How Konzen Douji did not spend 500 years.
Numbers may be significant, if you want them to be.
Excuse me, I meant Filthy Lies
That's not quite right either. Yes, it should really be Fifty Lies.
The first one ended rather sooner than he had expected. He drifted aimlessly for perhaps an hour, meditating on his new and strange state, then it was over. He's not even sure how. There was some kind of change in his environment -- perhaps the surrounding liquid became more diluted? and then he was nothing.
He hadn't even lived long enough to divide.
This time, he managed to find something to hold onto, and rested there in the sun, recovering for a while before something pulled him away, scraped him off, and it was over.
The mud was thick and heavy all around him, burning poison against his skin, and he could barely gather enough strength to pull himself free. Then a shadow fell over him and ripped him free from the mire, and he was swallowed by darkness.
It was bright, and the spring air filled him with a strange sense of exhilaration as he raised himself from the earth and bloomed. A butterfly flew down and kissed his lips, and slowly, joy grew, filling him until he finally burst, and the wind swooped down and tore him open, scattering seeds of delight and promise as he watched the remains of his body below wither.
It was over nearly before it began. He lay in warm, peaceful darkness occasionally interrupted for something (his mother?) to turn him over until it was bright, and something (a hand) drew him out into the light. The world shook and cracked open, whipping him around in liquid fury for a few moments before he fell into what was surely the burning pits of hell.
There was nothing to recommend about the life of an ant. Nothing at all.
Nor about the life of a beetle, though for the duration of that stint itself, he was particularly proud of an especially large and round... creation.
All things considered, he supposed living off food scraps at the bottom of a pond was something of an improvement. He spent some time considering the ways he could have been worse off in the quiet company of another catfish. Then he was hooked.
It took a while before he stopped being wracked by hunger, but eventually he grew weary, tucked himself away in a thick cocoon and slept. When he woke and struggled free from the entangling mass of fibres, his body had become strangely light. He spread his wings and flew until he found a mountain of peculiar significance, where he alighted on a branch to contemplate its meaning for a moment before a sticky tongue snatched him into the mouth of the waiting frog.
Bees aren't much that much better than ants. They smelled better, perhaps, and ate better. And they could fly. He ended his life on the nose of a bear, defending his queen.
There were entirely too many legs to sort out. While he tried to decide which ones to move next, a hen clucked, stepped on him, and it was over.
It was something of a relief when he felt the sharp talons of a swooping hawk pierce his back. He was quite certain he hadn't gathered enough food for the winter.
It was peaceful and cool beneath the waters. A grain of sand got in and irritated him for a while, until he wrapped it up and forgot about it. Then after a while, something forced open his shell and it was over.
Ponds were in no way as peaceful as they looked on the surface. He stayed close to the shoal, and always kept a wary eye out even as he nibbled at algae, but it wasn't enough.
He made a web. It was a rather good web. He made more when it got too damaged to use. They were good webs too. After while, it became rather boring, but he kept making them anyway, because it was what he did. A little impudent fellow visited him with a nicely wrapped fly as a gift. After he finished the fly, he ate his overly smug visitor as well. He laid some eggs, and wrapped them up prettily in silk. Then he tried to forget about them.
Flies were good, he decided. However, lily pads were rather overrated as seats. They tended to tip and drop him into the pond if he sat too close to the edge. But all in all, it was a moderately good life.
He was not entirely accustomed to the frenetic pace of life he found himself requiring, but the repetitive act of gathering and burying nuts, and the urgent desire to rush out and scold intruders, seemed comfortingly familiar. Winters passed. It was pleasant.
He supposed, after the excitement and ups and downs of his previous lives, he should have been content to lie in the sun and chew grass, but the shell was heavy. A child scratched something into his back with a knife, and some time later, a laughing young woman (the child grown up?) sat with an infant on her knee beside him and recited a nonsense rhyme about Bread Man, off his shell, he thought. He thought about biting her, but she offered him a delicate lettuce leaf, and he forgot about the rhyme.
As soon as he could fly, he found his way to the mountain where he knew Goku waited. He chirped to get the attention of the stupid monkey brooding in the corner, and thought for a moment that Goku recognised him, crawling closer to look at him in wonder. He flew in and settled on Goku's finger, glaring at him expectantly, but the only reaction he got was uncomprehending delight.
He continued visiting, but Goku never did understand, and never tried to get out of the prison with him, no matter how he chirped and flew around the damned monkey. In exasperation, he flew at Goku's head and pecked him, but the boy only laughed.
It was a hopeless cause. He flew out to try and regain some semblance of calm, but his heart squeezed painfully, then he fell to the ground and knew nothing.
It was cold and dark for a long time, but he was moderately content, though things did begin to get somewhat crowded after a while. Then it got more crowded, and more crowded, until one bright morning when it seemed that everyone couldn't stand the crowd any more, all at the same time, and they all rushed out. Someone mentioned swimming, but he didn't care to follow the crowd. After everyone else had vacated the tunnels, it was nice and quiet again. He wondered where all the others had gone, and had more children with one of the few who hadn't left. Then it started getting crowded again. He thought that perhaps he should go for a swim.
His goggling eyes, seen in the funhouse mirror of the glass bowl that was his current home, did not adequately reflect his surprise at his current state. He swam in circles, overate and bloated, floating to the surface of the water. Suitably horrified, his owner poured him into the toilet bowl and flushed, though he was sure he would have recovered, given a little time to digest properly. The stories of giant mutant goldfish and sewer alligators are merely urban legends.
Animal experimentation is a very cruel and inhumane thing. Take his word for it.
Dogs are stupid, disgraceful and a pimple on the karma of anyone with the slightest notion of dignity or self-respect. Fetch? Roll over? Shake hands? He'd make his owner play dead, except for the fact that he really, really wanted the dog biscuits. And the beef jerky. And the occasional donut.
Do not speak to him of cowpats.
The one good thing about making himself learn the stupid baby-talk the stupid humans kept parroting at him was that nobody blamed him when he expressed his true feelings about the idiots in the household. They all assumed that he had picked up the phrases from one of the other humans. It was something to console himself with whenever they failed to get him the crackers he asked for, believing that he was merely repeating their words without understanding.
To say he had kittens might have been something of an understatement. He held a certain persistent ginger tom responsible.
Perhaps it was to make up for the sheer number of cockroaches he had caught and toyed with until they had fallen to pieces in his previous life. If so, he felt that he ought to have tried harder to smother the baby in its crib while he could. Then the damned brat would not have spent so many years drooling on his back and tugging his tail, then carrying him around like a stuffed toy and crying over his cancer-ridden body... Perhaps not. At least this life was brief, he mused as his carapace gave way beneath the grinding shoe, and spilled his juicy innards over the cold ground.
Fungi are not fun guys. Though the gap-toothed old man who picked him did seem to think he would make good company, or maybe soup. It was hard to tell, what with the gleeful cackling.
He would have said a mongoose made a good neighbour, being mostly absent or asleep, but he changed his mind readily enough when the mongoose decided it was hungry and that he would make a nice snack. A hand plucked him out of the treacherous brute's reach just in time.
A skinny brown boy grinned at him, showing even white teeth, and he spent many years after that travelling in a basket and swaying as he tried to focus on the boy (later man) long enough to bite him (though he never succeeded) whenever the lunatic decided to tap on the ground with a foot until the vibrations annoyed him out of sleep.
It was a good life, the foot-tapping intermissions aside.
He kept feeling that he had lost something important. Or that he was headed in the wrong direction, maybe. No other sheep in the flock got lost as frequently or persistently in the direction of the mountains. And then he fell off a cliff one day, not being a sure-footed mountain goat.
You know what they say about making like rabbits? It was not a bad life at all, at least up to the point where he got caught by a weasel.
If he could not even walk in a dignified manner, at least he looked dignified when standing still. And in the water, it felt like he was flying, which made up for all kinds of annoyances, including the fact that he could eat nothing but fish.
He liked the winters best, when everything was covered in snow, and he felt lazy and sleepy. Fishing for salmon was entertaining in its way, but then he had to eat his catch to fatten up for the next winter. Occasionally, he cracked open a beehive for some honey.
It was the closest he had felt to himself in a long time. He kept to himself, dug for grubs, and growled at any idiots that dared bother him. And most of them even took the hint and left him alone.
He had a very good memory. He liked bananas and peanuts, and ate lots of healthy roughage. He shook the earth with every step and knocked down trees. He felt very much the elephant. At least that was better than being a monkey.
Someone sawed off his tusks, for safekeeping, or his safety. Something of the sort. He took especial care to step on that someone's toes.
He'd always been a stickler for hygiene, to be sure, but washing his food might have been taking it a little too far. He felt wrong and discomfited when he tried to skip that step though, so he continued to wash his cake. A frisky red squirrel found him highly amusing and chattered at him cheerfully as it ran up and down the tree, pointing and laughing as it scarfed down nuts. Stupid creature. It seemed to find everything he did amusing. In revenge, he watched where it buried its nuts, and stole some at the earliest opportunity. He washed the nuts too.
He felt altogether too perky. He couldn't stand the ever-present smile on his face. He felt like a clown. Then he got netted with the tuna. Damn it.
He spent a summer with a gamekeeper who had picked him up after he injured a wing in an altercation with a hawk, and learnt several words during that time. But the only one that stayed with him was a single word the man kept repeating one morning after waking with a particularly bad hangover.
Later, he croaked it at a solemn man sitting alone in a darkened room, trying to get some food. It amused the man at first, then seemed to alarm him, until the odd fellow finally chased him out and had some kind of nervous breakdown.
Evidently, "Nevermore" was some kind of bad word.
The sun was too hot, and he stood helpless beneath it, parched with thirst. The rain, when it came at last, was a relief, but only for a while. Then it was just cold and muddy, and he felt with trepidation the earth slip and give slightly beneath him, but it held. He shed leaves and grew new ones in accordance with the passage of the seasons.
A rust-coloured wolf passed once, and paused consideringly for a good while, mischief bright in its eyes, before it went on its way, to his relief.
He was hot. He was cold. He was wet, and buffeted by wind. Lightning missed him by the slightest of margins, leaving a scorched stink in the air and a burn down his side. He stood in the sun and in the snow. A woodpecker settled in his branches and pecked several holes in him, but he felt better for it and for the sense of its quiet, oddly amused company until it died one winter, then he was alone again.
He remained there, waiting, for a very long time, until a young man with a smile that did not reach his green eyes came up and rested a hand on his trunk casually. "You've been here for far too long, wouldn't you agree?" said the young man in a friendly manner, as though they were old friends, and then cut him down with the axe he had brought.
He hates monkeys. Words cannot express his indignation at finding himself a monkey. But he did enjoy the hot springs in the chill of winter, very much. And the other monkeys were less annoying once he got used to them. He'd only been accustomed to being constantly vexed by a now-absent monkey.
The pouch was only comfortable until he couldn't quite fit into it any more and his mother wouldn't let him ride either. Something about making space for a little brother. Well, all that bouncing about gave him motion-sickness anyway.
There was a saying about working like a horse. Never had the truth of it been brought home to him as effectively.
It was a hard and cruel life. Completely unfair, you understand. He had only done what anyone else in his circumstances would have.
/(Refer to the story //ENDLESS LOVE/, and pretend not to notice any references to Goku. Or that it's really another king who just happens to be called Goku. Whatever floats your boat.)
Just... just shut up. Hippopotami are dangerous and notoriously bad tempered beasts. Just so you know.
It wasn't at all a bad life. For the most part, he just hung around, doing nothing of particular significance. It was more than deja vu; it was home. He'd spent eons like that before the stupid monkey and the others had to shake up his peaceful life in heaven.
Occasionally, he snagged the lacy ruffles and flowing sleeves of simpering fops who wanted to get past him to the sleeping princess of legend lying within the castle, and if they were especially persistent, he would scratch them on hands and face, and that was always enough to send the worthless idiots crying back to their mothers.
He was completely disgusted when the curse finally came to an end and his thorns turned into roses at the touch of the first frippery-covered dandy to arrive after that. He was relieved to wither away once his duty was fulfilled.
Later he would wonder how anyone could have believed his sainted mother had borne not one, but two puppies instead of babies, much less condemned her to a life of isolation in a tower for it, but he supposed it was fortunate for her that she no longer needed to associate with such idiots.
In any case, he had floated down the river, followed by his younger brother who might well have been a half-brother, considering how dissimilar they looked, with his golden hair and his brother's red hair. They grew up under the loving eye of their adoptive parents, and when they came of age, they went off to seek their fortunes, redress the wrongs done them and avenge their mother, and at his coronation, his younger brother got to marry a pretty princess while he attended to such petty details as the ordering of a lavish feast with the finest of dainties -- tender veal, hearty beef stew, plenty of milk for the his brother and his milksop bride, and lots of buttery pastries, among other delicacies.
He lived, he provided milk, he missed his calves, he died. What more do you want him to say?
Anyone would have told him it was a bad idea to go walking in the fields in his fine new clothes*. He would have said the same thing himself, except when you've just managed to escape from a houseful of visiting cheek-pinching relatives whom you would never see if not for the Spring Festival, you don't think about such banal, everyday things.
It was quite the tragedy then, that such an adorable, precocious young boy would be trampled to death by an enraged bull at such a happy time.
*Red being such a popular and auspicious colour for the Chinese, especially around the Chinese New Year.
His mother had the prettiest green eyes of anyone he knew, never mind the mystery that shrouded his origins. Nobody knew for sure who his father was or if she had perhaps found him by the river, but it didn't stop them talking as though they did, until he wanted to break all their teeth to make them shut up. But he didn't, because his mother had a wonderful smile that appeared every time he thought of hitting someone without carrying it through. It was like magic, the way she always seemed to know, and things got to the point when he was making up elaborate fantasies of killing all the gossiping bitches and mocking children, just to see her cover her mouth, eyes sparkling with suppressed merriment as though she'd read his mind.
For a while, he was quite concerned by the appearance of a roguish wandering minstrel who took a shine to his young and pretty mother and otherwise ruffled his hair in an overly familiar manner, but the wise lady sent the scoundrel away as was proper.
He was secretly disappointed when she stopped kissing his cheek at bedtime, but he outgrew his strange attraction with some embarrassment in retrospect, and married a plain, solemn girl from the village with ruddy cheeks, sharp bargaining skills, and an unexpected dry wit. The three of them lived out their lives together happily, all things considered, though he regretted the lack of children.
He'd never had time for himself, though the mountains haunted his dreams like a lost love. All his life, he'd had to look after his aged parents, then his young children, especially after his wife died of some undiagnosed ailment, one cold winter when they were still struggling to make ends meet. But now the children were grown up and settled, and he had savings enough to live out his retirement in comfort. So he joined up with an experienced party of hunters and trotted off into the mountains.
Somehow, he got separated from the others. He thought he heard a voice calling him, and followed it. He was lost in the mountains, on his first trip out. Perhaps his children would mourn him.
His basket had washed up on a bank in the middle of nowhere, he decided. It was profoundly frustrating. Flies buzzed around his head. His swaddling cloths were wet and they stank. He was hungry and thirsty and very much displeased with the world, and there was a crocodile floating purposefully up the river in his direction. And that was that. Better luck next try.
None of this happened, of course; Konzen, or Sanzo or whatever name you want to call him, would tell you the same if he remembered anything of his past lives.
end Fifty Lies
The 50 lives of Konzen Douji (that did NOT happen)
7. dung beetle
22. guinea pig