TERM PAPER TERROR

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By  M.K. Logan

Our English teacher  divided  us into  groups  and I ended up  with Carly, Paul, Anna,  Migs and Val. We decided to research on sorcery  for  our term  paper.  But we had  one problem, though.

We couldn’t  find anything regarding  sorcery in the school library, not even in the city library! The only reference we had was the scrappy,  little pocket  encyclopedia  on spells  which I bought  at some  sale. So, Paul and Val  scoured the whole  city for any albularyo  we could interview.

They found one, just in the outskirts of a dreary subdivision  where my family and I used  to live. All we had to do was  climb down the cliff using the  manmade stairs built there not too long ago.  Our former house was just about 40 meters away from the cliff.

The house itself was empty since nobody had rented  it for the past  month.  We all agreed  to stay  there overnight to conduct the interview. Finish the final  draft  and the first  dummy. Our  old van which had  been put up for sale, currently  parked in the garage,  needed looking  after since some looters tried to break in a few days ago and so my  parents  permitted us to  stay for  the night.

We all  brought food, pillows,  blankets, banigs and all our materials. We all got  there at around 3:00 in the afternoon. By  3:30, we all made out  way down the cliff and  to the tiny barangay below,  where our  interviewers  lived.  The albularyo, Ka Tenong, was a cheerful  old fellow,  and his meager hut was full of amulets, trinkets,  herbs and incense. . The interview went on perfectly , Ka Tenong answered all our  questions  smoothy.

In the end, he asked  us about  out paper. “Sorcery?” he asked.  His smile vanished a bit as  we told him. ” You should be  careful.” When we asked him why, he only shrugged. “Just be.  There might be things  you wouldn’t understand.”  An uneasy  silence followed momentarily,  then we thanked  and bid  him farewell.

It was already  4:50 and the sun was already beginning  to set. Ka  Tenong  advised  us to get  home  straightaway.  He said  the nunos might come around  and play pranks  on us.  We did  what he said  but the boys thought about looking around  when we  reached  the small stream.

“What if you get lost?” Carly scolded  them. “We have  to do the paper,” I said  acidly, Paul and Migs agreed not to look  around anymore, but Val seemed hesitant.

“You don’t have to come if you don’t want to,” he said,  he was a  smart-ass  rebel  through  and through.

“But hey,  get back here! Val!” I cried  as Val skipped  across  the small  stream.  When he pretended not to hear us, we left him  and went back to the house.  Val rejoined  us 10 minutes  later while  we were fussing  over the  draft. Migs  asked him if he found something, but  Val wordlessly shook his head and  joined  us in drafting  the paper.

When the  night fell,  Migs and Paul  began talking about ghosts. The moon was  bright, and it was  the perfect scene for telling ghost stories. We couldn’t  help but get scared. I mean,  this house was located at the  farthest end  of the subdivision, with no  neighbors except for the clump  of bamboo trees.  Anna even asked  me if the  house had been blessed, and I said it had  been.

By 11:00 p.m. the final  draft was done and we all went for a break. Val went  on telling  excellent ghost  stories he picked up from  the seminary  where  he’d been a  dropout.

Carly  received a call on her  cell phone  from her  boyfriend  and she went  outside  to talk with him  privately. I slouched over to  the room, which had  once been mine and  lied down on the banig  spread out there.

I dozed  off  for a couple of minutes, and was  awakened by the smell of smoke.  I hurried over to the kitchen and found Val and Paul making  a magic circle as instructed in  our scrappy,  little reference  book. “What are you doing?” I exclaimed.

“This is  so funny,” Val noted, as if he  didn’t hear me.

“We’re  trying to see  if the spell  invoking  evil  spirits  would work,”  Paul  explained. “Did it? I asked. Val and  Paul shrugged. “Do any of  these actually work?” Val asked. “Duh, I said, “those  are all bogus.”

Then Carly  stormed in, cursing. “Darn it,  My cell  ran out  of batteries. And I just  charged  it right  before  going here!”

“Plug  it in  again,” Paul  shrugged.  All the lights  went out.  We heard Anna  scream from the living room.

“Brown out!” Migs called out.

“No,  the other houses still have electricity,”  Carly  pointed  out the window. Thinking  there  were just  too many things  plugged in,  I advised Anna to turn off the laptop  we’d  been using. We  were engulfed  in the dark with few  candles  guilding  us.

Then we  all  heard noises  outside: the gates  being  violently  pulled open, and the van  doors  being opened and shut  with a strong force!  Terrified, we all  fled to my room,  thinking  there were burglars.  Val,  who was the bravest  among us, peeked out of the window.

“What’s  he whispered. “There’s no  one there.”

“Huh?”  we all  said in unison. “There isn’t anyone  there. I can’t see anyone  there.” “What’re you talking about?”  I said. “What else do you think is making  all that  noise?”

, At that moment, the noise stopped and the lights came back. We all  sat there,  looking  scared and confused, hoping Val had been  playing  blind.

Migs  and I decided  to investigate. The gate’s lock was  damaged and the  hinges  were cracked.  The van was a mess; the doors wouldn’t  shut properly and the locks were  beyond repair.

“Those  were some wicked burglars,”Maybe you should  go call the  guardhouse.”

But all  our phones were mysteriously out of  batteries. And so,  Val and I decided to head to  the guardhouse for help, but I then found my hands were  covered with  grease so I went to the bathroom sink to clean them up.

When I was  washing my hands,  the lights went off again! And  the water went cold! I grew scared at once,  and called out Migs,  asking for a candle. I heard some  scuffling and saw  faint candlelight coming from  the kitchen towards me.

I saw  myself in the mirror. I blinked,  and when  I opened my  eyes, I was no longer alone. Behind me stood a large black shadow with a completely white face,  bleeding  sockets and bloody red lips stretched  over rows of jagged, sharp  teeth; its black,  spindly  arms and fingers  closing  in around me!

I screamed  loudly,  smelling the horrible stench of rotten flesh. It was cold!  There was  an evil-crazed laughter ringing in my ears! I fell to my knees, shrieking  in  horror withmy eyes squeezed shut  and hands  clasped over my ears.

I felt a pair of arms wrap around my shoulders,  dragging me away.  I fought, failing my arms and feet around. Then icy water was thrown onto my face. I opened my eyes and saw my group  mates looking down at me, asking me  what happened. When I told them what I saw to the last detail, Paul said, “Sounds like a  black lady to me.”

“The  spell worked?” Val said,  aghast. In fright, we all huddled  close together  right in the middle of the empty living room. I was trembling fiercely. I couldn’t get that  horrible sight off my head  and I clung tightly to Mig’s arm. “Kat, are you sure  you weren’t hallucinating?” Paul asked.

“Idiot! Why would I behallucinating?” I snarled, remembering vividly that white  face,  bleeding sockets, jagged and pointed teeth..  Anna’s  cell phone  lit up,  making us jump.  Someone was calling. “Thank goodness!” Anna said. But instead of saying hello, she screamed and  fell to the floor sight after answering it. She was having convulsions,  and was  tossing  and turning. We were struck with panic.

So far, the nearest help we could find was that of Ka Tenong’s Out of  sheer panic,  worry and fear, we risked  many things  climbing down the  cliff in the middle of  the moonlight night, carrying Anna on our shoulders. She was still unconscious,  twitching  with cold  sweat on her  forehead, and some fluid slightly foaming at her mouth.

Ka Tenong was hysterical when he saw us.  He immediately ushered  us in  and laid  Anna out on the floor. He prayed over her,  rubbed some herbs  on her forehead, blew tobacco smoke  over her until  she awoke, screaming. We all  comforted her. She  said she heard  a deep, throaty  laughing  when she picked  up the phone and that was all she heard.  She had no idea  she fainted.

Ka Tenong  asked  us what  happened.  I was forced to tell him  everything, how  the shadowy creature looked like and what it did,  the gate,  the van,  the lights… everything. “Did  you stay around his area even if  I told you otherwise?” he asked. We all  denied, but Val admitted he did.  He told  Ka Tenong  he stayed a bit. “Did you  cross  the stream?” Ka Tenong asked. When Val  nodded, the albolaryo looked horrified.

“Foolish  boy!” he gasped, “across that stream dwells  the disturbed, evils soul of a woman who was murdered many years  ago! She never follows anyone across, only when  someone intrudes. Was your house blessed?”

“Yes…twice,” I said. “Then,  how did she get inside? You didn’t invite her in,  did you?”

Paul  and Val looked at each  other uneasily. Ka Tenong  sighed  in despair. “You, children, are lucky having escaped safe.”

Then he explained  that the evil  spirit was a black lady who  was hostile  and vengeful,  trying to reap souls from  week bodies. Ka Tenong told me the black lady tried getting my soul, but I was  strong. Anna became vulnerable because she looked frail.

He immediately  cast a  protective  spell over  us and told us to wear our clothes inside out .  He  sprinkled holy water on us, prayed  over us and accompanied us back to the house, which he also blessed seven times,  chanting in an unknown language.

When  morning came,  Ka Tenong told us the black lady would not  harm us anymore. He advised  us to never cross the  stream again.  Judging by the events, we wouldn’t  dare ever again!

We thanked  the kindly albularyo a thousand times, and prayed the rosary for the soul  of the murdered woman.Then we  gathered  our stuff and headed to  the nearest  McDonald’s  and finished  our dummy.

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