Image: The Witch
Like a battering ram, my heart pummels my rib-cage as if it means to crack it. It alerts me of the unnatural and ominous presence I’m beginning to sense – whatever it is that just jerked me out of my sleep. In the silence, the sound of my breathing is like the bellow of a steam engine. It will only give me away; a siren to broadcast my apprehension to whatever is listening, to whatever stalks the night. I consciously take in every breath until only barely perceptible whistles escape… Continue reading
The concrete floor is uncomfortable, the sleeping bag thin. The night is cold, and the wind seeps through the many openings of the gazebo. But these are the least of my concerns. There are three dogs just outside the doorless gazebo; vicious by the sound of them. They turn rabid at my slightest movement. Their barks and growls saturate the silent night. They could be right at my ear and it wouldn’t make a difference… Continue reading
The boy is jolted out of his sleep. When he looks up, the light stings his eyes like pins to a cushion before drowning him in a blinding white. He squeezes his eyes shut. Although he feels the creases etched along his eyelids, there is no reprieve from the glaring light, for it does not come from without but from within his head. His instinct is to rub his eyes but his body is rigid as slate… Continue reading
Beware of the mermaid – a she-devil lurking in the lake in waiting for her prey, much like the crocodile, with only its beady eyes and snout to hint at its being.
The mermaid doesn’t give herself away though. She remains hidden, no, obscured as if she and the water are one. By the time you see the waves caressing your feet and you feel her inauspicious presence, it is already too late… Continue reading
We are coming from the funeral. Mother sits beside me in the car. She tries her best not to cry, but I can still hear her. Then again, it is so quiet in the car, I could hear a spider spin its web. All her efforts to remain strong in front of me were long quashed. Nothing seals the finality of death more than a coffin descending into the ground.
In that moment, it dawned on me that I would never see him again, that it was truly the end. I was forced to let go with each descent of the coffin. It was like watching him die for real. I wished I wasn’t there to see it. All I could do was cry helplessly… Continue reading
A man came to read us father’s will. Mother was left with everything – his savings, his patents and his stake in Cerecon Solutions. Actually, he left it to both of us. But I wouldn’t get any of it unless if mother was dead or somehow incapacitated. Plus, I would have to be at least eighteen.
Throughout the reading, mother only showed a blank stare. Everything must remind her that her husband is gone. Just when she retreats into herself to try to move on, the doorbell rings, only to remind her that her husband is dead and things will never be the same. I honestly don’t know if she heard anything the lawyer said… Continue reading
The bus from school drifts along the tarmac; so slow is it moving. I decided to sit alone at the front. The Terrace, we call it. I get a 180 degree view, including a close-up of the driver’s balding scalp. But at least I don’t get to catch them staring at me. Unfortunately, in my chosen solitude, every minute is multiplied tenfold.
It has been a little over four weeks since my father’s funeral. Life has gone back to normal, or the new normal at least. On the upside, my grades have never been better. I got my first A+ in an English essay that was graded by Soul Crusher Mahony. It would appear that even the most hard-ass teachers are taking pity on the poor grieving boy. Instead of the expected envious looks, what I got from some of my classmates was sympathy. The envy would have been better… Continue reading
The hut smells of smoke and long dead things. I look in the shaman’s eyes and I only see darkness and danger. I look over to Charles, who sits beside me on the goat hide mat. His face is scrunched like a toddler observing one of life’s many intricacies for the first time. How determined he was, and still is. Why did I allow him to rope me into this?
“We’ll be rich,” he told me.
“An overnight success.”
The best kind isn’t it? You sacrifice nothing except your soul… Continue reading
I know the general direction to Chiripi’s house. I just run. I pray nothing is following, though I dare not look back. When I see the gate up ahead, a little relief washes over me. But my chest will surely explode before I get there. What if some vile creature catches me before then? What if it’s waiting for the exact moment the gate slows me down? My world becomes that much smaller, and the air is sucked out of it.
I fumble through the gate, panting like a dog, and with my heart at my throat. When I reach Chiripi’s door, I knock frantically. I won’t be taken at salvation’s gate. I knock again. Only now do I look back. Did anything follow me? When the door is abruptly open, my heart does somersaults, almost jumping out through my teeth… Continue reading
After taking my morning shower, I go downstairs. I stop midway when I hear mother in the kitchen.
“Leave me alone.”
“I don’t want this.”
“Just stop, goddamn it.”
Then nothing. She must have gotten off the phone. But who would be harassing her like that? What began as worry morphs into anger. I get into the kitchen and see her hunched, with her hands on the counter. I decide to act casual… Continue reading
I’m woken up by screams. I look at the clock beside my bed—11:42 p.m. It must have been a dream, but my heart beats a mile a minute. I lie on my back and breath slowly to calm myself. Then I hear them again. Except this time, it’s no random person screaming—it’s mother. I immediately jump out of bed and race to her bedroom.
“Get out,” she screams.
“Leave me alone.”
Then I hear a crash just as I reach her door. I barge into her room, ready for confrontation… Continue reading
After seeing the announcement on a supermarket television, a hefty, grey-haired man stood motionless at the till. In front of him was a trolley brimming with groceries. He held a wallet in one hand and a wad of cash in the other.
He was hesitant and merely stared at the cashier, unblinking and frozen. In that glaciated moment, a young man dressed in the tightest possible t-shirt and jeans, with short hair styled to stand on end, leapt into the store… Continue reading
It is always cold. No matter how many fires I build, the halls remain frigid. Flame-light licks the walls like phantoms preying in the night—the only show I see down here. The smell and taste of dampness is like poison in the air I breathe—and it never departs. Though the labyrinth twists through the earth, I know the way out. But I cannot leave. I always feel their eyes watching, quizzing and burrowing into my soul… Continue reading