The Singapore Stone
with a selection of
FICTION BENDING REALITY
The Singapore Stone
Read along as I explore locations and source material and events with imaginary and often real interactions in developing the adventure and challenges of shaping the story of “The Singapore Stone.”
The extracts, blog, photography and often in depth stories as I pass through unusual situations and locations in my research you might find entertaining.
After reading the short story of 'Badung' that I have interpreted and expanded with greater detail than the standard Myth [as originally told in The Malay Annals] I will draw your attention to one or two aspects that are of particular interest in research of the stone found at the mouth of the Singapore River.
"The Imperial Cloak" Series
The Strongman of Temasek
circa 1345 Temasek –Ancient Singapore
Freeing the Beast.
Quiet backwater creek.
Early morning was filtering through the mangroves, mud crabs slipped sideways between the jutting tubers in the shallow water.
The shadow beneath the surface rippled the still surface. Barely discernible wavelets folded slowly along the timber sides of the gaudily painted boats that lay at rest in groups a short distance from the shoreline, some larger vessels at anchor swung slowly with the encroaching tide. The waters flooded into the mangrove swamps and inlets. Scurrying crabs and fish in a flurry of life.
The dark form moved silently into the flooded estuary as the small silvery fish in panic darted clear. The sun’s first rays glimpsed through the clouds on the horizon as smoke from the fishermen’s huts was curling softly over the low scrub carrying with it an enticing aroma of baking fish.
The morning was humid and warm as the fishermen at the communal fire and added more wood. Others still rubbing sleep from their eyes gathered together to feast on cockles and roasting fish that had been just removed from the coals. They laughed and jostled with each other as they sucked the last morsels of flesh from the bones before flicking them into the flames. Another group who had risen earlier and already eaten were dragging nets from the boats and repairing the slender canes they’d found torn apart when hauling them up the previous day. They swore and cursed at the splintered canes that spiked their fingers as they repaired the nets.
The frightening scraping of the hull during the night was not discussed. Though all had heard it each night, no one would speak of their oppressor. It used to only come at night and steal their fish. Now hunger was driving it to venture during daylight, despite the gifts they ritually cast into the sea to appease its appetite, and pacify any attack that might occur as they hauled on their nets.
The incoming tide had now reached confines of the jungle and swirled around rocks and mangrove roots, quickly spilling into and filling the branching waterways. Not only did it bring fish but also the strange dark shape that slunk quietly past the tangle of mangrove roots in the deepening water and beneath the overhanging bank.
Badang, a local woodcutter, who each day placed fish cages in the creek to supplement his meagre diet, gazed intently at the dark shadow as it came nearer. Concealed in the bushes he was becoming drowsy, his head nodding forward as a fog of sleep started to settle over him. A shower of water wrenched him from his slumber. He was instantly wide awake. With the tearing net and a guttural growl from the creek he was on his feet.
A slimy claw had grasped a trapped fish and sharp fangs bit deeply into the flapping delicacy, crushing bones and popping its eyeballs.
With a mighty leap the incensed man leapt into the water and grabbed the beast by the neck, his legs scissored around its throat. Caught unawares the monster tumbled backwards onto the bank, where it gasped for a breath choking on a mouthful of fish flesh. Badang and the monster staggered awkwardly before the beast fell beneath the angry man. The woodcutter in his anger, ripped the vestige of fish from its mouth. The flailing creature, weak now, out of its natural environment pleaded to be released.
“Spare me,” begged the monster. “If you set me free I can give you anything you desire”
“Not likely,” said Badang, “why should I believe you — even if I had need of anything.”
Badang had reluctantly accepted that he was to be forever poor and rising early each day he gathered the fish trapped in his nets. He agonized as he shouldered the timber he laboured on gathering and with aching muscles hauled the wood on numerous trips back to the village. Sure, for a long time the fish in his nets were numerous, but recently he often discovered only vestiges of tails and scales that lay scattered—the remains of a feast at his expense. Now the best he could hope for were any small rejects or an occasional crab or mudskipper that lingered among the morsels. Today the net was brimming with flapping fish boiling the surface and almost scaling themselves against the bamboo strips the trap was braced with. Rather than haul them in, he had waited patiently expecting his adversary. He snarled in fury as he hauled his knife from his belt, ‘Time to die you fish-eating dog.’
‘Wait, wait,’ pleaded the monster, ‘before you kill me let me speak.’
Badang held the knife at its throat. He was fuming, ‘Your time in this world is short, speak and speak quickly, then you die.’
“Well, see I would not normally venture into this tiny creek where you set your net, but I was hungry as the fishermen no longer have any catch in their nets and my belly is caving in on itself in hunger.”
“So, what do I care about that,” replied the man, “better that you die for them and for me as well.”
“Look,” pleaded the monster, “set me free of the water and I can grant you almost anything you desire. I’ll no longer trouble either them or you by eating the fish — then multitudes will flourish here again and everyone will be happy. I will give you an example of my magic.” “You have the power to set me free from the water, say the words. “Gills begone Walk free!”
“Well,” replied Badang, “see those mudskippers, they can come out of the water. You want that also?”
“But they have to go back after a short time, I want to be set free completely. Only you can do that. If I don’t go back very soon I will die if you don’t kill me first.”
Badang, thought to himself, I should kill this monster. The world will be better off without him, but rethinking the options, said, ‘Maybe you could give me strength,’ and he began to reflect further on this.
Becoming impatient, and as well the tip of the knife against his throat was beginning to become uncomfortable, the monster urged, “Quick make up your mind. I can’t live out of the water for much longer. Remember, I can give you unfathomable strength.”
‘I would like great riches. I will settle for that.’
“That’s one thing I can’t give you but I can empower you to attain continuous wealth. Such as with muscle that you first mentioned. And supernatural energy –as well as great intelligence.”
Badang frowned at the beast, what was he implying? “Hah, so you think I’m slow of wit? I have outwitted you and now you mock me? You are at my mercy. No thanks, I’ll have the strength thank you, and then you can go free. Then don’t bother me again.”
Badang was aware that there was a strong element of luck in him overpowering the monster, and could imagine the villagers being impressed with him, a simple timber-gatherer with bulging muscles. His mind failed to grasp the glossed over ‘simple’ in this thought, interpreting it more as ‘happy in his lot,’ or ‘my needs are few.’
One might say that Badang had every right to dispose of the beast, however, though Badang left the scene of the altercation in high spirits, the monster that he set free now set its sights on a new agenda – all Temasek, [later to be known as Singapore] would feel the repercussions for a long time to come.
[Notes from Singapore Paranormal Investigation: They went back to the shore. On the dry land, the creature took a big banana leaf and cradled it in his hands. Then, he threw up on it. He told Badang, “What you most desire shall be yours only if you consume all that I have spewed.” You shall have the strength of 10,000 elephants”. Without letting his thoughts stray away, Badang shoved everything into his mouth regardless what taste it was. Somehow, he managed to swallow it all. He then turned around just in time to see the demon vanish.]
[Note: Watercourse Named as Besisek River?]
Launching the Ship
Badang impressed the king and became a sporting hero. He was content in his well appointed room at the palace. He dressed slowly selecting from the rack one of his braided best outfits. The king had favoured him following his elaborate feats of weight lifting beating all contenders, proving time after time a prowess beyond belief. His exploits of particular interest included defeating the strongman from the neighbouring land of Kling and winning the wager of seven ships filled with treasure for his own king. No longer dragging himself from his slumbers before sunrise and struggling to earn a humble living; his calloused hands swinging the axe cutting timber deep in the forests was a thing of his past; now he was performing tasks before the royalty, his hands elegant within sparkling gold embossed gloves.
Crowds would gather and admire him, cheering in awe as he sported immense objects, hauling a hundred men or more into an exhausted pile as they strove to resist his strength on the end of a rope. Badang had no need of wealth. He had it all and the choicest of ladies as well.
The King, having also attained much wealth during the competitions of strength pitted against many challengers, representatives of foreign countries, now had a large ship designed and it was almost completed. Many men had worked with great skill and sweat to equip this majestic vessel with the ultimate in fittings, rigging and battlements. As preparations commenced to launch the pride of the fleet, they came to the realisation that building it was one thing, but getting it into the water was presenting a problem as immense as the ship itself. So much focus had been placed on the construction that they had completely forgotten that transporting to the water would present a formidable task. When it was due to be launched, despite many men attempting to move it, the ship remained stubbornly in place. The ship appeared to be transfixed. The shipyard’s committee gathered together for urgent talks. After some intense red-faced discussion by those in charge, they advised the king it was a job for Badang and a messenger was sent to request his assistance.
As the sky was now softening with the orange of evening’s approach, and all the struggling had now exhausted the men, they decided to wait until morning before continuing the attempt.
By now though, Badang, dressed in all his finery had duly arrived with his attendants. A large crowd had gathered and it became a festive event with much feasting and drinking. Flags and streamers were handed out on every street corner and appetizing food and drink was in abundance everywhere. Music floated on the air and dancers twirled in colourful dresses. Badang was chatting lightheartedly to his admirers and attendants as he approached the shipyard. On seeing the size of the ship his heart was seized with fear. The stone he had lifted and thrown in an early challenge was large and weighty — but this ship was huge — larger than any of the other ships of Temasek. What was he to do? The people were all watching in their multitudes. He remembered the demon that had given him his strength, and he remembered the exhilaration when he’d hurled the huge stone and won the wager for his King. Still, despite this, when he studied the immense vessel though on the surface smiling and joking his heart was grim and heavy in his huge chest. He grew increasingly anxious that he could fail this supreme challenge. What could he do?
On the pretense of needing a special herb leaf to rub on his hands for extra grip, he set away and into the trees where he called to the demon-monster. “Come out demon I need you to help me in this task — remember I set you free and you said you would give me great strength. I wish to talk with you again.”
The demon who had been in the crowd watching and smirking at the futile efforts to launch the ship stayed for a long time enjoying the festivities while he let Badang stress and worry. At last he strolled casually into the forest where he knew Badang was pleading for help. He stepped from behind a tree and said, “Why do you wish to see me again? I gave you your strength as you asked — Do you doubt my ability to follow it through? “Go back and do what you have to do and this task will be completed.”
Badang looked at the demon trying to make sense of a thought that was troubling him. Why was the ship so transfixed? Surely the shipbuilders would have planned the launching carefully as well. It seemed they had been blinded to this. Something or someone had clouded their thoughts. He eyed the demon with suspicion.
The demon continued, “I think you doubt the strength that I gave you, though I understand your human mind is confused by the imposing appearance of the vessel, so I will agree to do it for you. This is quite a large vessel to move to the water and as you know I don’t want to enter the water again,’ the demon then added, “If I get wet then I will be unable to return to the land again. So I will be your strength on the land and my strength will be in your muscles. I will be invisible. Just go through the actions as if you are lifting it. Then you will be yourself able to push it into the water when I put it down at the water’s edge. Only one thing I ask is that you grant me possession of the ship. It is to be mine as I want the ability to once more be able to traverse the water rather than the captive to this one small land.”
Badang replied just a little too quickly, “You may be unaware, but I must inform you that it is only the king who can decide who is to be the commander of ships; and in particular this mighty one.”
The conditions that the monster was now proposing seemed too ludicrous, but he knew that all would be watching and felt that he must follow it through, though he couldn’t see how it would be possible to get the King to agree to the deal.
The monster replied, “Don’t worry about this as I will see to it that you can do what I ask. Now embrace me before you go.”
Badang cautiously approached the demon expecting he intended to stamp him with the sign of the beast or other such malice. He reached into his cloak to grasp some berries as he placed an arm around the demon and then took his hand in a firm handgrip to settle the arrangement.
The demon was taken aback for a second at this as he shuddered and drew a ragged breath. He pushed Badang away then regained his composure. “Go now and start the task where I will be the puppeteer of the concert”
The monster vanished.
Badang covered the distance back to the gathering in a very short time, now feeling newly empowered by the demon.
Reaching the edge of the forest he steadied his pace to confidently walk into the shipyards again.
The folks were starting to become restless and making bets that Badang had fled in the face of this task because of his inability to do that which the king had bidden him. They cheered wildly when he appeared again.
The king had been concerned also and feared that the people would doubt wisdom in giving Badang this difficult task, so smiled broadly when his champion appeared once again.
The King’s herald called for silence.
The King then announced that Badang would nominate the commander of the ship after its launch. However, the man who expected this role and was due for promotion would have his name whispered in Badang’s ear by the King just before the launching.
“A mere show for the people,” the king’s adviser suggested. Nodding his head wisely, he stepped back to his place with the others of the King’s advisers.
After the launch Badang, having seen the vessel into the water and its mooring rope secured, returned to the podium. The King leant forward and spoke to Badang. Then Badang announced the name of the ship’s commander. They waited for the man to step onto the podium. No one came forward. The crowd started whispering to each other and then after an awkward silence became unsettled and then grew noisy, bold ones shouting for the man.
After a search, the body of the chosen commander was discovered beneath a heavy pole. It appeared he’d been crushed to death by one of the ship’s supporting timbers as it had fallen away while he’d been watching the launching. The king was greatly shocked by this discovery as were the other advisers. Who was now to be the commander of the ship? The king was giving this deep thought and turned to his court to have a quick discussion to select a replacement. Just then a man smartly dressed in brightly coloured clothing leapt the few steps to the podium where the assembly was in confusion.
The guards rushed forward and pressed him back with their swords “Get down from here immediately. Who do you think you are?”
The newcomer turned to catch Badang’s eye. Badang immediately recognized the man. He knew his voice and mannerisms, his beard –and above all, the red/purple stain on one hand. It was the demon in disguise.
At once Badang stepped forward and held up his hand. If he failed in the demon’s request he might be cursed forever. He turned to the crowd and called for silence. Then with a quick glance in the King’s direction announced, “This man, Demike Burdenn shall be the commander of the ship. In the King’s name, I name you Commander of the fine ship, Flight of Drogen, and Supreme Commander of the Fleet of Temasek
The King tried to speak but merely a splutter issued forth.
The King, having given his word, had to recognize Badang naming this man as commander –his word could not be undone.
For a time the King was secretly displeased with Badang and cast him from the palace. Badang was now out of favour. He’d lost his celebrity status.
Before long the demon-commander had seduced the King with the great volume of plunder that the palace accumulated directly attributed to the demon and his ship.
The demon used the ship for trade between the islands around Temasek, the archipelago of Indonesian and Malaysia
Many years passed.
When onshore the Demike enjoyed the good life and while at sea plundered the many vessels that were passing through these waters, while on the surface performing honourable and commendable roles– often with the King aboard– his real business was plunder and pillage.
The Large Stone at the Mouth of The Singapore River
The Massive Rock Plummets to Earth
When one investigates the Singapore Stone Fragment, the Legend of Badung will surely arise. If at an inopportune time in 1345 — or thereabouts, you were standing at an inopportune location in the scrub beside the Singapore River you would observe a descent from that arising.
If the sun had been at the right angle and a flickering shadow had drawn your attention, you might have looked up. You might immediately have begun watching an instant replay of your life with featured highlights, as a seriously huge meteor growing larger by the millisecond hurtled down. You might wonder if instead it were an asteroid and attempt to recall the difference based on your knowledge of astronomy. Or you may have chosen to return to flashes of previous memorable incidents of your life, as attempting to run in the tidal marshes would prove futile..
For the sake of explanation I will invoke the Hand Of God to reach down and pause the rotation of the Earth, Moon, and assorted plummeting rocks, etc, for a moment, or until further notice, as we dig a little deeper into the imminent event.
Leaving the rock that is paused and poised above your head, come with me out from the tangle of swampy scrub and let us attend an occasion of some entertainment.
Rewinding time, with permission from the Great Omniscience, we can watch the challenging Strongman from Kling as in the final test of strength he struggles red faced to barely raise the boulder from the dirt to his knees. Badang watches gracefully and commends his competitor’s effort before the challenger collapses to the ground gasping with exhaustion.
Badang then steps forward and lifts the huge stone with muscles bulging and hurls it high in the air and over the crowd where it soars towards to the Singapore River. The cheer from the throng of spectators is deafening.
So you see, the plummeting rock was thrown by Badang who was merely giving display to his adoring fans as he defeated the contender from the land of Kling in the challenge for the title of Champion Strongman.
We must hurry back now for your timely appointment with destiny— unless you persist in accepting the tale as a myth? I can understand the direction you might take.
Locating the stone.
Discovery at The Singapore National Museum
Discover the Fiery Red Black Depths of Mt Bromo
More Short Story Titles Coming Soon
Creative Travel Plan
Great Ideas In Travel
Beyond Time Restraints