Womb Snatchers

Womb Snatchers

A Story by bba
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A short story about one of the famous creatures in the Philippines: Tik-tik

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The young woman stood stiffly on the damp ground. She could have been mistaken for a statue if not for the rise and fall of her chest, and the blinking of her eyes. She appeared mystical among the wild trees and the spread of grass on the empty lot as if a goddess tending to her secret garden.

The darkness daunted her as it did a month ago when she first stood at the same spot. She knew she could never erase the anger that engulfed her.

 

The earth was hard to dig. The afternoon sun had baked the ground dry, compressed to a great impenetrable mass. And yet she scratched the earth as if nothing else in the world mattered.

She dug.

And she dug.

And she dug until the fragile skin of her hands blistered and bled.

The night did not allow her to see how deep she had gone. She had to grope the edges to know the depth and width of the hole she made. About a foot and a half, she measured from her outstretched hand up to her elbow, she stopped digging. She placed the shoebox down the hole then gently pushed back the earth over it that it took her twice the time to cover the hole than to dig it.

She thought about the prayers she learned when she was a child. Of the hundreds of amens, she seemed to have forgotten them all.

“Take my baby to paradise,” she whispered. “Keep him.”

 

Wings fluttered on the outskirts of the forested lot. These are the creatures of the night; they circled the black sky as predators stalk their hapless prey. Their high screeching sound, their secret language, revealed the intensity of their excitement. Tonight, they would have their fill.

 

Maggie was pregnant. She never knew she was; not until she was well on her way to the end of her first trimester. The pressures of her job prevented her from noticing the changes on her body. She would always have the excuse of stress for having her frequent headaches, and of her unsteady diet for her clammy stomach.

What would Tyler say? The thought of her husband made her choose to keep the pregnancy a secret until a chance arose.

This would have been her fourth child if not for the miscarriages.

The first mishap was easily accepted. I don’t blame you. These things happen. We’ll try again, Tyler had whispered to her supportively. He held her close on his arms and stroked her head in an effort to console her. Regardless, he would never know the feeling of loss that burnt a hole on her soul. She cried on his shoulders thinking if she would ever be the same again.

The second death brought only silence. No soothing words; no encouragements. No soft pat on the head or a gentle squeeze of the hand. The deafening silence built up and was nurtured to a state of denial. Tyler slept on the couch every night and did not talk to her for weeks. They never talked about what happened. And sometimes Maggie was unsure if it really did happen or if it was just a bad dream.

Yet again when the third child was denied the hope of breathing the air, Tyler became distant and mean. He blamed Maggie for everything. The slightest accident - the unintentional breaking of a glass, or the burnt casserole for dinner - set off Tyler’s rage, his furious bellows filled the entire house. In time, Tyler found distraction in a glass of whiskey or a bottle of gin that never helped to ease the situation but only added to the cumulative dilemmas they were facing.

Maggie never understood her husband’s rage. There was no reason why he should make her feel incompetent - like it was all her damn fault.

Her doctor agreed with her. She was a perfectly healthy twenty-nine year old woman, the doctor said. No signs of defect in her uterus; no abnormalities of the womb. The MIR showed nothing; and the blood samples and tests were all negative of any disease or virus. A tumor or a cancer would have been welcomed just to shed a light to the three unexplained premature expulsions. The only thing the doctor could do for her was to recommend her to a pregnancy group that could hopefully help her and guide her through the pregnancy. She took the advice halfheartedly; she actually felt a bit insulted. Maggie never went to any pregnancy group.

The second trimester made her pregnancy more evident. Maggie’s blouses became uncomfortably tight and her jeans became one size too small; she could no longer fit to some of her clothes. She needed to tell Tyler.

Tyler’s side of the bed was cold and empty when Maggie woke up in the middle of the night. She had been waking up recently in the wee hours - particularly from the sound of the fluttering wings, beating on the windows as if bats were lost and disoriented and mistaking her window for the entrance to their caves. Sometimes, the resonant tick-tick sounds made by the animals would snatch her away from her sleep.

Maggie called Tyler’s office on the third day he did not come home only to be told that her husband was busy and would call her as soon as possible. The voice at the other end of the line assured Maggie that Tyler would definitely come home tonight. Maggie doubted it. He could stay in his precious office forever for all she cared.

Five days passed, and Tyler’s absence in the house became tolerable. Maggie felt neither worried nor glad - she learned to become indifferent to Tyler’s presence and situation. And of course, why would she worry about anything else if there was a baby on the way.

The next day, Tyler called Maggie and told her that he had filed for divorce. She did not ask for any explanation. Maggie did not beg, or shout, or cry like Tyler thought she would. She held her composure. Her deadpan voice masked the fury boiling inside her.

 

Maggie felt their wings fluttered above her head. The air swept her hair in front of her face. She did not need to look up to see them; she knew they were up there upon hearing their tick-tick calls. She knew they would come for her. They smelled the baby inside her.

She thought about the child she should have had. She thought about how they took her baby away. The crushing memory of the loss fueled her rage.

 

The night’s chilly hands crept through the window and touched Maggie’s skin. Her face was uneasy. Even in her sleep, she could hear the creatures’ tick-tick sound.

A figure stood outside the window. A shape of an old woman loomed on the moonlit night. Her face was shrunken but had eyes like that of an old veteran of war. She was naked, and her frail body with her withered skin and bony frame revealed the effects of time. She had wings… leathery wings made her look like an enormous bat.

The creature had her hands on the window. She scratched her long, dirty fingernails fervently on the panel between the glass and the wooden frame until it created a small hole - enough for a pinky to slide through. She turned her head towards the hole then sniffed the fragrance of the pregnant woman.

Her food awaited.

She opened her mouth and out slithered the long black tongue. The tongue squirmed through the hole; its slimy surface caused it to slide in with ease. The tongue found Maggie’s knee and slipped up to her thigh toward her crotch.

Maggie felt the thing enter her. The feeling brought back the memory of the first time she and Tyler slept together.

Then the thing tugged something out of her.

The contraction jolted Maggie to sit up, and she felt pain in her belly as if someone had poured boiling water on her. She looked down between her legs and saw the small head of her baby and the proboscis extending out of the room. The black tongue was wrapped around the neck and tip was inside the mouth of the fetus.

Maggie screamed.

The creature retracted her black tongue and flew back toward the bosom of the night.

The young woman sat on the bed with her legs wide open, terror etched across her face as she stared down at the small head protruding between her legs. The baby’s face appeared to be sleeping - white and silent.

But Maggie knew her baby was dead.

 

Maggie calculated her move. With her eyes closed, she followed the creatures’ aerial laps, her heartbeat setting the pace.

She tightened her grip on the stingray’s tail with her right hand. The whip felt awkward on her hand; the coarse abrasive texture would easily scrape off the skin on her palm if she swung it hard. But the pain would not bother her. She was ready to feel pain as she was ready to inflict it.

 

“I know why,” the nurse said in a hushed tone the moment the doctor left the examination room.

Maggie remembered the nurse looking at her as if she knew what caused the miscarriages, what the doctor missed out. Maggie turned to the nurse, doubtful of what she knew and what she was about to tell her. But there was something in the nurse’s eyes and the tone of her voice that held a ring of truth.

Maggie asked the nurse why.

 

There were three of them, she figured, and she planned to kill them all. Kill them for taking her babies. Destroy them as they destroyed her life.

 

“Something ate your babies,” she said.

Maggie stared at her, too shocked for words. But the nurse did not need to explain more. Maggie already knew exactly what she was going into.

When she was just a girl, Maggie had heard tales of a creature that sucks the baby from a pregnant woman’s belly. She never believed the stories and she would not believe it now from this nurse. Maggie was desperate to do anything to prevent losing her baby, but this was too much for her. Having three miscarriages would make anyone mad, she thought, but I’m not about to give up my sanity by believing this nurse.

“I’m sorry,” Maggie said. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Excuse me.”

 

For a long time, Maggie blamed herself for all that happened. Her whole life seemed to have been heading for one tragedy after another, and there was no one to point a finger at except at her.

Her babies died.

Her husband left.

She had nothing to live for except to kill these creatures.

 

Maggie felt the cold hand of the nurse on her arm as she turned to walk out of the room.

“I don’t blame you if you don’t believe me,” the nurse said. “But please, let me help you.”

Maggie felt her tears trickle down her cheeks, not bothering to wipe them off. It had been a long time since she last heard words of sympathy. She led herself to believe that the world was against her and there was no hope for her.

What does this stranger know about me? She asked herself. Nobody can help me.

 

There were many chances Maggie allowed to slip that could have stopped what happened

 If she had told Tyler about her fourth child, he would have stayed.

 If she had only listened to the nurse, her baby would be alive.

Maggie opened her eyes and looked down to the ground. A small patch of earth had been disturbed right where she was standing. She could have buried her baby properly right next to its older siblings. But what would everyone say? Nobody would believe her. Nobody would understand.

 

“I can help you if you’d let me,” the nurse said as if reading her thoughts. “I know a way to stop them.”

Maggie shook her head.

“No,” she answered, walking out of the room.

As she reached the street, the cool afternoon air wafted on her face. She stopped a few paces away from the automated sliding doors and thought of going back inside.

How could she run away from the only person who might be able to help her? When did she become distrustful? She averted her eyes from the passing people; they all appeared to stare at her, judging her, telling her that it was all her damn fault.

She let her emotions guide her and she continued to walk away from the clinic.

Many bad things had happened in her life; self-doubt crept in without her realizing it. She regretted many things, none more so than walking out of the clinic.

 

She swung her right arm above her head. The low branch rustled as the thin whip slashed through the air, clipping off a handful of leaves that fell slowly to the ground. Maggie looked up and saw nothing but the low canopy and the black sky.

She had hit nothing.

Behind her, the familiar tick-tick sound once again filled her ears.

The creature stood there with its large leathery wings flapping gently on its back like a bird newly landed. Its bony arms were raised on its side, forming a half-circle as if reaching for an embrace. Its black tongue flicked up and down in front of its face, savoring the sweet smell of its meal.

Its black glossy eyes surveyed Maggie intently, intrigued why the pregnant woman had not yet run away as had all the others upon seeing it. No matter - it’s the meat in her womb it wants.

The creature’s first step was met by the swing of the whip. The stinger’s tail sliced its old sagging face. The shriek of creature was like the sound of a crying infant, high and piercing.

Maggie swung again, hitting the hands that held its bleeding face.

Half of its digits fell to the ground.

It turned around and poised itself to take flight when Maggie slashed once again, this time hitting one of its wings and cutting it almost in half.

The creature half jumped and half flew before crashing to the ground. It whimpered like an infant, attempting to coax the woman to stop her attack. But not a faint trace of mercy showed in Maggie’s determined face.

Maggie held the whip above her head with both hands and looked down the creature. The creature’s shriveled face contorted in pain; its cry, like a hungry baby’s cry, only made Maggie even angrier.

The stingray’s tail found the creature’s neck and the blow was followed with a sputtering of blood. Maggie raised her weapon again and struck, again and again, unlit the remaining flesh that held its head to its body was completely cut off.

 The sound of the infant’s crying quieted down to a gargle. Then it stopped.

Maggie looked up the sky.

It was empty.

She could no longer hear the other creatures circling above her. The dying wail of their kind drove them away. Maggie prayed they would fly far and hard - away from her and her baby.

Maggie stood in the fading darkness for a long time. Her hands and her jeans were soaked in blood; the smell was strong and made her sick.

But that did not matter.

She wanted to stand there forever, to make sure the creature was dead, and to make sure it would never eat any more babies. The first rays of the sun pierced through the sky.

Nine months later, Maggie’s first child was born.



The End

© 2011 bba


Author's Note

bba
Most of you might be wondering what the hell is this creature? 'Tik-tik' is a nasty creature from the Philippine lore. It falls under the class of 'Aswang' (by class I mean like undead: vampires, zombies; spirits: ghosts, angels, demons). It hunts at nights and eats unborn children and walks at daylight like any human (usually in a form of an old woman.) Some say you could kill this, hmmm, abortionist by hitting it with a 'Buntot pagi' (Stingray's tail.)

You can ask a Filipino friend about this 'Tik-tik' and surely they'll tell you something about it. XD

(Here's an entry at Wiki about Aswang: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aswang)

My Review

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Featured Review

I've heard of this creature through my research into Cryptozoology and Fortean entities. The story I ran across was of a child who seen and old naked woman with hair down to her knees take her little brother out of the crib. Hopefully this is the same creature as there was no name in the article.
The old hag with it's wings was very detailed as was the rest of the story. This was a really well written piece. Thanks for sharing.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

I didn't know anything about this, but I'll take your word for it. I'm always glad to learn new folklore. It made a really good story.

Posted 6 Years Ago


Pretty damn creepy. I love Folklore and mythical creatures but this is one I hadn't heard of, that made to story even more intriguing to me.
Really liked it!


Posted 6 Years Ago


I like how you took this folktale and adapted it into your own story. Nice work, and I appreciate the fact that everything was spelled correctly. Your story flowed well, too.

Posted 7 Years Ago


This was pretty damn good. Great pace, great writing, creepy story, all very well done. Other than a few missing words, this piece was dynamite! I give it an A+

Posted 7 Years Ago


A courageous write! I found it quite painful to read. The folklore footnote realy changed how I felt about the piece, I'm glad you explained. I'm learning a lot being in writers cafe, especially about having the guts to write at deeper levels. You write very professionally. This is in a class of its own. Amazing piece. Thankyou.

Posted 7 Years Ago


Thank you for the powerful tale. The story got stronger and more interesting with each paragraph. I like the story from other places. The myths are interesting and different. Thank you for sharing the excellent story. I did like the happy ending.
Coyote

Posted 7 Years Ago


A fascinating piece of writing, using an unfamiliar legend with great effect. It could almost be turned into a book, that would lengthen the suspense of the mystery deaths. Well done! It held my attention right to the end.

Posted 7 Years Ago


Only shelved in one library? I would assume more. You did a very very good job on this. This short story was absolutly amazing. It was nothing like what I've ever read. It has an odd, Stephen King, kind of feel to it,(Maybe it's just me but who knows). Anyways, there was never a dull moment, and it kept me right on the edge of my seat(seriously). Really really good job on this one, again,. Keep up the good work.

Posted 7 Years Ago


My gosh this is seriously one of THE BEST short stories I have read do far it wasn't so long that you would get easily distracted and it had just enough details to give you a very accurate picture of what was going on. Keep up the good work :)

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

this story was amazing it was well written and detailed. it flows easily from past to present without any confusion and it stirs strong emotions when reading it. i couldn't stop reading it was amazing. i love stories that deal with the legend of vampires that not many people know about these days vampire stories are mainly focused on the typical vampire when there are so many variations of this demon in every culture that are ignored these days. just amazing.

Posted 8 Years Ago



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1641 Views
18 Reviews
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Added on December 17, 2010
Last Updated on January 23, 2011
Tags: Horror, Short Story, Fiction, Philippine Creature, Tik-tik, Dead Babies, Baby Eater, Aswang, Brian Ayson, I really don't know how to tag m

Author

bba
bba

Philippines



About
I write short stories mostly, somewhere within the realms of horror, fantasy, drama, dark fantasy. Please feel free to read and write a quick review of what you think of my stories. Any comments gr.. more..

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