drelhu, putting a container of water on the fire. "That is-s-s what I mean. Future Buddha, Maitreya Buddha, will not sorrow such ... hurt ... He will not go through austerities required of some ... others. He.... "
"Never mind." He turned to look down at the village. It was quiet. The sight of the village disturbed him. What was it? The disturbance rippled into and out of the farmed land. It rippled up to him and backwards into the few village buildings.
That was it! And the tilled soil! That was it!
But he couldn't believe it.
"I'm sure. I'm not wrong," he said aloud.
"Who said you were wrong?" asked Drelhu. "No one said you were wrong."
"I mean," he said, staring at the other, "the village ....
"It is smaller. And the farms are, also!"
"Smaller village?" hopped Drelhu from foot to foot, scratching his ears, squinting. "How could that be! Are the people smaller too? How would they get into their houses?"
He tightened his lips and then, through clenched teeth, "There are fewer buildings! There are half as many as there had been!"
"And there is less cultivated soil!" His fists clenched and unclenched. Drelhu's face relaxed and became so quiet that he could hardly recognize it.
"You are mistaken, he whispered, turned, and walked towards the door.
"Yes?" still with the same calmness which had now entered his voice, all unrecognizable.
"When can I leave this room?"
A cloud-like mist was between them. Drelhu did not answer directly.
In the past, for such a question he had heardf "You are too weak to leave this room."
Now he heard, "You must not leave this room. It is not permitted."
A sense of panic struck him. He thought of the village. "How long have I been here?"
Drelhu sniffed and smiled. "All of your life, as you know."
The panic caught his breath. He recovered.
"Who are you?"
A broad smile full of white teeth, joined with a pair of blinking eyes. "I am Dorje Drelhu, the man made from a monkey! And you, you are Dorje Chamba, the man made from a broken corpse. As you well know!"
And with that. he vanished through the doorway.
"Fool. He's just playing the fool!"
He saw Drelhu hopping, half hunched, down to the village. He paused a moment and looked back, up at the window. A wide smile full of teeth on the flat mask of a face. Drelhu waved awkwardly and vanished into a doorway He did not emerge for a long time.
"Why should I believe him?"
When he did come out, he was carrying something, pressed to his chest. It was difficult to see what it was. His progress up the steep path was faster than his descent. Immediately he was at the door and in the room.
"Chamba!" he exclaimed, laughing as he burst in.
The other did not wish to answer to the name, but relented. "Yes," softly.
"Today is a special day! I have special tea...Nice.."
And he watched as the grinning man unwrapped his tea package.
"What is so special?" He hesitated to ask, for the other might as easily be a madman as a fool or clown. And madmen trigger easily sometimes.
"Today you know. I told you!" fixing tea.
"Why, we are brothers! Lama Dharma Dorje is our father...."
He knew what the other was driving at, but was not anxious for him to contikue,further.
"He brought you to life," ear-scratch, "after a few magical repairs and minor--haha--adjustments ... changes ... haha...." Red eye squint, loud sniff of the nostrils. "And he made me a man...out of a ... MONKEY! Wonderful! We are brothers ... only with two different magical .... ah.. mothers .... ah!"
He turned away. "We shall have special ... nice..good .... tea...."
He watched the other's broad shoulders move and his hairy hands work.
The village was smaller. Today, there was one less house. The fields seemed to shrink correspondingly. He saw no one walking about anywhere.
But was he sure? Perhaps he had considered the twostoried house with its wing as two. But the fields? Maybe they harvested some of the grain so the crops seemed narrower? What else could it be? He had to be mistaken.
He looked at the wrinkle patterns on his hands., but they did not move. Nothing moved anywhere. It was quiet both in the higher altitudes and in the depths.
"Where is Geshe Dharma Dorje-la?" he asked Drelhu, who was suddenly in the room.
"He is praying. He is doing his work."
He watched Drelhu's eyes searching him, up and down his body. He looked away, down at the village. It was smaller. "It seems to be smaller," he corrected himself.
"Chamba!" Drelhu's voice called. He turned quickly, but the other was not in the room.
"How long have I been here?" he thought to himself.
"All of your life," came a voice from behind him. He turned. But no one was there.
It had been Dharma Dorje's voice.
The sky was extremely blue.
"Geshe-la," he said.
The other did not look up. He continued to finger the wooden beads on his mala, his rosary, with his left hand. His lips almost seemed to move as he did this. Then he paused, looking up with narrowed eyes.
"Ah..." he hesitated, then decided to plunge in. "Dorje Drelhu thinks he is a monkey... ah..."
Raised eyebrows, the green-grey eyes widened, two straight and one broken line furrowed his brow.
"Is? Now?" the monk asked.
"I mean, what I mean is..." he stammered, "he thinks he was a monkey!"
The lama's brow became smooth. He lowered his eyes, and his fingers began to touch and roll along the mala-beads.
"Don't many westerners," Geshe Dharma Dorie asked, "also believe they had been monkeys?"
He pursed his lips and replied when he relaxed. "Yes, but a long time ago...."
"Perhaps," a darting glance, "Drelhu was a monkey a long time ago..."
"He says ... He says ... YOU ....
Fingers on beads.
"You made him into a man through magic!" He was relieved that he had managed to get it out past the wall of silence surrounding him, separating him from the lama.
A thin sharp smile that broadened but did not break into laughter. "Drelhu thinks I am special...."
Green-grey eyes, all saddened now... anticipating the question. "No, I did not." Looking down, looking to the right. Saying the beads. "I am not a magician. I do not perform any magic. I have no such powers as to change monkeys into men! It would be foolish to do that."
"But Drelhu He felt disappointment. He had at least expected the lama to make some veiled claims to special powers. He had expected some sort of advertisement praising the powerful benefits of solitude and monkhood and religion. He was not going to believe them, he felt. But he was almost looking forward, he thought, to verbally or mentally rejecting any of the explanations that would be given to him about Drelhu's statement. He was not going to believe them. He was above any of that superstitious foolishness. But the lama's matter-of-fact denial caught him off-guard.
"Drelhu said that you had saved him. And that you changed him from a monkey into a man!"
The monk touched his mala to his forehead, gave a great sigh and looked coolly into his eyes. "Chamba. Please listen to me."
His heart gave a leap. Now. Perhaps now he was going to hear the story of Drelhu's magical change.
"Dorje Drelhu is like a son to me." Eyes watching. "But he was no more a monkey than you or I..."
His hopes fell. And he thought, yes, of course. What else could it be?
"Dorje Drelhu looked like a monkey." And here the lama's eyes were looking far away. "And many called him a monkey, and treated him like a monkey..."
"I do not understand.... of
"It was like this." The lama tucked the mala into the folds of his robe and leaned forward. "He was unusual. His face was flatter, his arms a bit longer and hairier .... He was a very jumpy, nervous child.... In his village ..."
"This one?" He gestured towards the window.
"No," whispered the lama. "Far away And he seemed to go there and collect the child with hairy arms. "People were either afraid of him or made fun of him, imitating the manners of monkeys and so forth...."
"How did he get here?"
"He did not come here directly. It is long and involved... many years .... many years ago ......
The silence and the lowered eyes lasted so long that he thought the lama had dozed off.
"Dorje Drelhu began to imitate the people mimicking monkeys. This frightened them further, and they began to make attempts at killing him..."
"He was very clever," he waved his hand softly to the right, "and escaped them, living in the forest..."
" ... with real monkeys ... ?"
Lowered eyes. "No. I doubt it. They would not accept him either. But..."
Green-grey eyes straight ahead.
"Years went by and be became stronger. He would raid the villages, do a great deal of damage, and always escape. They called me."
"To take him away?"
"No," sadness descending, "to kill him with magic ..."
"But you said..."
"I know. I know. But they did not know.... I could not allow them to kill him or for the terrible situation to continue..."
"What did they think you were going to do?"
The lama laughed a short laugh. "Make him go up in smoke, cause a rockslide upon him, burn up his insides with a thought or freeze him in a very localized hailstorm.... something of that sort..."
"Did you?" he asked smiling.
"Of course not!"
"I went into the forest singing and chanting ... and the entire village followed..."
"Wait a moment. Why were you doing this? Were they paying you?"
The lama frowned. "You believe it was a commercial venture?"
He caught himself, just as Geshe Dharma Dorje had, in the rudeness of the question. "...Uh ... I am sorry ... But why were you..."
"Religion. Religion, of course. I had to help this poor creature. If there was a fee, that only convinced the villagers that I was on their side and got them off their guard. They would have killed him otherwise, and perhaps killed me as well if they had thought I was trying to help this demon of the woods. By this time, they had really begun to feel that he was a monkey-demon."
"What about his parents?"
"They were long gone from that village. They had to leave...as parents of a demon ... they got no rest ...
"I prayed and chanted for days in front of my little tent. I lit incense, rang bells, blew thighbone horns, hit cymbals, until the villagers left. one by one, they left, until I was there alone. Then I sat quietly. I fed deer. I fed sparrows and finches. once a leopard came..."
"You fed a leopard?"
The lama laughed.
Ha ha hahahah.
"No, no. The leopard did not eat me it
Ha ha hahahah.
"I know. ButI did not feed him any other way either. He left me alone."
"Because you were a holy lama?"
"He did not like my odor. Chanting and singing is hard work. He did not like my perspiration. I sat still. He came and sniffed and went away."
"What of Dorje Drelhu?"
"He eventually came out of the forest to see me."
"He came for the food?"
"No," the lama shook his head. "That did not work. He came for the songs."
"No," he smiled, staring through the other, looking
into the past. "He came for the lullabyes."
"Yes, lullabyes that women of his village sang to
their children. He remembered and
" and ?"
"Well," he shrugged, "I took him with me. I brought him back to being human...He is a good student-But he remembers the forest part of his life..."
"They gave me a few bags of tsampa, barley as you call it. He and I both ate it. I never told them. They thought I buried him under a mountain, with a mantra sealing him in a prison cave forever."
They both laughed.
"And in my case ... ?"
"Your case?" the now calm-faced lama asked.
"What did you do in my case?"
The lama seemed puzzled and disappointed at the question. "In your case..." he started slowly.
"In your case ... I did not make you out of a monkey, either! "
And he laughed and laughed.
But the other did not. Suddenly someone was at his elbow. It was Drelhu.
"Geshe-la has told you?" smiling.
"Yes, why, yes."
"Good!" said the smiling mask, scratching his ear. "Now you know you were made from a broken corpse and that we are brothers! Correct!"
" ... ah ... correct," he said before he realized it.
"Correct, Chamba," smiled the monk. "Quite correct."
In the moonlight, there was only one house.
In the morning light, there was only one house in what had been the village. He did not believe it.
"I do not believe it..." he said aloud.
"Believe it, Chamba," said Drelhu, scratching an ear. "We are brothers..."
"...Yes...That is true but...." He stared at the single building down below. Had he dreamt all the others, or was he dreaming now? Were both of them a dream?
He shook his head and scratched his ear.
He dreamt that he was somewhere else. It was a large city, crisp in the cold clear air. What city? Very tall buildings .... It was the twentieth century. It was the twentieth century again! And he was in New York City. But it was only a dream.
Drelhu had gone somewhere outside. When he did not hear him puttering, steppiAg or moving, he acted. He opened the latch on the door and looked out quietly. Warm air struck him in the cool shadows where he stood. The landscape shimmered with the heat. He could not understand it, this difference in temperature. He stepped out. Drelhu was nowhere to be seen. The boards of the porch upon which he stood creaked and he paused, looking.
Below, to his left, was the single house which had been the village. Above, to his right, was the monastery, the gompa. He was startled to see its size, white against the lower ridges, white competing with the color of the higher snows. Many stories high, growing right up from the rocks, following their lines, ragged, then smoother, upward. All white with white stone? No. Whitewash, buckets of whitewash. They had been poured from the flat rooftops, down the sloped outer walls, splashing on the way down. The white had been consumed before it reached the rocks that were the foundations. Long streaks of white, layered white over the years, purified the outside appearance of the gigantic building. Higher were lopsided rectangles--windows--edged in dark paint and curiously curtained with a topmost fringe of flapping canopies in blue and orange.
There were other things to note about this massive image of the gompa, but his attention was called to the solitary building below by the barking of a dog. He heard it, but he could not see it. He quickly descended the wobbling steps and started towards the sound. The path looked as if it had not been used for a long time. It was strewn with rocky debris which walkers would have inevitably kicked over the edge of the nearby embankment. He was glad he had leathersoled Tibetan-style boots to protect his feet from the sharp stones.
He heard the dog again and hurried. He was careful not to slip, for the new heat he met stepping onto the path made the landscape shimmer before his eyes. The stones all over the path made him feel as if he were walking on patches of marbles. He observed the edge. How sharp a drop was it? He paused and looked. Not bad. It sloped, but straightened later, quickly, to a wall made of stones all covered with prayers, "Aum Mani Padme Hum," Hail, the Jewel is in the Lotus. Even if he slipped, it would mean only a few bruises.
He hurried towards the house. The dog barked, but he did not see it. The heat seemed to grow. There was only one door. He had to circle the building to find it. There were windows on the sides, but they were too high up to see within, and were shuttered besides. The door was locked. A heavy, highly-ornate looking lock declared this, much to his annoyance.
"I thought," he thought, "I'd find some people."
He looked down towards the flat farmland, hoping to see living beings there. None.
"No living beings," he thought. "I wish I could see a living being."
He heard a noise behind the door. He was startled. Holding his breath, he put his head closer. Nothing. He waited. Perspiration was pouring down his back. He felt a little dizzy.
"Hello," he whispered to the door. Nothing. His eyes strayed to the strip of paper pasted to the upper door. It had the image of twisting snakes, loosely intertwined with each other. In the spaces between them were words in a script he could not read.
He frowned. "A charm, I suppose. To keep me out?" He pursed his lips and his forehead wrinkled. Three broken lines. "We'll see about that!" And the fingernails of his right hand dug at the edge of the paper, lifting it off the wood. With a quick pull, he tore it from right to left, getting almost all the paper, but certainly all the words. He threw it to the ground behind him. His hand then flew to the lock. It was open.
"It's open," he said aloud, his perspiring hand touching the cold metal. "It's been open all along. Locking the door with a bluff. ..Ha ha."
As he was about to swing open the heavy door, he heard pebbles falling from the path which he had walked a few minutes before. He looked up to see Drelhu hopping wildly down. "Chamba! Chamba!" he was calling, waving his hands. "Stop! Do not go in there ......
He smiled and pulled the door open.
"Like hell I won't .......
And like hell the roar came cascading out upon him. A blast of cold air followed by the snarling black shape. It knocked him down as it bounded over him into the open air.
What!? He rolled over to stare after it. There, a few feet from his face, it now stood, snarling and growling. It turned towards him, baring yellow fangs, dripping terror. It was a dog yet not a dog ... a large black fury that threatened to eat him with its eyes. He dared not move, remaining flat on the ground.
The animal's growl turned into a long rumble of thunder and it slowly crouched, as if to leap. But it did not. He waited, will all past perspiration now clammy on his skin. Its eyes moved. His did not.
"Chamba!" came the voice nearby. And then suddenly Drelhu was to the left of the dog. He hunched and screamed at the animal. "Not for you! Now or ever!"
The beast whirled and was about to pounce when Drelhu flung out both his hands. The black animal fell back, tumbling. He could not see what Drelhu had thrown. Drelhu gave him a quick glance of inspection and leaped after the dog. It ran yelping towards the farmland, out of sight with Drelhu in quick pursuit. They both vanished quickly to sight and hearing.
Left behind was a shaken, puzzled person. It seemed a long time before he got to his feet, dusting himself off in the process, in a very studied way. He looked at the dark open doorway. It still gave off a coldness compared to the sunbaked ground.
"Was it a watchdog of some sort?" he fretted. "Drelhu must have known...." With a hand on either edge of the doorway, he leaned into the darkness, trying to adjust his eyes.
"Chamba! Stop! Do not go in there!" were the words Drelhu had shouted. He moved his eyes to and fro, trying to see. The dog was gone now, so it would be safe to enter. But first....
"I'll be careful," he thought. "Never can tell..."
He stepped carefully and dust rose from the sounds of agony in the floor boards. He paused.
"It seems like a large room... long and high..."
It did not rigister that it seemed too long and too high for the size of the house.
"What could... it ... the dog be guarding..."
Dust arose. Ancient dust. It gathered in a slow whirlpool, gathering itself, as if into a column, solidifying in the light from the open doorway. Another step equalled most substance in the dust-pillar. "It was a dog ... yet..."
And suddenly it happened. There was a cracking above him, and a weight fell out of the darkness above, across his shoulders, thrusting him onto the floor in a storm of splinters and dirt. Pain rang through him like a series of bells.
"You fool! You fool! See what you've...."
"I can't move ... Yet..." And ringing colors swept through the air.
"Do not move. It does not matter.... Colors, sharp and deadly, fighting the dust.
"I've got to! If I don't..." reds, greens, and blues, choking each other, "I'll never get out ... ~'alive!"
"ALIVE!! Alive ... alive..." it rang.
Was there no more air? He had to move. And he did. Everywhere he moved. In his legs there were movements, rippling around bones. In his arms there were actions, in and out of his muscles and tendons. His cheekbones climbed hotter to his forehead. His torso set into motions the lines. The lines? Yes, the illusionary lines, or so he thought, of his convalescence. Now they came upward, one by one, blazing and aware, armed with fiery perceptions and appropriate actions. They blazed. They blazed. And in the furnace moved the golden lines. One--solid. Two--broken. Singing light in his body. Solid, Solid, Solid--One, one, one. Broken, broken broken--two, two, two. They flooded him with sunlight--triple suns shining. They bathed him with moonlight-triple moons rising.
His hands threw off the timber and he crawled out the doorway. "You fool! You fool!" rang in his ears, as the dust went swirling out with him, vanishing in the sunshine. The words shook him, as he coughed out the dust, blinking in the bright hot light. The words shook him for he now recognized that they were not in his mind. They were an outside voice! Worse, it was his own voice! From outside!
"Horrible," he said, getting up on his knees, staring at the doorway, swirling in dust, dust that smelled of ancient deaths.
The lines still ran through him. His hands shook and his eyes bulged. He staggered to his feet, facing the dark rectangle.
"See what you've," echoed the voice, "done! Ha ha hahahah!"
The darkness seemed to press forward out of the building, a heavy geometric three-dimensional darkness, engulfing him. However, moons rose, suns set. Winter melted into gold, summer, blossomed as gold. His entire body seemed to burn with the merging of seasons, Spring into Fallf Spring into spring. The darkness contained him, even as he stood in the earthly sunlight. There was going to be no more warmth. No! Yes! The lines moved and he thrust out his burning hands in desperation, to save himself. They touched the house. The world of dark and light shimmered. The house shimmered. Cold and heat shimmered. Perspiration poured down his face, its salt fluids getting into his eyes. He wiped his eyes. When his vision cleared, there was no house in front of him. The house was gone. He looked about. There was no village.
Far away, to the south, he could hear a dog howling. But was he right? Was it a dog? It was a dog. Yet ...