Rage is nobody’s comrade. It is of an unknown reason that though not a single human being of intact sanity desires or wants it, it comes and oftentimes stays and never leaves. Along with relentless time, it devours its host until not a single functional unit of him is left. A parasite it seems that slowly eats up men, who happen to get hold of the tragic plight it brings to their system.
In the middle of a somber night while the full moon continued to wane, I of insatiable lust at the very moment rambled around to satisfy my longing for manly pleasure. As my worn out soles paved the moonlit way towards somewhere I was not sure of, wild thoughts fixated my mind. Images of nude voluptuous women seduced my every nerve. They were dancing around an endlessly burning fire emitting a passionate aroma which could drive any man to ecstasy. At the center, almost touching the red and yellow flame stood the woman of my deepest desire, the Reyna Elena in Santa Cruzan held earlier that day. Unclothed and bare, her body swayed in rhythm with the gentle moves of the passionate blaze. Sweat flowed profusely from her pores, tempting my thirsty tongue to run onto her beautifully burning skin. She danced like a goddess, ah… a goddess, giving gods in heaven and earth no reason to resist. I loved it.
The mouthwatering illusion stole my attention that I almost overlooked a woman, standing from afar and staring at me lustfully. I recognized a familiar face of a whore among a dozen bystanders along the hushed Kamunsil Street leading to the mountainous part of Barrio Bulalacao. Her sequined black silk dress glimmered in rhythm with the twinkling of the stars above her. The vision of the luscious fire vanished to give way for a new and an attainable one as I approached her with my hardened tool. As expected, with due willingness, she agreed to come with me for a sum of money I offered to somewhere we could both achieve bodily fulfillment.
After a quite long walk, to our delight we caught sight of an abode I never knew before. It was a house of sturdy wood which stood alone in a middle of nowhere in the hidden part of the barrio. It was old yet it appeared tough enough to stand tests of time. Grasses, almost as tall as the trees, covered almost half of its facade. Vines of various kinds were crawling up to the rusting tin roof. The large lunok trees served as invincible gates to intruders. Their shade, intensified by the haunting moonlight, created a gloomy feeling that even the pluckiest would have a second thought to come near it.
“A house in the middle of wilderness”, the lass exclaimed with a giggle.
“Yes, built just for you and me.”
“Are you sure?” She had this look which drove me to a certain feeling only men can feel.
I kissed the back of her neck. “Yes, for tonight”, I whispered.
Seemingly unmanned, without hesitation, we incautiously entered the unlocked door then groped for switches, in case there were. Aghast filled our senses when a blinding light glimmered before our eyes, prior to whatever our thoughts could have projected. It terrified us that we almost lost our perception. Yet, after we firmly held our consciousness back, I remained calm though dazzled.
“What are….” she exclaimed at the top of her lungs. “It is hurting my eyes, take me out of here!” She ran to the curved door and rocked its knob hastily, punched and kicked it. “God, we’re locked!”
“Just be calm, okay?”
She moved around to look for other doors or windows or any other ways to escape but it was hopeless. My mind was overpowered by her hysteria and I lost concentration.
“No! We’re trapped here. No…!” She began to scream in great fear.
“Shut up, your screaming doesn’t help!”
“It’s killing me, no…!”
“I said, shut up!” There was silence immediately after my right fist landed on her face. I didn’t want to do it, but I had to. She fell unconscious on the floor; drops of fresh blood stained the mirrored floor.
Neither a sigbin nor a kapre met our sight after that sudden flash of light broke the murkiness of the dwelling. It was the overwhelming effect our eyes had caught as reflected by all the mirrors hanged all around the walls and carpeted the floor we were stepping on, leaving no single space for other things thus creating an upshot of terrifying, confusing and blinding infinity. It was nothing but mirrors. I moved my eyes around them, and then to my astonishment, an air of great chill blew my dosing soul. My inward eye perceived eerie events that once dwelt and still lived in the appalling house. Immediately it stole my attention that I became deaf to the frantic screams and cries of my companion.
“It’s hurting me! It’s hurting me!” Her repeating voice was mere an echo to me as visions of the past came crashing to my memory like flashes of lightning. “It’s hurting me…!”
I always loathe this event every time it happens. I am not sure if this is a gift or curse that these eyes I have can view with enough vividness not merely what is happening but even what has happened, events which are fallouts of intense emotions, once I get in touch with even the littlest remnants from them. It ruins my sanity every time it occurs like that very moment. A tremor of great strength rocked my soul as my senses perceived torrent of eerie, creepy and overwhelming stimuli. I hated it. I always hate the impact. I think this is worse than a curse.
A conspiracy of our folks more than a decade ago was unraveling swiftly before my over-stimulated senses. My mind was wholly besieged by sexual hunger earlier that night that it did not occur to me that we had surpassed the limit of safety in our barrio as warned by our superstitious elders. They were sincere with their admonition though not a sole explanation accompanied it.
“Don’t go that far, okay?”
“Do not come near to that house again.”
“Why Lola, is there an aswang inside?
“Creepier than you can imagine.”
Then fears filled our thoughts. Indescribable creatures of horrible appearance appeared in our minds when we thought about the old house. We always talked about it but no one dared to even touch the gating large and lofty trees around the almost a hundred year-old house.
Energy, strong enough to resist, radiated from the mirrors while I eventually traced its roots from a heart, wounded and numbed by eternal fury. A heart owned by Vida, a dead woman who once inhabited the house and whose soul continued to live, causing a dreadful and life-sucking parasite. Events began to roll, from the freshest to the forgotten memories which my brain can barely accommodate while the emitting energy from the mirrors hurt my eyes. They wanted to give up, but there were no ways to close the gates to the coming of visions. I have no way to resist it. A curse!
“It’s killing me… no… no… no…!” The echo of the woman’s scream continued.
Deluge of beleaguering stimuli pursued, continued to wreck my sanity as I stood before the countless mirrors forming a one big window to overwhelming perpetuity. Those caused unplumbed pain to my being which is more hurtful than the deepest dermal laceration and more traumatizing than the most severe emotional depression. It slowly consumed my energy like a starving predator which would not leave its prey until nothing is left. A greed-driven invisible creature! Although weaker I became for every flash of light to my lenses as reflected by the mirrors, I was slowly connecting the countless visions after their overwhelming occurrences to my overloaded memory. I had no choice.
The past became clear.
A group of adult women in bestida holding wicker baskets, half filled with vegetables and meat turned to a woman who had just got down from a carroza . Some peered at her with envy, most of them with admiration. “Vida, you’re so beautiful and yet you’re still unmarried, don’t you have any plans of settling down? I hear a dozen suitors are asking for your hands every night and most of them are mestizos”, one of them broke the silence. A few nodded in agreement. “Your parents have passed away already, God Bless their soul,” she signed a cross. “You’re all alone now.”
“Carmen, there is always a time for everything” It was a great wonder to them what kind of magic Vida owned that her smile, her voice and anything about her would turn a bad weather to a good one. “It is true that men seek for my hands but I haven’t found one who deserves this beauty I own.” She laughed meekly and turned her gaze to the selection of vegetables displayed on the stalls.
The women shrugged their shoulders, looked at each other and grinned.
Carmen cleared her throat and spoke again. “Did I hear it right? I heard that you keep many large mirrors in your house.” Two older women joined to listen to the conversation. They were infamous in the town for they were fond of gossiping around. Jewelries around their necks and wrists did not outshine Vida’s presence. They were more eager to hear an answer from Vida than the rest.
Vida smiled. “Mirrors never lie, they are never envious. That’s why I’m fond of them. In fact, I’m buying more when the vendor from the city comes this week for my house has still more rooms to keep them.”
“She’s a narcissist!” One of the rich tsismosas suddenly exclaimed with scorn. Her companion laughed, hands locked in her waist. “Proud lady, you must know that physical beauty never lasts.” The other one nodded to concur.
“Don’t be bitter and envious, Manang Rosa”, another plain-looking woman from Carmen’s group spoke in objection. Others showed gesture of agreement. “It is not Vida’s fault to be the most beautiful in town and more not her fault that you were born the ugliest.” Everyone laughed mockingly but the two tsismosas who immediately ran away in anger and embarrassment. Their faces blushed.
Then occurred a twist of fate.
“There goes the salot!” Everybody would whisper to one another moving away every time Vida would come out from her home. “Take the children inside”, the mothers would always shout. “Then close the doors.”
Vida was inflicted with a skin disease not new to the people in town. Leprosy. It destroys the body’s coverings and leaves no chance for reconstruction. Basically it causes physical deformity yet its consequences are rather more devastating and more fatal like that which had devoured Vida’s beautiful soul. After the flattering compliments, everybody despised her when wounds and lesions of dismaying emergence appeared all over her once fair and silky skin. It gradually covered up the beauty she used to have. She isolated herself by hiding inside her home, depressed and furious. Not a single minute passed without tears rolling down from her eyes. It was like an endless mourning. Angrier to the world she became to see every rash grew on her skin but she strongly watched them every day of her tragic life from the mirrors she had on her walls which once reflected an incomparable beauty she used to own. Every inch of her skin being razed by the disease transformed into drops of poison which slowly murdered her soul. After years of desolation, the rage turned as massive as anyone could imagine that it overflowed from her heart.
It’s beyond explanation how the phenomenon occurred. Conduction or radiation it might be considered that the rage- a form of intense energy transferred from Vida’s heart to the mirrors hanged on the walls. There it dwelt and devoured any soul who would place his eyes on the glasses of lucid reflection. Like leprosy, it consumed human beings cell by cell, tissue by tissue but death happened in just a few minutes. Dreadful! Fatal!
“No…no…no…!’ The screams went on.
I was crushed, helplessly holding on to my consciousness. I invaded a maze which there was no open ends. After I had fully understood everything, still with the unbearable pain in my body, I moved my eyes away from the mirrors to the woman on the floor. Hell! I almost ran in surprise to see her being beheaded by a creature hiding from my eyes. Swiftly, it moved to the neck, already crammed with wounds, sounding like the gnawing of hungry rodents. I threw up. I could not take the sight. The parasite had devoured the whore. I was alarmed for I knew I was trapped inside a devil’s abode and soon I would be its next repast. My mind was smothered by the pang my senses endure that made me unable to think for a way out. I closed my eyes thinking that keeping them away from the mirrors might save me, but the parasite had entered my body and cessation of its continuous gnawing was impossible. I thought I was facing death- painful and tragic death.
Numbness was felt by my left arm. I could barely move it. Then faster than a tick of a clock, wounds appeared on its surface which caused terrible ache- from my fingertips to my arms, until my flesh was disappearing. It made me scream at the top of my lungs. Hell! I was loosing my arm. I could see my flesh, red with flowing blood, disappearing in each bat of my eyes. I could not bare it. “Stop!”
I was almost loosing my consciousness; almost fell on despair when extreme anger came to me. I had to fight for my life against the parasite so I pulled myself forcibly towards the mirrors and with all my strength remaining, hit the mirrors with my right arm while loosing inch-by-inch the other one. Blood flooded from my hands and pain was hitting me up to the tip of every strand of my hair. Lightning abruptly flashed after I had broke all the mirrors and eerie sounds came crashing my eardrums. They all bothered my sanity and stole my consciousness for a period of time I was not aware of. All I remembered was physical, mental and emotional pain which almost caused my death.
The night is noisy with the rustling of the dried leaves on the earth as if a crowd is stepping on them, marching for a funeral in the night. There is the deafening sound of the crickets which fuses with the frightened cries of the wild frogs. The wind is blowing a scary gust to my ears. Tonight I had the tanods chained my arm and feet, tied me to a large tree and left me alone in the jungle. Few hours more and it will be the second full moon since that night when I thought I have killed the demon. Yes, it still lives. And it is within me, using my body to devour souls. A month ago it has killed a swarm of people and I will not let a single life be its repast this time of its feast. If only my death could put an end to this, I would hang myself. But I know the parasite will continue to live even beyond my or anyone else’s death.
~To be continued~