Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Before Death


This is a prequel and an explanation for Beyond Death.
                                                                                                                                      
Darkness shrouded my town as the power went out. It wasn’t the first time in the last few weeks. Rotating blackouts seem to be a thing in this small town lately.
 Though I am only guided by candlelight, I could still see something out there. It flew into the night sky and shortly after, the lights went back. From what I could make out, it looked almost human. But with wings.

I told my mom what I saw. She remarked that I probably saw an angel. I, however, thought it may be something else.

-----

More blackouts were expected to happen for the next few days.

I met with a few friends and narrated my tale of a winged creature I saw last night. At first, I expected them not to believe me, but, they told me their own sightings as well. We began to compile related stories we’ve come across. Some say that it was the angel of death, and that he appears whenever someone in town dies.  Others say it was a harbinger of doom bringing future disasters.

One friend insisted that her uncle met the creature who told him “Fear not.”

-----

The news reported about the death of a teenager named Saul. He was expected to head home after meeting with his project groupmates but was found dead at the local cemetery. Investigation is on-going.

At school, my classmates chit-chatted about yesterday’s news. I caught wind of talks about another sighting of the angel. Rumors started to spread that the angel was actually a malevolent entity that killed Saul. Some went far to say that the angel caused the blackouts. I shuddered at the thought.

-----

After class, I accompanied my friend whose uncle claimed to have seen the angel. Curiosity gripped me and I began to inquire.

“Heard the stories?”
“Yup.”
“They say that the angel is a bringer of doom.”
“That isn’t true.”
“Your uncle met the angel, right?”
“Yeap. The angel told him ‘Fear not.’”
“Go on.”
“The angel warned him of incoming disasters. Right now, my uncle is trying to convince the officials. But, as they say, to see is to believe.”
“If your uncle saw the angel, what did it look like?”
She stopped in her tracks. “Nothing like what we thought it would look like.”
“What do you mean?”
“We were taught that angels were beautiful winged beings. But, he saw the true face of the divine. And it was horrible.”

-----

Dark clouds have been looming as I get closer to home.

I was greeted by our family cat when I got inside. “Your belly seems weird” I said as I petted her. “She’s pregnant, sweetie” I heard my mom say. “Expect to have kittens soon.”

I was excited. The thought of having tiny cats around the house lightened me from the scary stories I’ve been hearing. Thunder was heard outside and rain started to pour down. I could see from my window that the sky looks too dark for this time. Lightning flashed. For a split second, I saw something flying in the sky.

-----

Rain continued for days and classes were suspended for an incoming storm. There was news of a sudden appearance of a huge population of rats in town. Drainage has been flooded driving the vermin out of their homes and into the surface.

The rat problem got worse in the succeeding days. Households have been plagued with this army of food thieves along with raising concerns of a possible spread of a disease. Rain has grown weaker, but the overloaded drainage leaked black water into the streets. The media even highlighted the discovery of a group of rats entangled together by their tales. This mesh of rodents was collectively called a rat king.

At home, our pregnant cat happily slayed these invaders. We tried to contribute with the kill count as well. Our swimming pool was also flooded with them, both living and dead. Clean-up is gonna be disgusting.

-----

I heard the sound of wings flapping one night. Frightened, I hid under the covers. Moonlight shone through my window. Now, something blocked it darkening my room. I peeked out of my blanket. That’s when I gasped.

“Fear not” it said. I screamed as I got a glimpse of its face that stared at me. I couldn’t really see it clearly, but I did panic enough to alert my parents to my room.

They turned on the lights. My window looked normal. Dad looked around and saw nothing. Mom checked if I was okay. They reassured me that it was just a nightmare.

From the room, we heard a slight mewing. Then a high pitched meow. We investigated the source of the noise and found that our cat had given birth to three kittens in the attic. I suddenly felt more calm at the sight of the newborn.

Time passed, and the kittens were old enough to eat solid food and follow their mother around. At this time, the rat population has been dying out. Some even resorted to cannibalism leaving behind chewed bloody carcasses in the streets.

While I watch the kittens happily play in the garden, I still can’t help but feel uneasy as more sightings of the angel had been reported.

-----

One particular kitten was rather frail. It couldn’t keep up with his fellow siblings and barely ate. We brought the entire cat family with us to the vet. We had a hard time convincing the mother cat that we’re taking her son to a doctor. At least the poor little kitty has company.

On our way, earthquake took us by surprise. With a collapsing building eminent, we got out of the car. The building fell and smashed the vehicle. We got out in time with the kittens in a cardboard box. The mother cat, however, was not so lucky. I began to cry as I looked upon the dying cat. Her paw seemed to be raising towards a direction. Then, she departed. I looked at where she was pointing. In the cloud of dusts that fell, I see a shadowy figure with wings. “Look out!” I heard it spoke.

“Huh?” I felt someone pushed me from behind. I fell on to the ground. I looked behind me and saw my mother crushed by a huge debris. This can’t be happening. More clouds of dust enveloped as the winged being approached me.

“Stay back!” I yelled at it.
“No” I heard it spoke in a choir-like voice. “I’ve been told that so many times as I try to help…”
“What are you!?” I asked in panic.
“… and each time I say, ‘Fear not!’”

The angel flapped its wings and swept the dust cloud away. He vanished. Ambulance arrived at the scene shortly. The frail kitten died along with its mother and my own mom. It was the last sighting of the angel.

-----

It’s been years since the earthquake that wrecked my place. The community has already been rebuilt. Drainage systems had been properly repaired and upgraded to accommodate excessive rain to prevent floods.

The surviving kittens grew up and each had its own family. I sometimes take time to admire their kittens that play in the garden. Sometimes, I find them chasing grasshoppers in the garden.

Today, my daughter and her friends were happily playing in my garden admiring the little kittens. I looked at my watch and told the kids that it’s getting late and that they should head home.

My daughter gave her goodbye to everyone but there was one kid that caught my attention.

“Goodbye, Paul!” I heard my daughter say.
“Is that your boyfriend?” I asked her teasingly.
“Mom, no!”
“He seems like a good kid.”
“No way, mom! I only like him as a friend.”
“Ha! I bet I’d see you two married years from now.”

I later learned that Paul frequently visits the cemetery. I found him one time I was visiting my mother’s grave. I asked if he lost anyone. The only thing he could tell me was that he didn’t really know. Now that I think about it, he never visited a grave. He seems to be admiring an angel statue set up in the cemetery.

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