Excerpt from the short story titled Dissolved, part of the Collection of Stories: Crimes Need Punishment 


The stillness of midnight was shattered with the first of the three explosions, the second and the third obviously triggered by the original, giving birth to a large fire that quickly engulfed a wide area of closely-built structures made of light materials. In only a few minutes, the fire raged uncontrollably.

First on the scene were three firetrucks of a nearby civilian brigade, its volunteer firemen jumping out from the vehicle in a hurry, performing the roles they constantly practice to near perfection.  Battling the blaze was easy: it was the unruly residents’ interference which made their jobs more difficult.

At that same moment, a city away from the conflagration, a familiar opening soundtrack of an action film could be heard. Used as a ringtone, it repeatedly played the short sampled loop exhorting the phone’s owner to take notice of its warning.

“What the hell?”

He tried to reach for it but his arm was too short. The gadget was another feet away on top of a table.

The dizzy spell was nothing new; the effects of the alcohol remained.

Slowly he stood up, balancing himself by holding to the arm rest of the chair. However, his first step fell on the pool of liquid which made him slid: he tumbled hard to the floor.

“This better be good,” he swore while pressing the respond button.

“Kevin, come quickly! There’s been a series of explosions in the middle of the slums.” His former partner, Alvin, sounded overly excited.

Since he was booted out from the unit, he could not care less whatever operation they were faced with.

“Why call me? You heard the Colonel, I am out. Call him!”

“Come on, man! You know this inside out. We could shortcut the investigation with your help.”

“I am drunk,” Kevin shouted on the phone. “You want me berated in front of many people. I can’t take it anymore.”

“What’s the matter with you? I thought you care, you want to save lives.”

“Ask the Colonel about that,” Kevin shot back. “He should be the one promoted to full retirement.”

Alvin wished he could change his partner’s mind. Kevin was pissed as hell when all he worked for was swept aside because of a simple disagreement on who to decide on the spot of an earlier operation. His partner was outranked even though he was correct.

“I’ll fill you in with the details. You’re my friend so you are responsible to give me any good advice.”

“I’ve taught you everything I learned,” Kevin calmed down. Alvin was his antidote: if he was fire, his partner was water. “You know where to find me.”

“How’s your new assignment?”

“I am a tail to a secretive Major inside a facility populated by hardened criminals. He’s bad, I am afraid.”

“Why do you say that?”

“He asked for my re-assignment which the Colonel approved immediately.”

“Let me guess. He needs a bomb expert. Not a bomb disposal expert.”

“You’re quick,” Kevin said, a germ of a doubt suddenly appeared in his mind. “Like I told you earlier, you’re ready to shine.”

Kevin was sobered by the conversation. He thought of his new job as punishment but Alvin’s remark was succinctly clear: he was moved for a reason.

The grenade rolled near the foot of the table. He picked it up and re-inserted the pin which was left still attached to his forefinger, looking more like a crude ring.

“I always like you,” he said, caressing the device. “You look real enough.”

E N D  of First Part



Hot Head

Excerpt from the short story titled Dissolved, part of the Collection of Stories: Crimes Need Punishment 

– 0 –

Sitting in his favorite rattan chair for hours, in one hand an almost empty bottle of whisky, in the other a lethal weapon of his trade, Kevin could not understand why his professional life turned sour because of a wrong judgment call by a superior. True, he was not the easiest to get along with but for some reason that trait saved his hide during crises.

His re-assignment to another institution was a slap on his face. Insubordination, they reasoned out, should be dealt with early on to correct one’s high regard of oneself, especially if that someone was a maverick of sort.

Early that morning, Kevin reported to his new boss, his papers sent ahead of his arrival.

“You’re my guest,” Major Frank M jested, eyeing him while he stood at attention. “You’re not the first. I am sure you’ll not be the last.”

“Permission to ask a question, sir.” Kevin wanted to clarify his status. What he was told: his services were valuable, he was highly regarded for his experience, he was asked for to complete a task.

“Why not?” the short-cropped-haired head of the national penitentiary snapped his fingers, a mannerism Kevin would soon discover as a signal to shut one’s mouth. “Shoot!”

“Were you told why I am here? The real reason, sir.”

Major Frank M (his surname was not completely spelled out for security reasons) managed a hearty laugh. He was warned of Kevin’s strange ability to enrage a superior, even without trying.

“I have a problem. You are the solution.”

Kevin suspected that the elaborate charade was hatched days earlier to soften his resistance from leaving his post. He submitted his written explanation to refute his former superior’s allegation of grave misconduct during live operation.

“I am not sure I follow sir,” he calmly said. “I don’t mean to be rude but I have of no use here.”

Major Frank M clicked his tongue, another mannerism that meant he disagreed with what has been said.

“Do as you are told and we’ll be just fine. Dismiss.”

Kevin dropped the bottle on the cemented floor, its remaining contents flowed freely which created a pool of liquid that would surely stain later.

His tired eyes, playing tricks on him because of too much alcohol, kept staring at his collection of commendations and certificates of appreciation from various agencies. They were of no importance now if he was to be detailed to a position too far away from the real action.

“I might as well end this with a bang,” he slurred the words, studying the grenade on his hand.

He pulled out the pin while carelessly holding the lever. One false twitch of his fingers, he would be history.

His loud laughter reverberated inside the room, his neighbors would surely comment later on that he sounded deranged.

Slumping back to the chair, his knees buckled under his weight. Involuntarily, his hand released the grenade from his grip: it clanged on the floor.

The last thing Kevin remembered was the satisfied smile on his face.

(to be concluded)



It’s kind of late for me to write about this but I want it out of my mind before I sleep. The evening news bothered me to the point I wanted to laugh out loud due to the weirdness of the justice system in my country.

Only in the Philippines. Yeah, right!

While incarcerated, big time criminals lavish themselves inside a national penitentiary. After an early morning on the spot inspection, the raiders found out that being in jail was not a hindrance for moneyed crooks to enjoy the same luxurious lives they had before they were apprehended. It was a mind-boggling sight.

Imagine these: millions of pesos, thousands of dollars, a Jacuzi, a sauna, air-conditioning, flat screen TVs, computers, WiFi routers, cellular phones, live studio for bands, sex toys, several kilos of prohibited drugs, assorted guns, lists of recorded transactions and much more.

To think that ordinary people, upright and law abiding citizens, could only dream of possessing some of those stuff. Influential felons, who acted with impunity, recreated their jail time as a secured and safe vacation, complete with guards paid for by the same people those criminals victimized.

If there is a so-called injustice, that was it. Those ‘select’ criminals should be locked in a plain cell like everyone else.

And, those government officials who turned a blind eye while all of those transgressions took place should be sent to jail, too. Administrative sanctions are light penalties for their connivance with hardened criminals: they were outright accomplices to the continued illegal activities of the convicts they guarded.

Justice should be served accordingly.



Animals follow their natural behavior. Some are predators while some are preys. It’s how their world works.

With human intervention, some of them could even talk or pretend to talk. Often, we marvel at their tricks, how they could entertain us to the point we care for them in our midst.

Animals do the positive things that endeared them to us. We love them.

But when things go wrong, we blame them for going back to their natural behavior, not performing the behavior we taught them to follow. We call them a lot of things, mostly bad. Worse, we give them their final rest.

Compared to animals, humans evolved differently. Even uneducated, we have natural intelligence. We could readily discern how we are supposed to act.

But in our world, should there be predators and preys, too?

When we begin to accumulate knowledge, anything, everything and all those in between, conflicts arise.

We are taught clashing ideologies and contrasting beliefs that promote misunderstanding. We follow leaders who instruct us what they believe is right. Just like a human training an animal, we submit willingly to their instigation.

When things go wrong as perceived by our leaders, when we obey the natural goodness in us, we are blamed for being weak, not the strong we are supposed to be. For that, we could be destined to our final rest.

We teach animals to behave positively. We tried. Most of the time, we succeeded.

Why can’t we teach ourselves the same thing? We tried. Unfortunately, we have not yet succeeded.



As a man, I often wonder:

Why should men commit violence against women?

Are we that superior in strength to assert our will against the opposite sex?

Indeed, various thoughts circle in a man’s head. Some are good and some are bad. There are pure feelings and there are insidious temptations. In any event, a conscience exists to forewarn a person that what he was about to do is wrong.

But, what makes a man proceed with his evil intentions?

He has no respect for another person.

If he treats somebody as he treats himself, with dignity and honor, then he will never hurt someone.

He gives in to his savage instincts.

Once reason and sanity leave his mind, he will be prone to rash behavior. He would not even think of the consequences of his action: he will be immune from feeling any guilt.

When confronted with the crime, he may or may not assume responsibility. In extreme cases, he continues to perpetuate his despicable acts.

Is he a real man? Human?

I don’t think so.

Be human, then. Do nothing to degrade one’s humanity.


Self Defense

When is the right time to defend yourself? Is it when your assailant already fired at you or stabbed at you and missed? Or, is it before any injury is inflicted on your person?

This morning I had a long conversation with someone who spent twelve years in prison. He defended his father from mortal injury. Unfortunately, he killed the attacker.

In his defense, he tried to pacify the attacker who wielded a long bladed knife but to no avail. He and his father would have died that day if he did not react. Himself wounded, he was forced by circumstances to stop the attacker at all cost.

I am a simple person with simple thoughts. However, when evil confronts me in the face, my simple logic stands at the forefront: I must defend myself with whatever means possible.

Methinks, people who intentionally plan and execute misdeeds should account for their malevolence. They should not blame poverty or any past abuses inflicted on them by others. Such kind of justification is too shallow if one considers that their would-be victims may not be remotely connected to the wrongs done to them. Will their targets have the right to defend themselves or not?

A victim who creates a victim of others is no less criminal as the person (or persons) who wronged him in the first place. If this is not so, every victim should have the right to victimize another, and so on, and so forth. When will the violence end then?

What would I do if suddenly, at a time I least expect, a criminal comes to me and tries to rob me? I have two options: first, I’ll give him what he wants and pray he moves along, or second, I will defend myself right there and then.

Situations vary, I know. But if and when my life is threatened, the criminal in front of me could not blame me for sticking to my survival instinct.



“I am sure I’ll get it done!”

For two weeks, Dave tried with much difficulty to learn how to use a computer. When he was a detective, he often reasoned out that other people were tasked to do so for a living but never him. That conviction has changed.

Fortunately, he had Brownie, Randy and Teddy as tutors. They took turns at giving him a crash course, taxing the limits of their patience while he enjoyed every minute of it.

“My son could create an email account without assistance,” Brownie proudly said. “He is just five.”

“If you’re tired,” Dave retorted. “Go home. Send him over instead.”

When it was Randy’s turn, he could have suffered a heart attack because of Dave’s inability to master the log on and off procedures. It was a hit and miss routine, more on the miss that made Randy huffed with irritation.

“Write the passwords on a paper!” he insisted. “If not, you are liable to forget them.”

“I am not too old, you know!” Dave pointed out. “I could recite to you the entire police regulations without breaking a sweat.”

“I am sure you can,” Randy let out a deep breath. “Listen! Enter a correct password and you’re okay. Otherwise, you will be entangled to several queries that you don’t really need. You don’t want to waste time, do you?”

“My passwords are easy,” Dave intimated.”Even you can memorize them.”

“That’s the problem,” Randy looked exasperated. “I should not be aware of them in the first place. If I am a hacker, I could invade your accounts.”

“That’s against the law!”

“Precisely!” his former subordinate said. “That’s what we want to prevent.”

If the other two used kids’ gloves, Teddy kept Dave on a tighter leash. Right from the start, he was strict.

“Sir,” he began politely. “I am the boss and you do what I tell you.”

Dave tried a different tact as he listened to Teddy’s instructions.He was satisfied with his progress but the air between them was too formal.

“There’s a beer on the fridge,” he offered, more of a bribe, really.

“It can wait until I say so.”

– o –

“You think you can handle it alone, sir?” Brownie asked, glancing at the hard drive.

“We can assist you,” Randy said. “I’ll file a leave of absence if you want my help.”

“I’m on leave,” Teddy revealed. “I can stay and give you a hand.”

“I’m already grateful for your weeks of sacrifice,” Dave laughed. “This is a personal thing.”

Each holding a small glass with whiskey, the trio raised a toast to his honor.

“Besides,” he added after drinking his shot, “I have someone around to guide me.”

Brownie felt a presence near him that he looked behind instantly. Randy and Teddy let out brave smiles, not reacting to their former superior’s reference to something unnatural.

“Oh, don’t you worry,” Dave quipped, watching them squirm a bit. “She won’t bite.”

Hope heard it clearly. If she has teeth, she would have bitten Dave instead for even insinuating she was some sort of a vampire.

– o –

With Hope’s guidance, Dave sent a prepared message from Emil’s fictitious email accounts to complainants’ web addresses, informing them that he (Emil) would do his best to rectify his misdeeds and repair the harm he caused them. The written apology was published to all the sites he frequented.

Dave also took out from sale all of Emil’s published books under false pseudonyms. Riddled with ‘borrowed’ and stolen content, their removal from circulation was a must. It was the genuine justice original writers sought.

Lastly, he cleaned Emil’s financial accounts and donated everything to charity.

“I think that’s about it!” he concluded after a week of intense surfing. “Finished!”

Dave turned off the computer.

Back at his writing desk, he took out a fresh writing pad. Emil’s story and his version would be combined.

“How should I begin it?” he asked aloud, waiting for inspiration to come.

Hope whispered while he wrote.

“The bloodied tang of the kitchen knife was short.”

T H E   E N D



“This will be my last case!”

Years before, he could not accept the lesson old timers in the force often reminded rookies: when you encounter a special case, it could be a life-changing experience that once you get out of the station, you’d never look back. Specifically, the word special was loosely interpreted, sometimes spoken with the corresponding wink or raised eyebrows.

He scoffed at at the idea then. He swallowed it whole now.

After reading four of the fifteen notebooks so far, he reluctantly came to the conclusion that life was indeed mysterious. There were events that defied explanation.

Emil’s story was original all right. His imagination was too fertile that he had no idea he was writing about a real person, someone who was real in his imagination but actually existing in the flesh.

Detective Moreno could have written the story as an autobiography. Emil’s story and his were almost identical. How could that have happened?

To put it in another perspective, from a detective’s point of view, Emil could have been his stalker. For the sake of argument, he could have culled all the information from outside sources: friends, acquaintances and colleagues. Emil could have been so good to elude suspicion: tailing him around, keeping tabs at his exploits and failures, writing them all in fictional form.

But, what about his most personal thoughts or plans for the future? Was Emil a mind reader, too? How could Emil write so close to what he thought, musings he kept to himself, wishes he alone hoped for?

Emil’s fiction was his non-fiction. That was all there to it.

Yet, there was one item that complicated the mystery. Emil wrote comments on the notebook’s borders, citing Hope as his only love, his work dedicated to her alone.

Who was she? Could she be connected to me, too?

His musings was interrupted by a trio.

Brownie, his not-so-obese, doughnut-munching partner, smiled at him upon entering his office. Randy and Teddy trailed behind, their faces looked grave, more to the point of being sorry for distrusting their long-time superior.

“Sir, I have explained to them what happened that night, how stressed we all were, how we did not work as a team like we used to.”

Brownie glanced at the two and nodded.

“I believe you, sir.” Randy’s remark was so low that it sounded like a whisper. He could not utter a straight apology, too embarrassed for his insubordination that particular moment.

“I do, too.” Teddy affirmed, more assertive. “We all agree we saw the knife. That alone proved not one of us hallucinated.”

“You saved a man’s life!” Brownie added. “That to me was everything you are, sir!”

Detective Moreno nodded repeatedly, his eyes closed, collecting his thoughts to sum up everybody’s sentiment.

“We were there for a reason,” he began. “We were supposed to do our job. We did it.”

Brownie was about to say something but his superior’s raised hand signaled him not to.

“We did not see ghosts, ghouls, monsters, and all those terrifying creations our minds could conjure to scare us. What we experienced was more frightening, though. We were tricked subconsciously while we were all awake, doubting even the most common belief we shared.”

Randy and Teddy, both skeptics, could not disagree. The double incident were tied to one another, which proved that their superior indeed acted beyond the impossible and maintained his composure under extra-ordinary circumstances.

“Never again, sir, will I doubt you!” Randy approached his superior and shook his hand.

“It is always a privilege serving you, sir!” Teddy followed suit.

Detective Moreno bid them all goodbye, not confiding to them that he would soon get out of the station and never look back.

(to be continued)



“Emil de la Cruz, – No Other Love”

For the next two days after his meeting with Linda, he proceeded to write his report, leaving enough space for her input. In truth, the dead man’s case could be considered a personal crime. Except for the bloodied knife which was later proven immaterial evidence, there were no leads to point to foul play.

As for the body, no one came to claim it. The government was forced to bury it in a local cemetery.

Detective Moreno knew that all material evidence was destined to be buried in the Archives.The victim’s notebooks and other personal effects remained inside a box atop his desk. The hard drive which Linda requested to check stayed in the technical laboratory for safekeeping.

A bit bored from finishing his report, he decided to pick a notebook from the box. He sat back and prepared himself for a leisurely reading.

It was number one so he immediately concluded the contents related the beginning of the story. The faded quality of the paper, both the cover and the pages, showed it has aged.

The very first sentence shocked him: The bloodied tang of the kitchen knife was short.

With the quickest reflex honed to mere routine, he rose up from the chair and carelessly threw the notebook away from him as if it was a grenade that was about to explode. That was how it registered in his head.

Whatever notions he had with the supernatural, he tried to forget. To investigate further was to invite ridicule from skeptics at the station. He would not allow it to happen.

But he was not aware of his future. A presence began to shape it for him.

Don’t be afraid! Follow your instincts!” Hope whispered. “This is your story now!

A female voice caught him off guard: he backpedaled that he nearly fell down on the floor.

“Did I startle you, sir?” Linda appeared like a giantess in his perspective while he tried to keep his balance. She stood at the door long enough to witness his uncommon behavior.

“No, of course not,” he replied. The partial lie kept his composure close to normal.

“Sir, I need to see the hard drive to complete my findings.”

“Care to give me an overview?” he asked, finding his chair to regain his bearings.

“Adding to what I mentioned to you the last time we talked,  some of the email accounts are tied up to payment sites. If he owned the accounts, he was paid through them.”

Call it off! No need to disturb the dead! Leave it be!” Hope insisted. “Do the reading and bury the past.

Detective Moreno looked at Linda as if he was in a trance. The detective part of him wanted to see the case through its end but the unnatural experience he went through proved to be a stronger motivation to work alone.

“You have been most helpful,” he said. “I think there’s nothing more to add to my report. I will send your superior a note about your contribution concerning this case.”

Linda could not understand him. All the hours she spent in front of the computer seemed for naught. It did not make sense at all.

“There might be other crimes involved here, sir,” she cautioned.

“We cannot prosecute him now, can we?”

She shook her head, resigned that he was logically correct.

“I think so, too.” Detective Moreno smiled.

(to be continued)



“Where do they come from?”

As to be expected, Emil talked to himself aloud whenever he encountered the dreaded writer’s block. He often wondered where his muse was and how he could make her come at once to save him from feeling depressed.

Hope heard THE question a million times, from all humans she had the pleasure to inspire and motivate so they could overcome their own personal emotional and psychological battles. Unfortunately, even if she could explain her origin, it was not as important as to her objective.

She possessed the power to influence but not necessarily to make her proteges succeed. That part was reserved for them individually: strive or deteriorate. It was a risk any muse has to face.

Feeling abandoned one time, Emil caught the wrong solution to idleness. His writing left on the side, he sought quick fixes on the Net, checking sites that fitted the plan he was about to embark upon. He needed the shortcut to fame, without the long hours of thinking for plots and longer hours of writing the stories.

When Hope came back, he was already deep in a quagmire, enraging all sorts of people from various parts of the world. His exploits were considered unforgivable, lesser in weight than treason but similarly detestable.

Stop it, Emil!” she entered his subconscious. “What you’re doing is not fair!

He could have heard her but his mind was too busy contriving ideas that were not his. To make detection difficult, he created fictitious names, females all, attributing his work as theirs.

“The Net is so huge that I could get away with this,” he boasted loudly.

Go back to your true self!” she insisted. “Continue what you began.

But Emil was too engrossed at his scheme. His doubts on muses grew that in time he discarded her whispering as a passing thought.

Hope knew that Emil’s wrongdoing would not go unpunished. There would be complications. There would be penalties.

She felt it coming when the ramblings of other muses were aired openly. They confronted her, gave her ultimatums and warned her that her failure would result in dire consequences.

Emil was unstoppable. He could not be turned back easily: he lost his will to be creative.

Hope could not have guessed that her kind would act unilaterally without giving her all the chances she needed. She just discovered they made Emil pay for his transgressions: his life was taken away.

The rule was clear: inspire humans for life, not for death. They took the exception and earned Hope’s ire.

But even in her sorrow for her protege’s death, she wanted his original work continued, that perhaps another human could be inspired to finish it.

Hope saw him come as she hovered near Emil’s body. She could feel his intensity, his dedication to his job, his secret longings and everything he wishes for the future.

How could she influence his interest in Emil’s life? She believed that once he closed Emil’s case as unsolved, he would move on to another.

In a twist of fate, Hope sensed a human in distress, somewhere near, needing assistance to prolong one’s existence. It was her chance: two objectives to be solved in a single feat.

Harnessing her power of absolute influence, she called the spirit of the distressed man to inhabit Emil’s body temporarily, creating an illusion that would inspire curiosity on her next protege.

It worked out accordingly.

(to be continued)