Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Disquiet Morning Of Fury And Rage


"Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God." The old lady holding a wooden rosary implored in a cracked voice.

"That we maybe worthy of the promises of Christ." A chorus of terrified faithful mumbled in response.

"Let us pray."  

It was nearing daybreak, and no one has slept yet. The howls of death has kept them craning their necks to the ceiling, as the corrugated aluminum sheets on their heads tear up like it was being trampled by invisible hooves. Eight souls counting three kids huddled together inside a small room. Hidden under thick blankets and with their hands wrapped around their mother's waist, these children shiver every time the walls shake.  

Days before landfall, authorities made rounds around the neighborhood beseeching families to stay in concrete shelters. A handful heeded their call. But not this family. Believing their two-story home can withstand the winds of perdition, the patriarch of the house decreed it would be best for them to stay together as the swirling oblivion passes through.

"Our house is far from the shore" he said to his wife "There is no chance the sea will barge through the door." 

Nightfall came, and a televised speech from the President urged people to move to higher grounds. It was aired live in the evening news. The lights flickered as he spoke, prompting the maid to ready some candles. Outside, the winds warned of the approaching tempest. Electric wires swayed, while whistles in the air (the eldest among the three girls compared the sound to a jet plane that is about to take off) grew louder as the hands of time inched closer to midnight.

There was no sleep, especially for the one who sealed the fate of them all. He switched on the transistor radio, but only white noise can be heard across the airwaves. Looking at the window, all he saw were red skies lit by lightning. His judgement now clouded with doubts, he began to question his decision. 

"Was it the right thing to stay?"

"Or should have I let them evacuate in Maasin, where my in-laws are living?" He felt a gentle hand land on his shoulders. It was his wife.

"Everything will be alright." She smiled.

At four in the morning, the lights went out. Somewhere in the distance, they heard a loud thud. Like an electric pole crashing to the ground. With the winds now showing its ferocity, the family believed the worse is almost over; that the eye wall was directly above their heads. 

"Anytime soon, this will be over," The matriarch assured before leading the prayers and raising her hand to do the sign of the cross. However, cut from the outside world, the meteorologists tell of a different story:

"The eye of Typhoon “YOLANDA” was located at 62 km Southeast Guiuan, Eastern Samar (10.8°N, 126.2°E) with maximum sustained winds of 235 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 275 kph"

The worse is yet to come.

It is already morning but the sun is nowhere in sight. Faint blue light illuminates the windows, only to be blurred by horizontal rain bands splatting against the frosted glass. The winds, in its fury uproots a nearby Acacia tree. It leans precariously next to the balcony. Its branches clawing deeper into the walls as the furious squall tries to lift the wooden beast off the ground.

Fear begins to show in the eyes of the old lady. Never before, in more than half a century of memory has she seen such winds able to smash a tree against the concrete skin of her home.

Clutching her grandchildren, intuition tells that they should leave the doomed quarter: To move to a room away from the windward direction. Just when they were about to reach the door, the ceiling collapses. An iron beam smashes into the matriarch's head knocking her down, and pinning her body to the floor. On the verge of losing consciousness, she mutters the words "leave." while blood gushes down her face. Unable to grip what just happened, the wife yanked her husband, and her father-in-law out of the room. The remaining family members crawled towards safety as broken glass and toppled objects now litter the corridor. 

There was no time to mourn. No time to weep, as the tempest reveals its full strength. The typhoon is now directly above their heads, and the gale's shrills is all that is to hear. It screams destruction; like the gates of Hades have been forced open and all the wretched, cursed souls of the underworld force their way out of the bottomless pit. The groans of horror as the wind holds sway over the ruined house will become stuff of nightmares for many sleeps to come

- if the remaining family members ever get out of this hell alive. 

The wind pounds the walls, and rips the roof. Clothes fly out of the dresser while beds and bookcases overturn. Doors slam against their frames. Eventually, they fall to the ground with their hinges and locks twisted. The mass of air puffs what remains of the house, that it was no longer safe to stay on the second floor. It means a perilous escape towards the staircase. The bathroom downstairs might be their last hope. 

With the patriarch dazed and on the verge of break down, it was the son, the father of the three children who made the call. With a rope knotted around the waists of her wife, helper and three daughters, they inch away once more, inch where four pillars and a concrete slab may spell the difference between life and death. Twice they had to duck, for the winds had almost lifted them off the ground. Soaked and trembling, with sprays of water slapping their faces, they go on, making every breath as their last. Turning his head to where he had last seen his dad, curled and sobbing as he repeated the words "I'm sorry," he saw no one. Gone was the old man, and the room where they took shelter.

Reaching the staircase, the ground floor was nowhere in sight. Instead, waves, upon waves of water - the storm surge they were all warned about has swallowed everything in its path. The house shakes once more, as the walls on the ground floor are being eaten away by the torrent.

"Abandon all hope," his thoughts say.

But his heart resolves to live on for many more tomorrows to come.



Geosef Garcia said...

The story broke my heart. But the photo at the end split it completely in two. :'(

JM said...

@Sef: It took me 3 days to finish the fiction story. Ang hirap pala.

Geosef Garcia said...

Kung ako yan, baka hindi ko matapos isulat. Di ko kakayanin. *sigh*

rudeboy said...

That felt very real, Joms. I felt as though I was there, dazed, looking at everything in disbelief. Outside of myself, a passive observer, as though watching a movie…or reading a horror story.

And I'm grateful that what we read was fiction, although we also know that the true horror stories are still waiting to be told.

And some, never to be told.

kalansaycollector said...


Simon said...

This story has so much feels :( This makes me feel so heavy chested.

JM said...


I try to paint a human story as possible.


The real stories are more heartbreaking.


The most heartbreaking ones can never be told. :(

kalansaycollector said...

true.. true..

Jjampong said...