Wordcarpenter Books

Chapter Thirty-eight


Remy the Gatekeeper


After the doctors inserted a line directly into Thomas's chest, he regained consciousness on Wednesday, over three days after reaching the main trail on Mount Stenhouse. Four fellow employees stood beside his bed in the intensive care unit at the hospital in Hong Kong and witnessed the moment he regained consciousness. Immediately he sat up, arms flailing as if he was still climbing the mountainside, ripping out the lines of hydration in both arms. He was half-crazed and manic, but the doctors pushed him down, gave him an injection and he drifted off into a deep sleep. He wondered if he was still climbing or was he clawing back to the warm light of joy?

Like a phoenix in its nest of cinnamon and myrrh, he had burnt to ashes and was reborn again. It is said that man loses 21 grams at the moment of death, when the soul goes upwards to the empyrean behind the sun rejoining his ancestor spirits. If so then perhaps there, on Mount Stenhouse, he became 21 grams lighter, and then, when he came out of his coma back to the pains of reality, he regained his soul but this time it wasn't 21 grams but 22 grams. He felt different; he felt holy. Perhaps that's what he gained: one extra gram of soul. God only knew. If 21 grams is the weight of two nickels, then perhaps he retuned to the world in the intensive care unit at 11 cents.

The truth was that he should have been dead, or at least lost something. With a temperature of 106 degrees, he wasn't expected to live. A human being can survive 105 degrees but not 106. His muscles melted during those two days lying unseen on the mountain. His kidneys stopped functioning and he suffered second-degree burns over his body and third-degree burns on his seventh chakra on his forehead between the eyes and the right side of his face. He was in a level-six coma, the closest to death a man could be, but he had lived. Many doctors from Mainland China came to visit the foreigner who somehow cheated death and survived the ordeal, not only the dehydration and sunstroke, but the 106 temperature. Once again he was a zoo animal to gawk at, and he was thus happy to leave the hospital after three days.

His office had tried to contact his mother but the telephone number they had had long since been disconnected so no one in his family knew about his time in the mountains. It was odd and strange but perhaps not difficult to explain that it was Josh who called him at the hospital.

He was summoned to the phone at the nurses' station, and Josh proceeded to tell him how he had had a dream and that he felt something was wrong. Josh called his office, and they gave him the number for the hospital and told him that Thomas had suffered a "hiking incident."

"Thomas," he said, "I had the strangest dream last night. I dreamed that you approached me and wanted to walk through this doorway that for some reason I was guarding. I saw that you were dying so I said to you: ‘No Tommy. It's not your time to die yet.' I didn't let you through the door - actually it was a gate. So when I woke up this morning I made a point of tracking you down because I knew something was wrong." Thomas stood there at the nurses' station shivering in the air-conditioned cold at a loss for words. The only thing he could say was: ‘Thank you. You may have saved my life.' There have been other strange, ESP events in their lives, but nothing can compare with this one. Had he been that close to death? And why would Josh be the gatekeeper?

Part One - Canada
1.      The Twin From the East Returns  
2.      The Sundancer  
3.      Waxing Gibbous 
4.      The Second Coming of the Messiah 
5.      The Sacred Twin Story 
6.      The Sign of the Pahana 
7.      Palongawhoya and Poqanghoya 
8.      Rainbow Thunderbird and Red Phoenix 
9.      The True White Brother 
10.    The Lost Louis Riel Notebooks 
Part Two - Hong Kong
11.    A Mixture of Revulsion and Pity 
12.    A Classroom of Scallywags 
13.    Illegitimati non Carborundum 
14.    The Distant Fire of Empyrean
Part Three - Burma
15.    The Monastery of Sacred Tablets 
16.    The Outpost of Tyranny 
17.    When the 12th Moon Comes 
18.    The Pigeon Left & the Crow Took His Place 
19.    Go North and Find Your People 
20.    Finding Orwell 
21.    Though the Monkey is in a Hurry, the Tree Branch is Not 
22.    The Castle at God's Toes 
23.    The General and Sergeant Betel Nut 
24.    The Tattooed Station Master 
25.    Reverend Crow's Life's Work 
26.    Yield Not to Adversity, But Press on More Bravely 
27.    A Bitter Cuppa Tea 
28.    The Thirteenth Tribe 
29.    When a Lamp is Lit You Must Expect Insects 
30.    John the Christian 
31.    A Guardian Angel Named Hanna 
32.    The Bar Car & Betel Nut 
33.    The Son of Light 
34.    Slipping the Karmic Knot
Part Four - Hong Kong
35.    The Tonsure Warning 
36.    The Phoenix Reborn 
37.    Touching the Empyrean 
38.    Joshua the Gatekeeper 
Part Five - Canada
39.    Lapsit Exillis 
40.    Thunderstones 
41.    The Time of Great Purification  

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