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Unveiling Beauty by Ana Serrano

She’s young, Fresh as her daisies, Independent. But she is strange She knows no one She laughs alone Her eyes are obscure But they are beautiful Her fair skin, incomparable Her hair trails From her head to her hips Her corset falls perfectly into her curves She longs for someone lost Someone perfect as her Still aches and craves Yet everyone tries Yes, they all tried To unveil this fair lady

Illustation by Ginoe Ojoy



m The Ghost Lover by Phoebe Nicole Rios


Waging battles against the emotion I’ve solely created To refuge, to mend your soul utterly broken

As of a knight who never slain a dragon nor came to conquer I came only to fail once again to tear down the walls The tower of worthlessness, now the grave of my final fall You let me die alone in a battleground with remnants of the shattered Existence. In the echoing silence of my whisper I wish you’d feel my ghost As I pass back and forth, may the wind remind you of my presence Let the fire burn as you had a reminiscent of my warmth when your heart was cold Light a candle to the headstone; that once you saw a torch and never a light it shed Lay down roses on the grass; that once you saw a door and never a passage And so Halloween will always be Valentine


Onion Factory by Chiara Salmorin

I feel like an artist every time I hurt you. An artist who delicately carves its piece to make an astounding result. The pained expression painted on your face makes me drown to abysmal glee. To the naive it may seem distorted; but in my eyes I could see the most beautiful art piece. It almost made me weep. Now that I was able to finish this piece I can finally draw the curtains to show this beautiful work that will make even the most talented artist weep with envy. Even I can’t help it. Who would have thought? Who knew? Since I never realized, that from the very beginning, from the very time I started it I was already pouring tears… Because of these tears, that’s been clogging my eyes… I wasn’t able to realize I’m not the only who’s hurting. I’m sorry, you said I kept weeping that very moment that’s why I wasn’t able to see it that you who don’t even know what is the definition of crying,

cried. in front of me. of all the people it was me. I thought that if I made you suffer, I will be able to obtain retribution. That I will be able to make you know reprisal, for all those endless lonely nights, for all the buckets of tears, for making me suffer... why? What did I do to you to make me suffer? So I asked myself: What did I do to deserve this? So here we are I, whom you left is here making you experience something insufferable. After all... Torture is best done in the most indirect So I made you feel what I felt during those days. So why am I weeping for you? You don’t deserve an ounce of pity. Why? I’m obstinate aren’t I?




It’s Nice to Finally Meet You After One Year, Six Months by Luna Joy de la Cerna


So many nights I’ve spent dreaming of you Pretending I was Jasmin and you were my Aladdin as we both flew Across the islands and seas below Sad, when all I had of you were glances that were stolen and borrowed Those dreams were through and done As I accepted that you will never be my man I embraced myself on behalf of reality That you were not the Vampire that would love me for eternity Each day, over after a year, I saw you pass me by And I never missed any of your smiles I got to believe one day would come When you would know my love and my love you would welcome I was ready to let go and move on When you stood there by me in that corner and I was shocked of the uncommon Oh that rainy afternoon I could hear my heart forcing to quit my body When you offered me your hoodie You introduced your name Am I supposed to do the same? Oh I’ve practiced these lines before over and over When all I heared was my imagination shouting “please be my lover!” Maybe I fainted, or maybe I did not When you stood there with me while my insides were in knots You smiled at my unease Stupid you! Don’t smile. I can’t breath! You went on, my prince charming, away from that corner, away from me When I realized I was still holding your hoodie It’s nice to finally meet you after one year, six months I decided to stop my haunts This is not the end but our beginning I wore your hoodie and moved on in the rain, and kept my heart beating It smelled just like you Along as I whispered “I still secretly love you”

SEASONS by Ana Salve Serrano It was winter You were there You wrapped me up With endless care Now it’s spring, The happiness you bring, Stays like the blooms Of the greenest fields Then here comes summer No lonely hour With you by my side And all the rules we cannot abide Then there’s my call Oh sweet, lonely fall Now it’s time to leave I left… never naïve



Leaping Over Fences by Chiara Salmorin

To understand one another, words are superfluous. A match made out of heaven, no? The angel was walking towards the altar, she’s someone au fait to him The Bride of Lamentation... Her fate had been tied with loneliness from the very time she was born that is why he promised himself to release her to cut the thread that connects her to grief. But she didn’t let him. She had always been a puppet to them being controlled all the time, following whatever was thrown to her. A lifeless puppet. A still doll. Even if he wasn’t able to be the blade that cuts the thread he’d try to be the knot instead. He’d do everything to at least lessen - pause protect her from the tyranny of grief. Even though he wasn’t able to take role of the prince in white horse At least he’ll be the Knight in shining armor.




by Kim Abad

“People think dreams aren’t real just because they aren’t made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.” -Neil Gaiman


ran alone in a dark place, barefooted. I was scared and desperate, but I kept on running. I didn’t know where to go. Until.... until I saw a man. “A MAN!” Ana and Margaret both shrieked. “SHHHHHHHH!!!” I hushed them as I saw Sister Maria passed by. We were studying in a school exclusively for girls and ran by nuns. Sister Maria was the head sister of the school and she’s very strict about everything we do and what we talk about. As she reached the end of the hall, I turned to them and continue. “Yes. A man, a man on a silver suit, and was probably a knight. Yes, a knight. I kept on dreaming about him in the same place but with a different scenario.” Margaret smiled. And I knew exactly what she was thinking. “Did something happen in your dreams? Like… you know… some kissing maybe?” she teased. “NO! That’s so gross!” I threw a crumpled paper at her and replied “Honestly, I wish we did but I haven’t even seen his face, how much more felt the kiss? I’m over this. I don’t know what’s in my dream that makes me crave for more. I am just sixteen. I am too young for romance.” “Nickola Marsen! In my office. NOW!” we jumped as we heard Sister Maria’s voice echoed in the hallway. She was standing by the huge door with the sign Sor Christina Hall, hands crossed. And I knew we… wait NO! I was the ONLY ONE in trouble! I pulled out my books and notebooks. My hands were shaking as I walked towards her, I looked back to see Ana and Margareth but they were gone as fast as lightning! “Great! I am so dead” I thought. I was inches away from Sister Maria when she raised a bunch of papers. OH MY GOSH! Aren’t those my drawings about the man in my dreams? I thought as I stared in horror, recognizing my papers. She raised her eyebrow and then my drawings. “We need to talk.” she turned her back without waiting a word from me. She walked with formality, chin up. As we are passing students, they started whispering and were avoiding Sister Maria’s eyes. “She’s in trouble” I heard some girls whispering. I can feel that all my hair is in standing motion. As we reach her office door, a huge old door, she turned to face me. At some point, I was kind of excited to see her office. As far as I have known, no one in this school has ever been in it. She pulled a bronze old key and unlock the huge door. As she opened it, a relaxing scent caught me. Flowers. That’s what I smelled, a sweet scent of flowers.

“Come in.” Surprisingly, her tone changed. She seemed calm now. Her office was huge, flowers and books were dominant. As we enter, I noticed a huge vintage cabinet that holds the trophies, awards and medals. Next to it is a vintage clock with a calendar in it, September 22, 1932, the date today. “Sit down,” she said as she led me to a furry chair beside the antique vase with beautifully arranged flowers. It’s a bit too far from her table. But since we’re alone in her office, I can hear her loud and clear. Before I get carried away by the sight of her nostalgic office, I snapped myself back to reality and reminded myself that I’m in trouble. So I started to speak. “Sister Maria! My drawings are not really a real, I mean the man on the drawings is real but only in my dreams. A dream I keep on dreaming for days. He’s not from Billard School for Boys. I never sneak out of school just to see any Billard boy. I promise sister I am not lying. Please believe me.” As I was went on panting finishing my explanation, Sister Maria pulled out one of my drawings and stared at it. Why is she so calm? I wish she would say something. “His name is Samson.” “Wait, what? I don’t understand. You know this man?” I was really confused. She smiled, revealing her rosy cheek. And she’ was still smiling? “His name’s Samson. He was an inspiration for so long.” She opened her drawer and pulled some papers. Drawings! Her Drawings. They were similar to mine, the same man in my dreams. “You liked him?” Of course not! Why would she? He was only in her dreams. “YES.” WHAT?! REALLY?! “When you get to know him, he’s nice. But he’ll leave you with two choices: to stay or to leave.” What was she talking about? What choices? “I hope you choose the right decision. You may go.” She said and handed me my drawings. But before I left, I wanted to ask her something but I don’t know what it is, so I just decided to leave. As I faced the door to leave, I saw a huge painting, a painting with a man standing in a silver suit. It was him! After Sister Maria and I had that talk, I went straight to bed, lost in thought. I still didn’t understand any of it. I wonder what was it with Sister Maria and that man, Samson. “I better get to sleep.” I thought. I closed my eyes and tried my best to sleep but I ended up waking up several times during the night. “Wake up Nickola!” a voice said. Huh? Who’s that? My eyes were still closed. When I opened it, an image of a handsome man appeared. He looked familiar! Oh my goodness! It’s him! “YOU! I know you! You’re Samson!” I exclaimed. I was actually facing him. We were in a very familiar place.The place in my dreams! I thought. I tried to pinch myself, literally. “OUCH!” I saw him laugh. His smile was gorgeous. I just couldn’t believe he was in motion, facing me, talking to me! Am I going to kiss him later? My thoughts were flying. I noticed that the flowers around us were the same as the ones in Sister Maria’s office. “It’s beautiful in here, right?” he said as he picked a yellow flower.“Beautiful, just like your eyes.” I felt my blood rushing to my cheeks. I took the flower. As I took it, he grabbed my hand and said, “Stay here. Be with me”

“To stay or to leave..” Sister Maria’s voice flashes back on my mind. I don’t know what to say or to do. I want to stay but, isn’t this just a dream? “We could be happy forever,” he continued. “Leave all the bad things behind your world and be with me,” he sounded very convincing. I stood up and looked at him. His hazel nut brown eyes, for some reason melted the ice inside me. “I don’t know why I feel happy to be in here, but...” his smile faded, “but, NO! I’m not staying here.” He seemed really sad when he heard my response. He started walking towards this gigantic tree. The tree’s leaves rustled as the wind blew. He touched the lower trunk of the tree and then turned to face me. “I think you should go back, they look worried,” he said. I looked at the tree’s lower trunk, and I saw moving images. There I saw Ana, Margaret, some friends, and Sister Maria. I saw myself in a very deep sleep. Margaret and Ana were crying. They were trying to wake me up. I looked at Samson. His eyes were calm. “Come back Nickola” cried Sister Maria. “I thought you’ll be that lady.” his eyes were flowing with tears then. “What is happening to me?!” I never felt that scared before. But as I saw the school nurse went to check on me, my hands started shaking. Am I dead? Is this the choice Sister Maria told me about? I wanna go home! He looked at me. “It’s your choice Nickola.” He then disappeared and everything fell into ashes. The sun vanished. Everything went black. I started running, barefooted. It felt like there were vines and thorns everywhere, I couldn’t see anything. “SHE’S AWAKE!” I heard someone scream as I opened my eyes. “SAMSON!!!” I cried. I looked at the people around me. “I’m back!” I thought. “Nickola! I thought you were gone! I went to check on you this morning to say good morning but I couldn’t wake you up. You were also cold. I thought you were dead!” she hugged me tight. I saw Sister Maria smiled at me. “Welcome back,” she uttered. After that night, I never dreamed anything about Samson ever again. Time flew and I graduated from high school on March 1934. I went to college and I met the man who I later got married with, Angelo. Then one afternoon... “Nickola?” “Yes?” “Do you believe that dreams do come true?” he asked. Upon hearing this, everything that happened that night flashed back. I remembered Samson, Sister Maria, and my dream. “Yes I do.” I answered back. “Me too.” he was smiling.” You are my dream come true.” He then reached his pocket to get something. To my surprise, out came a flower; a familiar yellow flower. He then looked at me with sparkling eyes. I gazed upon the same hazel nut eyes I fell in love with years ago, Samson’s eyes. The strange but ironic coincidence made me smile as I reminisced those days. He smiled back at me. Finally, my knight in shining armor kissed me.

zz END



BENEATH THE CURSE by Phoebe Nicole Rios

B And once again, She freed herself from familiar curse, illusion Here comes the demon, speaking blame To her vague reality, revealing shame She let herself be imprisoned; ignorance devour and dwell For she knew she could break the unfortunate mind’s spell Bloodshot truth of her sacrifices To blindness and betrayal, refused to seize Let her hands turn the table His delusions, she took with her Let her NOT use AFFLICTION But rather have their bridges burned She could hear him laugh Thus rejoicing her HOAX of failures Yet her name has victory on it Legend of her fall, she’s risen I speak to you, in behalf of her forgotten rage Young Lad, loved by her with flame Your time is yet to come, is yet to come, I tell you! For never she once failed, to free herself from familiar curse, illusion


C Shades of Violet by April Bito-on

One cold summer morning, I poured out all of my feelings To this poem I wrote unexpectedly, The words that lingers, Like a gush of wind

Don’t look, for I will only say “please stay.” You got up and walked away, I called your name and you looked back I asked you this time,

You said, “What present can make my past pale in comparison?” My heart throbbed, I wondered why? With a nod, I smiled bitterly “A reality where you exist next to me”

“Tell me your feelings for her,” I cried, hoping you would open your heart You walked my way Inches far away, “I could never hate someone I loved”

The words I said, were they enough? No, I could never replace her The coldness in your voice made my heart shiver Made my weaker self whimper I closed my eyes firmly I felt your tender lips brushed mine, I held on to that feeling, For only then I could have you Don’t feel sympathy for me, For I always knew it wasn’t meant to be

It struck me, those words longed for her “I want you to come back, come back to me with life” My heart defined no hate but only pain with each word you said You loved her so much, how could I be compared with that? Even in death you still longed for her, only her Perhaps it would vanish, Perhaps I wouldn’t remember Perhaps it would fade away, Just like the shades of violet These feelings would remain


I pushed you away from me,


SEPTEMBER by Nick Pigar

She said she’s okay, and you believed her. She said she’s not hurt, and you believed her. You never saw her cry, she did. You never heard her hate, she almost. September came, she’s gone. She never showed how miserable she was, you just didn’t know. She played dumb while you cheated. You lied, she cried. You left, she cried. September came, she’s gone. You regretted, she moved on. You said sorry, she doesn’t care anymore. She laughed, you cried. She’s happy, you’re not. September came, she never came back.



RCREAMY MOCHAR by Chiara Salmorin

It was the month of October and there he was, in the park, watching autumn leaves fell. He watched while the path was being showered with crimson colored leaves as the wind blew. It was entertaining to watch the dried leaves fall down; it reminded him of those autumn days he spent with her. She used to clean the leaves in front of their house. And when she got pissed of with him for saying something stupid, she would throw some of them to his face. Of course, he won’t go down without a fight so he would throw some to her too which obviously led to a bigger mess. Well, at least that little fight made them enjoy the boring task. This one was recorded down in their long list of happy days they’ve spent together. They all said that autumn was the time for things to wither and die. I say even memories do, too. Some of his memories with her couldn’t be remembered already. They will keep on withering as time passes- from the moment she left him until the present.

Or maybe it’s some kind of defense mechanism his mind created to lessen the pain.

She might hate him if she were to know it. It might be because of forgetting a few of their memories together. But the thing that he knew he wouldn’t forget was the day she departed; it will be forever engraved in his memory. Inside that organ we so called brain, lie remaining memories that were stored in that special box created in his head from the very time that he met her – the day she changed him. It even contained the tiniest details about her. And it hurts to know that even if you knew so many things about the person you love…

He never expected that she would leave him.

People say you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. The truth is, you knew what you had, but you just never thought you’d lose it. Like what happened to her, she’s gone now, taking his heart with her. It always made him think of the things he may have done that could have made a huge change now. If only he could turn back time…he would have already did it months ago but he knew that it couldn’t be done. He wanted to, he was willing to. They did make a promise years ago. However, they made it a bit unclear or… maybe he was just really imagining it, wishing that they did make a promise to each other; hoping that it was just one of those remaining fragments in his memory that he was willing to cling to. It was hope, perhaps. He guessed.

‘We’ll always be together…no matter what.’

Maybe he was just forcing himself to keep on clinging to that promise… that he was totally denying that she broke it. Hope… faith… expectation... He really wished she didn’t break it… that she would come waltzing back into his life again. Oh what a happily ever after it would be if that was to happen. He was really being dramatic. Well, more of like hopeless romantic but still nobody said that he couldn’t dream, right?

He was just being optimistic that’s all.

Something reminded him of what she said to him one time… that it may be his downfall-being optimistic and all. She was just a pessimist; that’s what he told her, forcing her to make a comeback.

‘I’m a pragmatist.’

If she was a pragmatist wouldn’t that make him an idealist?

He always thought, really. They were too different. That’s why people kept asking them how come both of them were still alive when all they did was to bicker and always disagree. But hey, opposites attract. Like the positive and negative side of a magnet. When they meet, they automatically stick on to each other.

They’ve always been together.

Their life together can take a form of a painting of a colorful flower in its full bloom… it has its bright colors depicting happy things while the darker colors represent the sad things – and even so, the bright colors overwhelm the dark ones – making it lovely. Sadly, it’s a piece that would forever be incomplete for they won’t be able to continue it anymore. The painter lost his will to continue for his partner departed. That piece was supposed to make even greatest renaissance artists shed their tears in envy. The ideal finished product could never be achieved anymore. Years then passed. People grew older and people changed. Out of nowhere, he was summoned by a letter to a ceremony, a ceremony that would change the fate of two individuals, a gathering where would witness two people become one – a marriage ceremony, her marriage ceremony. That was already cruel for him and it was cruel of her to make him her best man. If he were his former self, he would have been weeping by the very time he read that letter – but no. He was different now; since he already hid all of his feelings in that storage called heart.

It was autumn during that time.

He went to the ceremony looking gallant as ever. As he walked by, all eyes directed to him. He can even hear the suppressing giggles of blushing young ladies as he sent them a flirty smile. He greeted her relatives and friends that they both knew since their younger days – some were even sending him apologetic looks because they knew what he felt for her. He responded with an understanding smile. After all the flummeries, pats on the back, and reminiscing he went to look for her.

There she was: the epitome of beauty – even the most beautiful goddesses would envy her… she was in full white. She was smiling, lightly laughing, and having teary eyes as she gratefully received all the congratulations her friends and relatives gave her. As he went closer to her, it became silent. The bride went to a halt and looked straight at him. The guests left for a while to give them a moment; some even gave him a sympathetic smile as they passed by him.

“I’m so glad…” she said smiling with teary eyes, looking straight at his handsome face.

He didn’t respond. He just kept looking – staring at her. It was really a wonder- what time could do to a person. She looked different but not in a bad way. She even became more beautiful as far as he could remember. She looked worried for a second since he didn’t respond. A sad smile was painted on his face while looking at her with eyes full of affection and regret. It made her guilty thinking that even though she left him years ago, he still gave her the same look.

“Is this supposed to be my reprisal?”

He went out of his reverie when he heard her talk. He looked confused but when he saw salty water leaking out of her eyes then down to her cheeks, he was able to realize what she meant. “Does seeing me – no, does my presence depict revenge?” She felt a pang of guilt when he said that; seeing that she might have hurt him again. “No, it’s not that…you know that’s not what I meant –”

“I don’t know – I don’t know you anymore.” he whispered.

He was incredibly calm; calm as a lake – a façade concealing that he was already shattering. “I’m sorry…” she whimpered breaking down in tears. “Please stop that,” he used his thumb to wipe the tear on her cheek. He then offered her a handkerchief just like the old times whenever she cried. “It makes me guilty to make you sad when this is supposed to be ‘the happiest day of your life.’” She looked at him, in his eyes – there she understood then accepted his offer. He then continued what he started. He gave her a smile, a genuine smile that can have different meanings from various spectators. It was deep; not well deep –it’s ocean deep. There was a deeper meaning behind that smile that could be converted into a poem, a poem that could always be known in the history of literature – a meaningful poem that will make lovers, romanticist, and poets weep because of such tragedy. It was such a sad smile but at the same time a happy one. After that, he left her. However, he wouldn’t do the same thing that she did in the past- when she completely left him, for he was present during the whole ceremony – even during the reception. He drank, danced, laughed, smiled, and then said goodbye. It was not just a normal farewell but a farewell to his past, mistakes, sadness, loneliness, tears, and most especially to her.

“Even so, after all the buckets of tears, I’ll always be here for you.”





SADTO ANAI by Kristiani May T. Sykay


Preska pa guid sa akon huna- huna, Ang sadto anai pangabuhi nga bugana Mala- mansyon nga balay, madamo alalay Tanan nga mga bagay sa amon guin bugay ---Sang ako hubin pa wala guid sang problema Madamo nga kwarta, lapad nga hacienda Sang kami pa ang naga panag- iya Si Tatay kag Nanay Don kag Dona Ang akon gusto mahatag guid nila --- Manggaranon nga matuod ang akon pamilya Guin paeskwela sa mayo nga buluthuan Edukasyon ang ila pamana sa akon Ini guid lang kuno ang indi makawat sang bisan sin- o Plantsado nga uniporme kada aga, Mahal kayo nga matrikula sa akon pag eskwela Apang pag- abot sa eskwelahan, Barkada ang upod, daw sila akon mga utod Yara sa kompyuteran sige tom- ok sang “keyboard� Nabuang sa DOTA, sigarilyo, kag iban pa Masadya ang mga ini, indi bala? Apang wala ako katapos Yari ako subong- isa ka basurero Bulsa ko wala biskan piso Sa akon guin himo, nagahinulsol guid ako Amo na nga ako, indi pag sunda ninyo




MEMORIES FROM A DRIED ROSE by Kristiani May T. Sykay The hue of its petals --- already faded It is dry and has lost its sweet smell But its presence has lots of memories to tell In it there are a lot of emotions to yell Everytime I see this gift from you, It reminds me of our love for each other so true The way we teased each other, And how we held each other’s hands together Our hearty moments were as if just yesterday We were so sweet; I do not have anything to say For you always brightened up my day I really didn’t want you to be away You said this rose symbolizes your love

Your love which you promised from above You’re my life’s best asset And the only man I cannot forget But our love ended by just a click And that really made me sick For you were already in heaven By the time clock struck at seven I can still remember that time As if my heart had been pierced Almost every day I was not at ease I really missed your sweet kiss But now, I can only reminisce the time When I’m still fine because you were once mine And when I look at this rose so near I feel as if you’re still with me here…

Endless Misanthropy by Ana Serrano

“Melancholy filled the air And the waters are just murky as my path My life is full of hate Just like the roses encircled with thorns My Romeo left me He never felt the same Now I’m bound to do this soulless search For someone who truly knows my name I am unhappy, With this prejudiced life Take me out of here Take me out of the dark…”



Someone I Didn’t Notice by Sheann Severino Illustration by Ryan Rodero

I pass and stare at the same routine Of what is now and what has been But when one day you made a stand I found myself with shaking hands I wonder why I didn’t see That sort of magical possibility That you and I could even be The cutest variables of Chemistry You painted a beautiful irony You sang my favorite rhythm You have become the object of my poetry And the center of every story I have written Now again, my brain seems to rust But to wait and hassle I know I must It’s quite odd for someone who I didn’t notice to have the only entry in my who-I-wanna-marry list

Hugs in a Cup by Ginoe Ojoy

I love my Senna She hails from India She cleanses deep within me From impurities I am free I love my Jasmine She is my queen Her exclusivity to royalty Brings out the king in me

I love my snow White Her complexion is like the light She is special and rare With nobody I will share I love my Peppermint She’s cool as ice She freezes my heart Which is very nice Right before you judge me I’m not committing adultery I’m just expressing my love For my favorite tea My love for them is undeniable That’s why I had them personified They gave comfort for ages They’re like hugs, liquefied.



Sleepless Goodnight by Zygie Cawaling

I am not ready to sleep But I’m sleepy My thoughts are swimming in waters deep Troubling me I want to capture these words on paper Words that sound so gay I’m scared to show my inner flavor Cause Yes I am one messy cray cray I make the clean pages dirty With all my pain and regret But I also make them pages lovely Filled with confessions untold yet But even if I fill thousands of pages tonight They will never reach the one they’re made for Still I want to see them take flight In paper planes, fly them out the door I thought it was something I thought it was hope But since I didn’t say anything A sharp knife cut the rope I guess I just have to let it go The day is over, so is my chance I couldn’t let my heartaches show So with rocks in my shoes, I dance Here’s another bunch of white thoughts doing their best “White” since white can mean hopeless In my white door off they go and rest A door which held feelings that are useless I look up above and see reality I caress my pillow letting out a sigh I smile and say silly me Why do I say goodnight, when I really mean goodbye? An hour ago I wasn’t ready My thoughts swam so deep Now, my heart may still be heavy But I say goodbye to my white door, and say hello to sleep.

Garden of Daffodils by Revina Paz Estrada Do you still remember what the flower daffodil symbolizes? It symbolizes rebirth and new beginnings, right? But it’s not only because of what it symbolizes that this flower seem so special to me. It also reminds me of the day we first met. I wonder how you are now. It’s been 7 years since that day but I still go back to that one place every day; the place where it all began-in the garden of daffodils.

Year 2005 “Erin! Hey Erin! Over here!” my best friend, Aliah, shouted when she saw me across the road. “Wait up. I can’t get through.” I shouted back as I was trying not to get hit by any rushing vehicles. It was a busy day; drivers kept honking their horns as if that will improve the traffic. People were rushing to and fro and a useless traffic light was just blinking on and off. I mean seriously, when would these end? “Wow, you survived the death road. Congratulations!” my other best friend, Maxine, joked. “Really funny, Max. I hate crossing that road.” “I’m kidding, Erin. Don’t take it too seriously.” Maxine said then smiled. “Then why don’t you take the alternative route?” Aliah suggested. “Is there even one?” I asked. “Well, yeah but no one has ever tried taking that route.” “Why? Are there ghosts there or something?” I joked but the two stayed silent. “Maybe. Nobody knew actually but I would never dare use that alternative route when I go home. It’s too dangerous especially when you’re alone.” Maxine replied. I was starting to get curious about this whole alternative route-thing so I pressed my best friends for more information about this place until they finally told me where it was. “But you have to promise us you won’t go there alone, ok?” Aliah said. “Ok, I won’t.” _________________________________ Classes were dismissed early today. I considered myself lucky for I had a lot of errands to do. I quickly packed up my things and rushed out to the door before the students piled out and jammed the hallway. I hurriedly walked towards the exit as more students came out of their classrooms. I heaved a sigh of relief when I was finally out of the school and continued walking (slowly this time) to the bus stop. I was halfway to my destination. I caught a glimpse of the woods, the alternative route my best friends were talking about. I didn’t know what made me stop and look at that place but something was telling me to go that way; to use that route. I slowly walked towards the entry way, watching every step I took.The old, wooden door creaked as I slowly pushed it open. I silently stepped inside.

It looked like a park long forgotten with marble benches that had cute cherubs as bases. I also saw different kinds of birds freely flying around, butterflies sipping nectar from flowers, and a three tiered fountain which to my amazement, still worked even though it looked like it has been forgotten for more than a year. I continued walking through the woods while there was still light shining through. As I was half-way to the other side, I saw a large oak door on the right side, half-hidden by vines. Completely forgetting about my errands, I decided to check it out. Seeing it was half-open, I hesitantly looked inside. What I saw completely enchanted me. There were rows and rows of full bloomed daffodils. It was as if I was dragged into another world or dimension. I was fully occupied admiring the flowers that I didn’t notice a person entered. “What are you doing here?” I was surprised that I immediately turned around causing me to lose my balance and drop my things. Good thing he was fast. He held my hand and pulled me closer to him. “Are you alright, Ms.?” He asked. “Y-Yeah, I’m fine.” I said as I bent down to pick up my things that fell on the ground. “Sorry if I surprised you.” He said and helped me pick up my things. “What are you doing here anyway? Nobody comes this way before except for me of course.” He said. “I . . . I guess I just wanted to explore, that’s all. How about you? What are YOU doing here?” I said, standing up and fixing the pile of papers, waiting for him to finish picking up the rest of my things. “Let’s just say that I . . . take care of some of the things in this place.” He said while looking at me. He was young and handsome with auburn hair, tall nose, and full lips. He was probably eighteen years of age. What really caught my attention were his eyes and his smile. His eyes were of the darkest shade of blue… and his smile, they were playful yet… I don’t know. It felt like he was only trying to force himself to smile. “Here” “W-What?” I snapped out of my thinking. I didn’t know what was happening. “Your things.” He said, handing me again my folder and notebook. “Oh, yeah right. Thanks.” “By the way, I’m Keith. Nice to meet you.” “I’m Erin. Nice to meet you too . . . so uhm... you own this garden?” I asked. “Yeah but the flowers only. I don’t really own this land. I just found this place deserted and dull so I decided to brighten this place through these flowers.” he said smiling at me. “But why plant only daffodils? I mean just look at this place. It’s huge. You can plant different kinds of flowers here.” He just smiled and said,” Well... it’s because I like daffodils, especially their meaning.” “Why? What do they mean?” Instead of answering my question he looked at me and said, “Don’t you have anywhere to go to?” It was then that I remembered the errands that I was supposed to do. “Oh, crap. I had forgotten all about it.” I quickly swung my bag across my back and ran to the door. Before I opened it, I turned around and said “Thanks for your time again, Keith and sorry for just entering into your property without permission.”

“Don’t worry about it.” “Thank you. It was nice meeting you.” I straightened up and opened the door. “and Erin?” “Yes?” I asked, looking back at him. “You can come back anytime. I had fun talking to you.” And that started our friendship. I would always go there after dismissal just to check on things and to hang out with Keith. I discovered a lot of things about him-where he came from and where he was studying. We got to know each other more every passing day. He taught me how to plant the daffodils and how to keep them fresh and healthy. We had a lot of fun and did a lot of crazy things together that I didn’t even notice the months that passed by since we first met each other. One day, when I arrived at the garden from school, Keith was already sitting in the swing he built for us. “Hey!” I called to him but he didn’t hear me. He seemed to be in a deep thought. “Hey Keith!” I shouted and this time he raised his head and looked at me. He smiled and gestured me to come closer. I walked faster and when I finally reached him, he told me to sit beside him. “I have something to tell you, Erin. It’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you these past few days.” “What is it?” Instead of answering, he just looked at me in the eyes and smiled. I waited for him to speak but my heart was already beating so fast for I was worried about what he would be telling me. “I love you, Erin . . . but I can’t be with you.” “W-what? What do you mean by that?” I ask, surprised. “I’m in love with you, Erin but I . . . I won’t live that long anymore. Remember that time when you asked me why I only planted daffodils? It’s because they symbolize rebirth and a new beginning… and that was what I wanted. I was born with a congenital heart disease, Erin. I had already undergone many surgeries in the past but it didn’t cure me. So I thought of not wasting the time I have left by going out to do something better than just lying in the hospital bed… and it was a good thing because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to meet you and experience happiness even just for a short while. You became my new beginning, Erin. You gave me life and I want to thank you for that.” After hearing his words, all I did was to cry. He hugged me tightly and said, “It’s okay if you don’t love me back, Erin. You don’t have to say anything. I guess the most important thing now is that you already know what I feel for you and that’s what really matters to me.” “No, Keith. I-I’m in love with you too but knowing that we couldn’t be together for a long time really hurts me. “ “I’m sorry, Erin. I guess life has another plan for us but what’s important is today isn’t it? We’re here together right now. We just have to make the most of the time that we have. I want to make more memories with you, Erin. Knowing you feel the same way about me really makes me happy. You are my life now. I love you.” “I love you too.” We were inseparable since then. I didn’t think of Keith as someone who was sick but someone who was healthy, living his life to the fullest. We took a lot of pictures together. We did all the things we could do and went to the places we could go. And it was on that one breezy, Sunday afternoon that Keith breathed his last. I couldn’t help myself from crying that day. No more Sunday walks with him, no more rides to town, and no more late-night movies. But I guess what I really missed were all the times that he was just there by my side, loving me unconditionally.

7 years have passed since that day but I still go back to this place. This garden holds a lot of memories of both of us. I couldn’t help but smile every time it comes back to me. Keith, wherever you are right now, I know you are already happy there. Thank you for all those precious moments you have shared with me. You may think that I was the one who changed you but you were actually the one who gave me a new beginning. I love you, Keith and I always will. I looked down as my daughter tugged on my skirt and smiled as she asked, “Mommy, Mommy, tell me again the story about this place. I want to hear it.” “Ok.” I said, smiling. “Once upon a time, there was a young girl. . . “




l The Way I Ended It by Luna Joy de la Cerna

I closed my eyes,

I remembered the memories we had Of how our love was mad Of how your touch felt Ha! And how your kiss made me melt

I remembered the day I first set my eyes on you You were wearing that dress in Caribbean blue Your eyes were close as you listened And how my knees weakened That first kiss we had was exquisite And that feeling I always revisit I couldn’t believe you were mine And all other memories charged in time Every sunset came to us I look at you here, lying, sleeping at last Our hair’s now gray Along as I say a silent pray’r You are the love of my life But I cannot anymore make you strife In this hospital bed we have lounged for years As we were visited by our children’s children dear I touched you once more, love.


I will remember the memories we had And how our love was mad Of how old, but beautiful you still are today. I breathed my last, “I’m sorry I ended it this way.”




The Prisoner’s Confession by Phoebe Nicole Rios

To betray one’s fondness, this heart as the convict of your rage Quite enervated by confusions, I surrender now For justifying the cause would not free me from transgression Rather to seize my innocence and sweet odds Forever locked into the cell of guilt and guarded by your own forgiveness To beg you for freedom is a shame This crime is something that I must live with anyhow Assert me, as though I’m about to be punished Convict me, for I am a criminal



ECSTACY by Ginoe Ojoy

We consumed these colorful gems That made us lose some of our sense Trapped in this psychedelic illusion, Drowning in the quicksand of confusion I do not know what you did to me The ultimate reality I cannot see You left my mind delusional While my heart is still a juvenile You gave me butterflies in my tummy And left maggots in my heart Slowly eating me from the inside Tearing my body apart Your kiss is a burning poison That reaches beyond my lips You passionately paralyze my body With every stir of your hips You give me feelings I never had before Its like the reaper knocking at my door Your beautiful face I adore, As im lying nauseated on the floor.

Nakaraang Pag-ibig by Sheann Severino

Sa unang sulyap, hindi pa batid ang nais isigaw ng aking dibdib sa langit na lamang binubulong ang lahat ng nais kong isumbong Pangako mo’y iyong kinalimutan tinangay ng hangin ng tuluyan Paano na lamang ang nakaraan? Bigat ng mundo, aking pinasan Ang sugat ng nakaraan ay biglang naghilom Nang ang mga nangyari, akin nang ibinaon tapos na ang taon, tapos na ang kahapon tanggap kong ang pag-ibig natin, iyo ng itinapon Ako’y nakabangon, salamat sa Maykapal wala na ang galit at pagsisising umiiral Malaya kong maiibibigay ang aking pag-ibig hindi na sa nakaraan, kundi sa taong matuwid.




APATHY by Phoebe Nicole Rios

he picked up the bottle of milk delivered in her front door. Rachel took a moment to wander her eyes around her front lawn. Her smile suggested that she was positive about her day. Five minutes have passed and she was still standing there until she realized, “the festival!” She had to finish her today’s task first; a vast order of her jam tarts to be delivered to the Castellan family. There will be a masquerade later tonight and she had to make it on time. She remembered how her mother taught her to make them and how she, most of the time ate only their fillings. Her favorite was her mother’s raspberry jam. Now, it is what she does for a living. Six hours later, all the assorted flavored tarts were settled and ready to be delivered. Rachel caught forty winks for awhile and got herself all set. “This is torture!” she grumbled. She had a very hard time hooking and lacing up her corset. Finally, she examined herself in front of the mirror. She was pleased by how she looked; not so sophisticated but still refined. She wanted to look beautiful inside the castle even though she did not have plans of staying nor socialize with the guests. She only wanted to bring in the pastry then be on her way to the carnival. Every thirtieth of October, Rachel visits the carnival to see the fortune teller. She has been doing this since twelve. Not that she believes whatever Dorothy says about her fate, but she’s fond of hearing the same readings about her past. And maybe, one day she would finally get to connect Dorothy’s readings to her mother’s disappearance. It was crazy of how she last saw her right inside that very carnival. She constantly blamed herself from chasing the clown for the teddy bear he was selling. She may have gotten that silly stuffed toy for free but she lost her mother in that very disturbing crowd. Yet that’s just it. She passed by the carousel and an ugly lady with fairy wings. Rachel always sees the same rides and people in costumes every year… the fat guy selling corn dogs and pretzels; the limped eyed woman with a basket full of bunnies; and that funny Indian boy with his little friend, Kyrk the juggling monkey. She has seen everyone except for the clown who handed him the teddy bear. That really did not bother her. Her assuming attitude always gave her answers to idiosyncrasies she never deeply thought of. “Step inside, my dear.” Dorothy uttered with a shaky voice behind the glimmering curtains. She slowly walked inside as the creepy jolly sounds of the circus began to fade. She could barely see the gypsy’s face. “Typical scenario in a fortune teller’s tent.” Rachel thought. Neither a crystal ball nor a deck of cards could be found on the table; nothing at all. Although she never asked about it, it once confused her. She then assumed that maybe Dorothy had her own way of telling one’s fate; odd but fairly seemed plausible for her. Like most of her visits, she knew she just had to close her eyes and lay her palm open on the table.

Dorothy began to chant something. She grasped Rachel’s hand tighter and a few seconds later, she was unconscious laying her face down the silk covered table. For a moment, there was total silence. “You are such a naive young lady, Rachel!! Ten years have passed and you never bothered to figure out the mystery of your past!” Dorothy suddenly began to speak. She was verbally colliding with her own words that everything she said was obscure. By the fierce looks on her face and a growling voice, she knew it was not a good sign. She knew it was not a reading anymore. This was different from her other visits. Rachel trembled, snatching away her arm. She then fell down the cold grass. Trying to crawl away, she noticed that Dorothy fell unconscious again. Rachel got back on her feet then ran away with fear pumping along with her blood in her veins. Rachel needed to catch her breath for awhile. She sat on an empty bench and rested her face on her palms. The villagers in the carnival never bothered to take a glance at her. That’s just how it goes in a place full of silly people. She understood. She noticed a little girl with a red bow from a distance as she wiped the sweat dripping on her temple with her wrist. The memory of how she got lost just flashbacked on and off her mind while staring blankly at the poor girl. There was just peculiarity inside her. The girl started to crouch and bury her face between her knees. Rachel let a sigh and slowly approached her. With each step she took, the inexplicable feeling began to rise and it started to eat her. She blinked her vagueness away and extended her trembling arm to pat the girl when a forty something woman slapped her hand away. Her world stopped spinning for quite a moment when she recognized the woman’s face. “Mother?” Rachel mumbled. She looked down to the girl who was clinging on the woman’s wrist. “I am sorry young lady but I’m not your mother.” A tear jerked softly from Rachel’s eye as she held the woman’s hand. She remembered her. She was so sure it was her mother. “Get off me you crazy girl!” The woman pushed her back and hurriedly walked away with the little girl who stole a glance at Raven with a gentle smile. Rachel took her time watching them vanish in the dancing colorful lights before she turned back to the bench. She tried to absorb the incident that occurred. She might have had a little concussion when she fell down awhile ago. She looked up the night sky and suddenly she realized the emptiness inside her. She has been so empty all her life. That emptiness was filled by the time she held her mother’s hands. But she needed more. She needed more than a touch. She was clueless on where to start or what to do. Maybe she needed to go home and sleep her exhaustions away tthat night. “Are you okay, ma’am?” the Indian boy sat beside Raven. “Forgive me for I have been watching you since the woman and her child walked away.” “That was my mother. All these years, I never bothered to look for her. I’m too contented living alone not until tonight. But she didn’t recognize me.” “I’m sorry to hear that Ma’am. I grew up alone too. My parents died in a shipwreck. This monkey is my only family. My name is Isar, what’s your name?” The Indian boy thought his story would might at least comfort Rachel.

She looked at Isar with ease and answered, “Rachel. I don’t understand this whole thing. Did she ever try to look for me? I went home alone that night from this very carnival and waited for her to return but she never did.” Unable to find comforting words, Isar nodded and petted Kyrk. “If it is fine with you ma’am, I will bring you to my friend, Sharan. He used to be my parents’ companion. He might help you find out about your parents.” She followed the boy. They passed by Dorothy’s tent and she tried to ignore it as much as she could by flinching her eyes. Rachel finally realized she wanted to get out of the place. It was giving her too much pressure when she just came for a nonsense fortune telling . She thought of how one night just changed her life forever. The circus did not amuse her. In fact, it even scared her. She looked around and thought the carnival looked like hell in a fancy way where demons wear colorful clothes, paint their faces to lure you, and take people’s souls away. People would come with enthusiasm. Their eyes would be filled with amusements. They’d be shouting for more tricks so they would give away their money and time… until nothing’s left but their souls. Demons would always have rooms to take what they have to offer in exchange for amusements. How come she did not realize this? Maybe she was too insensitive to feel this way. She thought. She continued walking behind Isar instinctively. Her mind wandered towards all the possibilities she took for granted. How could she be so naive? Thoughts were simply clobbering inside her brain. She was simply hysterical. Exasperating, she cleared her throat with a glass of water Isar handed him. Rachel looked around inside the tent and complimented the blue and gold tapestries. Her Victorian house didn’t have enough elegance except for her grandmother’s century old clock and the intricate carvings on the stair railings. Her bedroom was dashing with her porcelain dolls yet nothing was fancy. “What, may I ask, is bothering you, Madame??” A tall, dark, and very mysterious looking man asked Rachel. “I am most sorry for being hysterical, Sir. My name is Rachel.” She stood and nodded. “Call me Sharan. Please sit down.” He bent and kissed Rachel’s hand. Rachel started to tell how she lost her mother. It took her half an hour to speak her mind while Sharan and Isar listened to her. When she finally ended her story, Sharan stood up and fill his cup with more tea. He started speaking, “One does not simply unravel a mystery with mere assumptions.” “What do you mean, Sir?” she tilted her chin upward that revealed her curiosity. “The more time we lose, the more chances we take for granted, my lady. Time never runs backward. If you choose to sit and assume anything about your questions, then nothing will ever happen. Time never waits for anybody and that’s how we lose our chances turning what could have been into an eventual regret.” Rachel wrinkled her forehead. What he said just made her confused even more and she knew he was talking about doing something about it. It was getting late; it might take her an hour to find a carriage this time of the night. She asked Isar to accompany her outside the tent. The little boy smirked and took her hand.

“Thank you for the enlightenment Sir, but I do not know where to start.” “You have to create a desire. Your desire will be your ultimate guide to find your answer.” Sharan smiled gently. Satisfied with the response, she smiled back and slowly walked away. Isar bid her goodbye.

LOST IN A MEMORY ii: DELUSION Rachel could not sleep after everything in the carnival. With the slight gleams of the moon peaking on her half opened windows, she watched the curtains rise and fall. She swung her arms alongside of her bed and knocked over a beautiful music box. Her serenity was now interrupted so she decided to turn on the lamp and pick the music box. She caught a glimpse of what seemed to be a small crack probably caused by the hard fall. Rachel never really gave attention to it. The music box seemed heavier than she presumably thought. There was something inside. She opened her drawer and tried to find something to crack open the music box. “A pair of scissors might do the job.”Rachel muttered. On the top of her drawer were the shattered pieces of what once a fine music box was. She found a torn page of a notebook and a locket inside it. Rachel ran her fingers across the surface of the gold locket before opening it. She smiled when she discovered that there were photographs of her mother and father in it. After wearing the locket around her neck, she picked up the letter and started reading it. _______________ Dear Diary,


_______________ October 30th of 1897

I’m about to take my baby girl, Rachel to the carnival. She was very excited when I told her that we are going to meet her daddy there. I am happy that we can finally live together again. Bethany decided to never bother us anymore. I hope she is sincere. Marianne




Rachel was left with just two simple questions: Where was the rest of her mother’s diary and who was Bethany? She went back to sleep and decided to deal with the next day. Tonight just had its fair share of one too many. Each sip of her tea slowly cured her headache. Rachel wished that she should have stayed in the masquerade instead. Now her questions remain unanswered. “Create a desire.” Sharan’s word kept echoing inside her head. She was not sure if she still wanted to find out about her past or to just forget everything that occurred. She stayed at her balcony for half an hour indulging into the morning ambiance before she picked up

the torn page of her mother’s diary. She read it again and asked the same questions. Little did she realize that she was not assuming anything at all. Perhaps she just created a desire through the thoughts of finding out the answers. Rachel could no longer stop herself from thinking. She headed back to Sharan’s tent to tell him her desire however, she decided to keep the note private. Sharan examined the locket. Her father looked very handsome and her mother as beautiful as the spring season. “I am very pleased that you have created a desire in your heart yet it is nothing but a will that shall drive you. What will bring you to your final destination are the steps you take.” Sharan gave the locket back to Rachel. “Steps I take?” hanging the locket back around her neck, Rachel needed his final word. “Like what I told you last evening, nothing will ever happen if you choose just to sit and assume.” Sharan smiled. She had to find her mother again. Only she could answer her questions. She could only wish she would not frighten her away this time. But where, where can she find her? Her desire; it took the pessimisms away. If she desired to look for her mother, she could find her again; not by chance but by will and faith. Rachel came to realize that one thing lead to another; that none of which happened by accident. Her decision of not to stay in the masquerade led her to the fortune teller, the little girl, Isar, and Sharan… they were no accidents. They were the product of a single decision she made. Now it is up to her desire to lead her. “I believe your mother comes here every once in awhile. You might catch her later tonight, Ma’am.” Isar subtly interrupted Rachel with her deepening thoughts. She smiled at him and invited them to have some tea in her house. Sharan wished to stay but gave his permission to Isar to go with her. She adored the young lad so much. His kindheartedness helped her through her situation. The sun was about to set and the carnival opened its enchanted gate to welcome visitors. Rachel watched Isar and Kyrk perform some juggles from a safe distant. The villagers began to gather around the ring, not far from where Isar stood. “What is happening?” Rachel stood beside the young lad and together they followed the crowd. At the center of the ring, a very attractive lady showed up and the people began to applaud. She was perhaps the most beautiful lady Rachel has seen in her entire life. The people were awed as they watched the lady whipped a lion. People then started to cheer for her name, Bethany. Rachel suddenly felt cold. She took a step backward and Isar looked up to her fainting. He escorted her out of the crowd and let her sit in a bench. Still shivering, Rachel asked Isar about the seemingly strange lady. “That was Bethany. She is a good performer. We do not have much idea about her. She has never spoken to other people in the carnival. She is a very mean woman. Are you fine, Ma’am? The clueless young lad asked her back. Rachel asked him to accompany her at Bethany’s tent. Isar was deeply hesitant but he could not stand Rachel’s desperate cries. “You certainly are courageous, Ma’am. Your will keeps overcoming the fear that slowly lurks in your heart. Your courage is clearly written in your eyes.” Isar was astonished by her desires.

“It has never been a will of mine to face a demon. It has been known to me that demons exist, but to not dance with them will keep you away from harm, Isar.” Rachel spoke like a knight and not as a damsel in distress like what she has always been. “The valor always lies in a desire.” She continued. “Ahh.. Sharan have taught me a belief that dancing with them is not in a very convenient means, but a courageous way to drive them out. Escaping will never make them leave you but rather live within you.” Isar held her cold hand and shifted her sight towards a tent. He sent his wise monkey, Kyrk back to Sharan’s tent. Bethany’s tent was the biggest one yet the most isolated as well. It also seemed very elegant but in the most manner, mysterious. They treaded softly, silently, and without permission to come in. Bethany was still in the center of the ring. Rachel took her time scanning Bethany’s dresser while Isar stood near the entrance, bewildered. She opened the drawer and found a couple of voodoo dolls and a picture frame facing down. Rachel recognized that the gentleman in the photo was her father. “Who allowed you two to go inside my tent?!” With flaming anger in her face, Bethany strangled Isar with one hand, elevating him from the ground. The poor lad struggled to breathe. “Put my friend down, please. We came here to speak to you.” Rachel stuttered. Bethany harshly put Isar down and the boy stumbled to the ground. “Very well, if you wished to speak to me, you could have waited outside. How unlady like of you, young woman.” “Where is my father? You witch!” “How should I know that, my dear?” Bethany walked slowly circling around Rachel. “I saw this photo in your drawer, Bethany. Now, will you tell me where is he?” “Oh, that! I do not seem to remember we had a daughter. That gentleman in the photo is my long lost husband, my dear. Now will you two help yourself on your way out of my place so I could take my rest?” She finally settled on her couch. Rachel came near and stood in front of Bethany. She stood there and stared at her so fiercely. Bethany was still in her demeanor. “If you must know, I spared his life when he came begging me. Your father was dying of a hopeless disease. However, there is always a price to pay, my dear. I am, in a most admirable way, to use your word… a witch.” “What did you do to my father?!” Rachel threw her wrist to slap Bethany. The woman was, however, agile. “Ah, that is not how a lady should act. Hush my dear. Now, you do really want to hear the rest of my story, don’t you? Bethany let go of her arms. Isar was still standing beside the entrance, trembling. “When I found out that he was planning to reunite with his family, I killed him right inside this very tent. Now am I to be blamed, my dear?” Bethany crossed her legs and gave Rachel a quirked smile. The young lady could not help but shed her tears. “Of course, I took away the memory of your mother from her.” She ended. “Can you bring my mother’s memory back?” Rachel asked weakly. “Ah… dancing with the devil. I like that. You certainly are savvy, my dear.” “Can you or can you not?!”

“Why, I do not see a reason I cannot.” Bethany mocked. She turned away and stepped closer into her dresser. She picked up the photo while Rachel watched her with loathe. Outside her tent, just like what she had thought last night, was a hell in a fancy way. This time, Rachel inferred that Bethany was a real demon who takes people’s souls away. Unfortunate to say, Bethany took everything from her. A soul could only mean the core of one’s being, but when you have resorted to nothing, what else could you lose? Rachel pondered very thoroughly. The bulb began to flicker on and off so the three of them looked up to it. It flickered six more times until the whole tent finally turned pitched black. Frightened Isar came running towards Rachel, bumping fancy giant vases. He clung to Rachel’s hips very tightly. The outside was still in joyful chaos celebrating worldly pleasures. She could hear her own pace getting stronger and stronger as it anticipated danger. Rachel pushed Isar away from her. The boy crawled away and crouched at the corner disheveled with thoughts to scream. Isar grasped harder to his knees, now covered with sweat and tears. Clueless about what was happening, total silence gave him the fear of the unknown. He knew that if he would scream, no one would hear him as the fireworks began to dominate outside. Isar muttered Rachel’s name when he heard a body dropped. He crawled forward. Underneath his bare hands, he felt a warm liquid on the cold grass. He kept muttering Rachel’s name but still heard no response from her. The bulb began to light the tent again. With a sudden rush of strength through Isar’s veins, he stood up and ran… ran as fast as he could. He ran as far as he could reach.




Breakout by Francis Joebeth Ledesma


creaming, people crying in agony, bells ringing, doors pounding, multiple gunshots sounding, piercing the very plane to which my senses failed but hearing. I heard the sound of blood lashing, staining the boundaries to where I slumber. Clearly, I could hear them but I could not see them. This arousing sensation of curiosity accompanied by great fear embraced my lifeless body. Out of my unconsciousness, I knew I was not awake. I knew I was sleeping for long. I missed all the chances to witness those happenings. I needed to wake up, I must wake up. My body trembled. I was drenched in cold sweat for I was plagued with my delirio of the sounds that continuously penetrated in my ears. I could picture dreadful scenes augmenting my fear and my hunger for waking. Everything became more and more baneful until a sudden deep breath filled me. I woke up. I gazed everywhere as the blur in my eyes slowly faded. I figured out that everything in that room was a mess. After some time, I have realized I was in an infirmary of somewhat a hospital or whatsoever. I was not sure. I just recognized it after seeing some familiar medical paraphernalia. I tried to get up but my body was so numb after a long time that I have not been moving. I clinched my arm at the side of my bed for support and I slowly stood up as the numbness I was feeling was worn out of me. Everything was unclear. I remembered nothing. I was confused not knowing who I was or what was the place I were in. There was nothing; not even a single clue of what happened or what was happening. All I could remember were those horrible things. For now, I think everything was just a nightmare to me; a really vicious one. I was quite relieved knowing that those were all but dreams. I checked the room and tried to open a rusty door but it was locked. “Hello? Anybody out there?” I shouted, but no one answered. I looked back to see if there was anything useful to break the door. I found a wooden chair and smashed it on the door but nothing happened. I took another try but before I could, I lost my balance, fell on the floor, and tripped down the planks of wood blinding another door. To my surprise, I stood up immediately and opened that door. What divulged in front of me was a mirror with a writing GULAG 1930 inscribed in blood. And with my own eyes, for the first time, I saw my face- a stunning feature of a bald guy with a mark on the forehead; a mark that would determine the beginning of my search for my identity. “Zero one”. I whispered. My attention focused on what was written in the mirror. “Gulag 1930?” I muttered, leaving another big question in my mind. “It’s 1930?” I was about to approach closer when I stepped on something. It was a key. Assuming the key could get me out of there, I rushed directly to the first door. Without hesitation, I opened it forcibly. I was startled and terrified of what I have witnessed. Terror and loath filled my veins and I could hardly believe I was seeing amidst the darkness of this forsaken tunnel; severed and rotten bodies of people were scattered in the ground. Their blood painted the wall. A filthy odor could be smelt all over the tunnel. Maggots fed on their flesh. I could not take the weight of what I have seen. And though I have not eaten for long, I felt like spewing what was left inside of me. With disgust, I grasped a torch attached to the wall and proceeded with haste not knowing where to go. All I was thinking of was to escape the horror.

The nightmare I thought was over later then became reality to be dealt with. I soon found out what really awaited me. Every step I took became every chance I made. I became very watchful, vigilant, and paranoid with everything. Usual things became unusual to me. My fear grew more every time I heared tiny creaks or even a single droplet of liquid for I knew something was wrong. Something was not normal. Who could have ever done that? I continued walking with my eyes wide. I convinced myself that I was ready for anything but at the back of my mind, terror crawled. I was weak from the inside.

I came to a slightly opened cell block door and on the other side was a lever. I came near and tried to reach the lever but I could not even budge it no matter how hard I tried to. I used my torch to extend and push back the lever. Suddenly, the door opened and I entered. Just as the same moment, someone from the inside shouted “No! You fool! Now we’re all going to die!” “Wh-what?!?!... who are you?!?!” I shouted with great fear. A horrible yell was then heard inside the premises. I was terrified. I tried to run back outside but the door was shut. I pointed my torch all over the place to take a view of what I heard. The yell continued and even multiplied like there were more of them. “Where are you?!?! Help me! Please!” I shouted desperately as the fear in me grew deeper. I was already panicking. I did not know what to do. I was stuck at the middle with what I saw. I recognized that there was a prison block and all its cells were opened. A cold air blew at the back of my ears and my body shivered. I could barely look back. I was moistened with perspiration. I breathed deeply, held it for awhile, and screamed at the top of my voice. I thought I was going to die but someone pulled me and moved away before it could assault me. “Hey you! Fool! Run as fast as you can!” said the man. “What are they?!?!” I asked while running with my entire pace. “Shut up and run! I’d tell you later if you’d be lucky to survive.” I asked no more. We continued running but those things that were chasing were very fast as well. We then found ourselves hiding in a dark room, so dark that not even a single light could be seen. “Don’t move. They’re coming.” He whispered trembling. I heard their footsteps approaching, roaming inside the room, looking for us to feed. I could not explain the intensity of my fear especially when I felt one of them breathed in front of me. Quivering and sweating, my body was so pale and cold. I remained still until they left. “I think they’re gone.” The man said in a low voice. “Are you sure?” I asked. The man lit a match for light and whispered. “Who are you?” I replied “Me?” he answered “Who else do you think I would be asking? Huh?” “I don’t know.” I said shaking “What?” he asked one more “I said I don’t know. I just woke up a moment ago and ended up running from those…those things.”I cried out anxiously. The man held the match stick near my face and looked at the mark in my forehead. “What’s that in your head? Zero one ei? Alright, I’ll call you Owan. Not Russian but that name would do. I am Ulrek.” “Where am I?” I asked him puzzled “I’ll tell you soon. It’s not safe here. Come. We’ll meet the others.” I followed Ulrek hoping I could distinguish what was happening. We passed through a safer passage- away from danger and those bloodlust things. We arrived at a settlement in the upper level. I felt safe and secured to see those people armed and all set. “Those things are E30’s” Ulrek whispered in my ear. “Those creatures?” I asked “They were once humans designed as subjects for Biological weapons. They were supposedly used during the Russian Civil but everything turned wrong and now they brought the hell out this place.” He explained. “They’re responsible for everything here.” I eventually remembered those corpses I saw outside of the infirmary. Those E30s did that horrible thing. “You must meet Oleg.” Ulrek cried with pride. “Who’s Oleg?” I questioned “The one in charge. The supreme leader… and you don’t want to mess with him because if you do, you’re a dead man.” He replied in an insulting tone. I just grinned with awe and followed Ulrek as he went to Oleg. Ulrek was talking while we were walking but instead of listening to him, I chose to look at the different people inside the place. There were many of them. There were women and children, those who were sick and treated, and even those who gambled at the sides. I also saw looters, pickpocketers, thugs, and worst: those who were beaten and left robbed at the side. Poverty dwelled in the place and my impression of safety beforehand turned to be the opposite. I then wondered who those people were. As we entered Oleg’s cell, I staggered when I saw those E30s hanging up on the ceiling. Daunted with immense fear, I ran back but was seized by Oleg’s guards. They threw me down to the floor. My head hit the concrete. Blood poured down my forehead and concealed my mark. I grew unconscious but immediately regained my senses after shaking my head. “AHAHAHA!” Oleg savagely laughed at me. “Silly, AHAHAHA! It’s dead. I killed it with my own hands!” He was a huge, heavily built guy with a receding hairline, about seven feet tall. He was wearing a tight and unfit military uniform with a USSR badge. The grotesque look of the E30 unfolded in front of me. Its sinking jaw crippled. Yes, still human but it featured a bloody abomination. Its arms were twice as protracted as mine, dripping wet with blood from its flesh. Its limbs were so lean and short. An obvious indication of surgical operation has been done to this creature because of copper stitches marked in its skin.

“Who are you?” Oleg questioned. “I am Owan.” He said proudly “ What is this place?” asked Oleg “You do not know? HAHAHA! You’re in GULAG, my prison.” he exclaimed yet there’s nothing I could understand. “You’re in Russia.” He shouted. I portrayed a seemingly illiterate gesture. “AHAHAHA! Remove this bastard out of my sight. He’s useless.” He commanded. They took me to a room full of scattered papers, files, and pictures of what they called as experiments. Ulrek came in and asked. “Can you shoot?” He gave me a rifle. I don’t know what came in to my mind but I could recognize that one. “Federov Avtomat.” I whispered. “You knew that?” He asked surprisingly. “Well at least you know that one.” he continued. “Short recoil operated locked-breech which fires from close bolt an excellent battle rifle.” Ulrek was amazed and stunned with what I said. “Russian Civil War ei? You must be one of the Red Army that is why you’re here.” He then laughed. “I’ll leave you here for awhile. Try to make yourself comfortable and wipe that blood stain in your head.” Ulrek left me in a room. Blood started to drop from my forehead. I could already feel the pain. I picked up pieces of paper and wiped my wound. Later on, I saw something fixed on the wall. I looked at it closer and identified a floor plan. Only then I knew that the whole place was a prison. Gulag was actually a prison! Speculated with the possible reason of me being there, I tried to search for files that could possibly contain any of my records. But what I discovered was something horrible, something that would change my life, and the way I look at who I was. I have found my file but to my surprise, I found something unexpected. “This couldn’t be happening to me…Experiment 01? This couldn’t be me… I couldn’t be one of them...” I uttered with frustration. “What’s that?” Someone questioned. It was Ulrek. I didn’t know that he came back shortly. I was faltered; they would kill me if they knew I was one of those creatures. “What’s that? He interrogated with suspicion and grabbed the file on my hand. Surprised, he murmured. “This is you. You’re one of them.” With nimble, he drew a gun from his back. Luckily, before he could even point it towards me, an alarming gunshot was heard all over the place. Ulrek tumbled down the floor, dull and lifeless. I shot him on the chest. Everyone was alerted. They all rushed towards my room but I managed to escape before they could even get me. I knew they were about to discover who I really was in no time. Once again, I was running away from the place I thought, was refuge. I was wrong. I should not be pursued by those brutal prisoners or a prey to those bloodlust E30s. The directions on the floor plan were portrayed in my mind and in no time, I reached the exit gate which unfortunately it was locked. A combination of four digits could unlock it. I pressed any button hoping to get the right combination but I couldn’t. They were fast approaching. I could already hear the gunshots of those people and the yells of those things from a distance. The only option left in my mind was to kill myself before they could even do. I settled down and aimed the rifle in my mouth, sweating, afraid, hesitant, and choiceless. Just when I thought that there was no hope for me as I was about to pull the trigger, I was able to recall what was written in the mirror at the infirmary -1930. I immediately stood up and tried my luck one last time. My hands were shaking, doubtful, and tensed when I pressed 1-9-3 but someone pulled and hurled me before I could press the last digit. I recognized it was Oleg. “You think you can get out of here without passing through me?!?!” he shouted in a deep and enormous voice. “You are the Owan! The first! You have what I need!” “What do you need from me?!?!” I attempted to recover my rifle on the floor but he stomped to break my arm. I cried in pain and agony as I felt the relentless affliction gushing and lingering in my severed arm. It was too painful. I was screaming, coiling, and helplessly lying on the floor. “Please… I beg you.” I pleaded for pity. “I can’t believe this! HAHAHA! Experiment Zero One asking for my mercy? HAHAHA!” He drew closer and spat on me. He was supposed to get me but he fell as an E30 leaped on him. He was assaulted and bitten but he managed to choke the creature. I took it as an opportunity to escape and crawl my way to the gate and press 0. The gate opened but Oleg grasped my leg.

“I am not supposed to die!” he uttered. The gate was closing and so I hurried. “So am I.” I responded. “Go to hell.” I clinched my hand at the gap between the gates, dragged myself out before it was too late, crushed Oleg’s arm, and ripped it from his struggling body. “Now we’re even.” I bragged grazing my fractured arm. I lied exhausted on the soil. I gazed at the beauty of the blue skies and I felt the cold morning air blowing in my face. A feeling of relief, happiness, and contentment contained me. A deep sigh of brightness was portrayed in my face but all of it diminished when I saw the huge dark smoke embraced the distant horizon. I stood up and braced myself as I looked at the far side. Unfamiliar of that seemingly new world, I started to walk for I knew a new journey awaited me. I looked forward to find more answers to all my questions. I have to search for more. I need to understand everything about my existence; who I really am and what I am capable of. Now, I’m on my own again.






cover photo by : CHIARA SALMORIN layout by:


Ebb & Tide 2013  

The Art and Literary Portfolio of La Consolacion College Bacolod

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