i have to dig into my memory deeper, because this story was only relayed to me by a college acquaintance two, or maybe three, years ago. i remember we were engaged in a frenzy of stories about our childhood days -- and his story stood out, because until this very day, it is still clear in my mind, except for a few hazy details.
so you need to bear with me.
the story takes place in the sleepy island of siquijor, in one of the more obscure poblacions there that bears the name of the spanish conquistadores who had claimed ownership over that wide parcel of land. if my memory serves me right, the name of the town is don herminigilio, and the story takes place during the wee hours of the morning.
at two in the morning, to be exact.
a man, by the name of pedro, or juan -- i can't really recall what his name was, but it was a probinsyano name nonetheless -- was scurrying in the dark. at two in the morning, the night sky was cold, dark, and starless, save for a few tinge of crimson red that pierced through the dispersed cloud formations above.
the nameless man, since there had been no resolution as to what his real identity is, felt his heavy breathing amid the irregular drumming of his heart. he had a reason to be in a hurry after all, since his wife would be giving birth any minute from now. the island's health center was still two poblacions away, but since siquijor's land mass is relatively small, it would only take him roughly 30 minutes to get there.
he would've opted to get a habal-habal ride, but during ungodly hours such as this, the habal-habal operators would have already retreated to their homes, or were in the pier area, patiently waiting for the first ferry trip from dumaguete that would give them their handful of naive tourists who can easily be fooled into forking out their dollars for one quick trip around the mystic island.
his pace hastened as he began to feel the cold streaks of perspiration running down his face. and even when the night was starless, it was not as dark as most nights, and through the dispersed moon streaks, he could see that the early morning breeze had humbled the mais leaves into inevitable submission.
the constant gusts of wind made a sound that was half-eerie, and half poignant.
with his hastened pace, it did not take him long to reach the salagdoong junction, where if he turned left, he would be passing through the asphalted national road, but it would take him a much longer time to get to the health center, or if he would opt to continue treading forward, he would get there much faster.
but he would have to pass through a hectare of cornfields by foot if he chose the latter.
the mais leaves shone under the moon's illumine -- seemingly an invite for him to choose efficiency over conveneince.
hurriedly, he sprinted ahead and chose to pass through the endless maze of cornfields, since clearly, he had no more time to spare.
as he used his hands to fend off the mais leaves that slapped his face with his every step forward, he heard the flutter of the night creatures, and the intensity of the wind's incessant howl. he heard the crackle of the dried leaves that he stepped on, and felt the damp soil that soiled his slipper-less feet with his every movement.
the streaks of perspiration in his face glistened under the moon's radiance, but he was unmindful of all these. he was racing against time, and there was nothing that could slow him down.
except for what he saw just when he was in the heart of mang julio's cornfields.
it was about 20 meters away from him, but he could clearly see the seemingly thick puddle of shiny object that had the sheen and texture of silky black as it slithered its way into the ground, just like a slimy reptile.
he momentarily stopped to have a good look at what he just saw, but he was perplexed to see that it was not there anymore.
'ah, guni-guni lang to nako'.
he moved forward.
he was surprised to see that the slimy puddle was already just about 3 meters away from him.
and when he took one more step, it was already underneath his breath.
it took a long time for his reflexes to take over, so unintentionally, he stepped on the mysterious puddle of impeccable black.
upon instant contact with his foot, the shrilly cry of a newborn infant pierced through the eerie silence of the cornfield.
and just like a snake that had been accidentally stepped on, it slithered its way into the ground and disappeared in an instant.