(Imagine a female melodic voice, that almost sounds like a flute playing a nursery rhyme, reading this story aloud to you, dear reader)
One of the reasons why we’re so angry at the commercialization of a certain university is the possible removal of the large trees that are probably centuries old. Many trees will be rubbed out of existence if the construction of new buildings and the renovation of the old ones will continue.
I hope that they will experience what my friend Nikki (not her real name) did.
Nikki was the kind of person who loved to experiment. When she read about a new style, trend, or discovery in a book or magazine, she would believe it immediately… and try it out. It just so happened that she read about a fad before that was called the “pet tree project.” It’s when you look for a tree and make it your “pet.” It was kind of like those pet rocks that you always talk to, stroke, cuddle…
And she chose one of the large, ancient trees around the UP Hotel and International Center to be her “Tree Friend.” She gave it a name, visited it every day, talked to it, caressed it, and for extra closeness, she brought candles, lit them beside the tree, and that’s where she would study until it got dark. Before she went home, she would scatter her leftovers from lunch and pour water from her Coleman jug (it was in at the time) near Tree Friend’s roots. It had a name, but I just can’t remember it.
So she was this close with her pet tree for a month when the scary stuff happened.
It was the usual drama for the day; go to the tree, and talk along with lighting candles. Suddenly, the surroundings became cold. But there was no wind. Nikki shrugged. She went on talking to it, and she continued to study…
And then a hand suddenly grabbed her arm! It was muddy, with black and long claws. In her fright and surprise, Nikki wasn’t able to react at once. She just stared at the hand that was holding her. With her eyes, she traced the origin of the hand… wrist… arm… elbow… upper arm… tree root…
Suddenly, another hand grabbed her other arm. This one was covered with fur. Nikki opened her mouth to scream but nothing came out. It was only then that she started fighting back against the strong hands that held onto her.
Another hand held onto her heel. This was when Nikki screamed in total fright. But she couldn’t stand anymore because another dozen hands came out from the roots of the tree and held her at the same time.
“Please, please my God… Please wake me. I know I’m just dreaming… I don’t want it anymore… Please help me…”
Nikki shut her eyes as she prayed. She couldn’t speak because of the hand that was on her mouth, but she repeatedly screamed these words in her head. She kept on fighting back against the hands that held her down.
There went the high-pitched voice again, but now coming from in front of her face: “Please Nikki, come with us.”
Nikki slowly opened her eyes. An extremely beautiful young girl was now face-to-face with her. She had a white dress, fair skin, somewhat blonde hair, and blue eyes too! Nikki also noticed that she couldn’t see any reflection on the girl’s eyes. It was just blue.
“I don’t want this… please… please let me go…” Nikki said in tears even with her mouth still covered.
“Come on, there are a lot of students like you there. There’s food, clothes, shelter. You’re going to be happy there.”
The little girl was still not finished with her speech, but Nikki was already shaking her head frantically. “No! Sorry! I really don’t want to!”
The child frowned slightly and put her hands on her hips. “Okay, we’re going to let you go for now, but we’re not done talking yet. We’ll just come for you.”
Then poof… (it became Coco Crunch) the child suddenly disappeared right in front of her. Even the hands that were surrounding her were gone. It was already dark in that mini-forest area so the lit candle was the only light that was left. Nikki felt as if she just went through a time jump.
Nikki scrambled to get her things and ran as quickly as she could. Looking back was out of the question even though she knew that she left the candle there. Finally, she saw an Ikot jeep, hailed it, and got on. It was a good thing that she only lived near the Krus-na-Ligas area.
All the time while she was running and getting on the jeep, Nikki wondered if what happened to her was real or a dream. Did she come to her senses or wake up? Because of her intense terror, she couldn’t distinguish between what’s real and what’s not.
When Nikki got home, she ate dinner and went straight to sleep. If she said anything about what happened, her mom might not believe her.
As she lay down on her bed, Niki suddenly saw the child standing in front of her. In a flash, they were in another place, where it was bright, had many fruit trees, and a stream that was shining as it flowed. Of course, the first thing that came to Nikki’s mind was that she was dreaming.“This is where you’ll live if you agree to come with us,” the child said to her.
Fast forward in the “dream.” She was being pushed to eat some fruits. Nikki didn’t want to because her grandmother told her that if she ate anything in that kind of place she won’t be able to get back home. She wasn’t even certain that it was a dream so it was better not to take any chances.
“Dear, wake up or you’ll be late.”
Nikki suddenly rose from her bed. “Phew, good thing it was a dream,” she whispered to herself. “Okay Ma, thanks for waking me up,” she then told her mother while she stood up.
Her mother smiled at her at first but suddenly frowned upon looking beside the bed, “Now why did you leave a candle burning on your bedside table? That’s dangerous, you shouldn’t do it again,” she said before going out of the room.
Nikki turns and stared at the candle in terror for quite a while. That’s because she could clearly see muddy marks of small fingers near it.
Sorry for not introducing myself earlier on.
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