Red Demon, Blue Demon
Stories from the Tradition
A supernatural experience leaves a merchant wondering if he still exists.
Once there was a merchant who had to make a long journey to sell his wares. This meant that he would have to find somewhere to stay overnight.
It was evening, and he arrived at a small town. The weather was warm and dry so he thought to himself that rather than spend money on a room at the local inn he could sleep out under the stars.
Riding around for a while he came to a small cemetery at the edge of the town surrounded by a high wall. He found a place to park up his cart and horse which could not be seen from the road. Next, he clambered over the wall, found a tombstone lying on the ground, lay on it and quickly went to sleep.
During the early hours, the merchant was abruptly woken by a tremendous banging and crashing that came from the far side of the cemetery. He was terrified and peered from behind another tombstone to see a terrifying sight.
Over in the far corner were two huge demons, one red and one blue. They were smashing open the recently buried coffins and devouring the contents. Realising that he was in imminent danger if caught, the merchant looked around to try to work out an escape route. If he tried to shinny over the wall, he would easily be seen and as well the gate was locked. Not too far away, however, was a tall weeping willow tree in full leaf. The branches touched the ground and he realised that if he could get to it unseen, he could then hide in the canopy. So, moving commando style across the ground on his belly, he managed to make his way to the tree, get under the canopy and climb partway up the trunk, where he clung for dear life!
So frightened was the merchant that he could not stop himself shaking. This movement caused the whole tree to shake and the leaves to rustle. This movement attracted the attention of Red Demon who strode over to investigate. Parting the branches, he saw the merchant clinging to the tree trunk who immediately began begging for his life. He told the demon that he was a poor man with a wife and baby and that, if the demon ate him, his wife and child would starve, thus throwing himself on the demon’s mercy. However, Red Demon was ravenous and, ignoring the merchant’s pleas, tore off his left arm and swallowed it.
In the meantime, Blue Demon had joined his companion and was deeply moved by the merchant’s plight. He therefore turned and smashed open a nearby grave and removed the left arm from the corpse and stuck it onto the merchant where his own arm used to be. But Red Demon was still hungry and therefore tore off one of the merchant’s legs. Blue Demon opened another grave, removed the corresponding limb from the corpse and stuck it back onto the merchant.
Well, this went on all night. Red Demon devoured this or that limb, head, torso or internal organ and Blue Demon replaced it from a handy supply of bodies in the cemetery. Finally, dawn arrived and with the first rays of the sun the two demons vanished in a puff of smoke, leaving a rather traumatised merchant at the foot of the willow tree.
Any desire to continue his journey to the market had vanished and in fact he found he was consumed by a burning question?
“Who am I?”
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