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The Outline

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The Philippines is known to be a country that gets battered by hurricanes dozens of times per year. During these times, it is not at all unusual to experience sudden power outages and massive flooding. My fiancee and I, together with her 3-year old son, decided to move to a city that was located on a mountain. This was because it was generally safe from the usual flash floods and the mountains usually act as a barrier against the ridiculously strong winds brought about by hurricanes.

Life there was quite peaceful. I found a pretty decent job training teachers how to teach English to Chinese learners, and my fiancee started working as a writer for a magazine. We were able to find a pretty good apartment too, newly-built and a definite bargain for its size. The only problem was that it was located at the outskirts of town, and every time a storm hits, our place was the first one to lose power completely, and we were the last ones to get the power back on.

This happened lots of times, and whenever it did, our entire world would turn pitch black.

There is just something that has always bothered people about the dark. The very existence of Nyctophobia, or the severe fear of the dark, is proof of this. There is just something grisly and oppressive about being in complete darkness. It surrounds you, envelops you, and even seeps into you.

Last year, we were hit by a pretty terrible storm. The rainfall was very heavy, causing landslides that ended up isolating our city from the neighboring towns. The winds were pretty strong too, as a number of houses had their roofs torn off during the height of the storm.

Our little family unit was cooped up in our apartment while the storm was reaching its climax. We had already lost power for about two days straight then, and we were quite bored out of our wits. By this time, all our gadgets were dead, the phone lines were broken, and so were the internet lines. We felt like we were back to the  80's, which me and my fiancee usually refer to as the time when we had technology-free lives. Thus, we decided to sleep very early (as is the tradition here in the Philippines when there is a storm raging outside).

Once the flashlights and the candles were off, the house was immersed in inky blackness. There was something that seemed off that day though, like the blackness was heavier than usual. My fiancee quipped that it almost seemed like the darkness was pressing against her chest. Nevertheless, we chucked that to power outage sickness, lighted a little candle, and simply tried to fall asleep.

We did, for a couple of hours.

A couple of hours after, our son started crying hysterically. We didn't think much of it at first, since he is a special child and he was prone to night terrors. Hence, we just sat up and tried consoling him. It was a bit difficult to do so, since the candle I lit before we slept has long since did out. Apart from that, our son couldn't speak yet, and his vocabulary was limited only to "hi" and "bye." Hence, no matter what we did to ask him what was bothering him, all we got in return was a sudden burst of screaming. My fiancee eventually was able to hold him, but he would still not stop.

His cries were unnaturally loud that night. Typically, if he was having an episode (or if he got caught doing something we expressly told him not to), he would have this really whiny tone that my fiancee and I could easily detect. This night however, he sounded different, like he was really, genuinely, crying about something.

My fiancee was also getting a bit aggravated, since our child started thrashing and twisting his body, as if he was trying to get away from something. I felt like he was just having a bad night terror, so I scrambled on the floor, felt for the box of matches, and lit one.

Our son was pointing at the ceiling, eyes wide open, and screaming at the top of his lungs.

His face showed an expression of pure terror that even my fiancee, who was already being kicked hard by our son, couldn't even move nor block his blows. Even I was a bit taken aback, since our son seemed to not even recognize our presence at all. He was just staring, screaming, and pointing at a spot in our ceiling.

Then, slowly, he started moving his finger, as if he was outlining something. The image he was tracing was huge, for it seemed to consume the entire length of our room.  It was a pretty ghastly image, since his movements clearly showed the outlines of a horned head and a long tail. He screamed one more time, then stopped mid-scream. He then lost all energy and fell back to the bed, as if the entire thing didn't happen.

At that moment, the light from the matchstick died out, plunging the room in complete blackness again.

Needless to say, my fiancee and I were not able to sleep much after that. Morning came and the storm was still in full swing. Our child slept the entire day, as if all his energy was consumed by that incident. 

I decided to go up to the rooftop, to the point right above our room. I guess curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to see if there was any clue regarding whatever it was that triggered such a response from our child. Once I walked over to the place that was above our room, I noticed that the entire area, despite the storm still raging on and the entire rooftop being drenched, was completely dry. If that was not strange enough, the dry patches seemed to have light scratches on the cement, as if something rough and sharp had scratched it.

I could never explain what those dry patches or rough scratches were up to this day. One thing I can tell though, was the fact that soon, our son started learning new words, and the word he used to describe that night whenever we asked him about it was "roar" and "scary."

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