A Dream

dream-medium-edited

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.

END

Art drawn in my Nintendo DS Lite with ColorsDS then edited with GIMP 2.

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The Date

I.

The café had a few customers that night. Tina was alone at a table in one corner, quietly sipping a cup of mocha cappuccino while stabbing a slice of chocolate cake with a fork. To her left a group of boisterous young men sometimes glanced at her. They were obviously talking about her. Two girls, in their late teens, from another table ogled a professional-looking guy who just entered the café with a girl in tow. Another guy with a very expensive wristwatch was talking on his iPhone 6 at the table near the counter. Tina’s phone rang, catching the attention of other customers. She picked it up and answered the call.

“Hello?” she said softly.

“Hi,” the guy on the other line responded. “I’m so sorry but I can’t make it there tonight. Something came up and I have to take care of it.”

Tina’s smile faded.

“Oh, that’s unfortunate,” she said.

“I know but I really have to take care of this. I hope you don’t mind?”

“Oh, not at all. It’s alright.”

“Thank you. I owe you one. Say, what about I make it up to you Monday night?”

“Sure, why not?”

“Great! See you Monday, gorgeous. Call you later. Take care, okay? Bye”

“You too. Bye.”

Tina stared at her phone for a while after the call ended. It was disappointing not being able to spend some time with him on a Saturday night. She wasn’t mad at him. He understood and accepted what she was.

She paid her bill and walked out of the café. The cool evening breeze greeted her as she approached her car, the key in her hand.

“Don’t make a noise.” Tina felt the pointed tip a knife pressed against her back. A strong arm wrapped around her neck. There were two of them. The other guy, in his early thirties stood guard watching out for possible passersby that might foil their plan.

“If you make any scene I’ll gut you. Open the door,” the man holding her growled.

She unlocked the car with a steady hand and opened the door at the driver’s seat.

“Get inside,” the man with the knife pushed her in. She went in without resistance and sat next to the man, her eyes fixed on him as he started the engine. The guy in his early thirties sat in the passenger seat behind her. She knew what they were up to. Robbers, carjackers, and serial rapists lurked in the city, preying on innocent civilians. But something else lurked in the city. The two criminals failed to notice the faint smile on Tina’s face as they headed for the highway which lead out of town.

 

II.

It was past eight in the morning when Tina rose from her bed. A faint taste of bile lingered in her mouth. Her mom and dad were in the living room, discussing business matters. Later in the afternoon that day she went out to hang out with some friends. She nodded in response to the security guard’s greeting, on her way out of the subdivision. In the guard house one of the personnel was absorbed with the news on the radio. Apparently two dead men, one in his early thirties, were found in the floodway just outside the city. Their throats were slit and their bellies cut wide open like a dissection frog, the guts spread out for the world to see. One of them was missing a liver.

 

THE END

The Visitor

I.

The hospital reeked of sickness and death. Along its cold concrete corridors echoed the groans of the ill, the pained, the dying, and the prayers of hopeful souls. Medical staff, patients and their relatives with worried faces shuffle about. The groans of the dying and the scent of death were intoxicating.

“Calling Doctor Diaz, you are needed at the nurses’ station,” a nearby P.A. speaker requested.

Tina smiled at a frail-looking old woman in a wheelchair in the hallway. The old woman glanced at the bunch of red roses she was carrying in response.

“Won’t be long now,” Tina thought while discretely sniffing the air.

The male hospital staff, most likely a homosexual, who pushed the old lady’s wheelchair glanced at her prim university uniform. The bitch must be jealous of her finely ironed checkered skirt and spotless white long-sleeved blouse, she thought.

Her sick friend’s room was up ahead. She slowly opened the door and peeked inside.

“Hello, gorgeous!” she said while entering then shutting the door behind her. “How are you?”

Her friend, Trisha was in the bed, her body propped up with a pillow against the headboard, an android tablet in hand. Another friend, a fellow student at the university was seated beside on the bedside.

“Feeling better,” Trisha replied.

“Great! By the way, I thought these could make your day even better,” Tina put the bunch of roses to the vase near Trisha. “What’s up, Jackie?”

“Spending some quality time with Miss Dengue here,” Jackie elbowed Trisha and they all giggled.

Trisha caught Dengue somewhere but was fortunate to be hospitalized early and avoided serious complications.

“The doctor said I was lucky my Dengue was not that severe,” Trisha related. “I’m the third Dengue patient admitted to this hospital this week.”

“Really? What about the others?” Tina said.

“Well, my doctor said he’s treating one of the other two patients. That one he says, a little boy, is not in good shape.”

“Is the patient in the I.C.U.?”

“Oh he’s in the next room.”

II.

High fever wracked the eight-year-old boy. His entire body shivered despite of his soaring temperature. It felt like being dried out in the desert then suddenly plunged into a tub full of ice again and again. His head felt like it was going to explode. He could barely open his eyes. He laid uncomfortably on his bed, dozing off to a delirious sleep then suddenly waking up terrified. In his dreams someone else, aside from his nanny was inside the room – a dreadful presence that gave him the creeps. His eyes scanned the room. But only his nanny was there, busy on her mobile phone. Suddenly he was afraid to sleep. His feeble body, unfortunately, had to give in. His eyes were heavy. As his eyelids shut finally and the world of dreams and nightmares sucked him in he thought he saw a shadowy figure loom over him.

III.

Trisha looked gloomy when Tina entered the room.

“If you keep on looking like that I’d say you need to spend a week more in this hospital,” Tina giggled.

“Hey,” Trisha said still looking sad.

“Why the face, gorgeous?” Tina pinched Trisha’s cheek.

“Cut it out will you?” Trisha brushed off her hand. “Remember that other patient I told you?”

“The boy? What about him?”

“He died last night.”

THE END

The Couple

I.

“What a sweet smell!” Tina reveled while sniffing the cool morning sea breeze. Tacky, her pet puppy stirred in her arms and raised his head as if alerted by something. She turned and saw a couple strolling at the water’s edge near them. The woman was pregnant – five months probably. Tacky jumped off Tina’s arms and ran towards the couple and pawed at the woman’s heel. Startled, the woman almost kicked the puppy away but thought otherwise and cursed the animal instead, calling it names. Tina came running.

“God, Tacky, leave the lady alone,” she said while picking up her pet. “Sorry about that.”

“You shouldn’t let your mutt loose. It nearly gave me a miscarriage.” The woman glared at her.

“I’m really sorry. My dog was just being playful,” Tina said.

The woman’s husband, if he was indeed her better half, was silent. He was busy ogling Tina, his eyes wandering lustily all over her.

“If I were you I’d chain that pooch before he hurts someone,” the wife added.

“Oh, no need for that. He’s just a curious pup, a baby exploring the world around him,” Tina replied coolly, glancing at the woman’s bloated belly. “Well, got to go. I’m really sorry for the inconvenience.”

Tina smiled to the couple and walked off with Tacky in her arms.

II.

The couple slept heavily in their hotel room. It was past three in the morning. Three hours earlier they chilled in one of the islands many bars then decided to call it a night. Only a lone bedside lamp lit the room. From the shadows in one corner of the room a pair of eyes watched the couple. A pitch-black form of a woman emerged and slowly approached the couple, its hungry eyes fixed on the woman’s bloated belly.

III.

Tina chatted cheerfully with her college friends while they strolled around the island, checking bazaars and shops with Tacky in her arms. A throng of people, a parked police car, and an ambulance outside a pension house caught their curiosity.

“What happened here?” Tina inquired casually from a bystander.

“A couple was found dead in their room,” the woman said. “What makes it really sad is that the woman is pregnant. Authorities say there’s no sign of foul play. Must have died in their sleep.”

“That’s unfortunate,” Tina replied staring at the window of a room on the second floor.

THE END

Bloody Mary

Tahimik at tulala si Mei habang nakaupo sa kama ni Sandy at hawak-hawak ang duguang kotsilyo. Walang bahid ng kung anong ekspresyon na makikita sa kanyang mukha, di mo alam kung ano ang kanyang iniisip o nararamdaman. Siya ay nagmistulang bingi sa ingay ng telebisyon at tila hindi pansin ang lagkit ng dugo sa kanyang mga kamay. Mapagkakamalan mong hindi siya humihinga sa halos di mapansing pagtaas baba ng kanyang dibdib upang pumakawala ng tila panatag na paghinga.

Sa sahig ay nakahandusay ang malamig na bangkay ni Sandy; naliligo sa sariling dugo, laslas ang lalamunan at tadtad ng saksak ang dibdib. Bakas sa mukha nito ang sindak sa karumal-dumal na sinapit. Ang bibig na kanina’y pinagmumulan ng makapanindig-balahibong tili ngayon ay bahagyang nakabuka at nakangiwi na tila ba nakakaramdam pa rin ng kirot ang bangkay. Nagsisimula nang matuyo ang dugo na kanina’y dumadaloy mula sa magkabilang gilid ng bibig nito. Nakatirik ang mga matang pinanawan na ng ningning at para bang napako sa pagkakatingin sa kawalan.

Ang mga mata ni Mei ay biglang kumisap at ipinako ang tingin kay Sandy, na hindi iginagalaw ang kanyang ulo. Walang kakurap-kurap ang mga mata ng dalaga habang pinagmamasdan ang duguang bangkay sa sahig. Ang kanyang mga mata ay parang matatalim na punyal na tumatagos sa laman ng patay. Biglang tumunog ang kanyang cellphone, at dito ay parang natauhan siya. Agad niyang nilagay ang kotsilyo sa kama, at nang mapansin ang dugo sa kanyang mga kamay ay dali-dali niya itong pinunasan ng maigi gamit ang bedsheet. Pagkatapos ay dinukot niya ang cellphone sa kanyang bulsa, sabay tayo at patay sa telebisyon. Saglit niyang tinignan kung sino ang tumatawag, at itinapat ang cellphone sa kanyang tenga.

“Hello?” sabi niya habang nakatitig sa bangkay ni Sandy.

Isang pilyang ngiti ang gumuhit sa kanyang mukha habang pinakikinggan ang nasa kabilang linya, na parang walang nangyari.

“Gaga. Gimik ka dyan. Nag-aaral po kaya ako dito,” balik niya sa kausap.

Muli siyang napatingin sa bangkay ni Sandy sa sumunod na tanong ng kausap sa cellphone.

“Human anatomy,” sagot niya na may pilyang ngiti sa mga labi, at muling natahimik upang bigyang daan ang nasa kabilang linya.

“Loka ka talaga,” hagikhik niya. “Sige na nga. See you there 9:30. Sige, bye bye na muna at tatapusin ko lang ‘to. See ya. Mwah mwah.”

Napatingin si Mei sa oras sa hawak na cellphone. Pasado alas otso. May panahon pa, sa isip niya habang nakatingin kay Sandy. Ibinalik niya ang cellphone sa kanyang bulsa at dinampot ang kotsilyo sa kama. Dahan-dahan siyang tumayo at parang lasing na lumapit sa katawang nakahandusay sa sahig. Wala na ang ngiti na kanina’y gumuguhit sa kanyang mukha. Ito ay napalitan ng mukha ng isang taong walang damdamin. Walang awa. Ang mga mata ay puno ng poot at galit. Mga matang parang dalawang bolang apoy. Mga apoy ng impiyerno.

Kinabukasan ay laman sa radyo at telebisyon ang pagkakatagpo sa bangkay ni Sandy Murano sa apartment nito sa University belt. Pugot ang ulo at kinatay na parang baboy. Ang mga laman-loob ay nagkalat sa ibabaw ng kama. Ang ulo ay natagpuan sa loob ng rice cooker. Walang mahanap na saksi o lead ang pulisya na makakapagturo kung sino ang may gawa sa karumal-dumal na krimen. Ang tanging palatandaan mula sa salarin ay ang pangalang “BLOODY MARY” na nakaukit sa noo ng pugot na ulo.

WAKAS

The Jump

  THE cool breeze caressed her smooth face. She felt every molecule of air with her eyes closed. The wind danced around her, strands of her hair dancin along. Her body began to rock to and fro. Not only did she feel her heartbeat, she heared it as well. Its steady but hard beating drowned the shouts from below. Slowly, she raised her arms and opened them to the nothingness in front of her. Her mouth twisted to a smile. With a single step she hurled her body off the ledge.

The spectators screamed in horror when the girl went crashing onto the pavement with a sickening sound of breaking bones. A pool of blood welled from the limp body. The arms and legs were all in an awkward position. The girl’s face hugged the cold pavement, blood rolling from the open mouth.

And that was the end of pretty Kei.

THE END

A Piece of Paper

SHE was rummaging for a Sidney Sheldon novel in one of the bookstore’s shelves when her eyes happened upon a seemingly interesting book. It was sandwiched between two softbound books and was hardbound in chestnut cloth and along its spine vertically ran the title in black, caps and lower letters. Tricia pulled out the book and checked its cover, momentarily glancing at her boyfriend, Max, who was checking the nearby shelf.

The author’s name (a few inches below the embossed title) sounded familiar. Tricia scanned the pages, reading a few phrases and eventually found a piece of paper tucked between the pages. There were writings on it. She extracted the paper and held it near her face to see the writings clearly. The writings seemed Latin made of nine words and written in three lines. She murmured the words to herself, not knowing why or what they meant.

A hand on her right shoulder startled Tricia. When she looked it was Mac, smiling at her.

“What’s that?” her boyfriend inquired.

“Nothing, just some bookmark, I guess,” Tricia replied, putting the piece of paper back among the pages. She showed the book to Max but he was not interested so she returned it to the shelf and resumed her search for a Sheldon.

That night Tricia indulged herself with a mystery novel she found in the bookstore. Max had kissed her goodnight over the phone a few minutes earlier but she; on the other hand, chose to stay up late to read. Moreover, it was just half past one in the morning and she could stay up late until the wee hours after her graduation from college the previous week. No more early classes to worry about.

She has read halfway through the novel when a light rattle from the closed window caught her attention. Tricia stared curiously at the window, wondering if she really heard a rattle or not. Another rattle, however, erased her doubts and replaced them with questions. There was no tree outside her room so it was definitely not made by branches scratching against the window. Maybe it’s just some insect or a house lizard that was making the noise, she thought, and went back to her reading. But another rattling reached her ears and it seemed much louder. Annoyed, Tricia stood up, book still in her hand and went to the window to check what was making the noise. She pulled the curtain aside and what she saw was utterly unexpected that she was not able to react immediately. She just stood there rigid as a statue, gaping and staring wide-eyed at the sight before her.

It was something out of a Creepshow movie. From behind the glass panels, dark and empty eye sockets stared back at her. The face to which those sockets belonged was emaciated and the skin was dry and had the color of ancient papyrus akin to an Egyptian mummy’s. The head was hairless and in place where the skin and flesh have peeled off, dry ivory bones were visible. The ears were two shrunken stubs with minute holes in the middle of each; while all that was left of its nose was a pair of vertical openings. The wrinkly and thin lips of its mouth were pulled back to a grin, revealing mummified gums and variously-shaped teeth. The bony frame of its body was clocked in a tattered black robe.

Then, the thing’s jaws parted and an ear-shattering shriek issued from its mouth, followed by the shattering of glass when its bony hands broke through the panels and grabbed Tricia’s face. That’s when Tricia opened her eyes with a start and found herself lying in her bed with the book beside her. She got up quickly and probed her face with her hands while her eyes looked anxiously around. The window was intact with the flowery curtain neatly draped over it. There was no shattered glass. Everything seemed OK. There was no “mummy”. It was only a dream. Tricia was relived. She glanced at the clock and it indicated that it was past three in the morning. Tricia got out of the bed, wanting to have a drink downstairs.

Her feet have just touched the floor when, suddenly, two cold hands grabbed her legs. Upon looking down she was greeted by the grinning mummy-like face. This time she screamed her lungs out; more so when she was pulled down and more corpse-like hands appeared from nowhere and got hold of her. Despite her struggles the things have pinned her flat on her back. They were chanting something that. Although unintelligible, sounded familiar to her. Escape seemed impossible. Tricia shut her eyes tight as cold hands groped over her face. The things were falling into frenzy, their chanting getting louder and louder to the point of drowning her screams. It was like being tied helplessly in a satanic ritual where she will be sacrificed to The Dark Prince and anytime soon a dagger will be plunged with surgical precision to her heart. The thought made her heart skip a beat. Then she felt a powerful shake on her shoulder and out of the blue she heard a familiar voice calling her name again and again. The voice seemed to have blasted away the horrid things because their frenzied chants and groping hands were gone. She opened her eyes and saw the worried face of her sister, Tish.

“Hey, what’s up with you? Are you OK?”

Tricia’s eyes wandered wildly around but saw none of those mummies. Everything looked fine and proper. She started to calm down.

“Gosh, Tricia, you had me worried. Good thing you woke up.”

“Oh, God, what an awful nightmare,” Tricia mumbled as she sat up.

“You OK now?” Tish said.

“Yeah,” she nodded.

“Wait I’ll get you water.” And Tish padded off, leaving Tricia musing about the nightmare that she had. It seemed so real. She pinched herself and winced at the slight pain that she expected it will give her. She smiled to herself and turned to the door when she heard Tish’s approaching steps outside her room.

“Here’s your drink,” Tish said from the doorway.

Tricia screamed in horror because instead of a pretty sister, what she saw was a mummified corpse shambling toward her with a glass of what seemed like blood in its bony hand.

“What’s wrong, sis?” the thing gurgled to her; black, grease-like fluid running down its peeling chin. The voice reminded her of someone speaking with phlegm in his throat.

She backed to the other side of the bed until she fell to the floor. Quickly getting up, she screamed more at the sight of her brother and parents, who entered the room. All three were in the same mummified-corpse appearance. Her mother even had eyeglasses although its eye sockets were desert dry and devoid of eyes. They were all grinning at her with their beef jerky lips pulled back, revealing teeth that would give nightmares to a dentist.

“What’s the matter, child?” her father croaked as they advanced toward her.

“Come here, sweetie, let mama comfort you,” her mother cooed with outstretched arms: the long, bony fingers eager to get a hold of her.

Tricia backed further off until she felt the concrete wall against her back.

“NO!” she screamed, tears streaming from down her cheeks. She held out her arms as if it would do any good to ward off the mummies.

They had her surrounded, cornered like a prized pig in a town fair. It was too much for her. She has to get out of the nightmare she’s in. Running for the door would do her no good because the way was blocked. But she has to get out – to escape.

So, turning to the window beside her, Tricia closed her eyes and with all her force, hurled herself right through it; her arms over her face. Shattering glass and breaking wood filled her ears as her body went through. Bits of razor sharp glass cut her skin. She crashed two stories below, her scream was cut short when she hit the concrete ground with a sickening mixture of a thud and snapping bones, and a shower of broken glass.

At the funeral, Tricia’s family wept bitterly with the unexpected fate of their beloved daughter and sister. Her boyfriend cried as though he had lost everything.

Investigators said it was just another case of suicide. There were no foul plays. What puzzled everyone was the lack of motive. Many angles were considered but they didn’t add up. And her family swore she was OK in the head.

Few weeks later after the burial, one of Tricia’s acquaintances was rushed to the hospital after passing out at a certain bookstore. Upon recovery, she swore that she saw Tricia in the bookstore standing in the corner with a piece of paper in her hand. But it was not Tricia who caused the acquaintance to faint but the shadowy figures standing behind the recently deceased girl.

THE END