Sometimes, we are enamored by our own brilliance. We tend to over-estimate ourselves and tend to underestimate others. This is what the Greeks called hubris. Sadly, hubris also leads to nemesis. While thinking about these concepts, I chanced upon a scenario where one person was betrayed by what he thought was a brilliant plan.
While walking down a familiar alley, a man remembered a heinous act that he committed. He was able to vividly recall the soft hair, skin, and yelps of the girl he raped and killed near the construction site that was on his way home.
He was almost sure that he could just shrug the memory off since there was no witness, and his only accomplice died of a freak fire accident. However, that night, he cannot keep it out of his mind because he felt like someone or something was watching him.
“You animal! I will not rest in hell if you kill me,” went the dead girl’s voice in his memory. He closed his eye to block the memory, but he didn’t feel any comfort in the darkness.
He opened his eyes and decided to just rush home. It was already midnight, and he felt that he needed to piss already.
As he neared a pile of concrete cylinders for the construction site stacked neatly like pyramids, he felt that he needed to piss. He went over to a lamppost – one with lights that flickered on and off. After zipping up his pants, he looked up and realized that the light had gone steady and went from pale white to a deep, warm, orange-red color.
He stared up towards the light bulb, but as he was taking his gaze off, the light darted high into the air. Then, when all he could see was a pinpoint of light, it suddenly grew bigger – much more like exploded – to form a ball of fire that was known as a santilmo.
According to the local folklore, santilmos are corrupted spirits of murder victims. They arise as balls of fire where the blood of the victims spill, dry up, and get drizzled while the sun is shining – weird conditions that were met when the man raped and killed the girl. They are spirits that seek revenge and retribution.
True to the folklore, the santilmo spoke and said, “I told you that I will never rest in Hell if you killed me, so now, feel the heat of smoldering revenge and punishment for killing me!” As she wailed and dashed towards her murderer, her flames grew hotter and brighter.
With that said, the man immediately ran. His strides seemed to be successful in evading the enraged ball of fire. He was able to outrun it, and he also noticed that at times, it is not able to tell where he went. Like the lowlife that he is, he thought that he would capitalize on these flaws.
With a last burst of energy, he ran towards the construction site that he passed by. He was able to put enough distance between himself and the santilmo. Thanks to a sharp bend on the path, he was able to hide inside one of the concrete tubes that were stacked all over the place.
As luck would have it, he was successful in hiding himself. He felt secure in the shadow of the large concrete tube he hid in because he knew that the santilmo was not able to see where he went. It seemed to be going around in circles, darting to and fro, suggested by the sound it made; it sounded like a torch being swung around by a Tahitian fire dancer. Then, the whooshing sounds stopped.
Only the crickets and the crackling of a soft bonfire remained in the air. He listened carefully to see if the santilmo has already gone away when he noticed that the crackling sounds were actually words saying, “Do you think-krrrk tick-that I won’t-tick have my revenge? Hi-trrrk-ding in the dark-krrrk-ness won’t save you-h!”
With fury, the santilmo spun around, glowing brighter and brighter – hotter and hotter, too. The sudden illumination of the construction yard created more shadows and made the murderer’s hiding spot darker, which made him think that he was safe.
Then, a sudden explosion resounded in the air. Dark ash fell everywhere, and everything was swallowed in darkness. Even the full moon wasn’t able to penetrate the dark.
The murderer gave out a sigh of relief when he felt a pulling sensation. He looked around and saw that the darkness he was hiding in was growing tendrils. The tendrils slinked out like hair and tried to wrap around his body. With panic, he started yanking and pulling the thin tendrils that were covering half of left arm and both his feet. Try as he may, the dark tendrils grew and covered him faster than he can shake them off until he looked like a fly caught and cocooned by a spider.
Then, he felt that he was sinking into the ground, into the darkness that seemed to repeat what he said to his victim: “I will get what I want, so quit squirming.” Like quicksand, the darkness slowly swallowed him.
In the morning, the blue shirts at the construction site didn’t see any trace of any supernatural occurrence. They just asked if somebody tried cooking last night using the scrap wood for firewood since they saw a pile of ashes inside one of the concrete tubes.
Hubris to nemesis. It seems that no matter how hard we try to justify our actions or fight this order of events, it always happens. We always give ourselves too much credit, discounting the ability of others. Sadly, even if it’s not a supernatural or horror story, we always get hurt by our own arrogance.