Around the late 90s, I was a student there and one of my seniors related this encounter. She was not really scared of them but some were chilling.
The A Level’s Chemistry practical exams were going to start on a cloudy morning. All students had to get ready for their practical sessions early. Jenny went up to the fifth floor laboratory to prepare the equipment, test tubes and racks. Because it was largely unlit and very dark, she flicked on some of the lights in the laboratory and busied herself cleaning some test tubes.
Then one bulb flickered several times. Did she hear soft footsteps or clinking? “Morning Devi! Hey!” She called out. It could be either the nice Indian woman or Mr Desai. Only they came to the school laboratory this early. No one responded to her greeting.
“Ah this is strange! Jenny surveyed her neutralized hydrochloric and nitric acid apparatuses. Maybe she had been imagining things and this was an old building after all. It should be normal for the electricity supply to be inconsistent.
Somewhere behind her, a tiny voice cried out in Hokkien, “Please help me!” This child had a green pallor, as if she was suffering from some epidemic. The shift she wore was dirty with bloodstains, and the space below her waist was misty. At first Jenny did not panic. Such supernatural sightings were very normal with a third eye.
Her uncle, a bomoh or medium did some blessings and incense over their houses and herself. Jenny remembered wearing many kinds of yellow paper talismans, crosses and various religious amulets for protection. If she happened to sight any ghost, she closed her eyes and prayed.
Also, she made sure to sleep earlier than midnight, for it was the witching hour during this month. Spirits were free to drift, bound to wander for an eternity. Taking all these measures, the girl had eventually got free of the curse. They ought to have gone! I’ve been free of this nonsense for five years, why now? She was furious.
I’ll ask someone to burn paper offerings. “Bye!” She told it, hoping her Hokkien could be comprehended. Her command of the dialects was only passable. The child might want her parents to know she was trapped somewhere, needing proper rites done.
Usually explaining this would make ghosts relent. But nothing prepared her for what happened next.
Countless other ghosts multiplied behind the little girl spirit and chattered quickly in dialect, Hokkien or Teochew. Frail looking and emaciated men and women floated forward, their arms reaching for her. Other kids about seven or eight circled them, laughing and playing. Her mouth dry, she gasped for breath. They wore rictus grimaces and stared at her. Some talked. The first child began to cry plaintively. She asked for her mother. No doubt most of them were about to die.
Had she stepped back in time? Oh god! What do they want? Jenny squeezed her eyelids shut like she used to do and willed them away. Recalling a holy scripture, she chanted under her breath. Relentlessly, the supernatural did not fade.
Now she could smell smoke in the distance and gunshots crackled in all directions. Even through her closed eyes, somehow the visions pierced her mind! Japanese soldiers marched in, those khaki uniforms, with the cap-flaps, were unmistakable and familiar in historical texts! The commander glared at his comrades, shouting at them. This crowd of ghost people wailed, but seemed unable to move from the threat. When she looked, a Japanese charged towards her with a “Yaaa!” Although he was transparent, Jenny instinctively threw up her arms. He pierced through her. A gurgling sound, emitted by a middle-aged man, whose throat welled with thick viscous blood. Scenes of carnage played around her.
More screaming. One knelt beside a woman figure, shaking her. Some people brandished their tools and resisted the soldiers. One of the village’s strike caught an enemy soldier at the heart. The soldier sailed through the air. The girl who first approached her was now gushing blood from below her hips.
“Go away! Leave me alone!” She shrieked. The child drifted forward and touched her. Jenny expected smeared blood, but instead the coldest probe penetrated her warmth. Blood everywhere, headless civilians lay prone. Resentfully, they chanted in the old language, yet she could understand: We are doomed in this existence, you must not ignore our plight! A headless body came forward. The skull materialized under his arm, empty sockets and matted hair. The soldiers shouted some commands in Japanese raising their bayonets. NOOOO! Jenny braced herself and curled into a fetal position.
Abruptly the chill dispersed. Mr Desai was speaking to her, “Miss are you all right? Why are you lying on the floor?” She gasped and looked around at the familiar surroundings. His warm hand grounded her. “You are real aren’t you? Oh god, they were trying to make me take their place in hell!” Mr Desai helped her up.
After what she said, Mr Desai replied solemnly,”This was where thousands of villagers were slaughtered. The Japanese occupation, every now and then some students saw these ghosts. Do you want to go home now?”
If only she did not have to go through with the exams in this very room! Jenny noticed she had forgotten to wear her talismans today. How could she go through the practical exams after this?
And Jenny didn’t tell any of her friends about this, who would believe her? She wanted to take MC and request a later afternoon retake of chemistry.
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