Hello fans (all ten of you) and rubberneckers, just wanted to share a bite, and whet your appetite, of what I’m working on currently: a zombie apocalypse novel (I know I said I would never write one, so just shut up, I don’t wanna hear it) entitled “The Hungry Ghosts”. This is freshly written and unedited, mind you. The setting is in a mountainous region in Tibet, and three Buddhist monks, a Chinese soldier, and a ten year old boy, are in a truck, escaping the devastation of a village up a winding harrowing trail that leads to an isolated, abandoned, Buddhist hermitage high atop a sacred mountain…
Excerpt from “The Hungry Ghosts”…
Even wrapped in the warm robe, nestled securely against the monk who wrapped his arm across his shoulders, Chodren did not feel safe.
The soldier had lifted him into the truck to the concerned look of the elder monk. Chodren looked to the driver, the solemn nun he had seen in the courtyard, who reached out and grabbed his arm to sit him down next to the monk. Chodren managed a glance behind them to the glowing flaming village and the shadows that moved around it. The young soldier sat next to him, his gun stock resting in his thigh and hands wrapped tightly around it. Chodren followed the soldiers eyes to see a bloody faced woman advancing on the wild haired man.
Chodren turned away as the elder monk removed his outer robe and held it open to the boy. Chodren saw the stain of blood on it and the monks shoulder. He recoiled, but the monk smiled and nodded in apology and turned the robe so the blood stained edge of the robe disappeared at their feet. The monk opened his arm again, and Chodren fell into it, his need for comfort so great it smothered any fear he had. The boy pulled his knees to his chest, wrapped his arms around them, closed his eyes and trembled from an inner cold into a womb of warm darkness.
The faces of his family emerged and sank into a void, healthy and smiling, calling his name joyfully, then gray faced, mouths dripping with red, opening to devour him. From beyond the darkness came the soothing voice of the monk, chanting a monotone song. The changing faces rebelled, racing past, hissing and roaring, until they slowed, calmed by the song until they became quiet and changed back to the living mother, sister, father he knew. They smiled and whispered his name, passing as if on a slowing carousel until they faded all together. Warmth enveloped Chodren before he passed into the realm of unknowing sleep.
“The boy trembles,” Tenzin said, “he must have had a great shock.”
Dorje watched out the windshield looking for potential dangers ahead as he thumbed his walking stick resting upon his shoulder. The truck had been moving at a steady but slow pace as Gu-Lang drove with deep concentration. This nun, older than she looked, Dorje thought, was indeed not one to be underestimated. Ldab Ldobs were the workers of monasteries: builders, cooks, servants, and most importantly, soldier monks. Unsuited for normal monastery life, they became protectors of those that carried the Dharma; the Sangha, the order of monks. Ferocious and tough, the Ldab Ldobs loved a good fight, and trained to do it well. They were the dirty hands of monasteries and had many hidden skills. And Dorje was glad to have this unusually quiet Ldab Lbod (they were well known for their rudeness and loud boasting) with them.
Watching Gu-Lang skillfully maneuver the truck over such a tricky path gave Dorje a sense of admiration for her as he had never learned such things, so intent was he on achieving enlightenment in this human incarnation. He wondered if he had been selfish to hunger for such a thing, isolating himself from humanity, not learning the things needed to actually help the suffering. When young, he dreamed of being a doctor of medicine and became a monk to study at university to do so. But he had abandoned it when, at a meditation retreat, an elder monk had said to him, “Become a doctor and relieve the suffering of a few, become free of all attachment and enter Nirvana and relieve the suffering of the world.”
Dorje turned in his seat to look at the boy held close by Tenzin. Chodren was curled up in a fetal position, his face buried behind his knees. By his breathing, Dorje knew the boy had fallen asleep, but still he shivered from the shock of whatever terror he had experienced. Now, with the horror that was unfolding, of what use was he, Dorje thought. How could he possibly affect this young boy whose world had been shattered by the death of the ones that loved him most, and they turning on him like ravenous mindless devils. How could one man remove the suffering of one boy? Have all these years been a self serving mistake?