เรื่องสั้นสยองขวัญภาษาอังกฤษ 'การล้างแค้นของดาฬิกา'

This (real) horror short story is partly inspired by the ghost tale told by the popular YouTuber like Ajarn Yod. Or it is in fact from the amateurish storytellers participating in Ghost Radio or The Shock more or less. It is about a female ghost who died while pregnant (ตายทั้งกลม) .According to Thai superstitions , this kind of ghost is ferocious, especially when she dies with vendetta or agony. The protagonist is the temple boy named Somkuan , long before he would go to pursue his dream in Bangkok by being the noodle vendor (in my play ' Ghost of Thitirat').The time of this story is a few years after the end of World War 2.
 
                     Darika's Vengeance 
 
I harked back to my past and was grateful to my fate that I hadn't decided to live with my uncle in Bangkok as a deplorable dropout years ago. Because I would certainly have endured the string of miseries or even the horrible death caused by the unintermittent bombings from the Allied airplanes. It was such an unbearable mishap that one night my uncle and his family perished on spot, when one bomb strayed into the very shelter they were huddling in. 
 
I also felt grateful to myself for disobeying my parents' nagging order to help their farming and becoming a temple boy instead. My family and neighborhood were so destitute and probably would be so in the future ; it was like a curse passing down from generation to generation. For that reason, two of the wisest ways to pursue better life for a teenager like me were to search for jobs in Bangkok or to live off temple. I thought post- war Bangkok was still tumultuous and my uncle had already deceased as well. About second, I was not much pious, so entering the novicehood was not even in the shallow part of my fantasy. Eventually ,I assumed being temple boy would have landed me in the most comfortable embrace of Lord Buddha, while avoiding observing the dreary religious teachings. 
 
The abbot of my temple , the venerable sixtysomething monk, was so compassionate though the vicious rumor had swirled around our village that he furtively practiced the sorcery with the corpses and shackled some spirits as his faithful slaves. His alleged assistant was the old drunken undertaker who was a good friend of my father. However , it didn't get on my nerves at all as I thought it would be fascinating to be his follower someday. It was also fortunate for me that most of the temple boys were my good friends from school. Thus my life in temple was the most cherished memory I always reminisced about , while I was taking a rest from toiling in Bangkok years later. 
 
The daily routine of temple boys were monotonous but c'est la vie. I and my friends woke up- always with drowsiness - even before the break of dawn . Some  of us cleaned up the hall's floor , some  swept the temple's courtyard, and some carried tiffin carriers, following the abbot and the young monks to walk for the food offering from villagers. Most of them were my acquaintances as our village was tiny. But the person impressing me most was the young and gorgeous woman who had just accompanied her parents for making merit some mornings lately. 
 
I later acknowledged that her name was Darika , daughter of a deputy head of our village. She had just moved in here after spending childhood for long at some other province. Darika was slender and her skin was quite white tinged with rosiness. Her charms tacitly interrupted the solemnity of both monks and temple boys ,  except the abbot. It depended on who would pretend best to be nonchalant like avoiding gawking at her adorable face , but some still glanced at her anyway.
 
It was me, the reckless one, who always greeted Darika without any worry in the world because of my youth . But she was several years older than me so I called her 'Pi (older sister) Darika'. lamentably , she seemed to put on airs , smiling a little (or better word , smirking) to my greeting. But I still amused myself with doing so. Darika's beauty had also become the most pleasant topic of the young men's chatters ,especially at the coffee shop of Jaektong - the social club of our village. As those lads could not bridle their own burning desires for such a fair lady. Both married middle-aged and elderly men were perturbed as they had intended to talk about politics or play chess.They intimidated those lads by reminding them that Darika's rich father was legendary for overprotection of his only beloved daughter. He was also famous for the marksmanship. His rifle was constantly wiped and its zealous barrel was dustless. 
 
Lastly , those poor lads came to terms with the idioms like 'Dogs barking at airplane' (หมาเห่าเครื่องบิน) or 'Rabbits reach for the moon' (กระต่ายหมายจันทร์).Those meant one should not have a crush on the person out of his league as it would inevitably lead him to the heartbreaks and the perils. For me who happened to be near the social club that day , stopping flirting or even greeting Darika ever since was the best policy in spite of its bitterness.
 
 
Darika's Vengeance (chapter 2) 
 
Time had passed like a reverie, the daydreams of those lads were permanently shattered when Darika's eligible suitor appeared out of the blue. He was the young and handsome sheriff who happened to investigate the quarrels about dam building between our village and its neighbor on one cloudless day. According to our reliable sources, the man couldn't keep his composure when Darika's father introduced her to him. He hardly concealed the sparkle of affection from his eyes , and it was noticed by her father - who else would deny the future son-in-law as the civil servant with high rank like this ? The sheriff from now on had visited Darika on a daily basis with the warm embrace of the middle-aged couple who longed to blessed by the prestige of their girl's boyfriend.
 
It was beyond doubt how sumptuous their wedding at the courtyard of community hall would be in the coming months. All the villagers were overwhelmed by delights as they had never experienced such a luxurious ceremony. Thanks to their poverty , the weddings among them were so cursory that even the passers-by would barely feel much difference between their daily lives and such the important days. 
 
This time was also their windfall. More than half of villagers had the chance of devouring the best assorted foods they had ever met in their entire lives and listening to some music band with pretty dancers , probably from Bangkok. However , they were invited to be ensconced at the tables much far from the stage of ceremony ,because the front ones were reserved for only the important guests consisting of the high- ranking functionaries and the wealthy merchants.
 
I also got an opportunity for staying near limelight both day and night, because the monks of my temple were invited to perform the ceremony at Darika's house in the morning .Every guest seemed to be held spellbound by the presence of the bride. Her undefiled white bridal gown- with floral embroidery  - was sublime , but her face with make-up was deadpan as usual and each of her movement was noticeably rigid. That was contrary to her groom, he was exceedingly enlivened by the admirations and blessings from guests. His radiant smiling face exhibited that he was having a whale of time. But something was jogging my mind that it was like some crooked vendors' I frequently met at the market. 
 
The newly wedded Darika moved to her groom's house in the bustling town of our district which was far from here. Several months later , the sheriff was transferred to Bangkok. That was the reason why our folks couldn't see Darika's beautiful face anymore. The young lads turned to be occupied with stuffs like other beautiful girls and the military conscriptions they were planning to avoid. The whole village was talking about the development projects launched by the new government after the coup d'etat.
 
A year had been squandered , my life was still the same .I had steadfastly refused the idea of novicehood , urged by my parents, as I found later that my blissful life in temple turned to make me yawn with tears , let alone the ascetic one. I toyed with the idea of some colorful adventure in Bangkok in spite of no acquaintance there. But I'd rather remind myself of someone who had been living there as well -Darika, whose alluring face had always lingered in my dreams. 
 
All of a sudden, there were some folks witnessing Darika's return to our village. This time her belly was bloated but her face was so crestfallen. She greeted the onlookers with haggard and grief-stricken look and hurriedly went back into her house. The malicious rumor circulated again that actually the sheriff had already been married ,and Darika unsuspectingly became his minor wife. It was her parents' oversight caused by greediness so they hadn't asked both of bride and groom to register marriage certificate. By the time Darika had been pregnant for three months, the sheriff's wife rushed to attack her. The ensuing ruckus unbelievably stopped as the young woman promptly surrendered to the older with magnanimity. Darika then divorced her husband who was horribly unapologetic. He just let her go without any resistance. 
 
The members of social club at Jaektong's coffee shop wondered how Darika's father, who extremely doted on his daughter, would strike back. Contrary to their speculations, he didn't venture to Bangkok to perform his marksmanship. As he probably didn't know the sheriff's whereabout or he was too afraid of the law's punishment . The deputy head of village desperately only filed the complaints with the police and the provincial government respectively. Tragically , they were gradually gone with the blistering wind of winter. 
 
I felt sorry for Darika from the bottom of my heart. I had invented a variety of excuses to the abbot to be near her house numerous times,  just to see her face again. But my endeavor turned to be futile as she rarely came out. Our same reliable source also reported that her humiliated parents kept blaming themselves for letting their beloved daughter fall victim to that wolf in sheep's clothing. They tried to compensate this by taking excellent care of her pregnancy , awaiting patiently the incoming grandchild. The villagers , albeit their nature of gossip , had incessantly visited to offer their heartfelt condolences to Darika's family.
 
Nonetheless, the disgraced family was struck by the appalling tragedy only two months after their daughter's return.
 
Darika's Vengeance (Chapter 3)
 
It was Darika's mother who unintentionally found her body hanging to and fro in her bedroom. The sunlight in the cheerful morning was bright enough for her to see such a horrifying sight : Darika grimaced to show the trace of unbearable pain and her long tongue stuck out above her seemingly more swollen body. The middle-aged woman shrieked at the top of her voice and fainted. Darika's father darted to the scene and attempted in vain to cut the rope around her neck from ceiling and revive her. 
 
But it was piteous that the last breath had already left her body hours ago. Their close relatives were in utter frenzy. They squirmed and blubbered like witnessing the end of the world. They at last fanatically embraced each other with tears . Darika's mother seemed to be inconsolable while losing consciousness over and over again. 
 
The police and the medical personnel thoroughly examined her body and presumed that she had committed suicide last night. The atmosphere at Darika's house turned to be filled with raging wraths ,apart from intolerable remorse. After arranging her funeral at the temple , in the afternoon , Darika's father and other male relatives hunkered down together to brainstorm about how to avenge her death. They sneered at the failure of justice Darika's father had previously abided by as the mischievous sheriff had good connections with some bigshots in his ministry.  
 
According to the undertaker who happened to join the club , some proposed that they should hire gunman to hunt that scoundrel down and pierce through his filthy heart with bullets. Some also thought it was more gratifying to kidnap and torture him to horrible death with the method used in ancient kingdoms of China. But all of them seemed to be fully aware of the legal repercussions of their ingenuities.
 
For me , I was benumbed and felt like my body was terribly shaken by earthquake or something. I didn't weep but struggled to find the ways to console myself. Even though Darika never uttered even a single word to me, I just wondered how she became the indelible part of mine. In the afternoon , I and my peers went to pay respect to the dead at the modern hall of our own temple. Her black and white photo before the coffin still couldn't suppress her beauty but it was so melancholic that I implored my peers to stay there briefly. The scent of joss sticks that used to be so fragrant became suffocating and the hall was quite cavernous even it was in broad daylight.  I heard myself whispering to her and her dead child tocj rest in eternal peace and be unfettered from all concerns in the world.
 
Alas , I and other temple boys had to return there again to serve the monks who were scheduled to chant in the funeral at night. The tipsy undertaker ,clutching bottle of spirit under his arm, whispered to us that decision of Darika's father not to gouge her dead child out of the womb would certainly arouse her ferociousness as she became now the vengeful ghost. He also warned us that if a black cat jumped over the coffin by any chance , just ran away with all our strength. The first night of funeral didn't draw many guests and we could feel some eerie vibes around it. Her death from too much agony and the fact that her tormentor was still off the hook might result in unimaginable horror. However, the funeral went on without any peculiarity.We had ,without hesitation , asked  our friends in another village to keep the temple's black cats at least for a while.
 
In the late next morning ,the shocking but pleasant news unexpectedly reached our village that the sheriff hanged himself in the still of the night. It was intention of his parents from Bangkok to impart this news to our community as they had felt guilty of their son's wrongdoing all along. All villagers at the funeral tried desperately to conceal their delights ,so they just stealthily smirked or giggled. But all of them turned to gather their wits, when the abbot arrived and warned them about forgiveness. I was just amazed to see that those had been the guests who used to curry favor with the sheriff with all kinds of flatteries because he had been once the most charismatic and powerful in our community. But only a year passing and the changing situation had transformed them totally into the different ones - what a human being !
 
Darika's parents still kept their composure as they realized that yet it couldn't resuscitate their late daughter and grandchild. I supposed the best scenario for them was to see the culprit walking with genuine sorrow to kowtow to the coffin of his abused wife and banged his head against the brick wall for forgiveness .Whether he thence would enter the monkhood for the rest of his life or jump into the river , it was his choice.
 
After all,  other relatives were relieved that they didn't bother to draw up more illicit plans to get revenge any longer. However , for the members of social club at Jaektong's coffee shop , the sheriff's death still arouse suspicions for many - how did that person with the dulled moral sense kill himself in the same manner as his victim ?  Some had the conjecture that it couldn't have been the prompt karma ,or the torment from his own conscience , but merely Darika's revenge. 
 
Some contradicted him by saying that the sheriff should have been strangled to death as it was more convenient for ghost- like they had seen in the outdoor horror movies. The first theory owner argued that Darika's ghost might have hypnotized him to walk from his bedroom and find a rope to finish himself off (along with the creepy soundtrack if it were movie)  as an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
 
It caused the loud roar of laughter.
 
 
Darika's Vengeance (Chapter 4)
 
Eventually the horror of Darika caught up with me when her funeral was in the second night. I myself even wondered why my jittery that night had been extraordinarily tense. I had probably bought into the undertaker's remarks and the theory about the mysterious death of sheriff - or actually it was my own premonition. 
 
Even though it was in the middle of winter , that night was quite gloomy as the sky was cloudy and the tapestry of clouds were enshrouding the full moon like a curtain hiding a pretty woman. The number of guests had expectedly increased , but the eerie vibes were still with the funeral. The chants of monk had cast a pall over the people at the modern hall of temple. It was so depressing as I had to attend each night of Darika's funeral until next week. 
 
I and a few friends sat at the corner of the hall. Its dim light made it look like our temporary sanctuary . We were blabbering to distract ourselves from this macabre funeral. Suddenly, Dam nudged and talked to me in a shaken voice that he saw someone near Darika's coffin. I and another friend looked at his pointed direction but found nothing. Dam swore that there was a woman's lower body behind the easel of the deceased's photo ,even it disappeared in the wink of an eye .Wittaya teased him that his delusion might have stemmed from his lack of sleep. 
 
The howls of dogs suddenly appeared near our spot like the classic horror films. We stared frighteningly at one another and looked around. Suddenly the light went out , the guests were panic-stricken. It was our duty to look for the technician who might be relishing the drinks with the undertaker and some peers near the hall as their routines during funerals. No sooner had we stepped out of the hall than a woman's shriek briskly emerged from outside of the building. Some guests yowled in bewilderment. Many rose to their feet but still dared not to run out of the hall.
 
The sober- looking undertaker  (rare sight for us) rushed towards the head of village who was walking behind us . He stammered as he believed that sound belonged to Darika. But the head of village  ,who was unfazed as usual, told him that he was suspecting a woman might be in danger around here. The 70- year-old veteran and several of his underlings finally found no trace of foul play or that mysterious woman. He thus accepted the theory of ghost with goosebumps.
 
However,  we were at our wits' end when the technician was too intoxicated by alcohols to perform his duty. The light promptly came back like someone conjured it up. Most of the guests gradually bade farewell to the hosts , perhaps they remembered well whose shriek it was. The monks obviously showed disorientations as they lacked the domineering abbot who had been for some business in another province . Only ten minutes had passed , the remaining people at the funeral looked too sparse. The reluctant chants began again and we begrudgingly had to sit at the center of funeral. 
 
I cast a glace at the faces of Darika's parents which were so distraught. Her mother barely choked back her tears even while 'wai' (act of hands to pay respect) during the time the monks were chanting. Now they were facing the karma from their own avarices. The realization that their only daughter ,as a joie de vivre, was gone for good became insufferable. What worse than ghost itself were the memories that would bitterly plaque them for endless nights and days.
 
The second night of funeral finally ended and one could predict the pathetic number of guests tomorrow. The last person who took care of everything in the last minute was the undertaker who forcefully persuaded us to be his companions ,even our cowardice  far surpassed him. So the horror was still chasing us , the innocent bystanders of this tragedy.
 
The modern hall of temple turned to be spookily dark. The capricious wind shook the leafy branches of the gigantic Bodhi tree ,making the creepy rustling noise. It also scattered the clouds and let the moonlight shine through , but it didn't allay our fears at all. The temple boys shivered and huddled while moving everywhere without shame. While we were stepping out of the hall, the darn dogs began to terrorize us again by howling. We hysterically begged for protection from the shamanic abbot whose time of arrival was unknown yet. So our dear undertaker, the abbot's most important discipline, boosted our morale a bit by muttering the incantations.
 
The same herd of dogs rushed from somewhere and scurried around us , barking and howling incessantly. One of us in vain shushed them away but not loudly , because he was afraid that it might incur the wrath of the ghost. Another threw the pebbles at them but missed. The dogs turned to whimper as if they had been seeing something sinister in the dark. They lastly ran away with their tails between their legs. The undertaker was still muttering , but I found his voice and body pitifully trembling. Some parts of his incantations also sounded astray. All of a sudden, the naked moonlight helped us to witness the shadowy specter with bloated belly hovering in the north of the hall. It was seemingly dashing into us and uttering some unintelligible words.
 
We found ourselves running away with the incredible swiftness like wild animals' stampede from fire. After ten minutes without pause , it was waggish that the old codger became the winner of the race in this hair-raising night.
 
Darika's Vengeance (Chapter 5)
 
That night was a debut for Darika to unleash the terror in our village -the place she was born , married, and dead. The place I supposed she felt like being a bird in a glided caged who had been restlessly imprisoned to gratify the persons around her. Even though her tormentor was dead, her vengeance was still on the long way to be wreaked. 
 
Around midnight , we , the horror-struck-to-death temple boys and undertaker, returned to cower in the ancient hall (Ubosot)  of our temple. All the monks were quick-witted to know what was happening, they confined themselves quietly in their own dwellings (Kuti). We were aware of the abbot's absence , so the situation was immensely scary even now. Worse still, Ubosot was not much far from the modern hall. 
 
The next victim an hour later was our workshy technician who had proudly bragged about working at the office of Field Mashal Plaek Phibulsonggarm during the Japanese invasion. After Darika's funeral , he just hung around HiaTee's booze shop and filled more alcohol to his blood with several of its cups. He then wobbled back to his ramshackle thatched house and sang the song which was unbearably slurred.
 
There he met Darika's specter holding her baby in front of his house. Her decomposed face was drenched with blood , her eyes bulged out and her neck twisted around like being hanged from the ceiling. The fiftysomething man became miraculously sober and ran with roar of extreme fear. His mind ever since became a little unstable , but he was admired for surprisingly showing more diligence. However, the rumor had it that he used to say something offensive to Darika's corpse ,while he was working around her coffin.
 
Darika's close relatives were then descended on by her unsavory presence. She sang the lullaby and knocked their doors and then all sides of wooden wall of their houses repeatedly. Those people ,some already awakened by the technician's holler, were scared shitless , cowered, and said prayers to their little Buddha images. But their cries for her mercy to rest in peace seemed to be worthless. Plenty of neighbors also encountered the similar fates hours later. Many of them were the inebriated guests who had wooed the groom to kiss his bride in Darika's wedding. But for some reason , Darika's parents were not bullied by her at all - perhaps she thought they had already been punished enough.
 
The break of dawn allowed the first light to kiss the earth, but everything in our village seemed to be all paralyzed. The monks were too frightened to strike a bell and go for food offering as usual. The temple boys and the undertaker had lied faint because of exhaustions. Everyone was waiting for the stronger sunlight to chase away the ghost whom ,ironically, once they had adored. The head of village ,who had hid himself in the large earthen jar all night, hit the gong to hold the urgent meeting. All the weary villagers with bloodshot eyes called for our abbot, but he was still on the business trip. Darika's parents were urged to talk to her corpse in coffin to stop terrorizing the village, at least until the abbot returned and acted as a spiritual mediator.
 
Whether the implorations of Darika's mother in broad daylight would be successful or not , her funeral in the third night was grinded to a halt. Her coffin lying alone in the dark of the modern hall was so haunting that no villagers were dauntless to venture outside their residence since the dusk prevailed over the sky. They frantically shut all windows and doors tight after decorating their houses with the herbs presumed to effectively ward off spirits.There were few of them fleeing to another village because most of the villagers were afraid that their possessions , especially the cattle,  could fall prey to the thieves whose fears of ghost might be overcome by greediness.
 
Nonetheless , we,  all the members of temple , had the advantage over them since we had the sacred Ubosot as sanctuary like last night. We locked the door with a big chain and closed all windows .The air inside was not suffocating at all due to the winter. The light from the candles was softly caressing our bodies and also the ancient image of Lord Buddha sitting dignifiedly behind the altar replete with plastic offerings. The faded scent of joss sticks became like perfume to soothe our disquieted minds. 
 
We also were comforted by the fact that we hadn't all hairs fallen thanks to illness or insanity from the incident last night. We thus rested assured that we were going to survive the ordeal of this night. But somehow we still wondered whether the sacredness of the Lord Buddha's image would protect us, if Darika out of the blue hanged upside down from ceiling. 
 
In this exasperating moment , we attempted to keep downright quiet and move at least we could ; even breathing too heavily was deemed the mortal sin. Everything outside was being enveloped by the bizarre silence , without the sound of breeze or dog's barks like every night. The jovial chorus of crickets turned to sing the muted hymn of grimness. A large weird bird audaciously perked on the roof of Ubosot and startled us with its high-pitched squawk. Some monk unwittingly ruined the atmosphere by whispering that it was a vehicle of Angel of Death. 
 
I peeped through the hole of the wooden window and saw the large moon that was reddish like the ominous sign. Suddenly , I reminisced about Darika's face when I met her walking with her mother by chance one night in the temple fair. I smiled to her and she pretended to look away , yet I was euphoric even merely to see her following sulky face. Now in spite of Darika's dreadful specter , I still found affection towards her lurking somewhere in my mischievous heart. 
 
Darika's Vengeance (Chapter 6)
 
The clock in Ubosot told us that it was exactly 8 PM  , someone forcefully knocked on the door of Brother Somnuek's dwelling which was the nearest to Ubosot. We were bewildered but then enormously relieved to learn that the following utterance was our abbot's. Like Lord Buddha returned to visit the earth to redeem our souls , we all gleefully came out to greet him. The abbot looked astounded to see everything in the temple standing still. The unlit lamps around temple were left forlorn in the dark  (electricity was scarce at that time) , and it obviously agitated him. The story of Darika's vengeance even made him lose his head more.
 
The abbot told us to go back in Ubosot. Many were bold enough to peep through the holes to see the abbot walking with haste to the modern hall. His voice sounded like the calm conversation with someone, probably Darika, and then it was increasingly emotional. Lastly ,  it was likely to end with the heated argument ; the abbot rushed into his dwelling. We could thus hear him muttering incantation in the language that resembled Cambodian.  
 
Amidst the uncanny silence , we could hear the resounding wheezing sounds . We presumed that it belonged to the ghosts enslaved by the abbot for the ages in the pots warped up by the yantra and the magic spells . Many of us could see their bodies clearly even in the dark. They were the brawny brutes - tall and muscular - wearing only the loincloths on the lower parts of bodies. Three of them stiffly followed our abbot who was striding back into the modern hall. 
 
The sound of the fierce fights ensued and had lasted for half an hour ; all of us felt like dying from too much perturbation. Ultimately , we could hear the frightful shrieks of our abbot, but we dared not rush to his rescue. We had discussed within our group with fervor and asked for vote. The side of helping the abbot ASAP received the landslide victory. All of us reluctantly picked up something presumed to be the most lethal weapons in the world like the wooden sticks or even the scissor and walked en masse with the shudder to the battlefield. 
 
The body of our poor abbot was lying unconscious on the courtyard near the hall. Everything around him seemed to be in a shambles like the storm passing by. The bushes and the little trees were severely torn. The sand of the messy courtyard was scattered and covered some parts of the hall  - its door was severely damaged. There were currently no traces of any warring spirit , but we still felt the remnants of peril. We hastily lifted the old man up and returned to Ubosot while anxiously looking around .It comically bore resemblance to the act of rescue of their injured comrade by the soldiers. 
 
Our abbot was revived by our perfunctory first aid and murmured to us in a quavering voice that sounded like the weak father who had failed his sons. He confessed that Darika was too stubborn to yield to his persuasion-turned-coercion. She was also formidable and single-handedly conquered his ghostly minions. He had sobbed for a while and said that perhaps the only solution was to journey to Bangkok and ask for help from the high-ranking monk who used to be his mentor and had more powerful incantations. Yet this would take about at least two weeks !
 
This kind of grisly news spread around our village in the morning like wildfire. People were crestfallen and begged the abbot to do his best. He and one of his followers went by oxcart to the nearest province that had the train station to Bangkok in that very morning .The head of village held the meeting again. They finally had the unanimous agreement that the village couldn't wait for even a single day, as it would mean totally ruinous for everyone. 
 
This became more convincing as a tale was told :  an hour after the fight , a daredevilish (or actually half- crazed) villager went fishing at a swamp and stumbled across Darika in the deserted field near his spot.  According to his vivid account , she was sitting and singing lullable while holding her baby ,  with utter relaxation, on the sprawling fallen trunk of gigantic tree . That meant she was unscathed and perfectly fit to menace the village perpetually. That fisherman ran away wildly and fell ill forthwith from the scare. 
 
The famous sorcerer from the near village was recruited to exorcise Darika. The old man had received the accolades for bringing numerous ferocious spirits , wreaking havoc in many villages , to their knees.  However , he and the abbot had the implacable hostility towards each other, so the villagers had to keep this as a secret. 
 
The sorcerer was almost as old as the abbot , but his hair , beard and moustache were quite grey. His eyes always showed the scheming glints and his voice was hoarse but powerful. The old bravado was always dressing in all white , but he was rumored to barely restrain his lust for pretty girls , although the person practicing sorcery was supposed to adhere to the sexual abstinence like a monk. I had seen him every now and then while running errands at his village or its vicinity. Somehow I could feel the sinister radiance from him and his followers. I used to think that he was even more depraved than the spirits he had ruthlessly suppressed.
 
That evening the old sorcerer and two of his Cambodian followers swaggered into our village . The head of village greeted him and promised that he would get the handsome rewards, if the old man could merely 'eliminate' Darika. But her parents disagreed by saying that simply banishing her was enough. The bickering between them and the head of village , along with some villagers, was so tense that the old sorcerer intervened by promising that he was ready to use any card in his hands , depending on the situation. But Darika's parents still insisted that in spite of his conquest , he didn't have to incarcerate her in the sacred pot or enslave her. The old man intentionally exhibited his annoyance to them and everybody promptly knew that he would do anything wantonly at last.
 
Darika's Vengeance (Chapter 7) 
 
This night was 'exceedingly' normal , in comparison to its predecessor. The night birds were chirping on their nests and the chorus of crickets was singing the hymn of nocturn tranquility. The dogs sometimes barked but didn't bother to howl at all. It was quite soothing for us ,even if it might be the deadfall that aimed to lure us to walk into its shadow.
 
The cohort of villagers , including me, had accompanied the old sorcerer and his followers to the deserted field - the new battlefield. Under the lamps his followers were holding , the old man looked extraordinary lively with self-assurance . He had boasted about his previous victories . Sometimes he made the dirty jokes implying his sexual conquests all the way. Eventually, all the villagers stopped at the place deemed the safest , just to see their would-be heroes disappearing in the dark. Everyone was confident that Darika would be at least strictly disciplined and gladly leave them in peace til kingdom come. 
 
Still , that night we , all the members of the temple, had held on to the vigilance at Ubosot , while plenty of villagers were gathering at the house of the head of village to wait for the good news. We still sealed ourselves with the same protective cocoon just in case , but the atmosphere was far more lighthearted. Our dear undertaker had the courtesy to join us as his wife had fled yesterday ,so he was too scared to live alone in his house -  the small hut at the rear of the temple. 
 
We kept prattling on many things. Many expected that everything would be back to 'the old normalcy' : some of them would be able to sneak into their girlfriend's houses or see the outdoor movies at night as usual. One monk intrigued me by saying he was planning to quit the monkhood and further his study in Bangkok -perhaps the University of Vichathammasart lae Karnmuang (Thammasart University's former name) which had opened for any student without entrance examination for more than a decade.  I suddenly came across the idea of renewing my studies in Bangkok before becoming the civil servant. My parents would be crying with happiness due to the previous numerous vexations they had to endure with me.
 
The undertaker scoffed at their plans as he was too senile and illiterate to understand them. He said the first thing he was expecting right now was the old sorcerer marching triumphantly into our village and showing off the severed head of Dariaka. Or the sorcerer might carry the pot that would incarcerate her spirit forever, before letting it descend into the abyss of the river. I was irritated to hear that as I found myself secretly worrying about Darika . I was suddenly assailed by some thought that the sorcerer would finally fail. If so , I would certainly be very ecstatic - without any guilt.
 
We then were caught off guard by the sounds of many men forcefully slapping the door while anxiously wailing. One of our members let the door open as he recognized their voices. It was our head of village who was excessively frightened and quivering. He rushed into Ubosot gaspingly , followed by the people with almost the same gestures. Our local leader briskly sat on the floor, but failed to tell us what was happening. His face was utterly ashen and profuse with sweats.One of his underlings told us that while they were drinking to celebrate beforehand before starting mindlessly singing , Darika appeared and threw the severed head of the old sorcerer into their party. They dispersed and escaped in the manners that looked like the nutcases. 
 
The members of the temple ,especially the undertaker, felt disappointed to see the plans razed to the ground. No sooner had anyone said anything than more panic-stricken people dashed into Ubosot , demanding more space. Finally Ubosot was likely to explode with too crowded refugees. The late comers were driven away , so they had to hide themselves at the unoccupied monk's dwellings or even the toilets.
 
All of a sudden , the candles before the image of Lord Buddha and around Ubosot were extinguished, even though all windows were still closed. The wind was increasingly strong and engulfed our temple with the sound resembling a woman's squeals. Later, the door and all windows of Ubosot were forcefully yanked. Darika's unintelligible voice of vehemence swiftly surrounded the people who were pitifully cringing and saying the prayers that were incomprehensible to even Lord Buddha himself. But I still had the hunch that she would not really enter Ubosot and massacre us without a qualm.
 
The third wave of our ordeals had lasted for half an hour and everything turned to be peaceful . The people were relieved but then worried that their beloved ones at home might have been imperiled by Darika's vengeance. Many decided to risk their lives going back home. Fortunately , they just found their families trembling with fear in the dark ; no one dared to sleep all night. They were also gripped by the frustration to see that mission going awry.
 
In the morning , the survivors of the gruesome night gathered at the head of village's house. They were horrified to see the head of  the sorcerer on the table strewn with the broken bottles of alcohol beside the dishes of spilled foods .The wife of the head of village and her mother had ostensibly lied unconscious in the house until the first sunlight .Although they revived sometimes , they still pretended to go on fainting.
 
Darika's Vengeance ( Chapter 8 ) 
 
The police officers were much later notified .They appeared to be well aware of what actually happened but let the legal procedure carried on with stride . Actually they were also the victims who had been bullied by Darika at the police station. Hail of bullets pierced her body in vain like the thin air and they all fled to huddle with trepidation with the inmates at the cell - what a sight ! 
 
The station was then terribly shaken like they were facing earthquake .Everyone closed their eyes and cowered in terror. The amulets around the neck of our brave inspector ,which had been previously boasted by him of its mighty sacredness, seemed to be totally lackluster . In the morning all the inmates asked the officers to send them to the death row in Bangkok instead of being jailed here. But the real culprits were the police who had nonchalantly received the complaint from Darika's father about the sheriff's cheating on marriage.
 
The cohort of villagers also led the police to the deserted field . They became much appalled at such a heinous scene - many ran away to vomit with disgust. The limbs of the headless sorcerer and one of his followers were violently ripped  ; their stomachs were disemboweled , giving off the unbearably fetid air. The only survivor was absent-mindedly roaming around the place and talking gibberish in Cambodian like the insane. It was learnt many months later that he would use some technique to successfully cut his own head in the asylum. 
 
The squeamish doctor told everyone that both men 's heads and limbs were ripped apart from bodies in just one strike - a tour de force. Everyone was in the utter silence. It was beyond their imaginations that the battle led by such a masterly sorcerer would have been defeated in the blink of the eye. At last Darika was accepted as the mightiest and fiercest spirit they had ever heard or encountered in their entire lives.
 
After everything had been finished , the urgent meeting was held again in spite of all the indescribable exhaustions of everyone. The members of the temple were attending as well. Some of us were so desperate that they imagined escaping to somewhere, perhaps America or Europe with a myriad of splendid natural scenery they used to fancy from the documentaries in the outdoor films.
 
After all , the brainstorm was vigorous. Some opined that although last night the folks at their houses avoided the Darika's horror , they were certain that this night would be like all hell breaking loose for everyone. This was because the old sorcerer had terribly aroused her inappeasable wraths. The villagers wondered who else would be her next victim with the horrible death like the old sorcerer. Or perhaps it was the fates destined for all of them.
 
There was the solution like recruiting more sorcerers as a group to fight with Darika  ,but the head of village told that he was just now informed that all the sorcerers in other villages had cowardly fled as a result of the harrowing death of the old man who was once their mentor. Another solution was raised like asking Darika's parents to negotiate with their vengeful daughter , but others argued that they had done these through countless times, but to no avail. 
 
Moreover , some proposed that the villagers should go in procession with the intricate and pompous ceremony to ask for her forgiveness .But others took a dim view of this by saying that they were still doubtful about what they had actually previously offended her. If they really went as a plan , her specter might consider it a mockery or a sarcasm. The massacre might ensue ,even Darika's parents were probably not able to save them. This was thanks to her unfathomable caprice. 
 
A young man , who was one of my close friends , hurtled towards the meeting out of breath and read the telegraph that our abbot suddenly became bed- ridden from some brain problem (the technical terms was 'the cerebral thrombosis'). He needed to be in a hospital in Bangkok indefinitely. The atmosphere in the meeting was thus extremely nerve-racking. Most of the participants started to sight or sulk with despair. 
 
Finally , the devastated head of village gave the advice that all the villagers ,especially women , children and old folks, should flee to other villages before the coming nightfall. The men should have choices  - whether they would flee with their families or hide in their houses to protect properties. But some fiercely raised the objection that it was the lame temporary solution : what would they do,  if Darika still terrorized their village for long ? - that meant the collapse of their community. They still developed the theory that even if they moved to other places , she would still follow to menace them tirelessly. The meeting place was then uproarious with the same arguments back and forth. No one listened to the chairman who was helplessly imploring for silence. But one thing they rested assured was that there was no light at the end of the tunnel yet.
 
All uproars were immediately subdued when Darika's parents unexpectedly walked into the meeting. Her mother looked around with her haggard look . She said in an impassive voice that just now Darika had visited them at their house and promised to stop terrorizing our village only ..... But she paused and looked around again briefly.  The silence completely laid hold of the place and none of the villagers dared  to break it even with their breaths. Everybody was crossing their fingers with thrills. 
 
Darika's mother pointed her finger right through the audience in the front row at me. She finished the sentence in a shaken voice  : ... on a condition that I , one of the ordinary temple boys , would go to talk to her alone in the deserted field tonight !
 
Everyone was in commotion and I was totally stupefied.
 
Darikia's Vengeance (Chapter 9)
 
Someone called out my name. I was totally flummoxed , still struggling to stand up , but my friend nudged me to do it eventually. The head of village talked to me in the softest voice I had ever heard in my life : whether I was willing to comply with Darika's request. I was being taken aback when the picture of the old sorcerer's severed head descended on my mind. The local leader hastily jumped to the conclusion that I agreed. The rapturous roars and applauses were around the meeting place.
 
Some of the elderly rushed to embrace me with sheer delight. I supposed these were the acts of capturing me : if I ran away right now , I would be hunted down by the whole village. I saw my parents sitting afar with the anxious faces. My father moved his head to seriously chat with the undertaker nearby. However , there were the villagers curious about my relationship with Darika and the reasons why she singled me out. Her mother told them that Darika and I were neither the relative nor even the acquaintance. She bluntly said that I was impertinent : I always greeted or flirted with her daughter, while they were waiting for offering the food to the monks. My mother stood up to contradict her in a fit of rage. 
 
The head of village rushed to stop the quarrel between two women and told everyone in a gesture of politician that the past was not necessary - let bygones be bygones. He hoped I would do my best not to offend her - just do everything she wanted me to. Or it was even better that I would help her to come to her senses , lest she would break her promise. The meeting ended with the different feelings , the volte-face from the ones before it started. The village could smile , laugh , and obviously indulge in frivolity.
 
The members of the temple smothered me with their embraces and solaces. Some solace was a black comedy like Darika might have fallen for me all along ; she also might have been hell-bent on dragging me to live with her in another dimension -and be happy ever after. Everybody dared not to laugh but only chuckled when seeing my serious misgiving .
 
Brother Somnuek took me away from the crowd who was about to merrily disperse, and he whispered to me that our group was more than ready to help me. The amulets and other relics in our temple would be catered to me in this evening. Other monks would teach me the easy spell to fight with the apparition .In additon, my peers would hide in the sparse forest near the deserted field. If I felt that I was in jeopardy , I had to make the loudest noise I could . They would without a flinch come to my rescue. My eyes brimmed with tears and my body was trembling as I deeply felt grateful for their cordialities , even though I considered they were probably useless.
 
Later, my peers let me walk back to my house with my parents. My mother's sobbing exacerbated the moods of everyone , so my father shouted at her to stop. Our dear undertaker ,who was accompanying us ,assumed that it was likely that Darika would merely reprimand me and ask me for my heartfelt apology like madly wailing and kneeling down with my forehead touching the ground. He urged me to do it like a professional actor. My parents thus relented. My mother then turned to talk about having me enter the monkhood next year.
   
However, I realized that Darika had been offended by my flirtation all along ,whereas I thought it was just the friskiness from a youth to the girl whom he had a crush on. But she had lately descended into the bottomless Vendetta (or madness) which ridiculously made my impertinence the mortal sin. 
 
The ultimate truth was that I was the last target of 'Darika's vengeance'. I was not an innocent bystander like I had assumed all the time !
 
I thus could foresee the scenario the head of village and the undertaker intentionally avoided talking about : Darika might order me to kneel down in a deep atonement and finish me off swiftly as 'a tour de force'.  
 
I also thought the reason she would do it like the show trial was because I was the descendent of the village. This would leave the permanent scar to our community for generations. It was ironic that the person I loved most would be the one who mercilessly killed me. But it was just the unrequited love - what would I expect something else?
 
I and my family arrived at the gate of my house. I Dang , my dog, went to greet us. I suddenly felt his unconditional love and hugged him tightly. It might be the last time I had ever played with him. This was also the first time in 3 months that I visited my house. I regretted so much that I would never sleep in my old bedroom again. By that late afternoon , the canal in the rear of my house was so mesmerizing as the sunlight was touching its surface rippled by the gentle breeze and the lively shoal of swimming fish. I was standing at the balcony and reminiscing about my daydreams of going to the swinging Bangkok , studying or working , and kissing the gorgeous Bangkokian girls. Now they had almost dissipated. It was waggish to find that my boring life and risible fantasies turned to be the ones I cherished most in this moment- in front of the creeping death.
 
That night my parents were precluded from seeing me off ,perhaps the villagers were afraid that they would change their minds. There were not many villagers accompanying me to the deserted field ,much different from the old sorcerer. The head of village was amused to see my shirt all covered with a ton of amulets . He and others pretended to be in high spirits to distract me while carrying the lamps and walking slowly towards the deserted field. 
 
I brushed them aside as my mind was drifting to the impending agony of my parents, wishing they would ride it out in the end. I also thought about my peers who might be currently hiding in the sparse forest within reach. I was deciding that I would not ask for help from them come what may. As they would pitifully turned to be Darika's next victims and her vengefulness would continue to grip this village in spite of our horrible deaths. At last I wish my peers the long and healthy lives , including the warm families in the future of the world that was without me. 
 
The villagers stopped at the safest spot like last night. I received the lamp from the head of village. He smiled wryly to me without any utterance as a token of last farewell. They kept waiting for me to walk along the dark path to the deserted field. I now found myself all alone. My lamps were quite flickering and the darkness around me exuded the eerie feeling like I was about to wander in this macabre forest everlastingly.
 
All of a sudden , I felt miraculously calm : all my shaking and anxiety had gone. I took all the amulets off and laid them on a tree's branch along the path and kept walking. 
 
Darikia's Vengeance (Last Chapter) 
 
Darika was standing there in human form. The radiance of her sublimity was not diminished at all by the darkness around her place. On the contrary , she was so glamorous in her attire : the very one which I used to be amazed at when I chanced upon her in the temple fair that night. I hardly believed myself that I could even notice the flesh flower behind one of her ears which made her more alluring. 
 
When Darika saw me , she greeted me with the most beautiful and the sweetest smile I had ever seen from every woman -perhaps since the world was created. She extended both of her hands to me as a gesture of - according to my newfound hunch -  friendliness , or more precise word , deep affection.
 
"O my dear brother ,  I have longed to encounter you in this closeness. What a divine night !" exclaimed she with delight.
 
I smiled and walked towards her , grabbing her hands and letting myself ushered by her into the sprawling fallen tree that she had always hung around. Both of us then sat on it with the unutterable euphoria. There was a cradle not far from us - it could be her baby sleeping safe and sound under a myriad of twinkling stars and the full moon.
 
I was the first who broke the silence.
 
"With all my heart , Pi Darika , I have longed to devour your beauty  - your splendor which I have immersed myself in for endless nights and days - Even in your death , I never cease to do it." 
 
She was enraptured and looked at the sky.
 
"Look ! , my dear brother, this is the place I can gaze and revel in the vast tapestry of universe. It is marvelous , isn' it ? -  in this cloudless night , even for mortal or apparition. Perhaps those stars exist no more as the light from them would squander billions of years wandering to our eyes. It is an illusion just like my beauty."
 
I stared at her without an eyeblink. 
 
"Your beauty is like the moon , albeit waxing or waning. It will never vanish eternally. But I suppose those stars are like your mystery that has scared and perplexed me for years. I wish you will help shed light on this.
 
Darika fixed her eyes on me  , using her soft hand to caress both my cheeks with empathy.
 
"See ! , how dreadful you look after all these unsavory days !  I am gripped by remorse that I had inadvertently tormented you with the endless frights. I couldn't help it as you were among them. But this afternoon your life was blessed with the new feeling that had made you escape from the banality of life : the anguish at the creeping death. I assume I had already helped you , correct ? "
 
I just smiled. She giggled and finished her sentence :
 
" I am more than pleasant to help you more - to solve those riddles of mine from now on."
 
I nodded as a gesture of gratitude.
 
"My dear sister , why have you wreaked the vengeance on all of us , the innocent wretches who are cursed to be under the penury until the end of time ?" 
 
"Darling , I used to be the mortal just like you who have been afflicted by one's own vengefulness. The painful memories recur to plague me at all hours , and  I desperately fall prey to it. The villagers are all without guilt, but I feel I have been tormented by their intolerably malicious gazes on my downfall. At last I come to my senses that my vengeance is the misdeed. I realize that to wreak vengeance is like to drink the sea of water. I will never satisfy my parched throat with it. Now, with the smile from you , I shall triumph whenever the vengefulness endeavors to seize me with its wings once more."
 
I blushed coyly but mustered up my courage to ask her,
 
"Please accept my apology if  I'd like to know about the sheriff."
 
She was still beaming. I stared at her face and told myself I couldn't feel enough to drink in her splendor.
 
"That accursed one ? His love for me is utterly overwhelming. But he is too weak ; he is fearful of his wife. However, he is so skillful at hiding the frailness under his nonchalance .When I visited him ,in the ghostly appearance, he was nought but a wreck. In the end I told him that I forgave him. He became inconsolable and hung himself afterwards." Her voice was calm , even though the circumstance in her sentence was so tragic.
 
"What about that old sorcerer ?" I thought my voice was a bit shaking.
 
Darika sneered but I thought she was still adorable.
 
" He and his late followers had molested a bunch of  young women. They had as well deprived those of their worthy lives merely just to gratify their pleasure. You assume my killing is the downright cruelty , don't you ?   "
 
I finally managed to say what I wanted to.
 
"Yes , I think perhaps we should have arrested them and let them repent in prison."
 
Suddenly I found myself hovering in the dark sky . Not far from me , a fleet of the Allied airplanes was flying nearby .They slowly released the carpet bombings to the places below. Then their dark surfaces were partly illuminated by numerous small spots of fire.
 
The voice of Darika was resounding in my ears.
 
" As our minds connect to each other , I know everything about you : I know why every morning you will wake up with the puzzlement of the deaths of your uncle and his family. You keep wondering why that is not you dying in the shelter along with them. Are you now pursuing the vendetta against those foreign governments who had masterminded those bombings ? " 
 
I was baffled and profuse with sweats. Her snigger was heard when seeing my reaction.
 
" Defense ,  war , rape , gossip ,  cheating or anything , are merely the words. They are just manifestations of the human's evil existence like the vengeance. In spite of their multifaceted appearance ,  their essences are barely different . Humans turn to torture and slaughter one another with those words. They have done these without qualms - many under the name of morality or law. How come you make a fuss about only me when there are plenty of them you've encountered on a daily basis ? Is  this because I am a vengeful ghost ? "
 
Suddenly I found myself returning to sit near Darika again. She was still smiling at me - like the enlightened one.
 
I stammered,
 
" Yes ..... there are plenty of them. Please forgive me - I am terribly wrong."
 
"Please don't utter like that !  I want you to hold your ground. I even want your idea to be right, my darling.  That old sorcerer and his underlings were always with impunity as the police had been bribed. Maybe you and the villagers would send the petition to the government like my fate, and your folks as the law - abiding citizens would miraculously win - maybe my vengeance is unjustified lastly. But my dear brother , the evil has too many faces , beware of that."
 
She gently held my face with both of her hands. Our foreheads touched each other and I could feel her warmish breaths.
 
" After all ,there is a light shining through the dark  -  like you who have enlivened me with your charming smile. Even though love can't wipe out viciousness,  it is still like a blessing for me to subsist. Like those days when I spurned you with my arrogance - just my deceitful manner , I knew you would always forgive and adore me . My thought has henceforth lingered on you wherever I wander. Your pureness keeps my insanity at bay  - in my insufferable life - in the throes of my death . Even though the vendetta can overpower it sometimes , it is finally subdued.
 
She murmured like she didn't want to say this sentence.
 
"But this is the time for me to depart at this hour ..."
 
I cried out in vain , 
 
"My dear sister, please take me as your loving companion. I would be graced to go everywhere with you."
 
She grinned.
 
"I fear that it would never happen. I wish you the long , happy ,and vibrant life ahead. Please enshrine these in your heart : our fates eternally entwine and we are an indelible part of each other. These are the reasons why you didn't go to live in Bangkok many years ago. Now be aware that I will always be with you through the fondling of the sunlight in the morning and the gentle touch of the wind through your window in the lazy afternoon. Adieu , my love."
 
Darika had intoxicated me with her long impassioned kiss . When I opened my eyes , I was completely alone. I picked up the lamp and was about to leave the deserted field. But I suddenly noticed a star rapidly falling ; I broke down in tears.
 
The end
 

 

นวนิยายเรื่อง "ชั่วกาลปาวสาน" (ตอน 1 -3)

นวนิยายเรื่องนี้ถูกเขียนประมาณ ปี 2005 หรือ 2006  ผู้เขียนเองก็จำไม่ค่อยได้ ตัวเอกหรือผู้บรรยายเป็นคนไทยแต่ไปสอนวรรณคดีที่มหาวิทยาลัยแห่งหนึ่งในกรุงเบอร์ลินในเยอรมันช่วงที่นาซีกำลังเรืองอำนาจ อนึ่งไม่ได้มีการตรวจสอบภาษาไทยเท่าไรนัก จึงต้อขออภัยหากมีความผิดพลาดทางภาษาเกิดขึ้น