With knees shaking and goosebumps crawling all over his body, Dr. Michael could already fell his hair at the nape stood up. The eerie sensation which seemed to seep into his million pores, alerted all his senses towards this big, black, hairy man before him. He stood at about nine feet tall and the size of his body was that of a hundred years old trunk of a mahogany tree. He then recalled that this giant could be the tree demon as told in folklores from ancient times down to the current generation. Locally called as kapre, it is one of the Philippine mythical creature who dwells in trees, yet until this moment, he couldn't still believed they existed.
"Good evening, my friend! We do not intend any harm. We are just lovers of nature who wish to see its splendid beauty from the top."
Holding his breath, he waited for his response and every second ticking by, seemed to diminish the number of his life span. Whether or not he would allow his fear to overrule him, or if, he would just choose to take out his last ounce of bravery, if this creature would cause them harm, there would be no choice left for all of them, but to be at his mercy. Anyone could never expect some good things in this situation and what could be sweeter at this very moment than sudden death itself?
To his surprise, he blew out a great cloud of smoke, turned his back on him afterwards and slowly retreated into the back of acacia tree.
Seeing that he walked away, he raised a hand towards the two cars which followed behind him and gestured for them to turn back. His team mates who were with him in the car, suddenly got afraid to be the ones to leave the last, so they came out bursting almost simultaneously out of the door, no longer minding if they got a stampede of their own. They squeezed themselves into the two cars, not looking back to check if there was any one of them being left or not. Sighing, he could not help but watch them in disbelief as they left him alone.
Dr. Michael hurriedly slid back into the van he was driving when he saw that the other two vans had started to move. The descent back into the village was smooth but as to what kind of misfortune he was all of a sudden put into, the car's engine suddenly died down. No matter how many times he restarted it, still it didn't work. He looked around and realized that he was still in the dangerous zone of the mountain with the deep cliff on one side. Alone in the dark, even a single light couldn't be turned on.
Pondering on what he should do at the moment, he knew that calling out for help would be futile, just as it would be if he'd allow his fear to grip over his sense of sanity. He recalled from the tale of Dr. Rea that even the villagers would not dare to go up into the mountain in broad daylight. Helpless, he resigned to his sudden doom. He should wait until morning before help becomes available, should by any luck he would still remain alive in the morning.
His thoughts then went back to the most annoying but humorous part of their activity that afternoon. Out of those many years he had come back to this country for the yearly medical mission, never had he come across with people as superstitious as these villagers were. Up until the moment prior to seeing that gigantic creature, tales about fairies or witches were, for him, just mythical.
Who was this goddess they were so afraid of? How true were their claims about the spell she cast on them everytime she got angry? By hook or by crook, he should find it out!
To distract himself from his growing fear, he tried to reminisce the most beautiful but painful memories of his life as he pulled down the lever of the seat to place himself in a reclined position. Closing his eyes, his thoughts flew back to an event ten years ago...
"Mickey, I don't want you to go." Her tears fell like torrents as her arms wrapped around him tightly, begging him to go against his parent's desire.
He broke this news to her for already three months already but as the time of his departure grew closer, there was not a single day wherein she would not end up crying. As sweethearts since they were yet in their secondary years, he called her Minnie and she called him Mickey. Both fond of these Disney characters since they were yet kids, they also got inspired by their love story even when they were already in their teenage years. Giving each other exchanges of Minnie and Mickey stuffs as gifts, soon the name of these fictional characters became their way of endearment.
"I also don't want to but I would be inviting more trouble into the family."
He also didn't know the real reason why her parents were sending him away but for the past few months, he heard them quarreling everyday. Their fightings became worst lately to the extent that he already heard them deciding on a marriage dissolution.
"Mickey, we can already support ourselves. How about going away together? We can have a civil marriage then." He remembered how her eyes glowed as the idea flashed into her mind.
He brushed her hair with his hand as he tried to comfort her. "No, Minnie. We wouldn't be blessed in our lives if we disobey our parents. Let's wait for the right time."
"When is the right time, Mickey? When you can find someone else to replace me?" she argued, her voice was already shrill and quivering in her dismay and frustration.
"When I will come back and I promise to make it soon."
His promises to make it soon was honestly the most uncertain time frame he could imagine. His mother's tears and her insinstence to send him away made him feel they were keeping something to themselves. Something they didn't want him to know.
"On Sunday night at 11pm, I will wait for you in the Northern Port. If you truly love me as you say, then you will come. But if you won't, then forget everything about us."