Chapter 38 Escape

Fatty and I inexplicably obeyed, and after taking them off, the man began to pour all the charcoal from the stove onto the wooden floor. The charcoal burned red and the wooden floor soon gave off a strong scorched smell. The man covered the charcoal with his Tibetan robe, quickly put it out, and then wrapped some of the hot ash in our discarded clothes. After doing this, he told us to hold the wrapped bundles close to our bodies.

After that, the man grabbed my hand and looked at my watch. “Now, you have to understand what I’m about to say in three minutes and then do it, because we don’t have time. This bundle you’re holding is your only chance to live.”

I wondered why. If it was going to get very cold later and we needed something to keep warm, it didn’t make much sense for us to take off all our clothes and hold a hot clothes bundle.

How much cold could this bundle withstand? Our upper bodies were bare, which made no sense. But if that wasn’t the case, then what was the use of this bundle? Was it because of the ash inside?

Fatty suddenly spoke up at this time, “Are we going to grab the ashes inside and throw them into the enemy’s eyes and blind them?”

The lama’s expression twisted and he shouted, “Don’t bother!”

Fatty was just about to retort when all of the windows in the head lama’s room suddenly began to shake. The lama looked at the windows and immediately made a gesture to silence us. We covered our mouths, adjusted our breathing, and looked at the windows. We didn’t know when it had happened, but many strange shadows had appeared.

The shadows were so faint that it looked like tree branches were printed on the window. But we all knew that that was impossible because there were no trees in the courtyard.

Seeing that we were almost lying on the ground, the lama grabbed us by the backs of our necks and picked us up. Then he pointed to the charcoal bags in our hands and said in an extremely low voice, “Hold this thing and follow me as fast as possible.” Then he pointed to the door and motioned Fatty to open it.

The whole window was badly shaking and I was particularly scared because I knew there must be something there, but what were those things?

If they were actual entities, human beings, or monsters, then their shadows on the windows would definitely be darker and deeper. But the shadows were so mottled that I couldn’t imagine what the things outside were.

And a few minutes before I had closed the windows, I looked out and saw nothing there. Only a little time had passed, but it had suddenly turned into this kind of situation. Where on earth did these things come from? But I didn’t think it was wrong to listen to this lama, because no matter what, he wouldn’t get himself killed.

I looked at Fatty and nodded. Fatty and the lama touched the door and slowly opened it. Then, I saw the lama suddenly take a step, open his bundle, throw all of his charcoal ash at Fatty and me, and then run away.

Fatty and I were so overwhelmed by the ash that we couldn’t even breathe. We were completely covered and tried to beat it away incessantly, but before we could even see the situation clearly, countless flying insects had already flown in through the door. In the blink of an eye, a flood of them rushed towards us. Shit, the room was suddenly full of them, like flies. As I kept swatting them, I found that these bugs were very strong and they would drill under your skin as soon as they stuck to you.

Before I could manage a few blows, I was already black and blue all over. At this point, my eyes could just barely see the situation in front of me and I was immediately dumbfounded. The whole courtyard was thickly dotted, and almost every inch of the place was covered in these insects. As if they could smell us, they directly swarmed toward the room.

Shit, where did these bugs come from? Just a few minutes ago, there was nothing, but now they’re everywhere. What’s going on with this temple? Either people are suddenly disappearing or bugs are suddenly coming out in droves.

Fatty was even worse off than me and shouted, “Shit, that fucking bald donkey was plotting against us again!”

“Why didn’t the bugs bite him and flew straight towards us instead?” I asked.

“It must be the incense ashes. Throw that bundle away,” Fatty said.

Fatty and I threw the charcoal bundles to the side, and sure enough, the bugs practically lunged in that direction. Soon, our clothes covered in charcoal ash were bitten to pieces. The bugs got into the hot charcoal ash and were immediately burned to death, but they kept going in one right after another.

At this point, we were able to catch our breath and retreated to the corner of the room. As I smacked the bugs off and observed them, I found that they looked like fireflies.

“How can fireflies bite?” Fatty asked.

I was even more confused because fireflies usually lived in humid places. How could they exist in a place where the cold temperature was below zero for most of the year?

And why did the charcoal ash attract them? Was it because of the temperature? The lama tricked us into holding the hot ash, ensuring that we had a higher temperature than him so these bugs would pounce on us while he made his escape.

If this was the case, we were screwed. With so many bugs, the ashes would gradually cool down and they would soon find us warmer.

What should we do? I took in the sight of the insects swarming to the bundles, the charcoal ash scattered all over the floor, and even more insects swarming into the room from outside. There was no place to squeeze around the charcoal ash and the bugs were flying around the room. Some rushed to the charcoal stove, some to the lampstand, and some scattered ones flew towards us, but they were directly swatted to death.

“If they like fire so much, why don’t we give them something more violent,” Fatty said.

As Fatty said this, he beat the insects on his body as hard as he could, rushed to the edge of a charcoal stove, and turned it over with one foot. The hot charcoal fire rolled onto the wooden floor again. Fatty pulled off numerous files and sutras from the head lama’s desk and threw them into the charcoal fire. He then risked being bitten by the insects and blew a few mouthfuls of air until the fire caught. After finishing, he said to me, “Help me throw everything that can be burned here. We need to make a big heat source to attract all these bugs.”

“You’ll burn the whole temple down,” I warned him.

“Damn it, you still care about that kind of thing in a situation like this?!” Fatty asked. “Those lamas don’t care about us so don’t bother thinking about them. Maybe they already bought insurance.”

Regardless of the consequences, I said to myself, it’s more important to escape. So, I immediately ransacked the whole room. I slapped away bugs while tearing off the blankets used to keep the room warm and threw them into the fire. The felt burned easily, but there was suddenly a lot of black smoke and soon, the whole room was covered in it.

“Don’t put any more blankets in the fire!” Fatty shouted at me. “You’ll smoke us all to death!”

“This black smoke can drive the bugs out,” I argued.  

“Didn’t you notice that they’re not even afraid of fire?” Fatty asked. “Their love for the fire’s temperature far exceeds their fear of smoke. You won’t manage to kill them before we become bacon first.”

Fatty said this too late, as the smoke had already permeated the whole room. We had to bend over and continue making the flames bigger, and soon, the desk in the head lama’s room turned into a huge bonfire. Bugs rushed to it one after another, and the fire started to crackle. Whenever we made the fire hotter, the bugs would come and put it out a little bit. It seemed their bodies were full of water.

We had soon burned almost everything that could be burned in the room, and smoke covered the whole ceiling. But we still couldn’t see an end to the bugs, because the thick smoke prevented us from seeing what the situation in the courtyard was like. We also didn’t know whether it would be dangerous to rush out like this.

“We definitely can’t leave the courtyard,” Fatty said. “Let’s see if there are any other exits in this room. Don’t open the windows near the courtyard, open the ones near the back of the mountain to see what’s going on.”

I nodded and slapped the bugs on my body before quickly running to the edge of the windows near the back. I carefully opened one, but immediately found that something was wrong: the whole room was surrounded by these insects. I had only opened the window a crack, but the insects rushed in and hit me in the face.

I smacked my face and went back to Fatty, shaking my head at him, “The situation isn’t optimistic. There are at least hundreds of millions of these bugs coming out of nowhere.”

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Fatty said. “Why is it like this? Mr. Naïve, did we eat too much and are dreaming? Pinch me to see if I hurt.”

“Not necessary.” I pointed to the wounds on his hand, “Didn’t you feel pain when you were bitten like this? If it’s a dream, then I would’ve woken up in pain a long time ago.”

After I said that, I thought about it for a moment. I didn’t know why I suddenly had a flash of inspiration, but I remembered my experience when I met bugs before and said to Fatty, “Do you have a knife?”

“Why, do you want to commit suicide?” Fatty asked. “It’s still too early to do that. Don’t worry. If there’s no way out, I’ll cut you to death without causing you any pain.”

“Cut the crap and give me the knife,” I said. “Even if I stabbed myself to death ten times, I won’t die. I also don’t want to be stabbed to death by you. My fate has always been in the hands of others. Even if you’re my good friend, I don’t want you to interfere.”

Fatty sighed before pulling out a Tibetan knife from behind his back. I put it against my palm and quickly cut a very deep wound, the blood immediately flowing out.

“What are you doing?” Fatty asked. “You can’t even cut your wrists right? You can’t cut them in that place. Cutting your wrists means cutting your wrists. You won’t die if you cut your palms.”

“Stop fucking talking and watch,” I snapped at him.

I took my bloody hand and swung it at the bugs in front of me, watching as the blood was tossed out and dripped onto the floor. Suddenly, all the bugs scattered and seemed to be avoiding it.

“Damn, alright. Here we go,” Fatty said.

I felt a burst of joy in my heart even as I ignored him. I opened my palm, smeared some of the blood on him, and then took a few steps forward. The bugs acted like they saw some evil spirit and all retreated noisily.

<Chapter 37><Table of Contents><Chapter 39>


Updated 12/18/2021

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