by Tristan Martin
(Note: This is my first finished English story. This was actually written last April 2019 for a planned anthology that unfortunately, didn’t push through. So I’ve decided to share this here. Feedback, anyone?”)
According to the news, Sheila was the 36th victim. To be brutally honest though, I don’t really care about the others. I only care about Sheila. She was my only daughter. She was only 14 years old.
The nurse found her around two in the morning during her rounds. I was outside at that time, in front of the hospital entrance, drinking terrible coffee that I got from the vending machine. The security guard was telling me something, some crazy government conspiracy theory, but I wasn’t listening. I was thinking about my Sheila. How this was just a dream – no, an awful nightmare. And that anytime now, I will wake up on my bed, probably late for work, with everything back to normal. Sheila will come in to my room in her school uniform, telling me to get up already, scolding me for being a lazy-ass father.
But I didn’t wake up. It wasn’t a dream.
When I first heard about it, I thought that the world had really gone crazy. They called it the Manananggal Challenge, which sounds ridiculous to say the least. I mean, who in their right mind would create an Internet challenge and call it after a decapitated flying monster with bat-like wings? Yes, I know that there were some insane and downright dangerous Internet challenges that became viral before but this one was on a whole different level. The challenge asks you to slice yourself on the waist, just like a manananggal. It claimed that once you have successfully cut yourself into two, you will then be reborn and grow these massive and beautiful wings that will enable you to fly into the skies. It will set you free, it said.
I laughed out loud when I saw it on Facebook, dismissing it as a joke started by trolls, convinced that no one would actually do something like that for the sake of likes or views.