Books, Cults, Fables, Hindu, Holographic Universe, Humor, Krishna Das, Mystic, New Age, Short Stories, short-short, Young Adult

Lord Krishna’s Mouth

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There is a story told of Lord Krishna. When he was a toddler at Brindavan, he liked to steal butter and cream. He was roundly scorned for this, and his mother told him he should take care never to do it again.

So, the next time the little Lord set about playing at the homes of his young friends, instead of making off with the butter, he grabbed a baby fistful of mud, ramming it into his mouth. His young friends, seeing what the baby had done, were offended, and went to tell his mother, Yashoda.

When he returned home, Lord Krishna’s mother said to him, “You awful, unthinking child! I will teach you never to put filthy mud into your mouth again!”

And she started to enact his punishment. Perhaps she was going to make him suck on a sour lemon, or even a cake of soap. We are not told. Whatever the case, though, when Lord Krishna opened his mouth, his mother was treated to an astounding sight:

She saw hills and valleys, trees and fields, rushing rivers, and vast craggy peaks. She saw mountainous rises and shallow dips, the twinkling, starlit array of diamonds in the black, vaulted firmament of heaven. She saw the planets, each with its own life, and the suns burning brightly in wonder, and the forgotten depths of the ocean floors, and even the raging waters of other worlds.

She, indeed, beheld the universe in the suckling infant’s mouth.

Lord Krishna’s mother fell to weeping, as she realized that Vishnu had come to earth in the form of her son.

(We imagine that, after that, he was treated to all the butter and cream he liked.)

Purchase the “Bhagavad Gita: Large Print Edition” at AMAZON:

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Books, Fiction, Humor, Short Stories, short-short, Young Adult

The Bird Who Stole Happiness

Once, long ago, a little girl was saying her prayers one night when she heard a curious sound outside of her window. Going to the window and throwing open the sash, she was astounded to see a sad, lonely whippoorwill sitting on a tree branch, crying out in low, mournful tones the saddest song she had ever heard.

The little girl, suddenly not feeling quite as cheery as she had when she had come upstairs to bed, asked the bird, “Mr. Whippoorwill, why are you so sad?”

And, to her surprise, the bird suddenly poked its beak in her direction and exclaimed through muffled tears, “Oh, it is the same as it has always been! I am a whipporwill, you see, and so must sing a low, mournful, weeping tune! I was born to sing this sad song, and never know happiness, and flit and fly about under the moon, alone!”

And with that, the whippoorwill let out such a torrent of weeping and wailing that the little girl soon found she was crying too. Just then, an idea popped into her head.

“Oh, Mr. Whipporwill, since you are so sad, and have never known happiness, I tell you what I will do. I will give you all of my happiness to take with you! Oh yes, I’ll wrap it up in a little silk rag, tied with a bow, and you can carry it with you in your beak. Build it into your nest, and, someday, when you are done with it, and wish to return to being what you were before, you can come flying back, and return it to me! Does that make you happy to think of, Mr. Bird?”

And the sad bird answered, “Oh, delightful! I shall be so glad to have your happiness with me wherever I go, hither and yon! And, I promise you, I shall take good care of it until I return!”

And so, wiping her eyes, the little girl (who, of all the little girls int he world, was always quite cheery and pleasant, even when she dropped her ice cream ont he ground), went to her dresser, and took out a silk hanky and a piece of blue ribbon. Then, screwing her eyes shut, she managed to take all the happiness swirling around inside her head, and wad it up in the little square of silk, tieing it securely with the length of blue ribbon before racing back to the window and offering her present to the bird.

“Here you go, Mr. Whippoorwill! Please, take good care of it, and be careful not to lose it! I don’t know what I should do if I lost my happiness forever!”

And with that, the bird bowed, thanking her for her graciousness and generosity, and, with the little silk bundle hanging from his beak, flew off, into the night. The little girl strained ot see him go, but eventually lost sight of him as he was framed against the bright, fat moon.

In a few moments, as the girl crept back to bed, she began to notice a change steal over her. She felt heavier, slower; more glum. More tired. And everything seemed to take on the same shade of dismal, dingy grey.

“Oh!” she said to herself, “I do so hope the whippoorwill returns with my happiness soon! I suppose in the state I am in, even a rainbow would look dull, and dirty, and grey!”

And she then burst into tears, burying her face in the pillows and crying herself to sleep.

It was not a day or two later that her mother began to become very concerned for her little girl. She did not brighten when she ate her desert, nor even when presented with an angelfood cake (which was her favorite). Nor did playtime seem to amuse her; nor did new toys; sunshine; bright days; fluffy white clouds; or her pet kitten.

She no longer skipped rope, or drew hopscotch, or dilly-dallied amongst the dandelions, instead preferring to sit in her room in a gloopy, gloomy mess, weeping silently while staring at the four walls and complaining that the light of the sun, or even a lamp, hurt her eyes!

Her father, taking her to the carnival, found that this did not cheer her, either. Her mother, planning a special party for her with little friends from the neighborhood, found that her daughter sat in the center of the big table, amongst a little legion of happy, shouting, laughing, jostling little girlfriends and boyfriends, and wept silent tears.

Furthermore, the mother noticed the little girl continually staring out the window, as if expecting someone or something to come flying up to the great tree outside.

Finally, after weeks of her daughter’s solitary mourning, the exasperated mother put her fists on her hips and said, “Oh daughter of mine, whatsoever troublest thou? For, have we not done everything in our power to make thee merry and glad? And yet, thou weepest when thou shouldst laugh, and frown when thou shouldst, by rights, smile and be of good cheer! What, on Earth, couldst thou possibly be tormented by, that thou shouldst carry on in suchlike manner?”

And, at hearing this, the little girl burst into tears again, saying, “Oh, Mother! It is dreadful, but, one night, I heard the Whippoorwill outside of my window, singing his mournful tune. And, feeling sorry for him, I wrapped all of my happiness into a silk kerchief, and, tying it with a bow, gave it to him, allowing him use of it until he returns. And so, I have no happiness left, and all my pleasant feelings have vanished. Now, it seems as if the cursed bird shall never return, and thus never again shall I laugh, or smile, or feel merriment and joy!”

And she began to boo hoo very loudly. Her mother, horrified at what she heard, put her hands to her head in panic, and exclaimed, “Foolish child, what hast thou done! Thou hast given away all they smiles and gladness in the world to a conniving old bird, who has surely made haste with it to some far-off land, wherein he may enjoy the fruits of thy happiness, while you are drowing in tears!”

And, not knowing what else to do, the mother went straightaway to the conjure woman, an old crone who lived in the woods and had a bad, sinister reputation.

The ugly old crone croaked, “There is only one thing to do: Thou must bake thee a pie, in the center of which wilt thou bake four and twenty blackbirds…and a single snake. And then thou must set the pie upon the ledge below thy window, and wait! Soon, the whippoorwill will come, and the thing will right itself.”

And so the mother made the pie crust, carefully rolling the dough, and filling the center with four and twenty blackbirds. Then, she went out into the yard, and pulled from the weeds choking the edge of the garden a single snake. Into the pie went THAT as well. Then, she set it to bake.

After it was done, she set the thing on the window seal and sat down with her gloomy daughter to wait.

The smell of the pie was quite strong, and, in time, they heard the whippoorwill come flying up, resting on the old branch of the old tree. Curiously, he was still singing the same gloomy tune, although he had stolen all of the little girl’s happiness.

The whippoorwill pecked and poked his beak into the pie, smelling the delicious smell of cooked blackbird. As soon as he got his beak in the crust, however, the snake reared up, bared its fangs, siezed upon the luckless whippoorwill, and swallowed him up!

The little girl’s mother then sprang up from her chair and, like a bolt of lightning, had the snake collared with one huge hand, squeezing it’s long skinny body so that it could not bite her.

She then began to pound the head of the snake against the floor, until its blood and brains oozed out from between her fingers. And, also, quite a lot of blackbirds.

The little girl rooted around in the blood and carcasses on the floor. Finally, her little hand fell upon what she was looking for: it was the little bundle of silk with all her happiness tied up, with the same blue ribbon, inside.

She quickly snapped the ribbon, releasing her happiness so that, forever after, she wore a smile on her face, and had a spring in her step, even when she was at last old and grey.

And the moral of this story is: Look before you leap. Or, before giving everything to a stranger, make sure you have considered your own needs first. Or, make sure your charity and pity for others will not hurt you, in the end.

Or, never put much trust in a flighty character. It’s for the birds.

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Books, Dreams and Nightmares, Fiction, Hardboiled, Short Stories, short-short, Uncategorized, Urban Legends, Weird

Dimoetes

The body was tossed to and from in the surf. Diometes paused for a moment, listening to some vast inner calling, some crystal voice out of the blue; perhaps out of the black.

Slanting rays of sunlight painted the cascades in rapturous color. Time stood still for a moment. For him time must always stand still.

He approached slowly. The thing was bloated in the surf, filled to bursting with salt water. Yet, stills supple, still exuded the elusive quality of coy humanity that must have marked her in life. In truth, she could have been a pale blue doll tossed to an fro on the gentle tide, , washed in salty brine and sand, spied from above by the beady, hungry eyes of suspicious gulls.

She was still shrouded in her sopping robes. Who was she? Who had she been? Had she been a wife, a mother? He didn’t know. His mind peered over the lifeless, bloated visage, into the unseeing eyes, seeing for a moment, another image, an image that was dear to him, and hateful to.

“Your daughter has been unfaithful to me. And with her own flesh and blood she has worked that which is unseemly. Whatever are we to do?”

He spoke calmly, serenely to father Troezen, his careful, thoughtful words underpinning the old man’s shame.

“I shall…”

But the old man’s lips quivered and his brow fell heavily in pained anguish. The sun rose and the sun set, illuminating the world and then casting it into shuddering darkness. The days failed to grasp his consciousness very tightly; he surmised he was simply insulating himself from the pain of regret, of rejection.

The old man beat Evopis fiercely, her shrieks of protestations and cries of abuse ringing throughout the household, shuffling servants bowing their heads low over their toil, trying as best as they could to ignore the shouts of accusation, the tears of protestation, the sounds of the blows falling.

The brother and lover simply skulked in the shadows, a look of shame and dishonor crossing his brow. Soon, he would go into exile, ride away on a donkey, cover his face with his cloak. He would go about the world to seek absolution for his sin. But, he was already wondering: could those without shame, truly find forgiveness. Inside, he felt few regrets, except, of course, for the crime of being found out.

Dimoetes had walked in on their mad embrace. His eyes had bulged and his cheeks had flushed hot at seeing the brother thrust himself between the ample thighs of his own sister, Dimoetes’ sweet little Evopis. The maidenhead burst like a grape. And this was not an act of rape, as her clinging fingers and cries of sweet, remorseless passion gave testimony to. Both of the shamed lovers tried to hide themselves from Dimoetes’ baleful stare, and the brother ran into the shadows.

But he had seen. He knew.

However, like so many other recent images, it faded into the obscurity of rememberance as just another scene, void of feeling and emotion, as cold and flat as a fish out of water, a portrait plucked from the storehouse of recent memory, almost like an image from a dream.

The feet of a corpse are never beautiful. Staring upward, he could see her hanging there by her scrawny neck, her hair, now shot with streaks of white, falling over her pained, pinched, inert face; the face of a battered and bruised doll. She had ended her life when her lover left, when their taboo romance was discovered, when she was threatened to be turned out into the streets like a dog, cast away like a leper in disgrace.

But with her dying breath she had cursed the man who did this to her. No, not the seductive brother, but her own HUSBAND, whom she died despising as a traitor, an usurper of passionate, if forbidden romance. Or so the servants whispered.

His cold lack of affect shocked others, but he confessed that, at this point, “I cannot allow my self to feel. The pain is too great.”

To which the old servant woman, who he knew loved him passionately, replied, “Go then. find your soul, your destiny. But, in the fullness of time, come back to us.”

And so he went. And the dreamlike days passed. and it was then that he found himself walking the coastline, staring at the thing washed up from the depths, the thing that should, by all rights, repulse him, but did not.

He carried the thing home. It’s sopping garments, its burial shroud acted as a sort of pulley by which to manage the dead weight. But, as light as the poor thing was, it was nothing for him to, eventually, pick her up in his powerful arms, take her back to his dark, dank abode.

He uncovered her face His private angel, his little doll, his vision of heaven. He remembered the dead, corpse feet of Evopis, her swinging form suspended like some grim lantern from the ceiling of the bridal chamber.

Ah! Here was a fulfilment, then, of the promise of his wedding. His black wedding; his marriage to the dead.

He swept his electrified eyes across the face, drank in the deathly pallor, caressed the cold flesh.

bending, he placed the first few kisses upon the cold, shriveling cheek. He began to play the folds of the burial shroud, his heart hammering in his chest at the blasphemous taboo he was transgressing, the social bond he was breaking. In his mind, he endowed the cold husk with voice, with gaiety and warmth, laughter, romance and love. He entered her, thrusting in mad passion against entropy, seeding the rebirth of a romance that could defy death and time. (Or, as one would put it, “putting his loaves in a cold oven.”)
***

He built a life for her in his dreams, endowing her with all of the attributes of a living, breathing woman, a woman that could never be, the “Bride of the Black Wedding,” the image of perfection–even as she rot and lie stinking in his bed, drawing vermin.

It was not long that, like sands flowing through the fingers of a desperate man, all attempts to resurrect the image of her, to make love to the one yielding perfect (because silent, malleable and inert) romance of his life, that he realized her woman hood had become to rotted with corruption to accommodate his lust any longer.
Indeed, she was now a putrefied, degraded thing, a thing that stank abominably, that was too rotted to be enjoyed, to be mocked-up in a fantasy vision of inviolable, perfect, and dream-like romance.

“I shall build for you the perfect crypt, oh my sweet, my dearest one. It shall be a bridal chamber the likes of which no one has ever seen before, or shall ever see again. And I will stay with there, all the day and the night..”

(One is here reminded of Annabel Lee, whom Poe vowed he would “…all the night tide, lie down by the side, of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride…” Also of the short poem by Henry King, Bishop of Chichester which has the words: “Stay for me there: I will not fail / To meet thee in that hollow vale.”)

And so build it he did, a tomb in the side of a cliff. And if it was but a hollowed cave, a poor specimen of what he, in his fevered imaginings, had intended, it was no one’ fault, but merely his isolation and poverty. But, in his mind’s eye, the walls were smooth, perfect, engraved with proclamations of his great love, forming a stone screen for the images of his hot imaginings.

Yet, he knew it for what it was: simply another version of the lifeless, dead womb, a huge, confining prison-like womb that would never birth new life, but merely contain the seeds of one brutally and unceremoniously ended, the last vestiges of material life as it seeped into nothingness, forgotten.

And so, falling upon the sarcophagi n a fit of terror and shame, his emotions finally giving vent in a torrent of grief more powerful than any he had ever felt before, a deep metaphysical anguish that felt crushed beneath the futility of life and time, the dissolution and inevitability of entropy, decay and death, he plunged his sword into his breast up to the hilt, and, pouring his life’s blood across the stone floor of the crypt, died beside his love, and is with her still.

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Art, Books, Fiction, Humor, Murder, Short Stories, short-short, Urban Legends, Weird, Young Adult

The Woman Who Made Everyone Equal

Once Upon a Time, there was a woman who had three little tots. This woman was not very bright. In fact, she was rather stupid.

To demonstrate just how ignorant the poor woman was, one fine day, when she was out and about the cottage, picking flowers with her children, she said to herself, “Oh! I am so lucky. My children are all happy, even if they are not all equal. For, one of my children has bright, flashing eyes, and another has dull vision, and can barely see. And one of my children has a beautiful voice, and yet another croaks like a toad. And still another child is fleet of foot, and another is slow.”

After a few minutes of contemplating such thoughts, the silly woman began to feel rather alarmed. She put her fingetip to her bottom lip, and peering left, then peering right, said to herself, a little fearfully, “Why, what will happen when the one child with the dull vision realizes his brother has bright flashing eyes? Will he not become jealous, and angry, and seek revenge against the world and God because he was not so blessed? What good is it to have three wonderful children if they are not all equal?”

So, an idea immediately popping into her silly noggin as to how she should remedy this situation, she called to the child with the bright, flashing eyes, and said, “Oh! Gunther, kommen sie hier! Mama has something for you!”

And the dutiful child, his pockets bulging with the flowers he had picked, came trotting over to where his mother sat in the shade of the bushes.

She said to him, “Gunther, you have such bright, flashing eyes, such excellent vision. It would not do for you to lord it over your brother Hans, who can barely see. So, I am going to make the both of you equal!”

And with that, she picked up a sharpened stick, and poled little Gunther in the eyes.

The boy let out a terrifying cry and clutched his bleeding eyes. He was now blind.

“Well, that settles that,” said the foolish woman to herself. But, after a few moments, she began to be worried. She said to herself, “Hans has such a beautiful singing voice, but little Victor croaks like a toad. What will happen if Hans begins to be puffed up and lords it over Victor? Victor may become melancholy, or even angry, and may run away and join the circus! Oh! This will never do! Once again, I shall have to make everyone equal!”

And so the woman (who must have really been quite mad) called to her little tot, “Oh Hans, kommen sie hier bitte! Mama has something for you!”

And little Hans trotted over. His mad Mama said, “Hans, you have such a beautiful singing voice, yet your brother Victor croaks just like a toad. It would not do for you to lord it over your brother Victor, who cannot sing a note. So I am going to make everyone equal!”

And with that, she produced a cup of lye, and forcing open Hans’ mouth, made him drain it to the dregs.

He clutched his throat in agony as the lye burned his vocal cords away. He would have screamed from the pain, but now he could not produce even a peep.

“Well, that settles that,” said the woman to herself, wiping off her hands. After a few moments of reflection though she, once again, began to feel sorely troubled. She said to herself, “Little Victor is so fleet of foot, so fast, but his brothers are slow and rather clumsy. What will happen if Victor begins to lord this over his other brothers? Will they not become bitter and resentful at Victor’s amazing speed? Is it really fair that Victor is so fast and agile and the others so slow? Hm. Yet again, I am going to have to go out of my way to make everyone EQUAL.”

And so she called to her little son, “Victor, kommen sie hier bitte! Mama has something for you!”

And young Victor came trotting up. Mama said to him, smiling, “Victor, you are quick and fleet of foot, yet your brothers are slow and clumsy oafs. It will not do for you to lord it over your brothers, who may come to hate and resent you for it. Therefore, I am going to make EVERYONE EQUAL.”

And so she smacked Victor on the kneecaps with the back of an axe. The boy shrieked in pain, and held his hands over his bleeding leg. He hobbled away, crippled now for the rest of his life.

The stupid woman smiled to herself, put her hands on her hips, and surveying the carnage around her, said, “Well, that settles that. NOW they are all equal!”

Just then, the woman’s husband came home from chopping wood. When she saw him, she ran up to greet him. Throwing her hand about his head, she said, “Oh my husband! I have done the most wonderful thing. I have assured peace and tranquility in our family by making everyone equal. For, Gunther had beautiful eyes and good vision, and Hans did not. So I poked Gunther in the eyes. And Hans had a beautiful voice, and Victor did not. So I made Hans drink lye. And Victor, of course, was fleet of foot, yet his brothers were awkward and slow. So I hit Victor in the knee with this axe. And now, now, they are ALL EQUAL. Oh my husband, am I not the most diligent and thoughtful of wives?”

And the man, seeing the horrors inflicted n his sons, spat “Woman, you’ve ruined us! Now we have a lame man, a blind man, and a mute to care for for the all of their lives!”

And, because justice was meted out pretty harshly in those days, the agonized woodsman swung his mighty axe and chopped the stupid woman’s head clean from her body.

And the moral of this story is: don’t lose your head trying to make everything equal. Some people are blind, lame, unpleasant and stupid, and others are not. But dragging one down to the level of the other will only ensure both become a misery and burden.

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Books, Fiction, Humor, Monsters, Short Stories, Young Adult

Seven at a Blow!

Once upon a time there was a poor tailor, who, one day, was interrupted in his work by a woman selling pots of delicious honey.

“Here,” he said to himself, “is a purchase that will make the day a little sweeter!”

And, reaching into his pocket, he brought forth a single guilder to give to the old woman, who was poor and blind and happy to get whatever she could.

Settling down to wait for his bread to bake, the cobbler went back to his craft. Suddenly, he found that he was not alone, but joined by seven horseflies attracted by the sent wafting up from the pots of honey.

“I’ll teach them to interrupt my work!” he said to himself angrily, and, grabbing up a rag, smashed his hand down on the lid of the pot, shattering it!

Of course, he lost some of his honey, but, as he pulled back the cloth, he was most pleased to find that he had managed to kill all of the pestiferous flies! “Ah ha!” he cried. “What a good man am I! Why, I’ve killed SEVEN AT A BLOW!”

Indeed, the little tailor was so impressed with himself that (as business was rather slow) he quickly set about embroidering a special sash with the phrase “Seven at a Blow!” written on it in large, flaming letters. Then, a beacon of pride, he took to wearing the thing everywhere.

He then went out into the street, brandishing his new belt, and all the people wondered after him. “Seven at a blow!” they exclaimed. “Why, it isn’t safe to even have such a man around us, if he could slay seven of us at one blow!”

In truth, the tailor had decided to leave his little village and go in search of his fortune, reasoning that he was cut out for something a darn sight better than being a tailor. He had brought nothing with him except a brick of old cheese; for, in searching high and low in his little shop, he could find nothing worth taking along on his journey.

Along the way, while making his way through the weeds and brambles, he spied a little blackbird caught in the hedge.

“He said to himself,” you might as well come along too, and keep my cheese company.” So he carefully rescued the little blackbird and put it in his pocket.

It was not long after, while scaling a large hill, he chanced to run across a terrible giant. The Tailor, however, was anything but afraid, and the giant, upon spying the belt the Tailor wore, shuddered to himself, saying “Seven at a blow, eh? That is a pretty grand number to kill in one blow, I must admit. But, here, let’s see if you can do this.”

And with that, the Giant picked up a stone and squeezed until water ran from between his great grimy fingers.

“Pshaw!” said the Tailor. “It is mere child’s play for some one who can slay seven at one blow!”

And with that, he thrust his hand into his pocket and brought out the cheese. Squeezing this with all his might, he brought forth the milk from which it was made. The giant, though, thought he had squeezed milk from a stone, and was duly impressed.

He said, “Well, now that is something. However, can you throw a stone so far it disappears into the sky?”

And with that, the Giant picked up a huge stone, and threw it so far it became a speck in the sky, and finally disappeared. The Tailor again laughed, and said “It is nothing! Not for a man who can slay seven at one blow!”

And with that he thrust his hand into his pocket and brought forth the blackbird, throwing the little curled-up thing into the sky. There it took flight, disappearing into the distance.

The Giant, though, thought that the Tailor had merely thrown a stone he had hidden in his pocket, and was even more impressed than before. He said, “Well, a man as mighty as you must come and stay the night in our cave! Come, be my guest!

“But first,” began the Giant, “One more test, to truly judge how strong a man you are. Here, help me lift this mighty tree.”

And so the giant hefted a felled oak. The wise little Tailor though, made sure to jump up in the branches of the tree when the Giant’s back was turned, and sat, happy as a clam, in the branches, causing the Giant to strain under the extra weight.

And with that, the Giant lead the little Tailor into the mouth of a nearby cavern, wherein were sleeping seven more giants, each more terrible than the last. The little Tailor was given some tough, tasteless food, and shown to his bunk. There, he stretched out, but he did not sleep, for he did not like the maniacal glint that he saw in the Giant’s eye.

“He is surely waiting for me to sleep,” said the Tailor to himself, “and when I do, he will creep up on me, and kill me.”

And so the Tailor waited until the Giant’s family was all asleep. Then, he slipped quietly out of his bed, leaving some pillows under the blanket to make the giant think it was he sleeping under the covers, and then slipped out of the mouth of the cave, into the night.

He journeyed long and far, and soon found himself drowsy and wanting to sleep. He curled up next to a burbling brook. In time, some wandering servants of the king approached, and, seeing the little tailor and his magnificent belt which proclaimed “Seven at a Blow,” woke him saying, “Certainly, a man such as thee, who canst perform such a deed as is proclaimed on thy belt, belongs in the service of the king.”

And so the little Tailor was unceremoniously commanded to accompany the royal troupe back to the palace, where the KIng greeted with great amusement (and not a little fear) a man that could kill “seven at a blow.”

But his royal guard were all in a fit of trembles. “What are we to do,” they reasoned, “if he becomes angered? Why, the man can kill “seven at a blow”! It says so rigjt on his belt! We can not tolerate such a man in our midst. if it came down to it, he could strike seven of us dead at one time, leaving us no defense!”

The King, reasoning that there might be some dissension in the ranks of his troops (and no King would risk losing the support of his fighting men. Not if he were smart.) he tol the little Tailor, “I will accept thee into my service, but first, I ask of the to perform a task. In a neighboring kingdom live two giants, who sleep in the forest and terrorize the towns on the border of our own land. If thou canst slay seven at a blow, thou shouldst make of two giants short work.”

The Tailor, hitching his thumbs onto his fancy leather belt, agreed quite readily.

So the King sent him on his way. Along with him he sent one hundred of his bravest horsemen, who all rode far back of the Tailor, as they knew he was setting out to conquer the fearsome giants.

“Never fear,’ he told them. “What are two giants to a man that can conquer and claim ‘seven at a blow’? I shall return shortly, my saber washed in giant’s blood.”

And with that he was off, trudging through the forest and keeping his eyes and ears open, in case he run into any fearsome giants.

He had not far to go before he found the two he was sent for. Both of them lie, arm-in-arm, upon the ground, fast asleep. He quietly, stealthily climbed up in the branches of the tree, and, shielding his eyes from the blazing sun, pondered what to do.

Suddenly, it occurred to him exactly what he was going to do. Climbing down from the tree, he gathered together pocketsful of stones, and then climbed carefully back to his perch. Then, after few minutes deliberation, he threw one of the stones with all his might at the sleeping giant on the left, who quickly came awake.

“Ho, brother,” said the awakened giant. “Why art thou pelting me?”

His irritable, ugly brother (truth be told, both giants were quite hideous), snapped, “Thou fool! I would never pelt thee! Now, lie down and sleep, for we have much to do on the morrow!”

So both giants relaxed again. Soon, the little tailor let fly with another of the loose stones. The giant lying on the left suddenly snapped awake and said, “Durst thou pelt me with stones while yet I sleep?”

To which his companion replied, “I do not! Now, arise and take thy punishment for speaking falsely against me!”

And so the giants rose to their feet, making the earth tremble, and sending huge clods of dirt and stone flying everywhere, and shaking the trees, and breaking off their branches and hitting each other over the head with them.
It was not long before both of the fools were lying on the ground unconscious, dripping and wet in pools of their own blood. (Proving, once again, that, instead of fighting your enemies, it is often better to get them to destroy each other.)

The valiant Tailor stepped forward and thrust his saber into the breasts of the twin giants, making short work of them. Then he went back to the one hundred horsemen and said, “Go and see for yourselves! The two giants are dead.”
And so fearfully the men went and saw. And, lo! They saw the two giants swimming in pools of their own blood, and they were much amazed by the derring-do and the powerful fighting skills of the little tailor.

And so they returned to the king, and their complaints were double what they were before, as they were now very much afraid of the Tailor, as they thought that, surely, one day they would manage to anger him, and he would kill them off “seven at a blow.”

So the king, wishing he could rid himself of the pesky problem, told the Tailor, “Before I can accept thee into my service, I must needs have thee perform another task. In yonder woods there lives a terrible unicorn, the cause of much fear and trembling amongst my people. Go thou and capture this strange beast, and thy shall have the hand of my own daughter in marriage, and half of my kingdom in the bargain!”

And so the Tailor was off again, and with him the hundred horsemen, and he went into yonder woods, which were enchanted and wherein lived the terrible unicorn that put so many strong men in a fit of trembles.

“Hark!” said the little Tailor. “I shall go into yonder wood and seek out the unicorn! Stay and wait for one who is always ready to slay giant, unicorn, or ‘seven at a blow’!”

And so he went into the deep woods, and, before long, while hiding in a duck blind, he spied the terrible unicorn; and he did, indeed, agree that it put one in a ‘fit of trembles.’

He carefully approached the beast, not knowing, exactly, what he should do. It snorted, bent its head, stomped its hoof and–charged!

He looked about in panic, and, spying a skinny tree directly behind him, leapt suddenly for cover behind it. It was a foolish move, he knew (the tree could hardly be considered proper cover), but it turned out to be the right one.

The beast, too enraged and moving tooo swiftly to avoid a collision, thrust her single horn into the skinny elm, where it was promptly caught. The Tailor, his chest heaving, backed away from the tree. Realizing that, through sheer luck, he had just managed to ensnare the dreaded unicorn, he smiled and took out his dagger. Then, he promptly slayed the beast, finally taking its horn (how did he get it out?) along with him as proof.

At this the hundred horsemen were astonished. They rode back to their king glumly, and then grumbled to him about the seemingly superhuman little tailor, who had slain not only two fearsome giants, but a unicorn, and the aforementioned “seven at a blow,” as well.

The King was sorely vexed, but finally came up with an idea that he thought to be foolproof. He told the Tailor, “Before I consent to give thee my daughters precious hand, and half my kingdom, I should have of thee one final test of thy mettle. In yonder forest, past the craggy dark hills, there dost live the Wild Boar, the presenc eof which doth put my most stout-hearted knights into a fit of trembles. Slay the beast, bring me back proof that thou hast done this, and the way is clear for thee to one day become king of this mighty land.”

And the Tailor, hitching his thumbs into his belt, said, “It is simplicity itself. For, what is a wild boar to a man who can slay two giants and a unicorn? Seven at a blow is MY kind of affair, after all.”

And so he set out once again with the one hundred horsemen (who must have, by this point, seemed an entirely useless retinue),a nd went past the craggy hills into the deep forest.

He said, “Hark! I go to slay the Wild Boar. It is the work of a moment for me. After all, am I not the man who once slew ‘seven at a blow’?”

And with that, he ventured on alone. Soon, in a clearing, he saw the Wild Boar grazing. His legs shaking like jelly, he approached the animal cautiously, hiding in the brush with his saber drawn.

The Boar, however, must have caught wind of him, for it turned, its eyes blazing and its snout belching fire, its razorback mane sticking straight up, and it gave a wild snort and a monstrous howl before it charged forward, sending up dust and dirt.

The Tailor thought he might, this time, actually be done for, so, he turned, and screaming, headed back throgh the brush and up a hill, and down a hillock, and across dips and over crags and tussles, until, on a low hill, he found what appeared to him to be an abandoned chapel.

It was a dark, drab, crumbling, evil-looking little place, but at that moment the Tailor didn’t care, as he was being chased by the angry boar. He flew through the decrepit doorway and into the musty, dusty dark, slamming the door behind him.

Just as quickly as he had entered, so entered the Wild Boar, whose little piggy eyes scanned the darkness for its prey.

The Tailor, however, had had other ideas. Rather than stay there trapped, and be mist assuredly killed, he dived out of a small window.

Then, racing around to the entrance, he shut up the old wooden doors tightly, securing them with a stout branch. The Wild Boar, unable (because of being a boar) to climb from the windows, raced around in the gloomy old chapel, snorting in terrific anger, trapped.

Thus, the Tailor was able to return to the horsemen and proclaim, “He has not hurt a single hair on my head. Yet, I have captured the Wild Boar! go to yonder chapel, and see!”

And so they did. And, astonished, they shot arrows through the windows to kill the monster, then took the carcass back to the king for proof.

The King finally hung his head in defeat and proclaimed, “I have given thee my word, and so must keep it. Thou shalt have y daughter’s hand in marriage, and half my kingdom, too.”

And so the King prepared a royal wedding the likes of which had never before been seen in that land. The Tailor walked down the aisle arm-in-arm withe princes, and was soon her husband.

The reader migth be forgiven for thinking that this was, by and by, the end of the story. BUT THE READER WOULD BE WRONG.

One night, as the little Tailor as sleeping, he began to talk in his sleep. Upon awakening, and listening to him speak of “getting the measurements right.” and “preparing the yard cloth,” and “Boy! bring me my scissors and tape!”, realized he was no heroic character, after all, but a simple tailor.

In anger she went to her father, and said, “Thou has married me off to a common tailor, father, and shamed me forever! Oh, whatever shall I do?”

To which the King replied, “Fear not! I have a plan. When thou has retired for the evening, I will send to thy bedchamber an assassin, who will slay the little Tailor, and rid us of his presence!”

And so, that night, when the little Tailor was asleep, his wife crept from bed and crept to the door, opening it when she heard the approach of the assassin. The footpad crept inside with his sword drawn, ready to kill, when, suddenly, the little Tailor began to talk in his sleep again:

“Boy! Take the Lord Mayor’s coat to him, or I’ll box your ears! Have I not slain seven at a blow? What do I care for some assassin lurking near my bed? Have I not likewise slain two giants, a unicorn, and a wild boar?”

At hearing this, the assassin became so frightened he turned and ran for his life, never to be seen in the kingdom again. Upon the death of the king, the little Tailor ascended the throne, and it was known, far and wide, that he was the one and only killer of SEVEN AT A BLOW.

And they all lived happily ever after.

(Source: Brothers Grimm)

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Fiction, Monsters, Short Stories, Werewolves, Young Adult

The Feast of Lycaon

Once, when the world was still young, but gradually sinking into evil and disrepute, Zeus heard the cries of his children in great Olympus, and decided to see for himself what might be the root of all the problems.

He donned a human disguise, and went to visit Arcadia, where he had heard many of the cries of anguish and grief originate from. It turned out that Arcadia was ruled by an iron-fisted tyrant named Lycaon. Zeus, intrigued by the ruthlessness of this ruler, went to his palace, still disguised as a mortal man.

At the gate, the guards fell to their knees, recognizing at once who was standing before them. One of them went to fetch their master.

Now, Lycaon was as stupid as he was brutal, so he said to himself, “Ha! This fellow is no god. Wait! I’ll trick him into revealing himself. If he is a god, surely he’ll turn up his nose at the dinner I feed him!”

And with that, Lycaon called his most trusted servant to him, and said, “You have been a good servant these many years. Do you now wish to have your reward?”

And the servant, thinking his master was about to grant his freedom, fell to his knees and said, “Oh thank you, Master! Thank you! Thank you!”

And with a motion of his hand, Lycaon had him beheaded.

Next, he had the servant sliced open, and his entrails thrown into a pot with some potatoes and carrots. Then, he ha the whole boiled into a delightful stew, and filled a great bowl with the contents.

He then bade his servants to go and tell his guest that dinner was prepared, and that he would be joining him shortly. Well, Zeus came into the great dining hall and seated himself. He was soon joined by Lycaon, who greeted him warmly. Then, the servants set the bowl of boiled human entrails in front of Zeus, and Lycaon announced that dinner was served.

Zeus sniffed at the concoction, and suddenly, by his divine powers, he knew the trick that Lycaon was trying to play on him. He erupted in a fit of rage, smouldering like a great volcano of wrath until mighty thunderbolts ripped through the ceiling of the palace, setting the whole place a light, and killing many of the inhabitants.

Lycaon, realizing instantly what he had done, ran in terror for his life. Unfortunately for him, Aegis-bearing Zeus was full of wrath, and not to be put off from his righteous vengeance. He pronounced a curse upon Lycaon.

He slowly began to transform into the likeness of a wolf. Hair sprouted on his arms and legs, and his face, though it still bore the countenance of a man, was unmistakably that of a wolf.

Lycaon, the ruler of Arcadia, dropped to all fours, and began to roam the countryside as a man-beast.

Zeus, so disgusted by the fallen nature of man, decided it was time to wipe the slate clean, and start over. The resultant global flood completely wiped out humanity, except for two survivors: Deucalion and Pyrrha.

(Source Werewolves by Nigel Suckling)

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Books, Fiction, Humor, Monsters, Mystic, Short Stories

St. George and the Dragon

George rode out upon the beach. Overlooking, the cliff edge cast its shadow across the hot, rocky sand. At the edge of the water, as if about to cast herself in, he spied a young girl.

“Ho there, maiden! What doest thou out amongst the billows and rocks, at the edge of the sea?”

The young woman, her face streaked with tears, turned and cast her glace up at the man on the horse.

“Oh, good and gentle knight, I have been condemned to a most terrible fate. In yonder cavern dwells the terrible, fiery lizard, whose appetite has devoured all the sheep from my village, so that we are compelled to feed a woman and a cow to him, every day, lest he rear up in fury and destroy us all! Well, the victims for this sacrifice are chosen by lottery, and none are exempt, not even I, who am the daughter of the king! And, oh! Dreadful! Now, it has fallen to me to be the meal for this brutal monster!

She continued. “I have been waiting here to meet my doom, so full of despair that I have thought of casting myself into the sea!”

The noble George then scratched his chin, said, “Fear not, M’lady, for the Lord has sent me to rescue thee and thy people from this devilish dragon!”

The Princess suddenly clapped her hands together and said, “I see thou speakest nobly and with truth! But, oh! what canst thou do against such a terrible, such an awful monster as this? Why, the stench of his hideous breath is enough to kill a score of men!”

“Bah! it is child’s play for one who does the work of the Lord!”

And so George rode into the mouth of the cavern to coax the beast out. He did not have long to wait.

The hideous, fire-belching dragon came crawling, like something unleashed from a nightmare, out of the mouth of the cavern. he hissed, and belched, and fumed, and raged, and spoke imprecations and threats (which George could not understand, as he never bothered to learn dragon).

George uttered a prayer, crossed himself, and let fly with his mighty lance. It flew straight and true, pinning the vile beast to the ground,a nd George called back to the Princess, “Come, take thy girdle and string it along the top of my lance!”

This she did, and just as easily as you please, lead the great, fearsome beast like a whipped dog back to her village, which was called Silene.

There, George announced: “Lo! People of Silene, I have defeated the dragon and freed you from your terrible bondage. Behold! I have done this by the power and might of the Lord, the One True God! I must stay, and teach you his ways!”
And George took his broadsword, and lopped off the dragon’s head. The people rejoiced, and counted him a hero. They were eager to be taught Christianity.

All of this was in the land of Libya, long ago. George would eventually become St. George, the Patron-Saint of England.

(Source: The Junior Classics Volume 2: Myths and Legends.)

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