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The best thing about writing is molding life to characters you find interesting. The worst about it is having these characters crowd your head, unable to get out because you haven't written down the pages for them. Continue writing? Hell, yes. This blog is a way of letting these characters out for a gulp of air. I love creating them. They remind me that there's a nutjob in all of us. Some are in for a brief appearance via short stories. Others are in for the long haul, peppering a novel I have written. Enjoy these stories. After all, life is more fantastic than we imagine it to be.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Midalin's Saga

Whenever I watch a movie, I imagine scenes from the novel I'm writing. How will my characters look like when they finally jump out of my head? Will their clothes appear like how I intended these to look like? Dear God, I hope the entire thing doesn't look like a B movie.

In any case, there won't be a movie at all if I don't finish the rest of the books in my series.

We think that the world we live in is reality. Maybe this is only part of what is real. What if there is a world out there that is so different from ours yet intertwined with each of our fates? Here's a preview of my first book.


The faerie’s golden hair cut through the dark mist of early dawn. She was oblivious to the hungry jackals trailing her.

“I know she’s here. She will not escape this time.” Her red velvet cape rustled softly with the chilly wind. Why will a young faerie be out at this time? She moved stealthily in between the thorny shrubs, their thorns clawing at the rich fabric of her cape. Then she saw her target, a hooded figure standing by an oak tree.

“Is she waiting for me?” thought the fairie. She took out a silver dagger from its sheath tied to her waist. “Somebody should stop her. She already got me into a lot of trouble. Father will get mad if I embarrass him.”

Before the moon hid behind its minion clouds, the fairie saw her target. It surprised her that she did not have any trouble getting close. Even the jackals crept nearby.

The figure remained still, unmindful to the danger behind her. Only her black cape moved. “You have to be stopped.” The fairie looked around. “Nobody has to know.” The dagger felt cool and unfeeling in the fairie’s hands, strangely mimicking her emotions. As she thrust it into the target’s back, the paradox of time came into effect. Everything happened so fast yet she was watched the scene unfold slowly as if time eerily dragged its feet. No sound emitted from the target even as her body hit the ground.

“There is no blood,” was the fairie’s first thought. Until she saw the first trickle touch the ground underneath the target’s hood. “Why is her blood so bright?” The moon peeked out of its hiding, shining into the murderer and her victim. “Why is her blood so bright? What does she look like?”

Instead of fleeing the scene, her curiosity got the better of her. She knelt down beside her victim, not pained by even the slightest morsel of remorse. Part of the hood hid the lifeless figure’s face.

“Father doesn’t have to know.” When her hand lifted the fabric covering the dead person’s face, she momentarily got puzzled. “She looks familiar’. Time again played its trick. She felt the moment freeze yet things seemed to happen in whirlwind. The fairie let out a fearful scream. How could this happen? “No, NO! AAAAHHHHHH!”

Lying there with glassy dead eyes, in an expanding pool of blood, was a figure with her face. She could not be mistaken. The pointed nose, the violet eyes on an oval face. She killed someone who was her.


“Beleau! Child wake up! WAKE UP!”

The fairie woke up in her bed, flushed with the relief of knowing it all was not true. It was seconds after that she realized her hair pasted flat on her skull with sweat. Her father usually spoke in whispers. But now, he spoke as loudly as someone asking for the sugar to be passed. This was the loudest she had heard him. He stopped shaking her then turned to someone in the room.

“What happened? Did anybody get inside?”

She was surprised that another being was in her room. The tall fairie clad in dark vestments shook his head. There was something about him that made it difficult to see him even with the candles already ablaze in the room. His entire persona seemed to retreat into the shadows. She peered at him yet could not clearly distinguish his features.

“Your daughter had her recurring nightmare. But this is the worse I’ve seen her react. There is no danger from outside. I will go back to my post.” With a bow, he jumped out the window in one fluid motion to wherever his post was.

“You have me guarded by night fairies? Since when, Father?” Beleau straightened her hair.

“Since birth, my dear. Even during daytime. You haven’t noticed them? Well, then they’re as good as they say they are. Pricey but effective. Your father is an important man in the palace. And with the palace under siege from evil elements at all times, I have to make sure you are protected.”

“Why? Are we being attacked?” She grew fearful. The remnants of her dream trailing down at her.

“Not now. Who knows? We have to be prepared at all times.” He got up and patted her head. “Change your clothes. I’ll have the maids change your bedding. Your bed is so wet with sweat you might as well have swum there. Join me for hot chocolate.”

Cool night wind streamed from the veranda. They lived in an apartment within the palace. When Beleau stepped into her father’s study, the familiar aroma of hot chocolate wafted to the door. Whenever she felt down, her father’s hot chocolate had comforted her since she was a child. It was the thing she needed tonight.

Her father poured her a cup as soon as she sat down. “What was your nightmare?”

“It..it’s about a girl. She always appeared in my dreams. But I don’t know her.”

“Do you have the same dreams every time?”

“No. But it’s the same girl. She…she is bad.”


“In my dreams, she gets me into trouble even if I don’t want to. People get mad at me. They say I steal things. I create mischief. But it’s her. I can’t stop her because she is always running away from me. I can’t even see her face.”

“Her this and her that. Does she have a name?”

“I don’t know. Do you dream of strangers and know their names?” hers was an innocent question.

Her father seemed slightly annoyed at the deviation from the topic. He shook his head impatiently. “This has happened for years? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Ever since Mother died, you told me to be good and to make you proud,” thought Beleau.

“In my opinion, I think you should know something lest you hear this from other people. Everybody has his over version of what I’m going to tell you. I don’t want you to be confused about this important thing about our history.”

“History? Father, we’re talking about my dreams now. Not my grades in school!” Beleau stomped her foot.

“My child, history affects everything. That’s why I have given my life to studying it and making sure the palace respects its lessons.”

Beleau sighed. She talked to herself, “More talk about work. Father, I’ve heard this a million times. Yes, yes, your department in the palace makes up all these stupid rules that have to be followed. And your people report to you everything that’s going on. Maybe even about me? Oh no, does he know what happened in school today?”

“Have you heard about Tolkurs?” asked her father.

“Tolkurs? Uummm…They lived in ancient Midalin, right? Aren’t they extinct?”

“Beleau, only the giant reptiles are extinct. Not them. What have you been reading, child?” was the exasperated reply. “They ruled Midalin way before humans and other creatures did. We who are born in the present time have not seen the power of a Tolkur. They range from the useless grubelf, you know, the common grubelf that steals food, to the magnificent Vernild that can command elements and whatnot. I myself have never seen a Vernild,” he shrugged his shoulders in disappointment.

“So Father, what does this have to do with my dream?”

“I’ll get to that. You have to understand the back story.”

“How far back is the back story? I need to get up early to wash my hair. It’s still sticky,” Beleau touched her scalp, one of her ears still tuned to her father’s whispery, droning voice. “Or should I wash it before going back to bed? It needs to dry properly,” she thought. Her mind drifted back to her father.

“…don’t know what’s happening with young people these days? Going back to our history, there came a time when Tolkurs decided to let other creatures rule Midalin. I am not sure why this lapse in judgment occurred. But Tolkurs were close to the seat of power. They had great influence over the reigning ruler. Then, as with most alliances, came the disagreement. Somebody’s bound to get greedy. In this case, the Tolkurs became the evil lot.”

“They became bad?”

“That I’m not sure of. If they were bad all along or if they suddenly transformed into something sinister. Moving along, they were not content with mere Midalin. They coveted a land far, far away.”

“Something’s farther than Midalin? Won’t we fall off if we reach the Midalin’s edge?”

Her father looked at her intently. “I think I should hire you a tutor.” Shaking his head, he continued, “Going back to my story, yes, there’s something farther than Midalin. No, we won’t fall off the edge. No, I have never been there. But Tolkurs wanted so badly to visit this place, sniff around, get to know the people there and rule over it. That’s how simple the predicament was. That was how the Ancient War started.”

“Where’s my dream in this?”

“The girl in your dream, what does she look like? You never saw her?”

“Uumm… only tonight.”

“So, what did you see?”

“Father, it is so frightening. I saw myself!” Beleau exclaimed in a whisper, such a difficult act to do.

Her father sat straight and nodded his head. As when he is in deep thought, he unconsciously unfurled his wings. “The inhabitants of this place that the Tolkurs wanted for their own are like this girl in your dream. As you have her, I also have mine. So does everyone else in Midalin, from faeries, humans, dwarves, gnomes, witches to elves. They are called our salmings.”

Beleau’s eyes widened. “So she is real? Oh no.”

“Why the terror?”

“F-Father, this girl in my dream is bad. Even when I’m awake, I feel she causes me to get into lots of trouble.”

“Not one, but lots of trouble? Like what? I never hear anything from you? Or your guards.”

“See! You have me watched. Father, we talked about this!”

“Only for your own protection. Your father is an important man. But going back to your troubles, what are these? Do I have reason to worry?”

“Oh, not really serious stuff. Just a lot of teasing from my classmates. They’re bullies. There’s this one group who make me miserable. They make fun of my nose, my hair. They call me a teacher’s pet. What’s wrong with bring sweet cakes for our professors? I usually shrug them off even when they mimic my voice. But I found a way to get back at them. I hid one of the professor’s examination answer sheets in their leader’s bag. Ha! They got into trouble because of that. Serves them right,” Beleau replied smugly, losing control over her mouth.

“Beleau! How could you do such a thing! That is stooping so low. I didn’t raise you up to be like that!” her father’s voice rose up to a level she had never heard before, much louder than how he was earlier.

“But..but.. they have been so mean to me. Really mean, Father. There have been times I did not want to go to school anymore. Except that I remember I have promises to keep.”


“Like when I promised Madame Brightchild that I would bring her our family’s special apple pie.”

“Oh, those kinds of promises. Did I teach you that?”

“No, is it wrong?”

“Well, we faeries really are excellent cooks. So I can truly understand why our family’s apple pie should be craved for even by your teachers. So why not use it to our advantage?” beamed her father, distracted by this discovery about his daughter.

“I got into a fight the previous day with a classmate. She drew on my wings. So I snipped off part of her hair.” She heard her father gasp. “Just the edges, Father. I didn’t want to go to class after that. But I remembered I told Madame that she’ll have a taste of our apple pie. So I went to school.”

“Whatever motivates you to step into school, child. But going back to that dreadful thing you did with the examination answer sheets. Do you know that you dug yourself a deeper hole, Beleau?”

Her father paused. “Remember the girl in your dream. She is your salming. I also have my salming. They along with the salmings of every creature here in Midalin live in the place that Tolkurs wanted to take possession of. They call this place earth. I’m sure that your salming is the bad one. Not you. Because you’re my daughter. No child of mine can be evil.”

“Why are you so sure she’s bad?”

“This is how it works. Or what they say. They depending on who you are talking to. Whatever we do affects our salming.”

"Whatever one does affect the other? Like cheating?"

"Huh? What do you mean?"

"Like if I cheated in class, she gets bad grades?" Beleau regretted her words once she blurted them out.

"Dear child, did you also do that? You really have dug yourself into a very deep hole. When one of you does something bad, something bad also befalls the other one. Now, you say you have a terrible time in school. That's most likely because of your salming's less than exemplary behavior. If you do something bad yourself like all the naughty things I am hearing now, the bad things that will happen to your salming will make her crazier. So you should expect more backlashes from her evil ways. And the cycle goes on. I wish your mother were alive. This business of helping you grow up is something that confuses me at times.”

“So she can guide me?”

“Well..yes. And your mother also makes the best, the moistest chocolate cake. I’ve never tasted anything like it. But she never divulged the recipe so our cooks cannot replicate it. She used morning dew or something, I think. Your teachers would have loved it. It will easier to get you out of trouble.”


"Oh. That is all that my foolish daughter can say. Take some more hot chocolate."

"Father, are you kidding me?"

"Why should I?"

"You know, parents make up monster stories to scare their children.”

“Did I ever tell you one?”

“Uhm, no. Maybe this is the first time?”

“How can I not have noticed all these years how impertinent you can be?” her father showed a hint of a smile.

“All my nannies knew about it. I bet even my secret bodyguards,” thought Beleau.

“So, the lesson is, do good always. It will benefit you in the long run.”

“How sure are you that salmings exist? Have you gone to that place already?”

“No, but legends exist.”

“Are there court documents about this?” Beleau was not particularly bright, but when her curiosity was aroused, she could be quite difficult to shake off like lint on a wool cape.

“I am not in the position to neither confirm nor deny,” was her father’s terse answer.

“Always the stickler for rules his office mostly made up,” thought Beleau.

“Why did Tolkurs want to get to this place?”

“They wanted a bigger playground? Who knows? I haven’t exactly asked them personally, you know.”

“Have you ever been to that place?”


“No one in the palace has been there?”

“I don’t know.”

“Not even the king?”

“It’s not as if you can take a swiftfoot and ride to that place.” A swiftfoot was a winged horse that inhabitants of Midalin, specifically the wealthier ones, use for transportation. Other types of animals were also used, if wings could be grown on them.

“So how can the Tolkurs get there? A magic pill? Can I go see my salming to tell her off?”

“If anybody knew that, somebody would be really rich. Some say that there are ancient passages from Midalin to that world. If there is truth to those stories, nobody has ever come forward to claim they were able to cross to that place.”

“If nobody knows, maybe it’s all made up?” sighed Beleau.

“What’s important is to remember to do good. We determine our own fate. That -.” A loud crashing sound stopped her father in mid-sentence. Both of them stood up in anxiety. No night faeries appeared so there must be no intruder. But a voice croaked from the balcony.

“Ephraim, why don’t you put decent lights in your balcony? It’s difficult to land in here,” someone complained.

Her father rushed outside. She could see him helping up someone small. As he led that someone inside the study, a tiny witch with a pixie’s cherubic face smiled widely at her. She was missing several teeth.

“Oooh, I meet your daughter at last. Hello there, dear. I’m Sylvivia. You are normally asleep when I come over. The palace guards already know me.”

Beleau shook the old witch’s gnarly hand. “I’m pleased to meet you.”

Even before taking her seat, the witch explained, “I’m your father’s professional informant. Never been good with spells and potions. But I found out that I’m good with digging out secrets and stuff like that. If you find any information that’s remotely interesting, let me know. Just tell your ferrier to look for Sylvivia, the witch.” A ferrier was any winged animal that was used to transmit letters.

“Sylvivia, do you have to recruit even my daughter as an informant?” Ephraim laughingly scolded. “Here, take a seat and have hot chocolate. Beleau, you may sleep now. You still have school tomorrow.”

“Oh, do stay child. It will do you good to know these things. At least you will learn what types of things interest me,” winked Sylvivia.

“Alright. What do you have for me that made you rush and crash here at this time?”

The witch propped herself comfortably, her feet not touching the plush carpet. After sipping some hot chocolate, she began, “On my way to see a client late this afternoon, a creature flagged me while I was whizzing by on my broom. It was caped, very tall and sounded like an old man, though I could barely see his face. He asked for directions going to Ildemas. Yes, I was that far away from Livingbrook. I like to take long rides even at my age. I pointed him to the direction of the forests of Ildemas. It did not bother me that time. Then this afternoon, I heard a report that made me think really, really deeply.”

“What is it?”

“Do you know that there’s a Tolkur that was being held a prisoner somewhere in the palace?”

Ephraim glanced undecidedly at his daughter, then nodded slowly.

“It’s gone. It escaped today.”


“If I were you, I should ask the head of palace security why you were not informed of this delicate matter,” the witch suggested sagely.

Beleau could see her father’s face line up with worry. He got up and paced the room. The witch continued to sip her hot drink.

“How sure are you that the creature you saw was the Tolkur? And how can you be so sure that the prisoner escaped?”

“You know me, Ephraim, I have the best sources in Midalin. I’m a professional,” she shrugged. “As for the creature I saw, there was something about it that felt unsettling when I was in its presence. I felt like I was talking to something ancient, something I have never seen before. Trust me, at my age, I have come across a wide variety of creatures, from the most insignificant, dumbest, and silliest to the big rollers in Midalin. But this one was different.”

A knock came at the study’s door. A servant called out from outside, “Master Ephraim, the head of security is at the foyer. He requests to see you.”

See?” The witch plastered a grin of triumph.

“Let him in.” Ephraim turned to his daughter and to the witch. “Sylvivia, you may go now. Beleau, back to your room. Enough new things for you tonight.”

As the door started to open, the witch jumped out of the chair and pulled Beleau to the balcony. “Let’s hang around.”

Before Ephraim could scold the two and shoo them out of the room, the door opened. An important-looking man entered.

“I apologize Ephraim if I have come at a late hour. But there is news that you have to know. But before I proceed, may I request that we be alone?”

“Darn, how could he know we are here? I already sprayed an invisibility spell,” whispered the witch to Beleau, as they crouched near the curtains by the balcony.

“You said you were bad at spells,” whispered back Beleau.

“To make it worse, your father talks in whispers. What kind of man talks like that? The flies on the wall could barely hear him.”

“It might be better if we talk outside the study,” offered Ephraim. He led the head of security out of the room and they talked by the main door of the apartment.

The door was left ajar so the witch and Beleau sneaked peeks at the two men. “This man is really cunning. I’m trying to read his lips but I suspect he has a spell that prevents anyone from decoding what he is telling your father. I should get that spell…hhhmmm.”

“Wait…Tolkur..what else is he saying? Darn, my eyesight is also failing me from doing this properly. Escape….king…..danger…secret….now he’s leaving. What good will those senseless words do to me?”

“Why don’t ask Father?” suggested Beleau.

“Dear, I am your father’s informant. It’s a one-way street. I don’t get anything from him.” Then the witch looked at Beleau. “But you can ask him. I will consider it a big favor on my part.”

“Re-really? I’ll try.” Beleau felt honored to be trusted by the old witch for an important task. “Uhm, do you want to stay longer for a slice of apple pie? It’s a secret family recipe. You’ll love it,” she smiled with pride.

But before Sylvivia could answer Beleau, Ephraim opened the door to the study. He looked visibly shaken.

“Sylvivia, get your connections get as much information about the Tolkur. Any news. On any Tolkur.”

“Is something nasty about to happen?” was the witch’s curious reply.

“If I am reading this right, Midalin is about to be overrun by enemies, some of which have long been buried in our memories. We need to brace ourselves for another war. After centuries of peace, we are ill-prepared for this.”

“I am not so sure if that is good or bad for business,” the witch woefully said to herself.

He turned to his daughter. “Go to sleep now, child. There may come a time when there won’t be rest for any of us. Sylvivia, I need your help more than ever. The palace needs all the help it can get against the coming evil.”


So we leave these three characters to mull over this piece of troubling news. Eventful as their lives seem to be, they are not even the main characters of the story. Till my next post on Midalin’s saga.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Gut Feel

I finally understood my mother's fascination with the home furnishings section of any department store. It was not a problem for me to tag along during these excursions. But it was not somewhere I would make a beeline for when I am alone.

Recently, I moved into a new place. I had to start from ground zero since it was empty. Boy, did I go crazy. For the past 2 months, wandering into home furnishing outlets, thrift shops, and appliance stores were my version of other people's regular pilgrimage to Starbucks and H&M. I think even the security guards already knew me by face. But picking furniture is not something you force. It is not a hasty exchange of I do's. I would visit, look, meander, touch, scrutinize, but more specifically, feel if a piece is talking to me.

I have to be happy with my purchase. This is not about buying the best deal. It should feel like home, like lying down into a hotel room pillow and pleasantly finding out it's the right height, size and softness.

Being myself, I started out with a list of things the new place needed and proceeded with mechanical efficiency to get as many ticked off as quickly as possible. Then I realized that it should be done in its own pace. On some shopping days, I could not find anything that felt right for me. On fortunate expeditions, some pieces would pop out in the most unexpected places and called out at me.

Like in one instance when I was looking for a coffee table. Hours of scrounging in several shops left me with no promising find. At the last shop, I saw it. Not a table. But a chandelier. I did not even have a chandelier in my list! I wasn't even sure if it would look gargantuan in my living room. But it called me nonetheless. I'm still mulling over a price I will offer the owner. If it's still there next week, I know it's mine.

There was also the painting I discovered at the last minute. I am not sure why I seem to have luck on the last shops I enter. I had almost given up that day of finding a painting that would suit any of my rooms. Most of the creations I saw merely produced a feeling of detachment on my part. Before heading home, I decided to stop by one last shop. I asked for floral paintings, as that was the one on my list that day. In the process of checking the stacked paintings, I caught a glimpse of a still life. "Wait, what's that? Can you take it out?" Again, not on my list but it felt like I had to own it. It's also not within my budget so I'm still negotiating for it. But when I remember that one, my heart starts to race and I have to stop myself from running back to the shop. I'm sure that even if I think it's way over my budget, I'd still be grinning like a fool once I get it.

Completing my house project is still far off. I will eventually find the pieces that will fit. Or more truthfully, I'm sure the pieces will find me.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Travel Agent

I’ve changed jobs without conscience before. I’m staying with my current one for a variety of reasons, though I was told I lacked passion for it. I wonder if there are other-wordly careers open for career-challenged people like me. This story may be one of them. I wanted to imagine that even the dreariest jobs can be fun. Cheers to all of us, servants of our cubicle kingdoms.


A big fat drop of rain splat on Diego's immaculately chic Marc Jacob wool jacket. "Why can't these weather people ever get anything right? One week of rainy forecast and I ended up lugging around my Burberry umbrella under the scorching sun. Now, the first day of sunny guesstimate and what do I get? This jacket is supposed to be dry clean only, you idiots!"

He darted to the nearest shop with a canopy long enough to shield him, more specifically his 'fresh from a designer paper bag' jacket. He couldn't run to the nearest Starbucks. Two blocks away meant too many raindrops would ruin his current prized possession. "It's the Day One curse, but of course," Diego shook his head in amazement. "It never misses. It never forgets. Like my boss." He was not particularly superstitious. His line of work made it difficult to believe otherwise. But for some strange reason, a persistent fate befell his new stuff. Like when he wore his strappy Gucci shoes for the first time. In the midst of pursuing a client, he ran aground a Japanese rock garden, leaving an ugly gash across the left toe. On another occasion, his crisp Hugo Boss white shirt suffered a horrendous stain after a barista failed to seal his 'to go' latte cup correctly. His boss had to calm him down after he threatened to slug the barista.

And today, the rain taunted him. He cooled his heels beneath the canopy, tapping his Ferragamo to a beat inside his head. Thoughts about his next assignment preoccupied him, but apparently not enough for him not to notice a platinum blonde built like Barbie circa 1960s, complete with fake mink coat. She eyed him like a lioness would check out a tasty gazelle. Her female companion of slightly more modest measurements gave him a flirty smile as well.

Diego mused that a slight draft would tip them over. Alas, his grin on this joke was mistaken for interest. To his horror, they were both coming towards him. "Not another cougar encounter, please!" The blonde huntress was about to say her drawling 'Hello' when a taxi stopped by the curb, honking its horn twice.

"Thank God for my taxi angel." Diego leapt from under the canopy to the yellow door in one fluid movement, even before the annoyed Barbarella could open her mouth for a second try at contact. He gave a quick examination over his jacket. "Great, just a few drops. Hello, Vincent. I don't know how the hell you manage to pick me up when I most desperately need a ride. We're going uptown."

The driver let out a deep laugh. "Those two looked ready to pounce on you. Dangerous streets in this city."

"Peroxide blondes and hideous platform shoes should be outlawed. Style has never been a strong suit for newbies in this city. I can spot a tourist from a mile away. By God, you're a rock star compared to most people I meet," Diego chatted up his driver. And true enough, the driver had the rock star vibe. From the full crown of blinding white hair worn like Billy Idol, the fur-lined black leather jacket he wore even during the height of summer sizzle that made him look like he had his own weather around him, to the black boots with the sharpest toe Diego had ever seen. The tiniest of lines were hardly visible on his square-jawed face. He looked around forty. He was two hundred forty nine.

"I try to add flair to whatever I do. For vampires like me, we need to be interested always. Otherwise, it will be one boring fucked up hell of a time to spend your ad infinitum."

Diego met Vincent a few years ago, when he rode his cab for a long trip up the state to meet with a client. Friendship was easily forged. Diego was surprised that Vincent easily opened up to being a vampire.

"How's Miranda, by the way?" She was Vincent's wife, also a vampire. From Diego's recollection of their conversations, they had been together right after Vincent became one.

"Oh, off to save lions or something. She joined this group of conservationists who are out to save a bunch of nocturnal animal.”

"Have you ever wanted to join her?"

"It's not my thing. Look, it can get really lonely for us. So why should I hang out in the wilderness by myself, waiting for some animal to sniff out my tracking device? No, I'm a city boy. Humans are funny enough to humor me, while away my time," Vincent smoothly maneuvered the night traffic, almost as if gliding in between vehicles, in between checking his hair in the rearview mirror.

"True. You're not exactly like the brooding vampires in movies."

"Please, they don't have half as much of my coolness," grinned Vincent.

"You're right, my friend. And definitely none of your style. I'll get off in front of that building with the green doorman."

"Swanky neighborhood."

"Swanky client. New rich. See you around, my friend." After paying and getting off, Diego watched his friend roar off in the taxi that he drove like a sports car.

"Now, back to my business." He went up the elevator to the 11th floor. "Nice place. I bet a lot of snooty neighbors." He got off and looked for Unit 1104.

He had to ring the bell thrice to get a response. The lock clicked before he could press the fourth time.

"Who are you?" A tall, teenaged Asian-looking girl looked down at him from the open door. She stood a good 4 inches above him.

"I have been sent by your father."

"Really? You know I'm dead, do you?"

"Of course, dearie. You already know you're dead? Great. That is half the battle won."

"Alright then. Come in. Are you sure Dad sent you? For what?" She walked him through a tastefully-designed living room to what may be her room.

"To help you in the transition. By the way, I’m Diego." She was not quite like his other clients. Obviously more aware of her current state, she had a confident, settled air about her, which surprised him a bit considering her youth.

Upon reaching her room, she turned around and shook his hand. She squeezed hard. Not content with this, she pointed a finger and poked his arm. "I can feel you. Are you also dead?"

Diego almost let out a guffaw. The child in her came out. "Technically, no."

"So, you're alive?"

"Not in the strictest sense."

"Are you human?"

"Oh no, thank God, no."

"Can humans see you?"

"Yes. If I want them to."

"That's interesting. They can't see me. Mom can't see or hear me either." She looked at him curiously. She was about to poke him again but he managed to dodge her by walking around the room."

"Hhmmm...This room is...Are you a nerd?"

"I like to read. Some girls collect bags, I collect books." She sat down on the bed. "You know Dad? Did he really ask you to come help me? For what?"

Diego grinned and wagged his finger, “For someone who likes books, you lack a wide vocabulary. You used almost the same words a while ago. Yes, I know your Dad. He was a former client. I'm the business of making travel arrangements from this life to the next."

"Is he in a good place?"

"I would think so. My part of work is to help in the transfer from this life to the waiting room for the next life, which is referred to as the Airport. From there, a counterpart of mine will take care of you. We assist you every step of the way."

"Is Dad still at the Airport? To where? How about me?"

"For what? To where? Again, you like to ask the same questions, do you?" he smiled. "Your Dad left the Airport already. I heard he's happy.. As for you, we don't know where you're bound to go. Nobody knows until you leave for your destination."

"Do I need to pay you or something?"

"No, we do this pro bono."

"You seem to earn a lot." Nancy eyed his clothes as if examining a book's cover.

"For a nerd, you have the capacity to recognize style. Though you don't have the capacity to practice it." He examined her get-up in return. She laughed. "My boss gives us all the support we need to help us live with humans."

"You have a good boss then."

"Demanding at times but not the boss from hell others have. Now dearie, back to you. What have you been doing all this time? Aren't you bored? Don't you miss your friends?"

"I don't have that many friends. I prefer to be alone, reading, surfing the net, stuff like that. It may sound weird, but I sort of like being....being dead."

"Dear god, you didn't kill yourself, did you?"

"No, no. I was hit by a bus who tried to beat a red light. Didn't you get a brief about me before coming here?

Diego brushed his hand through the air. "We do get those briefings but I'm not into details. I like to go with the flow."

Nancy sighed. "Silly way to go, isn't it? But what can I do?"
"True, it's not the most glamorous exit but better than being poisoned or hanging yourself. That's grotesque, believe me. So, are you ready to go to the Airport?"

"I want to go to Paris before I go."

"Paris? Sweetie, just surf the net. Google Paris and you will feel like you're there already."

"I'm serious."

"Alright, alright. I'll ask my boss how we can arrange that. I don't have the authority for those things yet. For the meantime, what are you going to do?"

"I shuffle between this house and my Mom's home. We used to live here when my Dad was alive. When he died when I was nine, we stayed here until my Mom remarried. She never sold this house saying I'll get this someday."

"Do you want anything else to do? Unfinished business? Revenge? Stuff like the Grudge, you know?"

She laughed. "You're funny. No, I'm not that kind of client. I'm kind of...boring. There's this book I'm trying to finish but I can't seem to get past the page I was reading before I died." She showed him the book. "Do you know the ending?

He patted her hand. "Heavy stuff. I'm not the reading type. I'm more visual. Maybe my counterpart at the Airport can help you with that."

"Alright then. Maybe you can help me with something. I'm trying to pick up a picture that's stuck in a hole on the floor. I looked for years for that. I just found out it's there a few days ago."

Diego walked to the portion of the floor where Nancy pointed the hole to be. He took off his Marc Jacob jacket first before crouching to stick his hand inside. He successfully pulled out an old picture. It was a little Nancy with her parents.

"You looked like a cute Asian doll," he mused.

"I thought I lost this. Just place it on my study table. Thanks Diego." She paused. "I'm getting kind of tired. Can we meet again tomorrow? At my Mom's house?"


"You know where that is?"


She laughed. "Aren't you supposed to have powers of something?"

"Don't believe too much in propaganda, dearie. Write down the address and see you there tomorrow."

The address was in a rich suburban village. The following day, Nancy opened the door for him. "Hi Diego."

"Hi sweetie. Is anyboody home?"

"Apart from me?"

"Yeah, smartass. I was referring to humans."

"Mom's home. She's cooking for her birthday tomorrow. She's making my favorite stuffed chicken with her special sauce. My stepdad is out doing the groceries with my half brothers."

They walked upstairs to her bedroom. Diego could hear sounds from the kitchen. "Can you hear them all the time?"

"Not always. Today, I seem to be able to hear them more clearly. Even their conversations. But they still can't sense me."

"Why don't you hang out with your mother? At least you can be with her today."

Nancy gave him a timid smile. "She'll be okay."

They entered her room, looking much like her old room at the previous house. "You really are a very consistent person." He looked around the room. "Books...again."

"My stepdad and Mom encouraged my hobby."

"Hobbies? Oh, books." He peered at the titles lining up the walls.

"Diego, can you move that gold picture frame to the right?"

"What an OC spirit. You're dead now, you know. You can relax." The golden frame featured Nancy and her father, playing with a golden retriever puppy on the floor.

"What a fashion victim you are, undead man. You're not even human, you know. You can skip the designer labels." She grinned mischievously.

"I'll forgive you for your ignorance about fashion. This.." he motioned to his flamboyant trench coat. "is a statement. I should teach you a thing or two before letting you off to the Airport."

"Has your boss decided on my Paris trip yet?"

"Not yet, dearie. He can be full of red tape sometimes. Let us wait on our asses for the meantime."

They whiled away the time talking about themselves. The hours turned to days, spent at the suburban house or at the city residence.

One day, while they were discussing Nancy's lack of love life at her bedroom in the city, Diego heard the front door open.

"Are you expecting someone?"

Nancy shrugged her shoulders. "I can hear the person."

The door to the room opened. It was Nancy's Mom. She looked like she was scanning the room, expecting something. But she could not sense the man in a red coat and her daughter seated on the bed. She walked around, touching Nancy's stuff.

"I miss you, Nancy," she whispered. Then she stopped as if hit by a spell, her hand lay motionless upon touching an object on her daughter's table. "Oh, why? How did this get here?" She picked up the picture that Diego fished out of the hole. Then came the uncontrollable sobbing. "I know it's you, Nancy. You moved that picture in your room to tell me to come here. I love you. We all miss you so much. I just hope you are okay, darling."

Diego held Nancy's hand while she watched her mother kneel to the floor, clutching the picture to her breasts. "Have I worried you? I'm sorry if I have missed you so much. You worry about me. I know it was painful for you to see me go through depression after your Dad died. Have I caused you to be restless? I'm sorry, Nancy. Your mother is just silly not to let you go completely. I love you. Wherever you are, I hope you're happy. I hope you're with your Dad." She kissed the picture. "Don't worry about me. I'll be strong. I love you, my daughter."

Diego could feel Nancy's hand tighten its hold of his hand. They silently witnessed Nancy's mother spend time in her daughter's room. When she left, Diego announced. "I have a piece of good news for you. Your Paris trip has been approved. You may go anytime."

"Really? How?"

"Just follow that white light...not yet there…where the hell is that?..that will appear in a few...yes... that one by the window. Just step into that and you'll get your wish."

"Will you accompany me?"

"I'm afraid not, sweetie. My part of the work is here. I wish you luck," he gave her a tight hug. Nancy walked towards the light.

Before stepping into it, she turned, "Diego, Paris won't be on the other side, right?"

Diego smiled sheepishly. "No, sweetie. But it will be much more vibrant than Paris."

Nancy grinned. "You trickster. Thank you, Diego." Then she disappeared into the light.

With the smug satisfaction of accomplishing his latest job, Diego felt he could ask for a few days off from his boss. He hailed the first taxi he saw. Voila, his taxi angel, stopped and offered him a ride.

"Nice to see you, Vincent." He greeted as he seated himself.

"Was passing by the neighborhood. Your checkered jacket was hard to miss," the vampire teased. "How's work?

"I feel good. My latest client crossed over."

"Can you do something for me?"

"Sure, what's up?" Diego's interest picked up.

"Can you ask your boss if creatures like me can commission your services?" It sounded like Vincent was undead serious.

"Wha-. You mean to go to the Airport and all the works?" Diego could not believe what he was hearing.

"The works." Came the vampire's terse but certain reply.

Diego mulled over his answer. "You know you people have no souls, right?"

"So they say."

"What makes you think you can cross over?"

"There's no harm in exploring. If it doesn't work, I'll be one pile of ash."
"Does Miranda know this?"

"Yes. We talked. We've been talking for a couple hundred years. She understands."

"I'll see what my boss says. No promises, Vincent. This may be the one of the toughest projects we've had."

"See what you can do. You guys are good. I would like a different kind of travel of this point."

"Cheers to you, old friend. Let's see how we can get a vampire to cross over."