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SCREAMS IN THE NIGHT

"Okay, keep asking! I've looked at all the corpses. Unless they swallow them, I won't... Oh, how about we go back to dissecting the women's corpses? They might have swallowed diamonds...

By HK DecorPublished about a month ago 18 min read

The boat was rocking in the middle of the water, I was scared as I sat tightly clinging to the side of the boat, my eyes wandering as I looked at the dimly lit night sky with the nineteen moonlight. We sat piled together in the boat compartment. The two big men rowing the boat lightly tapped on the roof to signal that we had arrived at a safe place and we could move a little. The bow rower lifted the leaf cover to look in.

“Now we have to walk a bit, I'll lead you two at a time. Split up to avoid exposure. The others just sit and wait for their turn, remember not to talk loudly."

He led the two women sitting near the hood door first. The crowd waited for the ring. My heart was still so nervous that it was pounding as if anyone sitting nearby could hear that beat. Phong held my hand. Phong's hands were sweaty and cold. I had to sit down and bend my back, my knees bent, snugly in Phong's lap. The boat compartment was too cramped for ten people to sit side by side, and outside there were tons of banana bunches with a strong, acrid smell of plastic. On my left, Phong's parents were huddled close together. A boy about four or five years old, taken sleeping pills, lay quietly in his father's arms. The wife sat next to me, her left foot was kicking my foot, but it seemed like she didn't know and I couldn't move my foot away. Officers under. The girl sitting next to her was probably her younger sister, dressed in black like a country girl, with a pale face.

The night air was a bit cold, but inside the cabin, it was hot as hell. It seemed that the intense heat had doubled because it was mixed with the flickering tension that filled the space. I secretly looked at the watch hidden in my chest. Around 2:15 am. I whispered in Phong's ear, "It's after two in the morning." Phong nodded slightly. The man steering sat still like a statue. Sometimes his eyes sparkled slightly in the moonlight when blinking. His long, hooked nose made his face look full of evil, but his wide smile with gapped teeth lessened the bad impression on the other person. He wore a black shirt with the sleeves rolled up past his elbows.

The man took the two women and walked back through the low trees. His hot breath blew right in my face as I poked my head into the cabin to call out to the man holding his sleeping child. The husband crawled out to the stern, carrying the baby on his shoulders like he was carrying rice as he groped his way to shore. Tripping on something on the ground, he stumbled and almost fell. He tried to hold the boy, who staggered and bowed before standing up straight.

The man leading the way wore a dark brown shirt, wrinkled trousers with small legs that were a bit short at the ankles, some were frayed, and thin sandals. He looks better than the driver. With pale skin and dark lips due to smoking, she painted a beautiful smile with a dimple on the left and tobacco resin between her teeth. His eyes are big and thick with thick eyelashes. Only his eyes are not straightforward, but besides that, he easily captures the sympathy of strangers with his low and slow voice.

Phong and I have never met these two men. This trip was introduced by a close friend. That friend arrived safely in Malaysia, which is why Phong and I trust this intermediary. Furthermore, the trip included the middleman's family and relatives, so there was nothing for us to worry about. Usually, to be sure, the middleman will lead the family away after the broker has been involved many times with gold and money to make a fortune or the clues begin to be revealed. Phong's parents and I had to go to Can Tho and pretend to visit relatives. I wore two sets of clothes and hid some gold and jewelry. Phong wears wrinkled clothes that are not ironed. Phong's mother wore dark pants. Ba Phong was dressed in torn clothes, patched in several places, and had torn sandals with straps connected by wire. Of course, it was not easy to fool those rural people, but they seemed to sympathize (or pity) the poor disguise, so I often encountered shy eyes looking at them without daring to ask a few times along the way.

Upon arriving, the four were led to a house located on the riverbank and waited until dark before getting on a small boat to follow the river to the seaport where a large boat was waiting. There were more than ten other people in the house waiting for us when we arrived and then divided into groups by boat. I told Phong to find a way to go with a middleman, which would be more secure. Phong nodded but that person's family totaled eight people, adding two people was just enough for one trip. But neither Phong nor I wanted to go separately, so we had to wait for the last flight, ten people, after ten o'clock at night.

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At first, sitting crowded in the compartment, I wanted to suffocate with the human breath and the smell of young mud and the foul smell of stagnant water at the bottom of the boat. The two rowers forced us to bend over and almost lie down, tossing the ballast on top, several bunches of green bananas after covering everyone's heads with dirty winch bags. The road was fortunately quiet and nothing happened, although it was very slow and dragged on like it never arrived.

The man led the way back, asking his wife and her sister to come with him. I suddenly smelled a strong, fishy smell on his shirt as he leaned over and nudged his wife's shoulder. Suddenly I felt nauseous and didn't understand why. The smell is so strange. The darkness in the compartment did not allow me to see his face clearly. Strange fishy smell. His breathing also became heavier. I whispered to Phong after he left.

“Do you smell anything?”

"Are not. What smell?”

“It smells really fishy…”

Phong ignored the story.

"That smell of mud."

It took quite a while for the man leading the way to return. Maybe he wasn't gone for long, but when he waited, five or three minutes easily turned into five and three hours. There were only four people left in the cabin. Two men discussed a little on the shore. I suddenly felt goosebumps all over my body. I held Phong's hand tightly. Sweat drenched my back. The handsome man asked us to get out of the compartment. He said, his voice leisurely.

“Now I'll take you two, one at a time. To avoid wasting time, you two go with Mr. Ban, and you two go with me. We took two paths, but both paths led to the big boat. If you walk in a crowded place, you can easily be exposed. ”

Then, without waiting for anyone's reaction, he jerked the jaw of the hook-nosed man named Ban, pushing Phong's parents in that direction. Turning to look at the two of us, he smiled, his teeth glinting in the moonlight, the dark shadows of his dimples clearly visible on his cheeks, then he turned around and started walking towards the low forest. Phong held my hand and followed him. The forest is dim, even though it is a sparse forest, with dark shadows of leaves on the uneven road. I tripped and stumbled many times, slowing down.

Suddenly a tree branch hit my face painfully. I stopped, pulled my hand from Phong's hand, then held the branch and bent down. Suddenly, I heard... not sure if I heard right, but my limbs were stiff. A sharp sound like a cat roaring in the middle of the night. My heart beat wildly. I frantically searched for Phong's hand. He stood close to me, suddenly I felt tired and stretched. The man leading the way turned to look at the two of us. The darkness was dim but I could still see his strange eyes. Suddenly fear rushed over me with the strange silence of the unprompted guide when he saw us stopping. He never told us to hurry up. Time stood still and the three stood still as if waiting for each other's reaction. Suddenly Phong pulled my hand back and ran back to the direction I had just left. I ran frantically following the blind puller. The forest was like a maze, we ran regardless of anything.

Then they both returned to the riverbank where the boat docked. The man named Ban was bending over, searching for something in the dark shadow lying silently at his feet. I stood there screaming without making a sound. Mouth and tongue stuck into a choking mass. The black shadow at his feet was Phong's mother, her upper body was naked, her posture was convulsed, her face was face down in the mud. Ban didn't seem to expect Phong and I's presence. He was stunned, still holding the gold necklace dangling in his hand. For a moment we looked at him, at the hammer chopping wood thrown at his feet. I didn't see blood because the darkness smeared everything. Fear filled my mind. Thoughts flashed quickly in my head. I understand why they want to lead two people at a time. I suddenly remembered the guide. His mind was frightened but still clear enough to clearly hear the sound of running footsteps and his scream somewhere, "Hey Ban, watch out for them running. Ban! Ban! They ran away!” Phong quickly ran back to the boat anchor. I followed Phong's hand to the water's edge, tripping on something. I squealed like I stepped on maggots. Looking down, Phong's father was lying half buried in the water. Phong stopped because of my screams and pushed me into the river. I choked, the water was up to my chest. Phong shouted in my ear.

“Wide quickly, wade into the middle of the river.”

I swam hurriedly, my arms and legs felt heavy because my clothes were wet. I was spinning in all directions, not sure which direction I was swimming in. The sound of people screaming behind me was so loud that it was terrifying. A barrage of bullets scattered around me and Phong. He pushed my head under the water. Not long after, I was out of breath and threw Phong's hand up to get a gulp of air. The gunfire continued as if it were close to my ears. I was shaking my arms and legs wildly, and in less than a few minutes I was exhausted. The harder I tried to rise, the faster I sank. I jumped up and down like someone about to drown. Maybe thanks to that, I was able to avoid bullets shooting around me.

When the wind dives, it pulls me down, and when it floats, it pushes me forward. I swam until I felt like I was floating in one place. My mind was confused but it seemed I was still awake, very alert to see the dim moonlight above, the trees standing still on the shore, the water sparkling around me, my breathing, my breathless fatigue, and a few shadows. black on the shore with a fierce barrage of bullets. I swam like a machine, my breathing gradually shortened as water poured into my nose and mouth. Knowing I didn't have enough strength, I let go and let Phong hold my shoulder and push me. It seemed like we were out in the middle of the river. I looked at the shore, only seeing the shape of a boat, two cruel black shadows blurred in the darkness, but the flash of fire and the sound of explosions were still present. I kicked my feet to help Phong, looking straight up at the night with full moon and stars. Heaven and earth are there, but it seems like they are closing their ears and staying silent in the face of barbaric actions. I prayed to the highest beings I could think of in my chaotic heartbeat.

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The gunfire suddenly stopped. Terrifying silence engulfed me. The sound of our splashing and struggling suddenly became the only clear sound in the night. I turned over and continued swimming, the other shore was still far away. Only after swimming did I see that the river was not as small as I thought when I was sitting on the boat. Phong looked back and spoke through ragged breaths.

"They rowed after... swam quickly... onto me... Luckily we... escaped."

Phong's words were accompanied by gunfire again, but more fragmented than before. I wanted to cover my ears to avoid hearing the fierce sound filled with thorns that stabbed straight into my heart and mind. I looked back, I don't understand why, in the chaos, my mind still had moments of clarity to understand the unrelated things around me. The boat drifted quickly out to the middle of the river. Red fire flashed around. I could hear the sound of splashing water mixed with the sound of gunfire becoming less frequent. The sound of falling bullets was no longer heard nearby but was far away towards the right bank. Phong whispered close to his ear.

“They don't see us. Swim gently in the water and slowly drift to shore, don't make any loud noises. When they shoot, we swim a little faster.”

The water hyacinths leisurely drifted somewhere, confusing the two men. They scream at each other.

“Can you shoot the water hyacinth, Ban! HEY. D.m. They're drifting this way, why do you keep shooting that way? D.m. Even if you kill two people, you won't be able to finish it. What will you do to eat?"

“Shut your mouth. Which one is to blame? Huh? Damn it, I shot at the right place, they must have sunk. It's OK if you do not believe. Damn, let it go. Whether they live or die, leave them alone. Let's go home, it's almost dawn, I've been working all night, I'm so tired!"

Everything fell silent. There was no rowing sound or swearing. Phong's hand held my shoulder firmly for a moment and then let go. I lowered my head close to the water's surface, trying to move my arms and legs as gently as possible, but I still felt like it was heavy and churning the water. The silence was as heavy as a soggy curtain covering my mind. My heart was beating wildly, my blood vessels were jumping to the beat of my heart, my ears could hear the sound of my heart as if everyone could hear it. Suddenly someone pushed my foot down. I was a bit startled when my foot stepped on the soft mud. Phong stood with his face up leaving his nose to breathe, his whole head submerged almost completely under the water. I imitated Phong, it was less tiring because my feet touched the river bottom, but I had to change my footrest because the soft mud made my feet tilt unsteadily. After a while, I looked up just as the black shadow on the boat spoke.

“Over there. There. D...d... they just collapsed. This place. You shoot there.”

Phong grabbed my hand and pulled me into the water. Hearing what the person on the boat said, I was able to prepare to take a breath so I wouldn't suffocate for too long. Bullets scattered close to where I stood. Phong groped his way underwater. I groped as I followed, my feet stumbling unsteadily towards the deep valley, causing me to panic and clutch Phong's hand. My mouth opened suddenly, causing water to rush into my mouth. I suffocated and raised my head to breathe. Ahead, a bunch of water hyacinths stuck to dead tree branches piled up on the bank. I crawled deep into the leaves, where the water was as shallow as my belly, so I squatted in the water. The boat's shadow passed clearly. The sound of talking echoed.

“Forget them, let's go home. Have you put your things away yet?

The deep voice replied calmly as if unaffected by the bloody chaos just now.

"Okay, keep asking! I've looked at all the corpses. Unless they swallow them, I won't... Oh, how about we go back to dissecting the women's corpses. They might swallow diamonds..."

The other voice was harsher. “Why didn't you say anything earlier? Damn it. Xi. Damn, whatever. Wait until it's finished before speaking. It happened to both of us... It's almost morning, why bother? D. m..”

The voices gradually faded away as the boat gradually faded into the dark night. Phong stood up, groped, slid up and down in the mud on the shore, then crawled onto the dirt bank. I kicked the squishy wool between my toes and followed Phong onto hard ground. The soil bank is full of tangled roots of dead tree trunks, it's unclear what kind of tree it is. I tripped my foot again in pain, but the pain wasn't intense enough for me to notice it any longer. Sitting down, I fumbled with my chest to find my watch. Dim phosphorescent light. 4:20 am. I said to Phong, pausing slightly when I realized I lost my voice.

“It's almost four thirty. What to do now?”

Phong took off his shirt and squeezed water without answering. I took off one of my outer clothes, tried to wring it dry, and then dried it on a few nearby tree branches. The cold air seeped through the remaining wet clothes on my body, making me goosebumps. My whole body trembled as a physical reflex. I sat with my knees bent, my arms hugging my legs. Phong put his arm around my shoulders to keep me warm. The two of them leaned into each other. My mind gradually woke up and I tried to avoid thinking about what had just happened.

The forest is sparse with no houses or light bulbs. The stars are so bright and so numerous. The sound of frogs and bullfrogs appeared somewhere peacefully as if nothing had happened. Tears fell slowly on my hands before I realized. The fear subsided, now I was only lost and miserable after the devastating storm. I felt both empty and full to the point of wanting to vomit. Don't know what I should say or do. After the brutal storm, I suddenly felt like I was nothing, my arms and legs were redundant, my mind was full of images of death and the feeling that I was very fragile and easily offended filled my whole body.

The first tear fell, arousing the yang within me. I cried as well as I have never cried before. My mind wandered back to the body stumbling over the water's edge, the gold chain dangling from the hand of the man crouching over the naked body. Turns out, my heart skipped a beat, the people on the boat were dead. I remember the little boy who fell asleep because of the medicine. The young girl whispered to me, “My boyfriend is in Texas. He promised to pick me up when I got to the island. I've been waiting for this opportunity for several years. I thought we would never meet again." Her soft, happy laugh was full of hope. Now it's really rare to see each other. I hung my head sullenly with tears in my eyes. Phong sat quietly. We encountered cruel robbers. The bandits have the same skin color and voice as me. I often hear about Thai pirates but have never heard of robbers with the same skin color and language as me. Now I understand, the victims are all dead, who will tell the tragic story on the deserted riverbank. How many empty riverbanks have witnessed similar scenes? I wiped my tears on my damp sleeve and lay down on the ground. Phong lay down with me, resting my head on his arm. I touched Phong's face in the dark night, my fingers were wet as they slid across his eyes. I buried myself in Phong's arms, filled with gratitude and pain.

***

Phong's grandmother passed away shortly after 2 a.m. that same day. Aunt Sau told us a few days later, when the two of us returned home. She died the same day we got into trouble. At two o'clock, she even asked Aunt Sau to pour her a cup of tea. After that, Aunt Sau returned to her bed. By morning, she was frozen to death, her legs sticking out as if preparing to get out of bed, her right hand clutching the edge of the bed, her eyes slightly open.

Phong sat with his head in his hands, thinking. A moment later, Phong asked.

“Are you sure it will be after two hours?”

"Sure. Auntie let grandma drink half a cup of tea. When I put the cup on the table, I suddenly saw that it was almost two o'clock. I hadn't planned to check the time, but I didn't remember."

Aunt Sau is Phong's mother's youngest sister. The aunt is old but has no children. Her husband was still at the camp, so she didn't go with us, and there was no one to take care of her grandmother, who was over seventy-five years old and had many illnesses. She resembles Phong's mother in many ways, but is more dry and barren. Her face was puffy from crying so much.

When she opened the door and saw the two of us, she burst into tears like a baby. Seeing her return, she immediately understood that she couldn't escape. The new part was that she buried her mother alone, so she felt sorry for herself. When she learned that Phong's parents had died, she cried even more bitterly. Phong just sat still and looked at me and Aunt Sau, his face hard with anger and resentment.

That night, Phong sat on his grandmother's bed and suddenly said something strange.

“I was able to escape thanks to my grandmother!”

I looked at Phong without understanding. Aunt Sau asked.

"Star? What do you say?

Phong spoke slowly, his eyes looking vague.

“When Nga pulled my hand to stop, I suddenly saw my grandmother. I don't know how I see it, I just know I see it without wondering why. Grandma waved her hand and said. Run, child, wade to the other side of the river. Hurry up. Run, child! I clearly heard Grammy's impatient urging voice. I was confused and didn't know what to do when I heard her speak again. Your mother is dead. Run quickly, my child. Then, as if something haunted me, I pulled Ivory's hand and ran towards the riverbank according to Grammy's words. ”

I felt a chill down my spine. I didn't pull Phong's hand to stop for no reason. It was clear that a tree branch hit my face in pain like hell, so I stopped without thinking. When the sun rose, Phong looked and saw no bruises or scratches on my face. This surprised me because the searing pain couldn't help but leave a mark on my face. And the scream, the painful sound of an animal in distress. A sound that could only be made by pain that was deep in the bones. Phong didn't hear any screams when he grabbed my hand and turned around and ran back in the same direction. Not daring to think any further, I simply assumed that Phong's mother had tried to save us by screaming but she couldn't make it out loud. I heard the sound that tore through the night and pierced my brain, I smelled the scent of blood on the killer's shirt. If it weren't for the tree branch hitting me, I wouldn't have stopped and would have continued to obediently follow the evil guide. If there hadn't been a scream, I probably would have continued walking without any doubt. The screams and the pain of the tree branch hitting his face were both real, as real as the horror of the gruesome massacre on the deserted riverbank. I felt everything with every sense in my body. Maybe the tree branch hurt me but left no trace, but there was still a scream, how should I explain it when Phong didn't hear any screams at all. My two children were alerted at the same time in two different ways. And thanks to the sudden act of running away, the guide did not have time to react. If not, if not... I often wonder, if not, if not, what will happen and what will I do if the man who is not strong enough to fight me, if Phong and I both fall into a life-or-death situation? his hand? This is an obsession that I don't know when I will forget even though I have been in peace many years later.

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HK Decor

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

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Comments (1)

  • Esala Gunathilakeabout a month ago

    Felt me like I was inside the story. Marvelous!

HK DecorWritten by HK Decor

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