She stood gazing at a vast, sprawling grassland. The grassy plain stretched as far as her eyes could see, its flat outline broken by a woodland to the east and a jagged mountain range to the west. Ahead of her, just above the horizon was the bright sun. It was silent. No birds singing – only the faint rustling of grass and the leaves of the scant trees around. She was alone. Suddenly a cold gust of wind swept against her back. She turned and found herself in her bed, lying on her side. It was all a dream. Sunbeams through the window greeted her eyes. She sat up, the dream still lingering in her head. It was so vivid, so real. Then the ringing of her phone snapped her back to reality.
At work she couldn’t help but think about the dream she had. She has become drawn to it. It was probably the tranquility she felt in the dream. She wanted to be in that place again. Later that night, during her sleep, she once again found herself in the grassy plain. Her eyes wandered round the place. The sun was where she last saw it. Judging by its position the time was around mid-afternoon. Behind her was a towering cliff face. It seemed to stretch for miles from both directions like an endless wall. She approached a tree and sat under its shade, enjoying the ethereal tranquility. Her life in the waking world was good but being there in that place in her dream was better, she thought. She wondered if she was all alone in that place. Then from the sky above the distant woodland she spied a flock of unfamiliar birds flying towards the horizon. As she followed them with her eyes she noticed dark clouds forming atop the mountain range in the west. Then she woke up to an overcast morning. Screw work, she thought; and she went back to sleep. But the dream in the grassy plain never came.
The same thing happened that night and nights after that. Instead of the tranquil, grassy plain, she had other dreams which irked her. She was frustrated every time she woke up. She overslept often, hoping to have the dream she longed for, causing her to be always late for work. Even when in the company of her boyfriend her thought was occupied by the grassy plain in her dream. She needs to be there, she thought. Even the psychologist was no help at all.
One day she came up with an idea. Sleeping pills might help. But when the prescribed dosage didn’t work she doubled it. When that didn’t work either she took more, and more.
Then one morning she was found in her bed lifeless – with a smile on her face.
Art drawn in my Nintendo DS Lite with ColorsDS then edited with GIMP 2.
Habang hinuhubad ang pares ng duguang gwantes napatingin si Angeli sa salamin upang sulyapan ang kanyang ginawa. Walang buhay na nakahandusay sa sahig ng comfort room ang pinakahuli nitong biktima – isang freshman sa unibersidad – na ang dugo ay nagkalat sa tiles mula sa nakangangang hiwa sa tiyan ng dalaga. Mula sa hiwa na iyon ay kanyang hinugot at nilantakan ang atay ng biktima. Ang natira ay kanyang sinilid sa plastic na garapon sa kanyang bag. Napakasarap ng atay ng dalaga. Nalalasap pa rin niya ang sarap sa kanyang bibig. Matapos ang isang taon, muli siyang nakatikim niyon, na paborito ng kanyang mga ka-uri.
Mga tatlong linggo din niyang minanmanan ang kanyang biktima. Nagpanggap pa siyang estudyante sa pinapasukan nitong unibersidad. Sa wakas dumating ang pagkakataon nang gabing iyon nang tumungo ng mag-isa sa comfort room ang estudyante bago umuwi. Hindi na nito nagawang makatili nang baliin ni Angeli ang leeg nito. Pagkatapos ay sinimulan niyang hiwain ang estudyante gamit ang scalpel. Mga matatalas na kuko niya sana ang kanyang gagamitin ngunit hindi madaling alisin ang dugo kapag sumuot sa ilalim ng kuko, lalo pa’t may pupuntahan pang gimik si Angeli.
Maingat niyang sinilid sa plastic ang hinubad na mga gwantes at nilagay sa kanyang bag. Tinignan niya ang sarili sa salamin. Maliban sa dugo sa kanyang mga labi at sa baba at iilang talsik sa kanyang mga braso, walang bahid nito sa kanyang uniporme. Matapos iligpit ang scalpel, naghilamos at naghugas si Angeli. Muli niyang sinulyapan ang kanyang biktima bago umalis.
Ni hindi man lang siya napansin ng dalawang security guard sa gate nang siyang dumaan palabas na animo’y ihip ng hangin lamang.
Kinabukasan agad nabalita ang pagkatagpo sa bangkay ng kanyang biktima na wakwak ang tiyan at wala nang atay. Napangiti si Angeli nang sinabi sa balita na baka aswang ang may kagagawan.
While removing her bloodied gloves, Angeli glanced at her handy work through the mirror. Her latest victim – a freshman student in the university – lay dead on the comfort room floor with her blood spilled on the tiles from the gaping incision in the girl’s belly. Through this incision, Angeli pulled out ate partially ate the victim’s liver. The rest she put in a small plastic jar in her bag. The girl’s liver was exquisite. Angeli can still taste its goodness in her mouth. After a year, she has once again tasted human liver which is a favorite of her kind.
She observed her victim for at least three weeks. She even disguised as a student in the girl’s university. At last the opportunity came when that night the student went to the comfort room alone before going home. The girl wasn’t able to shriek when Angeli broke her neck. Then she started to cut her open with a scalpel. She would have used her claws but washing off the blood wasn’t easy once they’ve gotten under the nails, especially that Angeli is going on a night out later.
She carefully put the gloves in a plastic bag and placed it in her bag. She checked herself in the mirror. Except for the blood on her lips and chin and some splatters on her forearms, her uniform was unstained. After getting rid of the scalpel, Angeli cleaned herself. She took a last glance at her victim before leaving.
The two security guards at the gate didn’t even notice her as she slipped past them like a gust of wind.
The following day, there was news on her victim who was found cut open with the liver gone. Angeli smiled when it was speculated that the culprit could be an aswang.
Naga-ulan sadtong hapon. Bangod tigpululi na madamo nga bumulutho ang nagtipon sa lobby, nagahulat nga maghupa ang ulan. Naglisensya si Len sa iya mga barkada nga mapa-comfort room siya anay, dayon lakat sang madasig.
Pag-abre niya sang pwerta tuman ka bugnaw nga hangin ang gilayon sumugata kay Len. Wala sang iban nga tawo sa sulod. Wala sang okupante ang tatlo ka cubicles. Waay sapayan nagpalangligbos ang iya balahibo, wala ini ginsapak ni Len. Dumdum niya, basi tuga lang ini sang mabugnaw nga hangin nga nagsuhot pasulod sa gamay nga bintana sang comfort room. Gilayon siya nagsulod sa una nga cubicle agud magpangihi. Tuman ka linong sa comfort room. Ang mabati-an gid lang amo ang pagwaswas sang ulan sa gwa.
Sang matapos na si Len, nagpanghugas ini kag nagpanghilam-os. Nakita sini nga medyo nagabungayngay ang iya malaba nga buhok gani ginpakamaayo sini nga pungoson ini. Masako si Len sa pagkaayo sa iya buhok sang mabatyagan sini ang pag-igo sang tuman ka bugnaw nga hangin sa iya nawala nga abaga. Napasiplat ini sa bintana sa pagdumdum nga hangin yadto gikan sa gwa. Pagliso sini sa espeho, nagmuludlo ang iya mga mata. Isa ka tuman ka lapsi nga kamot ang nagatandog sa iya abaga. Kamot yadto sang isa ka babayi nga ang nawong natakpan sang malaba sini nga buhok, kag ini ang nagasul-ob sang puti nga roba nga nagasadsad sa salog. Wala sang istorya nga may nagapang-murto sa comfort room sang buluthuan gani amo na lang ang pagkakugmat ni Len. Hinali nga naghalakhak sang makahaladlok ang babayi nga nakaputi. Ang tingog sini daw sa bruha nga nagahirikhik. Nagatiyabaw nga daw bu-ang si Len sa pagtirik sini paguwa sa hulot.
Ang Babae sa Comfort Room
Umuulan nang hapong iyon. Dahil uwian na’y maraming estudyante ang nagtipon sa lobby, hinihintay ang paghupa ng malakas na ulan. Nagpaalam si Len sa mga kabarkada na pupunta muna siya sa comfort room, sabay lakad ng matulin.
Pagbukas niya ng pinto ng comfort room, napakalamig na hangin ang agad sumalubong kay Len. Walang ibang tao sa loob. Walang okupante sa tatlong cubicle. Nanindig man ang kanyang balahibo sa lamig na bumalot sa kanyang katawa’y binalewala lang iyon ni Len. Sa isip niya, marahil ay dulot lamang iyon ng malamig na hangin sa labas na sumuot papasok sa maliit na bintana ng comfort room. Agad siyang pumasok sa unang cubicle upang sagutin ang tawag ng kalikasan. Sobrang tahimik ng comfort room. Ang tanging maririnig ay ang ragasa ng ulan sa labas.
Nang matapos ay naghugas ng kamay si Len at naghilamos. Napansin niyang medyo buhaghag ang nakalugay niyang buhok kaya naisipan niyang itali ito. Nakatuon sa pag-aayos ng kanyang buhok si Len nang isang sobrang lamig na hangin ang dumampi sa kaliwang balikat niya. Napatingin siya sa bintana sa inaakalang hangin iyon mula sa labas. Pagbaling niya sa salamin ay nanlaki ang kanyang mga mata. Isang napakaputlang kamay ang nakadampi sa kanyang balikat. At iyon ay kamay ng isang babae na ang mukha ay natatakpan ng mahabang buhok at ito’y nakaputi na roba na sayad sa sahig. Walang kwento na may multo sa comfort room ng paaralan kaya gayon na lamang ang pagkagitla ni Len. Biglang pumakawala ng nakakasindak na halakhak ang babaeng nakaputi. Ang boses nito ay parang bruhang tumatawa. Nagtitili si Len na parang nawalan ng bait sa pagkaripas palabas ng silid na iyon.
The Woman in the Comfort Room
It was raining that afternoon. Classes have ended and students gathered in the lobby, waiting for the heavy rain to stop. Len left her buddies for a while and walked swiftly to the comfort room.
Upon opening the door, cold air greeted Len. There was nobody else inside. All three cubicles were empty. Despite the strange chill she felt, which made the hairs on her arms stand on end, Len shrugged it off as cold wind from outside that seeped into the room through the small window. She went into the first cubicle to answer the call of nature. It was eerily quiet inside the comfort room. Only the rushing of the pouring rain outside could be heard.
When she was done, Len washed her hands then her face. She noticed that her long hair looked unkempt so she decided to tie it up. Len was busy tending her hair when a very cold gust of wind touched her left shoulder. She glanced at the window, thinking that it was probably wind from outside. When she turned back to the mirror, her eyes widened. A very pale hand was touching her shoulder. That hand belonged to a woman whose face was hidden by her very long hair, and was wearing a white robe that touched the floor. There were no stories of ghosts haunting the school’s comfort room so it came as a terrifying surprise for Len. The woman in white suddenly let out a terrifying laugh. Her voice was like that of a cackling hag. Len screamed like crazy while scrambling out of the room.
The abat or awok is the Eastern Visayan variant of the manananggal in Philippine folklore. Like the latter, an abat detaches from its lower half of the body at the waist but instead of growing wings on its back, its arms are the ones that transform into bat-like wings. It has bloodshot eyes which almost bulge out of their sockets. Like the manananggal, an abat must rejoin its discarded lower half before sunrise otherwise it will die.
A wingless cousin of the manananggal on the prowl.
The anananggal are self-segmenting aswang in the Eastern Visayan folklore of the Philippines. Unlike their cousins, the manananggal of Luzon, anananggal are wingless like the Indonesian penanggal, and can render themselves invisible – an ability which gives them freedom to enter any house unnoticed.
Aside from preying on pregnant women and attacking children or those who wander at night and the wee hours, anananggal also have a knack for sniffing a corpse in a wake.
To them the smell of a corpse is so irresistible that they would enter a house where there is a wake for the dead and sniff the corpse until they are forced to leave by the approaching dawn. Contact with citrus fruits prevent them from flying. An anananggal will die should sunlight shine upon it while in its segmented form, or if salt, spices, and ash are placed on the stump of its discarded lower half.
Ramos, Maximo D. The Aswang Syncrasy in Philipine Folklore. Philippine Folklore Society, 1971.