Chemical Manila - Part 2

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Do you know that floating, unsure feeling right after something hits you hard and knocks the wind right out of you? That was how I felt moments after. Toffee, despite her broken condition, had convinced me to run away with her and try to get to the observatory where her dad was.

I felt her take charge of our situation, and thought it wise to follow her lead. She was too sure of what she was doing, and looking back, I missed the thought that maybe she was just seeking the comfort that her dad often brought her. I didn't really care; I'd nod to anything at that moment. I thought it was a good idea, and so I agreed. I grabbed my backpack that I had left at the empty outpost and then ran.

We ran.

Toffee and I ran into the forest as the sun went down, careful not to come across any more soldiers. At the time my head tried to keep up with what was going on. I never saw my classmates' final moments. Maybe it wasn't them. They weren't dead. They ran away too like us, and other people were the ones who got shot. Others who deserved to get shot. Communists? Yeah, that's probably it.

I stumbled upon a tree root as we struggled to climb uphill. It was getting dark and I started feeling the evening chill. Toffee pulled my left hand. "Don't think about it too much. We saw how our friends were killed," said Toffee with a stern face. She looked so strong at that moment, even magical to the point where she was able to somewhat guess how I was feeling.

"We'll sort everything out, if only we can get to the observatory," she said. To me though, I've already sorted it out using a story I pieced by myself. My friends were alive, and it was all a big mistake.

I'm not really sure whether or not Toffee knew how we got to the foot of the ashpalted road leading up to the observatory, but I thought it was one lucky break. Toffee sensed my disbelief and gave her explanation. "I used to hike with my dad here every summer, so it's like the back of my hand."

The back of a very dirty hand. Our trudgings into the forest had left our clothing very soiled and tattered in parts. I was happy to remember however that I did have my bag with me still, and that we could use it to get a change of clothing. I brought two shirts and two pairs of socks, which I embarassingly shared with Toffee. She got the Batista wrestling shirt, I settled for one of my plain shirts.

We stopped by at a nearby obscure grotto to the Virgin Mary and decided we can change there. I stepped away for a while as Toffee changed, and even had a passing thought that maybe I should have peeked when I had the chance, but she saved my life. And right now to me, she was my god. As a matter of respect, I kept my libido to myself. It was then that I started thinking, how she could have known why we would have had to hide. I did not want to cast doubt on her, but no part of my theory would fill that up.

"Say, Toffee," I said hesitantly at first, but I knew I wanted to hear her answer, "How did you know what was going to happen?" I heard the rustle of her clothing, only a few meters back, I blushed one more, but intently listened.

I didn't hear any answer, but I did hear sobbing. Terrified sobbing.

At that point I stopped thinking of manners and just darted towards her. She had already worn the shirt, her arms wrapped around herself as she lay kneeling in front of the Virgin Mary.

For the second time that day, I saw her crying. "I-I went to the outpost, and then overheard the rangers talking. They mentioned something about carriers, thirty one students and a teacher, and shoot on sight. I thought I - " her voice crackled, trailed off and broke into more tears.

I added what Toffee had just said in my growing list of things that did not make sense that day. In more normal days I would have passed it off as just her randomness, but the direness of the situation offered me no such luxury.

She calmed down after a few minutes, and we decided to start the long hike towards the observatory. I tried to keep my mind clear of any troubling thoughts, and imagined the long shower I just might be able to get when we reach the top.

My stomach grumbled as our breathing became harder. All the running and hiking had finally started taking toll, and I just remembered I haven't had any food since the sandwich I shared with Toffee many hours before. Toffee begged for a break, which we gladly did beneath one of the crude lightposts that occassionally broke the darkness of the zigzagging upward road.

I heaved a sigh and wiped the grime off my face. At that moment, I tried to count my blessings and thought it was nice to be alone already with Toffee, and despite all that hardship we had gone through, she was still as attractive to me as ever.

I beamed a smile at her.

The exhausted Toffee turned at me, but instead of a smile her face was warped with what seemed to be intense fright. I realized too late that she wasn't staring at me.

Behind me.

I turned around but felt something hit me hard in the back before I could even see anything. My body went limp and I've never felt so powerless in my life. I became woozy and tried to move, but something seized my entire body. I heard Toffee's muffled scream, distant but apparent. I could no longer see her.

Everything went black.


rei said...

whoah~ what was that @_@

Joan said...


Erik Gaius said...

It's redkinoko taking his blog back from whoever who's posting..

but srsly, it's a gripping tale. ^^ I wonder if our unnamed protagonist ever scores toffee..

Anonymous said...

nice nice... I'm a big fan of redkinoko's work and this one gives me the thrills ^^

joan said...

I want a part three. :<

Anonymous said...

"I thought it was a good idea, and so I agreed. I grabbed my backpack that I had left at the empty outpost and then ran.

We ran.

Toffee and I ran..."


WOW. Those lines got audible laughters from me. Half amused, half mocking laugh that is.

Menaya Garces said...

Toffee...! I bet that was her dad, hitting 'I' for being out in the dark with his daughter.


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