Plugs

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

David Kopaska-Merkel’s book of humorous noir fiction based on nursery rhymes, Nursery Rhyme Noir 978-09821068-3-9, is sold at the Genre Mall. Other new books include The zSimian Transcript (Cyberwizard Productions) and Brushfires (Sams Dot Publishing).

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

IN THE SHRINE OF THE MONKEY KING

by Daniel Braum

Today’s story continues from the Boon of the Monkey God


The Chinese government told me the shrines simply did not exist. But here, thousands of miles away from Costa Rica I stare into the passionate eyes of the Monkey King himself, a solemn figure carved from obsidian stone. This avatar is so different than the bright, brazen, childlike images illustrating the ancient tales. So different than the earthly, visceral persona associated with the mysterious mythological figure I had come here seeking. The statue embodied the “King” aspect of the Monkey King. Old and solemn with wisdom and introspection brimming behind his mischievous but tired countenance. I hoped I could reach this side of him. The fate of two souls and an entire country depended upon it.

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I pay the monk and share four bottles of wine with him and begin to think I would get no more than his kind entertaining presence, sketches of Chinese characters, and proclamations in broken English.

“Life Okay !”

“Life no drive you ! You drive life !”

Then he stands. His limbs contort, ape-like and he dances across the floor like a simian in the trees. The Monkey King was in him!

“Last year you granted a boon,” I say. “The wish of two souls desiring to be alone with the monkeys.”

Thanks to the Monkey King, Costa Rica was now empty of humans and higher thought, except for the two wish makers. Any person venturing there instantly devolved to their base instincts and lower selves.

“They only wished to leave the heavens behind. In a world free of sutras. Free of the shackles of reason,” says the Monkey King.

“I beseech you to end it.”

“What makes you think I can?”

“The stories say you are a creature of both earth and the heavens..”

“It was they who made it happen, so it must be they who must end. it. I can allow you to keep your mind if you go. But you must convince them.”

The monk sits, a bedraggled monarch on a throne. The smokey air swirls and an oval forms before the statue. A portal.

Through the haze I see the lush tropical Costa Rica on the other side. The Monkey King has given me a path.

Smelling the jungle I want to leave reason behind. Was I here to rescue the children and to save the country or to give in to the boon myself?

The monk promised safe passage, but I sense I might really absolve myself of the reason of the heavens like all those who came before me if I walk through.

I lift my foot. Is it wisdom or mischief I see in the old monk’s eyes? I can’t tell.

– END-

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