SUMMER VACATION

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By: Aya Paredes

Literary  was fighting with almost all of the travel agencies last summer.  It was two days before Holy Thursday and there was a zero  possibility for any agency or ticketing  office to book us a flight to this wonderful  beach resort the next day, Holy Wednesday. Failing  to secure plane tickets for us,  me and five of my friends were close to  giving up. It was peak season and it was  really impossible to book us on such short  notice. Tuesday night,  I tried to call a ticketing office. I felt a surge  of  hope when the agent told me that she can only monitor any last-minute  cancellation of booked passengers. In short, we were to become chance passengers. As  desperate as we were, we agreed to take the  chance and trooped  to the airport.  After  a few hours of wait, a miracle happened. For some reasons, a group of six people  booked on a flight to

the resort made a last-minute cancellation and thus, we ended  up taking their slots on the plane.

It was the worst flight I have ever experienced in my whole life…. thanks to dark cloudy skies  and strong winds that rocked our small  plane. It was a  ceaseless bumpy ride from Manila to resort. We were  really thankful that we made it to the island in one piece. Not long after we arrived, we forgot how bad our flight was as excitement and joy overtook us.  As always, the beach resort could take away one’s breath  with its  pristine waters and powder-white sands. No wonder tourists.  foreign and local alike,  flock to this  paradise-island  every chance  they get.  And as we  expected,  the shores were teeming with tourists of all  colors  already.  We decided  to go to our hotel and check in first before  hitting the beach.

The inn was newly built and it was the first time we saw it.  The rate  was fairly affordable compared with other inns within the  vicinity so  we decided to grab us a big room before rates hike up the next day. The  six of us- me, Dean,  Dennis, Siegfred,  Sofia,  and Marianne  secured a spacious room with four big beds. The room was well- ventilated and  it was on the third floor. We were the only occupants on the third floor.   The other rooms remained unoccupied.  To save up on food expenses, we decided to just buy food being sold  outside resort restaurants and eat on the veranda while feasting our eyes  on the terrific view of the resort. Plus,  the cool breeze was relaxing.  After  a near-disaster flight to the place, we  needed some pampering.  At about 10 p.m. that night,  my friends decided to  check the bars. We went  to one  of the biggest  bars just across the road.  The place was already full with tourists who were mostly drinking and dancing, having a good  time. After finding a table for six, we began to  order drinks  and  socialize a bit.  My friend Dennis, a born player,  immediately found himself tangled   up with a group of girls.  Dennis  went out of the bar with one  of the girls, Liza, leaving us all behind.  We figured Dennis  must have  had a good  time with  the girl since he never went  home until 4 in the morning the next day.  We were already asleep  when Dennis loudly banged on the door. When we let him in, we saw that  he was  shivering and red blotches started to appear all over his body. He had a high temperature.  He said he was aching all over.  When we asked him  what happened, it took him  a while to remember.   Dennis narrated that Liza took him to the beach where they talked for  hours. When it was already late and the beach was practically deserted.   Liza took out a small bottle of a local hard Liquor and invited Dennis  to drink with her until they pass out. Dennis, trying to impress the girl, gulped down the contents of the bottle within minutes. He suddenly  felt sluggish and weak after that.  Thinking it was just the effect  of the alcohol, he told Liza he’ll be going home for we might be already  looking for him.  As he was trying  to stand up,  his knees buckled and he  passed out right there and then.  He woke up with a fever. Liza was no longer with him.  She left him sleeping on the beach.  We were worried about the high fever and the red blotches on his  body what we decided to ask a local shaman to assist us in finding a clinic or a doctor nearby. Manang Rosario, an old woman on her 60s, told us that Dennis  had been “Marked”  by a newly converted aswang.  The aswang according to her, will go after Dennis to feed on him when he’s  gotten to sick. Manang Rosario also told us not to leave Dennis’ side as the aswang  will  definitely go out and start looking for him again. She said the illness  the aswang gave Dennis had a certain aroma only aswangs  within  the vicinity can detect and smell- within miles.  We got scared with what  the old woman told us.  We took turns in feeding and monitoring  Dennis’ condition which only got worse the next day.   The doctor told us it was just  a case of measles. However, he couldn’t explain the worsening condition of my friend despite the medicines he   order to take.  The doctor suggested that Dennis might have developed an allergy to whatever he drank the night before and he had  to be taken to the nearest hospital as soon as possible if his condition would not stabilize in the next 12 hours. It didn’t  By around 11 that evening , we were already preparing ourselves  to call for an ambulance. Dennis started to convulse. We panicked and  got scared and started  to administer first-aid remedies to  help lower his  temperature. Suddenly, a gush of wind took us all by surprise. Then we  saw a big black bird flying in circles near our room.  It was gawking in  a chilling manner like it was trying to get  something. We got scared and  closed all  the doors and windows.

From inside the room,  we could see the  shadows outside the window Sofia and Marianne started screaming when we saw the bird turned into  a human. It was all black,  the height must’ve been over six feet  We heard  it break the light bulb outside the veranda and darkness fell outside our room.  Siegfred and Dean  started to bolt the doors and windows and were terrified when the creature started  to bang loudly on  the door.  We were all shouting  and asking for help but none seemed  to have heard us.

It broke the glass window and tried to insert an arm in. Scared to  death,  we ran towards the kitchen, but soon realized Dennis was left  groaning on his bed.  Dean,  who amazingly didn’t lose his head  during  the chaos, got a big kitchen knife and ran back towards the intruder on  the window. He stabbed the creature  in the arm and we heard a woman’s voice wailing in pain.  It took its wounded arm out of the window and the  next thing we heard was the sound of flapping wings. The creature was   flying away from  our room.  Dean later  described the arm as black  as a coal with razor-sharp talons. Its arm was covered with long black hair.  The strange thing was  there was no bloodstain near the window where Dean stabbed the arm.   We booked a flight to Manila the next morning, Good Friday. We were a  bit  worried as Dennis  still had rashes  all over his body. Airport officials  might not allow him  to board.  What we did was  to cover  him up  in long  sleeves and long  pants. We had  him wear  a cap and sunglasses.  We made it to our flight.

Needless to say, Dennis got better  when we got back to  Manila. He still dreams of Liza  attacking  him after she  has morphed  into some  kind of black monster. We all spent the Holy Week visiting different churches and praying. We found  an inner peace we’ve  never  had in years. No beautiful beaches can compare to that.

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