INS2020 Excerpt #4: ‘Shadows’ by Celestine Trinidad



Please enjoy this next excerpt from Insignia 2020: Best Asian Speculative Fiction, a YA dark fantasy piece set in the Philippines, penned by the amazing Celestine Trinidad!

Celestine is a regular INSIGNIA contributor: check out her author page for links to her publications with us. (I recommend the excerpt of her story ‘Horse Feet’ too).




Oh my God. You’re not going to believe what my parents just did. They agreed to a séance with Aunt Mariel. Well okay, so it’s not really a séance, but that’s basically what it is. She said it was a sort of ritual to ’open my third eye’. I can’t believe any of this.

Okay, fine, I shouldn’t blame Mama and Papa. I don’t think they had any choice, because Aunt Mariel was a wreck last night. She refused to eat, she didn’t want to get out of bed, she only lay there, crying her eyes out. When Mama asked her what was wrong, she said she ’couldn’t bear to see a gift like mine go to waste’. When I came to see her, she even took my hand and begged me to do the ritual. She said that she thought she was the only one in our entire family who was like her, and now that she knows I have the gift too, she can’t bear to be alone again. I could do so much good, she says. I don’t know why she’s so taken with me. Do I look crazy to you? Be honest. Did I ever strike you as a weirdo before?

Anyway, I hope it won’t turn out so bad. We’re doing the ritual tomorrow. Don’t you dare breathe a word to this to anyone. I absolutely will kill you if you do.


Well, that was interesting. It was weird, yeah, but not as bad as I thought it would be.

We did the ritual last night, right when the clock struck twelve. I sat cross-legged in the middle of the living room, and Aunt Mariel turned off all the lights. She lit a candle and placed it on the floor. She told me to close my eyes.

She took my head into her hands and placed a wooden cross on my forehead. She told me to concentrate on my breathing, while she chanted something under her breath. I couldn’t understand what she was saying, and I couldn’t figure out what language it was, either. Maybe Latin. Isn’t that what they always use in the movies? Or some other dead language.

But I couldn’t focus on figuring out what she was saying either, because right at that moment I felt…I don’t know how to describe it. I felt so…at peace, I guess. Like I wasn’t there anymore. But I could still feel everything. I could feel a soft wind blowing from outside the house, creeping in through the cracks in the wall. I could feel the flame of the candle, flickering to and fro. I could feel the blood coursing through Aunt Mariel’s veins, from her fingers, down to her arms, then her heart, then back again.

Aunt Mariel broke the stillness. She shouted one word, or maybe she wasn’t really shouting, but right at that moment everything was just so quiet that she might as well have.


And then I saw everything.


Insignia 2020: Best of Asian Speculative Fiction is out now!

Available in eBook format, exclusively from Amazon sites. Just 2.99.

Free for Kindle Unlimited members!

Amazon US – Amazon UK – Amazon AUS – Amazon JP

Amazon CA – Amazon IN – Amazon DE


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