The Words of Guru by C. M. Kornbluth

“I am, Guru. And there will come a time when your words will not be strong enough for me.” He laughed. “Come, Peter,” he said. “Follow me if you wish. There is something that is going to be done-” He licked his thin, purple lips and said: “I have told you what it will be like.” “I shall come,” I said. “Teach me the word.” So he taught me the word and we said it together. The place we were in next was not like any of the other places I had been to before with Guru. It was No-place. Always before there had been the seeming passage of time and matter, but here there was not even that. Here Guru and the others cast off their forms and were what they were, and No-place was the only place where they could do this. It was not like the Cavern, for the Cavern had been out of Time and Space, and this place was not enough of a place even for that. It was No-place. What happened there does not bear telling, but I was madejcnown to certain ones who never departed from there. All came to them as they existed. They had not color or the seeming of color, or any seeming of shape. There I learned that eventually I would join with them; that I had been selected as the one of my planet who was to dwell without being forever in that No-place. Guru and I left, having said the word. “Well?” demanded Guru, staring me in the eye. “I am willing,” I said. “But teach me one word now-” “Ah,” he said grinning. “The girl?” “Yes,” I said. “The word that will mean much to her.” Still grinning, he taught me the word. Mary, who had been fourteen, is now fifteen and what they call incurably mad. Last night I saw Guru again and for the last time. He bowed as I approached him. “Peter,” he said warmly. “Teach me the word,” said I. “It is not too late.” “Teach me the word.” “You can withdraw-with what you master you can master also

this world. Gold without reckoning; sardonyx and gems, Peter! Rich crushed velvet-stiff, scraping, embroidered tapestries!”
“Teach me the word.”
“Think, Peter, of the house you could build. It could be of white marble, and every slab centered by a winking ruby. Its gate could be of beaten gold within and without and it could be built about one slender tower of carven ivory, rising mile after mile into the turquoise sky. You could see the clouds float underneath your eyes.”
“Teach me the word.”
“Your tongue could crush the grapes that taste like melted silver. You could hear always the song of the bulbul and the lark that sounds like the dawnstar made musical. Spikenard that will bloom a thousand thousand years could be ever in your nostrils. Your hands could feel the down of purple Himalayan swans that is softer than a sunset cloud.”
“Teach me the word.”
“You could have women whose skin would be from the black of ebony to the white of snow. You” could have women who would be as hard as flints or as soft as a sunset cloud.”
“Teach me the word.”
Guru grinned and said the word.
Now, I do not know whether I will say that word, which was the last that Guru taught me, today or tomorrow or until a year has passed.
It is a word that will explode this planet like a stick of dynamite in a rotten apple.

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Categories: C M Kornbluth