Chapter 1:

Everything Turned Bright


“State your name.”

The man woke up at the summit. His breath felt short. His eyes popped as the fresh air filled his nose. Grass brushed the bottom and sides of his trembling feet. And everything beyond was a fall to his death.

The thought of his head splitting open upon jumping and hitting the rocks below flashed in his mind. But, his attention was drawn by this being—an angel, a malevolent, bluish ball of intertwining rings and eyes with wings so large it carved the skies to give him shade.

He licked his dry lips. He stuttered in his brain, but he chose not to entertain that thought. This miracle couldn’t be questioned; he might just be turning insane.

Screaming might do it, but he couldn’t. It was not that his lips were sealed; it was that he couldn’t find it in his heart to do it. He wasn’t proud that he considered ripping his heart out to see if he had one. But, he felt nothing about it. Peace was the one he could process.

Again, he might be turning insane.

The angel hummed, its voice belonging to a woman. “Very well… I am quite aware that my form is rather… concerning, especially to you, who’re the foreigners of these lands. I’m here to remind you that I am the help that you’ve asked for.”

Her voice was bossy and somewhat confused.

The man furrowed his brows. “I never…”

“I am Tabu, the Anito of the Skies. Remember my name. Remember this feeling.”


There came the fear that twisted his legs and rooted them to the ground. But that feeling faded in seconds. He just smiled at this angel. He felt that it was grinning at him, somewhat proud.

“Enteng,” the man mumbled. “My name is Enteng…”

“Feel the ground beneath your feet and face whatever it is beyond. Yes, I have time to be witty, so set your eyes on the place you need to reach, and stretch your hands towards it with pride. This will be your journey, where you’ll commit war crimes, probably, in my name. This freedom of yours would be mine to give.”

Enteng reached out to Tabu, and the tempest blew to hold his hand. Freedom. The skies brightened, making him grin as he shrank, then everything snapped to black.

He almost choked at the ripe scent of blood.


Memories ripped his brain apart.

He had out-screamed the crickets.

The front door was shut. Furniture was turned upside down, demolished in half. Smears of flesh stained the walls. Blood oozed and trickled at the pieces of torn skin that hung by the ceiling.

He widened his mouth. What squeezed his sweaty palms was a cold severed hand. The trail of blood led him to a decapitated head. He blinked. It wasn’t even clear-cut. He bit his lip. His wife. The base of her neck was bruised then ripped away.

His screaming finally died down.

Breathless. His heart carved itself out from his chest. His cries broke into short breaths that fluttered into a wheezing chuckle. He shook his head and hooked his tongue out to fish for words. There was no room for thought. His mind was pestered by that buzzing darkness. And like a little dying plant, he had to nip the bad parts, cut it off, make sure that the disease won’t spread until what was left was a shell of the man that let out a small weak laugh at the face of his dead wife. 

She gazed at him, her mouth red and half-opened


How could he forget?

He dared to black out and dream while those that he cared for were begging to be saved. It was his fault. But then again, maybe they were set to die in the first place.

They saw a bright light a week ago. They woke up into this new world, and a hulking crocodile monster entered through their backdoor and killed his whole family.

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