Don’t Hurt Me (I think the journey’s ending)

I looked straight forward at the ceiling and in a second apprehended my situation. I was back in the Temple of the Snake. The seasons had changed and it was a humid, swampy summer. There was a full congregation in the Temple gathered around my body. Gradually I moved the pieces of myself, which all felt like paralyzed, dead-asleep flesh that had lost all form and feeling. I stood up.

“The Foreign Dragon rises,” said the Monk-in-Charge. “The Foreign Dragon has been cured but doesn’t know it.”

I looked around in a daze. Things were confusing. Peoples’ faces, lining each pew like a solitary security cameras, only there to record and watch my existence–and hardly even that, more like a passive recording, to be accessed only in the event of some unknown and unforeseeable trangression or Big action I might perform–looked like evil and troubling spectators. I felt I could trust no one. I was Sleepy Morning before my soul split. Now, who was I?

All of a sudden the congregation sang in unison, looking at no hymn book, no prayer chart, singing, it seemed, off the tops of their heads.

The Foreign Dragon

Sleeps inside a womb

Which womb? The gentlest creatures

The Foreign Dragon believes in no one

The Foreign Dragon will be heading home

Peace to the Foreign Dragon

Give the Dragon mercy, snake

Swallow the owl, kill all owls, destroy each owl in the multiverse

Swallow yourself

Give the Dragon penance

Subdue the Dragon in your tranquil song

Give the Dragon a place to go

Do not mark the Dragon as a counterfeit

Peace unto all sufferers

Let the Planet’s agony be

Let the agony of the centuries relax completely

Die to the Dragon, and the Dragon will die to you

 

The Monk-in-Charge looked lovingly at me, then paused, then appeared to be waiting. He beckoned to the front of the altar.

Without knowing what I did, I reached in the fold of my clothes and pulled a small leather pouch out of it.

“Our future deaths,” the congregation murmured.

“These are our souls,” the Monk-in-Charge said. “We died in the future and you returned our ashes to us. We can sacrifice ourselves, outside of our dimension, because of your bravery.”

I did not know I had been brave.

“The end of your journey is coming,” said the Head-Monk-in-Charge. “There is one thing you have left to do.”

I was confused because I didn’t know I was on a journey, though I had that thought–that my travel had a purpose, that my activity conveyed some extra source–but I had always dismissed it. I had never sincerely believed I was doing anything for a suitable reason. I was convinced I was on a kind of separate track, that I had been off the rail of my own life, that I had been off course, lost but knowing my location, having taken a wrong turn somewhere but forgetting it, observing the true adventurers from the track nearest to me but waiting–perhaps for a burst of my own effort, or some unknown act of myself–that could place me on a true journeyer’s path. For whatever reason, the Monk had a look to him, a solid and imperturbable kindness, a self-assurance, that told me I had been wrong. My journey had taken place everywhere. My purpose–could it be explained? I couldn’t tell a person what that purpose was, but I knew that I had made progress towards it, had neared the accomplishing of it, was doing a superb job all along.

“What is the last thing I have to do?” I asked.

The Monk bowed once toward me, his torso bent, his back sloping in passive nonchalance. He rose again. I knew what he meant. I would do it and complete this.

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About vurinstitute

Horatio Somersault is the Director and Regent Chancellor of the VUR Institute, a think tank involving some as-yet-unknown and slightly spooky manipulations of time and interdimensionality. In his spare time Somersault enjoys writing poems and fables. You can read his writings, as well as those of other VUR inhabitants, at vurinstitute.wordpress.com. Though he lives a wanderer's life, his hometown is a domed biome inside the water core of the moon Europa. You can follow his experiences adapting to the customs of the early 21st century on his Twitter @VURdirector and can email him at vurinstitute at gmail dot com.
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