Sunday, December 11, 2011

Excerpt from The Dragon and The Lotus

“So that ghost stopped a snake from biting you. That’s your story. Is that all?” The old man sighed.
“She saved my life. That seems like enough.” Asha shrugged. “What have you done since you died?”
“Done? Nothing! I’m dead.” The ghost scowled. “What about paradise? What about the next world? Or rebirth? What about me?”
“Can’t say. Never been there.” Asha sniffed the dark oil on her needle. “All I’m saying is that you have the choice to rest here, quietly, without a care in the world. Or you could watch over this place and help it to heal. And maybe you could even help someone passing through.”
The ghost laughed. “You want me to save you from the bear?”
Asha slipped her mortar and pestle into her bag, along with her copper vials and her wool blanket. “No, I’ve got this.” She held up the needle.
“What good is that against a raging sloth bear?”
The words were barely out of his mouth before the bear’s roar drowned them out completely and the splash of light at the mouth of the cave vanished in a blur of dirty black fur. Asha’s hand flashed through the shadows and a faint hiss followed the needle through the cold air. The bear snorted and stumbled back from the rocks, and the sunlight glanced off the hint of steel in his nose.
Snuffling and grunting, the huge animal shambled away out of sight. A moment later, Asha heard the heavy thud of the bear collapsing on the dry earth.
“It’s just a tranquilizer. He’ll wake up in a day or so,” Asha said. She rolled over and began crawling back out through the narrow gap in the rocks.
“What about the boy? What about Naveen?” the ghost called.
“Don’t worry. I have enough for him too.”

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