Imagination's the limit…

Posts tagged “Story

Valkyrie – War Maidens Teaseract

It’s been 10 long years since the Dragonborn disappeared in the ashes of Helgen after a vicious attack from the Dragon Alduin. Bound for execution, she was believed to have died scorched by the inferno that raised the helpless town to the ground. Little be known that the flames could only do so little to kill her fiery spirit. As Dovakin, she rose from the ashes and with her, a new order, The Valkyries of Tamriel. 

EP 1 - War Maidens CoverOkay, so I must embarrassingly admit that it took me a year before I could post something up this Blogspace. *sigh* Been caught up with a lot of things lately. From working two jobs day and night, to working on my own personal business, not to mention playing the stock market… You could literally say I’ve been killing myself for the whole year. hahaha

Anyhow God’s been really great to me by far. Fixed some personal troubles from family, to finances, to broken relationships. He’s given me a second chance at life and it’s never been better!  I realized that it was my responsibility to mend the troubles going on around me. I was the missing key and the only reason these troubles were going on was because I turned my back on them. I usually run away from anything that bothers me. Yet through my experiences at work and business and avid gaming and bible reading, I realized you NEVER turn your back on your troubles. As matter in fact! You face them!

It sucks to realize that a little bit later in life but hey! It’s never too late! And with that… I can surely smell success close by… no kidding man! hahaha

As for love life? uhh… hmmm.. eeehhh… fine! It’s an embarrassing zero! Nil! Nada! Pffft! Naaah! Just kidding! I didn’t jump into one yet because I knew I’d be investing most of my time career-wise. It wouldn’t be fair for the lady if I wouldn’t make time for her whoever she is. I just believe she deserves to be treated right with the affection and care a woman normally needs.

Although I won’t deny I have my eyes bewitched by one gal and one gal only. Celia. Yeap, you heard me right. That time I decided to ask her out was the time I decided to shut my doors from anyone else and as the One-Woman guy that I am… here I am… Transfixed on a wishful dream. hahaha

Seriously man, I personally wanna build myself up to be the right man whether it be for her or whoever God has in store for me. I just want her to have the best of my y’know (shocks! so cheesy! hahaha). Yet since I am so entranced by her, that lead me into making one of this fictional stories that… as I said earlier, “a dream that only I know.” hahahaha poor me… hahaha

So now you know the story of what lead me into writing this fan-made non-canon story. I’ve been playing a lot of Skyrim during my free time so this idea came in. This one would be dedicated to her though (amazing what inspiration could do to you… ahhhhh <3_<3).

The story revolves around this girl named “Celina.” She is known to be the dragonborn or the dovakiin or in simpler terms, dragon whisperer. Experience adventure with her as she travels the province of Skyrim where she’d meet several other interesting characters who’d eventually form the Valkyrie Order. I won’t spoil you guys on her back story though. I’ll leave that for the comic strips to tell.

As for now… lemme just post some photos to tease you guys. :))

Comic TestThe story would be told in semi-comic strip style so expect lots of images on the “e-book.” (called it e-book because I couldn’t publish it as a real book… besides, this is all just for fun, non-profit stuff.)
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So that’s about it I could show you guys for now. hehe Now wait till the whole comic is done! *evil laugh* muhahahaha

Just kidding! I’ll be posting the whole comic here anyways so stay tune! 😉

PS – Credits for the cover photo goes to the respectful owner. Sorry I don’t know his/her name but if you find it in my blog and you know it’s yours! Credits goes to you mate! 🙂
All materials used belongs to Bethesda Studios as well. 🙂

EP 1 - War Maidens Cover

 


18 Below

Everybody has that painful experience that occurs in our lives. Some make us, some break us. Yet no matter what, one of life’s greatest beauties are the people around us that ensures that we never have to walk through life alone. Funny… the irony… how your biggest misery could be your biggest joy…

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Edward was feeling down and broken after a failed investment burned some of the hard earned cash he’s made. It wasn’t easy to lose such huge amount. Believe me!

After being able to en-cash his income from a half million deal, he divided his earnings to invest them into different investments he could make at the moment. He was making money work for him. And it did!

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However, investments always has risks and at one point, Edward was not spared. One of the investments he’s invested on failed and it burned a whole bunch of cash.

Down-right and depressed… He came to visit his good friend and business partner Clybes.

“Dude! Dude! I just burned my cash! My investment failed and I lost a huge amount of cash!!!” Edward said in panic…

“What the hell man? You sound like you’re excited about it rather than being sad about it.” Clybes being the jolly guy that he is said.

Edward gave out a sarcastic laugh, “It’s funny coz I look as if it were nothing…”

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“Reminds me of the time you got dumped man… You looked like trash one day, then suddenly there you are crazy as fuck, going YOLO and shit!” Clybes gestured in disapproval, “Anyway, why don’t we go to a night club and drink to it, yeah?”

Edward having nothing left to say simply agreed.

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*at the night club*

“Hey dude! Check out the sign!” Edward pointed out at a warning sign posted on the wall.

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“Hmm… It says No Under 18…

“Now what?” Clybes asked, “We’re already here!”

“This is a big problem indeed!”

The both thought about it for a while outside the night club. From intergalactic Trojan horse battleships to Caribbean Pirates and gold. Their thoughts pondered off so far away from reality until….

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“Hey!” Edward excitedly exclaimed, “I’ve got an IDEA!”

“What bro? What is it?”

“Why don’t we just go home?”

“What?!”

“We’re only two people. We should come back when we’ve got 18 or more people with us! Damn I’m a genius!” Edward bragged.

“Alright, sounds logical,” Clybes agreed in content…

And the both went on home…

Dumbass

[END]

Credits go to the rightful owners of the images used in this write-up. Images are used to illustrate scenes described in the write-up and for entertainment purposes only.


Leap of Faith

Have you ever made a decision in your life so critical? A decision that could mean the difference between failure and success? When your decision may potentially benefit you yet affect others in the process? When the result seems or feels unknown? I have… and let me tell you my story…

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“Marie… Marie dear…” Mrs Pots cried out from a distance.

It was a humid afternoon that day when Mrs Pots called out the most beautiful lady in town, well for me of course, to meet me. I’ve known her a few years ago. Long brown hair, slumber-some eyes, kissable lips, what’s not to like? We were young back then and it’s been a while since I’ve seen her. My heart was pounding, sweat was dripping and I think I was gonna get my trousers wet in sweet anticipation. Thank God I didn’t.

A few moments later she came out the door. That heavenly creature coming down the isle of the front yard. Time slowed.

I started to remember the years that has gone by. How it all started. The time when tenacity was painted across my face. The time when I was young and free. I was a bachelor without any direction but to live life as it is. Everyday was an adventure and the world was my playground, my struggle rather. The time when a demon called, “Poverty” possessed me.

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Everyday was hell. What? You thought being so carefree was heaven? You thought wandering off with no concerns was paradise? It is at some point. Until you realize you have needs. You have to eat, 3 times a day. Back then, I had to eat garbage. *sigh*

There was a time when I remembered feeling so hungry. So hungry indeed that I would eat almost anything. I remembered swimming in a pile of garbage searching for some food. I remembered begging people for food or money, only to receive their disdain. Such a resentful life I lived.

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A day came when I decided to do something about it. I was desperate! I needed something to fill my hunger quick! I saw a merchant passing by with goods on his wagon. I hopped in and took all the food my hands could grab. I filled my mouth with whatever I could bite. It was heaven! Food heaven rather!

“HEY! GET THE HELL OUT OF MY CART YOU LITTLE RUNT!”

I’ve been spotted. He knew I was inside the wagon and yelled out so loud that most of the townsfolk realized I was the culprit.

I ran. Ran for dear life. Fear yet satisfaction filled my thoughts. But I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t coz if I did, the townsfolk would beat me up.

I met a club to my face. Knocked me out unconscious. Next thing I know, I was on the ground receiving kicks and punches on all parts of my body. It hurts, but my disorientation took the best of me that I seem to no longer know pain. The feeling of certainty that death would take my breath away that day.

But what’s this? The brawl seemed to have stopped. I felt a warm embrace that covered me like a blanket. I tried to open my eyes yet I could only afford to open one. I saw a girl. As young as I was. Her face was close to mine as she held me tight. A day I would never forget.

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The authorities came and took me into prison. Prison bars held no sympathy for little boys like I was back then. But something changed. I felt hope. I look forward to the day I am gonna meet her again. That day when I get out of these chains.

I remembered those years I served in prison as a decade passed. I remember the time I was set free. How much has changed? I had no idea. Yet one thing was certain, I held on to that little hope I had. To that warm embrace. I had direction. I had a purpose.

Years gone by and I remembered being the wealthiest man in town. My wishes of seeing her again drove me to my limits. Something to live for everyday. Looking forward to the day that I see her again. People who used to spit at me now respect me. No longer was I chained under possession of a demon but guided by the blessings of an angel called “Wealth.”

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Luxury was in everything I do. From grand balls to elegant gatherings. I lived as a king. Yet what good is it for a man to gain the whole world when he loses his soul. My soul. That angel back then…

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In desperation I searched for her. I traveled vast and wide in search for her. Town after town, country after country only to search for my soul.

I seem to have lost all hope…

I remembered walking by the park in grief one fateful night. In constant battle against my thoughts. When I heard weeping by the park bench. A lady dressed in white was crying. I came to her side to weep with her. Sometimes… you don’t need to say anything to make someone feel better. It’s when you’re there with them feeling exactly the same way they feel that’ll make them feel right.

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She gave me a tight warm hug that night. I reciprocated. I knew it will make her feel better. Her weeping got her weary where she eventually fell asleep by my lap. Watching her innocently sleep was heavenly. I felt at peace. I fell. I fell for her that night.

“Hello Dear”

I snapped out of my thoughts. There I saw Marie standing before me. Her beauty was beyond compare.

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“Shall we go?” she exclaimed with excitement.

I lifted my arm in gesture for her to rest her arms on mine and we went off. After all that has happened. After all that I’ve gone through. Life has always been so beautiful. All you need is to take a little leap of faith…

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*at the garden*

“I always knew your were that girl back then.”

Marie looked at me bewildered.

“You protected me from those people.”

She suddenly felt breathless…

I fell on one knee.

“I’ve searched for you all this time.”

I had her crying…

“Will you marry me?”

It rained that night…

~love, John

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All credits given to the rightful owners of the images used in this write-up. Characters in this write-up are fictional. Images used in the write-up are to give a visual portrayal of the scenes.


Earthly Heaven

A gust of wind brushed through her hair as she walked by the shore line. With the ambient sound of the waves, she heard utmost silence. Magic filled the night sky as the eve went on. Nothing could compare to that ample time of solitude. She closed her eyes, chuckled and let out a breath of whisper, “I wish you were here.”
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I haven’t said much, nor do I have anything else to say. Random thoughts and words just come out to play. My feeble mind tells me things at random. I know it is somehow important to keep my thoughts intact, but I can’t seem to get my mind right and I wonder why.

Cross, yeah, that’s my name. Angel Cross it is. I’ve been wondering these city streets almost all my life now ever since I got here. I’ve seen much to the point where I could tell stories of such. Stories of life. Stories of death. Stories of joy. Stories of sorrow. Each and every person has a story to tell. Each person has their own share of grief and misery. Even happiness and excitement. I guess that’s what you call life. Beautiful, just like the city lights.

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Yet if there’s one thing I’ve realized, everything you do comes back to you. Everything around us is energy. An equal amount of negative and positive. Whatever you do unto others comes back to you.

Let me guess… You’ve heard of that crap already? Golden rule? Karma?

Some say it’s true, some say it’s bullshit. I say it’s both. Because the truth can also be full of shit some times. Although that my dearest, depends on how we view things in life. Some embrace the truth, others shun it. I hold a mixture of both.

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Why? You ask my love?

I prefer to see things in different perspectives. From what is good down to what went wrong. I want to hear both sides of the story. To know the truth from different points of view.

I understand your concern dear. Your care. Yet I assure you my love, I hold the decision to my own confusion. They say life is a game made up of the choices we make. We become lonely and sad because we choose to be. We become happy and fun because we decided to be. We don’t have time because we don’t make time. It all falls down to us then again.

So whenever you’re sad… whenever you feel like I’m not around. I want you to know that you don’t have to feel so bad. Cheer up! I’ve got your back! Happiness is not found within you but within others as well. The more you try to find it in you, the more you’ll end up disappointed. Find joy in the happiness of others my love. With that you’ll find satisfaction and content with this borrowed time of ours. Accept things as they are and you’ll realize that you have all you need.

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As for love… do not awaken it until it so desires my beloved. Stay still and let it come when the time is right.

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I apologize for your loss my dear. We’ve been truly living in this borrowed time.

Remember that time at the pub? You sweetly whispered into my ear begging me to take you to that beautiful paradise. How could I refuse? Your sweet kissable lips touching my ears. Your soft angelic voice. The tender touch of your hand to mine. The aroma of your delicate scent. The curls on your wavy hair.

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My dear… your are my heaven on earth.

and I promise to take you here… a place better than that paradise I promised you. Some day… when the time is right.

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She then opened her eyes and took a deep breath. She genuinely smiled as her gaze affixed towards the horizon. 

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 She sat on the sand, took out a stick and drew a circle around her. She took out a black book and started chanting words no one understands. The heavens opened up and a flash of lightning cracked through the sky. A roar of thunder followed, then the voices in her seemed to have disappeared. 

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“My love”, She said, “Let me be the one to bring you back to our earthly heaven.”

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~FiN~


Cyra (Part 1)

And so she said goodbye… the phone went silent… and I was left alone in my dark room again. The cold night embraced me with its freezing arms as I tried to slumber away to my dreams. The thought of not seeing her, the thought of my own faults and guilt haunts me and I can’t sleep, unable to forgive myself for the pain I have brought upon her. It is gonna be a long long week…

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“Good morning!” I greeted her through a text that Sunday morning. There was no reply. I didn’t bother though coz I knew she may be still in bed resting. “Was I just too stubborn for her? For wanting to see her yesterday?” I thought to myself. Things were getting pretty tough for me the past week. I just wanted my life to end back then. I felt like I’ve got no purpose, no life, no soul.

I didn’t want to think of it. It’ll set me out of focus. Hurt me. Kill me inside. Besides, I was going to church that morning. I needed to be in tip-top shape for the Lord. To be spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically present for Him. It was the only thing I could offer right now.

The youth fellowship gathering followed after the service. Our youth leader who happens to be one of my good friends now noticed my exhausted look and approached me. She was about my height with heels, about a year older than me, round brown eyes, straight dark brown hair and sleek poise. “Hey Edd! Why so gloomy?” She asked

“Hey Apple…” I replied sounding like the annoying orange… well I did sound more like the gloomy orange than the annoying one. Then I continued… “Well… remember when I told you about her?”

“Yeah?” she replied with concern… A praise marathon was held last Friday and she was the one who invite me in it. I went along just to take my mind off of things and so I told her along with another girl named Hannah all my hurts. Besides, she insisted that I tell her anyway…

“Well… It’s about that girl that I care about… ” I gave it a sigh then continued. “I tried to meet her yesterday to talk to her about how to go on peaceful terms between the both of us where I wouldn’t have to annoy her much and where I wouldn’t be hurting anymore.”

And so I went on explaining what happened…

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It was Saturday and Cyra was at school for her thesis defense. I asked her to tell me if she was done so I may fetch her after school. It was because I wanted to talk to her about what I had in mind. To make it easy for the both of us at least. With all the fuzz that’s going on between us, I knew it was right to settle things right. Her class ended, and so I left home to fetch her. I came to school and waited for her outside.

I’m outside school… Be waiting for ya 🙂

I texted…

My phone’s text alert suddenly beeped as my phone vibrated inside my pocket.

We left already Edd… Sorry… 😦

It struck me. So I called…

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The phone rang… a few long ringing over the line felt like forever. My heart was pounding, my palms were sweaty, my head ached. I was going through so much to think straight but I gave her my word.

“Hello?” a sweet angelic voice answered over the other line.

I felt euphoric for a couple of minutes. My heart beat raised. I felt soft. Melted. Serene.

I was speechless for a while there. Then I replied. “Hi! were are you guys? I thought I’ll be fetching you?”

“We’re headed to Ayala now, Kev’s gonna drop us off there.”

“Alright, I’ll go to Ayala to meet up with you. See yah and Take care!”

I sensed her hesitance for me to come. But I was determined. I wanted to speak with her. To talk to her. At least to spend just a few moments of time with her. So I went on my way to Ayala.

As I came to the Mall. My friend Kevin sent me a text message

Edd… I dropped them off in Ayala Mall now…

I replied to thank him. Then I text Cyra where she was by then. She said they were in Gerry’s Grill. And so I went.

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I knew I was gonna get a sucker punch through the heart if I went on but I didn’t mind. I wanted to see her so badly, and to make things right. To tell her what I had in mind but then when we met. She was with my two other pals eating dinner. I was hesitant to approach but I was there anyway and so I went on. What else could I possibly do? I couldn’t turn back! No! I wanted to see her so badly at least to talk to her. So I approached.

“Hi” I said with an awkward hand wave

“I thought you went on home?” she replied she stood up and guided me to a corner for us to talk.

“So what is it you wanted to talk about?”

I saw that she was enjoying her time with friends and my intervention was pestering her. My head ached, I was sweating, my eyes were heavy, my tears were about to fall but I held it all in.

“It’s nothing… I want to talk to you about it if you have the time.”

“Alright… so… where’ll you go now?”

I don’t know what went into my mind…

I just said “Probably be on my way home…”

and so she went back to her friends and left me in tears. I wanted to talk to her. What are you doing stupid?! Text Her! But… Text Her!!!

and so I sent a text. Cy… I really wish to take you home… Please let me? I’ll wait…

silence…

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Though it felt like silence to my ears… I could hear nothing but the pounding of my heart and the blood rushing to my head. The tear drops that fell from my eyes that night were somewhat audible to me. Those little details was all I could hear that night.

Then my phone beeped.

I’m sorry Edd… I wish to be alone right now… I hope you understand…

Alright Cyra… I understand… Anything for you…

I slid my phone back to my pocket as I went on crying. It’s not likely for men to cry, but I didn’t care if I looked ridiculous. It felt better inside. But the hurt was eating me alive. It was burning me. I felt cold and dead. Alone and afraid.

I took my phone out… and text her.

I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you I love you ssssssssssssssssssssssssoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

T____________________________T </3

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The crushing feeling of emptiness and heart break consumed me. I lay down in the ledge of the park’s fountain breathless. People were staring at me thinking that I must have gone insane. I have! I can’t breathe. Someone offered to bring me to the hospital but I wanted to be left alone. Then suddenly, my phone rang. It was James, my classmate/office-mate.

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Hey Edd, RR’s celebrating his birthday today… come to moon cafe… 

I wiped the tears off my cheeks and cleared my throat. I tried to regain my poise and look descent at least.

The celebration was fun at least. I remembered what Cyra told me. About enjoying my personal space for the mean time. As a matter in fact, I did that night. We went on to eat ice cream and watch a movie. And all the hurt I felt was just simply washed away in a snap. It’s really amazing how God could send angels your way especially when He knows you need it the most. Everything just lightened up and felt peaceful again. My head still hurt but my heart wasn’t pounding anymore.

As I was on my way home… I texted Cyra…

Cy…

Ed… she replied.

How are you? 🙂 

I’m fine. I had fun with friends earlier. How bout you? I’m sorry bout earlier by the way. I hope you understand.

I’m so glad you had fun Cyra… It really makes me happy to know that… by the way about earlier… it’s fine… I totally understand… The pain went away when you said you had fun.

It really did…

You know… I don’t wanna be mean to you or hurt you Edd… but I want us to have our own personal space. What you’re doing is pushing me away instead of winning me back.

Well Cy… That’s what I actually wanted to talk to you about… I wanted to explain things and settle things right. To be frank, you’ve said exactly the same words I wanted to tell you. You just didn’t give me the chance to.

Honestly… You were really brutal earlier… ~I texted

That’s why I’m saying sorry coz I know I was just too harsh. I was trying to call you when I got home but I couldn’t reach you.

It’s fine Cy… I totally understand. So cheer up k? 🙂 By the way… I was in the movie house earlier and I guess there was just no signal there. May I call you when I get home then?

Yes, sure! What movie did you watch by the way? Who were you with?

I felt a sense of her care… of her love. I know I’m still inside her heart somewhere. I just need to let her feel it again. Not as a painful memory, but as something that may help her mend. That’s the reason why I wanted to talk to her. To listen to her more. To let her express what she deeply feels inside. What she’s going through. We had that in our relationship before. But we lost it when we lost time for each other. Yet the bigger fault falls on me. For taking her for granted. I couldn’t forgive myself for it. I hate myself for it. But there’s no point. I’ve lost her. Self pity won’t help me this time. I’d rather focus on winning her heart back rather than staying in the shadows crying. And so I replied…

I’ll tell you everything when I get to call you later… 🙂

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“Hello Cy” I uttered as I called her

“Hello Edd” She replied “I’m sorry about earlier… I hope you’d understand…”

“It’s alright Cyra… I understand… If this is the best way to show you that I love you then I’d gladly give you your personal space.”

“I don’t know how could I ever take such a beating from you Cy… I don’t know if ever other guys could do the same. I’m still holding on to you and I’m never giving up in winning your heart. I meant it when I said I love you always and I swear I still do.”

~silence~

“But Cy… You said you wanted us to be friends for the time being… yet honestly I feel like trash through the way you reply to me.”

“It’s actually how I really reply to people. Probably you aren’t just used to me not being sweet to you and all. Besides, I text you if I am not busy.” she uttered.

“Well yes… but come to look at it. Whenever I text you, you usually don’t reply anymore and I always wait for your reply. It leaves me hanging whenever you don’t reply back. You could’ve at least just told me that you’ll do something, or that you’re busy or something. It would have been easier for me to understand”

~Silence

“Well this is what I also wanted to talk to you about earlier Cy. Its about giving you the space you need. Why don’t we just settle for at least a day where we could just fully text and talk to each other? 🙂 And since you’re the lady… you get to pick the day. :D”

“Sunday would be great!” ~she replied in agreement.

“Alright… Sunday it is then… so for the rest of the week… you wouldn’t be hearing from me… ” i responded to seal the deal.

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“Well you could always text me anytime if you need me.” she said.

“That’d be great Cy… Thank you! Please don’t hesitate to do the same if you need me too k? I’ll be here waiting on you ready to come if you need me.”

“Okay Edd… Thank you too… I will…”

We then talked that night about the movie and how things had gone that day… I was in cloud 9 that night. Hearing her voice again. Her sweet giggles. Imagining her was just heavenly for me. As her voice whispered to my ears through the phone speaker, I felt butterflies fluttering around my stomach. I felt at peace. Contented. In love. Unfortunately, time flies when you’re enjoying the moment. We had to say our good nights and good byes… I gave her an invisible kiss and I bet she doesn’t know. Then I ended by telling her that I love her still.

I lay in my bed that night with a smile and a light heart… thanking God for what a day I’ve been through… for Cyra and for knowing that…

At least the following day was a Sunday… 🙂

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[to be continued]


Piscotech

I got this story from my high school buddies. They said that this story was famous during the 1950s era and that it was told to them by their dad. I say “they” because the guys who told me this were twins. As soon as I got into college, I changed a couple of scenes and shared it with my college friends. One of which was kind enough to write down the story the way I shared it to him. Credit for the rewriting of the story goes to Charles Sanchez. Here it goes….

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I

Phil Montez woke from his brief, three-hour slumber. He had partied all night into the wee hours of the morning and arrived home at aboutthree A.M., half-drunk, bone-tired. He didn’t even have time to strip down into a pair of boxers and a sleeveless shirt and dropped his weary body into the soft, embracing folds of his bed mattress in his all-nighter outfit—a crumpled, unbuttoned, plaid polo shirt (which had not been so crumpled and unbuttoned before when he was sober) and blue jeans. His footwear was simply a pair of loafers, but being in his inebriated state, taking them off probably didn’t even cross his mind.

But now here he was, slightly awake and wiping away the little cobwebs of sleep amidst a throbbing binge-induced headache. He stared out the window hoping to distract himself from the pain. A hue of orange daylight had already conquered the eastern skies and was quickly continuing its onslaught westward, like an army of purifying light cleansing a land gripped in darkness. Phil squinted his eyes, trying his best to enjoy the scenery above. He smiled and thought how fortunate he was to wake up at such a blessed hour.

“Speaking of hour, I wonder what time it is.” He fumbled for his cell phone still cocooned in his pants pocket. The rectangular gadget was like a benign tumor on his right calf. He pressed a random button on the keypad, illuminating the screen and revealing the time6:45 A.M.

Two words immediately came to mind and he blurted them out, not particularly loud. But audible enough to escape his beer-parched throat: “Holy shit…”

II

Ringringring! The school bell rang at exactly seven-thirty, and Phil wasn’t around to hear it.

He quickly made his way through the horde of pedestrians, occasionally bumping into random passer-bys and not finding the time (or decency) to apologize to them. “Excuse me. Coming through. For Christ’s sake, I don’t have the time for this!” were just some of the words he managed throughout the ordeal. His school was just a few kilometers from his house, but in a city that wasn’t exactly renowned for its well-maintained sidewalks, the trek from point A to point B was like trundling through thick swampland.

He had to juggle between looking forward, careful not to bump into fellow pedestrians (which is rather challenging considering he was in a hurry), and looking down, cautious not to trip over shitty potholes and cracks.

Had he left home earlier, he could’ve hitched a ride with his parents like he often did. But, being in a hurry themselves, they decided to leave their drunk son high and dry in his bedroom, not even bothering to wake him up for breakfast. By the time he arrived downstairs after a refreshing morning shower, the house was already empty and the family car was no longer in the driveway. Shit!

“Hey! Goddamnit, watch where the hell you’re going!” yelled a pedestrian who was poised to cross the street.

“Sor…” he apologized back but was cut short of the courtesy. He felt a strange sensation coarse through his body the moment he turned back and laid eyes on the man. Hell, it was even a wonder he did find the time to turn back and try to apologize.

He couldn’t help but notice the man’s features: a robust fellow probably in his mid-fifties (given the contours on his face), short black hair with strands of silver glistening in the morning sun, round tomato-shaped nose, thin lips, deep brown eyes. It seemed like minutes passed as he embedded the information into his thick skull.

But what seemed like several minutes to Phil was actually just a couple of seconds to the stranger. “Hey, kid! Watch where you’re going next time, alright?”

The man’s words broke Phil out of his trance-like state, dragging him back to reality. He shook his head, not in negation to the man’s request, but because he still felt unsure why he still had to take a good look at the stranger. “Uh, yeah. Sure. I’m sorry.” That was all he could manage.

The robust man nodded quickly, seeming rather tense in Phil’s eyes. “Shit. I nearly missed my chance to cross because of you. Jesus, what the hell is up with kids these days?” And with that, he turned away from Phil and skipped off the sidewalk.

Phil just stood there, as if in another trance, pondering what the hell was that? And then in an instant, he snapped himself back to the present and realized, “Oh shit! Now I’m really going to be late.” He turned again toward his path, and continued wounding his way through the wretched horde of pedestrians.

Suddenly…

A long, cacophonous screech of burning rubber pierced the usual morning rush hour sounds like a dagger going through tin foil. The screeeeeeech culminated with a bham!!!

            Some driver had lost control of his vehicle and hit something… or someone.

III

It all happened so fast. All Phil could recall was that he stood frozen as he saw the man, the robust, middle-aged man whom he had bumped into earlier, fly through the air, then slam himself on the concrete street. People screamed curses of “shit”, “fuck”, and various other hybrids of these obscenities. Phil craned his neck to the right and saw the reason for the man’s brief flight: a thick-hided SUV. That goddamn, big-ass car hit the poor guy.

Phil found himself immediately rushing to the scene. The stranger’s form lay facedown and bloody like a cow succumbing to the plague. Phil saw the man’s back heaving up and down. He’s still alive, though barely.

Phil landed on his knees right next to the heaving man. Now what? Even from afar, Phil could tell that the man needed professional medical attention, something that was way beyond Phil’s abilities. So why the hell did I even bother running to him? Was it impulse? Was it instinct? Was it human compassion? Or was it just plain audacity that prompted Phil to rush and think that he could help the poor fellow.

Sometime later in his life, Phil would look back at this incident and see it as his personal turning point, the catalyst that would drive him in a different, unforeseen direction.

            Oh God, I’d better call some real help. Phil began to stand back up when…

“Boy…” the man called out to him in a dry, raspy voice, blood gurgling in his throat. The man craned his neck in Phil’s direction with what little strength his withering body could muster.

Phil found it difficult to fathom the uncanny happenstance. A few hours ago, this man was walking, breathing flesh, muscle, and bone. Now he was a crumpled form on the street whose life hung in the balance. If only I hadn’t bumped into him and kept him from crossing the street…

“Boy…” the man called out once again. With much effort, his trembling left hand found its way unto Phil’s lap.

Phil nearly jumped back at the action, thinking the man was a filthy pervert even in a life-threatening situation. But once the convulsing hand landed on his lap, he felt no malice in its touch. Phil just thought that the man needed some comfort and solace from another human being, and jumping back would only pile insult upon injury. “Hang in there, sir. Help will be here any minute. I’m so sorry, I’m so goddamn sorry. Shit. If only I woke up on time, maybe I wouldn’t have been in such a hurry, maybe I would’ve been more careful where I was going, maybe I wouldn’t have run into you and distracted you, maybe you would’ve crossed the street just in time, maybe you wouldn’t have been…

“No, boy. This is not the time to be taking back actions.” With his last few breaths, and his throat quickly filling with viscous crimson fluid, the man said in a hopeless, regretful tone, “boy, find the meaning of ‘Piscotech’.”

The man’s hand stopped trembling and fell on Phil’s lap. Phil could feel the warmth of life slowly slip from the hand. It was as if the man’s life-force was withdrawing deeper within its human shell, and never to emerge again.

Oh God. I am kneeling right next to a dead guy.

‘Piscotech’. He didn’t know it at the time, but the moment he heard that word, his fate had been sealed for good.

IV

Phil walked into his nine-thirty class just in time. The teacher was already in but she had yet to call the roll. She didn’t seem to mind Phil’s haggard, untidy appearance as he worked his way through the rows of armchairs.

A couple of seconds after the man’s hand went limp and dropped dead on Phil’s lap, the paramedics had arrived and tried their best to revive the patient. Phil just stood there, dazed and confused with what had just happened as the paramedics did their work. But nonetheless, they were too late and the man was pronounced dead on the spot. It would’ve been better off calling the coroner instead of an ambulance, Phil thought.

The incident earlier had been engraved in his memory, like a wound that would refuse to heal despite the passage of time. He would remember this day for the rest of his life.

Ironically it was not the guilt of rushing through the sidewalk and bumping into the man that had Phil banging his head on the wall, rather it was the dying man’s last words that had truly bore a hole deep within him. “Find the meaning of ‘Piscotech’,” the man had uttered before his passing. Was it the man’s dying wish? Or was he simply no longer thinking straight, his brain ground-beefed after the impacting concrete with such intensity?

Phil pondered this as he continued weaving his way through the labyrinth of armchairs. He found a seat right next to the pretty girl he had been eyeing for a couple of months now. Her name was Amy, and Phil, being his usual shy self around really cute girls had yet to introduce himself to her.

Today is definitely going to be my chance. He eagerly jumped on the vacant seat on Amy’s left. She glanced at him for a few seconds, an awkward stare in her deep brown eyes.

This was Phil’s first time to sit so close to her, and it seemed like the gruesome memory of the earlier was all just some haunting instance in the past.

But the word, the last word uttered by that very man, “Piscotech”, had refused to abandon his thoughts. Even as he sat next to Amy, the word seemed to nag at him from the back of his brain. He tried to push that wretched thought aside and tried to focus himself on the class, or better yet, focus on Amy. But each time he tried to subdue his curiosity for the meaning of ‘Piscotech’; the urge just seemed to get worse and worse.

Fifteen minutes into the class, the teacher, Ms. Lorne, was still discussing. Phil barely heard a word, his mind constantly drifting towards something else: ‘Piscotech’. Hell, he had nearly forgotten the fact that he was sitting right next to the cutest girl he had ever laid eyes on, and had already grown tense just pondering the meaning of the word.

He noticed his left leg rapidly twitching up and down, body language that blatantly displayed anxiety, fear, trepidation. He hadn’t even felt the motion until he saw it. He stymied the action by placing a sweaty palm over his lap, just as the dying man did earlier with his trembling and bloodied hand. His leg settled down, as if his hand had squelched a rebellion from another appendage.

But still, ‘Piscotech’ continued to grab him by the collar. What the hell does it mean? Does anyone have a freakin’ dictionary so I can look it up? The second question was of the unusual kind for obvious reasons. Ms. Lorne was still in the middle of a lecture. Phil would be an ass to just blurt out his sudden craving for a dictionary. Besides, this was a history class. Who the hell uses a dictionary in history class?

He decided to give in to the more practical approach: ask his seatmate. In this case, Amy. He bent closer to her, careful not to draw too much attention. She might give me that awkward look again. The more he closed the distance between them, the lesser the chances were of him raising his voice and rudely disrupting the entire class.

Was he close enough? He could smell her perfume from his vantage, briefly arousing him. Yes, I am definitely close enough.

Amy still didn’t seem to be perturbed by (or even give notice to) Phil’s unorthodox approach. Perhaps she was entranced by the charismatic way Ms. Lorne shared her knowledge.

Here we go. Now’s my chance to talk to her, at last. Phil took an inaudible deep breath, as though he were marching into Hell’s mouth, and spoke: “Excuse me, miss. But by any chance, do you happen to know the meaning of the word ‘Piscotech?’”

Slap!!!

The woman’s hand moved so fast, Phil only managed to catch a blur swipe through his left cheek. He felt the force jolt through his face, a shockwave of pain emanating from his cheek and then quickly radiating through the rest of his grimacing face. What the fuck?!

“You pervert! You filthy, goddamned pervert!” Amy yelled with disgust as she stood up and pointed an accusing index finger at her foul-minded seatmate.

By now, the two had caused quite a stir and the whole class, including Ms. Lorne, stared blankly at the scene; some with shock and disbelief in their eyes, others still unsure what to make of it. The more unruly folk at the back giggled quietly in their seats, thinking Phil had tried to make a move on Amy but failed miserably.

Ms. Lorne just stood atop the platform, hands on her waist, eagerly awaiting an explanation. “What the hell is going on here?” She sounded really pissed.

“This son of a bitch asked me what the meaning of ‘Piscotech’ is!” Amy began to sob, as if she had just been raped and was accusing Phil of the vile act.

Ms. Lorne’s eyes grew wide with rage. She had gone from a pissed-off school teacher to a billowing, bitchy volcano goddess. “Phil! How could you?! To the principal’s office… now!”

V

Principal Sean Dorin was a filthy, middle-aged, barrel-bellied fellow. The first thing anyone would notice about the man would be his large, rotund physique which his colleagues and constituents attributed to his long nights spent at some shitty, rundown pub, binging with bad company while admiring the pretty whores pole-dancing on stage. He had also been smoking for most of his life and his bloodshot eyes were a testament to his addiction to tobacco (or they were simply signs of insomniac). On top of that, the man’s speech was slurred and his movements were sluggish.

Phil sat across Dorin, the principal’s desk the only dividing line between them, and wondered How the hell did this fat bastard ever get this far into his career? He shuddered as he looked into the adult’s crimson-veined eyes—like staring into the eyes of God-knows-what. He shuddered at the thought. Shit. This guy shouldn’t even be alive.

“Boy!” Dorin bawled, unwittingly interrupting Phil’s train of thoughts. “Now what exactly did you say that scared the hell out of your seatmate, shocked the entire class, and angered your teacher?”

Phil’s cheek was still a pinky hue from the lash Amy had given him earlier, but the pain had already slightly subdued. He grimaced before he opened his mouth, careful not to arouse what was left of the pain. “It was nothing, sir. I was just curious and asked her what the meaning of ‘Piscotech’ was, that’s all.”

Dorin’s bloodshot eyes lost their usual somber, drunken look. His eyelids raised and his brow crinkled. His expression eerily reminded Phil of that of Ms. Lorne’s earlier, when she had blown her top.

Silence reigned for what seemed like several minutes. Dorin still wore that pissed-off look on his fat, old face. Phil felt like an accused, waiting for the judge to pass the verdict.

Finally, the principal’s expression of rage seemed to crawl back into its previous lethargic form. The crinkled brow straightened, the raised eyelids descended, and when the face was once again recognizable as that of Principal Dorin’s, he spoke. “You know what, boy? I think you should leave.”

Dorin pulled out a pink, letter-sized paper from one of his desk drawers and began scribbling something on the bottom right corner, most likely his signature.

“What’s that, sir?” Phil asked, trying to catch a glimpse of whatever it was Dorin was filling up. God, I can’t see beyond the fat bastard’s stubby hands.

Three minutes later, Phil found himself standing in front of the principal’s office. He held a pink, letter-sized paper in his right hand. He read the heading on the paper, and fought to hold back tears (or the urge to trash the paper).

It was an official school document, barely put into use because it was preserved for only the most audacious, most uncouth, most offensive pupils of the institution. Such a document was only deemed useful should a student incur a deeply vile offense.

But Phil was anything but audacious, uncouth, and offensive. He knew that much about himself. But still he stared at the heading, still wondering exactly what the hell had he done to hold such an unholy document in his hand. This document had been signed into effectiveness earlier by the son of a bitch who ran the place, Principal Sean Dorin.

Phil read the heading on the paper again and again, making sure that he was reading correctly but at the same time, hoping this wasn’t some freaking nightmare. But no matter how many times he read it, the heading still remained the same. He was definitely reading correctly, no mistake here.

CERTIFICATE OF IMMEDIATE DISMISSAL FROM THE INSTITUTION

            “What the fuck?” Phil screamed and dropped to his knees in agony and disbelief.

VI

Phil wept in the sanctuary of his bedroom, still unable to fathom the events that transpired in the last few hours. His head lay buried in his tear-soaked pillow, his right hand still clutched the cursed, now crumpled, pink paper.

“Why? Why me?” he sobbed. “First my super-hot seatmate bitch-slaps me across the face, then my teacher kicks me out of class, and then my fat-ass principal damns me to a life of a truant forever. Who’s gonna fuck with me next?!”

Knock! Knock! Knock! Someone rapped at the door.

“Son, what’s wrong? We could hear you sobbing from downstairs, we were getting worried.” It was his mom’s voice. Phil’s parents stood outside the bedroom door, being their kind, caring, considerate selves and doing their parental duty of checking up on their beloved offspring. “Why don’t you let us in and we’ll talk about it?”

But Phil would not let them cross the sacred threshold, fearful that should he ask them… God, no! He waved the thought from his mind. “No, please. Don’t come in.”

His parents, ever adamant, refused to budge from their location. “Come on, Phil. We’re your parents. You can tell us anything.”

“Anything?” Phil sniffed back some phlegm clogging up his throat.

“Yes. Anything, dear. We’re your parents and we’ll always love you, no matter what. Right, Harold?”

“Yeah, sure. We’ll always love you.” Phil’s dad said. Uncertainty carried itself in the man’s gruff voice, as though he had been deeply busy with something and his concentration had been interrupted by his annoying son’s undying yapping.

“Promise me you both won’t get mad.” Phil was still a tad bit hesitant about letting his parents in.

“Yes, Phil. We promise.” His mother’s voice sounded very assuring, almost convincing.

Silence.

And then from the outside, the unlatching of bolts and the twisting of a doorknob gave Phil’s parents the assumption that their dear son was finally letting them in. The door swung back, and the two adults of the household slowly entered their son’s sacred hold.

Seconds later, the entire family was ensconced in the small bedroom. Everyone found a place to settle at. Phil sat comfortably on his bed, Mom laid her booty at her son’s small study chair, and Dad stood by the door with his arms firmly folded across his huge chest. The man’s posture reminded Phil of that of a club bouncer, looking ever so vigilant, ever so intimidating.

His mother spoke first, breaking the dull silence that hung in the air. “So, Phil dear. What seems to be the problem?”

“I… I was kicked out of school today,” Phil replied, still sour in his tone. “Principal Dorin kicked me out.”

“You were what?!” His father bawled with bewilderment. His bouncer-pose quickly vanished, as if Phil’s statement had made him shit in his pants. “And we weren’t told about this?!”

Mom glanced back at Dad, a frown on her face. Their son didn’t need the added stress from his parents. She looked back at Phil. “Tell us, Phil. What exactly did you do that prompted the principal to dismiss you?”

“I swear I didn’t do anything.” Phil tried to sound as honest as possible, without letting the agitation getting to him.

“Then was it something you said?”

“Uhm…” Yes, it was something I said.

“It was something you said, wasn’t it?”

Phil nodded slowly, with reluctance. Hopefully, this reply would suffice.

“Then what did you say?”

“No… no. I don’t wanna go there. I don’t wanna talk about it.” Phil didn’t realize that he was beginning to spasm and quiver, like he was going into some kind of epileptic seizure. “It’s just that every time I say it, something happens to the people around me. They just shun me.” Oh shit. I think I’ve said too much.

“Shun you? Oh Phil, that’s just absurd. Remember, we’re your parents. You can tell us anything and we’ll still love you.”

His mother’s voice had a tinge of warmth and assurance to it. This was the same tone she had used to get herself and Dad into Phil’s room in the first place. The same tone that Phil felt he could trust, always. Would his asking of that cursed word’s definition be enough to destroy that strong parent-child bond? These are the people who raised me since birth, for God’s sake. Through thick and thin, these two will always be there for me. The word ‘Piscotech’ was just that—a word! And his asking of its definition would not wane his parents’ unconditional love for him. Oh, what the hell…

He finally uttered the same question earlier, the question that had sent a hand flying across his face, the same question that sent his ass straight to the principal’s office, the same question that got him kicked-out of school. Hopefully, this inquiry would not yield similar results. “Mom and Dad, what is the meaning of ‘Piscotech?’”

Phil hit the front lawn with a horrendous thud! It hurt as bad as it sounded. Fortunately, the grass and loam cushioned his fall. He stood up, slightly dazed and slightly bruised. That wasn’t so bad.

Wham! A large, leather suitcase slammed straight into his face. Phil could’ve sworn he heard a snapping protest from the softy cartilage of his nose. He fell back to the grass, hitting it at the same time as the suitcase.

He craned his head to his right, where the suitcase lay. Despite his blurred vision and dizzied state, he could see that the case was hastily packed and barely closed. What the…? Are those my clothes in there?

            “And don’t you ever come back!” His father yelled from the front porch, fist raised in the air.

Mom stood behind the thick bulk of Dad, a similar expression of rage was sculpted on her face. “I can’t believe you’re our son! How dare you!”

Slam! Dad banged the door shut, a shockwave seemed to emanated from the threshold.

Phil sat back up, his ass now resting comfortably on the soft grass. And he just waited there for about an hour, watching the lights inside the house turn off one by one, hearing the chirping of nocturnal insects, feeling the fine blades of the grass tickle his behind.

When realization finally dawned on him that his parents would never let him in, not now, not ever again, Phil stood up, and picked up the hastily-packed suitcase. ‘Piscotech’ had worked its vile magic on him once again. He walked out the iron gate and into the dark city streets. It was going to be a cold night. Hopefully, my folks packed a blanket for me.

 

VII

The Devil’s Crib was a pathetic pub by most standards. The place was dimly light by dusty, dying fluorescents, the tables and chairs were cramped so close together that the walkways in between were tighter than a hedgehog’s burrow, and the air always reeked of liquor and tobacco, a stench that was too stubborn to leave. And the restrooms still left much (too much) to be desired.

The wood planks on the floor were slowly rotting away and the dull, concrete walls were decorated with ancient black-and-white promotional posters and photos of long-dead pin-up girls.

It was here at The Devil’s Crib that Phil would often (if not always) hang out, drowning his sorrows and squandering what little money he had left since his ‘booting’ on cheap cigars and even cheaper liquor. It had been two weeks now since that day, that wretched, goddamn, fucking day!

His cute classmate, his teacher, his principal, and then his parents—all had deemed him an outcast just because of his curiosity. What the hell does ‘Piscotech’ mean?!

“More please.” Phil raised his empty beer bottle in the air with his right hand. His left hand was too busy lying drunk on the bar counter. The bartender, a tan-skinned, hairless, bulldozer of a man, nodded in affirmation and turned back to open another bottle.

Phil pulled his moth-eaten leather wallet from his right pocket. He fingered the few crumpled bills remaining in the cowhide. Just enough for a couple of drinks. Maybe after that, I can head outside and pray that I get run over by a ten-wheeler or something.

An acoustic, feel-good ballad wafted through the airwaves, emanating from shitty speakers plastered on different corners of The Crib. The song almost made Phil forget about the miserable situation he found himself in. Almost.

Shitty life, shitty bar—the bulldozer bartender passed Phil the newly-opened beer bottle, vapor still escaping from its mouth like a breath of relief after an orgasm. Shitty beer, Phil thought and took down a gluttonous gulp.

Though he was beginning to develop a throbbing headache and slowly losing the trustworthiness of his senses, Phil could not help but notice the rotting, cobweb-covered billiard table to his extreme right, resting at some dark, godforsaken corner of The Crib. He had almost missed it though, nearing a drunken state.

Curiosity piqued. Bars always had patrons huddling around a billiard table. So why the hell is that table just left there to rot at the side?

“Excuse me.” He called out to the bartender. “What’s with that billiard table over there? I mean it’s just there collecting dust.” Phil didn’t take notice of his slurring speech or his lethargic mannerism.

The barrel-chested man spoke, his voice sounded very heavy, very intimidating, like a guitar tuned down to a bowel-loosening tone. “Oh, yeah. That shitty old thing. Nowadays, people just come in and have a drink, chat with friends for a while, and then haul-ass out of here. Nobody’s been fucking with that table in God-knows how long, so I decided to push it aside to make way for more chairs and tables. You wanna try it out, go help yourself, but good luck working your way through all that clutter of equipment.” The bartender turned back and continued with his business, grateful for the brief interruption. In his line of work, it was in his blood to chat with and entertain the customers, even if it was just plain idle talk.

Something I bet he doesn’t do very often given the dull jobs that walk in here, Phil thought as he benevolently glanced at the lousy customers that riddled the place. Maybe I will check that billiard table out.

Phil evicted his ass from the badly-cushioned stool he was sitting on. He headed for that dark, dusty corner to his right, feeling a bit whoozy and trying his best to walk in a straight line and not falter. He decided to leave the beer bottle on the counter. I might get back to you later.

 

Phil walked up to the comatose billiard table. Its supposedly viridian green playing surface was now faded to a dark evergreen, a color reminiscent of booger. The varnished finish was no longer recognizable. Dust and God-knows-what-else covered every nook and cranny of the poor damn thing.

Phil peeked into one of the six pockets on the tables’ outer rims. He spotted the black eight-ball resting snuggly within the deep chasm, like it had been simply left there by the last player. Under normal circumstances, it would’ve been quite easy to release the ball from its dark prison, but because dust had accumulated within the hole for so long, the ball was now hemmed in and required a bit more force than usual to pull out.

Pop! The eight-ball popped free from its prison (the popping sound made it seem like the ball yelped in glee). It finally sees the light of day once again, after so long.

Phil placed the ball on the booger-hued playing surface, settling it carefully so that it would not roll into another pocket. He then proceeded to the next hole, where he found three object balls, and then the next, where he liberated another three. He circled around the entire table, releasing balls as he went. At the last pocket, he pulled out the white cue ball and the six-ball. God, even the cue ball had to fall in.

Now with all sixteen balls resting nicely on the tabletop, Phil approached the rusty and dusty steel rack screwed on to the wall behind the billiard table. This rack held the equipment he needed to play—cue sticks, boxes of chalk, and a couple of triangle frames—unfortunately, all the objects were piled shittily, as if the previous players didn’t even have the decency to clean up after themselves. Now Phil understood why the bartender had wished him luck when ‘going through that clutter of equipment.’

Phil pulled one of the triangle frames from the rack and a flood of dust particles burst straight into his face. He coughed, annoyed at the uncouthness of the miniscule beings, and placed the newly-released triangle frame on the playing surface. He then grabbed the fifteen object balls and carelessly rolled them into the frame. Once finished, Phil removed the frame, cautious not to disperse the beautifully-racked balls, grabbed a dusty old cue stick and a piece of blue square chalk from the rack, and rubbed the chalk at the tip of the stick, just like he had seen on TV. Before, when I had a TV, and a home… Phil almost wept at this sudden intrusion of nostalgia. Fortunately, he managed to veer away from it quickly.

When he was finally satisfied with the shape of his cue stick’s tip, Phil tossed the chalk aside, and placed the white cue ball in between him and the triangle of balls. He settled into his cue stance: torso slightly arched forward, left hand resting nicely on the table’s surface, right hand gripping the haft of the cue stick, feet fairly distanced. The upper half of the cue stick sat nicely on the groove between his index finger and thumb.

            Okay, let’s do this, Phil said in his mind as he carefully thrust the cue stick’s haft and allowed the tip of the stick and the surface of the white cue ball to meet. Wham!

And so it was that Phil would walk into The Devil’s Crib everyday from then on. First, he’d grab a drink off the bar counter and then help himself to that sacred billiard table at the corner. He didn’t give shit if the other patrons saw it as folly for a young lad to be wasting his time playing on some condemned piece of recreational furniture.

While everyone else was slowly drinking himself to death with a flush of alcohol down the esophagus, Phil would spend his time practicing in that godforsaken, ironically fateful, corner of the bar, ever determined, ever adamant. Perhaps one day, all his hard work would pay off. Yes, perhaps one day…

 

VIII

Nine years later.

Our next guest is international billiard-playing sensation, Mr. Phil Montez,” Erin Tavil, the television hostess said with scripted exuberance.

That was his cue. From the pitch-black darkness of backstage, Phil emerged into the blinding spotlights of the studio, welcomed by raucous applause courtesy of the studio audience. He took it all in—the glaring lights, the standing ovation, the fact that he was an invited guest “Erin”, one of the highest-rated talk shows in the country, and the super-hot TV hostess he was inching towards.

He set foot on the dais where two quaint, comfy leather chairs were situated—one forErinand the other for Phil. He approached Erin Tavil, a dashing young woman in her mid-twenties (slightly older than Phil was, but he didn’t give a shit), pecked her on the cheek and allowed her to retaliate with her own peck. They shook hands firmly, and then found their way to their respective seats.

Applause still hung on the atmosphere on the studio, like a rain cloud that stubbornly refused to leave. A couple of seconds later, the applause seemed to dissolve and the crowd settled their asses on their own comfy seats. Either the audience’s hands began to hurt from the clapping, or some crew member gave them the cue to “Shut the hell up. We’ve got a show to run.”

The cheering was now reduced to a few hoots and howls, givingErinthe adequate silence she needed to speak and proceed with her interview. “How are things going, Phil? Being a successful billiard player and all?”

“Things are going great,Erin. I’m just so happy to be here right now.” Phil said with a smile and the audience responded with another round of applause, and hoots, and howls.

“Yes, yes, we’re all very happy for you,” Erin clapped along with the audience, amused at their response but at the back of her mind saying to them, can you please just let me do the damn interview without too many interruptions? “Phil, why don’t you tell us your story? What made you pick up the cue stick and chalk in the first place and begin whacking at those balls?”

“Well,Erin, it’s actually a very long and heart-wrenching story, but since you asked… I might as well tell all of you.

A couple of weeks after I was disowned by my parents and kicked out of the house”—a sympathetic awwwww escaped from the crowd—“yes, yes, very sad indeed. I was hungry, and tired, and smelled like dog excrement. And then I walked up to this bar called ‘The Devil’s Crib’, a fitting name considering the crappy, decrepit state of the place. Hell, I don’t think even Satan would wanna get booze there.” Phil paused for a few seconds, allowing the audience to lightly giggle at the quip.

He proceeded, “I was having a couple of beers when I took notice of this sad, dust-covered billiard table to my right, at the corner of the bar. I was always the type of person who enjoyed messing with things, so I walked up to the table, found the equipment I needed—balls and all—at some rack screwed onto the wall, and before I knew it, I was actually having fun. I’d go back to the pub everyday and practice for several hours, and as they say, the rest is history.”

“That is a wonderful story.”Erin’s last line was masked by the ever-annoying audience applause. She gave a few seconds for the audience to vent out their enthusiasm and when they were settled again, she continued. “Did the bar owners allow you access to the billiard table everyday? I mean, it’s not like they were profiting from your constant visits. You were pretty much freeloading on the place, hugging that dusty corner all to yourself.”

“At first, it was okay with the bartender. He didn’t really mind my messing with it. At least I was putting the billiard table to use, right? As I got better and better, I would challenge some of the bar patrons or they would be the ones to walk up to me for a challenge. The winner would enjoy a free beer courtesy of the loser.

Losing on my part was frequent at first, but since I didn’t have the money to pay for beer, most of the drinks I was supposed to pay for were on the house. As my game improved, I’d be the one flushing alcohol down my throat and those early victories of mine actually made great income for the place. The bartender, Joe—love that son-of-a-bitch to death—allowed me to stay in one of the rooms upstairs for as long as I’d keep winning for him. The entire second floor of the building was pretty much his living quarters, like a tight apartment, and then the lower half was the bar

I didn’t complain about the crampness of the place or the fact that it smelled like a rat swarm’s craphole. I didn’t have a place to stay at the time, and well, beggars can’t be choosers. At least at Joe’s place, I had a warm bed, a soft pillow, and a toilet. Those were what I needed.”

“Uh-huh.”Erinnodded, her chin resting nicely on her fist. Phil couldn’t tell if she was fascinated by his rags-to-riches tale or she was resisting boredom.

Maybe it was both.

            “What happened to this Joe fellow? You still keep in touch?”

Phil felt a lump form in his throat. He was hesitant to answer. What happened to Joe had scared the shit out of him completely. He didn’t want to go there. Hell, he didn’t even want to mention Joe in the interview so Erin or anyone else on the show wouldn’t ask him about it. A slip of the tongue, that’s what it was. But it wasn’t half as scary as that incident long ago, with the man dying at his side—Oh shit! She’s giving me that ‘would you just hurry up with it already? We’re wasting precious time here’ look. Ahhhh… what the hell?

“He’s dead.” Phil blurted this one out, not even half-thinking of what he just said.

            Erin and the audience remained silent, but an expression of shock seemed to manifest itself on their faces. They all seemed to be disquieted (and a tad bit awed) by Phil’s sharp and straight-to-the-point remark. The look in their eyes seemed to beg for an explanation. This interview was getting juicy.        

“It was a week after Joe introduced me to a couple of scouts from the National Billiards Sports Organization. He’d tell me ‘you’re good, kid. You might as well go pro.’ And that’s what I wanted to do. The scouts set up a meeting to strike a deal two days after we met each other. I wanted Joe to come with, but for some reason he seemed really down. He had locked himself in his room the whole night, refusing to come out. I thought he was just drunk, or high, or something like that.

Anyway, the meeting went great and I couldn’t wait to tell Joe that the scouts signed me up for my first tournament, see how well I’d fare. I was literally jumping with joy on my way back to the Crib.

When I finally arrived, I ran upstairs and to his room. The door was still closed and, being too excited, I took the liberty of twisting the knob and entering Joe’s room. The possibility of him getting pissed at me for intruding his privacy never really crossed my mind. And then I saw it…”

The members of the audience leaned forward, completely drawn in by the story. What did he see?

“White powder was scattered all over the paneled floor. But the real shocker was that Joe’s neck was tightly wrapped around a thick cloth—a curtain, to be more precise. His body hung at the window like some pig’s torso at the abattoir. I screamed like hell the moment I saw the limp body of my friend. I didn’t know what to do so I ran downstairs, out of the bar, and as far away from the corpse as possible. The next few hours were a blur to me; I can barely remember what transpired after that. Hell, I don’t even know how the police got there.

All my memory can muster is what the investigation yielded: a closet full of cocaine and a suicide note narrating how Joe had incurred such a massive debt. Turns out that Joe borrowed lots of money, which the police assumed was mostly for drugs. His creditors threatened to take away everything from him. And so, the easiest way out: suicide.”

“Wow.”Erin’s eyes widened a bit now, completely awestruck by the morbidity of the story. “Did the police pin you as a suspect?”

“Not really. At first I thought they did, you know, me being the first person on the scene and all. But they couldn’t really find anything incriminating against me, or against anyone else for that matter. Besides, the suicide note was in Joe’s handwriting. Suicide was the verdict.”

“Did your friend’s death traumatize you, leave you scarred?”

“It did, actually. But then I realized that I was probably better off continuing with my sport instead of just moping around in misery. After all, it was at Joe’s place that I sparked my passion and honed my skills. I obviously did not want all my long hours spent at the dusty billiard table go to waste. It would be like a complete ‘screw you’ to the man.”

“You fell off your horse and got right back on.”

“That’s right.” Phil nodded.

“That is a wonderful story.”

A deluge of applause burst forth once again from the audience. The ovation continued on for more than a fourth of a minute. Everyone was moved by Phil’s touching, inspirational, triumphant story. When the clapping finally seemed to settle,Erinseized the opportunity to ask one really good question:

“Phil, you’ve accomplished so much in your life. You’ve been beaten down several times, only to rise up again to claim victory—and look where your undying persistence has gotten you.”

Applause broke once again. Phil nodded in thanks to the accolade.

Erincontinued, “Is there still anything in your life that you intend to do? Do you feel that you have a couple of loose ends that you want to straighten out first? Something that you have yet to accomplish or find out?”

Phil bent his head back, trying to remember something, anything that he had left undone.

Reconcile with his parents? Nah, they’ll never speak to me again. Reconcile with Amy, his super hot classmate from nine years ago, the woman who had nailed him a pervert, a filthy, goddamned pervert? Nah, to hell with her. She’s in the past.

And then he remembered. Oh yes, it’s coming back to me now. The word. Yes, that word which had sent a raging bitch’s hand flying across his face, kicked him out of school, out of the house, and into the Devil’s Crib, where he discovered his passion for billiards. But what if…? Nah, that was a long time ago. No one’ll give a shit about it now.

With that word in mind, he spoke up again.

“Well, there was this one thing I remember from long time ago. It was wrong to ask about it way back then, but I guess it’s okay to talk about it now.”

“Go ahead, Phil,”Erinsaid warmly. “What is it?”

“Uhm, okay here we go. Does anyone know what the word ‘Piscotech’ means? You see, it’s been bugging me for some time now and nobody’s been nice enough to answer…”

Phil shut up when he noticed Erinwas no longer listening intently, but was already facing the studio cameras, making a slashing motion across her neck with her hand. Cut! Cut!

Phil turned to the studio audience, who now stared at him with hatred and detest. It was as if he had committed a tribal taboo. He could even hear the sobs of a little girl emanating from the back. Even the young ones were shocked by his statement.

            Oh shit. It’s happened again. ‘Piscotech’. He thought that word long dead and gone, but the urge to inquire what the hell it meant reasserted itself once again today. And now the aftermath of his curiosity unfolded right before him. What do I do now?

IX

Phil gulped down the last few droplets of whiskey that remained in the glass. Then, to neutralize the warmth the drink had poisoned him with, he allowed the two half-melted cubes of ice to slide down the interior of the glass and into his dry mouth. He juggled the two cubes in between his tongue and palate, the cold ice slowly vanquished with the heat of his saliva.

After Erin Tavil had ordered cut! two massive bull-sized men wearing black shirts with “security” stenciled in yellow across their chests marched atop the dais and grabbed Phil by his collar and trousers. Everyone else remained silent and watched as he yelled and bawled and jerked like crazy. Two seconds later, the security dudes shoved him out the door and watched as his face thumped nicely on the parking lot’s quality concrete.

Crunch! He unmercifully crushed the cubes with his jaws, flakes of ice flew like shrapnel in his mouth.

Yes! Feel the cold. You deserve it. He told himself. The world is a cold and cruel place. Let that coarse through your body and…

            “Excuse me, sir. Would you like another glass?” the bartender, a slender Chinese man, asked from across the counter.

Drowning himself in his sorrows and drinking himself to death, Phil nearly forgot where he was—at a bar, or more specifically, on a stool in front of a bar counter. The place reminded him of his old hang, The Devil’s Crib. Had this been the Crib, he would’ve been sitting on this very spot—the fateful spot on that fateful day when he saw that sad, old billiard table crying to him from the corner.

Alas! That wretched place had gone from sacrosanct sanctuary where he could hone his talent, to cursed shithole when he discovered the body of Joe, the bartender who took him in.

After Joe’s death, Phil decided to stay and keep the place just so he could have access to the billiard table, which he had grown to love so much. But the fact that he had discovered a hanging carcass just above the pub continued to send shivers down his spine. Eventually, he could no longer take it and hauled-ass out of the joint with the billiard table and all its accoutrements in tow. He sold the Crib and the quarters upstairs for a good price to some wealthy landowner looking for a place to set up a fastfood franchise.

With the money he earned from the sale, he rented a room at a building adjacent to the city’s sports complex, where nearly all of the billiard tournaments were held. He would painstakingly manage his time between practicing in his small, eight-by-twelve-foot living quarter and winning much-needed prize money to keep him sustained.

“Excuse me, sir. Another drink?”

Phil totally forgot about the Chinese bartender who still stood across him, eagerly waiting for his reply. What the hell? I’m drinking myself to death anyway. “Yes. Another glass of whiskey would be nice.” He slid the glass across the counter. The bartender caught it with ease, and turned on a heel to prepare another drink.

Now where was I? Oh, yes… For the next few months, Phil’s life seemed to be enmeshed in a boring routine. Juggling between practice and earning prize money, nothing spectacular seemed to emerge from this cycle. One day, however, the gods above seemed to smile down upon him. It was only after he had caught the attention of big-name sports promoter, Mr. Smed Senyo, that…

“Why hello there, sir, aren’t you Phil Montez, the famous billiard player?” a voluptuous woman approached Phil from behind, unknowingly interrupting his train of nostalgia. “I saw you on television a few hours ago. Great interview, until you scared the shit out of everyone with your odd inquiry.”

Phil took a good look at the vixen: flowing black hair, slender physique, deep brown eyes, pouting lips, and judging by the size of her melons and the fissure of a cleavage her scanty outfit failed to conceal, this bitch was probably some tramp making a pass at him.

“I’m sorry, but I’m just not in the mood right now. Maybe some other time…?” Phil turned back to the bar counter, disgusted by her whorish appearance, and disinterested in her filthy intentions.

“Piscotech,” The woman blurted.

“Excuse me?” Phil’s attention diverted back to the woman. His stool creaked as he swerved his ass away from the counter. How the hell would she…?

“Piscotech. You mentioned it on television.” The woman then bent closer to him, her lips barely an inch from his right ear. Phil could smell her perfume, fragrant, arousing. She whispered, “You want to find out what ‘Piscotech’ means?” She dropped a folded piece of paper into his breast pocket. “Contact me through this number at exactlytwelve midnight tonight. I’ll direct you to my place and then we’ll talk about it.”

She pulled away from Phil, and walked to the pub’s exit.

Phil sat there, dumbfounded yet awestruck. Finally, after so many years of wondering what that wretched word meant, this woman like an angel from heaven is finally leading me somewhere. By the way, who was that woman?

Phil was about to call out to her, but the bartender whistled to him, “Sir, your drink?” The Chinese dude slid the whiskey-filled glass down the counter. Phil spun his stool to receive it. When he turned back to the woman’s direction, he was too late. She was gone…

“Shit!” Phil cursed at his tardiness and the bartender’s lousy timing. He craned his neck to the clock that hung above the liquor rack behind the counter. The time indicated was11:00 PM. In one hour, the question of ‘Piscotech’ would finally be laid to rest.

 

X

Phil stood at a curb across the pub where he had been in earlier. With the arrival of the mystery woman and her claim that she could enlighten him regarding the meaning of ‘Piscotech’, Phil seemed to forget the fact that he had nearly drunken himself to death just a few minutes ago.

Eagerness and excitement took over him. At 11:40, Phil pulled the paper from his breast pocket and unfolded it. He squinted his eyes, taking a good look at what the helpful harlot had scribbled on the paper. Just a phone number, her phone number.

He pulled his cell phone from his pants pocket and punched in the numbers indicated on the paper. He placed the phone to his ear and waited as he heard ringing on the other line.

“Hello?” A familiar, alluring voice was heard on the other end. It was her!

“Yes. This is Phil Montez, you gave me your contact number about forty minutes ago. I decided to call early and…”

“I told you to call at exactlytwelve midnight! Do as I told you!” The line went dead.

Stupid bitch hung up on me.

Several minutes later, Phil once again groped for his cell phone. He checked the time again, ever anxious, ever impatient. 11:53 P.M, the screen displayed. Seven minutes to midnight. I might as well…

“Excuse me, sir. Would you like a cigar?” The vendor lass caught him completely off guard. Phil fumbled with his phone, nearly dropping it.

What the hell? “Beat it, kid! I don’t want a cig…” Phil looked at the girl. Perhaps about eight or nine years old, wan and thin, totally unattractive with her shoulder-length, scraggly hair and grime-covered face. Plus, her tattered, oversized shirt and the box that carried all her goodies (candies, gum, cigarettes) which she slung over her neck weren’t exactly runway material.

The lass seemed to look at him with the same analytical bewilderment, taking in his physical details as well: a twenty-something year old man in a crumpled polo shirt, slacks, black leather shoes that shimmered in the night.

Aaaaarg! Phil shook his head, realizing he was drifting away once again. God, I’m sick of these trance-like states. “Little girl, you mind leaving? I’ve got a damn important phone call to make.”

The vendor lass shook her head swiftly, like she wanted to rattle her brains out. “Uhm, No, sir. Sorry to disturb you.” With that, the girl continued on her way, leaving Phil alone.

“Stupid, under-aged vendors. Cops should keep the damn rascals off the streets,” Phil mumbled to himself as he checked again the time display on his cell phone: 11:59 P.M.A split-second later, it shifted to 12:00 A.M. All right! Let’s do this!

He unfolded the paper again and punched in the numbers just as he did earlier, only this time he did it at a more frantic pace. He placed the phone to his ear, and waited for the woman on the other end to answer.

“Hello?” The woman’s voice again.

Phil wasted no time contemplating what to say. Whatever was on his mind, he bawled it out directly over the receiver. “Okay, woman! It’stwelve midnightand I called just as you said! What’s next?”

Phil sensed a grin slash itself across the woman’s face as he said this. He sounded like a mindless pawn in an uncaring goddess’ scheme. But who cared? It was only for one night, and by dawn, all this bullshit about ‘Piscotech’ would finally be answered. He would no longer have to ask people he knew, beloved people, what the damn word meant. And those people, in turn, would not have to bellow with rage and boot him from their lives.

“Mr. Montez,” the woman said over the receiver, “from your location, I want you to turn right and cross the street. There’s an old, condemned building across. I’m sure you can see it from where you stand. Contact me again once you’ve reached it.” She hung up.

Phil craned his neck to his right. He spotted his destination: a small, two-storey, rectangular building with blanks of wood nailed over its windows. Vandalisms had been spray-painted over the façade. Perfect place for people like her to hangout.

Adrenaline pumped in his veins. Phil quickly closed the distance between him and the decrepit edifice. He was in such a hurry that he failed to notice that his feet were no longer on sidewalk concrete, but on asphalt. He was already in the middle of the street!

Phil kept his attention focused on his destination and forgot to look both ways before crossing the street. It was as though the building had become his sole drive to live.

Suddenly, he noticed his body began to glow with a resplendent radiance. What is this light? Where is it coming from? And then he surmised, God! God must be lighting my way! He is with me in this venture!

Beep! Beep!

            He then realized that the glow did not spawn from the heavens, but from his right. “God’s light” was actually the headlights of a monster SUV speeding straight towards him like a bull out of hell. The vehicle seemed to have lost its breaks and the driver could not bring it to a complete stop!

Phil just stood there, his legs froze with fear. I should run. I should run. I should…

Bham!

            The cold steel of the SUV’s bumpers rammed straight into his belly with a force Phil felt was off the charts. He could feel his internal organs burst in a flurry of blood and muesli within. His head fell back on the street’s asphalt, breaking the rear end of his skull and rupturing his brain. I was so close… ‘Piscotech’. What does it mean…?

Blackness overtook him.

“Mister! mister!”

Phil heard a familiar, youthful voice not too distant, so he assumed the speaker was addressing him.

“Are you okay?” It was the vendor lass whom he had sent scurrying away earlier! “Don’t worry. The ambulance is on its way. You’ll be…”

“No, no…” Phil mumbled with the little strength he could still muster. He could barely decipher his own words since so much blood and God-knows-what other fluids quickly accumulated in his mouth. “I am beyond help.”

“But, mister, you can’t die! You’re still so young! You’ve got your…” The lass’ frantic encouragement was silenced as Phil grabbed at the collar of the girl’s oversized and tattered shirt.

“Little girl…” Phil was heaving, every breath seemed to be a painstaking, arduous effort. “Little girl, you must… you must find the meaning of ‘Piscotech’.”

Phil’s hand went limp, let go of the lad’s shirt, and fell to the floor. Dead.

‘Piscotech’. The young girl didn’t know what the hell it meant or why she was asked to find its meaning, but the moment she heard that word, her fate had been sealed for good.