It was a cold breezy night around seven o’clock in the evening. Dressed in her favorite gray sweat shirt that she bought from a charity sale a couple of months ago, paired with a dirty-white cargo pants, with books in her arm pressed about her chests, Jane Loreto went out her room; the room that she occupied for more than a week now. Just like other faculty members, she decided to stay in the staff house. Her reason mainly was that, she needed to save her money for food and allowance for an entire month away from salary, and that it provides her an opportunity to make friends with co-workers and students not to mention an easy access to school facilities. The staff house was a nipa hut with tiny rooms, a small kitchen, and a limited-spaced-living room. “A concrete house is still under construction”, the school director explained as if reading her thoughts, or perhaps, it was the unguarded look on her face when she first saw it. The staff house stood South-West of the great building adjacent to the rear fence of the campus. If observed from the gate, the great building appeared to be planted at the very center of the campus; although by reality, it was much closer to the back fence than to the center, while the humble house was hidden behind the concrete building under construction. The life-style was completely modest. Jane’s room was positioned facing the mountains. The sights available for her were thick bamboos, tall trees, wild grasses, and a long and narrow river with a wonderful spring that formed a deep well which provides an abundant supply of water for laundry. The sun rays could hardly enter her room. An early morning would depict a late evening surrounding. She was very near to nature but she hardly appreciated; yet she dared not complain. She went to the guard post to borrow the key for the computer room. She needed to complete eight syllabi, four advanced mathematics and four basics, before the deadline, which will be in two days. Overloaded, everyone would say, but when she tried to bring up her concern with the director, she was told that her extra loads would be listed under the type of services that are converted to cash when accumulated in a matter of five years or so. That, needless to say, if she would be around in five years.
There were two student guards on duty that night. They hesitated when Jane asked for the key.
“Please don’t stay late in that building Ma’am”, Raden, the seventeen-year old working student advised her. She easily identified him as one from the education department, in his third year majoring Mathematics, since there were only five of them. She was always impressed by the perseverance and determination of working students.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” She cheerfully assured him.
“Or you better get company Ma’am.” Bernie, also a third year from Business Administration department, suggested. “It isn’t safe staying in that building alone”.
“Okay. I’ll try.” She said to dismiss their worries. “Thank you.” She smiled and turned away.
The night was quiet but the busy sound of the keyboard. Several mathematics books lay open on the table beside the computer Jane was using. The cold breeze blew her short thick hair through the open windows but she hardly noticed. She was concentrating on the syllabus she was making. She was determined to finish three syllabi that night. Suddenly, she heard approaching footsteps from the corridor. She was glad somebody was coming to accompany her. She suspected it was Mervin, an English teacher who was also staying in the staff house. He had mentioned earlier that day that he also wanted to work late for his syllabus. But then the footsteps vanished but no one appeared at the door. Curious, she rose to check outside. Not anyone was in the long corridor. She went back to work.
Her mind was busy choosing appropriate words for her specific objectives which would be measurable, deciding the proper arrangement of the objectives to coincide with the progress of her lessons, mentally calculating the number of hours to allot for each lesson that would sum up to the total number of hours required for the course, and listing the classroom activities necessary for every skill taught and learned. Her fingers were actively kicking in every direction on the keyboard when an odd feeling interrupted her. Her heart pumped hard, real hard, like it was scared of something. Her feet felt strange as if she was riding in a ferris wheel. The hair on her arms and neck stood. Her hands were wet and cold. She was scared of something she didn’t understand. She checked the time, twelve o’clock midnight. She stopped from what she was doing and prayed. She asked God to guide her and be with her in that suddenly, strange place. The odd feeling lessened after the prayer but the room continued to be indifferent. She started singing songs of praise as she carried on in her work, until her mind was completely engrossed back in the syllabus.
About an hour later, a tick-tick-tick sound from the door was getting louder. The noise was destructive that she went out to see what was going on. She didn’t see anything. She then noticed that the sky started pouring raindrops and decided that it was the cause of the noise - the impact of the rain water as it hit the pavement.
The rain grew heavy. The cold soothing breeze turned into an angry wind attacking all the trees in the campus trying to knock them down. The heaven was totally dark and was scolding the earth through its furious lightning and bizarre thunder. She went back to the room and resolved herself to stay for another hour or two until the storm subside.
Barely twenty minutes after she returned to work, the monitor of the computer flashed in a snap and all the lights turned off. Everything around her stopped in an instant saved that shadowy light from the monitor that would last for five minutes. “Oh my God!” She muttered. “An electrical blackout! “ She swiftly gathered her things suspecting that any unseen creatures occupying the room would ruin them if left behind. Securing her stuff by the right arm, her left hand reached for the computer’s switch under the table to secure safety whenever the electricity would come back. Blindly searching for the switch button of the AVR, her fingers stumbled on something electrifying. She debated in herself if she should waste time switching the computer off or instead use the remaining light to locate the door. She chose the first. She made a quick prayer to God requesting to guide her fingers to the switch button and whew! She hit it.
Now the room was in total darkness. She struggled to find the door and when at last her hand found the door knob; she shut the door behind, locked.
The wrestling sound of trees against the wind was deafening. She leaned against the closed door for support when a blast came leaving her with trembling knees. She couldn’t find her way. She felt weak against the storm. Fear started growing inside her. Her mind screamed to God for help. Just then lightning struck successively giving her ample time to run. But the lightning simply waited for her to get to the end of the corridor. Left with no choice, she sat on the cold floor, waiting for the rain to subside. She heard the rushing of water from the drainage. The roods were flooding.
Chapter 1 The Town
Chapter 3 The Rain