The Black Book Chronicles: The Runaway Mermaid

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Raymond Tolentino is not your regular boy. He is one of the few who is chosen by Bathala, the Philippines native God to protect the people from monsters that wish to destroy it. Join him in this short story as he he hunts down the kataw, a Filipino mermaid that you wished was just like the little mermaid.

Submitted: June 14, 2014

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Submitted: June 14, 2014

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Raymond Tolentino took a deep breath and sighed. He sat in the middle of the bar, drinking his glass of orange juice. He didn't want to be there to be honest, it was the summer vacation of his third year in college and he just wanted to be at home, sleeping the day away, and not in Boracay, listening to the deafening music the DJ played over the speakers.

But he was there for a job. A job no one other than his best friend knew about. His parents only knew he was there to party. Maybe they were even proud to see their son trying to hangout with friends. If only they knew he was there to hunt down a kataw, a mermaid found in the Philippines.

The information has been on his facebook page for weeks, stories of men disappearing the following day after visiting a bar in the beach. They would then turn up a few days later dazed, sick, and with no memory of what happened. The only reason why people even thought mermaids kidnapped them was because they were all wet when they were found.

But the situation started getting alarming when the last five victims never came back. A few days later, when the victims never showed up when they were supposed to, people started reporting it to the police. The strange disappearances also started airing in the news across the different networks.

By then, Raymond knew he was going to get dragged into trouble again. A few months before he had to clean up a ghoul problem in the cemetery and that didn't end well -or clean. He smelled like dead people for weeks. But his worries didn't have to wait long before he received a personal message from the last person he wanted to talk to.

"We have a job for you."

Plain and simple. What he expected from the leader of the encantados, elves that protected the balance between humans and the supernatural. Most of them are thousands of years old and many older than that. And Malakas was just that. Ancient. When Raymond first met him, he looked just like an action star wearing a simple, white-silk tunic that seemed to glitter under the light. His blond hair was always tied in a pony and his beautiful - not handsome, beautiful - face eternally turned into a scowl.

Raymond could swear no one could look scary and elegant as this guy. And there he was sending a message through facebook like a teacher.

"Is it about the missing men," he replied. "Maybe it's just normal kidnapping. There are a lot of thugs in the Philippines."

"You know it's not thugs, Tolentino."

Raymond knew Malakas had a point though. Days past and no one received any ransom call whatsoever. And everyone who did come back didn't have any memories of what happened. It was definitely something supernatural. But it never stopped Raymond to think up of a logical and normal reasoning for the events.

"Fine," Raymond sent back. "What do you think is doing this?"

"A kataw," the encantado replied.

And that's mostly the reason why he was there right now, alone in a seaside bar, watching drunken men and women dancing in the dance floor and sipping a glass of orange juice. He knew better than arguing with the muscular elf and honestly he didn't mind. These kinds of things remind him of that incident that started everything. And that promise he made with his friend. He knew he had to do this.

Looking across the bar, five tenders poured drinks and gave it to the flirting customers. There were two guys and three women behind the counter. Raymond suspected one of them to be the kataw. They all looked stunning. One had black hair tied neatly behind her in a pony while the other two had various shades of blond shadings. All of them wore fit button up shirts and black vests. All he had to do now was wait for them to show any signs of being a fish demon and he would be set.

Minutes passed and two of them even came to offer him a menu or a refill to his cup. He nodded only to the refill. It felt like hours since he started observing his suspects. And he was starting to feel the sleep in his eyes.

"Hey," he heard a girl saying, when she sat down on the empty chair beside him. He took a quick glance and saw a short blonde, smiling right at him.

"Hey," he replied, looking back at the people at the counter.

"I've noticed you sitting here since earlier," she said. "Bad night?"

"You could say that."

She cooed.

"Did a girl dump you? Or maybe someone stole your money?"

"Not really." He took the last sip from his glass of OJ.

"Then what is it?"

"Maybe it's the girl who can't get the hint."

"Don't be mean," she chuckled, taking his comment as a joke. "Why don't I treat you to something?"

"No thanks."

"Come on," she insisted. "What do you want, drinks?"

He groaned might as say something stupid. She might leave him alone if he does.

"Just water," he replied blankly.

She laughed softly to his reply. He honestly can't understand women like her. Can't she take a hint? He wasn't interested in talking to her. He was busy.

"That's free," she said after a last chuckle. "How about food? What would you like to eat?"

He looked at the menu. Surely there was something there too expensive that even she wouldn't dare to buy. Now that he looked, everything looked expensive. Nothing decent went below a hundred-fifty. What were the people here made of, money? Back in Maharlika University, he was used to eating only food that ranged from twenty to a hundred pesos.

He looked at the end of the menu and saw a fish dish, it was four hundred pesos, definitely something he doesn't want to buy if it was just him. He looked back at the girl and tried his best to smile.

"How about that Tuna dish in the end."

"The four hundred one?"

"Yeah, that one. Would that be okay?"

If her smile could get any wider, Raymond swore

 It just did. She nodded and called over one of the servers. She told him what they would get and sent the waiter of onto his way. After that, she simply smiled at him like he was the best thing she saw the whole night. He tried his best to ignore the smile and replied as little as he could whenever she asked something.

He thought she might leave her alone if she acted like a dick long enough. And surprisingly she did. It was after he ate the food when he saw her stand up and smiles before leaving her seat. He stared at her for a bit before going back to what he was doing.

It was past 1 o'clock when he left the bar. His head hurt and he felt so sleepy he couldn't even think straight. The only things he wanted to do by then was get back to his room and sleep.

Walking down the beach, he saw the lights blaring from the other clubs and bars that lined the beach. People came in and out of them, looking as drunk as they could get. Some occasionally stopped at the nearest dumpster and threw up before getting carried away by a friend.

But the blaring lights and loud music soon faded away when he walked up to the quieter part of the beach. The houses thinned out and the place started getting dimmer. The only light source now was a few torches lit up along the beach.

Even if he weren’t sleep, Raymond would have definitely ignored the beauty of the beach in the night, the sound of waves that gently went back and forth onto the sands. But if he weren’t sleepy though, he would have definitely heard the low melody that echoed along with the waves.

The melody grew louder and louder as he continued walking, it was almost too late when he realized he was veering away from his hotel and into the uncivilized parts of the beach. The sound of birds drove away any sleep left in him and he finally realized where he was.

Standing in front of a forest, he looked around vigorously trying to find bearing of his location. He could still smell the ocean behind him and there were still sand on top of the dirt under his feet. But what haunted him was the beautiful music he was hearing not too far from his spot.

His mind raced as he tried to coax his body to move away from the sound but his body just wouldn't listen. As if hypnotized, it moved on its own, following the sound to its source.

His heart beat faster as the sound grew louder. When the trees thinned out again and opened up into a clearing beside the ocean, Raymond could start hearing ancient words being sung along with the melody. Even Raymond had to admit it was beautiful. The unearthly music was now drawing him closer to the ocean. He only stopped when his feet were under the shallow waves.

He looked around, surveying for any sign of danger. Whoever -or whatever- was making that melody was definitely not human. And there were only a few creatures in mythology that had such abilities. And he had some suspicions that the hunter just became the hunted.

The music died down and a cold silence fell over the clearing. Except for the sound waves crashing onto the serf, nothing made any sound. There were no bats, the birds seemed to have disappear, even the leaves made no sound as they swayed in the wind.

That was until a crunch in the leaves behind him. Raymond looked at the source and saw the same girl looking back at him surprised. She walked closer.

"You also heard the music," she asked, looking around the place.

"Yeah. Be careful though. Whatever made that music is definitely out here to hurt us." He took one last look at the forests and concentrated at the woman. "We better get out of here before it shows up."

"Why?"

He looked at her surprised.

"Why," he repeated. "Aren't you scared getting dragged here by your own two feet because of some music?"

"But it's so beautiful here." She waved her arms around the tress and the small beach. Raymond knew how beautiful the place. And he knew that ancient and most of the times evil spirits resided in such places in the Philippines. "Can't we stay a bit longer?"

He shook her head and walked pass her.

"You have to be kidding me," he sighed under his breath and took hold of his arm. "Don't make me drag you out of here."

"Don't be so scared," she said, holding his arm with his other hand. "Whatever is out there might just want some company."

"Or dinner," he replied. He tugged at her and was surprised at how strong she was. "Now come on."

"Trust me," she said, smiling. Raymond felt nails dig into his skin and pulled his arm away. Looking at the girl now, he could see shark like teeth in her mouth. She was still beautiful but her beauty was now more ancient, as if unchanged over by time. "I know them more than you do."

"Great," he said under gritted teeth. The woman in front of her didn't change as much as the others he faced before but she still looked menacing. Scales grew around her face and gills popped out around her neck. He could also see scaly claws on both her hands. He looked at his wounded arm and saw puncture holes that were the same size as the nails on the thing.

Looking back, he should have known it was her. Asking about what he wanted to drink and what to eat. That's what her species did to their prey. John, his friend, told him to answer coconut juice and vegetables and that should have made the job easier. But no, he just had to answer water and fish. That's what you get for facing against Filipino monsters. They always have the ability to trick you into forgetting some important stuff when you needed it. Didn't help he was already half asleep by then. It just opened up his mind to their magic.

"Now," the creature smiled. "Won't you play with us?"

A loud splash came from the ocean and Raymond saw a second kataw jumping out of the ocean. This one had the same upper body anatomy. Scales at the same spots and gills. But she also had the lower body of a fish. A scaly tail that didn't last long as it turned into human legs with claw like feet. It snarled at him and smiled a smile that he thought only sharks could do.

"Play with me," the first kataw shouted and charged at him, claws extended and posed to strike.

Raymond only had a few seconds but he was able to pull out a bag of salt from his pouch and throw it at the monster. The creature cried out in pain as the salt caused her skin to burn. Most of the monsters he knew in stories were scared of salt. Some even died because of it. But the damage done on the kataw was only a fraction of what it could have done to the others. It might be because of their nature, living in the ocean for centuries might have increased their resistance even to salt.

The woman looked at him scornfully and charged a second time. He scattered salt a second time and looked back at the monster's friend. He tossed the remaining salt in her direction and brought out a long whip. It was made from the tail of a stingray and blessed by a church. It was another staple when it comes down to killing demons in the country.

He swung it with everything he had and the whip found its target. The first kataw he met at the bar gave a loud shriek as the whip burned her skin. She tried attacking with her one good arm but Raymond stepped away, avoiding the deadly claws. He looked at the other kataw and saw that it was still busy clearing away the remaining salt from her eyes.

Raymond took another swing but the monster was now ready and sidestepped away from the attack. But Raymond was ready as well, most of the monsters always avoided his second attack because he was just too inexperience with the whip. But to make up for it, he would always take a bottle of holy water and throw it at the monster. And that trick worked wonders.

Not expecting the bottle of water coming at her, the kataw wasn't able to escape. The bottle broke as it hits the monster's skin and Raymond watched as the mermaid withered from the water.

Raymond knew it was too late for the kataw he just hit. As ancient as the monster was and as much as it lived in water, it was still no much for authentic holy water. But before he could celebrate, he felt the other mermaid jump onto his back, forcing his body into the water.

He tried prying the arms around his neck away and seeing that didn't work, started swatting the whip behind him. He felt some of his attacks hit but they might have been too weak to inflict damage on the monster.

Then he felt the last bottle of holy water on his side jingle. That was it. As he felt his legs on the soil, he finally gave him to the kataw's weight and fell back, the monster under him. He as sure the fall would be enough to cause the glass to break. And he was right, as soon as he felt his body compress on top of the mermaid, he felt the glass break under the pressure. He felt cold water pass on his pants as the holy water spread.

The kataw started screaming as the water washed on her. As he stood up, tired from what just happened, he looked around to see the other mermaid already turned into sand, her body no different from the sand under them. He watched, grimly, as the other kataw also disintegrate into sand. When the crying stopped, Raymond couldn't help but feel relief and sadness.

He looked dropped down onto the sand and sat. Sighing as he looked at the kicked up sand and patches of blood left behind by him and the monsters. The exchange was short but it felt like hours. He looked down at his hands and formed fists.

He never liked it. Killing, even if the things he killed were demons you can only imagine in stories and nightmares, he never liked it one bit. Maybe it might be the friends he had now were mostly part of the supernatural. Monsters normal people can only imagine. Things you only hear in myths.

But whatever the reason was, he knew killing was wrong. But he knew he didn't have any other choice either. This was what he needed to do. It was part of the promise he had to make and part of the duty he now holds. Because as much as he was scared of monsters. He was more afraid of the gods.


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