In late December, stars twinkled as the moon lit the sky. The cold winds whipped at the doors and windows of houses, making a whistling noise. A local family huddled by the fire for warmth, embracing every day they have with each other. The woman of the family rubs her belly, which is holding her unborn child. Her husband mixed a special oil made from coconuts with some plant stems. He rested the concoction near them on the edge of the carpet. The doors and windows were adorned with garlic and holy water.
The family shared superstitious stories with one another. The man decided to share with his children a story he had been told when he was their age. "There are creatures that walk around in the midst of night, seeking a victim. These monsters are called Aswangs. They look exactly like normal townspeople, but can only be told apart in miniscule ways. They'll often have an occupation related to meat. They have ageless appearances and frequently have bloodshot eyes from staying up all night looking for a victim.
Once they find a victim, it's usually a sleeping person or a pregnant woman. The Aswang then takes away the person and replaces them with an exact replica that is no different than the prey that was taken. Eventually, the replica will grow sick with an illness and die sometime shortly after the Aswang eats the real person. The family of the person will never even know that they were taken.
If you see someone walking around at night, make sure all of your windows and doors are lined with garlic and holy water. I made a mixture of oil and plant stems, which help spot an Aswang. When one comes within the perimeter of the house, the mixture boils until they leave."
The man's son interrupted the story. "Daddy, what if you don't have the oil?"
"There are other ways to tell. If someone is walking forward at night, but their feet are facing backwards, then they're an Aswang. You know how you can see your reflection when you look into someone's eyes?" The little boy nodded. "Well, you'd be able to see your reflections, but it would be upside down."
The child smiled in amusement. He shouldn't have been smiling though, because his father noticed the concoction was bubbling. The man's eyes shifted quickly to the window, catching sight of a woman walking past the house. Her feet were facing backwards, as the story had assumed.
The man huddled with his two children and pregnant wife, hoping the Aswang would pass by. Strangely, the Aswang kept walking until she was out of the perimeter of the house. The concoction stopped bubbling and the family relaxed. A few hours passed without the return of the Aswang. The family decided to get a good night's rest and report what they saw in the morning. They didn't know that whilst they were sleeping, the Aswang decided to return.
She wasn't in human form, though, she was in the form of a copperhead snake. The Aswang slithered up to the house and found a crack in the wall. She shrunk her size and slithered through. She made her way to the bedroom and found the pregnant woman sleeping. She transformed from the snake back into an aswang and crawled under the covers. The Aswang covered the pregnant woman's mouth and took her out the window, leaving a replica in her place. The Aswang took the woman to the local butcher and opened her mouth. Her tongue grew very long and slid under the woman's nightgown. The woman screamed in pain as the Aswang pulled out her premature baby. She devoured the baby and then slowly ate the mother.
The next day, the man and his family reported the aswang sighting. The town told them they would send for Beowulf.
* * * * * * * *
Beowulf arrived into the small town after two days of being called. Not only was he strong and handsome, but he was fast. He waited out in the town for a few days without being seen. He had to keep his presence unknown; otherwise, it would ruin his chances at catching the aswang.
Four days passed and the replica grew very ill very fast. By twilight on the fourth day, the replica died. They mourned as they gathered around its body. They called upon the town to remove her and give her a proper burial. Whilst they were removing the replica, it suddenly crumpled into ashes and floated away. The wind carried it to the butcher shop where the woman's real remains were.
The men who were removing the body and the family followed the ashes to the butcher shop. There, they found a woman at the counter, waiting for customers. The man and his children shuddered in fear of the woman, accusing her of being an aswang.
"Sir, that's a very large accusation, these things are taken very seriously. Are you sure you'd wish to accuse her of that?"
"Yes. There is not a doubt in my mind. That's the woman who was walking past my house the other night. That's the aswang that killed my wife and child."
One of the men ran off to fetch Beowulf, while they kept the woman there. "What's your name ma'am?"
The woman came out from behind the counter. "I'm Demetria Bellrose, one of the many people of my family who own butcher shops. I assure you, this man's accusation is false. If he truly thinks I killed his wife, then let me face the consequences of his blind allegation."
The man returned with Beowulf beside him. "Very well then." The man said, and stepped aside so that Beowulf may decide who is lying and who isn't. Beowulf walked up to the woman and stared her straight in the eyes. He noticed his reflection was flipped upside down and grabbed her by the throat. He pushed her against the wall with all the force he could muster up in his body.
Beowulf knew how powerful aswangs are, and that one slip could end his own life. Demetria smiled a grimacing smile and realized who she was dealing with. "Beowulf, how lovely to see you." Beowulf motioned for everyone to leave, and so they did.
Demetria grabbed his wrist and pulled herself free with incredible ease. "I'm very glad you found time to fit me into your busy schedule after cheating on your wife with that demon." He stared in amazement while her smile widened.
She started walking away, when he spoke. "How do you know that?" She continued walking; ignoring him as his anger grew. He spoke in a stern voice. "Don't walk away from me."
She turned to face him and walked up to him. "I think it's cute that you're getting mad at me."
Anger glowed bright in his eyes. "Who told you that?"
She walked around him in a circle. "We all talk. The whole world knows your name, you must be so proud." She could run at any moment and free herself from the situation, but she stayed, taunting Beowulf.
He lunged at her, missing and hitting the counter. She was too swift for him, but he knew how to kill an aswang. He had brought a special mixture that would force her body to split in half. Beowulf had the information stored about aswangs and why they split in half. When aswangs take flight, the bottom half of their body stays on the ground wherever they choose to leave it. Their top half sprouts gossamer wings from their shoulder blades.
He got up and threw a punch at her face, which caused her head to bounce off the wall that was behind her. Beowulf pulled out a knife and drew it down her back. Demetria screamed in pain as the blood slowly started flowing from her veins. He drew the knife down her stomach as well. After her blood was in the air for a few minutes, it turned a deep blue. He backed up and threw a glass bottle at her, missing and hitting the wall behind her.
She turned and smiled at him. "You missed."
He smiled in return, noticing she was unaware of what he was trying to do. "I wasn't aiming at you." Her smile softened; she was confused by his comment. She turned to face the wall, to try to understand what had just happened. Demetria realized what the liquid was and started to get uneasy. Beowulf jumped in the air and kicked her back, landing her face-forward into the wall.
Her body ripped in half as she screamed in pain. The liquid mixed with her blood, turning it a bright green. Beowulf then took out another mixture and poured it into both halves of her body. Demetria screamed and squirmed, but the stinging wouldn't stop. The mixture slowly ate away at her body, until she was just a silver liquid on the floor.
He scooped up all of the silver liquid into a tiny bottle and sealed it. He put it in his pocket and ran out the door, back to his homeland where his scientists would research how to further kill an aswang before it put itself back together. Unfortunately, he missed some of it, which slithered down a drain in the back. Beowulf didn't know that the silver liquid would eventually multiply until it was able to be a normal aswang again.