DISCLAIMER: I do not claim ownership of this work. I just posted it on my blog to show the world how talented we, Filipinos, are. And I know that I owe permission to the author (and illustrator, since it’s originally in comics form) and to Malate Literary Folio of De La Salle University of the Philippines. Please bear with me and my unpermitted blogging of your work 😉
WRITTEN BY JOSE MARIA FERRIOLS TACUJAN (a.k.a. JohnBoy)
Originally printed and published on Vol. XII No. 6, 1995-1996, of Malate Literary Folio entitled M’s Choice Cuts.
“Not all monsters are muntitenticular things that hide in shadows. Sometimes they are those we trust and call friends.”
She sat several chairs away during our college freshman Philosophy class. Learned, intelligent but naive to the point of near innocence. That is how I’d like to remember her. Despite all that had happened to her because of me and the magic that I wield, that is how I’ll always remember her. I tell myself that what happened wasn’t my fault, but in hindsight I know that the fault is mine. Acting not out of good faith but of calculated greed.
The trouble with maguses such as myself is on the path of magic that we tread, everything has repercussions. Magic is something you can’t pick up and drop like a bad habit, it demands more than what you can possibly give. Sadly, even those who are close to you get sucked into the lunacy you’re in. That’s worse, because at least you’re in it out of your own volition, the ones around you aren’t. Everything we do is dictated by magic, no matter how small and mundane they seem because everything a magus does has an inclination to ripple.
The day she approached me with her problem is still clear in my head because it’s the day I repaid the trust of a sweet girl with premeditated deception. . . .
“Hey Anthony! Hold up!” (Chel)
“Chel. What’s up?” (Anthony)
“Uy, do you know Jennifer Ferrer?”
Jenny is a dear friend since the fifth grade back in our home town of San Dimetreo, and I told her precisely that. “She’s my roommate! Small world, huh?”
“Yeah. Well, see ya…”
“Wait! Can you meet us at the dorm’s canteen tonight at seven? I’ve a problem Jenny says you can help with.”
I wish I could say that it was her hand that stopped me from walking away but I knew it was her eyes. There was something in her expression that unhinged me. It had the look of someone scared, confused and desperate. The way a person would look after they realize that they were being dragged out to sea by a vicious undertow. Besides, it was an opportunity to see Jenny again after a long time.
On the hour of seven, there they were. Sitting and chatting on the farthest bench in the canteen.
“Ladies…” Minutes of idle talk passed. Then I asked about Chel’s problem. A moment of silence passed as they pieced together the words to describe their predicament.
She spoke haltingly, as though the question was so absurd that she was ashamed to ask. “Jen tells me you’re a… magician?”
I sighed, Jenny could never keep that secret of ours. “Well, that depends.”
“Depends on what?”
“On what your definition of magician is. If you mean a ‘stage magician’, with the card tricks and the cutting-a-girl-in-half bit, my answer is no. But if you mean a ‘magus’ with the exorcism and spells, then my answer is yes.”
“I mean the second one. Listen, I think that there’s another magician after me. Jen says you can help me out.”
I sat up straight and bade her to continue, her words interested me. Since high school, I had been practicing my magic on normal people, and I’ve been successful so far. It’s not all that hard to pull the wool over normal people, but the thought of pitting my abilities against a magical opponent.
“There’s this guy, right? He calls himself Dexter. He hangs out by the store benches. Well, you see… this guy… he’s…” She paused and cast her gaze downward. It seemed as though she was going to tell me the deepest and most shameful secret she kept. “He’s got this big crush on me and he’s not subtle about expressing it.”
“So, when’s the wedding?” Jenny elbowed me under the table. Her face was grim, she was dead serious.
“He really goes out of his way for me to notice him. Walks me down the corridors, buys stuff for me, love letters, the works!”
“What’s your problem then? You should be at least flattered with the attention he gives you!”
“He’s not my type.”
“As if that’s not bad enough, he’s mentally undressing me. I can feel all the sick things tha goes on in his head while his eyes go wandering all over me.”
“A person’s routine is the easiest to discover. He just waits for you in the places he knows you pass. There’s nothing magical about that!”
“That’s just it! He’s here one minute, when I look back, he’s gone! Next thing I know, he’s in front of me again. It’s like he vanishes when I pass him only to show up ahead of me! He’s stalking me! Besides he’s so annoying! I try to avoid him, but he keeps
outside. Their floor was slowly filling with it’s occupants, I stayed longer than I expected.
“Uh-oh. The five-fifty classes must have let out. The other boarders will be coming soon.”
“Hey, you’ve got to go. If you’re spotted here, we’ll all be in trouble.”
“Yeah, I’d better. I’m going home over the weekend to dig up a few counter spells out of Dad’s old occult books.”
Jenny peeked outside and gestured to me that it was all clear. I could slip out of the girl’s dorm without being seen. There would be no worries about me getting spotted in here. Not after I cast the Arcane Spell. That would hide me from anyone, won’t turn me invisible but it will render me beneath people’s notice.
Monday mornings are when Dad drives me to the dormitory and help me unload fresh clothes and supplies for the coming week.
“Hey, Mr. Biglangalab!”
“Jennifer. How are you?”
“Oh, pretty much the same… Meet Chel, she’s my roommate.”
“Hello, Chel… Are you all right? You look pale, dear.”
Beside Jenny stood Chel, her face was as pallid as the full moon that hangs over our fields in Cavite during the summer months.
“Check this out…” Jen handed me a piece of scented stationery that bore Chel’s name. Jenny watched expectantly as my face twisted in revulsion as I read. You’d have expected the note to contain something sweet and romantic, but the contents veered in the opposite direction. The message was obscene. I didn’t bother to finish it, as I threw it away disgustedly. It was from Dexter.
Dad left about an hour later, he wished me well. Told me to study conscientiously and warned against using magic wantonly. We gathered in the rec (receiving) room and watch Chel break down. She was distraught, Dexter had finally broken her. I realized that this was now personal. I no longer cared what I would get out of this. All that mattered was that creep was screwing my friend up bad.
“Are you going to help out or what? That bastard’s got more than enough time to make his move!”
“I’m on it. But I’ve got to find his altar on the roof, just to check on how much power he’s got. I’m going this afternoon.”
“Wait! I’m coming along.” Chel said.
“It’s taking a lot of guts to do what you’re doing now, Chel. Listen, what we’re going to see on his altar may shock you. I’m used to seeing stuff like this, it’s you I’m worried about.”
“It’s got to end someday.” Without speaking or looking at me, she committed herself by twisting the doorknob open and stepping out to the roof.
His altar was there, in all it’s sacrilege. “He’s got sigils of protection, summoning and bargaining. He’s making a deal with one of the Lower Circle Demons.”
I ran a finger across the red circle, then rubbed it with my thumb. After taking a sniff, I drew back my head with revulsion and gagged. A smell that putrid could only be menstruation. “This Dexter is pathetic. You couldn’t raise rats out of a garbage can with this puny conjuring.”
“How can you tell?”
“To properly conjure up summoning spells for the Fallen Angels, you need three primary things: virgin blood to draw the pentagram with, black candles made from the fat of a condemned man, and a purely selfish motive. Those are more than requirements, you see. They symbolize your willingness to stray from the path of god and into the inferno. I bet he found a book of spells and improvised on the ingredients.”
Check it out, his altar has store bought candles, and his pentagram has menstruation on it. His ‘virgin blood’ must be from a discarded sanitary napkin. How he got the blood out of the gel is beyond me.
Demonic Summoning is a powerful rite. It shouldn’t be done without careful preparation. And improperly executed ritual could do more damage than one done properly. I doubt that he could call anything with this kind of an altar.
It all came to a head three days after we found his altar. I was in the canteen trying to eat a dinner of what looked like chicken but tasted like phlegm when the screaming began. “Chel…”
“Hey! You’re not allowed up here! Stop!!!” [the den mother warned]
By the time I reached their floor, worry [anxiety] was gnawing at the back of my head. Something felt wrong, like the feeling you get when you leave for a long trip and think that you’ve forgotten something.
I found Jenny sprawled on the corridor. She stirred as I lifted her head, she was alive, thank goodness. “Chel…”
I tried the door, it was locked. I took a few steps back and rammed the door with my shoulder. [It didn’t open.] It’s funny how that always works in the movies but never in real life.
“Here..” [Jenny offered their room’s key.]
I pulled out the paper in which I copied several of my father’s spells and… *Shkrvoooomm*
The spell was designed to hold anyone it was cast upon. He was in NO danger. Suddenly, Dexter made rough gasping noises. The tentacles around his neck had begun to melt through his skin!
“Anthony, what’s going on? Why is it doing that?”
“I don’t know! Something’s
wrong. Something’s messing with my magic!!” The tentacles continued to eat through Dexter’s neck until they burst his jugular vein. A fountain of blood sprayed out of his damaged neck and emptied itself on the walls and carpet. I felt the sensation of raw fear shoot up my spine and paralyze my brain.
“I thought you said you knew what you were doing? That you were a real magician?”
“I am, the only way a counter spell for devil-empowered magic would fail is if…” And the answer came to me as Dexter fell to the floor, his dead eyes bulged at us accusingly.
“If the devil that empowered him was present…” Immediately, Chel dug her fingers into my arm. Something made itself felt in the room. Something terrible… malevolent. But the room was empty, nothing was in here save the two of us. So where could it be?
It’s behind us!! The goddamn thing is behind us! Whispering, I told Chel not to turn around. I could feel it leering at us with eyes that had not seen mercy since it was cast out of Heaven. I grabbed Chel’s arm to try and guide her but she misinterpreted my actions, turned around and saw it.
We Christians have this habit of giving angels human traits; anthropomorphism, I think it’s called. It makes us understand them a little better if we view them as one of us and not as something so celestial that the human ideation cannot even come close to picturing their true form. Understand this: the same is true for demons. It’s been imprinted by Rennaissance painters that they look like deformed human beings animal parts to make them appear more blasphemous. God knows what Chel saw when she turned around that afternoon.
A few months later, I spoke to her sister. She answered in a cold, dismissive manner as I asked about Chel and how she was doing in the asylum. If she knew that I wasn’t to blame, she made no effort to show it. And I couldn’t tell her how sorry I was, how I hoped that she would forgive me for what happened to her sister. I didn’t want to cheapen her grief by making excuses.
Jenny knew that it wasn’t my fault. That I didn’t mean for Chel to go insane. And Jenny tried her best to persuade her, but she never listened. I suppose I should make an effort to explain myself, but I won’t bother. The one person I should be explaining all this to won’t listen to me. And I can’t honestly say that I blame her.
I’m leaving this dormitory, no sense in staying in a place filled with bad memories. And I don’t think that I can live with the accusing glare that Chel’s sister gives me every time we pass each other. She never forgave me for what happened, and secretly neither did I. What worries me is that evil, once unleashed, has a tendency to echo. Evil never truly leaves, it just waits. Waits for someone to pick up where the others left off. And in a dorm with this large an amount of boarders, it’s just a matter of time before it starts up again. . .