24″ x 18″ . Watercolor with Dr. Ph. Martin’s bleed-proof white . 2022
It All Started With a Dream.
It was midnight, November 1, 1998. We thought it was Hallow’s Eve (duh) so my friend Candy and I planned this epic Ouija board, beer, and weed session at the village park. Amidst laughter and summoning Satan multiple times, one of the other girls suddenly burst into tears and exclaimed “I’m pregnant! And I don’t know who the father is because I slept with three guys in a row!”. Fuuuuucking idiot! Talk about a total buzzkill. So apart from weak attempts to console her on my part, we ended up walking home. I also randomly blurted out something stupid that morning. “Don’t worry, if an evil spirit follows us, something will happen to my dog. Just kidding!”.
I woke up at 5 am to get water. It was still totally dark inside the house, but familiarity did not make switching the lights on necessary. Someone was standing at the threshold of our living and dining room, and even if it was just a faint silhouette, I recognized it was Candy from afar. “What the hell are you doing here at this time?”. She didn’t say anything, just grabbed my wrists and the whole world flipped 90 degrees horizontally.
I realized I was still lying in my bed with my eyes wide open. Light was already trickling through the window, and “Candy” was floating above me doing this strange pushup/planche on my wrists with her legs floating in the air. It wasn’t her though. It was this human-shaped creature with matte-black or Vanta black skin, it could have been something like a tight bodysuit, and was devoid of any features. It was so black that nothing reflected off it, like a void. Definitely a man.
I wanted to scream, but couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move. I just kept looking at the window from the corner of my eye to stay conscious. Have you ever felt like you were going to die? The thing lifted up my shirt and licked my stomach under my belly button. The best way to describe his tongue is like Spiderman’s alter ego, Venom’s. While he was doing so, freaking out + urgency to move and breathe made me manage to wiggle my pinky finger. It led to regaining control of my arm, and The Creature abruptly slipped away like smoke being sucked by vacuum cleaner.
Breathing felt like someone was standing on my chest, and everything ached from my teeth to my nails. As long as I was alive right? I was still lying motionless on the bed trying to figure out where the dream world ended and reality began, when someone started frantically knocking on my door. Our household helper was hysterical. “The dog! The dog!”, so I ran… Diesel, my Doberman was lying on his side in extreme pain. There was no such thing as an emergency vet in the Philippines back then, and despite being able to talk to one on the phone, he died in my arms some 30 minutes later. Gastric tortion.
It was traumatic. I could never sleep on my back again from fear that “The Creature” would make his grand re-appearance. That staved him off for a while. But it was only a matter of time.
It started with cameos. A typical dream scenario would be something like, I’d be riding a horse with pogo-stick legs in a blizzard, get off in some fantasy land laughing, and he would be standing there waiting. Instinctively, I would run for my life, and he would flail his arms wildly like having a seizure and sprint after me. Freaky. The damn thing was fast too, and the crazy arm thing made him even scarier. Sometimes sheer terror would make me feel like I was running at full speed only to look down and see my legs stuck in place. Then I’d helplessly watch him getting closer only to wake up moments before he reaches me.
Over the years, he gained a starring role in my dreams. Usually I’d be standing outside my house at night, and he would be under the street lamp a house away. I already knew he’d be there even before looking. Then it would be time to run, he’d run after me. Wash, rinse, repeat. Fortunately, I had normal dreams too, but there was this constant anxiety about whether he’d pay me a visit every night. This went on for 20 years. I can’t say I ever got used to it, but at least waking up breathless and feeling like I was going to die stopped.
When I was 38, The Creature dropped by to say hi again. I don’t know why it took so long, but that day I just had it with the running. Furious with myself for being scared, I faced him and just stood there. “Come and get me”. The blasted thing didn’t even slow down! It was quite funny because from “full frontal”, I was more concerned about what being tackled by an American football player would feel like. And as I braced myself for the final moment, he jumped into my chest and merged into me. WTF? I’ve never seen him since.
Animals, like wizards, have the keys to unlock the secrets of the universe. Because horses are more like spouses than pets, their magic is particularly strong. They can bring you the world as long as you’re willing to listen.
One of the high points of this year was reconnecting with a long-lost childhood friend at a wedding. She stabled my horse Amber while I was in college, and Amber gifted us with this powerful connection. It felt like we never lost a day.
We didn’t have a falling out. We simply lost touch because she studied and lived abroad. Before you even realize it, so many years pass and you’re not even sure how you became an adult. Mutually wild tendencies made finding out that she is happily married a pleasant surprise. And she has the perfect husband too who complements her personality not by similarity, but through contrast.
She will always have a special place in my heart. While there are people who love me unconditionally, she believes in me without reservations, and is not afraid to say it too. We couldn’t have met at a more opportune time either because I was starting to feel like a robot. But, the rest of Amanda’s story is yet for another painting.
After the wedding, we would spend time hanging out at their place. It was quite the norm for her to turn in earlier, so I’d end up drinking with her husband. We’d talk about silly things like the bands you listened to when you were younger that you’re too embarrassed to admit to now, the advantage men have over women when it comes to pull-ups, how a banana tasted better than a quail after military survival training, or using mashed potatoes as deodorant.
And then it happened.
We were laughing about something silly as usual when Pierre suddenly blanked out. He still had a smile on his face and his eyes were wide open, but the light in his brain switched off. And then we were surrounded by FIRE! A raging psychic inferno burning so brightly that it was almost white. The blazing sound was too loud to ignore too, and I could even see everything reflected in his eyes. Yet, we were still sitting in their living room all at the same time.
The eyes were particularly weird. Have you ever put an animal to sleep? Do you know what their eyes look like once the last spark of life leaves the body?
For a moment, time stood still. Then all the flames in the room converged into a vanishing point in the middle of my skull. I just knew that I was sucking out his soul.
Instinctively, I also knew that if I didn’t find a way to stop it, 1. he’d collapse onto his face and 2. I’d rather not mention the worst possibility. WTFFFFFFFFF??!?!?!? How much did I have to drink? How I was even doing this? The eyes! Break eye contact! And after a few seconds, he “woke up” and everything went back to normal. Did he even know?
Treating it all like a drunken hallucination, days passed and I thought nothing more of it. Until I had a dream about Pierre calling to ask me out around a week later. Whaaaaaat? The absurdity of it all already cracked me up in the dream, and I woke up, still laughing! Don’t get me wrong, Pierre is a fabulous guy. I’ve learned many philosophical ways to deal with people from him, and can brutally honestly say that he’s probably is the most attractive guy in the Philippines, maybe even the whole Southeast Asia! We get along perfectly too. Trust aside, even his wife knows we have as much chemistry as children watching Thundercats while eating Cheetos.
Nothing is stranger than the truth. Soon, thoughts about Pierre just started randomly creeping into my head. It slowly turned into a plague that I couldn’t comprehend. Actually torment is a good word because much as I wanted to understand why, it was just Pierre, brick wall. What was the whole point? Like having last song syndrome with a good song, but nothing I would play out of my own volition, e.g. Fleetwood Mac. I didn’t even feel the need to talk to him!
In a way it was good, because to ensure that I wasn’t in denial about some hidden desire, I was forced to rummage through the skeletons of my consciousness and face a few things. Unfortunately, I didn’t find what I was looking for until something else hit me… It was that thing! The Creature! He was the one who sucked his soul out, and now that little chunk of Pierre that I brought home with me was trying to break free.
How the hell was I supposed to set it free if I didn’t even understand how I acquired it? Well…I did figure things out eventually, and this painting was part of the process. Inadvertently, I’ve also managed to complete a trilogy about The Devil, God, and Me, with “The Emancipation of Molloch”, “Pus Seeking in the Monarch-Kitty” and now this one. How cliché!
Geee I wonder why this artwork has no center?
Exorcising Pierre’s soul chunk took almost two months of trial and error. But determination prevailed because it’s not mine to keep in the first place! Unfortunately, just as “normalcy” finally ensued, things slowly started to unravel again. A random dental x-ray revealed that half my upper molar was hollow due to an orthodontal error. Great! In Anthroposophy, the upper teeth relate to the thoughts, while the lower ones are connected to the will. Whatever. Losing half of the upper molar seemed to put more strain on the already fragile bridge between the (sub)consciousness and the physical brain. After this, all the weirdness in my already unusual life really started to snowball.
Back when I was in a band, comrades would already joke about my body’s chemistry. Watches would break and be irreparable. My guitar would always have feedback only when I held it, or worse, electrocute me! But those were just minor things. After the tooth, I matured into a walking natural disaster. My computer exploded, car started leaking buckets, our fridge broke, I broke the door off my mother’s van and did a somersault on the street (woohoo!), just yesterday my UPS broke, today my doorknob broke, someone hacked into my credit card, my atm card broke over the Christmas break… I went to Norway, my luggage got lost, the funicular broke, I couldn’t get a bus ticket because the machine wouldn’t accept my card, it wouldn’t accept my coins either… These are only the noteworthy examples, but WTF !
And aahhhhh yes, the metal festival in Norway. Some years back, one of my besties, Christian recommended a band called Mgla. Google-google, Youtube-search, and the first thing I noticed was their strange attire. Why the hell are they dressed like the shadow creature in my dreams??? It was slightly creepy, but funny as well.
What’s even stranger is that Krzysztof, the first friend I made in Norway, went to Bergen to meet up with his “childhood buddies” Mgla! LOL! So when he said, “Come on let me introduce them to you!”, I was like “Uhhhh……. You really don’t have to”, LMAO! Everything turned out fine though, ONCE THEY TOOK THE MASKS OFF!
I also accidentally sucked out soul fragments of three other people on that trip. It’s most likely because I was so blasted the whole time, but don’t worry everything’s back where it belongs. To this day, I still wonder what it feels like to be on the receiving end.
In 2019, I read a book called “Demons and Healing: The reality of the Demonic Threat and the Doppelganger in the Light of Anthroposophy: Demonology, Christology and Medicine” by Norwegian, Are Thoresen. Apart from being a veterinarian and practitioner of Anthroposophic medicine, he is also supposedly clairvoyant and sees all sorts of demons, spirits, elementals etc. Of course this topic is grain of salt material! But intrigued, I emailed to ask if he was willing to do an online consult. And he obliged! Unfortunately, it ended up rather underwhelming. He covered his webcam with a piece of paper the whole time and dismissed me by saying “I can’t help you with that, everything’s fine. Bye”. WUUUUUT? Now I know why. If he is clairvoyant as he says, he saw The Creature with me, in me? And freaked out. Who knows, he might have gotten his soul sucked out too.
What exactly is going on?
Am I the next “devourer of souls, eater of shadows” in training? I haven’t lost my mind yet, and it feels like I’ve already passed some sort of diabolical bar-exam. Hey, I just might be THE most favorable contender because I don’t even have to barter for souls! As for black flame, hahahaha! *Cough* “Tanninsam” *cough*. Wahahaha! Looks like my future is gonna be “bright”!
WTF is it?
The Creature could be my shadow-self.
Why it got spliced off at birth beats me, but it made growing up extra confusing. Being born with a “great disconnection” and wondering whether you have some undiagnosed mental disability is added butthurt to the pains of adolescence. Perhaps it’s great that I didn’t have a shadow-self to begin with or I would have ended up as a serial killer.
I still feel disconnected with my gender. I’m not gay, but I don’t feel like a woman either. This only crossed my mind because the soul-vacuuming happens to men exclusively. Why just men? And there’s no particular type either, as long as there is alcohol, eye contact and you’re a boy, BEWARE!!! If the Jungian shadow-self contains the things we are unaware of, maybe I secretly want to be desired? Doesn’t everyone? No big revelation there. Then why don’t I soul-vacuum only super-hot guys? Do I secretly want to feel like a woman? Uhhh, certainly not the leg shaving, make-up wearing, fashion plagued kind.
I’ve called myself Isa Nthrope after the word “misanthrope” for years because people sense this disconnection and try to single me out. I used to hate having a giant bullseye on my forehead, but it has its perks. Ironically, it’s also just this year that I’ve learned “Nthrope” alone means “for the people”. What is sanity anyway? Being acknowledged by sheep? We don’t have to group-hug or anything, but I’ll choose madness on any given day. My work can reach out in my stead.
What if the shadow creature is some sort of demon or older god? Possible, but I don’t really have a choice except to deal with it. If you’re into death metal/black metal, roll all the lyrics into one giant wad and there’s your Prophecy. Even the description of the whole process is uncanny. While I don’t exactly know how to initiate The Apocalypse just yet, at the rate humanity is going, who needs an Antichrist anyway?
Shadow-self, evil spirit, demon, older god, I think what matters the most is that I’ve negotiated a truce with The Creature. He won’t consume people without permission or try to possess me as long as he gets attention. It’s working too because my tinnitus is almost gone! He will also only try to break little things from now on, like the light above me.
What if this is all just schizophrenia?