When I was young, I was always told by my parents not to overeat especially prior to sleeping at night. Doing so would cause
an upset stomach and heavy snoring, along with some really bad dreams. On a stormy night with thunder and lightning and no
electric power, I say having a bad dream was the last thing you would need.
After the heavy meal of roasted piglet, Juan decided to rest. It was night time now, the air was humid and warm, with a slight
breeze coming from the southeast. There was nary a sight to be seen or sound to be heard. Juan breathed a sigh of relief,
it seemed he can now have a brief rest and respite from scary or unseen ghouls. He began to fall asleep.
From the upper branches of the balete tree, Juan saw a very
fat dark man emerge. The fat dark man appeared like he was eighteen feet tall, with legs as large as two wooden posts. The
fat man was bearded, with a large flat nose and a wide mouth. He had a full mane of black hair from which large red bloodshot
eyes stood out from. Juan recognized the giant monster as the bangungot, a demon who appeared to people in their dreams and
snatched their breath away.
Juan tried to move away but before he could, the giant sat on his chest. Juan couldn't breath because the bangungot was heavy.
Instinctively, he tried to shout, but couldn't. Juan could now hear his the demon's hoarse laughter, and smell his strong
goat-like stench. Juan couldn't move, and the more he struggled to breath, the more he couldn't breath. He felt his life escaping
him. Juan flailed his arms about, and hit the demon in his mouth, releasing the cigar that the bangungot had between its teeth.
The cigar fell to the ground, and Juan realized how the cigar had been partly the source of the goat-like stench.
Suddenly, Juan remembered what his mother explained to him when he was a young boy. "Bite your thumb and wiggle your big toe.
Then the bangungot will leave you, and run away to where it came from." Juan did as he remembered and just as suddenly as
it appeared, the bangungot vanished.
Juan awoke from what seemed like a very real dream. He was sweating, but at least now he could breath. He looked upwards at
the balete tree, and down towards the ground. He felt his breath escape him once more, as he saw the cigar that he thought
he had seen in his bad dream. Had the bangungot been a dream or had it really sat on his chest, just as he thought he had
felt in his dream?
Even today I am careful not to eat a large meal past seven at night. When I do I get really bad stomach pain. Thankfully I
don't seem to have bad dreams nor the heavy breathing. But still, I'll always remember the advise given to me: "eat like a
king before you go to bed, and the cigar-chomping bangungot will appear to choke you until you are dead."