Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The End (II)

We arrived in Tribhuvan International Airport at Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, in the wee hours.

The night closed over us, but there were three lorries ready to load the parts of Syn-Vac, our belongings and ourselves. The travel through an unknown territory has started. We had to go up the Himalayan to a small hamlet where a herd of mules waited for us to carry down to a square valley all our things.

It was so difficult the descent into this small valley that only could be done on mules' backs. From the heights of the mountain you could see a perfect square with an orchard in each of the four corners, and the big and tall Monastery in the exact middle of the lowland.

We went down slowly, for safety and forced by the narrow, steep path with a mountain wall at one side and a precipice on the other.

After what seemed a long time but only was a pair of hours, we reached flat land some three-quarter of a mile to the right of the Temple.

On the ground near the end of the path, a group of young novices had gathered to help us with the mules, which was a blessing since neither of us, city slickers, knew how to handle them properly.

In almost no time we were in the closed court of the Monastery, unloading the mules and preparing everything to be carried to the place where my team was going to install Syn-Vac, as soon as possible.

The Head monk, came to offer his respect and ask our leniency because the Dalai could not be present since he was exiled in India, far from the Chinese authorities who had invaded the country.

He was delighted to see us, and asked if he could change the name of Syn-Vac, since it brought to mind the return, and presence of sin, which was untoward to the uses of the Community.

I had to think this a bit before I understood the petition, but I agree soon to his request. It was not important how you call the machine, it will work disregarding completely how you name it, if at all.

Anyhow, he seemed overwhelmed by my kindness, doubtless, he was a very gentle soul!

While my team proceeded to locate the different units of the mainframe and inter-connect them with the interfaces hoses, I went to visit the buildings invited by the Head monk.

We passed through different rooms filled with novices and full monks praying for Nirvana. When I tried to cross the big central yard, the Head monk asked me not to, and apologized profusely, but he said:

It is a sacred place that could only be trod by especial monks with a previous preparation to know and acknowledge the holy work they were doing there.

I was curious, but I could not offend such a mild man so I followed him to other places, such as the room of praying wheels which started all this adventure of mine.

Praying Wheels
According to the Head monk, Buddha was the creator of these hollow metal cylinders containing a very tight written mantra on the outside, surrounded by small bells, and, inside, a sacred text written, or printed in Sanskrit on paper or animal skin. This texts were used to pray or recite a mantra or invocation to a particular deity. He said that spinning the wheel was the same than reciting the prayers and mantra aloud since the power of the sound was equal to the praying with the mouth. Besides, they, the wheels, were very useful for illiterate persons who were learning to pray.

Manual Praying Wheel
After showing me some of these wheels, he added that they, the monks, were appointed by the Dalai Lama some eons before to compile all the prayers, mantra, invocation, and several more scripts, and the actual Dalai wanted to finish the job in his lifetime since it was told that a great awareness will spread over the world when the work ended. This was the reason to buy Syn... err, Hope, the new name of the machine.

After that we went up the high tower, on top of it there was a cubicle where a watch man could scan all the place over its four sides and see who was coming near the walls with anticipation that may help to keep the Monastery safe. It was an easy task to look toward the small orchards in each corner of the square and to any other place of the vast land.

Taking advantage of the height I looked through the transparent panels over the inner yard and could glimpse a strange toiling there before the Head monk interrupted me and took me down the tower stairs.

After guiding me to the installation room the Head monk excused himself with the explanation he had many things to do, and I stayed with my team giving the last touches to Hope, and followed very near by a young novice who said he was appointed as the machine operator, so he wanted to know everything without reading the manuals. I never understood that whim of most customers to know everything without the 'bothersome' effort to read the tutorials!

I asked him if he knew how to make Hope to compile the prayers, he said he was the one that had written the algorithm to do just that, and he has also written an algorithm to solve the steps of the mystery in the central yard, but he was asked to forget it.

I felt my curiosity grow and asked the young monk what he meant by this "mystery". The novice was proud of his knowledge and could not skip the opportunity to speak about it, so he tell us about the main objective of the community.

The real commitment of the community was to work on solving this mystery, he said, and proceed to explain what I had only glimpse from above.

There were three tall poles firmly fixed in the ground of the yard (I have seen them from above), they were situated several yards apart. When they started this job, many eons ago, the first pole was filled with stone cylinders four inches in height and different diameters, from several yards to a foot wide, these cylinders were piled in the way that always there was a smaller one over a bigger cylinder in a kind of a mountain slope.

The monks were given the task to move the pile of cylinders from one pole to another, no matter which one of the two remaining, moving a cylinder each time between the stakes, the only restriction was that never a small cylinder remained under a big one, nor a cylinder was to be left out of a stake before to move the next. This was a very difficult task because the many movements it required and the weight of the cylinders.

Thinking in alleviate their task he wrote the algorithm which could solve the sequence of movements in a few seconds, but the older monks were very scared by this notion, they were too gullible and superstitious, and they believed all those old wives tales about the ending of the world when this job was finished. He had learned in an American College, when studying Computational Proficiency that it is almost impossible to end the world in the coming years. Science has control of everything.

Unfortunately, he was told that he could not stay here if he insisted in running his program. He loved to be a monk, and he won't do anything since he promised the Head monk to try and forget the idea.

By this time he was surrounded by my team, really interested in his narration. It was the small cute girl from the group, Eve, who asked him:

Do you promised not to give this program to any other person, too?
No, said the novice, I promised only not to run it. You, see, it is highly improbable I meet any idoneous person in my lifetime here, so the Head monk was not worried by that possibility.

Well, you can give it to me, retorted Eve, and I will run it, we will show them they were wrong and finished their heavy commitment, leaving them with time to pray and seek Nirvana.

The novice, was doubtful. He didn't want to displease the monks, but he was half convinced already by his own thinking that what Eve said was the right way to do things, so it took few more cajoling to make him accept the deal.

While Eve was feeding the procedures into Hope I stopped to listen to the subdued noises coming from all the Monastery, there were the little bells from the praying wheels, the heavy movements from the yard where the monks were forever changing cylinders from a stake to another, the sacred songs from the altar, all these sounds mixed together creating a solid hum that seemed to fill the place as another guest.

Eve, stirred in her chair near the console of Hope and said:

OK, it is ready, I will start it ... now!

I was waiting for some miracle or something wonderful to happen, but there was none of them, Hope ran humming to itself contently and after some minutes it sent the finished work to the printer and stayed quiet in its case.

The novice run to the printer, took the recently printed paper, and reading it, he said excitedly:

Yes! Here is the final solution, we have helped those poor men. They will rest now.
When he stopped talking I felt something was lacking, after a moment I realised that we were immersed in a deep silence, there were no more noises from the whole buildings!

Fearing the worst, I grabbed my field glasses and ran to the tower staircase, nobody was in sight, which was an omen in itself since the Monastery was packed out with monks and novices.

I reached the watching site, and saw it was deserted, another weird thing, there always was a guard in the place.

Then I looked around, there was a strange glow in the square, I saw movements in one of the orchards, I lifted the field glasses and looked in that direction.

A man, if it was a man, was leading a horse out of the orchard, I spin on my feet and looked to other orchard, and I saw another man and his horse, the same was happening in the other two orchards.

The real weird thing were the horses, two of them had a very strange color: one was purple, and the other was pale. The other two were a common white one, and a black one the other.

The men saddle up their horses and jumping on them came toward the Monastery, when they were at the gates of the walls, they turned around and looked away toward the mountains.

I could see them very clearly now, their completions were forbidding, and they looked menacing, each one of them had a label on the saddle:

The white horse bore the word:    Pestilence
The Horsemen

The purple horse had the word:      War

The black horse carried the word:   Famine

The pale horse uses the word:       Death

They stood motionless for a while as waiting for a signal, then the ranges of the Himalayan started to fade out on the horizon, when it was a vast terrace and all traces of the High Himalayan range disappeared, the Four Horsemen went into the world carrying...

                                                   The End

The music is a fragment of "Waltz" by Georges Sviridov. It sings to the hope of humankind to a better life. The second fragment is from "Funeral March" by F. Chopin, it is self explained.

© 2013 Od Liam.


  1. Syn = sin...oops! I understand the monk's concern. :)

    Now, I get the whole picture. Those horsemen were carrying dreadful duties and everything will end!

    Brilliant ideas! Loved the whole story. Did Elf play his role?

    Thank you both! (you know who!) :))

  2. Yes! Synchronous Vacuum, an oldie way to design computers with vacuum tubes and making them work synchronously.

    Syn= sin
    Vac= back

    Truly not a saintly name! :)

    Nasty prophecy that of the Horsemen. It is a dreadful notion.

    Elf was quiet and seriously affected, told me something about the way The Horsemen were part of Fairyland, I didn't follow his drift.

    Thank you, BB!

  3. What a 'Revelation" Od. The end is truly nigh. These horses are carrying a great weight on their shoulders and they serve to do what some might call justice. When they are done, the end will become the new beginning.

    Cute Eve, so reminded me of the biblical Eve, who couldn't resist the taste of the forbidden fruit and now look what's happened.

    A great story Od Liam.

  4. It is an optimist view, the one you mention, RPD!

    I know we need it, having so bad omens each day, but I am not sure if humankind can wait, or deserve, a happy ending.

    Let's hope for it!

    Cute Eve, as you so rightly christened her, followed her cue faithfully. Anyway I read in some post that the real thing was that Adam got the first bite, but we needed, for the past, present, and future, a more charismatic figure to blame, hence Eve has got all the numbers of that raffle!

    Thank you for stopping by!

  5. And you say that you are not able to write a long story? Big fat liar! This was an incredible two chapter tale! :))

    The first thing to point out is that I was a little confuse. The first part has so many funny details, I found it a little hard to assemble it to this second part. If you read it as a whole, and not in two parts, I can see a notable difference between both...

    But, above any technical aspect, I just take the argument, and felt a tremble in my heart. You mixed different "religions", and brought the end with those riders described in the New Testament's Apocalypse. And that girl so proactive and curious, helping to bring the last judgement to earth -maybe you were representing the genesis' "Eve" with her?-

    And what was heavens and Mr. A thinking about when they send Mr. M/B to accomplish this mission? Did they took an M class employee on purpose? Could the end of the world -or the end of humanity, -which doesn't necessarily mean the end of the planet and the universe...- be planified to be carried out by an ignored piece of the puzzle?

    Machiavellian and brilliant..

    1. Thank you, Pris! But you see, it took a big effort from my mind, and somewhere I lost the idea of continuity, but I must recognize I always do that on purpose, I hate rules, authority, and commands, so I never follow the technical aspect, as you name it. I do enjoy to blow hard onto the paper pages and let them fly away in merry confusion. This whim almost cost me graduation in Glasgow, only the good will of the examination panel (and my dazzling smile) could erase the "enfant terrible" image I had drew during the term! :))))

      There is a mixture of religion, no doubt! It is done because I think that if you make a study about Comparative Religion, my minor in Glasgow, you find that everything, from the first myth coming from the beginning of time, relates with all the mystic ways human beings face religion. But this is another tale.

      Mr. M was just the man for this job, you see. But he was not selected by Mr A. The poor Mr. A was only a pawn in the development of the drama.

      If you like to know a bit about how prophets are selected for a determinated job, you will find plenty of examples in the Bible, where some "incompetent dude", as Moses, is selected, and ends as the greatest prophets of 'em all!