“Tearing me apart
With words you wouldn’t say
Suddenly tomorrow’s
Moment washed away
‘Cause I don’t have a reason
And you don’t have the time
We both keep on waiting
For something we won’t find
The light on the horizon
Was brighter yesterday
Shadows floating over
Skies begin to fade
You said it was forever
But then it slipped away
Standing at the end of
The final masquerade”
-“Final Masquerade” by Linkin Park
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67th Banawe St.

For me, life was a whirlwind of lights and smoke, music and men. I lived in a beaten up shanty close to North EDSA, crammed in a closet-like room with a bunch of other woman. We slept on mats on the dirt floor and shared the space with mange-infested dogs, flea-bitten cats and cockroaches. My wardrobe consisted mostly of skimpy skirts, tank tops and the cheapest high heels you can buy in Quiapo.

After a hard night at the bars of dancing and exposing myself, sometimes spending time in a back room with a heavily drunk man and my eyes like a dead fish staring at the ceiling, I earned enough cash to go to the thrift shop. The weather in Manila had become chilly at night, and I needed a sweater.

I took a walk down a few streets that smelled of garbage and human urine mixed with the smog from jeepneys, tricycles and trucks that never ended. It wasn’t long before I found a street lined with second-hand clothes, undoubtedly from American charities but somehow grabbed by greedy merchants looking to make extra pesos.

The sweater was like a pearl in murky waters as it lay neatly on top of a bunch of tattered, motley clothes. Wondering how someone had not yet bought it, I quickly took it in my hands and studied the richness of the fabric. It was as soft as a rabbit’s fur and just as warm. Across its front was a large pouch where you could put your hands into for warmth, and that’s where I found the note on a crumpled piece of yellowed paper. It smelled like the section of a library where ancient books could be found. Dust and dank. On the paper where scrawled the words:

Where: 67th Banawe Street
Pay: One thousand pesos a night.
Job: Lie on the bed. From 11pm to 3am, keep your eyes shut. Never open them. Past 3, your money will be on the dresser.

Banawe Street. The note did not say which city, but I recalled the name of a street in Quezon City that one of my roommates used to visit for a client. It was where the more upper class people lived.

I stuffed the note in my pocket and paid the merchant. Only thirty pesos, not bad. The sweater was wonderful on my skin and made me glow like a snowflake. I felt like one of those young starlets on our local Kapamilya TV network. And in my pocket was the promise of an easy, high-paying job. Those came so rarely. I must admit that, even if the job seemed sketchy, the promise of a thousand pesos a night was tempting. I could get myself out of my situation. Maybe go to college. Find a real job.

After a lot of asking and searching, I found the house that night. 67th Banawe Street was in desolate condition, even if it was in an upper class neighbourhood with many closed shops and lightless low-rise apartments. A single story house surrounded by a short wire fence. Yard unkempt, weeds stuck up like tousled hair. Boards moulded, loose, shingles chipped, paint faded. Windows cloaked with dust. Still it was a hundred times better than the shanty I slept in. The light of the patio was on as I approached, and when I knocked, the door opened as if ajar.

I called hello. No answer. The interior smelled aged and sour, like wet laundry left in the wash for days. I stepped inside, leaving the door slightly open so the light from the patio can illuminate my way. The floor felt as if it might give way beneath my weight. I felt the walls pressing in on me, heavy and damp. The place reminded me of a body they had found in the sewage canal close to where I lived. Bloated and bruised, deteriorated. I passed the dark living room. There was a TV, a battered couch. A coffee table with an ashtray and some empty cans. The room reeked of cat urine and dried faeces. No one there. I attempted to turn on some light switches but found them useless. I turned away and headed down a hallway, noticing a pale light glowing beneath a closed door.

I called again. Absolute silence. I clasped the handle and pushed, ignoring the greasy residue it left on my palm. I found a single bed covered in drab sheets, one dresser beside it with a digital clock. It illuminated the time strongly through the darkness.

10:50pm.

Feeling disturbed, I might have turned away. The house was empty. I admit I thought the job was just going to be another man looking for a quick fix, but now I was curious. It didn’t seem that way, and the uncertainty of it unnerved me. But still, one thousand pesos was too good to pass. I needed to find out if it were true.

I lay on the bed with the note in my hands, facing the glow of the clock.

10:54.

I listened. The house made no sound. Muffled as if a hand lay over it. I felt afraid but excited.

10:56.

My heart throbbed from my chest, through my throat, in my head. I imagined the ticking of a clock, tried to match my heart with its beat.

10:59.

I shut my eyes and waited.

11 came. I knew with my eyes closed because the change in the atmosphere was immediate. I was not alone. My eyes were shut, yet I felt it. So close to my face, the minute hairs on my forehead tingled. It breathed. Tight, stressed, as if forced to breathe only from its nose. I felt the air warm the area just above my lips. I smelled it. A sour smell, like pickled gums, and there was something else. Pungent, thick, sweet. The smell of blood.

I resisted the urge to gag. Seconds turned to minutes, and still the presence lingered against my face. My body suffered, paralyzed with fear. I felt every strained breath. In. Out. Slow, afraid. I felt the slightest itch on my body. Prickles against my legs, bites up my thighs, behind my back and neck. Sweat creeping, crawling, brushing upturned hairs and begging me to scratch and move. I didn’t. Bones ached, muscles wept. My heart. My heart struggled like a sparrow caught in someone’s hands.

The presence continued its steady closeness to my face. My forehead glittered with sweat and now began to throb. My nose pricked, twitched. I wondered if it saw that. Even my eyelids sweated, my eyes behind them stiff, shot, scared. Hiding behind lids like frightened children in a closet.

The smell relented. My lungs resisted its entry, asking for me to turn my head away, escape from such a foul smell. Yet I could not. Every part of my body was frozen so long as the thing stared into my face.

Never open them.

My hands still clutched the note. As long as I kept my eyes closed, I thought, nothing could happen to me.

I analyzed the letter in my mind. Repeated those three words. Never open them. Again, ten times. Uncountable times. Stealing myself to start my next move.

I breathed. A long inhale. Sourness and the sickly smell of blood swamped my lungs. I gagged. Coughed. And then I turned. I turned away into the bed, curled myself, fetal-like, eyes clamped shut like vices. And when I relaxed, I felt it. Still there, a hair’s width away from my face. It was hovering, floating! How could the thing have moved with me? I did not feel any weight on the bed during the transition, any sign to suggest that it had crawled over me, moved beside me, and refocused itself against my face.

I allowed a few minutes to pass before I tried again. I moved, slowly, deliberately, sensing it against my face. And it moved with mine, smoothly, soundlessly, until I was completely on my back. My face, eyes shut, staring straight up. The thing looking down upon me, relentlessly. I grimaced, knit my brows, sweated. I wanted to bat at it, but I could not. I was too afraid. All I could clutch on to was the promise that this could end. I waited, ached. Sweated, prayed. It stayed with me. Always there. I could not sleep.

3am.

The digital clock alarmed, and just like that, I was released. The thing that had looked on at my face for four hours was gone. I did not immediately open my eyes. I waited until the sweat on my brows became cold and dry. I listened to my body unlock, one by one, like a warden walking through a prison, releasing the prisoners cell by cell. I could breathe again. My heart pumped, bold and strong. I felt my fingers, the warmth on my skin. I yearned to stretch and let life sizzle through every part of me.

I opened my eyes. One thousand pesos lay on the dresser. One thousand pesos for the horror I had endured. I took it and did not look back as I left.

A week had passed since the night I spent there. Although my money was gone now, spent over things I can’t even remember, the memories from that night had not. Not a moment went by where I wasn’t thinking of the thing that had breathed so close to my face. Could I have been imagining it? Perhaps my fears had been so strong, my mind had created something to justify it. But my senses could not have been tricking me. I smelled it, blood and sour rank. I felt it, warm breath on my face. Who had left the money? What was the presence I felt? And, the question that caused me the most dread: What would have happened if I had opened my eyes?

My return to the house was no longer just for money, but answers.

The evening I returned, I noticed that nothing had changed. The only difference from the first time I had been there were the bed sheets, still crumpled from my use. The effervescent light from the clock was resolute, like a statue’s stern gaze, almost punishing as I lay on the bed.

Just a few seconds before 11pm, I shut my eyes.

The thing appeared close my face exactly on the second. This time my fears were replaced by a studious curiosity. I noticed that right before it arrived, I did not sense anyone walk into the room. Its appearance was fluid, soundless, as if it had materialized from thin air. The thick smell of blood and sourness were consistent with the first time. I turned my head slowly left and right, and every movement was mirrored perfectly by it. Like studying yourself in a mirror, your reflection so close to your face, you could fog it with the breath from your nostrils.

I dared to do the one thing I had not the last night I was here. I brought my hands up to my face, cautiously, feeling my bones creak beneath the tense muscle and cold skin, the sweat building on my frightened palm and fingers. As my hands reached close, they stopped. Protested. Hesitated. My heart banged like wild mice in a cage. I grimaced, summoning all my courage, eyes sweating behind the lids, temples pounding. My hands moved again. The unseen presence continued its breathing, steady, undaunted. Unmoving.

My fingers touched something. I stopped. Every part of my body froze. I could not breathe. The blood on my face swelled as I choked on fear. The breathing from the thing changed. It grew raspy, excited. Its putrid breath hit my face more powerfully. I could not tell my fingers to move. They stayed where they were, paralyzed, touching it. The length of time that passed after, I could not recall, my mind too swamped in fear. All I could remember was that, at last, the lock down of my mind had subsided enough for my fingers to try and comprehend what it was touching.

Hair. Sticky and cold.

My heart banged. My fingers moved, slightly. I felt the firmness of a scalp beneath the hair. The thing continued to breathe as if enthused. Somehow I had managed to detach myself from the paralyzing terror of my body, and now I was moving my fingers like a puppeteer would to his marionette. They followed the curve of the scalp, lowered until I felt skin. The skin felt torn and jagged, and the sticky fluid was thicker there. My fingers passed the broken skin, and now I was palpating what felt like flesh. The flesh of chopped beef parts in the market, sticky and soft.

I lowered my hands. My heart thumped so hard, I thought I might die of heart failure. I was too scared to continue the investigation. It felt like… like I had been touching a severed head.

3am.

Again, I waited until I was relaxed enough before opening my eyes. Like before, one thousand pesos lay neatly on the dresser. My hands, still paralyzed from what they had felt earlier, were clean. I thought they might have been soaked in blood, but there was nothing.

I ran from the house, terrified. Perhaps a ghost was haunting the building, and I promised never to return, no matter how much I needed the money, but that was a month ago. My roommates and I had taken a turn for the worst. Town officials were cracking down on businesses like the one we worked at, and required to show proof that we were tested, just to make sure we weren’t spreading any… diseases. But lab tests required money. The bar managers I worked for were snapping up only those girls who could give him the negative tests quickly, and space was limited. In spite of the fears I felt, the promises I had made to never return, the need for money was greater. After all, hadn’t nothing bad ever happened to me while I was there?

11pm.

The demonic presence returned. I grimaced my eyes tight, determined not to let it scare me. I told myself, the job was easy. Keep my eyes closed from 11 to 3, and I will be paid. Handsomely.

I suppose I had gotten used to the presence, for only a few hours into the night, I found myself fighting the urge to sleep. The rhythm of its breathing lulled me. In. Out. In. Out. Its sour, fetid breath mixed with the sickly sweet smell of blood, perfuming me to sleep. I tried hard to fight it. I failed, and soon sleep’s heavy hand had successfully pressed down on my weary mind.

The girl in my dream was pretty. Slim body, short. Hair long and straight, as dark as the skies in the province. Eyes deep and shadowy. She watched me as I slept. So close to my face… I could place a hand to her cheek and ask why she was there.

“Leave,” she whispered. “Leave.”

Her face grew distorted, and then she started making choking, gagging sounds. I sat up with horror and watched as her skin turned to a ghastly blue. Her eyes bulged and turned red. She was trying to scream, say something, but all I could hear were the hoarse, ragged breathing sounds that watched me… Watched me as I—

And I was awake. By some miraculous reason, I had not opened my eyes, but the room was filled with the same choking, gasping noises I had heard in my dream. The floors shook as if there were some violent commotion happening in the room with me, and then… Silence. Only my beating heart banged in my ears. Still I did not open my eyes. Not now. Not until I could hear the alarm so I can safely take the money and leave. But it did not end there.

The next sound I heard sickened me more than anything I had ever experienced. A rhythmic, moist sound, like someone carving flesh with a saw. And then dripping. A thump as something heavy hit the floor. I heard footsteps, heavy and slow, headed my way. Every inch of my body screamed to open your eyes! Run! I was shaking, sweating, so fear-stricken like a bellowing animal held upside down before its throat was slit. The footsteps kept coming. Breathe! Breathe! I couldn’t! I needed to run! But I couldn’t! I was afraid. I’d lasted for too long keeping my eyes closed. I couldn’t open them, no matter how insane it sounded.

The footsteps stopped, right next to the bed I lay on. The thing was once more pressed close to my face, breathing, gasping. It felt like my muscles would snap under the tension. My fear was like a thousand knifes angled toward my body, the slightest move threatening to kill me. Minutes stretched on, slowly, cruelly. I wanted out. Out of everything. The room. The need for money. The nights with strangers and terror of it all. Call girl. I wanted out. Out. Out!

And then, a blessing like the sun after a typhoon… The sound of the alarm clock.

3am.

I opened my eyes and found myself in an empty room. There was nothing there. Nothing on the floor where I had heard someone screaming and their body being carved. The money on the dresser, but it didn’t matter. I didn’t even grab it. I fled out of the house like a beaten dog.

I could not sleep for the rest of the night. The next morning I sought out some answers to the house I had been visiting. The town captain believed my story that I was sent by a wealthy family to find out if the house was for sale and check if there was any history behind it.

“Years ago, a wealthy man once lived there. He was quiet and kept to himself, seemed to cause no harm to anyone. Every once in a while he took in a call girl to keep him company for the night, but many men did the same. Not much to be suspicious about… until the neighbors smelled something foul coming from his home. They found him in his room with the headless body of a girl on the floor. Who knows how long he had been there with the body, maybe days. He was standing still, like an upright coffin, and in his outstretched hand was the girl’s head. He wouldn’t put it down. Just held it out, so steady and still, his expression dead. They shot him right there.”

The captain opened a drawer and drew out a file. “This is a photo of the girl they believed was killed. She was an orphan, only sixteen. Probably did what she did for the money. The other girls who worked with her said she had been with the man two other times; it was on the third night when he killed her. Here, take it.”

She was the same girl from my dream, but what chilled me more what the sweater she wore in the photo. White and soft. The same one I had found in the second-hand store with the note in the pocket. I thanked the captain, barely able to let out the words.

When I returned to my shanty later that day, I discovered that the white sweater had disappeared from my closet, and so did the note. When I asked my roommates if they had seen or taken it, all I got was the answer no.

I gave up working as a call girl and found a job as a caregiver for an elderly couple. Although the work was hard and slow, I persisted and saved up enough money to start college. Sometimes I pass by the thrift store where I had found the white sweater with the cursed note. I remember the three nights I had spent with the dark presence and how insane I had been, returning even after so much fear. For money… for curiosity. That’s what a call girl’s life did to you. You become jaded to the dangers you repeatedly put yourself into. Sleeping with strangers, potential murderers. Returning for the money and thrill of it. I tried to stuff the memories into the dark cracks of my mind. Forget it. But still I wondered… What if I had opened my eyes?

A few years later, I came upon an article in the news. A small one amongst a few other murders. They always wrote these stories with such detail, and my blood curdled. The body of a call girl had been found, her head severed. The girl’s eyes were wide open.

8-24-79

Day by day
as ashes fall
the cursed land
is covered at dawn

The skies turn grey
as the horses neigh
the world is coming
to an end

barren lands
once happy and prosperous
brought down to the ground
by my own hands

kingdoms rise
weak ones fall
sleep my prince
your day is done

Who am I?

CaptureThe world is a cruel place
but it doesn’t have to be ugly
we wait for so long
for me it felt like eternity

I am the shadow of the man I was
needless to say you had your way
I exist for a reason
that reason you so desperately took away

I am born in this world anew
from your despair I rise again
for only when the moonlight shines
the flowers begin to bloom

Oh no, you are not!
I will return for I truly am
You have no place in this world
there is no “we”

One can deny but one cannot run
the face of the coin is one with its tail
and though the antelope tries to struggle
the lion will always claim its carcass

When a clam opens itself
its pearls and soft insides are taken
a clam closed shut
deemed almost nonexistent

My time may be short but it is a fact of life
I am you and you are I
It is just a matter of perspective
and yours is filled with lies

I will reclaim what is truly mine
though dazed and dazzled with your atrocities
I am the original
no fake can stop me

Even if the fortnight is barren of hope
I will press forward
this is what you would have wanted
might I say otherwise?

Then go, you’ve stayed for long enough
I’d offer my thanks but I guess its needed not

Then your thanks I receive, as sarcastic as it may be
But I hate to say that you’re right, my exodus you shall see

Begone and never return

You need not say so.

Three Things About Communication

Heya! First of all, to all my readers, I’m so sorry for the VERRRRRY long time that I wasn’t able to post. I was kind of busy with pretty much everything else in life hahaha. Anyway, since I still AM busy, allow me to present to you a poem made by an underclassmen and is also a good friend of mine.

Number one
communication is Vital
You can’t be perfect after one recital
It takes practice and mostly a lot of time
Especially if you’re trying to sound sublime

Every nation has a language
If they didn’t they would be in a disadvantage
Dialogue builds great
nations of great
For example in history, big talkers became weavers of fate
Lincoln started out in speeches of politics
As Shakespeare was great in dialogued poetics

Number two
communication is the key
The key to better bonds and understanding
A secret spice that makes everything exciting
It is the bridge that connects us all as one
It is beautiful just as it is fun

We can make words, phrases and even sentences in paragraphs
That conveys man’s ideas and feelings better than pictographs
You can add a beat and even a theme
Which sounds harder that it seems
For communication is key
To make living as fun as it could possibly be

Number three
Communication is a treasure
For all living things
As the bird sings
And the soothing hum of a humming bird
and the joy it brings

As simple as two friends talking
as one is giving and the other receiving
Marvelous!!
I think as I admire such a beautiful thing
Truly, not only for man,
communication is a gift for all that live
As long as it is used with a good motive

Basically, communication is as wonderful and spectacular
as anything can ever hope to be!!

-Blight

Flashback

If you have ever been in a near-death experience, you may have seen your life “flash” before your eyes. I’ve asked several people about this. They said that it was like they went through their whole life in a second. That’s not too far fetched. Your brain likes to avoid stress, so that it does not have to deal with facing death. So if your brain was to think you were going to die, it would go to the easiest way to escape: memory. So when it comes close to the end, your brain turns on every memory you ever had.

The brain will also stay alive for about 7 minutes after you die, provided your brain is intact. So if you have 7 minutes and you can experience your whole life in one second, that’s 60 lives per minute. 420 lives in 7 minutes. That’s a lot of time and a lot of experiences with death.

Coffins

Coffins used to be built with holes in them, attached to six feet of copper tubing and a bell. The tubing would allow air for victims buried under the mistaken impression they were dead. In a certain small town, Harold, the local gravedigger, upon hearing a bell one night, went to go see if it was children pretending to be spirits. Sometimes it was also the wind. This time, it wasn’t either. A voice from below begged and pleaded to be unburied.

“Are you Sarah Bannon?” Harold asked.

“Yes!” The muffled voice asserted.

“You were born on September 17, 1827?”

“Yes!”

“The gravestone here says you died on February 20, 1857.”

“No, I’m alive, it was a mistake! Dig me up, set me free!”

“Sorry about this, ma’am,” Harold said, stepping on the bell to silence it and plugging up the copper tube with dirt. “But this is August. Whatever you are down there, you sure as hell ain’t alive no more, and you ain’t comin’ up.”

What is Heaven? What is Hell?

The pain ended quickly. I rose and tried to find my body. Probably lying mangled underneath the metallic wreck. Dying in a road accident is definitely the worse way to go.

“So! Had a nice life?” asked a voice behind me.

I turned around to find a woman smiling. Since she could see me I was pretty sure she was a soul like me.

She giggled, “You are taking it pretty well. I am Cindy by the way.”

I spoke evenly,” What happens now? Hell? Heaven?”

She laughed louder.
Before I could say something I heard a commotion from far off.

Cindy shouted,” COME ON!” And she ran.

She turned and yelled,” Have you been good?”

“What?”

“Have you done any good while you lived?”

Totally confused, I spluttered,” I…I donated blood once.”

As we reached the source of noise I was dumbstruck to find hundreds of people ripping each other apart in front of a hospital.

I shouted, “WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?”

Cindy replied, “Someone is giving birth here. These souls are fighting to get inside the new born shell.”

“But the baby…”

“LISTEN TO ME…THERE IS NO BABY UNTIL A SOUL PENETRATES IT… If no soul makes it inside, the shell is pronounced dead by doctors.” She continued, “Your fighting strength depends on your Karma. So the soul of a rapist or a paedophile stands no chance. They will never get a shell and will painfully wither away.”

Children are most dangerous. Pure souls. Stay away from them during fights.”

“But what about heaven… and hell?”

“THIS IS HELL! And more importantly, the life you left behind… That is heaven.”

A Road That Never Ends

In California, there once was a road known by most locals as the Never Ending Road. Specifically, the road’s true name was Lester Road. Now, twenty years later, the landscape of Corona has changed, and the Never Ending Road is no more. However, years ago, Lester Road was an unlit road that people claimed to never end when driven at night. The people who made such a drive were never seen from again.

The legend became so well-known that people refused to even drive Lester Road during the day. One night, like many teens my age, I drove up Lester Road, but only a short distance, and in my headlights it did look like it went on forever. Frightened, I quickly turned around, because if I continued up the road, I thought I might never return again.

Perpetuation of the legend convinced local law enforcement to investigate. Lester Road took a sharp left turn at its end, and there were no guard rails. Beyond the curve lay a canyon, and on the other side of the canyon was another road that lined up so well with Lester Road that when viewed from the correct angle, especially at night, the canyon vanished from sight, and the road seemed to continue on up and over the hill on the other side of the canyon. Upon investigation of the canyon, dozens of cars were found, fallen to their doom, with the decomposing bodies of the victims still strapped to their seats.

A Letter Just For You

Don’t dismiss this outright as the work of some raving lunatic. There’s some sense to this story, if you’ll just hear me out…

Look, we all wonder if time travel is possible, right? Well let me tell you something… it is. I’m from the future, actually. I know you probably don’t believe that, but seriously, I’m from the future. It’s a really great thing; getting to see the past, watching events unfold.. stuff like that. We know more now than we ever would.

Behind all the fun, though, there is a more serious aspect. We aren’t supposed to go into our own lifetime, and we are NEVER allowed to contact our past selves. Let me tell you, I’m breaking that rule right now. Yes, kid, you’re talking to yourself. Your future self. I’m going to be executed for this, but you know what? I accept that. I’m preventing something by talking to you that is WORSE than death. I can’t tell you outright what to do, because the filters would catch it. This is the closest I can get, trust me. I can, however, send a little message.

You should probably read the first word of every paragraph, now.