In his dream the night before, the universe imploded. Though Josef never believed in the prophetic powers behind dreams, he couldn’t help but feel disturbed. He remembered each detail quite clearly, that violently spinning soup of plasma and ether condensing rapidly, in the kind of dream that was vivid with technicolor imagery accompanied by stereophonic sound.
He recapped the dream in his notebook shortly after he was shaken awake by the screaming of collapsing stars. He almost dropped it, the notebook, because his hands were trembling. When the word processor blipped into view, he struggled with the stylus as much as he did with his thoughts, and found himself writing slowly in large broken letters. He spent a full hour writing that one-paragraph entry, just as the sun began to blow its radiance across the Puerto Princesa sky.
It was 9:40 in the morning, blessing Josef with three hours of sleep.
After a quick shower, he fumbled into his laundromat-fresh clothes and rushed to the exit of the apartment building, dropping swiftly through the stairwell instead of taking the elevator. He knew the elevator couldn’t move any faster than he needed it to, and he also knew that Fiedro wouldn’t permit him any second of tardiness.
J.P. Rizal Avenue was packed that Saturday morning, and Josef felt like an earthworm pressing through summer-baked soil. The boom of 2015 almost doubled the local population in less than ten years. In that short span, the rinky-dink tricycles had slowly been fazed out from the main thoroughfares and replaced by airconditioned utility vehicles, all proudly Cebu-made, and the dead of night had grown alive with twentysomethings taking their American-twanged smoking breaks in front of call center buildings. When Josef was still a child, he and his friends could still manage to play dodgeball in the Mendoza Park plaza. But recently, every step he took within the plaza led to the al fresco setup of some upscale restaurant franchise, with the vapor scent of concrete and clay tiles boring through his nose into his brain.
Disperse the crowds, he prayed. Let there be rain. Let the sun go nova.