Chapter 1

Ilang beses akong kumurap sa harap ng salamin. Kinabog ng kaba ang aking d****b sa aking nakita. Bakit nakikita ko ang exact eye color ng pinuno ng tribe, sa aking mga mata? Sa ilang beses na pagsara ng aking mga talukap, hindi ko mabilang kung ilang beses ngunit hindi pa rin natatanggal ang kulay ng buwan sa mga pinto ng aking kaluluwa.

Nagpatuloy ang matinding pagkabog ng aking puso, napuno ito ng magkahalong takot, kaba at curiosity. Puno ng tanong ang aking utak. Sa huling pagkakataon, kumurap ako at marahang kinusot ang aking mga mata, hoping that I just saw those eyes kasi bagong gising pa lang ako. Sa muling pagtatama ng mata ko sa salamin, tila hangin sa bilis na muli kong namasdan ang aking mga normal na mata. Nakahinga ako ng maayos.

In the middle of my relief, nadako ang focus ko sa mga kulay ube na pasa sa aking balikat na lumilinya hanggang sa dulo ng aking spine. If it was a really a dream, why do I have these bruises? Naputol ang mga rumaragasang agos ng tanong sa aking utak dahil sa pangmalakasang pagtawag ni Jane na animo'y reporter sa pagbato ng tanong.

"Vera, ano? Buhay prinsesa. Remember, hindi tayo dugong bughaw. Kapag hindi tayo nagtrabaho wala tayong kakainin at tiyak na pupulutin tayo sa kangkungan. Tara na at malalate na tayo."

"Oo, ito na." sigaw ko pabalik kay Jane. Bahala na, saka ko na lang ulit iisipin kung saan nanggaling ang mga pasa sa aking likuran.

Dali-dali akong naligo at nagbihis. I just picked a random business attire. I am not a kind of girl that likes dresses, so all my attires look the same. Jumpsuits, coats, and slacks build my wardrobe. After picking a nude color coat and pairing it with a white high waist trousers, I just grabbed my boots. I wrapped my hair in a bun and put some blush in my pale face. I finished it with a red lipstick. Then, I carried my bag and decided to run away from the bathroom.

Pagkalabas na pagkalabas ko palang ng banyo, sinalubong agad ako ni Jane. Hindi na siya nag-aksaya ng oras, binanatan niya agad ako ng talak.

"Vera, what took you so long? Hindi pa ba sapat ang mga monologue ko kanina? Dahil late na tayo, sa kotse ka na magbreakfast. Thank you because we only have 15 minutes before tayo malate. Okay lang talaga ako. Wala lang sa akin kung late ka. Wala lang talaga." sarkastikong sambit ni Jane habang nagmamadaling pumasok sa kotse. Gusto ko pa sanang sumagot sa kanya but I realized that in this moment, I just need to follow her instruction para hindi na mas lalong mag-init ang kanyang ulo.

Don’t get me wrong. These kinds of events are perfectly normal. I knew Jane for years and I am living with her since the moment I move here in Manila. I met her when I applied to my current work. Jane is a simple woman and currently on her early thirties. Hindi nagkakalayo ang edad namin because, next year, I will turn thirty. This is the reason siguro kung bakit magkasundong magkasundo kami. Her eyes are partially squinty. Hindi masyadong chinita, pero mababakas mo ang Chinese blood na dumadaloy sa dugo niya. She is pretty. We are sisters at kabisado ko na ang ugali niya. Tumatahimik at sumusunod ako agad sa kanya when she looked annoyed, katulad kanina, kaya I kept myself silent when she is driving towards our office. 

Mabilis na nagdrive si Jane patungong Bonifacio Global City kung saan nagtatrabaho kami bilang mga developmental and substantive editor sa isang publishing company, ang The Unified Literature

"Vera, go ahead, I will just park the car. See you, upstairs." sambit ni Jane. Mabilis akong lumabas ng kotse at patakbong tinungo ang building. Our company was located at the seventh floor. Agad akong sumampa sa elevator and when I reached the 7th floor, pagbukas na pagbukas palang ng elevator, tumambad sa akin si Angelo, ang writer ng story na ineedit ko.

He is a young man, in his mid-twenties. He looks nerdy and he dress like a writer in a middle of a crisis, if you know what I mean? Haggard na haggard ang lalaki at mukhang hindi nakatulog ng ilang araw. 

"Good morning, Ms. Vera." bati niya sa akin habang nababakas ko ang lungkot sa kanyang mga mata. "Saan ka pupunta, Mr. Angelo?" tanong ko.

"I cannot finish the story, Ms. Vera. I am sorry." he answered.

At the back of my mind, I am already annoyed. How can he give up writing when it is at its end? How coward for a man? He is not professional, and as far as I know, a writer never stops until their stories are published.  

"Mr. Angelo, you can't." I replied strongly to him. I cannot believe this.

"Ms. Vera, what's the problem?" aroganteng sabat ng editor in chief namin, si John.

"Nothing, Mr. John. Everything is under control. Mr. Angelo and I will just brainstorm in a coffee shop downstairs. Di ba, Mr. Angelo?" proud kong sambit, habang pinandidilatan ko ng mata si Angelo. 

"If you may excuse us, sir. We have a lot of things to discuss." dagdag ko bago pa makasagot si Angelo kay John. Hinila ko si Angelo papasok ng office and after kong mag-biometrics, we immediately leave the office dahil hindi ko kayang manatili sa presensya ng editor in chief namin.

Frankly, I am so annoyed and irritated sa presensya ni John. I just don't like him but for a reason, all the people here in the office just admire him because for them, he is a total package. Matalino, mayaman, may itsura at gentleman daw which are all entirely based upon the rumors dito sa office. For the record, I already met him few years ago because unfortunately, naging kaklase ko siya sa isang subject nung college. He has this competitive attitude that always strives to outwit others and this attitude really get into my nerves. Ayoko sa mga taong competitive and intimidating. Lastly, I hate the fact that he is my boss now. If I just know that he is the head of this company, hindi na sana ako nagapply but I am already here, wala na akong magagawa kundi magtrabaho under ng leadership niya. Habang papalabas kami ni Angelo ng office, hindi pa nakuntento ang boss ko at muli akong tinawag. Kung minamalas ka nga naman.

"Ms. Vera, just so you know, I need to have to meet with you later at 3pm in my office for your weekly report." saad niya. I just nodded and smiled. Hinatak ko ng mabilis si Angelo patungong elevator kasi baka kung ano pang masabi ko sa inis.

Pagkarating namin sa pinakamalapit na coffee shop, I already start firing questions to Angelo. 

"Bakit mo naman naisipan Mr. Angelo to quit finishing your story?"

"I just experienced a writer's block!" mariin niyang sagot in the most frustrating way. 

"We always encounter that, hindi ka pa ba sanay?" tanong ko ulit. 

"This is different. I lack in inspiration; I cannot continue the story kasi hindi ko makita kung ano exactly yung dapat kong iillustrate." saad niya.

Buti na lang, I am quick-witted. "Anong part ka na ba ng story?"

tanong ko. "Baka kaya pa natin ituloy by any means." dagdag ko.

"Okay, so the next sequence of events goes like this. My main character, Lyca, was meant to meet her ancestral tribe and her origins." saad ni Angelo.

Habang nagsasalita ang writer, bumilis ng bahagya ang pagtibok ng puso ko. I had goosebumps as well. I don't know what is happening to me but when Angelo started to tell me his story, hindi ko maiwasang isipin ang napanaginipan ko kagabi.

"Okay, go on." I told him. 

"But Lyca will be shocked because her ancestral tribe have primordial powers. They are a tribe of shape shifters. They turn into wolves." dagdag ni Angelo.

Hindi ako nakareact agad. I was stunned. Hindi ko alam kung may connection sa panaginip ko ang lahat but I cannot stop thinking its connection. I am still torn sa paniniwalaan ko, kung dream yun or experience ko. 

"Ms. Vera." tawag ni Angelo. Nagising ako sa tawag niya and immediately, I shake off the idea of my dream being the reality. "Go on, I am listening."

"Just to be clear and to put a distinction of how peculiar my writer's block this time from the others I had overcome. Ms. Vera, for this instance, I know exactly what will happen next in my story, but I cannot picture the tribe and even the place. I know the next sequences of events, but nothing comes on my mind whenever I think of the place and people. For your information, these ideas are significant. Pano ko ilalagay sa salita ang mga naiimagine ko kung hindi ko ito maimagine? What should I do?" tanong ni Angelo. Well, indeed, it is a one-of-a-kind writer's block. 

As what I said, I am quick-witted and usually I can quickly response to this kind of problems in just a snap of a finger but for this time, I had to think for a little before coming into a concrete solution. I was caught off guard by Angelo's story and was disturbed by my dream last night. Fortunately, one conclusion formed in my mind although I am not a fan of the idea that had flashed across my brain, but I think, it is worth a shot.

"Mr. Angelo, I will convince John to let us go on a trip papunta sa lugar at tribe na medyo may resemblance sa gusto mong maillustrate. Give me a day to research and we will discuss it right away."

Tumagal pa ng ilang minuto ang paguusap namin ni Angelo. He had so many issues. To be honest, I got bored and annoyed to him, why? As a confession, Angelo is very talkative when you allow him to open. He started talking unrelated stories about his life. I should hear him, but my dreams last night are so dominating. Hanggang ngayon, ang panaginip ko kagabi ang gumugulo sa puso at isipan ko. Hindi ko macomprehend ang lahat ng nilalaman ng isip ko.

My dreams last night were a fantasy, and I don't believe in such things. Hello? It is 2020, sino pang maniniwala sa mga werewolves? I am busy arguing with my logic and I lose track to Angelo. Natigil lang ang pakikipagtalo ko sa aking utak when Angelo decided to stop talking. Nagpaalam na rin ang writer na kasama ko, may gagawin pa daw siya. Bakas sa mukha ng lalaki ang pagkaupset, siguro nahalata niyang wala akong pake sa sinasabi niya. I feel bad now, but I am not in the mood to be apologetic. 

After minutes of chatting with Angelo, I am on my way back to the office, but I can't silent my thoughts in my mind. I am still bombarded and disturbed by the dream I have last night. Tapos, dumagdag pa ang problema ni Angelo. Honestly, my dreams felt so real, and I remember everything vividly. Nakaranas na ba kayo ng ganitong panaginip? This kind of dreams are between the classifications of a nightmare and a daydream. It is hunting. 

I cannot hold back my thoughts and questions. If this kind of troubles came across me, iisa lang ang naiisip kong gawin to quench every started fire. Surely, I should kill this curiosity at all cost and start being busy in all ways possible. Instead of going to the office, I decided to head back to our house and have an early out from my work. Bahala na kung magalit si John. I will just report to him by tomorrow. I texted Jane as soon as I reached home baka kasi mag-alala siya when she can't find me anywhere in the office. I also texted John that I decided to go home with a made-up excuse. 

Pagkarating na pagkarating ko sa bahay, wala akong sinayang na panahon. I opened my laptop and start searching about Angelo's concerns. 

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