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Literary

Lusus Naturae

The spider crept outside the window. I can hear slow, subtle movements. I do not know exactly what it is. I am alone in my bedroom now, staring at each clock’s hand passing hour after another. It’s dark, of course. Good thing, the walls are still painted blue. I love blue, and I love watching the stars.

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The spider crept outside the window. I can hear slow, subtle movements. I do not know exactly what it is. I am alone in my bedroom now, staring at each clock’s hand passing hour after another. It’s dark, of course. Good thing, the walls are still painted blue. I love blue, and I love watching the stars.

Sitting cross-legged on my quilt, I drift, hoping to snuggle myself to sleep. But the enduring harassment continues- a twisted pain knocking off my eardrums, and the veins continue to swallow air- harder and harder until it reaches my head. My eyes remain pallid, sleepless from all the paperwork and cups of coffee every single night. The bloodcurdling echo sings louder, rasher. I wonder when it will stop. I wonder what it is. No, I wonder what it will do to me. Will it gobble and chew down my brain or shatter my heart leaving its remains scattered on the headboards? How happy would he be to slice my abdomen in half, ripping my hair apart and sucking my blood like a condiment on a hot summer day! Or, chew my ear like an appetizer combined with a glass of wine. It must be delicious to die in his hands.

I glanced. It must have been long since he left me. No, maybe I am the one who left him. Memories must have come back to haunt me. Yes, to kill me, because I murdered him.  I ate his brain and stewed his liver.  Because I am afraid – of him leaving me, so I ate him, that I shall own him forever.

A few weeks later, I felt uneasy and weird. I also felt dizzy and vomited black plasma that tasted like ink every morning. I don’t understand what’s happening to me. There were nights I had severe fevers without any cause. I went to the doctor, pale and frustrated, desperate to know the cure for this disease that overcomes me, but she only told me that I’m fine and there’s nothing to worry about.

I remember how I devoured on every single thought of him, wanting, hungering for more. I reminisced the day, he asked me to marry him. He said he loved me, so I said yes. Only, to figure out I was fooled; that every single night, I found him cohabiting with prostitutes a house after another. Maybe, that’s okay. I am not a perfect woman anyway. Besides, men must have high standards regarding their sexual urges. It’s fine, even if it tears my heart away. I tried to resist the painstaking agony of seeing my husband sleep with another woman every night.

Maybe there were days he saw me. But he treated me differently; as if I were some unknown being he saw someplace; the longer days passed, he treated me more peculiar. There were days he treated me like a non-existing creature and looks at me like he sees nothing.  Yes, he would go to office jolly and vibrant each morning, but whenever he comes home, he would bring another woman to caress and cuddle. If not, he would open his beer bottles finishing them one by one, every drop on the lid. He can finish five bottles. He’s a good drinker, I must say. He’s also good at hurting women.  I remember how I used to be beaten, punched and shouted on His words still echo “Shut up, or I’ll kill you”. If I shout back at him, he’ll kick me, and it hurts so much. I don’t know where else to go. My parents died since I was a baby. An old woman only adopted me, but after marrying Frank, she got terribly sick and died. I was not allowed to visit her. Frank would beat me up. The more I screamed at him, the more he hurt me. The more I hurt him back, the more he tied me up. Oh, why do I have to endure such melancholy?

Sometimes, I wonder how it felt like to lacerate someone’s cock, squeezing the small thumb-sized pinkish muscle like a baby grape. Then, maybe I can chew it like a gum, playing it against my tongue. Then I’ll crush its cells under gritted teeth. I always fantasized those imaginations.

Ah! Just how it feels to manipulate and control someone who did the same thing before.

I don’t know what happened next. Everything is just so sudden.  It was not long ago when he told me to marry him. I’m sure, I am still fine and well though, but I don’t know about being fertile.  I never had a check-up.  But that should not be the only reason for leaving me, should it? And now his soul demands attention- to get total revenge of me. As I slowly crept down from my bed, I paced, walking in circles. What do I do, where to run? I can hear my heart palpitating loudly while the shivers ran down my spine. Beads of cold sweat dripped down my cheeks.

And suddenly, my eyes stare widely; after a moment or two, he’s here, like a godly Cereberus, a fitting ghost of darkness.  It was as if the room reduced its temperature to a Fahrenheit degree, cold and yet no air, but hollow. His eyes were huge and bright red, like blood. He was looking at me, his pupils not dilating. No head, no body, just a face, a terrifying face- a facade that would make your stomach twitch and trickle , a look none of you could imagine wanting. He’s just looking at me-all focused. I stood on the circle I’ve been since thinking of him. He’s still looking at me. I never moved. I looked at him, my fingers trembling, and quintessence screaming like hell.

I wonder if I am dreaming.  But no, he really is here and as time moves forward, the scents of cherry blossoms which usually filled my room turned to odour. Yes, bad, belching odour- a stench that smelled of Golgotha. He’s not going to leave me, is he? He’s still looking at me, salivating. After a blink, he tilted his face on the left side, as if trying to comprehend what that blink meant. But I just stayed, unmoving, reckless.

Then he returned to his normal position and grinned evilly.

And before I knew it, I was melting blood.

I was slowly dissipating like falling chalk dust.

My insides were flaring and my mouth ran dry.

Photo by Joshua Lugti

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Literary

Cities of Howls

This is the night in Manila,
the dark dirty alleys hidden between
plastered walls that can’t be seen.

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Artwork by Aldrich Aquino

The crumbling of cities —

Yelling, shouting for peace

Stumbling, fumbling for pieces

Of meat and medicine for the sick.

This is the night in Manila,

the dark dirty alleys hidden between

plastered walls that can’t be seen.

Bronze! Silver! Gold!

Children are all sold

So a man can taste a bottle of ale,

And buy women that are on sale.

A child saw his father,

Shot in the head by a police officer,

The man slips something in his father’s pocket,

And the child’s tears unseen from his father’s dead socket.

Tenants and sky towers, oh how

trees sang glorifying the city father

as souls tethered and chained with one another.

Do not peek in a dollhouse of husband and wife,

A happy family, everything is nice.

Unless you peek behind their curtains, knowing it’s not right.

And find out they’re made of plastic and bruises hidden from sight.

A man was given a wrong ideality,

Hide it behind the closet or you shall be sent to hell for eternity,

The society robbed him from his identity,

And ended up destroying himself entirely.

Unheard dreams and voices yet

Blessed are those who stole gold

Feasting, eating as another soul is sold.

Blessed are those who lived in high places,

Hidden behind a façade; a masked smile on their faces,

As caskets piled in front of their thrones

One after another; made of bones.

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Literary

Once a Home

It’s a good place for hanging out with friends, filled with exploding dim colored lights and loud music. But have you ever wondered why a simple house stopped becoming a place to call home, and instead became a place stuffed with noise and lots of stingy alcoholic beverages?

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Artwork by Ferdinand Marticio

Since time immemorial, Thomasians had widely known a particular old and cramped place along the well-lit street of Asturias — there stands an almost hundred year old house. It’s a good place for hanging out with friends, filled with exploding dim colored lights and loud music. But have you ever wondered why a simple house stopped becoming a place to call home, and instead became a place stuffed with noise and lots of stingy alcoholic beverages?

Perhaps being one of the most overlooked stories, the story behind the place we call, “Tapsi,” is darker as we had expected. The house was built in the early 1900s where the clash of Spanish and American Colonization happened. It was owned by a mestizo who had his wife killed inside the very place they call home during the Second World War. Since then, the house has been isolated and never been visited by anyone, but only the owner stayed home. He lived there until the last of his breath, and it was said that before he sold it to a rich family during the 1980s, he warned them of “Echoes and bloodshed,” but the new owners didn’t listen. Every night the new family that started to reside in there were haunted by blood curdling cries and sudden gunshots that can be heard randomly at night. When they look around the house, they find nothing. There’s no person crying, neither is there someone with a gun.

Ultimately terrified by the now haunted house, the new owners kindled an idea. To turn it into a restaurant-bar kind of place. And so they began their business of starting up a resto-bar inside the house. As time passes by, more customers came in and it became one of the busiest places around UST during nighttime. Since then, the cries and gunshots weren’t heard again…or maybe we just don’t hear it, because the banging of the loud music from the speakers and the voices of the constant chit-chatting students conceals the horrifying history of Tapsi.

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Literary

Ang Nagtatagong Humahalakhak

Gusto ko nang sumigaw at kumaripas ng takbo ngunit hindi ko mailakad nang mabilis ang aking mga paa. Hindi na ako lumingon at patuloy akong naglakad. Malamig ang pawis na tumatagaktak mula sa aking noo. Nanalangin akong kung sino o ano man iyon ay ‘wag naman sana akong sundan.

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Illustration by Aldrich Aquino

Sabi ng Lolo ko noong bata pa ako, habang nakaupo ako sa hita niyang nagkukuyakoy, ay may ibang mga nilalang daw na kasamang mabuhay ng mga tao. May mga tikbalang, multo, manananggal, duwende, manggagalaw, mambabarang, aswang, tiktik, tiyanak, at marami pang iba. Mananatili raw sila sa aming mga tabi dahil sila na ang mga nauna. Wala pa sa kalingkingan ng aking pang- unawa na kayaning paganahin ang rason upang kuwestiyunin ang mga sinasabi ni Lolo. Ngunit sa tuwing nais nila akong pasunurin o utusan, pinapagana nila ang mga istoryang kanilang itinanim sa mura kong isipan. Habang tumitibay ang aking karunungan, nawawaglit na sa akin ang mga paniniwala sa mga haka- hakang ibinahagi sa akin ni Lolo. Sa tuwing uulan habang tirik ang araw, huli ko nang naiisip ang kasal ng tikbalang dahil nauuna na ang lohikong eksplanasyon para dito. Ito ay hanggang sa tumungtong na ako sa kolehiyo.

Madalas akong gabihin noong mga unang linggo ng klase dahil wala pa naman gaanong pinapagawa sa eskwela. Panay ang paggala ko kasama ang barkada hanggang abutan na ako ng dilim sa pag- uwi. Gabi ng Huwebes noon, alas otso na ng gabi nang makababa ako mula sa UV express. Mula sa binabaan ko ay kakailanganing maglakad sa madilim na kalsada at sa dulo ay may isang pahabang waiting shed. Umaambon noon at ang tanging liwanag lamang sa daan ko ay ang ilaw ng mga sasakyang dumadaan. Hawak ko ang cellphone na nakabukas ang flashlight para makita ko ang aking tinatapakan. Pagkatuntong ko sa ilalim ng waiting shed, ay bahagyang mas lumamig ang hanging pumapalibot sa aking balat. Malamig man ang paligid, mayroong mainit na hangin na dumadampi sa aking kanang pisnge at leeg, wari mo ay may taong humihinga sa aking tabi.

Kahit nag-aalangan ay lumingon ako, ngunit malawak na kadiliman lamang ang sumalubong sa akin. Alam kong ako lamang mag-isa nang mga oras na iyon. Kahit nangilabot ako ay hindi ako tumigil sa paglalakad. Parang walang hangganan ang waiting shed na nilalakaran ko. Malapit na ako sa dulo ngunit bago pa man ako makalagpas, ay may narinig akong mahinang hagikhik mula sa kanang gilid ko. Gusto ko nang sumigaw at kumaripas ng takbo ngunit hindi ko mailakad nang mabilis ang aking mga paa. Hindi na ako lumingon at patuloy akong naglakad. Malamig ang pawis na tumatagaktak mula sa aking noo. Nanalangin akong kung sino o ano man iyon ay ‘wag naman sana akong sundan.

Nakauwi akong tulala at halatang nababagabag. Inilapag ko ang bag sa sofa namin at inalok akong kumain ng hapunan. Napansin siguro ni Mama na matamlay ang aking pagnguya kaya tinanong nya ako.

“Anong nangyari sa’yo?”

Sandali akong tumingin sa kanya at bumalik sa pagkain. Sa mga sandaling iyon ay nanariwa sa akin ang mga kwento ng Lolo ko tungkol sa mga elementong ligaw na namamalagi sa dimensyong ginagalawan ng mga tao. Kaya kahit walang konkretong paliwanag ay sumugal ako.

“Ma, ano ngang tawag dun sa elementong pinaglalaruan ka kapag mag-isa ka lang?”

“Hindi mo na naman dala ‘yung pangontra mo ano?”

Pinutol ko ang tingin sa kanya.

“Kaya nga binigay sayo ni Lolo Pail ‘yun, para ‘di ka lapitan ng mga ‘yan”

Mga ‘yan? Ano ba sila? Sino ba sila?

Ikinuwento ko kay Mama ang mga nangyari at inabisuhan nya akong dalhin ang pangontrang pinamana sa akin ni Lolo. Kinabukasan, sinubukan kong umuwi nang mas maaga ngunit nang dahil sa trapik, inabutan ako ng alas sais bago makababa sa kalye ng Maharlika. Mula sa kinatatayuan ko ay tanaw ang waiting shed na walang tao. May kakaunting liwanag pa mula sa langit ngunit hindi ito sapat para buwagin ang mga daga sa dibdib ko. Mahigpit kong kinapitan ang pangontra na nasa loob ng aking bulsa at pigil-hiningang nilagpasan ang waiting shed. Walang malamig na hangin, walang mainit na hininga, at walang mala- demonyong hagikhik. Pagkalagpas ko sa waiting shed, ay lumingon ako sa direksyon nito. Hindi ko alam kung namalikmata lamang ako ngunit may aninong nakatayo sa dulo ng waiting shed bago ang parteng nalalapatan na ng ilaw. Kumukubli ito mula sa liwanag. Pinagsisihan ko agad ang pagbalik ng tingin at kumaripas ng takbo papunta sa istasyon ng jeep.

Ngayon, sa tuwing dadaan ako sa waiting shed na iyon, mahigpit kong tangan ang pangontra ni Lolo at hinding-hindi na ako lumilingon… kahit pa tawagin nito ang pangalan ko.

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