That hand was like a pair of pliers. Once it clamped onto me, it didn’t want to let go.
A moment later, a gory face appeared from the other side of the wall.
The man’s face had changed beyond recognition. There was not even an intact piece of skin. One of his eyes sprang out and fell to the floor, while the other eye gazed at me from its dark socket. He whined and begged, “Save us… Please, save us…”
Immediately, I craned my neck and saw that the missing folks had gathered outside.
They were like lizards. Their bodies stuck on the walls. They were trying to climb up.
While crawling, they also begged me. “Save us. Please save us!”
I was startled and thought that I was seeing some illusion again. I tried to chew the soybeans. But they were still there, right in front of my eyes. It seemed they weren’t a hallucination.
If I let them climb in, I was afraid that the villagers inside would be in big trouble.
I didn’t dare to tell the villagers about it. If they saw those gory monsters, they would be scared to death.
I tried to shake the man’s hand off my arm. He fell to the ground with a loud thud. However, right after, he got up and struggled to get on the wall. He spread his arms and threw them into the air. He looked very miserable as he looked at me. “Please save me. Help me… I’m alive. I’m still alive!”
Hah, as if I would believe an undead! I immediately asked the folks inside to give me a round stick. I then used the round stick to hit those monsters off the wall, one after another.
However, whenever they were hit and fell down, they would climb up again. Eventually, I was tired and didn’t know what else to do.
The villagers didn’t know what was happening outside the door. They were all flustered and frightful. “Brother, what’s going on out there?”
I comforted them. “It’s nothing. Everything is all right.”
Then, I heard a loud thud. It was as if something heavy had just fallen to the ground.
I turned to look and gawked in fright. From the East wall, one of the missing villagers was climbing over the wall. He twisted his body in agony. In a weak voice, he called out, “Hurry, save me! Hurry, save me!”
I was dumbstruck. Then, I got a hold of myself and bellowed at the folks, “Guys, hurry! Get inside the ancestral hall. Do not linger outside. That man’s an undead!”
“It’s the second son of the Liu family. He’s Old Liu’s second son!” A villager recognized the man and screamed in fright.
Li Mazi roared, “That Liu is an undead. Hurry up, come with me to the ancestral hall. That man wants to eat human flesh!”
All the villagers were scared. They rushed like bees returning to their hive. They went inside the inner hall.
Then, the missing folks began to go through the East wall by jumping into the courtyard. They crawled on the ground like slithering snakes.
Li Mazi was worried about me and yelled, “Little Brother Zhang, the situation outside is beyond our control. There’s nothing you can do with that stick. Hurry, get back to the ancestral hall! There are only ten minutes left before Chuyi will come back!”
I also knew that the situation was beyond our control. Those missing guys were smart. They had scattered, so that I couldn’t poke them all and make them fall off the wall. I swiftly pulled the ladder down and got into the hall.
After closing the door of the ancestral hall, I tried to calm the villagers down. I taught them to read the ‘sacred text of Daoism’ as Chuyi had advised me.
I knew the wild dog spirit was nearby. From this close distance, I was afraid that the soybeans wouldn’t work. I hoped that the sacred Text of Daoism could help us during these last three minutes!
The missing villagers slowly came from the other side of the wall. They all looked bloody with injuries. I didn’t know whether they were still alive or walking corpses. I couldn’t find out, either.
They gathered at the ancestral hall and pounded on the doors. They begged us to open the doors for them, telling us that they were still alive.
In the end, they were neighbors that had lived in the same village for years. After seeing their beloved family members begging, no one could stand it. Moreover, standing on the other side of the doors were the fathers, mothers, and children of the many people that hid inside. At this moment, we were undergoing a real test; he had to decide between life and family affection!
No matter what, we couldn’t afford to be soft. I immediately warned and comforted the villagers. I told them not to be fooled by their lies. They were now puppets controlled by the wild dog spirit. That wild dog spirit was using our compassion to attack us. If we were soft, we would face devastating consequences.
Since we didn’t want to open the doors, the wild dog spirit couldn’t stand still anymore. I saw a wild dog with golden fur jump on the two-meter-tall wall. It stood there and gazed at the big gate of the ancestral hall with its big, green eyes.
It was my first time seeing a wild dog spirit.
My first impression was that there was no way this was a freaking wild dog. It was obviously a wolf in human skin!
It had fangs that dripped blood, and its cold eyes that gazed at the folks were full of endless resentment.
When the villagers saw the wild dog spirit, they were panic-stricken. They screamed and ran around as they tried to find places to hide in.
However, during this critical moment, we should remain calm. Otherwise, it would be no different from giving the other party a chance to get to us. I was enraged and thundered, “Stop! Our powers of belief and courage are enough to defeat this wild dog spirit! Read the ‘sacred text of Daoism’ with me! Together, we can expel it!”
Li Mazi was the first one to sit down cross-legged and chanted the ‘sacred text of Daoism’ with me.
After he started chanting, the others followed. The eerie atmosphere slowly quieted down. I exhaled in relief and turned to look at the wild dog spirit that stood on the wall.
The wild dog spirit jumped off the wall. All of a sudden, it stormed forward and bumped the gate of the ancestral hall. The doors grumbled and shook hard. This earth-shaking noise made the people inside panic!
After I tried to calm them, the villagers quieted down and chanted the ‘sacred text of Daoism’ with me.
The wild dog spirit seemed to know it didn’t have much time left. It became even more frantic. It continued to hit the door.
After hitting the door dozens of times, the wooden structure couldn’t withstand the damage anymore. However, the wild dog spirit stopped and looked at me.
This time, its eyes didn’t look fierce or malicious. Instead, it looked pitiful and begged me. Its tail also rose up.
I knew what dogs wanted whenever they rose up their tails. Is it begging me to forgive it?
While I was thinking, the dog knelt down on its front legs. Tears rolled from the corners of its eyes.
I was dumbstruck. What is it doing? Is it trying to look pitiful to get compassion?
You’ve played me like a monkey before and now you want me to forgive you?!
The rock that hung above my heart finally dropped off. The wild dog spirit knew that it couldn’t resist our besiege so now it wanted to kneel in front of us and beg for mercy.
Soon after, the door broke open. Zen Master Baimei and Chuyi walked in. Chuyi held a horn that radiated green light.
Is that the Xiezhi horn?
When the wild dog spirit saw the Xiezhi horn, its eyes flashed with a strange light, which disappeared shortly after. The dog spirit stood up and turned to Chuyi and Zen Master Baimei. It knelt down.
When the two discovered that the wild dog spirit was keeping an eye on the ancestral hall, they became restless.
Anyway, Zen Master Baimei grabbed his mala beads. “Evil animal, not surrendering already?!”
Then, Zen Master Baimei threw his mala beads, which looped around the wild dog spirit’s neck.
Chuyi quickly bit his middle finger. Then, he swiftly drew a strange symbol on the Xiezhie horn. He held it in his hand and slowly approached the wild dog spirit.
The wild dog spirit was tied by Buddhist mala beads, and it rolled and wiggled on the ground in great agony. However, it was persistent and got up. Once again it knelt and begged Zen Master Baimei and Chuyi.
This time, both the monk and the priest were surprised. They didn’t know what the wild dog spirit wanted to do.
Zen Master Baimei snorted coldly. “Merciful Buddha, you treacherous and cunning animal. If we spare you today, will you spare the lives of those innocent villagers tomorrow? Or will they tragically die?”
Chuyi started to read some mysterious but mesmerizing incantation.
The wild dog spirit looked very uncomfortable. It seemed Chuyi’s incantation was torturing it, making it want to die. The dog continuously whined and choked on its own sobs.
However, it didn’t resist. It knelt in front of Chuyi.
Zen Master Baimei tightened the prayer beads on the wild dog spirit’s neck. However, it tried harder to get up. Then, it knelt before Chuyi.
It struggled like this until the wild spirit dog had blood running down from its seven orifices. All the blood ran toward the Xiezhi horn. Even after it was dead, it still remained in a kneeling position. Tears continued to roll down its face.
After Zen Master Baimei confirmed that the wild dog spirit was no longer breathing, he heaved a sigh of relief. Then he retrieved his mala beads and signaled us to get out of the hall.
Everybody walked out carefully, as they were still fearful. After looking at the wolf-like wild dog spirit, they were all enraged. They grabbed weapons and prepared to dismember the dog into pieces.
However, Zen Master Baimei stopped them. “The wild dog spirit is dead. Our task now is to save the injured villagers!”
Then, people rushed to check on the wounded villagers, while some carried the wounded away. The rest of us remained in the massive ancestral hall.
The people in the village asked Uncle Zhong to stay with us.
After looking at the wild dog spirit, I was astonished. It was a huge dog that had managed to live in the mountains without being noticed by the folks. This was really hard to believe. It was a menacing spirit that could kill people without blinking its eyes, how come it didn’t do anything harmful to the folks until now?
I asked Uncle Zhong about it, but he shook his head. “No, the village has always been quiet. We have never lost anything. No one has ever been hurt!”
This was strange.
I turned and asked Zen Master Baimei, “The wild dog spirit bowed to us. What did it mean by that?”
Zen Master Baimei smiled. “That thing was afraid of death and wanted to live longer. It knew it didn’t have a way back. That’s why it knelt in front of us and begged for mercy.”
I nodded. Yeah, that should be it.
Uncle Zhong asked Zen Master Baimei and Chuyi to assist them with saving the villagers. There were several wounded and the village didn’t have a doctor. They were afraid that only Chuyi and Zen Master Baimei could save them.
Chuyi and Zen Master Baimei nodded. They went with Uncle Zhong to prepare the medicinal materials.
However, when they were just two steps away, all of us heard some running water. The water sounds were low but audible. Zen Master Baimei halted and gasped in surprise. Then, he walked toward the wild dog spirit’s body.
“Ah, that’s why. That’s why.” Zen Master Baimei chanted “Merciful Buddha” several times. In the end, he couldn’t hide his sadness.
“Zen Master Baimei, what happened?” I asked him.
Zen Master Baimei answered, “The motherhood of the wild dog spirit just saved this entire village.”
I was astonished. “How does this relate to the wild dog spirit’s motherhood?”
We went close to the wild dog spirit’s body to observe it. Then, we found a puddle of translucent water underneath the dog’s body. I was bewildered and turned to ask Zen Master Baimei, “What’s that?”
“Amniotic fluid,” Zen Master Baimei answered. “This wild dog spirit was pregnant…”
“She was pregnant?” We were all astounded. “It had knelt before us to beg us to spare its children?”
Zen Master Baimei gave us a slight nod. Then, he moved forward and used a dagger to cut the dog spirit’s stomach. Indeed, a placenta that contained several puppies flowed out. They wiggled and curiously examined this strange world.
Uncle Zhong grabbed an iron shovel and tried to kill the puppies. I shouted at him. “Stop! What are you doing?”
Uncle Zhong said, “We killed their mother. When these puppies grow up, they will attack us to take revenge! The wild dog spirit gave birth to them so they must be monsters!”
“No, stop.” I hurried to stop him. “No matter what, they are innocent. You don’t have any right to end their lives!”
I didn’t know what would happen but I pitied the little puppies. They didn’t do anything wrong. These folks shouldn’t punish the puppies for the wild dog spirit’s mistakes.
Uncle Zhong wasn’t convinced. “Zen Master Baimei, what should we do now?”
Zen Master Baimei took off his monk robe and covered all the puppies. “I will take them and tame them. I can eliminate their natural magic properties.”
Uncle Zhong finally heaved a sigh of relief.
Zen Master Baimei carefully handed me the puppies and asked me to watch them for a while. I looked at the puppies’ eyes and saw that they had watery eyes. My hatred toward the wild dog spirit had subsided. Now, I was somewhat admiring the mother dog.
For its children, the wild dog spirit was willing to give up its own life.
From another aspect, animals sometimes appreciated affection and bonds more than human beings did.
A mother’s love is great because it doesn’t ask for any rewards. It only gives. This love will not change, even after ten thousand years. This event reminded me of an ancient poem.
Threads in the loving mother’s hand
Sewed on the clothes of her son, a wanderer
Her prudent stitches done on the eve of his departure
Worried about his return to be delayed and late
Who dared say the love of an-inch tall grass
Could repay the warmth and brilliance of three springs?Previous Chapter Next Chapter