Earth’s Wrath: The Rage of Fire

I have lived in darkness for the past three days.

I am alone in this small room with nothing but a bed, a pot for my wastes and a door. No windows or candles to provide the smallest hope of light. My hands are tied behind my back. I have tried to escape thrice only to be thrown down by a man twice my size and my bonds made tighter. But I am not the only one suffering.

There are four of us — there have always been four — here in this temple. I hear one of the girls at night, crying to sleep. One prayed, only stopping when it’s time for dinner — the only meal the men provided us. The other one is silent that I wonder if she can’t talk at all. Then the last one is me, who always fought. I will never stop fighting till I died.

Today’s the fourth day, the last day. And the men have come for us.

The sun is almost setting but the light still hurts my eyes. The men lead us out the temple, toward the raised dais where four posts were set, facing each direction. Below the dais are people whom we know. We have lived in the same village, smiled at one another on the streets, and helped each other in the time of need. But tradition dictates that four women must give their own life for the continuance of other’s. There are many who supports this tradition; I am one of the few who don’t.

The men tie each of us to individual posts and I flex my wrists apart so they can still move. Kindlings are set upon our feet, encircling the posts themselves. They intend to burn us. I will not let them.

A priest starts bringing the orb of Fira into the middle of the dais, his lips moving faintly with his prayers. The crowd is silent as the priest bellows, “Praise be to the goddess of Fire!”

“Praise to her and all her glory!” the crowd answers.

“Today we shall witness yet again our goddess’s love and passion sweep over our lands and families. And how else can we show her our gratitude? How else can we make sure that she never leaves our side? Today! These four young, beautiful souls will enter our goddess’s sweet loving arms and make the goddess divine satisfied!” says the priest.  The orb glows bright red in the center and I know that if I somehow get a hold of it, I might get the chance to live.

The priest then takes hold of a torch, walks toward the praying girl at my right, shouts, “Let the fire burn our diseases!”, and sets fire to her.

The crowd cheers but the sound of the girl’s cries rings louder in my ears. Soon her cries are doubled by the girl opposite from me and then tripled by the girl at my left as the priest lights them up one by one, burning away “calamities” and “conquerors”, as if us girls are manifestations of the things they hate and fear.

I am wrong to stay in this village for too long. I am wrong for thinking I could live here in peace. And I refuse to let others live while I die for their sakes.

The priest comes for me but I have already loosened the rope around my wrists.

“Let the fire burn the wicked!”

I wrench the torch from the priest’s hands and hit his surprised face with the burning end. A satisfying crunch and the sizzling of burning flesh fills my ears as the priest went down. The crowd gasps and the closest to the dais backs away. But I don’t worry about them; let them help him to his feet. The orb of Fira has already caught my attention.

I sprint toward it; the men guarding us realizing too late that it isn’t the priest’s demise that I am after. It is my freedom and life of all the girls that would have succeeded our sacrifice. I reach towards the glowing orb and I’ve prepared myself to be burned but —

What? The orb is…cold?

Suddenly I feel…lighter than I’ve ever felt before. My flushed body calms as brightly colored wind — no, not wind but fire! — envelope my body. Flashes of blues and greens and golds lift my hair and swirl around my arms.

I look up the sky and laugh. So this is power.

I lower my gaze upon the crowd that not so long ago cheered for the deaths of four girls. Four. Because the girl I was died and now I am reborn as fire. I open my arms and release myself unto them.

            Burn them all.

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Earth’s Wrath: The Cry of the Ocean

It was said that the water from Eau temple could heal. The temple itself was in the middle of the sea, and only us, priestesses, were allowed inside. Later this day, I received a letter containing my sister’s plummeting health condition. I had prepared a full canteen of the temple’s water when a second letter arrived. With greatest sadness, my sister did not survive.

It was said that the water from Eau temple could heal. But I believe it could do so much more; no, not the water, but the source. I believe it could bring back the dead.

I didn’t allow grief to sway me from my plan. Coincidentally, it was my turn for performing the cleansing ritual, an act which would allow me to go near the source, and borrow it for a few moments. I promised myself that I would bring it back once everything was done.

Our house wasn’t far from the shore and all members of my family were there; my sister in her simple white dress lying on her bed. She looked like she was sleeping except for the absence of the rise and fall of her chest, of the color in her cheeks, of the movement of her eyes beneath her lids. I gripped the glistening Eau orb to my chest as I slowly approached her.

“Daughter,” mother managed to rasp from her hoarse voice and tear-stained face. “You are too late. She is gone. You are far, far too late,” she accused.

As if my sister’s frail health was my fault. As if I was to be blamed for her death. I refuse to accept my sister’s end even if it goes against what was taught in the temple. “It is never too late, Mother. Not with the orb of Eau with us.”

My mother gasped. And so did my father and brothers. “What have you done, child?” my father bellowed. “That sacred orb must never leave the temple.” His eyes were panicked as he continued, “You have doomed as all.”

I stopped hearing everyone’s fearful cries for safety and stopped caring for their silent, frantic steps to flee. I knelt beside my sister’s bed and placed the orb right above her chest, made her small, delicate hands to wrap around it.

The orb started to glow and with it my hope grew. This was the right thing to do. I will save her, I thought. Outside our house, people were screaming for help, for salvation, for safety.

“The sea! The sea is retreating! Run!” they called.

Suddenly, a huge amount of wind shook the thin walls of our house, lifting my hair and skirts in every direction, lifting my sister’s body off the ground.

“No!” I screamed and scrambled atop the bed, covering my sister’s body with my own. “Ilyanae, wake up!”

And she did.

It worked! The orb worked! I was so happy a tear escaped my eye.

But as I studied my sister’s features, her eyes… Her dark blue eyes were blank and stared at nothing, her face impassive. “Ilyanae?” I whispered. Her skin turned from cold to freezing. And as her chest expanded in an inhale, water leaked out from every hole in her body so cold it burned then quickly froze. I snatched the orb before it stuck in my sister’s frozen body and watched in horror as cracks slowly formed from her eyes like tears running down her face, splitting in every direction, every part of her body, until finally it shatters into a million broken pieces.

No!” I screamed, clutching the orb to my chest, just as the ocean came crushing down upon me.

I shut my eyes. I’ve failed —failed to save my sister, failed in my duties as priestess, failed as a daughter. And yet, even as I wait for the crushing pressure to drown me, nothing came. I took a breath and realized that I could. I opened my eyes one at a time and saw the ocean above me, beneath me, around me and I realized that I’ve been cocooned in a bubble of air.

But where there should only be water, the faint light of the sun illuminates the destruction the water has done to my village. Huts that should have been in the sand floated around in pieces, carried by the strong current. Worse, I saw bodies of men and women and children, some already bloated, some still struggling to resurface, some only parts of them remained.

The terror gripped me so hard, I shook. Why was I the only one unharmed? Why was I the only one left alive? Why—

My eyes drop to the orb clutched to my chest and my father’s voice echoed to my ears.

I have truly doomed us all.

Eyes as windows

He told me it’ll only hurt at first.
He told me it won’t take long.
He told me it’ll make things better.

Sure, at the beginning, it hurts.
Then it hurts more.
Then it hurts so much.
It hurts too much until it hurts no more.

We see people on the streets.
At home.
In school.
At work.
Everywhere in everyday.

Although these people we see are living,
Some of us are dead inside.
If you look through the windows of my body,
You’ll see the ruin in me.
Death lives within me.
He resides in my body.

Death took one look and one look only.
He saw I was falling apart.
He saw things crashing down within me.
He saw hope running low from me.
He saw where he could be.
He knew what I’m going through
And that’s when he decided where he’ll stay.

He offers me his company
For the times I was down and lonely.
Then finally he asked me to let him stay.
He told me it’ll only hurt at first.
He told me it won’t take long.
He told me it’ll make things better.
My body as his shelter
In exchange for my pain and sadness to go away.

Death wants to dominate this body,
So first, he touched the armor of my strength—it rots.
It made the pain unbearable for there is no strength to endure.
Second, he put out the flame of my kindness.
Death doesn’t like warmth, so he made everything cold.
Third, he flick off the switch of my emotions
For pain and sadness to be no more.
Lastly, he blew the little candle of hope in me.
Death likes darkness so he puts out anything that glows.

I know I’ve decided this.
I know this is my own doing.
I’ve turned myself into something so pitiful.
I gave up on myself and let others take authority.
I thought this is better
Not feeling anything at all
I thought this is cooler
Not caring about a single soul
I forgot that I have my own soul too
Now, look into my eyes, I scream for help.

Earth’s Wrath: The Stillness of Air

It wasn’t meant to happen. This wasn’t meant to happen. I never meant for it to happen. I did everything I was told and I did it perfectly; there was simply no room for errors.

The temple of Aera was set on the edge of a cliff, its long pillars chapped from centuries of harsh weather conditions. The old tales referred to this temple as the birthplace of storms and of hurricanes. I knew what to expect but calling the place ‘windy’ would certainly be the understatement of the year. The wind shouted warnings that my partner and I continued to ignore; warnings that were simply overlooked knowing what treasure lies within.

Inside the temple, the wind sang its history. Its lyrics were of monks who had long ago turned into dust and of hunters whose dead bodies remained a mystery. In a line or two, the wind whispered locations of hidden rooms and trap doors but only those who have been trained knew how to listen and interpret. I was one of the chosen.

“Slowly…slowly…,” my partner murmured.

“I know what I’m doing.” I snapped. My palms sweat even though the air was cool. I took a breath or two to calm my racing heart. I was hyperaware of the treasure that was laid before me and of its replica in my hand. All I had to do was quickly replace the opaque Aera orb with the fake, taking the genuine one with me and scram. And I did. My partner and I got out of the temple safely, a little out of breath, but safe. I remembered looking into each other’s eyes, our success shining in our faces. Then it happened.

It started when one of the temple’s pillars cracked; a deafening sound of stone against stone. The wind blew harder—we had to fall on our knees just to stay on the ground—and after a moment, it suddenly stopped. I looked up and saw that every natural movement—the swaying of trees, the sound of the wind, the crumbling temple—stopped. Then my partner made a choking sound.

He was clutching his neck; his eyes bulged, his face growing purple with his mouth opened as he made gasping sounds. I reached his side and tried to pull his hands away and demanded what was wrong.

“I can’t…breathe…”

“What?” I was dumbfounded. I didn’t understand what was happening till the first bird dived to the ground. I tilted my head and saw that the sky shed birds as tears, all of them plummeting to the ground, some instantly died while some in the same state of my partner then went limp.

My partner grabbed my arm with fading strength, his face pleading for me to do something.

“Help…me…”

But I couldn’t. I didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know what to do. My naivety had caused this catastrophe and as I watched my partner sigh his last breath, I became aware of a faint glow tucked in my coat. The treasure—the orb—was glowing and it was this, I realized, that triggered everything. I looked back to the temple only to find its remaining half, the other half now fell to the sea beyond. There was no hope.

Unintentionally, I dropped the orb to the ground. The instant I lost contact with the orb, my breathing was cut off, as if I’ve swallowed a cork to my esophagus. No, I thought, clutching my throat. Panic engulfed me as I frantically searched for the orb. The moment I touched it, air came rushing back to my lungs and it took every inch of me to stay conscious even as I heaved like a fish out of water.

What have I done?

The Perfect Crime

I’ve committed the perfect crime.
I sit here, in the room they think is fit for me — a bed with a single pillow and blanket, bare walls with only one window barred from the world. I wrap my puppet in a warm embrace, the last remaining reminder of my daughter’s existence to everyone who knew her. No, I am not in prison. My door is not locked though I am advised not to leave the facility for my safety. They think I’m crazy. I laugh at the most inappropriate times and talk to my puppet like she’s alive. No, I am not crazy. This, and everything that happened after her death and everything that will follow, is all part of my plan.
“How are you this evening, George?” Martha, one of the many nurses in this building, asks.
“I’m fine. Thank you for asking, Martha,” I answer with a smile.
“Good, good. Dinner is ready, you might want to head to the dining hall.” She pauses, eyeing my puppet then adds, “You know what? You can bring Alice with you tonight, so she won’t be lonely.”
“Papa,” echoes Alice’s tiny voice, “may I kill her?”
Martha shudders visibly while I laugh and say, “Silly thing, no. We like Martha.”
The puppet slumps into a saddened heap. Alice the puppet is not a beautiful puppet. It is not meant for children who wanted sleep and dreams. Why? Because the puppet is the picture of my daughter’s last moments, injuries and all.
“Ex-excellent performance, George. Well then.” Martha escapes with hurried steps.

The kitchen staff provides nutritious food for us deranged people five times a day though the food’s nutrition factor seems to contradict its taste. I don’t complain.
I eat in silence, occasionally offering some to my puppet Alice, which often gives others the excuse to laugh or throw confused looks at me. Some just ignores me, content in their own misery and bliss like me.
“George?” Martha hesitantly asks. “Dr. Martin wants to speak with you. I believe it’s important. Will you please come with me?”
“Of course,” I say. “May I bring Alice?”
“Su-sure, sure.”
She leads me to my personal psychiatrist. Dr. Martin is a formal gentleman who is too good at what he does. I do feel that sometimes Dr. Martin knows that I am not really crazy, that what I do is just my façade though if my hunch is true, it makes me question whether the true crazy is him and not me.
“Welcome, George,” says Dr. Martin. “How are you feeling?”
He always opens up our conversation with that question into which I answer, “Fine.”
He is uncharacteristically quiet this evening but I do nothing to break the silence.
“I am so very sorry to be the bearer of bad news but,” he hesitates, then adds in a morose voice, “your wife has died.”
A shrill laughter erupts from Alice’s open mouth, making Dr. Martin flinch.
I look Dr. Martin in the eye and say, “My wife has been dead to me since she twisted my Alice’s arm till it broke. She had me tied to a chair and made me watch as she carved my daughter like a fruit. Alice was a strong girl and I prayed and prayed that she were not. I shouted at the gods for my daughter to loose consciousness as that bitch dragged a knife across Alice’s pale stomach, spelling her own damned name.” I am breathing heavily now, clutching my puppet tight to my chest as the scenes of my daughter’s death flashes again and again on my mind. “I stopped feeling when the bitch went for my Alice’s eye.”
Dr. Martin grasps my hands in his tightly and looks into my wild eyes with sorrow and pity. “I understand,” he says. “You are safe here, George. Beyond safe. I just want you to know that I am here for you should you feel the need to share what you are feeling now.”
“I feel like it’s a dream come true,” I whisper.
“Alright. Why don’t you get some sleep first, Martha will take you back in your room, and we’ll talk again tomorrow.”
I nod and let Martha guide me.
I sit in my bed and lift my puppet to look at it straight in the eyes.
“Thank you, Alice.” Because of it, somewhere in a mound of earth, lies the bitch that killed Alice, buried deep into the ground. Because of my puppet, I will sleep without anyone suspecting me of murder.
The puppet’s arms move and envelop me in an embrace.
“I love you, Papa.”

To Peace

I died.

Everything, no matter where I look, is so bright. Unlike that final moment when darkness slowly crept across my vision until all I saw was darkness. At that moment, I realized I’m finally dead. I didn’t think I’d wake up once more, but here I am, standing in the middle of nowhere.

“Come forward,” called a voice.

I look down and see my own two bared feet. I raise my arms and see my red-streaked wrists. I examine my blood-splattered dress and realize there’ll be no changing them. I take a step forward—not caring where ‘forward’ may lead—and follow the voice.

“Stop.”

I obey.

“What is your name?”

I look around and see no one besides myself. Where the voice is coming from? That I do not know. If I could still speak—that I am not aware—but is still worth a try so I clear my throat.

“Where am I?” I ask.

“The gates,” reply the voice.

“The gates to where?”

“To peace.”

To peace? My eyes flicker to my slashed wrists. “I’m not sure I deserve peace,” I hear myself say. Continue reading

Insanity’s Playlist

bloody_beat-1440x900

I put on my headphones
And tossed a lighted match into the night.
The sleeping family never stirred
As the fire grew bright.

I walked into the streets
With a bloodied axe in my hand
And listened to a man’s scream;
A song that only i would understand.

I saw a girl ran
Only to be crushed underneath a burning tree
Her loud prayers cut off
By my maddening symphony.

At last, I looked down at my town
And at the tree which my family hung
I took a bow
For the song no one knew i sung.