By: Adrian Carlo Velasco
There was a family who lived in Lagman Street in 1989. Arlene and Raul thought that this was the best place to raise their three children- Dina, Boy and Jenny. Dina was only 9 years old at that time. But Dina could remember every single thing that happened in their Lagman house.
At the back of their house was an ancient molave tree that stood on a vast lot, There was also a nipa hut where Dina and her siblings used to play in the late afternoon. She grew up in a family that believed in the supernatural-ghosts, elementals, and dwarfs. And every night before sleeping, at around 11 in the evening till the last hours of darkness, adults would see small beings playing around in the backyard . One day, when Arlene and Raul decided to have their lot fenced with concrete walls that needed days of digging under the lot, the workers dug up bundles of paper money wrapped in small plastic bags. These were five, 20 and 100 vintage bills that amounted to more than a thousand pesos.
The treasure trove caused quite a furor in the household . Everyone speculated about whose money it was and who buried it under the lot. The family secretly believed that it belonged to underground beings. And if that were the case, they were trespassing on someone else’s property.
Greed took over and some of the construction workers pocketed the bundles of pesos. Since then, unwanted events began happening in the household. Arlene had an obsession for grandiose possessions. She religiously collected jewelry, elegant jars, antique furniture. But her lifestyle ground to a halt because money suddenly came in slow trickles. Business became slow and the children were getting sick.
Dina discovered one afternoon that her mother was painting her expensive jars and bangas, dining set, and her entire furniture collection in black. “We are being punished by beings not from this world, my child,” Arlene desperately warned her daughter Dina. Arlene believed that small dark beings were behind a curse cast on them. She looked a little demented as she said this. “There’s this little thing I see, a tiny child, that plays inside one of my bangas!” she would always tell her daughters.
One Wednesday afternoon, Boy, Dina’s 12-year-old brother, came home from school . When he got inside the house, no one else was there except for Jenny’s pet parrot named black, mimicking her mother’s favorite words, ” A little dark kid, a little dark kid.”
“Oh! Shut up, will you?” the young boy shouted. Then he pushed the birdcage towards the opposite side. “You scare me.”
Boy strode towards the living hall, then through the narrow passage that led to his bedroom. He pulled off his shoes one at a time, while walking quite slowly as he carried his hefty bag at the back. But something stopped him. Amid the deafening silence, he heard unusual sounds from the ceiling. They were like small pairs of feet running around, stopping at certain intervals. He wanted to know where they were coming from.
He thought that rats might be playing inside the ceiling space. He saw a small door on the ceiling, so he dropped his shoes and bag, then tried to jump and reach for the door lid.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” a strange voice called his attention, a voice one would only hear in a dream. It was soft, deep, and cold, and sounded like an androgynous being. Boy was shocked to death. He could imagine what the being looked like. It did not spoke words of warning. It frightened him. When he looked at where the voice was coming from, he found nothing. Then he turned back to the ceiling door and saw that the lid was open.
When Raul and Arlene arrived with Dina, they found Boy in the living hall, lying unconscious on the floor. “Boy! What happened to you?” his mother screamed in fright. When they got near him, Dina noticed the unusual stomping from the ceiling . “Mom, what’s that?” she asked Arlene. “I better go up and check. Arlene, bring the boy to the sofa,” Raul told his wife.
Raul walked through the entrance of the ceiling, and entered a tight space. Dina looked at the dark entrance as she waited for her father. When he jumped down from the ceiling, Raul realized that his right knee was already swelling. “What happened to you?” Dina asked.
Raul told them that he was walking smoothly inside the ceiling space. There could be no reason for the injury. He had a medical check that same day and the results revealed no other cause but an external accident.
He finally agreed to see an albularyo that the neighbor recommended. He told Raul that when he was walking above the ceiling entrance he bumped a dwarf with his right knee. It punished him by casting a spell on his knee. A month after he recovered from the injury, Raul went back to his work as seaman. But a week after, a container fell right exactly on his toes. He felt that the curse had followed him to sea. When he returned home, he found out that the three children were burning with fever. Then he got severe sinusitis and underwent an operation.
Dina realized that all these problems were strange coincidences. Arlene and Raul decided to leave the cursed house, thinking that they’re just a few steps away from death. They sold everything in the house.
The day they left the house on Lagman, they all hurried towards the car, bringing nothing but their clothes. As the car started moving forward, Dina looked back at the house. She could see being she hasn’t seen before, staring at her intensely, Dark silhouettes of humans stood beside the rusting gate, while tiny men were laughing.