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"Your father is very cruel, I'll be honest. A demon." "He really liked blood, so he had a whole collection of blood collection tools." "But he's dead." "Do you know how many demons there are in a dream?" "Do you like to try strong feelings?" - I said- "I know a place." "In this town?" "Yes. The town's cemetery. There are several times more tombstones there than in Quang Tri. You can freely visit."

By Ken DaklakPublished 2 months ago 23 min read

Dan and I found a temporary place to stay in a small town. Industry has not yet completely controlled this place, so I can rest assured with jars of fish sauce and fresh fish without packaging. There is no internet here yet, electromagnetic waves are frequently disturbed, so I have no way to contact the rest of the group. We backpackers usually don't carry much money with us, so staying in town for too long will be difficult. Although the rent here is very cheap, we may have to leave soon. For now, I have to wait for Dan to finish repairing the car so I can continue the journey.

"Have you heard anything these past few days?"

Dan asked while fiddling with the wrench.

"I went to bed early yesterday."

"I didn't say yesterday."- Dan still continued with the question - "But two days ago, if I remember correctly, it was more than twelve o'clock. I heard the sound of gongs, or maybe it was the sound of a five-string drum."


I kept Dan's words in my head for a long time. On my first day in town, I was very tired, so as soon as I checked in, I took a long nap. The next day, also last night, I also went to bed early but I only slept for the first few hours. Maybe my sleep would have lasted longer, but as Dan said, there was a sound that interrupted my sleep. Then I woke up. And I still vaguely remember that strange sound. Absolutely not the sound of a gong or a five-string drum. If I were to say it was the sound of the wind scratching the cliff, it wouldn't be right, because even though that sound was very far away, as well as the fact that it only briefly lingered in my head, I was sure it was the sound of a bell. I often go to Hanoi every Christmas and have heard the church bells many times. It's just that yesterday's bell didn't have the same pitch, resonance, and purity as a church bell. The sound of the bell gradually decayed and...I can't remember any more, but tonight I will stay up longer than twelve hours to have a chance to listen closely to that bell, if it still rings.

I opened my phone. After one night of charging, the battery was full but there was still not a single message. After dozens of calls, I only received lifeless beeping sounds. Even the familiar voice at the switchboard didn't ring. I still have electricity here, weather information, and movie programs, but only in audio form.

"The eldest group has probably gone to a few places already. I don't know if they went to Co Island or not."

We had lunch at a restaurant not far from the hostel. I ordered a set of rice with braised meat, dim fish with fish sauce and a plate of boiled cabbage. Dan only ordered a few basic dishes, but ended the meal with a glass of white wine.

After eating, Dan bought a bottle of wine.

At ten o'clock at night, there were no houses left with lights on. In this town, everyone is a working person, so sleeping early is understandable. In many rural areas, villagers go to bed at nine o'clock. When I reached for the remote to turn on the TV, I only received black and white electrical currents. Switching to other channels also makes no sound other than a crackling sound and the text loses signal.

"Turn it off. There's no point in watching a movie." – Dan said and opened his backpack and took out a deck of cards.

"Three bottles of wine for free. Whoever loses has to empty the entire cup."

"I don't like playing cards."

I remember I brought a few books with me.

Dan still plays cards, alone. He divided himself into two lines of thought. Every time he lost a card game, he poured a glass of wine and drank it all down.

The books I brought were not easy to read. I hate books that are too complicated and I only read them as a trick to fall asleep quickly.

The window is still open. My room is the only light in the city.

I put down that book and sat on the table by the window. Outside, it was dark and mysterious. I can still hear the wind. The wind does not bring cold but penetrates the skin. I remember that opposite the window there was a grove of trees. The wind, even at a small level, can still touch every leaf. When it starts to get late like this, at least some sound should be heard. The wind seemed to blow stronger but there was no sound of leaves. What fell into my ears was a deep sound, like it was coming from snail shells.

Turning on the personal flashlight, a long light was illuminated. The scene is still so lonely. There was not a single human footprint, only the sound of the wind blowing. The leaves are being sucked into the wind, spinning into small whirlwinds. I saw even a small bone in the wind circle. Apparently the wind was only light.

Dan told me to close the window. I obeyed. There's no reason to stand in front of the window for so long. I'm not a poet.

"Did you go out on the street yesterday?" – I asked Dan when we were getting ready to have breakfast.

Dan woke up before me, but his face still had the sluggish look of someone lacking sleep. He sat against the wall, his head tilted towards the ceiling, his uncombed hair had a few strands sticking up. When he stretched and sat up, preparing to go to the bathroom, I saw him more closely. His eyes were heavy. The two dark circles on both sides of the eyes are spreading more and more as if they want to sink the two pupils into an endless swirling valley.

"Where did you go last night?" – I repeat the question.

"Why do you ask me when you weren't in the room when I turned on the light?"

And Dan left the conversation there.

I wanted to explain it to him, because I remembered that I slept in my room all night last night. My light wasn't on, but I shined the flashlight in the direction where Dan was lying and didn't see him there. Maybe at that time he left the room to go to the bathroom downstairs.

There are only two of us in this inn, with three or four other people being guests. The first floor was the boss's territory and from the beginning I knew about his strict management. The door was locked very early, with three layers of locks. And I also don't want to argue with him because I don't go anywhere at night.

The car has been repaired. Just clean it one more time, install the spare parts and you will be able to run it. The amount of money Dan and I brought is still quite a bit, but we probably have to leave here right away.

Dan talked about his father. Since his death, during a heart attack, everything related to Mr. Dan does not want to talk about anything related to Mr. Dan. Today he suddenly brought up an old story. "He blamed me." - He said. On my face, which had been tired since I woke up, I saw a gray glow. There is absolutely no regret or sadness when recalling the past. I don't think Dan's father had a dream because when his electrocardiogram stopped, the nightmare of his life also disappeared. From then on he always slept very soundly and never dreamed. What Dan told me was about blame.

All morning he just talked about it. Reproaches, and that's it.

wild forest

In this town, occasionally guests from far away come to rent a room. They only stayed for a few days and then checked out. The people in the town are quite hospitable and the fact that there is a lot of land left over is ideal for opening a tourist center. All you need is a source of power and investment in electricity. The tightness of the gates after dark forced us to spend the whole day going to every corner of town. I have all passed by rivers, wasteland mounds or vast rice fields. Apart from the fresh climate, this place does not leave any impression. The landscape here is even worse than the countryside I know. In those lands, there are things to visit or at least there are specialties to buy as gifts.

There was very little gas left in the car, so the two of us couldn't go far. According to what I heard, follow the dirt road to get out of town. Going another ten meters we will reach another town, where commercial services are relatively developed, people here often go there to exchange goods. Not sure if there is a gas station there, but I'll probably be able to buy canned gasoline at a store or in a market. The electric field waves there will probably be stable, so we can contact the eldest group. They were probably holding an outdoor party, taking photos or stopping by the stalls to buy souvenirs. If it's dark, they will set up tents, or sometimes find a cheap motel to stay overnight. If Dan and I weren't late, we could have had two wonderful days of fun with them. I still remember the backpacking trips of a few years ago. It was an outdoor party, on an abandoned lot. We lit a campfire, played cassettes, and divided into pairs to dance in the light of the fire. We had so many strange ideas in our heads that it wasn't difficult to keep the campfire going all night.

We didn't talk to anyone in the boarding house. As for the people in my town, they only opened up to the shopping area and asked about directions. Even when I receive fresh fish or a friendly handshake from an elderly person, I still want to have a relationship with them. And I know they have been hiding from me, about the bell ringing at night. None of them admitted that the bell had been ringing at night. The lollipop and the package of snacks did not help me bribe the nod of any child. That afternoon I took another tour around town. Dan stayed at home and I only went alone. I spent some money to rent a bicycle from someone in town. The car is a bit rough but quite durable.

The houses here are not too shabby but can hardly be called modern. Apart from the boarding houses, all are small in ten square meters. Quite a lot of land is abandoned to make playgrounds for children. I haven't cycled for a long time, so I'm tired after walking about ten meters. Many times I had to steer my car to avoid hitting potholes or slipping down a long slope full of rocks.

My memory is very good, so even though I've turned dozens of streets, I still remember the way back to the motel. On both sides of the road there are all kinds of trees, but all of them have lost their leaves. Even trees about a meter tall and trees that could be classified as giants all lost their leaves. It was summer, so there was no way the tree would fall that much. When I took a small knife from the key chain and made a deep cut, I saw sap still oozing out. I interrupted my thoughts with the hypothesis of a huge storm sweeping through. The trees weren't my concern so I moved on. Still, the image of leafless trees remained in my mind. The trees are very tall, with sharp branches stretching out in all directions like claws. The branches protrude, insert and form small thorns around the claws. I turned my thoughts in another direction, before it could make a deep crack in the tree trunk, and in that crack was the gurgling sound of a rumbling stomach.

"What do you think of him?" – Dan asked as I entered the room.

Dan's face still had the pale look of someone who hadn't slept for many days. His lips were white and dry. His gaze carried wild rays, but if you paid close attention, you could see his eyes twitching, showing fear. He kept repeating that question, and I avoided his gaze. I don't know why, but when I looked at those eyes that were so tired but still tried to open them wide, I felt suffocated. In that pupil, it wasn't me because even when I stood still, that strange shape still moved.

"Who is he?" - I ask.

"My daddy." – Dan said, still looking at me.

"Your father is very cruel, I'll be honest. A demon."

"He really liked blood, so he had a whole collection of blood collection tools."

"But he's dead."

"Do you know how many demons there are in a dream?"

"Do you like to try strong feelings?" - I said- "I know a place."

"In this town?"

"Yes. The town's cemetery. There are several times more tombstones there than in Quang Tri. You can freely visit."

Dan shook his head. I repeated my plan to walk at the cemetery one more time. Going to the cemetery at night was not my first idea. Our group has played this game many times before. Of course, no one goes alone but in pairs. Dan and I have always been a good pair. I have plenty of courage, and Dan is always calm. Even when his foot was entangled in a maggot-riddled hand emerging from under the tombstone, instead of screaming or fainting, he would slowly pry his fingers free one by one and continue on.

We didn't talk to each other all afternoon. Dan just lay in bed, occasionally tossing and turning because he had trouble sleeping. I took the phone and tried making a few calls. There was still only a muffled response from the end of the line. Outside the window, a few people had returned home after a day of work, everyone's faces were excited but not a single conversation rang out.

I still remember that cemetery clearly. This is probably the only cemetery in the town so it was built very carefully. The entire cemetery is surrounded by a thick laterite wall. The entrance gate is made of steel, but because it has been there for so many years, it has rusted. The lock of the gate has also been eroded. Rust eats away at the keyhole and destroys the structure intended to fit the key. The cemetery does not have a back road, so I always wonder how people in town will get in when they need to visit the grave.

The entrance was blocked but I could still get in by climbing over the wall. At that time, I didn't get in completely because my bike was stuck outside. I just hung on the wall, climbing for a long time. The inside of the fruit is very large, the size of a field. The land here looks very flat, the grass grows densely but most of it is dead grass. The tombs are built upwards and are arranged very neatly. The graves are arranged in straight rows, with just enough space between the graves to be able to walk. Perhaps due to customs here, the tombs are built similarly. They are not built into rectangular blocks, nor do they have roofs, they are all just stone steles. The size and magnitude of the steles are equal and neatly arranged, so from a distance they look like an army standing and saluting the flag.

The cemetery with thousands of graves made me excited and wanted to visit. If I can convince Dan, perhaps this will be the most memorable story I can tell when I meet the eldest group again.

"The problem is that we can't let the people of the town know." – I muttered.

Dan continued to turn over. After a while he stood up again, scratched his head, and tried to say something, but his mouth only opened halfway and then closed again.

The sun only retained a tiny bit of light, just enough to light a short sunset. It would hang in the sky for a while longer before returning the town to darkness and beginning its long journey. The children finished the chase game, and the adults returned home. It's late and they need to prepare for dinner.

"He called me!" – Dan got out of the blanket and screamed loudly.

"Are you awake? It's past six o'clock. Let's get ready to eat." - I say.

"He's around, that's for sure."

I scratched my head, intending to scold him for his strange attitude from morning until now, but when I looked at him I had to lower my voice. That square face was wrinkled, her lips were dry and chapped as if lacking water, perhaps because of the lying position or because of scratching her head, her hair hung down, partially obscuring her face. The dark circles on his face seemed to widen again, covering the bridge of his nose, his eyes opened very wide, as if they wanted to pop out completely. I've looked at those eyes for a long time. That day I found him at a construction site that had stopped construction. Just like now, he huddled in a corner, his eyes bulging open, except that at that time his body was full of holes. The wounds were not deep enough to touch his five senses, but every strong movement he made caused blood to spurt out. It was very difficult for me to get close to Dan because whenever I saw a sound he would run away. What he could rely on at that time was a small hole in the construction site. "He stuck a lot of...iron pipes into my body. I was in a lot of pain."- He repeated that sentence over and over again for hours. Even when his throat began to dry and his words did not turn into words but into letters, he still did not stop. I saw blood spurt out when he coughed.


Many times Dan intended to peel off the scars on his body with a very sharp knife. His groin also had scars and he also told me that he wouldn't mind if the blade ended the symbiosis between him and that servant. But he didn't do that.

Dan stood up and muttered as he walked, "He called me..."

"What's wrong with you? He died a long time ago."

"He called me" - Dan shouted - "He called me..."

"Just get some sleep, and tomorrow you and I will leave here."

Dan stood in the middle of the house, silent for a long time.

I didn't bring any sleeping pills, so I'll probably have to watch him all night.

"Let's rest, I'll go buy food." – I put on long pants and took my wallet with me. For peace of mind, I locked the door.

The door was broken and Dan was gone. I asked the people in the next room and only received shakes of their heads. The homeowner did not know this because he was on the street at that time. He didn't blame me for the broken door but advised me to go back to my room because it was getting dark.

Dan's belongings are still in the room, his car is still in the garage. When I asked a few people on the street, I only received shakes of the head. He was not in the fields, nor in the vacant lots more than a dozen kilometers away from the house. I only know that he left, the clue is that the door was kicked open.

People in town do not have any activities after dark. All doors are tightly closed. I don't know if the town's schedule is still the same or if there is some other reason why they avoid going out at night. But even so, they shouldn't prohibit it when I'm just a guest renting a room. If it's for security reasons, I haven't seen anyone talk about the presence of grasshoppers in the forest. Saying there are wolves is not because the town is not located in the forest.

It was only eight o'clock but it was already dark. There are more dark clouds in this town than in other places. It seemed that in order to create such a density that not even the smallest speck of moonlight could penetrate, there had to be layers of clouds overlapping each other. Black clouds entwined together and formed a giant cocoon that could contain the entire town.

I wanted to go to the room so I invited a few people to play a few card games to kill time, but the rooms were closed. No matter how hard I knocked, they still wouldn't open the door. The lights in all the rooms were off so I thought they had all gone to sleep, the only strange thing was why the lights in every room were turned off so early.

I had to latch the door from the inside to prevent it from opening. The landlord wanted to replace the door for me but I refused and rescheduled the appointment for tomorrow morning. I will stay and wait a few more days to find Dan.

A strange sound disturbed the silence of the room. I opened the window so I could listen closely to this sound. The bell, apparently it was. Yesterday I also heard the bell. I wanted to wake Dan up but he had already left the room. The bell didn't seem very big, or maybe it was struck very far away so I could only see it echoing. But if that's the case, why do I sometimes hear dozens of bells ringing at the same time? A few minutes ago the bell rang very close, I heard it coming from down the street. The bell sounds are also different, not entirely from the same type of bell. There was a loud sound like a church bell, sometimes it was tinkling like wind chimes, and I even heard the loud and screeching sound of an electronic bell.

It was very dark outside, the flashlight in my hand could only illuminate a short distance. The wind blew quite strongly compared to the previous two nights. The sound of the bell was not drowned out by the sound of the wind, it still rang evenly but did not follow any rhythmic order.

I closed the window and returned to bed.


The bell still rang in my head. Vague thoughts drew an image to join the bell. It was an outdoor ceremony, the shaman with flashy clothes and face painted in many colors was swinging a long stick with many bells attached. The sound coming from the bells was high-pitched but deep and soft like the sound of a ghost echoing from the Avici realm.

The stumble caused me to fall to the ground. Maybe I tripped over a branch or a rock sticking out in the path. The flashlight, which was also my only beacon of light, slipped out of my hand and rolled somewhere. The darkness still holds power, so I can only stand and struggle in one place. When I fell, I heard a crashing sound, perhaps the flashlight had fallen somewhere and was broken.


I shouted loudly but got no response. Actually, even if my throat was big enough to shout that many times, no one would probably hear me. The bell still rang and it crushed my voice. There won't be a single lighted window, nor a single moonlight peeking out so I can see any of the way back to the inn. The fall didn't make me bleed, but it did make me more alert. With what remains of my memory, I was probably on the street for a long time. I'm not sure why I'm here, only to trip and lose my flashlight, but I know I unlocked it. I don't have as much strength as Dan, but I have a few tricks about unlocking. Not to mention three locks, even if the landlord installed an anti-theft lock or a password door, it wouldn't make it difficult for me. I just don't know how to return. It's not good to keep wandering around in the dark like this.

I take every step carefully so as not to fall. First I have to touch the wall of a house, then I will follow the wall to find the main door. I will sit in front of the door until morning. If that house had a dog, it would be good because it would have discovered me and barked loudly throughout the town. I just hope that the bell will stop for a few minutes so that the barking can wake up the homeowner.

I got caught in a large object, it blocked my feet. My hand felt the rough surface of a stone slab. Walking a little further, I tripped over another stone, this time I almost tripped and fell. Just like that, I groped for a long time in the dark. The small bells stopped for a while, I decided to take the opportunity to scream loudly to wake up a certain household, even if I was scolded afterward, as long as they gave me a light so I could go home. boarding house. My mouth opened and stayed open. Another bell has replaced the small bells. This time it was the sound of a big bell that the temple often played early in the morning. This common big bell sound is completely different from the common big bell sounds I have heard before. There is no vastness, nor any feeling of relief or relaxation when listening to this bell. This sound covered the whole town and made the darkness thicker. My footsteps were also so chaotic, I only knew I was walking, not whether I was going straight, diagonally or in a circle.

The bell rang only once and then disappeared into the darkness. I still walked in the night, my hands waving to the sides. If I had a stick in my hand, I would look a lot like a blind beggar.

The silence only lasted a few seconds and then continued to be disturbed by different bells. The longer I walked in town, the louder the ringing became. My sense of direction was broken and my feet were being guided by the sound of the bell. While walking to the left, another bell rang. My feet stepped aside and followed the sound of the bell. After a while, I walked backwards because there was another bell behind me.

I got caught on another rock. A few more steps and I touched a stone slab, then another stone slab. I fell over.

My hand touched a rectangular object. I picked up the object and breathed a sigh of relief when I smelled brimstone. Very quickly, I opened the matchbox and pulled out a stick.

I started the fire. The fire burned brightly on the wooden stick. The fire only illuminated a small area, but I still felt happy because I had finally grabbed a board that could take me to land.

The stone that had tripped me revealed its true form. It is not a stone or a milestone at all, but a tombstone. The photo placed at the grave is of an old man, his face is covered with green moss, the cracks in the stone stele make that face no longer whole. Waving the match around I saw other tombstones. Where I stood there were four tombstones and they were located in four different directions. Four collapsed stele blocks surrounded me. I felt as if I was ambushed and fell into a dangerous situation with no way to break out.

Four faces. One was covered in moss, one was deformed by cracks, one had two pairs of eyes glaring like those of a living person, one was covered in dust, revealing only a toothless, smiling mouth.

The match went out, I ran madly in the dark, continuing to bump into dozens of tombstones. The bells were still ringing, it seemed like there were dozens of bells being rung at the same time.

One more missed step, I staggered and fell, hitting my back against a stele. I heard a whisper, it seemed to come from the stele I was leaning against. That's the voice. It can't be wrong, even though it's not very clear, it is truly the voice of a human being.

I pulled out the second match and lit it. The fire shot up, the fire broke through a small part of the darkness and helped me reach that voice.

Still a stele, like almost every stele here. When the firelight shined on the spot where the voice had come from, I saw a face. It's not a postcard with words stating their name and year of death, but it's the face of a living person. It protruded from the stone stele and kept moving. This face was engulfed in deep black, two eyes were missing, and the mouth was still mumbling.

- O............O............O............

The fire burned to the end of the match and burned my fingers. The light dimmed from my eyes, the bells rang stronger and stronger, as if each tombstone had a bell attached. They fought together, arrogantly like the satisfied howls of wild animals when they saw their prey trapped. The familiar image associated with the face emerging from the stele inside me is being crushed by the bells. Only a moving mouth remains....

Every backward step I take touches a target. Surely they were clustering around me, barricading themselves to build a tomb.

The image inside me was gone, my mouth opened and I screamed one last time. It seemed like another scream answered me. Immediately afterwards, a series of noises rang out. I heard the sound of the stele moving. A target pushed me out of the encirclement. I was thrown several meters away. The darkness still trapped me in my cage but the thought of a fire saved me from terror. The matchbox is probably still there somewhere. I pressed my nose to the ground and inhaled deeply. I kept crawling on the ground, taking long breaths until I smelled brimstone.

The sound of the bell still resonates deeply, including the loud bell sound.

The last match was struck. I pressed a burning match to both sides of my shirt. The fire spread and burned brightly. I can no longer see the stele with its head sticking out. Other steles have lined up to form a long wall to imprison it.

From all sides, dozens of steles continued to move. The zigzag niches have taken shape. With the fire on me I can get away from them.

The fire grew higher and higher and enveloped me. My body burned into a torch.

The darkness tore apart, the bells also began to be chaotic. The stele moved chaotically, not following any order.

The torch rose high, forming a long line of fire. Small pieces of fire fall behind, they will light a moment longer before the fingers of darkness grow back and take everything...

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About the Creator

Ken Daklak

Telling stories my heart needs to tell <3 life is a journey, not a competition

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Comments (2)

  • Hoàn Trầnabout a month ago

    It's great, I hope there will be more articles to come

  • HK Decorabout a month ago

    Useful article, thank you for sharing

 Ken DaklakWritten by Ken Daklak

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