* * * *"this key keeps the bad away", he remembered naynay ling once telling him while waving the old, black, iron key that she wore around her neck. he had asked her once what was it for and what was in the room that naynay would constantly double-check every night before she would go to sleep. "never you mind, child!" she would tenderly say, though her tone was stern, almost indicating that she did not want to pursue the topic any further. "it is not important what is in the room. what is, is that what's in it, stays in it." the child knew better not to ask anymore and kept his silence. but though his mouth was quiet, his mind continued to question and ponder, for truly, what child would actually stop asking when told to?
ate tasya was off to her usual ways. being the eldest, she constantly busied herself with chores assigned to her by naynay. the child would often try to make himself useful by also helping but would only be told off for he kept "getting in the way". though ate was very obedient and industrious to an almost maniacal degree, she however was not a happy worker and would bang things about while she goes through her list of duties for the day. it sometimes worried the child that this could set off naynay since she was rather high strung. thankfully so, naynay was often too engrossed in her work, doing accounts, that she was almost oblivious to all the noise ate was making.
one lazy afternoon, while ate was at their terrace where she tended to her beautiful selection of birds of paradise, the child took the opportunity to ask her about the room. he thought that since ate was practically "second in command" and he has even seen her once hold the key herself, she could probably ease him of his curiosity and tell him of the room's contents. upon his asking though, he was instead greeted by ate by a most sinister of grins.
"did you ask naynay?"
"yes." the child hesitated.
"and what did she say?"
"never you mind." said the child, feeling embarrassed now.
"good. 'cause it is really none of your business. children should not poke around grown-up matters you know. it's not, er, proper." ate said. her grin made her look almost delirious.
irritated of how things went, the child left his ate to her flowers and went back in the house. as he did, he passed by the locked room and decided to stop in front of it. the door was ordinary looking. it did not look, nor felt any special from all the other doors in the house, except for the only difference was that it was locked. the lock however was distinct for it was an old lock with a large key hole, almost big enough for one to peer into. the child remembered once trying to spy the interiors when he was alone in the house, like how they used to do it in the many TV shows he had seen in the past, but could not see anything. the room had always been dark and no sound came from it. the child stood there for a few moments, surveying the one solid hindrance that stood between him and what lies beyond. he tried to turn the knob gently, hopeful maybe that someone forgot to lock it. slowly, careful now he thought, the knob was old and the last thing he wanted was to break it and get himself into trouble. it unfortunately did not yield despite his earnest expectations. feeling a bit foolish, the child smiled and decided to forgo any more attempts for discovery for the day. at that moment, the child suddenly felt a chill descend upon him. a draft of icy wind blew from the crack under the door, almost like a long steady sigh. the child found himself begin to tremble. he didn't know if it was because of the sudden cold or if it was from fear. all he did know was that he wanted to get out of there and quickly. he tried to let go of the knob yet despite his efforts to, he seemed to have found himself stuck at the very spot, petrified. he wanted to move but could not. he wanted to scream but could not. all he could do was stare at the door and gaze onto its dark wood and the heavy details it bore. he watched the knob, the lock, the key hole and the blackness that lied within. his immobilization made his breathing hard, like breathing thick soupy air. soon, he found himself hyperventilating, taking in short gasps. he felt a warm tear stream down his eye as he panicked. he felt utterly helpless and overwhelmed with fear. his chest grew tighter and tighter, as if a strong hand was squeezing him of his very life. he took one last look at the door and collapsed onto the floor.
to be continued.