The following is another of my lame attempts at writing horror fiction here in GRP. To be honest, I decided a while to refrain or limit writing any fiction here as it might not exactly be appropriate for what everyone here is trying to create. However, given the reaction of some people to Ms. Ilda’s article here, it’s more than a little difficult not to be disappointed in the way some are choosing to respond (if they can even be called “responses”) to the criticisms aimed at President Aquino. Besides, it’ll be Halloween soon so I thought to write a short horror story as a little tribute. Anyway, I think I’m making this intro a little too long so I’m going to go ahead and get started.
Also, remember, this is just fiction. It’s only a story. However, when it becomes all too familiar…
You better start worrying…
Ah, good evening young ones! No doubt you’ve come for another of Old Man Zapata’s stories, eh? So which one do you want to hear this time? The one about the Talking Storm? I tell you, it was a living typhoon with a mind and soul of its own and how it hated us! Or do you want to hear about the Strange Whale we encountered at sea? It had seven heads I tell you and its skin was covered in what could only be metal!
I tell you, those TV people are missing a lot, not listening to old fishermen like me because we have so many stories to tell! It’s just all too bad that the only thing that’s on now is about husbands and wives cheating on each other and young people too eager to get into each other’s pants. Ah well, what can you do when that’s the only thing people today want to see, eh? Ah, but you are not like them, are you? You’re here for a good story, right?
What, you want to hear about what happened at Innocencia? You want to know about their Santo Nino and its alleged “healing powers” that turned out to be not only a hoax but something much, much worse? I’m sorry, but I would prefer not to tell you that one. That is one story that I’m not at all comfortable with. What? You want to hear it anyway? Are you sure?
Ha, what can an old man do but tell stories anyway? Okay, I’ll tell you, but first let me light a cigarette. Like I said, I’m not comfortable telling this story. What happened to my friend Carlito and his wife Edna aren’t things I’d care to remember. And, since you asked me to tell this story, there will be no complaining to me tonight because you can’t sleep!
Very well. Are you ready?
Let’s start with the beginning…
The Santo Nino of Innocencia was carved from a tree taken from a Balete tree in the woods near where my family lived. Now, Balete trees are almost always spooky. Balete trees, which I learned were related to Banyan trees (which are just as spooky in their respective culture) according to some foreigners I’ve taken aboard my boat, have always been associated with the supernatural in our country. However, what makes this Balete tree so special is that so many people have killed themselves on its branches by hanging. That’s right, if the stories are to be believed, hundreds have died on the tree.
The tree itself had existed since the time of the Spanish and had been regarded by many around it to be cursed. It was quite ugly from what I hear. They say that the Devil himself made a home in the tree and even the feared enkantos or fae of our culture hated the tree and would go through the trouble of either warning people from the nearby towns to stay away from it or convince people to cut it down. People who made the mistake of sleeping under it often suffered nightmares that would haunt them for the rest of their lives. Images which could only have come from Hell is how they described it and my grandfather was one of those fools who had the misfortune of falling under its thrall and slumbering amid its twisting roots.
Let me tell you that my grandfather was never the same afterwards. He said that under that tree, he dreamed of those who had hung themselves on it, their souls forever trapped within its trunk and branches. My grandmother and mother believed that he had gone mad but he was mostly okay until the subject of the tree was brought up. He would rant on how we needed to burn the tree before it was too late. He said that the Devil had almost reached the number of victims he needed to set foot into the world. We had to burn the tree! He would shout and rave himself into exhaustion. It needed to be burned before it was too late!
Well, as it turns out, things got worse before anyone could do anything about it. One terrible night, during a storm, a deranged man from the city hung himself on the tree. Before he did however, he carved bizarre symbols onto the tree and his own flesh. I was but a boy of maybe seven or ten then and my mother wouldn’t let me see the man’s body which he nearly flayed with a knife but I saw the symbol on the tree and I can only shudder when I remember it now.
The “Yellow Sign”, our priest called it and even he was in a state of disbelief. He said that he thought that it was only from a story written by an American named “Lovecraft”. Our priest couldn’t believe that someone would actually kill themselves over a piece of fiction. Yet here it was now, a dead man who carved the “Yellow Sign” on both the tree’s trunk and on his own chest. While I’m not so sure now, they say that the last man to die on its branches was the 666th victim. Indeed, when my grandfather learned of the last man to commit suicide on the tree, he went completely insane and nearly killed himself with his own machete. Luckily, my mother and grandmother had been there to stop him before he could do the unthinkable. That day though, I was forbidden to play even near the tree as we didn’t want to trouble my grandfather any further. Good thing too, considering what happened next.
While I never saw it, it was said that the tree had somehow become uglier. The very color of its bark became almost like the color of skin, or at least the skin of a sick man. The patterns on it were now said to resemble screaming faces of people in terrible agony. Then there was the symbol on its bark, “The Yellow Sign” that was said to glow in the dark like an ember.
There were other things too that were even more terrible. In the nearby towns, including my own, people would fall ill with horrible, disfiguring diseases that caused distended and swollen limbs and, in some rarer and even more terrible cases, extra eyes and teeth. Grotesque locust-like insects, with some going as far as to say that the said insects had human faces, destroyed crops at night and could be seen flying back to the tree before dawn. Then there would be sightings of a man, or what appeared to be a man, wandering around the towns at night. This man wore yellow or yellowish robes that hid his face. However, beneath the hem of his robes were what could only be roots or tentacles instead of feet. Those who glimpsed him often broke into terror and madness and called him the “Yellow King” or the “Yellowish Devil”.
One day, the mayor assembled a group of men to cut down the tree. My father was among them and, despite my grandfather’s protests, went on anyway as he believed that cutting down the tree was for the good of all. They were met with resistance, what with the monstrous insects living in the tree attacking the mayor’s assembled men but they countered them using fire and smoke. Finally, a man used a chainsaw to cut down the tree and succeeded in felling it but accidentally disemboweled himself when the tree gushed what could only have been blood (at least according to my father) like a geyser from its severed trunk and stump. The monstrous tree also fell on the mayor, killing him instantly through a combination of its weight and being impaled with its branches.
However, that did not solve all our problems, mind you. Remember, the tree was only cut down, it was never burned as my grandfather wished. While the troubles it brought upon our town were over, it was only a prelude for even more terrible things…
The tree was soon processed and its cut pieces sent to my good friend Carlito, a skilled wood carver. While he never went to college, he was the most skilled wood carver where we lived. He was the man who carved some of my most prized possessions including a wooden ashtray, some tables and chairs and parts of my boat. Carlito was very good with what he did and, I hazard to say, could easily have become an “artist” if only he could get the kind of recognition some of our useless celebrities have.
He was a good man with a good wife named Edna, whom was recognized as one of the more beautiful women in my town. While she was indeed quite a beauty, she never saw herself as anything special because of it, saying that God gives gifts to everyone and that it is up to us to use those gifts properly. I suppose that’s why she chose Carlito for a husband, as he was, do I dare say it, a Da Vinci when it comes to wood and chisel just as the old Italian himself was to canvas and paint. Carlito and Edna were nice people and, while they were never rich, they lived happily and comfortably until the wood from the accursed tree came into my friend’s hands.
I don’t know what happened. Now that I think about it, I don’t want to know what happened. All I can say was that the tree, now in the forms of blocks of wood began haunting Carlito and Edna’s life.
Edna often had nightmares about them. She dreamed of the “Yellow King” wandering around their home, leaving a trail of disgusting slime. Or she would dream of those who hung themselves on the tree, floating above the floor of their house and still hanging by their necks, their lifeless eyes then slowly turning toward her. She begged her husband to burn the blocks of wood but, for some reason, my friend couldn’t bring himself to do it.
Now I don’t know what was going on in my friend’s mind. Perhaps he was just being skeptical, practical or that the tree had somehow cast a spell on him. All that he would say was that the wood was good and he simply didn’t want it to go to waste by burning it.
And so on he went, carving said blocks of wood into what he thought would be works of art. However, what he actually made weren’t things I could ever call “art”. Oh well, it takes all kinds I guess. One of my nephews tells me that there are people who think that writing profanities on walls is a form of art so I guess there might be a disturbed few who might have seen Carlito’s work with the cursed tree as art. However, I for one would never call them art and am content with simply calling them “abominations”. I wouldn’t see them until later though. In fact, I wouldn’t see them until after Carlito took his own life.
Carlito worked himself into a frenzy in carving his pieces of art. We knew something was off when Edna wouldn’t even talk about what her husband was working on. She was very quiet on the rare occasions people talked to her. When the subject of her husband’s work was brought up, she would always try to change the subject. While Carlito was like any other wood carver, he refused to display what he had carved from the tree, saying that they were part of his masterpiece.
No one had seen or seemed interested in buying his works made from the tree but apparently there was one order that was delivered to the island town of Innocencia which is just one boat ride away from mainland. No doubt you can guess what it was. Yes, that’s right, it was the dreaded Santo Nino everyone’s been talking about.
However, before I continue, let me tell you about the people of Innocencia. Truth be told, they were less town and more like a small fishing village. They had their own little chapel with a priest coming on a weekly basis to hold mass for them. They were poor to be sure, but they were like every other undeveloped town in the Philippines before the Santo Nino came and ruined their lives and their minds.
I wasn’t one of the people who delivered the Santo Nino to Innocencia, truth be told, and I find myself very grateful for that. I’m not sure what happened to the boat and crew that delivered the accursed thing to Innocencia but it was far from pretty. The thing was taken from Carlito’s house covered by a cloth. According to those who spoke to them before they set out, my friend didn’t want to expose his masterpiece until it reached the chapel in Innocencia.
However, as the people set out aboard a boat to deliver the Santo Nino, a great storm appeared seemingly out of nowhere. While the boat and its cargo reached the island, the crew was nowhere to be found when it arrived. They were just gone suddenly and I could only pity the families they’ve left behind.
Again, I’m not sure what happened, but as it was with my friend Carlito, the Santo Nino also cast a spell upon the townsmen of Innocencia. It wasn’t until later that I would learn what Carlito’s “masterpieces” really were and I am telling you now that I for one wouldn’t bring one of them even near a church as they were indeed abominations. However, it somehow deluded the townsfolk into taking it to the chapel where it would sit for more than five years.
While the people of Innocencia were a secluded lot when after a few months after its arrival, the Santo Nino performed its first dark miracle. A boy, suffering from what was probably autism, was suddenly cured and could suddenly speak and act like normal. The townsfolk were ecstatic and filled with reverence as the former autistic boy spoke to them about the miracles of the Santo Nino and that it was sent by God to better their lives. The boy made them think that they were in some kind of show like that Santino or Nathaniel and that somehow the Santo Nino was going to make it all better for them.
Well, for a while at least, it seemed that way. At first there were the healings. It healed the townsfolk of their various ills and they went on to spread the word about what was happening in the chapel of Innocencia. Soon enough, hopefuls from all over the country came to be healed and Innocencia prospered. Even I made a considerable profit from the people traveling to and fro to Innocencia. It became much like the alleged miracles of Manaoag as there would be hundreds, sometimes even thousands, who would go to Innocencia to be healed. They would gather at the beach waiting patiently, or even impatiently in some cases, waiting for a boat to take them to the island. While I was normally a fisherman, I couldn’t turn down people offering over a thousand pesos just to be ferried to the island. Besides, there were occasionally pretty ladies that were with them and I sure as hell couldn’t turn them down.
Anyway, things seemed all and good until we started hearing news about those who were “healed” by the Santo Nino. Apparently, some of them weren’t healed at all. This caused some debate until the people Innocencia began claiming that those who were accusing the Santo Nino of fraud were commanded by the Devil to slander their prized gift from God. They marked those who doubted their precious blessing from the Lord as infidels, heretics and devil-worshipers who were intent on leading them astray.
It was only later on did I learn about the true nature of the Santo Nino and how insane the people of Innocencia had become but I stopped ferrying people to the island when one little girl in the late stages of cancer came to the island to be healed. She and her family were some of the few people I carried for free as I seriously wanted to see the girl healthy and happy again. I even told her to come back once she’d gotten better. When I came to ferry them back, they looked strange. It was as if they had seen something terrible and couldn’t bear to talk about it. Later on, I learned that the girl died anyway. Her cancer didn’t disappear at all, contrary to what the people of Innocencia told them. Worse yet, the girl’s parents committed suicide shortly afterward.
While there were authorities who wanted to investigate the issue, the townsfolk of Innocencia balked, refusing to let them in. They demanded that the police stay out of church matters and even stated that sick people came to them on their own accord. It was therefore not their fault if said person’s faith was too weak for them to be healed. That was all that really mattered to them.
There was only one more person I ferried to the island. An old and sickly man. He was a foreigner from Germany. Apparently, he was a scientist of some kind but also a man who took great interest in theology, or the study of religion. While he was sick, he seemed secure in the idea that there was a God and that He watched over and protected His people and that, after his death, God would be waiting for him in Heaven. He even claimed to have met an angel in Russia somewhere. To be honest, I can only hope he did get to be with God, considering what happened to the poor man next.
At first, I refused him. I told him that if he went there to get healed, he would get nothing. The Santo Nino was a fraud, I said to him, telling him that it was just a ploy for the people of the island to get rich. However, he insisted, telling me that getting healed wasn’t really what he wanted. Sure, he was sick, stage 4 lung cancer, according to him but it wasn’t the healing he was after. You see, he didn’t believe the lie either. He claimed the Santo Nino wasn’t something from God. It was sent by something else entirely and it wasn’t there to be of help to anyone.
So, I snuck him in, quietly and at a spot where the residents of Innocencia wouldn’t see us. I knew it was serious and that things could get bad if we were caught but I think that the poor little girl and her family deserved more than what they got for their troubles. So I let the man out and waited for him to come back.
He returned a few hours later with the townsfolk of Innocencia hot on his heels. I thought I recognized a lot of those pursuing the poor man but then there were those I couldn’t. I couldn’t begin to describe what they looked like. All I can say was that they looked wrong. They were mutilated, disfigured and fitted with bizarre structures of leather and metal, like some of those scary people in that movie Hellraiser my niece once forced me to watch.
It wasn’t until I got the man on the boat and sailed away a good distance that I learned what was truly happening on Innocencia. He had been wounded and it was clear that he would die before we made it to shore. He even stopped me from calling to another boat as he feared that they might be involved in Innocencia’s conspiracy. The man was dying but he fought to make sure that I learned everything I could.
The Santo Nino was indeed cursed by the Devil or the Yellow King. It couldn’t even be called a Santo Nino by any definition. A Santo Nino is supposed to be a depiction of the Baby Jesus or at least a Kid Jesus. The monstrosity on Innocencia couldn’t even be related to God in any way despite what the people there seem to believe. The Santo Nino of Innocencia was essentially the carving of a mutilated baby. It was littered with thirteen wounds that the people took as a symbol of sacrifice. Among it’s wounds were a missing left hand, a gouged-out right eye, a severed tongue, a ruined right left breast and an utterly defiled groin just to name a few of the thirteen. There were other wounds that were even more monstrous but the man used complicated words I couldn’t understand and there were time when, in his delirium, he would lapse into German. They also profaned the Last Supper by ritually eating the severed parts of devotees when they were in the throes of religious ecstasy.
The miracles it caused weren’t healings, as revealed to me by the man, the abomination simply caused the victim’s pain receptors to shut down somehow. This made it look like they got better but this did not at all cure them. In fact, according to the old German, this only made things worse as they would have no idea how bad they’re sicknesses were getting. Just before he coughed up a large wad of blood, he joked that it would probably be at least a good anesthetic.
He also told me that the autistic boy who was seemingly healed into becoming normal wasn’t healed at all either. He had been possessed by the King in Yellow, who the man sometimes called “Hastur” or something like that. The boy had become his mouthpiece, speaking to the people about his desires. The monstrous mob were the Santo Nino’s most devoted followers, choosing to ruin their own bodies in imitation of the Santo Nino’s wounds even though, as the man pointed out, the Bible teaches people to prize and care for their bodies and keep them beautiful. Before the man died, he told me that it was very important that the Santo Nino be destroyed as its evil was a cancer upon the world. A festering plague that could, with enough time, become a danger to the world.
When morning came, I immediately set out to find a priest, gather some of my friends and then go to Carlito’s house where I was certain we could get some answers. However, we soon learned what had happened. As you might have guessed, it wasn’t pretty.
Carlito had taken his own life by slitting his throat in front of his own wife of all things. Poor Edna was now in a nearby rehabilitation center, recovering from the brutal suicide of her own husband. We broke into Carlito’s house, despite the protests of the priest who accompanied us, as we were sure that his remaining masterpieces remained inside.
In case you’re wondering, the priest we brought along with us was the same priest who first identified the mark on the tree as a “Yellow Sign”. He was also the priest that went to Innocencia for mass but stopped going when he was threatened by the former autistic boy and a mob of his followers. We thought perhaps he could provide us with more knowledge with what we were up against. Unfortunately, the priest seemed a bit too frightened to be of any real help to us. The autistic boy had frightened him, he had left the island without even glimpsing the horror that they kept there. It was clear that he didn’t really want to go with us.
Unfortunately, the room where Carlito kept the remaining carvings from the tree was locked up nice and tight. We needed a key if we ever wanted to get it. So we went to fetch Edna, Carlito’s wife, who could hopefully help us get in.
When we reached the rehab center, Edna’s doctor made it clear that she was no longer herself. She had become catatonic, closed to the world. Her body was alive, but somehow, her mind had already died.
All that changed however when we spoke to her. Of course, at first, she wouldn’t speak at all. We were on the verge of giving up and finding another way into Carlito’s secret room when she suddenly returned. Whatever place her mind had gone to after witnessing the gruesome death of her husband, she had returned now. And, when I look back on it now and when she herself admitted it later, she didn’t come back alone.
The moment we arrived, Edna told us that the room to Carlito’s masterpieces was never even locked to begin with. It had simply shut us out. She stood before the door to that room again and, almost casually, turned the knob and opened the door. What greeted us behind the door were nightmares wrought into the waking world.
They were wood carvings alright but the images they portrayed were gruesome beyond belief. Like I said, Carlito was an artist when it came to wood and the detail on them were so realistic that it made them even more terrible to look upon. I cannot bear to remember all of them, let alone describe them, but almost all of them involved the desecration of something holy. Images of Buddha, the Virgin Mary, the Nativity Scene, all ruined in gruesome ways. Worse yet, while they were indeed wood carvings (or at least I hoped only wood carvings) something almost seemed alive about them. When I moved, it was almost as if their eyes watched and followed me.
Before I could say a word however, Edna, in a way I never imagined, stepped forward and doused the whole room with gasoline. She asked us all to step out and away from the room before lighting a match and tossing it at the pool of gas. The room went up in flames along with the disgusting horrors stored in it. It was then I realized that the woman who stood before us and set the room ablaze wasn’t just Edna anymore. I saw it in her eyes when she turned to face us.
It was something else. However, unlike the accursed tree and the Santo Nino, this was something good. I would learn more about this later but for now all we could do was stop ourselves from screaming as the abominations in Carlito’s secret room burned out fast.
Actually, now that I have time to think about it, they went out like fireworks. Being made of wood and all, I knew they’d burn up but not at the speed they seemed to be consumed at the time. They flared in a burst of bright colors and were accompanied by the sound of screaming and, strangely enough, sighs of relief. Whatever souls those carvings still held, they were somehow freed through immolation. When I look back at that time, I think I sighed in relief as well. At least we ended part of the horror. We had made sure that Carlito’s dreaded works wouldn’t trouble anyone else asides from the population of Innocencia.
The fearful priest who went with us regained some measure of courage and walked lively beside us as we went into my boat to confront the people of Innocencia…
Unfortunately, I got to see little of the action when I and those I brought with me arrived at the island. It was night again and the people of Innocencia were parading the monstrous Santo Nino around their town in a lurid procession. It was decided I would stay behind on the boat in case things didn’t go according to plan. I was either going to be needed for a quick getaway or, barring that, be a means to warn the people of what was really happening in Innocencia and somehow gather a larger group of people to put an end to the horrors of the Santo Nino of Innocencia.
I called bullshit on that knowing that they left me behind because none of them, except maybe whatever force was driving Edna now, knew they’d ever come back. If none of them survived, at least I would know what happened to them. The rest of what follows came from my friends Damaso and Gomez, young men who were among those I gathered with Edna and the priest when they confronted the people of Innocencia.
It seemed that the people of Innocencia were expecting them. They were all in the chapel waiting for them.
Just then, as my friends entered the chapel, a storm came out of nowhere, filling the sky with flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder while pelting the ground and sea with rain. The howling wind and crashing waves that assaulted my boat ensured that their would be no escape for me either. I was then trapped along with my friends on the island.
The people in the chapel were many and, by then, only a precious few of them weren’t devotees of the Santo Nino. They all called to Edna and the others to join them. To be one with God and devote their lives to Him.
Then the autistic boy stepped forward and confronted Edna, marking her as something other than what she was. The boy called her a charlatan, possessed and a servant of the Devil. He said that she was sent to destroy the Santo Nino and shatter the peace and prosperity that it had brought them. It goaded the people in the chapel into a mob and it seemed that it would soon be over for my friends and me, since I was now trapped on Innocencia because of the storm.
Before anyone could approach, Edna spoke in a voice that seemed like her own but pronounced every word with authority and a solid truthfulness. While some of it might have been painful, there was no denying the honesty in everything she said. She enumerated the many sins the people of Innocencia had committed. Everything from profiting from fraud to mutilating their bodies to please something that was clearly not God. She also went on to say how the Santo Nino never really healed anything as it only dulled the pain people experienced without actually doing anything to cure the actual disease or problem.
Then Edna turned to the autistic boy and told him to be quiet. Edna called it by the name “Hastur” and demanded that it leave the boy at once. The boy suddenly became frightened and suddenly vomited a tarry black substance flecked with bits of bright yellow. He stared at Edna vacantly and that was when my friends realized that the boy had gone back to being autistic. Indeed, he wasn’t healed at all. Something was just controlling him, forcing him to speak, using him as a living microphone.
However, the residents of Innocencia didn’t understand. Instead of seeing the truth that their Santo Nino was an abomination and that their prophet was simply a possessed boy, they saw Edna as a threat to their blessed existence. They convinced themselves that Edna had simply used some bizarre demonic spell to cause their prophet to suddenly relapse. They simply saw what they wanted to see, heard what they wanted to hear and thought what they wanted to think without fully understanding what was actually in front of them. They accused Edna of destroying their peace and happiness and once again gathered into a mob of angry fanatics.
That was when the priest found the courage to bound forward and grab the monstrous Santo Nino on the altar. The people around them seemed to forget about Edna and the others and simply focused on the priest. With a shout, he raised the unholy sculpture above his head in defiance.
Just then, a lightning bolt struck the chapel. While the chapel had a lightning rod, the bolt went directly to the altar, bathing the interior in a flash of bright white light. When this happened, the priest threw the Santo Nino to the floor in the middle of the chapel and the bolt of lightning followed it. It caught fire almost immediately but didn’t turn to ash instantly like Carlito’s other carvings.
The people, horrified that their god was burning, threw themselves on it, hoping to put out the flames. Instead of putting the fire out however, it was the people who threw themselves on the Santo Nino that blazed furiously and became ash in seconds. Even though they could already see that throwing themselves onto the burning Santo Nino would not put it out, the people of Innocencia threw themselves unto the burning effigy anyway, either because in their stupidity they couldn’t see it was useless or because they’d rather die with their lies than live with the unpleasant truth that they have only lied to themselves about everything. A lot of them couldn’t accept that, in the end, they had been serving the Devil all along instead of God. And so the people of Innocencia, from the horrifically disfigured devotees of the Santo Nino to those who were meant to be a front of the cult, all of them threw themselves upon the growing pyre inside the chapel.
The next day, when the authorities finally arrived (late again as usual), I found out everything that happened.
Whatever spirit had driven Edna to do what she needed to do had left now but what was important was that the nightmare was over. While all of the adults in Innocencia were killed, their children, who didn’t fully understand what happened were spared and even the autistic boy, who didn’t want to follow those who jumped into the pyre, also survived. The chapel where the Santo Nino was held burned down later when it was struck by another bolt of lightning, conveniently when Edna and the others had left it and the remaining adult townsfolk were incinerated.
Later, Edna would recount to me how something protected her when her husband went mad. How it had guided her to do what she needed to do. No, it was not a possessing spirit. It was simply a force that cleared her mind and allowed her to see things for what they really were. While the carvings of her husband were indeed horrifying and disgusting, the spirit that protected her showed her that while they did have some dark power to them, they could still be destroyed if one chose to do what needed to be done. Of course, it would never be easy, but evil can always be undone if one chooses to accept the truth and do what is necessary.
It was over thank God. The nightmare was finally over.
Now, children, I hope you are satisfied with my story for this will be the last time I retell it. It is not a story I really want to remember or speak of anymore. I hope the next time you come to Old Man Zapata, you’ll ask for a different story.
I hope you enjoyed the story and understood its meaning. Before I finish this though, I would like to thank my apprentice (yes, I have one) who provided a lot of input for this piece. Also, sorry for the typos and mistakes you may find. You can blame me for the mishaps and you can thank my apprentice for the good parts. And, before I go, advanced Happy Halloween!
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