my birthday turns into chaos
Birthdays were supposed to be special days for people, but this would be the first time I'd experience that kind of moment.
In three days, I'd turn seventeen. I don't usually celebrate my birthday but this one's different. I hope Saturday would come fast! Okay lang sa akin na hindi kami maghahanda ng kahit ano dahil sabi ni Nana ay pupunta kami sa Batara, a country next to ours.
You see, sa ilang taon ko nang nabubuhay ay hindi pa ako nakakaalis sa city namin, well, except for that one time. My grandparents were obnoxiously strict. Kahit sa field trips or special trips, hindi nila ako pinapasama.
It's dangerous, child, they would always say.
I admit, nagtatampo at nagagalit ako sa tuwing nangyayari 'yon. May isang beses nga na mismong teacher ko na ang nagpaalam para sa isang out-of-town trip dahil kailangan naming pumunta sa museum for our World History subject pero hindi pa rin ako pinayagan . . . unless I'm with Tata.
Halos nasa katabing city lang namin ang museum kaya imagine how embarrassed I was when I was the only one who went with a chaperone. Simula noon, lagi na akong inaasar ng mga kaklase ko, saying I was still babied by my grandparents. I could not even retaliate because it was somehow the truth. They would always treat me like a fragile kid who needed their protection all the time.
Kaya naman noong sinabi nila na magbabakasyon kami sa weekend para i-celebrate ang birthday ko ay naiyak ako sa tuwa. I was sheltered for all my life so going out of town, even though I would be with them, was something I'd be thankful for. Imagine, not just a region or city within Hallim, but we were going to another country!
Kaya naman nang matapos ang klase ko ngayong araw ay agad-agad akong nagligpit ng gamit. I was too excited for tomorrow!
"Victoria, umuwi ka nang maaga para maaga rin tayong makaalis."
Naalala ko ang bilin ni Nana kaya nagmadali akong umuwi. She reminded me about that a couple of times to the point that I got slightly annoyed, but oh well, I guess she just didn't want us to be late. Tama rin naman dahil i-che-check ko pa ang inimpake ko kagabi at baka may hindi ako nadala.
The shed near the school premises were usually full of students, but today, it wasn't, which was kind of strange. The vehicle arrived a few minutes later and I immediately I boarded it. However, I was thrown into a state of confusion when the students waiting with me in the shed did not hop on.
Bakit nakatayo lang sila roon? sa isip ko, at doon na ako nagsimulang kabahan. What made everything more suspicious was when two guys went in after me, but they did not look like students.
They were wearing hoodies and caps despite the scorching heat. Parang ako pa ang naiinitan sa suot nila. One of them suddenly glanced at my direction and I immediately averted his gaze. Lumapit ako sa bandang driver dahil medyo natakot ako. Inabot ko ang bayad pero napatigil ako nang makita ko ang expression niya mula sa salamin. He narrowed his eyes as he accepted the coins and I flinched when our skin made contact.
The driver's skin . . . it was too cold.
A chill went down my spine. Something was odd. And eerie. Gusto kong bumaba pero parang umurong ang dila ko at natatakot na rin akong gumalaw dahil pareho nang nakatingin sa akin ang dalawang lalaki sa bandang dulo. They sat on each side with their legs stretched across the aisle as if they were sealing the exit. Then, the one on the right slowly approached my direction.
"E-excuse me . . ." I said, calling the attention of the driver for help, but he only smiled at me.
Sa sobrang lakas at bilis ng tibok ng puso ko, pakiramdam ko ay lalabas na 'yon sa dibdib ko. I felt the danger I was in and it intensified when the vehicle abruptly halted. The two guys started approaching me, sending a danger signal all throughout my body.
"We finally found you, Stryzyga," one of them hissed and I had the urge to cover my ears because his voice sounded like someone was scratching a sandpaper.
"You need to die," the other one said. "Your death will be our triumph."
They both lunged at me, and I swore I saw them shifting into some indescribable figures. Horrified, I screamed at the top of my lungs.
Right. I'd be dead before I could even turn seventeen. Parang nag-flash sa utak ko ang buong buhay ko, gaya ng sinasabi ng mga taong nasa bingit na ng kamatayan.
I silently called to whoever who could save me, but I knew it wouldn't make any difference. With my eyes closed, I waited for my pathetic demise . . .
. . . but it did not transpire. Instead, silence filled the vehicle.
Slowly, I opened my eyes, and I could feel my body trembling. The next thing I knew, the two guys as well as the driver were already knocked unconscious. I saw a shadow moving around and I yelped when someone appeared right in front of me.
"No!" I screamed, pushing the person away but he grabbed my wrist and I winced when I realized his skin was as cold as ice . . . just like the driver's.
"Are you okay?" he asked in a gentle tone.
That moment, I realized I had been holding my breath for so long. My body was still trembling in fear. I drew a shaky breath as my tears fell uncontrollably. He reached out his other hand that was holding a white handkerchief.
I was still scared, and I didn't trust him, but I accepted the handkerchief. Fortunately, he didn't do anything besides staring at me as I wiped the tears off my face. Nang kumalma na ako kahit papaano ay napatingin ako sa dalawang katawang nakahandusay sa loob ng sasakyan.
"S-sino sila?" I asked, my voice still shaking. "Who are you?"
"I'll explain all of these, but we need to get out of here first," he said, and I was relieved he didn't sound like those guys with their creepy voices. He offered his hand, but I was hesitant. "Please trust me. I won't hurt you like what they attempted to do. I am not your enemy. In fact, I'm here to help you."
I stared at his hand, but my gaze shifted to his face and I suppressed a gasp when I saw his eyes. They were gray, just like the color of ash and stormy sky. He was wearing a black leather jacket, scarf and black jeans that covered the entirety of his body. He had a very pale complexion and it felt like he would disappear in my sight anytime if I stared for too long.
Napailing ako at tumingin ulit ako sa kanya. If I were to choose, I would like to run away but my knees already gave up on that idea. I had no other choice since he might hurt me if I tried to escape. I heaved a sigh before placing my hand on his. He picked his cap from the vehicle's floor and held my hand. I was about to stand but he suddenly pulled me closer to him.
"Hold on to me tightly."
Itatanong ko pa lang sana kung para saan at bakit pero bigla na lang umikot ang paningin ko. It felt like the whole world was spinning so fast and all I could see were blurred streaks of lines. Bigla naman siyang huminto at napahawak ako sa tiyan ko dahil pakiramdam ko ay masusuka ako sa kung anuman ang nangyari. I pulled my hand away from his and collapsed on the floor, but I suddenly felt a sense of familiarity with the place we were in.
I looked around and realized we were in our house, but panic rose through my throat when I saw its current state. Our things were strewn all over the floor; furniture were destroyed, as if a storm wreaked havoc. Halos lahat ng gamit namin ay sira-sira na at lalo akong natakot nang ma-realize kong sobrang tahimik.
Our home had always been quiet, but never too quiet.
"N-nana? Tata?" I called but there was no response from any of them. "Where are you?"
I could hear the dread in my voice and my body began to tremble upon realizing they were not here.
"Nana! Tata!" I desperately called.
Where are they? What have they done to my family?