This is a simple story. No metaphors or allegories. Just a tale that’s best told over family dinners or campfires. It’s ages ago, though, and the years had blurred the details. Now, I only know of the outline.
But the details are not the point. It’s the ending.
See, my cousin was getting married. I received an invitation and this being my first wedding invite I was stoked to go.
I flew to the Philippines and stayed at my uncle’s place the day before the wedding. It was a house located within a compound that would’ve been the perfect backdrop for an indie horror film. The trees were dense and cast a shadow over moss-stained paths. I arrived during the day. Upon seeing the house and the caretaker I was once again eight years old. I looked forward to my uncle’s perfectly cooked meals and raiding the stylish bar just to play with the little plastic cocktail sticks.
Turned out he was working that night. No nostalgia food for me, then.
This is where the details blur. Did I spend the day with the caretaker? Did I eat there? Did I eat out or order in? I can’t remember, but at some point I did eat. I remember not being able to raid the bar, but instead had the pleasure of getting acquainted with his bear-like chow chows. By the time I headed to bed I was exhausted; the next day I had to wake up early to get ready.
So I slept—uncomfortably. Philippine weather was humid and the portable air-conditioner didn’t help. I remember it being the middle of the night when the door opened loudly. I flinched. My consciousness hovered between asleep and awake as my bleary eyes caught a sliver of golden light upon the wall.
The voice was deep, gruff, and almost inhuman. My haziness was so severe that I felt nothing but mild annoyance; I looked over my shoulder to glare at the person who disturbed me. All I saw was a shadow—tall, dark, faceless, and almost as tall as the door. Before I did or said anything the figure stepped back and closed the door. With no more disturbances I was free to sleep again.
The next day, I was getting ready. The caretaker was with me. For conversation’s sake, I asked if they opened my door last night. Confused, they said no; they were asleep in their own room. Now, I was confused. Well, I drawled, did my uncle return home? No, the caretaker replied with concern. My uncle was still at work. There it was: dread. For the last time I asked: did anybody else—a friend or another guest I didn’t meet—open my door by mistake? No, the caretaker said, it was just the two of us.
The coldest of shivers went down my spine.