By Aya Paredes
Martin is an editor of a bi-monthly lifestyle magazine for me. The stress of meeting deadlines took a toll on his appearance as he looks older than his age. The company’s decision not to hire regular writers and to just look for contributors who would be paid per article added to his load.
The company placed and for freelance writers in a national daily and in just a matter of a week, his e-mail inbox had been flooded with inquiries. Part of his job was to screen those interested and shortlist them. Martin was always the last person in the office, leaving at around 9 p.m.
Before going home one Friday night, he checked his e-mail one last time and saw that there were a few messages needing his attention. Since he would spend his Friday night at home anyway, he decided to read his e-mails.
One e-mail caught his attention. It was an inquiry from a freelance writer named Danny. He was asking if Martin was still in need of writers and asked if he could send some sample articles. The editor replied and told Danny to send some of his works.
The next night, at around 9 p.m. Martin was already cleaning up his desk when he suddenly had an urge to check his e-mail one more time. Having forgotten about Danny, he was surprised to see an e-mail from his again.
This time, the e-mail came with an attachment containing his sample works. “Great!” Martin muttered to himself. Now, he has no choice but to go through Danny’s sample works before he leaves for home. To his amazement, the articles were well-written. The materials were what he was looking for.
After going through the samples, he wrote Danny an e-mail saying that his works were good and they would see print in the magazine’s next issue.
A month passed, Martin and Danny regularly communicated through e-mail. Danny continued supplying Martin with good materials. Martin was very happy that he had found the perfect freelance writer of the batch. One day, he requested for Danny’s contact numbers. Martin needed to talk to his writer.
It took Danny over a week to finally give him his contact number and home adress. Martin replied to Danny’s e-mail asking him if he wanted to pick up his check. He also said that they could just send it to the address Danny provided. No reply came from Danny.
Three issues of the magazine came out containing Danny’s articles. Queries from readers started to pile up on Martin’s desk. All were asking who the new writer was and that his articles affected most of them in a good way. His articles are very insightful, the letter said.
The big bosses of the publishing company started to get interested with the new writer. They wanted to meet him in person. Martin, on the other hand, was puzzled. After providing him with his contact details, Martin had never heard from Danny again. Something must have happened, Martin thought.
The next day, he went to the adress Danny gave him. This was after he tried reaching him through the phone number Danny gave him. The phone line had been disconnected.
He decided to get off work early to go to Taguig where the address was. He managed to find the house before it got totally dark. It was a modest two-story apartment located in a middles class neighborhood. He knocked on the door several times before a tall man in his fifties opened the door.
“Good evening, sir, I’m looking for Danny,”Martin said.
“Are you friend of his?”asked the man, puzzled. “No, sir. Actually, we haven’t met. I’m Martin, the editor of (name of magazine). I’m looking for him to offer him a permanent post in our company,” Martin explained.
“I’m his father and you’re too late.” He had an angry tone to his voice. “Sorry, sir, but I just don’t get it.” Martin was uncomfortable. “You ask for my son now when you didn’t even bother to appreciate his works two years ago before Danny decided to take his own life! How dare you come to me now when you were the cause of his death!” the father of Danny was shouting now. “Two years ago ? But there must be some mistake! He has been sending us samples of his works for a month now. Is this some kind joke?” Martin was nervous.
Danny’s father let him in; calmer now. He led Martin inside and told him to follow him. Danny’s father opened a door that turned out to be Danny’s room. Danny’s father opened and old dusty box he got from under the bed and showed the contents to Martin. Though he wasn’t sure at first what it was, he suddenly realized that was holding an old manuscript. “It’s been two years,” the man told him.
One morning, he found his son dandling from the ceiling, a rope tied around his neck. Danny was heartbroken, he died a frustrated writer, his father said. He sent his sample works to various magazines in the country but not even a single publication took notice to him, dismissing his worksas mediocre.
What Martin was holding was Danny’s last works, a copy of which was sent to Martin’s magazine two years ago. Martin’s hands shook as he realized that they were the same materials that were printed in their magazine.
On the way back to the office, Martin still couldn’t believe what had just happened. He thought that it was impossible for him to receive e-mails from Danny when his father claimed that he committed suicide two years go. “There must be a logical explanation for this,” he told himself. When he reached his office, it was already dark. It was almost 9 p.m.
Everyone must have gone home, he thought as the building looked abandoned save for the guard who wa on the night duty. He quickened his steps towards his office, ignoring the creeps he had been feeling all night.
When he reached his office, he turned on the lights and his computer, checking again Danny’s e-mails. His eyes widened and he broke into a cold sweat as he went through Danny’s e-mails. All of the e-mails were sent in 2004, two years ago!” Oh my God! How come I didn’t notice this” Martin was definitely confused and spoked.
He realized that Danny could have sent Martin his sample works two years ago but Martin was too busy to read through them. He must deleted all of Danny’s works and never took time to reply. Then suddenly, the power went out. There was complete darkness. Martin panicked and started for the door.
When he open the door, he was surprised to see a man in a barong blocking his way. Martin almost fainted when he realized that the man was floating, his eyes were sunken and dark, blood was coming out of his mouth. Martin was sure who he was Danny! He recognized him from the pictures his father showed Martin earlier.
Before Martin could react, Danny’s ghost already got hold of Martin’s throat and and started to strangle him. Martin realized that the force was so strong that his feet were already off the ground. Martin uttered a prayer. He was fast losing consciousness due to lack of oxygen. Martin mustered all his strength and yanked himself off the grip of his attacker.
The grip loosed and he dropped to the floor. Running blindly, he went back to his office shouting for help. None came as his voice couldn’t reach the guard stationed at the gate. He was groping in the darkness looking for possible escapes. He bumped on a stack of magazines and fell. He saw that the ghost followed him inside his office.
Martin’c survival instinct kicked in as started throwing piles and piles of magazines to Danny’s ghost. To his horror, they would just pass through the apparition, landing with a loud thud behind him. The ghost dived in for another attack. aiming for Martin’s throat. Martin was sure that his time was up and that his body would be found lifeless in the morning.
Then he realized what Danny’s father told him. Danny was a frustrated writer! Martin grabbed a copy of the magazine and waved it in the air. “It’s here! Your article was finally printed! See, that’s your name!” Martin gasped as he flipped through the magazine’s pages trying to located Danny’s article.
To his relief, the ghost let go of his neck. The ghost eyed the article, looking mesmerized. A few moments passed, the power was back, Martin scanned the area and found no one but himself. He heard the guard pounding on his office door.
Relieved to hear another living being, he quickly opened the door. The guard was surprised to see him looking scared and was confused as he saw the mess in his office. Martin didn’t bother to explain and just asked the guard to stay with him as he collected his things from his desk.
He couldn’t wait to go home and forget about the incident. Then, he noticed one magazine lying on the floor. Picking it up, he saw that Danny’s article was torn from the magazine, the pages missing. Martin was sure that the ghost took the pages.
After that incident, Martin became more conscientious in dealing with aspiring writers making sure never to crush their spirit. He also made sure he leaves his office by 8 p.m.