Monday, May 17, 2010

At the End of the Road

There is an abandoned temple at the dead end of a road. In that temple, one of the innermost rooms overlooks the river nearby.

It is said that one of the windows overlooking the river is cursed.

One day, three boys decided to test their bravery. When the sun set in the evening, they met outside the temple; they came armed with some joss sticks and candles to provide light. And so, separately, they went to look at the window in the temple room

X went in first. He came out after some time.

He said, "I saw nothing leh".

The second guy, Y, went in after X came back. He too came out after some time.

He said, "I saw my reflection in the window. X, you must be coward lah, didn't even go look right?"

X denied this and claimed he looked at all the windows, but perhaps he got the wrong room.

Finally, it was Z's turn. And so, Z went in. After a short while, Z screamed and came running out.

"Fuck, I saw an old person's face in the window!"

X and Y didn't know whether Z was joking, but Z seemed to be in serious shock. They felt spooked also, so they all ran home.

A few days, then a few weeks passed. Eventually X,Y, and Z came to think less and less of the events of the temple.

Then, a few months later, Y died in his sleep.

It was unusual for a young boy to die while sleeping, though it was not unheard of altogether.

But he died in his sleep with eyes left half-open.

It reeked of a supernatural flavor, but investigators could find no cause other than "natural death".

X and Z were scared, but somehow they convinced themselves that the events were unlinked.

And so, as fate would have it, nothing else seemed to happen. A few years passed, and they both grew up.

X took up a job in a small machine shop, while Z went to the city and had a cushier desk job. Then one day, Z received a call, and then he learnt that X had suffered a most gruesome death. X had apparently had a fatal accident while on his job.

X's head was severed while he was cutting some sheet metal.

The entire head was cut clean off.

Nobody was nearby when it happened, but investigators surmised that he had tripped while operating the rotary saw cutter.

An accident.

But to Z, it was clear. It was unnatural, and it was somehow linked to the events that happened many years ago at the temple. Hurriedly, Z ran to the nearest temple in the city for help. Eventually, he was directed to an elderly Taoist priest with expertise in such matters. Z recounted the events that happened many years ago, and the fates of his friends.

The priest then asked, “Does the temple overlook a river? Is the temple at the end of a road?"

Z was shocked at the priest's knowledge, but he replied in the affirmative.

"Ah ! Then it is clear." The priest then explained.

“A river at the dead end of a road has great spiritual energy and supernatural significance. A dead man walks for 7 days and comes to a river that divides the mortal realm from the afterworld.

Of course, it is not always that when a river meets a dead end that supernatural events occur but the temple, abandoned, may have contributed to matters.

Still, that is only half of matters. The window directly overlooking the river to the underworld offers a glimpse into the underworld. But also, it reflects the view of the dead man before he enters the underworld. In other words, what you see in the window is simply a reflection of you when you die.

Y saw a young boy, and hence he was fated to die at a young age.

X saw nothing, but what he really saw was his headless self.

You, Z, thankfully saw your elderly self. Perhaps it did not seem so then, but it is the most fortunate of outcomes. You will not die, except of old age.”

The above is the original version of a story I first told over a MSN conversation. I have since written a more complete and polished version, but it is not available to the public eye.

No comments: