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1 It Started with a Well

DISCLAIMER: This story is fiction. Everything is fictitious and were just created by the author inspired by her great grandfather Mr. Krause (mother's side), an American-German soldier. But any names, events, positions, places in reality to fall similar within are purely coincidence.

"Kabang is one of the best places laying on the creepy valley behind mountains surrounding Tikaban - a well-known haunted village. In 1902, the tribal leader hunted the entire village through his desperate people - trying to awaken the sleeping god in the bosom to one of its deepest caves, guarded by thousands of bats and slaying wild dogs. The god was said can pronounce miracles and heal people's loneliness aside from being a redeemer. Desirous to be called living god himself, datu Gansal got annoyed and called them all subversive, treacherous and ungrateful people. Out of reprisal and retribution, datu Gansal put everyone young and old from that old wrecked village to tie one another, kneel and pray to their god unceasingly and wait for him to save them all. But if no god or deity can do it for them, in the next day, every one will be thrown and dumped in the villagers' biggest well. Dreadfully, all were slaughtered like animals and the datu's men threw them all, taking the time from pulling them out of the field going to the well, starting from sunrise till sundown. The well - was referred as the mass grave by the folks who escaped and survived. One of them had me." As recounted and narrated by Lolo (grandpa) Sibal, one of Tikaban's local farmers who have escaped, survived and returned to the village after the 1918 - 1920 plague had stricken the place that killed all the settlers under the reign of datu Gansal.

" Wow! you were one of those who survived?" Magee gripped her hands with such amazing look to her grandpa.

" Yes, we were only five. We crawled like centipedes in a man-sized hole. There were raveged wild dogs we fed with potions as we crossed the daffodils in the opening of the said cave. We coated ourselves with snakes' oil and ran there without turning back our heads as the ravenous dogs got dizzy and suffered for just seconds of panic and illusion. It means they saw us like the way they were. So then... crawling straight towards the opening of that hole till getting inside was indeed unbelievable but getting out was more likely a miracle. It was a dream, a beautiful one. Though, only five of us returned safe to this village without seeing our family members at all. With our safe return, I've got everything on this barren land. And you knew that you're not my biological granddaughter ever since, but I've adopted all of you around. It was a relief. He looked at her and smiled with his wrinkles.

" Wonderful! But where is the passage, where is that place, where did you hide that no one from datu Gansal's men found you? I want to go there and come out after this Japanese war would end, Lolo, where's the entrance, the gate? where's that place where you hide for 20 long years? Lolo, I hate getting married to that man I am scared of. " Magee was tearfully holding her grandpa's hands and pressed them for him to spill out the answer, but suddenly...

"Magee! Magee! Get me some water from the well, our clay tub's going empty now, where are your siblings strolling again? Anyway, come out and fetch me some, do it now! Here's the wooden bucket, faster! Tomorrow's your wedding, (December 30, 1941) don't you know that? We'll all be dead meat with your Japanese fiancee eyeing at us like criminals. The voice of a furious and hopeless mother.

" Yes Ina ( equivalent to mother) I'm heading there right now." The 20 year old Magee immediately stood up and grabbed her palm-made slippers and signalled to her 62 year old grandfather that he'll just come back quickly.

Then off she go. The skies shed the bushes along with the windy night as she walked under the big trees next to the ruins of a castellan gazebo. Petrifyingly, the quirks of the norturnal birds in chorus started to outpour up high, while the winds were hovering on the branches of trees covering the entire grounds beneath her. It sounded more creepier even then as she shuddered in the bumpy terrains where sensely altogether straight to her frenzied eyes and luring her thoughts to nearly cripple while the crickets silenced - and the world seemed had stopped. It stumbled her heart further to endure because the well disappeared out of its post that backed her off a little to run. Not to wonder, she had been looking for it almost an hour yet found nothing. Needless to say but suddenly she noticed that the shrubs and clinging vines everywhere were gleefully swaying like hanging cobwebs had their symmetrical movements that intensely chilled her austerely.

" Where's, where's the well...where?" Magee murmured and whispered to herself while chilling out of fear and sweats were communing on her forehead and on her neck pasted some of her hair strands she never worry at all.

While the golden minutes had passed from covering herself behind the century old mabolo tree, she noticed a splashed of light in the sky turning out to be a silhouette of a figure she cannot distantly resemble. With so much amazement she breathtakingly followed the silhouette that eventually moved toward her.

A shadow appeared in front of her with a speed of light, passing through her way that impede the sight of the direction where she was heading and the bumpy-clayed ground haven looked like a magnetic field for her barefooted paces after she had lost her slippers from running. Ironically, she religiously stayed beside a pulpy mabolo tree like a dead bystander; with trembling nerves, numbing thighs and peculiarly feeling lost while she desperately moved again slowly going backwards.

Then...

" Ahhhhhh!" Her ankle was accidentally twisted when she guesstimated to move backward but with her hand tried to grasp the balite tree's roots and seemingly climbed on it like went out for wall climbing. With all the sweats assembling on her forehead and enough weight on it, little by little she weakened her arms to depend to the balite tree's roots. Despite tension, she still get the chance of transferring to the next roots nearby while her sweats had multiplied and her veins seemingly erupted like volcanoes. Getting to her balance, she felt the walls of that hole began to give in and shrink, where some of its rocks were falling. In an instant, assuming that it's her last minute to rely on so she thought to loudly shout for help and wishing someone could hear her from above.

" No, not!" In her mind she thought that to shout for help means to loosely weaken her strength more and more so she managed herself to pull out another bigger roots and grasped them carefully. Then after a while she felt a very cool wind getting out from underneath that passed by to her like a welcome touch of death. But still with her thiniest hope she drew closer to the rocky wall and tried to sense everything on it before she leap to decide for her next heavier swing that could bring her on the edge of the wall.

Sparingly, she knew that she'll really dive in alive there anyway.

" I don't like to marry that Japanese man, this is maybe oddly my chance to get out from the setup agreement, but why do I need to die this way?" She sobbed and with her runny nose and a long waggling hair caused her a lot of a whining bothersome situation.

Notwithstanding with that hopeless moment of struggle, she tried again to reach or touch anything from the hole's rocky wall and finally swing her body twice in order to reach its rocky surface with more roots attached that she could probably transfer. But the balite roots she was clinging with - gave up.

Appallingly, Magee's voice contained painstakingly the emptiness of the place, as it goes louder and banged all over into an abyss where she fell like a lifeless leaf and gone to its depth succumb with sudden flashes within her memory lanes, each those happened within her youth and the unforgettable sighs as the spotless light swallowed her.

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