We fought hard and so did the Japs, when we got down the mountain it was quite dark, there were several trucks parked when we got to the road. So we burned two of them, the first and the last one, it was a bad move.
Although we killed the sentries but the fire, it attracted the troops above. The town was empty when they heard the Japs were coming, so we found an empty house to rest.
There were six who were seriously wounded, Intoy my guide suffered the most, it was I guess only adrenalin that kept him going or maybe it was something else.
As I checked on each of them, I noticed I was the only one who did not get hit, I kind of felt guilty.
One of the men went to his house, as I have said the town was empty. When he came back, he brought along several supplies, of which I thought were stupid, bringing in some local medicines.
I was really disturbed to see Intoy who became unconscious when we arrived. I saw the men pouring oil on their wounds most of them healed while the deep ones did not.
It was quite magical to see them heal so quickly, six of the men had several bullet wounds, with bullets still embedded in their body.
Intoy finally regained consciousness, one of the older men talked to him. He called me to join the conversation.
“Johnson, this is Anastacio.”
“Nice to meet you Anastacio”
“You too Johnson, just call me ‘Tasyo’”
Anastacio had a hard accent so was Intoy well a little bit, kind of a quick glottal stop on the ‘o’ when he pronounced his name.
He was older than the rest of us, he looked like somewhere around forty years of age, but his skin tells something else, maybe it was just the heat of the sun that aged him around sixty.
“Johnson, I don’t think I am going to make it, I lost a lot of blood and I am not healing quickly, I need a week to completely heal with my deep wounds.”
“Just what are you guys? I swear I saw one of the guys change into a very large dog-like creature. And look at the other three guys they are not bleeding anymore, and you, the deeper wounds might still be there.”
I kind of looked around his body to look for wounds and found three serious ones to the lung area and two on the sides below the rib cage. The gashes from the Jap bayonets were gone. “How are you still alive?”
Anastacio interrupted with a hand gesture, “I will leave you two, I have to go to the other men and discuss options.” Anastacio left us, I think he wanted us to talk first.
“I have a confession to make; we are the descendants of those that actually killed your countrymen four decades ago. Whatever you read in the reports are half-truths. With the exception of Anastacio, he is from Naga in Cebu.”
“Well I guess they really had it, but right now, we need more of you guys.”
“I am afraid that is not possible, these powers are inherited, these are what our ancestors called ‘bahandi sa ngitngit’ it means ‘Inheritance of the Darkness’.
We have been called a lot of names, but we are always called Wakwak because we make that sound when we hunt, well actually that is what ordinary folks hear when we converse.”
“So, you inherited this from your parents? Who is going to inherit this power from you? Do you have kids? I’m sorry to ask man and sound callous, but we need more of you guys.”
I was scared of them but I was also scared of the Japs too, I’m just glad back then that these guys were on our side, this time around.
“We are a dying breed? Legend says there were a lot of us back then, but the bahandi was not passed on. We do not die normally like any other human, when we are dying; we need to pass the bahandi to another”.
“What happens if it does not get passed?”
“If we don’t then our body might slowly weaken but we will never die. I mean… I have never seen one yet, most of the time it was always passed on and when it does; we die right away.”
“What do you mean most of the time? Were there times that it was not passed on?”
“Yes… situations like this.”
“You mean war.”
“No, not war… like this, wounded and dying or getting killed. We are after all mortals. But in normal situations we do not die until we have passed on the bahandi.”
I was out of words for a second or two so Intoy went on to elaborate.
“You see Johnson, we are driven by the urge to feed on a human’s soul, I do not know why. But it is like an itch that you just can’t stop scratching.”
“So, you guys go out at night and hunt like vampires…”
“I’m sorry I do not know what a vampire is, but yes we do go out at night and hunt. And sometimes we get caught, and speared with bamboo spears and die, and then the bahandi is not passed on.”
“What happens when you die? Do you guys explode, burn or turn into ashes or just fade away? You know like vampires.”
“I still don’t know what a vampire is, but certainly not, we die just like any other human…” At this point Intoy was really weak and was sweating a lot.
“I think we do not like brass, iron, copper and lead, other metals we can live with, I think. I don’t think the other guys will make it and I will die with them.”
“Don’t say that man… you guys are wakwaks right, like superman…”
“What? What is superman?”
“You know the comics. Forget it. Come on, heal up, you want me to put more oil?”