STRANGER THAN FICTION

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By: Luis Mondejar, Jr.

The Virtudazo family was  overjoyed when they moved to a subdivision, just near the city. Everyone was excited  including the  20-year-old boy who  was completing  his course in one of  the private universities in Metro Manila.  They cleaned the house,  arranged the furnitures,  assigned rooms. There was a basement  where they could store away carpentry tools and  other things. They arranged  for a  house blessing. After the  ceremony, a sumptuous meal followed. It was  then that strange things began to happen.  Carlos,  the 20-year-old son of the  Virtudazos, saw a mysterious  character in  the corner of the dining room,  sitting in one of the seats there. He was  over twenty, slim.  Carlos offered him food.  Half smiling, he accepted the offer. But he did not say anything.  He didn’t utter in single word. When he turned  his back,  he disappeared  so quickly, leaving  behind the  plate Carlos offered him-untouched! Surprised, Carlos began asking everyday in the house. “Did you see him?” “See what?”

“A man there,” he  pointed to the chair where the man was seated. “We didn’t see anyone there,” they said.

Carlos was speechless.  He was perspiring. Did he just have an  encounter with a ghost?

“What happened to you?” asked his mother.

“Strange! The man  there just disappeared,” he said.  “You were just hallucinating. Come on,  go take a bath. Everything  will  be okay,” cajoled the mother. Carlos  rarely had dreams but that very night,  he dreamed he was a  soldier during World War II. In his dream, he saw that he died in the  battle. He woke up,  wheezing  and perspiring. He dreamed  he was  hit by  a bullet  that pierced his heart, causing  him to die instantly.  “I had a nightmare,” he told  his mother who brought him water to  drink  after he called out for  her.  “Maybe you ate too much,” his  mother told him.  The following day. Carlos  started behaving  strangely. he was pale  with sunken eyes,  signs  he was not able to sleep well that very night.  He was trying  home for the day.  He suddenly shouted, “Take over!”  He bent his knees, cringing under the table. He was seen making signs as  if he was firing a gun at someone. “Carlos, what’s happening?” his  mother was hysterical. Moments later, Carlo calmed down.  He was looking  at the wall  blanky. Carlos was brought to a psychiatrist for examination. Carlos was perfectly  normal.  “But, Doctor, my son was behaving strangely,”the  mother  complained.

“That’s beyond  medical explanation,” said the  doctor.  Carlos hated eating chocolates, but that very morning he was looking  for a brand of chocolate only found in the United States. “Find out from Lt.  Sorongon if he has some.”

His mother was aghast.  She  didn’t know  any Lt.  Sorongon.  “Where I am?” Carlos asked and looked around. “Who are you?” asked her mother. “I am  Pvt. Fruto Tumamot,” he answered, further enumerating  which  battalion be belongs to. “Where are my companions?”

“Your companions are gone,” said the mother,  feigning knowledge of their  where abouts. “They  had abandoned me. I was hit by a  bullet on the chest. I  was lying here,” pointing to the basement of the house. “I don’t know  what transpired  next. I was  wearing my dog tag around my neck.  Serial number 030561.” Then,  Carlos  suffered a convulsion. He lost  consciousness.

The mother wrote down his  serial number as dictated.  And without  much ado,  rushed to the Philippine Veterans Administration Office to  verify the matter.  To her  surprise. , Pvt. Fruto Tumamot  was real. He was  an enlisted soldier. The serial number given to her was correct. He was  reported  missing in action.  His widow and children were contacted.  The basement was dug. Bones were found. They also found the  soldier’s dog tag.

Tumamot was buried in his home  province down south. He was  given a hero’s  burial. Better late than never. Carlos was back to normal again,  never was he bothered by the spirit anymore.

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