OK, ‘tis the season for all things spooky, so I’m gonna share a couple of strange stories with you.
I think I was four when this happened. It was right after dusk, and my parents were flustered. A couple of relatives had come unexpectedly, but it wasn’t a regular type of visit. No one was paying any attention to me; I watched the adults scurrying about and thought that sooner or later, they would explain what was happening. My nenek (grandmother) stood in the living-room and looked at me, and from her somber expression, I could tell that it wasn’t going to be a fun night. When my patience ran out (being four, it wouldn’t have taken long), I decided to pester my mom for an explanation.
“Why is everyone rushing?”
“Something bad happened.”
“Is that why nenek looks so sad?”
She stopped what she was doing. “Nenek passed away this evening.”
“But I just saw her in the living-room. She was looking at me.”
I know what I saw. I still have a vague recollection of the scene.
Nenek had a special name for me. She called me Manisa instead of Marisa (manis means sweet). Maybe she came to see me one last time. Or maybe I was the only one young enough to see her. The Malays believe that small children have the ability to “see” the supernatural because they’re still pure of heart.
A friend and her husband were stranded in a small town when their car broke down. The nearest and most affordable hotel was a place that looked old and not often patronized. But it was only for one night while the car was getting fixed, so they locked the door, and settled in as best they could. Wife didn’t have much trouble sleeping and woke up fresh as a daisy the next morning.
“Good sleep last night?” husband asked, as they were driving away.
“Yup,” she said. Then she noticed him smiling. “Why?”
“Oh nothing,” he said. “I was hoping he wouldn’t wake you.”
“The old Chinese guy who sat on my side of the bed and kept asking me my name the whole night.”
All boarding schools have their eerie stories right?
My friend was burning the midnight oil. Exams were coming up. Most students had chosen to go home for study week, but a few had stayed behind.
This friend knew all about the myth of the Searching Lady. The Searching Lady was a phantom who appeared late at night; poking, rummaging, and combing through everything as she walked around the school grounds looking for her missing children. Students whispered about her, warning each other not to stare if they happened to spot her.
“You wouldn’t want her to think you’re one of her kids,” they said.
This friend was studying at her desk by the window. It was past 2 a.m. and she needed a break. She stretched, rubbed her eyes, pulled back the curtains, and opened the window for some fresh air. As she did so, she detected movement under a tree. She squinted; her study-lamp was bright, it made it hard for her to see through the dark outside. She tilted the lamp away from her and looked outside again.
There, beneath the tree, was a lady, scouring through a heap of dried leaves.
My friend gasped, stunned. But the Searching Lady heard her gasp, looked straight at the window where my friend was, and began running toward her at full speed. Screaming, my friend shut the window, right before the Searching Lady leaped into the air and attached herself to the glass to take a closer look.
The window is on the second floor of the school building.
Poor friend stumbled backwards, knocked over her chair, and passed out on the floor.
So listen, if you like stories that make your hair stand on end, I hope you’ll stay tuned for my upcoming novella. The working title of FOREVER YOURS, and I’ll be posting updates from time to time. In the meantime, if you’ve read SHROUD, be the first to tell me what Gemma’s favorite fruit is, and you’ll receive a souvenir from me via post. Don't be shy!