This used to be a grand old house where the wealthy of a bygone era mingled in lavish parties and wanton revelry. I remember the women in wonderful dresses with masterful embroidery, laughing and conversing, gossiping about their fellow women while the men, in their well-groomed form, talked about women while they held brandy in one hand and cigars in the other.

But as the ages passed, this house has become a dreary reminder of that bygone era – somewhat sad and pathetic. Its innards are filled with nothing more than cobwebs and dust. I walked through the empty rooms and hallways with the floor creaking beneath my feet. The stench and the dust rising from the cracks were disturbed by my every step.

I see the ghosts of the past dance and frolic in a candle-filled hall. Their faces were lively. I swayed my head and danced with them, humming to the sound of bandurrias and violins, watching with mirth as they glided through the once glittery hall. They were unlike the dancers that I have seen in the present who moved with much vulgar display.

I miss the romantic days of wonder and awe when people moved with grace in a time when the world was alive – when we were alive. I miss the stories of the old folks in the town plaza who spoke with knowledge and wisdom. They told epic tales of wonder. They spoke of heroes and villains – and gods! In recent days, such a thing would be laughed at. In this modern age, where people are hooked up to cyberspace most of the time, public speaking needs a permit. Actually, there were only a handful who spoke in public and vented out their frustrations on everything. They were unattached from technology. They were against immortality. They said that once you die, they hook up your brain to the neuronet, and you can live forever. I didn’t need that. I don’t want that.

The sound of a loud horn disturbed my thoughts. Thunder crackled from above. So did the roaring of flying cars. Light flashed against monoliths of steel and glass, towering like giants amid the chaos of mid-afternoon traffic. I often wondered why cars needed to fly? I will never know.

The rain started to pour. I peered out the window and raised an eyebrow at what I saw. A narrow one-way street was clogged again with ancient jeepneys that still functioned, not on gasoline, but on an energy device that some genius equipped as a replacement. It was to save the environment, they said. The environment is still decayed. It didn’t help at all. Many people still used these jeepneys, that’s why they are still around, and even though science should have advanced living conditions, there are still those who could not afford as much, if not none at all. They couldn’t afford the high fares of a flying taxi cab and the luxury of bullet trains – they couldn’t afford to live in this modern world – and so most of them have a hard life, living day by day, dying, with only their names stored in a database that would soon be deleted.

Angry jeepney drivers scream at the cause of the sudden traffic. Further ahead at an intersection was an old truck with its engine fuming with steam. A small man, tired and irritated, drenched by the rain, screamed and cursed at his failed piece of machinery. I could hear him through the noise, screaming he would beat up some fellow named Boyet, who should have maintained his truck. Sirens came from above. A floating tow truck released a magnetic clamp that stuck to the hood of the broken vehicle. Two police officers emerged from the corner and pulled the driver aside as the tow truck lifted its cargo into the dark sky.

I gave a wry smile. These people in this day and age! They seemed lost, easily angered – discontentment lingered in their very society. It was very different from the world that I knew. In the early ages, there was simplicity in life. True, there was strife, but there were men and women who rose up to the challenge to dignify their claim to righteousness, and thus they were called heroes. There was respect. There was courage. There was honor. Still, life was simple, unlike this modern world of complexities and twisted rationalities. This world that has forgotten us – this modern world that killed us!

The rain poured hard. It started to flood the street outside. The rain drowned the sounds of the many ancient honking vehicles that were more of a nuisance in a futuristic society. O Apolaki, how they have forgotten us! How has society ended up like this? Apathy runs rampant. Governments could easily find a solution to poverty, yet poverty still remains. There are still wars, but the fighting is on some planet now. Here, there is no space for wars. Cities are overpopulated. No one needs to go to war. They are all dying.

The flood reached the front yard. The street kids played in the rain. Their innocent laughter broke through the pattering. They waded through the floodwaters. Some of them swam and pretended the waters were deep. They moved down the street and were gone. I waited for the rain to stop before I stepped out of the house. I don’t know why I waited until the rain stopped. I could have left earlier, but listening to the sound of the rain while inside brought back fond feelings – of the pattering against the rooftops and the sadness of loss in a house haunted by memories. I looked at the Balete tree by the gate. It reminded me of the old world. Trees were hard to find now. This one still stood, though no one noticed it – no one cared about it. I smiled and stood staring at the stars that emerged from the parting storm clouds like little hopes amid a desperate world.


A sleek, white sedan floated from the skies above and parked in front of the house. An old man in a grey suit stepped off. He looked ancient with death hovering above him. He walked towards the gate with a limp. His left arm was made of crude metal. Wires jutted out its elbows. The driver alighted and quickly assisted the man, giving him an old cane for his walking stick. One of his legs didn’t function anymore. The old man glared at his young driver for being one step late. He slapped the driver’s arm aside, took the cane, and stood in front of the gate. He gave a deep breath and glared at the house like it was his own enemy. I could hear the whirring of tiny machines in the different parts of his body, as he walked slowly and opened the small gate door with a tiny key. It moaned like it hadn’t been used for a thousand years. The old man walked in and commanded his driver to wait in the car.

I stepped off the balcony and quietly made my way through the second-floor hallway. I heard the house quietly moan. Its ancient bones twisting, complaining, infuriated at the fact that its owner had returned after centuries of abandonment. I agreed with the house. I have been locked in here for a long time, and I got used to it. Seeing the old man opened that door of hate again. He is centuries old, but of course, I’m older, but to see a mortal grasp at something that he can’t have sickens me. Mortals were meant to die. They were not everlasting like we are. Though my kind willingly passed on long ago and left this plane to human beings, I was not one of the fortunate.

The main doors creaked with an age-old moan, defiant of the old man’s touch. It recognized its former owner and knew of the malice that he brought with him. Simeon was his name. He had outlasted even his great-grandchildren, who all died in the great pandemic of 2520. Half of the population of Earth was decimated in those days. The people of Mars – the wealthy and opulent who found a way out of a crumbling world – laughed at the ridiculous earthlings who found a cure too late. Simeon did not care. His life was more valuable, and because he outlasted the plague, he considered himself a god who could do anything.

I quietly made my way to a dark corner of the foyer where an old grandfather clock stood, long since dead. The old man didn’t notice me. I melded with the shadows that not even his cybernetic eye could see me. But he knew I was there. He felt me. He stood inches from the main doors and slowly swung his head, eyeing every inch of the house. I calmly sank back and waited for Simeon to make the first move.

“I know you are here,” he said. I heard a tinge of fear in his voice. “You better answer me…”

“Or what?” I cut his speech. “What will you do to me, Simeon. You know damn well you can’t kill me.”

“I will never let you go,” he said with spite.

“Hah, your frail threats never cease to amaze me.” I mocked with delight. “What do you want? Same as always?”

Simeon drew a breath and remained silent.

“Look how pathetic you are. I can no longer sense the humanity in you!”

“I am still human!” His voice trembled with fury.

I laughed before I answered. “The only thing that is human in you is your voice. Everything else is metal and circuits. Even your soul is made of steel – cold and stiff.”

“You know nothing!”

“I do know – everything – that is because I am a god, and even though you trapped me here, you will never get anything out of me.”

He laughed. His voice was seemingly cold and almost dead. “It doesn’t matter anymore. You will forever be trapped here!”

I fumed, and suddenly, I felt the rage swell out of me. The whole house shook. The streets shook. Lightning streaked from the perennial clouds above. Thunder demanded attention. The anger of a million years poured out, and it felt like I could break free of the prison I was in, but alas, I heard the hum of machines beneath the house, and I was pulled back to the shadows.

Simeon laughed. “You will never break free of my invention! It has taken me years to create such a device! All the research I have done, the spells and incantations that I combined with the technology of this modern age, are potent enough to seal your eternity. That is unless you give me what I want. I can set you free.”

I tutted disapprovingly. “Ah, the hubris of you human beings. Have you not already achieved that? You are already immortal! Look at you – a patchwork god of crude devices – how pathetic.”

Simeon stepped further into the foyer and raised a fist. I could feel his anger. That was good. It has been years since I had any fun with these foolish mortals. But then, his heartbeat slowed, and suddenly, he fell to his knees and wept. What once was fear turned into sorrow, and I now understood the frailty of the old man who was full of himself. Behind his arrogance was fear, and the thought of death lingered in the back of his mind – eternally mocking him. The machines in his arms whirred as he placed both hands in front of his sobbing face, and with a miserable voice, he spoke in agony.

“I don’t have long to live, Bathala,” he said directly at me. “My genes are failing me, and the machines inside my body cannot compensate for the decay. No amount of bioengineering can prolong my life. Can you not show mercy to a fool like me?”

I laughed, and there was fury in that laughter as I spoke with much spite at the old man, who saw no fault in his words.

“How dare you? I am a merciful god to those who exhibit righteousness, compassion, and dignity. I have seen many heroes who gave their lives willingly for their country and the honor they held dear. They never once begged for immortality. You, on the other hand, a worthless pile of human feces who has not done anything except selfishly live long to hang on to your wealth, ask me for mercy? And for what? To further hold on to your worldly treasures? No, I show mercy to mortals who are worthy of my mercy, not to a bigot like you.”

Simeon slammed his fist to the ground and made a hole. His arm whirred for a moment, then became limp and was dead. He crawled and lay on the cold marble floor. His breath was suddenly sharp and short. His eyes became blank sheets of white that stared at the ceiling.

“I… only… want to live… forever…”

Gago!” I screamed at him. “Let the shadows take you to the abyss that is your true home.”

The valet rushed in once he heard the beep on his watch. He panicked as he saw Simeon lifeless on the ground. He pulled a cord from a small gadget on his belt and quickly stuck it up a small hole in the old man’s neck. The body of Simeon jerked several times as jolts of electricity moved from the small battery pack to the cord connected to his heart. It didn’t work. I saw deathly hands creep out from the corners of the room and grab hold of Simeon’s soul like desperate lovers under wanton caress. They took him into the shadows. I heard the parting echo of screams. The man who imprisoned me, honored so many times as the bio-engineer who changed the course of humanity, was dead.

It dawned on me that I would be forever trapped in this house and that Simeon had won our war. I left the pathetic human and his master in the foyer. I made my way down to the basement. In a square room was the device, a box of metal that hummed and radiated with bright lights. It sat in the middle of an etched circle full of runes on the floor. Simeon made sure that nothing could tamper with it – not even gods. And so I mused, looking at it for a while with disgust, before making my way to the windows of the upper floors.

I sat in one of those age-old chairs made of Narra wood. They seemed to last a lifetime. It continued raining like it would last forever. I watched and marveled. I, the last god left in the world, laughed at the hubris of humankind who thought that they could conquer death. Ah, the flaws of humanity. They left for the stars so that they could escape their troubles. Do they really think they could conquer the stars too? Those who stayed behind faced one catastrophe after another. Their science was their salvation and also their doom. I sometimes wonder if they would ever return if they found a cure for their mortality.

So time went by, and this ancient house crumbled and moaned until it died, but the box that was my prison still existed under the rubble. The Balete tree withered and faded away. I didn’t see the moon break, but I felt it, and the memories of Mayari filled me with sadness. In this rain-drenched city that slowly sank into the sea, I looked up at a dead sky and forever wondered if I was the only one left in this long-dead world.

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