Servant Of The Aswang
by Samuel Marzioli
The Manila Times predicted March 30th would be a scorcher, the hottest so far this year. The aswang called it a perfect day to hunt and went to pack the cargo van.
As a rule, she never took us to the same site twice and always drove along the back roads and forgotten streets to every destination. It kept us unseen, she said, and put a bold stroke outline on any car that might follow. She was always fastidious about these things. That’s why she had lasted so long when all the rest of her kind had faded into folklore and rural superstition.
This time we traveled to Alabang Town Center, about fifty kilometers south and a two-hour drive by the route we took. We staked out a bench and waited for shoppers to pour in, acting like mother and daughter kicking up our feet. By noon, teenagers crammed inside, walking in noisy groups, still celebrating their newfound summer freedom.
Had they known the kind of eyes that watched them, they would have fled the mall and gone straight home, to huddle in their closets and wait for us to move on. But they never knew, never left, and I was forced to relive the same nightmare over and over.
“Pumili,” the aswang said.
“I can’t. I can’t choose,” I said, practiced words she’d heard a dozen times before.
“Do not act like you have forgotten our deal,” she said, a rare moment when she didn’t speak Tagalog. “Choose someone, or I will choose you.”
I did. Like the coward I am, of course I did.