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Fantasy Kids Thriller

The night sky is doing it again, and the stars could not be any less interesting tonight. Little Jamie has decided to ignore those insignificant twinkling lights in favour of something far more disquieting. Her nose is pressed up against the glass of the window, big brown eyes determined not to blink. If she blinks, she’ll miss it if the Moon decides to disappear. 

After all, it’s been following her for the last hour. 

It wasn’t just the Moon either, but some dark shadowy clouds - but those seem to be very slow and the Moon is really fast, outracing them all. By how fast the trees and the buildings seem to rush by the window, Jamie assumes the car is moving really fast too. Some buildings move really slow, and sometimes other cars move slowly backwards. She shakes her head in dismay - how silly some people must be to drive backwards!

Oh, but the Moon. The Moon beats them all, so bright and unwavering, its constant glow washing over everything as it never fails to keep up with the car Jamie and her family are in. She wonders what in the world the Moon wants with her, and why the Moon would not leave her alone. 

She’s heard the old wives’ tales, the stories from her grandmother about the demons that stalk the night -  aswang and manananggal, who hunt and feast on little girls like her in the light of the Moon. Don’t go out at night Jamie! Stay inside or makukuha ka ng aswang, the demon witch with half a body will swoop down and take you away forever. 

No. She cannot afford to lose sight of the Moon.

She feels something wet on her arm and looks down in disgust to see her baby sister passed out and drooling onto her. She whines to her mother to get the sleeping toddler away from her but by the time she turns back to the window it is too late - her aunt who is driving has turned a corner and the Moon is now behind them. She scrambles to turn and yank herself up to watch the Moon follow from behind, and she glares. 

She’s now ahead of the Moon, but the Moon is not giving up its relentless pursuit of her. She slumps back down into her seat. Her father is snoring in the front seat, while her aunt hums along to the gentle bossa nova track she’s put on. Her baby sister has now switched to drooling on her mother’s chest, who is absent-mindedly wiping it from her top every so often. 

Jamie is very sure that no one in the car could have possibly been the source of the soft sinister giggle that tickled her ear just moments before. 

Wag kang lumabas sa gabi. Don’t go out at night. Dito ka nalang sa bahay. Stay inside, it’s safe here. Makukuha ka ng aswang. Baka kakainin ka ng manananggal. The aswang and mannananggal will take you from us forever. 

Jamie remembers a night where her father took her up to the roof, helping him haul his giant telescope in the dead of night. He had pulled her out of bed, whispering excitedly about a comet he wanted to show her - it would be a once in a lifetime experience! 

The elevator didn’t go all the way up to the roof, so their only option was to take the stairs once they reached the top floor. She knew her mother would never have approved of the late night shenanigans, and the thought that her father was taking her out anyway filled her with glee - it was fun having their own secret adventures behind her mother’s back. He was the fun parent after all. 

The two of them huffed and climbed the flight of stairs in the dark, nothing but her father’s flashlight guiding the way. Just as the dark was starting bleed tendrils of fear to yank her off her feet and bury her, her father opened the door at the top of the stairs and the shadows slinked away, powerless before the majestic symphony of lights before her. 

Her father had let her abandon the telescope for him to set up on his own, as she gasped and took in the sky as she’d never seen it before. Being so high up, there was nothing to block her view like the other buildings and trees that were permanent obstacles from her bedroom window. In that moment, there was nothing in the world apart from her, her father, the telescope, and the velvet blanket that hung above her sprinkled with the glowing souls of the universe.

He taught her about the night sky, the planets, the stars. If it twinkles, it’s a star. If it shines, it’s a planet. She remembers laying sprawled on the roof, mouth agape and eyes wide as her father showed her the beauty of the heavens and the multitude of lights in the sky. The world isn’t that big, he said, when you see how much bigger the universe is.

Then he showed her the Moon, and she remembered her grandmother’s words - it wasn’t safe to be out at night in bold defiance of the Moon! She declared him in that moment, the bravest person she knew. He had to be, if he wasn’t afraid of the Moon and her demons. She asked him if the manananggal went away when there wasn’t a moon in the sky, and he smiled and pointed back up to the stars. 

Look at the stars, he said, while we wait for the comet to arrive. He told her stories of Tala, the goddess of stars and the night sky, who watches over weary travellers, keeps them safe. He told her how she has protected the Filipino people since the dawn of time, how she made the constellations so mankind could always find their way home. 

Wag kang matatakot sa mga aswang at manananggal, anak. They can’t hurt you if you’re smart and know your way. You’ll never be alone or lost if you know Tala and her stars, he told her. She will always guide you home. 

The car has stopped moving, and her father opens the door on her side. She sleepily raises her arms as he pulls her out of the car and drapes her over his shoulder. She nuzzles her face into his neck and he carries her into the house with the rest of her family. 

The moon is bright, but the stars will keep her safe tonight.

July 25, 2020 03:24

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6 comments

Jade Young
11:36 Jul 31, 2020

This is a really enjoyable read! Keep up the good work ;)

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Jamie Limbaga
14:17 Jul 31, 2020

Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it :) Looking forward to posting more stories in the future.

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02:39 Jul 27, 2020

Made me uneasy throughout. Something creepy is just around the corner. And great title for this piece. Well done

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Jamie Limbaga
05:45 Jul 27, 2020

Thank you!! I'm glad you liked this and picked up on the creepiness :) Really excited to write more!

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Tracy A
03:17 Jul 26, 2020

Release an entire book, please 🥺 i need to know what happens

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Jamie Limbaga
05:46 Jul 27, 2020

Stay tuned for more stories hehe glad you loved this!

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