There was a shadow reaching for me. I couldn’t move my body. I was screaming. The shadow was getting closer. My hands and legs were tied up. It’s creeping slowly. I’ve seen its eyes, it was red as hell. I thought it’s going to get me. I tried to wake up. I shouted for help. Damn it! I couldn’t move! Finally, I realized I was having a nightmare. I forced myself to wake up. My God! I never expected to see him! Nicanor showed up behind the shadow. He was yelling at me then he pointed his finger towards me. The shadow went through him then they disappeared. Bell sounded. I woke up. It was 0400H. It was the reveille.
The nightmare was a bad omen. I never told my mistahs about it. Nicanor was there. The late 2LT Nicanor Fabia gave me a warning. I have to take care of myself or else the shadow will get me. I believed that the shadow represented death.
We ate our morning mess. Schedules were announced. We will be conducting test fires of our bazookas. It was new to me. I never experienced using it even in my unit since I was assigned in NPA areas in Central Luzon. It was a big nasty bazooka. Only big men can carry it. Mortars will also be used. I know how to use mortars but I’ve never used it in actual battle before. Mortars are prohibited in most areas of Luzon and Visayas. Eventually, I absorbed every instructions how to handle every single weapon that day. These heavy weapons will be our best assets during firefight.
While listening to the RIs, I remembered Nicanor.
Nick was a jolly fellow. He looked intelligent with his eyeglasses. He was assigned in Jolo, Sulu immediately after our graduation in PMA. He was a proud son of Pangasinan. He was one of the most combat experienced members of the Maliyab Army group since our graduation. I still remembered him well. He was a very thrifty officer. We called him business man because he’s a money-wise soldier. We can’t make him spend a single cent. That’s because he came from a poor family. He valued every centavo he got. It’s been a year since his heart-breaking death.
Before he died, something strange happened. He was having an R&R and stayed in Taguig. That time, he gathered available Army members of the class presently in Manila. It was a night of fellowship. We went to Starbucks. We drank beer. We played DOTA and C&C Generals. It was fun. He was the king of the night. He paid all the expenses. He never did that before. A mistah told me that Nick might be possessed by the evil spirits. We all laughed. It was like a moment in the Academy. He told us stories about his combat experiences. He was there in Jolo when the MNLF Breakaway Group (MBG) conducted series of offensive retaliatory attacks against the government forces. There were dozens of MBG satellite camps within the island of Jolo. The MBG had a ceasefire agreement with the government but during that time, war broke out again. He was there. He fought hard. They were able to kill several enemies. These were all his stories. He never slept that night. He wanted us to listen. We were very sleepy but he wouldn’t let us sleep. It was an omen.
We never thought it was his last night with us. Days after the fellowship, I heard the dreadful news. They were on board M35 truck when they hit an IED. The truck was almost torn into pieces. It was a big landmine. It was destroyed in half. He was rushed to the nearest military hospital in Zamboanga but later, he died. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe he’s already gone. He was the first casualty of our class. He died with honor.
I could still remember him well.
(To be continued)