Bakunawa Mawala busted open the door to his little apartment in downtown Cebu and promptly shut it. He gave his place a quick look; a small wooden bed near a too-large window, a full-body mirror to its left, a cabinet to the other side, and in a corner, a disorganised pile of smelly used clothes.
He grunted; he couldn’t believe how filthy his room had become. He was going to have a date later, and obviously, he can’t bring his girl here, even for… no, especially for some loving.
He cringed at the idea. Oh, how will he ever face her again if she were to see the pathetic state of his room! She might even think of him as a terrible person because of it---!
“Damn,” he said. Laying himself down gently on his wooden bed, he closed his eyes and stared at the ceiling. “I guess I’ll have to clean this up later.”
Bakunawa looked to the side at his mirror and got an idea. Pushing himself off the bed, he landed in front of the mirror and, with haste, stripped himself naked.
He gave himself a look-over and cursed. He realised that it was a bad idea to leave the gym—his body has started to gain some fat and one wouldn’t be lying if one were to say that he gained half of his original weight. His indigo hair has grown too long for him as well and made him look a bit like a girl.
Looking down, he touched his wiener, and then patted it gently as if he were petting his favourite pet dog. “Don’t worry,” he said to his member. “You shall lose your virginity later…”
All of a sudden, his eyes became blank and with a hollow, lifeless voice, whispered to the air, “...I think.”
He marvelled in his form for a few seconds with a dreamy haze about him. It’s almost as if it belonged to someone else’s body. This fat bastard can’t be him, who once won a highly prestigious fitness contest, right?
After a few long seconds, his soul returned to reality and realising the direction his thoughts were going just a while ago, laughed. He laughed at his own pathetic, fat body and his virginity. But most of all, he laughed his self-denial. After all, he could recover the glory of his body with some exercise, right?
Well, that… and some steroids maybe.
Still laughing his arse off, he was about to dress himself for his date when suddenly, he felt as if someone were embracing him. He felt a presence wrap its arms around him and a wonderful, comforting sensation took his senses. It was as if his worries were severed and now he lay in heaven, his woes a league too many far away from him to be of a bother. It was as if some heaven-sent angel felt his misery and came to ease his soul.
He stood there for what seemed to be an eternity, shedding tears and emotion that he never let out for how long…? Seven years? Eight years? Must have been something like that. In the twenty years that he has lived, he was never one to open his floodgates freely and the last time he did so was when he was a snotty little kid.
There was a knock by his door, followed by someone calling him out, but he heard not, for he was at bliss, and his self in peace. The entire material world meant nothing to him now, now that he…
There was a loud crash and that glorious feeling promptly left him as someone stomped into the room, fuming and with a red face.
Startled, Bakunawa turned around and frowned at the intruder. His crimson eyes met an obsidian pair that reflected him in full. He saw a distinctive mohawk, a wide, gaping mouth and the shock evident on a familiar, square-shaped face.
A second later, he managed to snap out of his shock and scream, “Felix?”
He felt tension building up in his body; did his best friend, of all people, just walk in on him inspecting his body? He felt violated, hurt, and ashamed, a deep blush painting his paler-than-normal yellow skin a bright red.
Felix Gozon, his long-time friend, had entered the room forcibly when he received no response from the other side of the door even when he shouted like hell for his friend. He was infuriated then, thinking that maybe his friend forgot all about a trip to the southern island of Mindanao as soon as he entered the room or worse, committed suicide. He has been strange ever since a horrible incident a year past, and that made him worry for his friend’s mental health a bit.
As soon as he saw his friend staring into nowhere in front of the mirror, naked, he suddenly felt horrible about disrupting his friend. Something spoke in the back of his mind that he just ruined something beautiful, and, he even felt worse when his friend turned around and faced him.
When he saw his friend in front of the mirror with a black, pleased look, he, for a moment, thought that maybe his friend was some sort of narcissist, though that assumption quickly shattered when he saw the confused and shocked look on his friend’s eyes.
Felix thought that he recognised the look of a drug addict in Bakunawa, and was thinking about recommending him to a drug recovery asylum when his thoughts were halted suddenly by an ear-splitting scream.
Bakunawa, as one would expect a man caught in an embarrassing moment, got into a fit of rage. It took thirty minutes before Felix successfully calmed his friend down, who, now dressed, told him about the strange feeling he felt before he busted in.
“Seriously bro, I felt like I was floating,” Bakunawa said to Felix, both of them sitting side-by-side on the wooden bed. The stranger of the two had his elbows resting on his knees and his hands combing his hair while the other crossed his legs, a cigarette between his lips.
Felix nodded, then, with a voice that said a lot about his disbelief, he said, “Mmhmm, cool story bro. Are you sure you are not taking any drugs and stuff?”
“I’m takin’ no mothafuckin’ drugs,” growled Bakunawa as he slammed his right fist into his wooden bed. A mistake, for he missed the flat surface and ended up slamming his fist against the edge of the furniture instead. He recoiled and whimpered quite pathetically as he held his hurt hand tight against himself. His voice now tiny and meek, he said, “Please… believe me.”
Felix raised an eyebrow and, with a sigh, said, “Alright, I believe you. So, stop hurting yourself, will ya?”
His friend gave him a weak nod, still holding his now-swollen hand against his chest. Feeling sad for the whimpering person beside him, he gave him a few consoling pats on his back. “My,” he thought. “Where did that old jolly toughie Bakunawa of last year go to? He’s become a wimp in such little time.”
The wimp suddenly realised something and, straightening his back, he turned to Felix and asked, “Hey, Felix. Remember that I was about to go on a date with Marie? Do you have any good clothes with you?”
It dawned onto Felix why his friend became entranced in front of the mirror like that. He mixed up his past memories with his newer ones yet again and thought that he was about to go on a date with his girlfriend and not pack his things for the trip.
It saddened him, for until a year ago, these things never happened to his friend. It was ever since that unfortunate incident that his mind and gradually fell into ruin.
A grim look on his face, Felix said, “That date with her was one year in the past and you already finished it,” looking at his friend’s face, which was seized by confusion yet again, he added, “She is away on a trip. She won’t return for a long, long time.”
“Yes, your dear Marisa de Corazon won’t be around you for a while.”
Hearing that name somehow filled the red-eyed man’s heart with sadness and a grave sense of loss. Despite the feeling, he steeled himself and his will that his beloved shall be in his arms once again.
“I shall wait for her return then,” said Bakunawa with determination in his eyes. “Even if it takes me forever, I shall wait for her.”
“What a hopeless romantic,” thought Felix as he patted his friend’s back once more. “He didn’t seem to get what I meant though. Ah, well… we’re leaving in two days. He’ll be alright by then.”
Two days after that incident in that small, messy room, both Bakunawa and Felix joyfully leaped out between the gates of Cagayan de Oro airport just in time to get in the way of a young lady photographer, ruining her shoot and fleeing the scene as rapidly as they could as the lady threw profanities their way.
Cagayan de Oro airport is different from many other airports in that it was built on top of a range of hills and was surrounded not by tall skyscrapers, but scenic trees and mounds of green. A perfect place for a photographer to be, should one be interested in verdant scenes with spectacular waves of lightly forested earth.
Laughing maniacally, the duo ran past rows and rows of pastel-coloured houses, their luggage trailing behind them and making nearly as much noise as their own boisterous laughter.
They heard radio stations warning them about a bunch of Mafioso from southern Italy visiting the city they were running through and attacking people that interest the gang, but the two ignored them and went on, brimming with excitement at the prospect of messing around with a few people while touring the place.
Before long, the two tired out and collapsed by the sidewalk, Bakunawa fishing for a bottle of some kind of energy drink from his pack, while Felix collapsed against his own baggage. The two were breathing heavily, but even so, it seemed like they were not yet done, and neither of the two seem to be willing to stop short of running until their hearts burst.
Bakunawa looked at the path left to run; it would the two of them two hours of more running before they could reach the downtown while Felix looked back at how far they have gone, and it seemed to be a lot. He estimated the money they saved from their taxi fare while running to be close to twenty pesos, and while not really a lot, every coin counts.
“Hey,” said Felix, his head slumped back against his bag. “Want to run some more?”
“No thanks. It would be dusk before we arrive if we kept on running,” replied Bakunawa. A taxi would have been a better alternative to running at this point, for the sun was already at its zenith and was beating down on them hard.
Felix nodded and as if on cue, a yellow taxi cruised by conveniently. Bakunawa waved it down and, as soon as they finished loading their baggage, collapsed into the back seat. “Bring us to the marketplace, sir,” said Felix to the old, kindly-looking and smiling man at the wheel. Why not? The two were starving and finding a hot meal sounded like a good idea.
The driver’s face turned pale and his smile became a sad frown for a second before he said, with a forlorn ring to his voice, “Give me half pay.”
The two sighed happily as they collapsed completely into the seat. However, for all their happiness, Bakunawa couldn’t help but feel that going to the marketplace was somehow a mistake, with the driver acting all strange and giving them such a wonderful offer and all, but he was too tired to think about it and closed his eyes.
He opened them a few times along the way and casually observed the daily life of the people around him before closing his eyes yet again. Traffic slowed them down a few times, but despite that, in an hour, the two were dropped by at the marketplace and as requested by the driver, they paid half the usual rate. They thanked the driver before he went away. The driver replied with a quick ‘you’re welcome’[i] in the city’s dialect of their shared Bisaya tongue before driving off, his face stiff, as if he were a man condemned to stand in front of a firing squad.
Footsteps calmly approached them, but they didn’t notice it, for they were too busy talking about what to eat; restaurants surrounded them like exhibits in a museum, and they all looked promising.
They did not notice the man in a black suit with a suspicious black fedora approach them from behind. When they did, it was too late and the man had held a magnum against Bakunawa’s back. Speaking in vernacular, with a dry Italian accent, the man said, “No sudden movements, amico. Turn around slowly.”
Shocked, the two of them slowly turned around. They could feel tension in the air as the man slowly raised the tip of his barrel from Bakunawa’s chest to his forehead.
“Tell me, Amico. How are you with that man who brought you here?” he asked, still in vernacular, his tone calm.
Felix had no idea as to what was going on, except that they are being threatened by a mafia type that obviously isn’t a native speaker of the Bisaya language. Stuttering, he gave the only answer he could. “H…he was a taxi driver! H…he… he drove the taxi and-”
A loud gunshot rang through the marketplace and it was only at this time that the two realised that the marketplace was deserted; it seemed to have gone quiet as soon as the man shoved the barrel of his gun against Bakunawa’s back.
However, despite the seeming emptiness, they could feel eyes all over them, trained to watch their each and every movement. Felix tensed up; he never expected this and sure as hell he did not come to Cagayan to be killed by visiting Mafioso.
Now that he thought about it, he chided himself that he did not do so much as listen to the news. He remembered fuzzily about a broadcast from a particularly loud radio that the mafia came to make demands to a gun-shop owner who had failed to provide them with weapons for over a month. He also remembered that the gun-shop was supposed to be in the marketplace area.
However, while his friend slowly drowned in fear, Bakunawa could feel himself feeling hyper. He was not shot, for the Mafioso had merely shot the sky as a warning for his friend, and that made him even more excited.
Surprising everybody, even the Mafioso, he suddenly started laughing like a maniac. “This is precious,” he spat out. “You want to challenge me, old man?”
The Mafioso tensed up and Felix could see the hand on the gun shake in anger. No sane person would insult an armed Mafioso, and especially not with eyes all around, watching them.
The Mafioso slowly raised his hand and pressed the tip of his gun on the apparently insane person. “You know,” said the Mafioso after he spat on the ground in front of the man before him. “It’s a bad idea to insult a Mafioso, amico. And you just did.”
He backed off slightly and pulled out a small black box with a retractable antenna and a single red button. Not lowering his gun, he tossed it into the air and caught it by its antenna, pulling it to its full length. A wicked grin on his face, he asked, “Do you know what happened to the last person to defy my mafia, amico?”
The Mafioso pressed the button and in the distance, a loud explosion could be heard along with what seemed to be police sirens. “That,” he said in the flat voice of a discipline officer and his grin widening as he saw the mortified look that sank into Felix’s face.
Felix tensed as he saw the Mafioso pack his gun; they were a goner, for sure. He was sure that he could wrestle the gun out of the man quite easily, but even if he were to do so, then he and Bakunawa would be shot mercilessly by the men in the shadows.
If humans were able to get drunk on the fear of others, then the Mafioso must have been already, for the look on his face was wonderfully terrifying when he pushed his gun against the side of Bakunawa’s head. “Let’s get back to you then, Amico. I hope you have said your pra-”
He stopped suddenly and his face turned blue when he heard sirens approach them, and not just from a small team of cops, but from what seemed to be a whole squad, for he could hear helicopters and the roar of trucks among the growling of everyday police cars.
The Mafioso took a step back, hesitating. This was trouble… was he turned in by the flaming prick before the car bomb blasted him? Damn him! Damn him to hell!
With hurried steps, the Mafioso ran towards a black Ferrari parked nearby and was joined briefly by several other men in black, all of which looked like him from where Felix stood, save for a ridiculously obese and short chap wearing a red shirt and enough jewellery to make him a moving, living gold mine.
The fat man got in on the driver’s side and brought the sleek metal beast to life with a loud, awesome roar. Its eyes shone like a pair of sinister evil stars behind red glass, filling the deserted marketplace with a demonic red light.
Felix fled into one of the open restaurants and hid while the other, for some unknown, insane reason, stayed in place. The beast lurched forward, sped up and, moving too fast for him to evade, ran over Bakunawa, backed up, and made a beeline for the only way out of the marketplace, which was built in the fashion of a cul-de-sac.
One of its rear windows rolled down and a person popped out of it up to his waist. He started shooting at the restaurant where Felix was hiding filling the poor man’s heart with fear. The sound of gunfire shook the air like a war drum and broken glass flew like rain in monsoon season.
The sirens were louder now, and just as the Ferrari was about to make a successful escape, two police cars and an army track with the American flag on it blocked its way. The black demon whined like a cornered beast would and backed off. More men from within popped out of the windows and desperately started shooting at the servants of the law, who themselves pulled out their rifles and submachine guns.
The sound of gunshots was no longer the beating of war drums and the orchestra of chaos took its place: Tires screeched, bullet casings tinkled against the ground with music like windchimes, all nearby men and women wailed in horror and engines roared. Guns popped like firecrackers in Christmastime and bullets whistled like a thousand jets, filling the air with the sound of war.
There was a crunch as the Mafioso car ran over Bakunawa’s inert body once more, and then, without warning, a hidden car bomb suddenly burst.
[I]Somewhere in Italy, a mafia capo was observing the expedition, which he financed. He wanted to seek out and interrogate one of their rogue gun dealers and sent a five-man team with one of the lesser bosses act as the expedition leader. It was going well until they somehow got cornered by the local police and American military. He deemed them a worthless cause and a threat lest they spill the beans about the mafia and detonated a small remote-control bomb he attached for safety.
He revelled in the sight of a blank screen, for the miniature camera he used to keep track of their movements had gone up with the flames. Satisfied of a job well done, he turned and left.
There was a loud, deafening climax as the black demon went up in fire and smoke. The men within it had not even a second to scream as their lives were suddenly and mercilessly burned off.
As the slain beast burned in the flames of its demise, the police closed in on it warily and, underneath it, charred and stiff, was the body of Bakunawa.
Frantic yelling took to the air as the police pulled out the body and did their best to keep all onlookers away. Water was poured on Bakunawa’s darkened form. “He’s alive,” somebody said.