side effects

after taking the sizzling sisig-flavored cupcake from the convenient store counter, someone pulls me to his red convertible sedan and we zoom out of the place, evading the flying shards of glass and the spiraling rubbles of rocks, dust, and earth that cover the air like a thin veil of mist. gunpowder smoke snatches the most poignant memories of happiness that people keep in the abyss of their consciousness. the air is neither cold nor warm, but it lingers on the skin, and will try to penetrate the pores. people run from all directions. panic is rocking the streets.

the red convertible sedan accelerates as we reach the highway. from the car, you can see the city in ruins; protest posters fly around like detached feathers of a bird in escape, doors on the verge of demise cling to their hinges, windows explode and send deadly sparkles in the air, fire embrace cars, grass, houses, trees and people.

from the side mirror i see a couple of top-down cars with men in uniform armed with rocket launchers. the men in uniform fire away their rockets in frenzy, heightening the intensity of tremors and chaos in the surroundings. good the driver on my side have mad skills; we are able to dodge several rockets thrown our way. one rocket pierces the concrete of the road and reveals a set of bodies buried under.

after minutes of drive away from the trigger-happy rocket-cops, we park on what appears to me as a shelter. there are many people inside. some comfort the others, some guard the perimeter, some distributes food, and the rest of them manifest signs of fear. we head towards the center of the place where the recovered bodies buried under the streets are placed. the bodies all look like petrified victims of the ibong adarna and the serpents of medussa. each bears an imprint of surprise in the face, which makes me think that they were buried and cemented alive. this is the time when those in power have long abandoned the idea of abducting dissidents of their power and torturing them (imagine sherlyn cadapan and others). during this time, those people in power, whether from the recently destroyed government or from the big-time socialites of the community, have developed a new form of offense against those who oppose them.

as the volunteers sort the hardened victims on the hall, i see two familiar faces from the pack. ilia, a very close friend from college, and thea, a fellow from theatre back in college are both laid on the floor. thought of my friends unearthed under the concrete roads sends shiver all over my system. i take a bite from the sisig-flavored cupcake that i get from my pocket. seconds after, someone drags my right arm towards his direction, leading me to the window. i see more cops with rocket launchers outside, more people running in all directions, more properties burned, all under the heavy blanket of smoke. i am about to grab my gun from my pocket when an ensemble of scream enters my ears and wakes me up.

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