- Posts: 26
- Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:13 pm
Narrator: As the door slowly opened, a tall, thin old man entered the room with a lamp in his right hand. Despite his age, as shown by his white hair and goatee, he moved with incredible agility. After closing the door quietly behind him, he held the lamp aloft and looked around as if to check for intruders. There were no one else in the room save for scores of shrunken human heads hanging in several rows on a wall. They seemed to stare at the old man with a mixture of hatred, hostility and fear in their sunken eyes. The old man showed not a bit of fear as he seemed to respond to their sinister stares with a wicked smile.
The place appeared to be some kind of storeroom, with chests stacked neatly against the opposite wall. Beside the adjacent wall at the far end of the room were two old armchairs, flanked by two life-sized guardian statues with ferocious eyes gazing at the doorway. Hanging above each armchair was a large, shining sword, suspended from the ceiling by a thin rope.
The old man walked towards one of the armchairs and sat down on it. Then he turned around to press one of the two hidden levers on the wall behind the armchair. At once, a hidden door in the stone wall swung open behind the guardian statue next to him, revealing a secret entrance to a basement. With one hand carrying the lamp and the other holding onto the handrail, the old man descended a narrow flight of stairs into the darkness below.
After reaching the bottom of the staircase, he walked along a winding passageway till he came to an old, rusty, heavy iron door. Opening a huge rusty padlock with a key from his pocket, he pushed hard on the door to open it. As the door creaked eerily, a nauseating stench rushed out from the room, almost bowling him over. He lamented: "Why am I so forgetful lately? I should have worn it before coming here." He put the lamp down on the floor and took a surgical mask from his pocket to wear it over his mouth and nose. A gruff voice thundered from inside the room: "There is no need to stand on ceremony. Come in and relax, old man!"
On entering the room, he saw two tennis-sized balls of fire suspended in midair in the darkness. As he approached the fiery red balls, he found that they were actually the malevolent flaming eyes of a huge black dog chained in a lying posture to a pillar in the far corner of the room. The beast was unusually large for a dog, about the size of a grizzly bear or a horse.
In the flickering light, it could be seen that the whole place -- walls, ceiling, floor, even the pillar and the iron door -- was inscribed with unintelligible writing which appeared to be some sort of magic words or inscriptions. For what purpose was this magical charm or incantation inscribed is anybody's guess.
Old man: Doggy, how did you know I was outside the room?
Dog: Who else dares to come to this dreary chamber at this very witching time of night when I am thirsting for hot blood? It always drives me crazy to see anyone covering his mouth and nose in front of me.
Old man: Sorry, I wear a mask so as not to spread the flu to you.
Dog: What a considerate man you are, hypocrite!
Old man: At first I was hesitant to visit you lest I disturbed your sleep.
Dog: Who can sleep soundly in this cesspool of filth? I really lead a dog's life here.
Old man: It's advisable to let sleeping dogs lie, but I am coming here with a purpose tonight.
Dog: There is a Chinese saying, "Only in times of trouble can a man be found praying at the San Bao Temple ." You always come with no good purpose.
Old man: I am going to give you some freedom as I need your help to fight against my rival.
Dog: I know whom you are referring to as I can sense his presence miles away. I am sure you are talking about the priest whose brother's soul had been stolen by me several years ago. At the moment, he is on his way here to retrieve his brother's soul.
Old man: Yes, you have guessed correctly. Besides that, I think he is coming here to challenge me to a duel. Some years ago, I took his brother's soul away from you and kept it as booty in a magic jar after capturing you in a bitter battle. I will return it to you as a reward to help me fight against the priest.
Dog: I hate to say yes to others. But now that you are giving me such a rich reward, how can I say no to you?
Old man: I am glad that you do not say no to me at this juncture.
Dog: It's quite funny that we were fighting against each other in the past: literally, dog biting man, and man biting dog. But now we have become allies!
Old man: We have no permanent friends and we have no permanent enemies but we have permanent interests.
Dog: Give me a good scrub before letting me see the light of day in many years.
Old man: My servants can wash your body but not your soul. You have a notorious record of launching surprise attacks on your victims. In particular, you like to pounce on others from behind without even uttering a single bark. I could never forget that fateful day when you crept stealthily behind me and bit off a large chunk of flesh from my leg after sinking your sharp fangs into it. Fortunately, I was able to eradicate the virus from my body with my magic antiviral drug otherwise I would have died of rabies long ago. Hence, I would never trust you, whether you are my friend or my enemy.
Dog: I would never trust you too, old fox, because I know you spy on everybody, even your friends.
Narrator: The huge black dog was taken out from the dungeon and chained to a pillar near the gate of the old man's house the following day. Meanwhile, the priest was riding a white horse like the wind towards the old man's home.
As noon approached, he could see the old man's house which was perched high on a distant hill. The white horse came to an abrupt halt with whitened eyes and flicking ears. Its nostrils expanded and quivered as it snorted and blew in the direction of the hill. Suddenly it let out a loud neigh, spun around and bolted out in the opposite direction. The priest was caught completely off guard and was thrown to the ground. As he was skilled in magic and kungfu, he managed to land on his feet with some minor bruises and scratches on his arms.
Sighing and shaking his head, he lamented: "Friendship is a ship big enough to carry two in fair weather, but only one in foul." By this time, the terrified horse had disappeared into the distance. Just as he was about to continue his journey, he heard a hooting sound from above him: "Who? Who?" In response, the priest asked: “Who? Who?" At once, he heard a reply coming from above him: "A friend." Looking above, he saw an owl perching on a branch.
Priest: I am glad to find a new friend here after losing an old friend.
Owl: I am joyful too. Confucius says: "To have a friend come from a faraway place, is this not a joy?"
Priest: I wish I could have more time to enjoy the company of a new friend. Unfortunately, I don't have much time on my hands as I have to rush to my destination before nightfall. I hope we can meet again on my return journey.
Owl: Pitfalls lie in wait for the unwary. Don't risk losing whatever you have by venturing into the unknown. Stay, grow and prosper in what you have been doing all this while.
Priest: Sorry, I don't stoop to danger. There is a Chinese saying: “Even though I know of tigers in the mountain, I still bent on going to the tiger mountain.“
Owl: When your animal farm is growing and prospering, do you have to risk your life hunting in the tiger woods? Why should you change the course of your arrow when it is at the point of hitting its target?
Priest: My decision is based on principle rather than expediency. I would never give up my goal of retrieving my brother's soul.
Owl: Although good advice is unpleasant to the ears, please listen to me. Things done prematurely will suffer the same fate as a premature baby. Never hobble downstairs with heedless haste.
Priest: As a Chinese saying goes. “If we don’t enter a tiger’s lair, how can we get a tiger cub?” Nothing can stop me from retrieving my brother's soul.
Owl: Since you are so stubborn, I have nothing more to say than to bid farewell to you.
Priest: Farewell, my friend!
Narrator: The priest turned and continued his journey, but after walking a few steps he turned back to ask the owl.
Priest: Tell me, who are you?
Owl: I am nameless.
Priest: Can't you tell me your name? At least I can remember that someone somewhere in the wilderness has given me some good advice.
Owl: What's important in a friend is not his name but friendship with good advice. If you don't listen to me, perhaps you could care to heed the words of Sun Zi. He had pointed out: "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting."
Priest: Thanks for pointing it out to me. Anyway, nobody can dissuade me from retrieving my brother's soul.
Owl: I have given up all hope of dissuading you from pursuing your rash scheme. Whatever number of donkeys, they can’t pull an obstinate man back from the brink of the abyss. Conversely, whatever number of men, they can’t pull an obstinate donkey back from the brink of the abyss.
Priest: One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Owl: And whether we shall meet again I know not.
Therefore our everlasting farewell take:
For ever, and forever, farewell, Priest!
If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why then, this parting was well made.
Priest: Forever, and forever, farewell, my nameless friend!
If we do meet again, we'll smile indeed;
If not, 'tis true this parting was well made.
(End of part 1. Part 2 of satire to be continued in next posting.)
- Posts: 26
- Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:13 pm
Narrator: The priest turned and continued his journey to the old man's house. Looking at the priest till he disappeared into the distance, the owl shook its head and sighed repeatedly.
As the priest trudged along the rocky path up the hill, he could smell something like burning brimstone in the air. The foul odour grew with such intensity as he approached his destination that he had to take a surgical mask from his bag to wear it over his mouth and nose.
It was late in the afternoon when he arrived at the old man’s house on the hill. He found the beast fastened in a crouched position to a pillar near the gate with a chain long enough for it to make a terrifying leap from a long distance. Staring menacingly at him with its glowing red eyes, the huge black dog growled, barked and snapped its immense jaws viciously in an extremely confrontational manner. The priest started to cough as his surgical mask could not keep out the foul breath that kept puffing out from the dog's mouth.
Priest: Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard. Return my brother's soul to me and I shall leave in peace.
Dog: Stop dreaming. You will never get it back.
Priest: I am coming here for my brother's soul but you show no repentance. Your behaviour is worse and more aggressive than before. Aren't you afraid that I shall beat the hell out of you?
Dog: Don't worry. My mighty captor will come to my rescue.
Priest: Open confession is good for the soul. Your impenitence hurts the feelings of both my family and other victims of your past evil deeds.
Dog: There is an old Chinese saying, “Who could have guessed it was a blessing in disguise when the old man on the frontier lost his mare?” If not for your precipitate decision, I won't get even a modicum of freedom; I won’t have the chance to see daylight or say no to my captor. Many thanks for your futile attempt to settle old scores with me. It’s a blessing in disguise.
I shall pursue the stance of strategic patience to break the chains of bondage so that I shall regain full independence and freedom from my captor. He will get a taste of his own medicine one day!
Priest: So one day you are going to bite the hand that feeds you? It looks like you have proved Mark Twain wrong. He said: "If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man."
Dog: No, I haven't proved Mark Twain wrong. The problem is that I am no ordinary dog but a hellhound. And the old man is no benevolent person but an evil sorcerer. My ultimate goal is to become a normal hellhound and to be taken seriously by all other supernatural creatures once again.
(End of whole story)