Category Archives: Fiction

Excerpt from “The Adventures of Monkey” by Arthur Waley ~~Monkey~~

The hunter and Tripitaka were still wondering who had spoken, when again they heard the voice saying, ‘The Master has come.’ The hunter’s servants said, ‘That is the voice of the old monkey who is shut up in the stone casket of the mountain side.’ ‘Why, to be sure it is!’ said the hunter. ‘What old monkey is that?’ asked Tripitaka. ‘This mountain,’ said the hunter, ‘was once called the Mountain of the Five Elements. But after our great T’ang dynasty had carried out its campaigns to the West, its name was changed to Mountain of the Two Frontiers. Years ago a very old man told me that at the time when Wang Mang overthrew the First Han Dynasty, Heaven dropped this mountain in order to imprison a magic monkey under it. He has local spirits as his gaolers, who, when he is hungry give him iron pills to eat, and when he is thirsty give him copper-juice to drink, so that despite cold and short commons he is still alive. That cry certainly comes from him. You need not be uneasy. We’ll go down and have a look.’
After going downhill for some way they came to the stone box, in which there was really a monkey. Only his head was visible, and one paw, which he waved violently through the opening, saying, ‘Welcome, Master! Welcome! Get me out of here, and I will protect you on your journey to the West.’ The hunter stepped boldly up, and removing the grasses from Monkey’s hair and brushing away the grit from under his chin, ‘What have you got to say for yourself?’ he asked. ‘To you, nothing,’ said Monkey. ‘But I have something to ask of that priest. Tell him to come here.’ ‘What do you want to ask me?’ said Tripitaka. ‘Were you sent by the Emperor T’ang to look for Scriptures in India?’ asked Monkey. ‘I was,’ said Tripitaka, ‘And what of that?’ ‘I am the Great Sage Equal of Heaven,’ said Monkey. ‘Five hundred years ago I made trouble in the Halls of Heaven, and Buddha clamped me down in this place. Not long ago the Bodhisattva Kuan-yin, whom Buddha had ordered to look around for someone to fetch Scriptures from India, came here and promised me that if I would amend my ways and faithfully protect the pilgrim on his way, I was to be released, and afterwards would find salvation. Ever since then I have been waiting impatiently night and day for you to come and let me out. I will protect you while you are going to get Scriptures and follow you as your disciple.’
Tripitaka was delighted. ‘The only trouble is,’ he said, ‘that I have no axe or chisel, so how am I to get you out?’ ‘There is no need for axe or chisel,’ said Monkey. ‘You have only to want me to be out, and I shall be out.’ ‘How can that be?’ asked Tripitaka. ‘On the top of the mountain,’ said Monkey, ‘is a seal stamped with golden letters by Buddha himself. Take it away, and I shall be out.’

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Excerpt from “A Vermont Tale” by Mark Helprin ~~Loons~~

But the nights were not always clear. In the middle of January, we had a great blizzard. We could neither ride, nor ski, nor walk for very long with the snowshoes. High drifts made it extremely difficult just to get the wood in. The sky was gray; my grandfather’s bad leg made him limp about; and we all began to grow pale. Instead of putting more logs on the fire and waking up, we let the flame go into coals, and we moved slowly upstairs to sleep. The blizzard lasted for days. We felt as if we were in the Arctic, and we learned to wince slightly at the word “Canada.” I wondered if indeed all things came to sad and colorless ends.
Then something happened. One night, when the wind was so fierce that we heard trees crash down in the forest, we were just about to get into bed, and my grandfather had turned out all the lights and was coming up the stairs. From high above in the swirl of raging wind and snow came a frightening, wonderful, mysterious sound.
Neither of the nightingale nor of the wolf but something in between, as meaningful and mournful as a life spent in the most solitary places, strong and yet sad, as clear as cold water and ever so beautiful, it was the cry of the loon. It sounded for all the world like one of Blake’s angels, and as it hovered above our house, circling our bed, we thought it was God come to take us. My grandfather rushed to the landing.
“They’re back!” he cried.
“It can’t be,” said my grandmother, looking up. “Not after ten years. They must be others.”
“No,” he said. “I know them too well.”
The sound kept circling and we listened for many minutes with our heads thrown back and our eyes traversing to and fro against the pitch of the roof. Then there was quiet.
“What was it?” I asked, noticing for the first time that my sister had grasped my waist and still held tightly.
“Arctic Loons,” he said. “Two Arctic Loons. Isn’t it a beautiful sound? I’ll tell you about them.”
“When?”
“Now,” he said, and went to light the fire.
My grandmother dragged in a chair, and she and my grandfather sat facing us. We were propped up in bed, covered by a giant satin goose blanket. It was very late for my sister, and she looked drugged. But she was terrified and she stared ahead without a blink. She wore a white flannel gown with tiny blue stars all over it. My grandmother rocked back and forth, hardly ever taking her eyes from us. My grandfather leaned forward as if he were about to enter communion with the blazing fire.
Then he turned with startling concentration. My grandfather was six and one-half feet tall and as thin as a switch. He was rocking back and forth, and he mesmerized us as if we were a jury and he a great lawyer of the nineteenth century. The fire roared upward at the stone, diverging into ragged orange tongues. “What is a loon? What is a loon? What is a loon?” he said, so that our mouths dropped open in astonishment.
“You heard it, did you not? Can you tell me that the creature has no soul? Doesn’t it sound, in its sad call, like a man? Did they not sound like singers? Remember, first of all, that we have our idea of angels from the birds. For they are gentle and perfect in a way we will never be. For more than a hundred million years they have been soaring. They found the union of peace and ecstasy so long ago that we cannot even imagine the time.

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Excerpt from “Help” The Beatles – Novelisation by Al Hine ~~Tiger~~

Paul, John and George had dashed on down the street and found Superintendent Gluck, paint-flecked but surrounded by his guard and advancing in good style against a remaining cordon of die-hard Thugs.
“Don’t worry,” Gluck shouted to them. “Your famous Ringo is safe as houses.” He pointed behind him and then shook his head angrily as he discerned no Ringo.
“No!” John cried. “He’s fallen through in here.” He gestured to the pub and all, including police and Thugs, rushed after him.
In the cellar below, Ringo had retreated from the window and crouched against a far corner, trying to make himself as tiny as possible. The snuffling from the window grew louder and intermingled with growls. Ringo’s eyes were becoming more accustomed to the dimness and he wished they weren’t. Whatever was snuffling at the window, he was sure it was nothing he wanted to see.
He squinched his eyes shut, but a closer growl forced him to look.

A TIGER!

Through the window sprang a magnificent Bengal tiger. It switched its tail ominously and growled again. The scent of Man was in its quivering nostrils. It moved on padded feet with lethal directness toward Ringo!
At this moment Ahme appeared framed in the window.
“Don’t move,” she cautioned.
“Don’t move,” Ringo whispered to the tiger. “You heard what she said.”
“Do you know Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony?” Ahme asked, deadly serious. “It goes like this.” She whistled a phrase and the tiger purred.
“Eh?” Ringo said, concentrating on the melody as seriously as if it were pop.
Meanwhile, upstairs, a melee had almost blown the pub to splinters. Thug versus policeman, Gluck and three Beatles versus Clang. Chairs in the air, the tinkle of broken bottles, fists on noses, billy clubs on shins. The forces of righteousness won out, but Clang himself had snuck away through some secret passageway.
“There!” John pointed when the tumult has abated. “That’s the spot he fell through. That trapdoor!”
“Careful, men,” Superintendent Gluck said as two of his burly guards approached it. “May be booby trapped.”
They examined the area around and, once sure of no trickery, lifted the door. Superintendent Gluck and John, Paul and George looked down the hole.
It took a moment before they could make out Ringo, humming through chattering teeth, as a huge tiger prowled about his feet, licking its chops.
“You’ve got yourself a little furry friend, then” John said observantly.
“Good Lord!” Superintendent Gluck cried in recognition. “It’s Raja, the famous man-eater who disappeared from the London Zoo this morning!”
“Good Lord!” John said, celebrity to celebrity. “So it famous is!”
“Don’t worry,” Gluck said. “He’s absolutely harmless. All you have to do is sing Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” from his famous Ninth Symphony in D Minor.”
“Of course,” John called to Ringo. “Why didn’t you think of that, you twit.”
“Raja is a gift from the Berlin Zoo,” Superintendent Gluck elaborated. “He was reared on the classics.” The superintendent was so excited with his erudition that he slipped over the edge of the door and only the ready arm of one of his burly guards saved him from a three-point landing on the tiger.
“Good Lord!” John said to Gluck as he was hauled back from the trapdoor. “It’s Raja, the man-eater who disappeared from the London Zoo this morning. Don’t fret. He’s harmless. All you have to do is whistle famous Beethoven’s famous Ninth Symphony . . .”
“Come on, come on!” said Superintendent Gluck, back in balance. He raised his voice, a not unpleasing although uneven baritone:
Freude schoner Gotterfunken
Tochter aus Elysium . . .
Below in the gloom Raja prowled restlessly, looking up at them, then over at Ringo.
George and Paul joined their voices, humming along with the superintendent. Paul tapped the rhythm on the side of the trapdoor. John fished a harmonica from his jacket and added his own melodious strains. As the harmony blended and built, the tiger lay down on its side, purring.
An official Daimler drew up at the pub door and deposited the London Police Choir, all in evening dress.
As they mingled their trained voices with the gang at the trapdoor, another crew of uniformed and tone-deaf policeman lowered a heavy rope down the trapdoor within reach of Ringo.
Outside other officers roped off the area as bystanders began to crowd in. The swelling, noble and famous “Ode to Joy” welled all up and down the block.
John mimed directions, playing his harmonica with one hand, to Ringo as the rope reached him.
Ringo, stepping softly to avoid Raja, arranged the rope under his shoulders and around his waist. He lifted a hand and signalled.
Superintendent Gluck, without missing a note or an umlaut, passed on the signal.
To the triumphant strains of the great German’s famous Ode, Ringo was hoisted to safety.
When the chorus died away, Raja roared angrily from the cellar, a duped feline baulked of both meat and culture.
Superintendent Gluck ushered the lads into a closed van for optimum security and sped them home.

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Excerpt from “The Mouse on the Moon” by Leonard Wibberley ~~Takeoff~~

Then the door was shut and those outside heard the several locks on it being slipped into place and knew that in a few minutes Kokintz and Vincent would be entering the rocket and strapping themselves to their bunks in preparation for the take-off.
Everybody now backed away from the tower. They had been told that there was no danger at all, that since the rocket was equipped with nuclear power, there would be no terrible blasts of flame to crack the stones of the tower and burn them, but they could not believe this. Nonetheless they moved to the wall surrounding the courtyard and stared in silence at the Tower of Jericho from which the capstones had all been removed, so that it looked like a huge factory chimney.
There was no warning of the take-off at all – no thunderous noise or escape of vapours in terrifying clouds. Watching the top of the tower, they saw the nose of the rocket appear quite slowly above it, as if it were some creature come out to sniff the morning air. A big “Aaaah” went up from the people; and then in utter silence the rocket suddenly left the tower, so swiftly that they could not follow the motion until it was already many hundreds of feet up in the air.
It left a graceful thin line of vapour behind it, and when it was up some distance, there was a sudden heavy explosion which produced a shock wave that sent the spectators staggering and many of them thought that the rocket had blown up.
“Mach One,” said the Count of Mountjoy. “They have gone through the sound barrier.”
After a little while the rocket appeared to alter course, as if it were coming down to earth again. “They’re in trouble,” someone cried. “It’s falling back to earth!”
But it was not so.
The rocket was still gaining altitude and Tully, who was the first to collect his wits, rushed to Dr. Kokintz’ study to switch on the microwave two-way radio with which they could communicate with the astronauts. His instructions were not to message them first but to wait for a report, and it was twenty minutes before they got one. Then Dr. Kokintz’ voice came through, surprisingly clear, as if he were talking from the next room.
“Everything is fine,” he said. “Please announce our successful take-off to the world.”

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On The Water – a short short story

picture-onthewater-monster-01-20

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1 January 2019 · 7:26 pm

Classics Illustrated – Gulliver’s Travels ~~Captive~~

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28 December 2018 · 9:47 am

Excerpt from “The Subterraneans” by Jack Kérouac ~~Love~~

The adolescent cocksman having made his conquest barely broods at home the loss of the love of the conquered lass, the blacklash lovely – no confession there. – It was on a morning when I slept at Adam’s that I saw her again, I was going to rise, do some typing and coffee drinking in the kitchen all day since at that time work, work was my dominant thought, not love – not the pain that impels me to write this even while I don’t want to, the pain which won’t be eased by the writing of this but heightened, but which will be redeemed, and if only it were a dignified pain and could be placed somewhere other than in this black gutter of shame and loss and noisemaking folly in the night and poor sweat on my brow – Adam rising to go to work, I too, washing, mumbling talk, when the phone rang and it was Mardou, who was going to her therapist, but needed a dime for the bus, living around the corner, ‘Okay come on over but quick I’m going to work or I’ll leave the dime with Leo.’ – ‘O is he there?’ – ‘Yes.’ – In my mind man-thoughts of doing it again and actually looking forward to seeing her suddenly, as if I’d felt she was displeased with our first night (no reason to feel that, previous to the balling she’d lain on my chest eating the egg foo young and dug me with glittering glee eyes) (that tonight my enemy devour?) the thought of which makes me drop my greasy hot brow into a tired hand – O love, fled me – or do telepathies cross sympathetically in the night? Such cacoëthes him befalls – that the cold lover of lust will earn the warm bleed of spirit – so she came in, 8 a.m., Adam went to work and we were alone and immediately she curled up in my lap, at my invite, in the big stuffed chair and we began to talk, she began to tell her story and I turned on (in the grey day) the dim red bulb-light and thus began our true love –

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