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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.