Review: A Bhikku’s tale 

A Bhikku’s tale is a Novella featuring many deities and creatures from the Irish mythology. The whole story starts from an island named Inis Fail, which literally means island of destiny. 

The story begins depicting a monk, who is well known for his abilities to fight demons within his subjects. Later on, he is called upon to serve the city, because  Morpheus, the god of dreams and sleep, has invaded the city accompanied with his dragon. 

Excerpt:
Deep in a forest of Inis Fail, there was a cabin, well hidden, in which there lived a solitary bhikku. He was short and dirty and grey bearded with a large, greasy curl of hair on his forehead, fashioned every morning when he saw the mirror. Belonging to no Order, he did what he pleased. But what pleased him most was to meditate and so he earned the name, Bhikku.      

 For the most part he was left alone but sometimes he was visited by people with demons. Most of these were alcohol related. The cabin provided a place to dry out but he also helped these people to destroy their demons through meditation. They came from the city and they returned to the city and most of them he never saw again. He was good. His name was respected: Bhikku Reilly of the woods.       

The reason he was good was because he treated demons not metaphorically but literally. It was the only way to get rid of them. If you treated them as metaphors you ended up playing with them, which is what demons love to do. No, the only way to kill the buggers was to see them for what they were: entities with a separate existence. Real.       

So he was good with demons and he was good with people. He rarely turned anyone away.       But his heart lay in being alone. In meditating and reading and eating good vegan food. In the smell of the pine. In the singing chatter of the birds. In the chilled taste of the brook that bubbled nearby. In the warmth of the cabin during winter. In the stillness of the trees during summer.       

Sometimes he got drunk. He smoked the odd cigarette. He jerked off. He was only a humble little bhikku. His greatest pleasure was in meditation. If the truth be known, he didn’t do it for the good of mankind or all the sinners in the city: he did it because of the pleasure. In his heart he was an Epicurean. But he was happy to help those who needed it and who could be helped by him, as long as it didn’t take up too much of his time.     

Yes, all in all he was a happy bhikku, content to live out the rest of his sweet life in the cabin in the woods, meditating. This was before the Sybarite came to Fararden Wood one day and told of a dragon terrorizing the city. After that his life would never be the same again.   

He was outside his cabin, sitting naked with crossed legs, meditating. It was a cool clear morning. Every now and then he was caressed by a zephyr that had made its way into the forest. He smiled as he always did during meditation. After about an hour he was interrupted by the Green Man. This didn’t bother him as he always had time for the Green Man.      

 ‘Reilly. How goes it with you?’ the Green Man called to him as he approached. He was a large man, barrel chested. His hair and beard appeared to be made out of long green grass, combed neatly. He wore a shirtless black suit which was too small for him. His chest and abdomen were exposed and bristled with verdure.      

 ‘Green,’ the bhikku called back after a few seconds, shaking himself out of the trance. ‘I’m good. How are you?’    

  ‘Never better,’ the Green Man replied.     

  The bhikku looked down at his naked body. ‘I’d better put something on.’     

 ‘That would be a good idea.’     

 So the bhikku got up and went into the cabin, shaking his legs. After about a minute he emerged wearing a pair of grey denims and a t-shirt with a Star Wars print on it. ‘The Force Awakens’, the t-shirt declared.     

 ‘So what’s up?’ Reilly asked.    

  ‘I had a visit from Cernunnos. Told me that the Sybarite had come to him, talking about a dragon.’    

  ‘The Sybarite? In the wood? Fararden Wood? That’s unheard of,’ Reilly said. ‘Are you sure it’s him?’     

 ‘I’ve seen him with my own two eyes. It’s him,’ the Green Man said. ‘He is in quite a state. Looks like he has seen a ghost.’      

‘I have to see this for myself. It’s almost unbelievable.’     

 ‘You will. I was sent here to bring you to him.’ 

 ‘A dragon you say?’ Reilly said after a pause for thought.       

‘Yes.’       

‘What kind of dragon?’      

‘I don’t know. There are different types?’      

‘Yes. It might be a Chinese Dragon. Or a Western dragon. Like Tolkien’s Smaug or the wyrm of the Anglo-Saxons. Or a Welsh dragon.’       

‘Have you ever come across one?’      

‘No, there has never been a dragon in Inis Fail.’      

‘So what are we going to do?’ the Green Man asked.       

‘Talk to the Sybarite first. That’s if he’s able to talk.’      

‘He can talk.’      

‘Good.’      

They made their way to Cernunnos’ place. The god didn’t have a home but there was a place he frequented. A gloomy place by a brook. No one knew why he chose this place but Reilly guessed it was to listen to the stream. The god was so solitary he made Reilly look like a holiday tour guide but even gods needed company.       

Cernunnos was standing by the stream when they approached. He was fully eight feet tall not including his majestic antlers. His naked body was slim and sinewy and moss covered. As he stood there his attitude was nonchalant and full of ease but also wary. The two men leaped across the stream. Cernunnos saluted Reilly by raising a palm. The god never spoke. The only person he communicated with beyond body language was the Green Man, as they shared a psychic bond.  

Reilly was about to ask where the Sybarite was when he heard a voice say, ‘Hello Bhikku.’

 He turned around and there was the Sybarite, sitting down with his back against a tree trunk, smoking a cigarette. As usual, he wore a baggy, frilly white shirt, open at the chest and a pair of leather trousers. His face was of the palest hue and his hair was dark and abundant and fell like vines about his head and neck and shoulders. What was unusual was the look in his eyes. There was fear there which Reilly had never seen before. Over all he gave the impression of someone on the edge.        

‘Sam,’ said Reilly for he knew him well enough to call him by his name. ‘You look terrible.’    

‘Thanks,’ said the Sybarite. ‘So would you if you’d just been chased by a dragon.’      

‘What kind of a dragon?’ Reilly asked.     ‘Chinese.’      

‘Hmmm. How long has this been going on?’      ‘About two weeks,’ the Sybarite said.       

‘Is there anything else you can tell me?’     ‘Yes. I could be wrong here but I’m pretty sure it is being ridden by Morpheo.’      

‘Morpheo? Why would he do this?’      

‘Your guess is as good as mine,’ said the Sybarite before taking a swig from a bottle.       ‘And you say he chased you into the woods?’

‘Yes.’      

‘Why would he do that?’      

‘I don’t know why,’ said the Sybarite.       

Reilly paused for thought, then said, ‘why did you bring me here?’      

‘I came looking for you because you kill monsters. Everyone knows you kill monsters.’

‘This is a bit out of my league.’      

‘You’re our only hope,’ said the Sybarite. 

There was another silence before Reilly said, ‘why the hell would Morpheo attack the city with a Chinese dragon? You’re sure it’s him?’

‘Yes!’      

Reilly squatted beside the Sybarite and rubbed his hands. ‘Pass me that cigarette,’ he said.

‘Here. Have a fresh one,’ the Sybarite said and reached into his pockets for the carton.      

‘No. That one will do.’ The Sybarite passed him the cigarette. He took a couple of drags from it and returned it. ‘So we have Morpheo, the bringer of sleep and dreams, terrorizing the city.’      

‘I’ve always thought Morpheo a benign god,’ said the Green Man.  

‘Yes. So what happened to turn him against the city? Is there anything you can remember? Are there any clues?’      

‘No. But he’s a shy creature. You wouldn’t know what’s going on with him.’      

‘Why would he chase you into the wood, Sam?’

‘I don’t know.’      

‘You’re the spirit of luxury. Why would he want you out?’ Reilly said.       

‘Maybe he wants to bring nightmares down on the city. Maybe the spirit of pleasure is one thing that stands in his way,’ the Green Man said.       

‘Hmmm, we used to be on the same wavelength, me and Morpheo’ said the Sybarite.       

‘I wonder what happened,’ Reilly said.      

‘Only one way to find out,’ said the Green Man.

They arrived at the city about an hour later, Reilly and the Green Man. The Sybarite was too full of fear so they left him languishing in his own way amongst the trees. He, who had up until now been a strictly metropolitan man, had discovered the luxuries of the green. Cernunnos watched over him.       

The first thing they noticed was the silence. An unnatural silence. Then the absence of people. It was like the early hours after everyone had gone home to bed, only this was midday. The city was afraid. It was in hiding.       

They walked through the city centre and down Parade Street. When they got to the main thoroughfare Reilly said, ‘stop.’ The Green Man did so and looked around, unsure of what to do or say. After a half a minute’s silence Reilly said, ‘I can feel it coming.’      

‘What?’      

‘Something big.’      

‘You mean the dragon?’ the Green Man said, his voice betraying fear.       

Reilly nodded.      

‘Where?’      

‘Coming down the thoroughfare.’      

‘I can’t hear a thing,’ the Green Man said.  

‘It’s a silent dragon.’      

They watched the end of the thoroughfare and sure enough, after a few minutes, the dragon came into view. It was large and absolutely silent. It moved towards them with deliberation. As it got closer they could see that it was indeed a Chinese dragon but without any people inside to move and guide it. It seemed to ride the air as if it were mounting waves in the sea. When it reached them they could see Morpheo sitting astride it just behind the head. He looked down on them with disdain. The dragon continued to ride the air but without moving forward, just staying afloat. Morpheo was pale and raven haired but in his eyes was a fire Reilly had never seen before.       

‘So nice to have it like this, isn’t it?’ the god said.      

‘What?’ 
‘The silence. The peace.’     

‘Where is everyone?’ Reilly said.     

‘Why they’ve gone home, Bhikku.’      

‘What are you trying to do, Morpheo?’   

‘What I have succeeded in doing, Bhikku, is taking over the city.’    

‘Why?’    

‘Isn’t it obvious? Cleanliness is godliness.’   

‘I can’t let you do this.’    

‘Well, I know you vanquish little demons, monk, but you are no giant killer.’     

‘Why did you chase the Sybarite into the woods?’    

Morpheo sighed and said, ‘because I wanted his territory.’   

‘But why, Morpheo?’ 

O, I have such plans for this city! You think the Sybarite knew luxury? Wait ‘til they get a taste of me. I’m taking over, Bhikku. Taking over the hearts and minds of the people.’  

‘You want to rule a waste land?’ the Green Man said.   

                   ‘Yes. I want that.’ 

 -DAVID R. JORDAN

A Bhikku’s Tale

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