Short Stories

The Magic Youth

The Magic Youth has a terrifying history. It was first
translated in the early 16th century by Chinese philosopher Ling Ping. One day Ping was playing paper dragons in his back yard with his grandfather when he stubbed his toe on a stone slab which stuck out from the grass. He unearthed this slab, and upon it he found The Magic Youth carved. This myth was said to have been lost centuries ago when
Ling Ping died and had the slab buried with him. Fortunately, someone has recently desecrated Ping’s tomb and braved the curse of Ping so that I might bring you this amazing legend, which I believe is still shockingly relevant, even today. Remember that this myth will be phrased and formatted oddly and seem to use words incorrectly because
it has been carefully translated from an extremely ancient Chinese text.

Verse I – Oh Captain And Sparrow

Hear ye! Hear ye! Hearken ye to the tale of 4th Admiral Wong, he who slept soundly of night; but perhaps not so soundly that he could not have been woken by the sound of crashing flatware.

For it was, it was, that one course and grey summery eve that he awakened with a start because of a disruptive clattering on his parlor window. Rousing himself, the great and terrible Admiral crept with an odd care to the offending portal and heaved it boldly open, allowing the black soil air of night dark to rush in.

But there was nothing outside for the eye to take in.

Verily, the young militant’s sleep-addled eyes warily began to
adjust themselves to the brave dim world of the outrealm. By and by they did break focus upon a small child, a boy, who stood in the centre of the Admiral’s sculptured herb garden, a handful of moist stones clutched in tiny fist.

The admiral spoke: Ho there wretched knave, wretched hostile child vagabond! Hoist your soggy feet from my Yinchai plants, and do not throw stones at windows unless you wish to awaken wrathful giants who dwell within!

The boy spoke not, but instead drew back his hand and heaved a pebble at the Admiral. The stone was low and smooth and kindly, but it did so strike 4th Admiral Wong in any case. It was received in his left eye, which had been open in order that he might see the boy more clearly, and the officer brought his hands to his face and clutched them smartly there in a reactionary gesture.

Moments passed and the Admiral then did peer fearfully through crossed fingers and pulled the digits away from his face then and there. When he had brought them away, the Admiral paused and glanced and could not believe his eyes.

For the boy was gone and in his place was a shrine to the Goddess of fate, candles smoldering brightly.

Verse II – Sailing Man and Still Waters Ocean

A sailing man, as some men were once known to be, allowed himself to be carried out to the deep night sea. This uncertain decision came on the night of nights, when the wind gusted and blew and a man might hear softly his own life force calling back at him if he was not careful.

The sailor had fallen asleep at the fore, where he had been drowsing carelessly as he steered on his way. As the wind did blow thoroughly and no other sailor was aboard, the vessel was carried off course and soon became soundly beached upon a gentle sandbar.

After a time had passed the sailor awoke to find the sky ablaze with many bright twisting mad colors and shapes. These were the northern lights but this was not known to him and he became thoroughly frightened and enraged and thought himself in grave peril.

I shall pierce thee, I shall pierce thee, foul slithering chromatic snakes of the sky! He cried and layed his hands then on the nearest object and hurled this object at the air and it fell to the sea with a weakling splash.

This object was his compass, and without a compass a man is nothing more than death flotsam upon the water, no matter how wide his barrel chest may run, and the sailor was laid to rest there alone on that cursed sandbar of greed and sloth.

Verse III – The Child, The Woodsman, & The Harvest Moon

And so it was that a woodsman traveled through the forest. The trees of this forest were evergreen and thick and offered no passage to men except by a small beaten path through their dark midst.

The woodsman walked along this path, pulling behind him a cart full of fresh carven wares, and certainly he did whistle a tune with tilted cap and blazing pipe. As he rounded a bend, the woodsman came to see that a child stood in the centre of the road and did not falter.

Oi! The woodsman cried and the boy said nothing, but only stared straight ahead with blackened eyes.

The woodsman gathered himself and hoisted his trousers and spoke thusly in commanding tones:

Hullo, woodsy child, oh son and friend of forests, remove thyself from the thoroughfare so that a working soul might pass thee by!

The boy did not stir. And then the woodsman said:

A thousand curses upon thee! I must take my cart and roll its wheels forward across bumps and rifts and valleys so that I might reach the town of Chendu and offload my wares and collect my meager pay. Can you not do this service for an old woodsman? Does no heart beat within that tiny chest?

But still the youth was silent, and the man began to rattle his boned fist in the direction of the boy. But then without warning, from the skies came a great and terrible sound such as the braying of a thousand head of cattle in unison, and a thickly tendril of oaken branch crashed
from the heavens, depositing itself upon the man’s pulling cart and upsetting the entire load.

As well, a wooden wheel did so become detached from its setting and tumble into the long and tall grasses where if one were to attempt to retrieve it, one would surely be stung about the ankles by no middling number of insect or bramble.

The woodsman coughed and turned and started home, never again to feel the gentle caress of autumn wind through hissing trees. “Homeward ho!” He cried and then tripped and tumbled on a mossy rock. Certainly this rock was moist and did cause the woodsman to fly a good distance, andwhen he landed, he did so into a freshly dug grave.

And so it was on the end that he died, and through from the deep woods echoed the gleeful twinkle of child’s laughter.