The Perfect Drumming Master

Virgil was the hottest drummer in the world, but nobody knew about it.

He had never sought after acclaim, only the satisfaction of knowing one's own achievement. Fame would just have embarrassed him.

The Perfect Drumming Master lived, of course, in Tibet, in the Himalayas. He had the Perfect Drum Set as well, with instruments from all places and eras. He didn't hold with electric drums or drum machines, though. It was the strength of one's own arms that mattered, he said.

He was impressed with Virgil's skill, although not his discipline. There was little in the mundane world of percussion that Virgil needed to be taught, so the Perfect Drumming Master went straight on to the deeper secrets of the skill, to how it could be used to harness and focus power.

It was here that Virgil's lack of discipline failed him, though. He had, through prolonged repetition of a steady but intricate beat, built up power that could be felt like a static charge in the air. His arms moved without effort, buoyed up and loosened by the energy.

But he got bored, and hence careless. The constant drum beat just demanded something to spice it up. It was building to something that needed to be unleashed.

So, in between two measures of the beat, one drumstick skipped over to the high-hat, and gave it the lightest of taps.

The energy, which had been balanced as precariously atop the rhythm as a cone on its point, shivered at the high-pitched vibrations. Virgil hurriedly muffled the high-hat with the foot-pedal, but that only made matters worse, as it recoiled.

The Perfect Drumming Master, sensing that things had gone awry, quickly set up a directing beat on his tom-toms. It was too late to dissipate the power harmlessly, but it could be channeled outwards so that it didn't blow the side of the mountain and crush them under tons of rock.

As the power finally, and for good, toppled over, it sounded like a sforzando of all the beats Virgil had played, all overlaid on each other. But the Perfect Drumming Master's playing had done its work, and only a few stones were shaken loose by the passing of the immense beat.

Outside, it was a different story. All inhabitants of the mountains, two- and four-legged, knew what the tremendous noise heralded. Not all could avoid it in time, though. The thundering sound of hurtling ice and snow was a rhythm that Virgil did not wish to hear more than once.

The next day, a trio of white-furred creatures arrived at the mouth of the cave. The Perfect Drumming Master was unsurprised at their appearance, though saddened. The yeti(for so must they be)had their own small drums, and through them seemed to communicate to the Perfect Drumming Master.

When they were done, the Perfect Drumming Master turned to Virgil and said, "One of their comrades died in the avalanche. They wish you to drum its soul to its rest, as penance."

The body, excavated from the snow, was brought up to the cave(for the Perfect Drum Set could not be removed from its place of rest on the mountain trails). The Perfect Drumming Master had taught Virgil the beat--even more intricate than the one he had been using before, but still not beyond his abilities.

As he drummed the rhythm, he felt the same pressure that he had before. He had attributed it to boredom, but it was more than that. It was a feeling that the rhythm was incomplete, that it expected something more. The urge to embellish became stronger and stronger. But the energy was, if anything, greater than before, and was building up faster and faster. Sweat broke out on his brow, his unkempt hair fell constantly into his eyes, but he still kept going, forcing his arms to repeat the same motions. This time he had to fight the energy as much as it helped him, like he was running down a hill and trying not to stumble.

Finally, at a point where he felt he couldn't bear it anymore, he heard another rhythm, a softer, ethereal rhythm, joining his. The pressure of the power began to ease, as if a siphon were draining it away. Keeping the beat now became almost effortless.

As the energy dwindled, he slowed down correspondingly. At the very moment that it was gone, he couldn't stop himself from adding a final cymbal tap, but the Perfect Drumming Master smiled, and the gathered yeti made small finger-clicks of approval. This time his instincts had been right.

When the Perfect Drumming Master died, Virgil assumed his role. He drummed many yeti to their rest. And, in time, a young, impetuous, and highly gifted drummer came to his cave in the Himalayas.

Based on the words: High-hat Tic Kills Yeti

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The Den of Ubiquity / Aaron V. Humphrey /