We’ve already been down this road.
Last year I shared my family’s true-to-life ghost stories, where almost each member personally experienced something spooky, including my own traumatic ordeal. As I mentioned then, belief and sensitivity in the supernatural is common in South East Asian culture. Thus I would now like to share with you the sequel to this narrative.
Below are my friends’ accounts of their encounters with the unknown.
*Real names have been changed.
When I moved to Europe, I didn’t know many people until I enrolled in an international school. I eventually became friends with some of my classmates, and one of them is a guy named Zhang* from China.
Zhang is married to a Swedish man, and his husband isn’t at all religious or spiritual. Try as he might to be as logical as his partner, there was one incident back in China that Zhang can’t shake off to this day.
A few years ago he and his siblings were still living with his parents, and he shared a bedroom with his elder brother, Chen*. That time his grandfather had just passed away, but Zhang wasn’t really that affected as he wasn’t close with him. Chen was always his grandfather’s favorite.
Days after the funeral, Zhang woke up in the middle of the night. He had heard somebody’s clothes rustling. Maybe Chen was turning in his sleep? Zhang opened his eyes and saw a thin man standing in the middle of the room. At first he thought it was just a shadow, but he groggily shook off his sleepiness and looked closer.
It was his grandfather, looking down at his sleeping elder brother.
Scared, Zhang shut eyes and pretended to sleep. He could still sense a presence in the room, but he attempted to push down his fear. Eventually, after what seemed like forever, he dozed off.
The next morning, he wasn’t sure about what he’d seen. Maybe he was just dreaming or hallucinating? He was creeped out, but he figured he’d try to forget about the probably imaginary incident.
Then his brother got up from bed. As Chen began to get dressed, he casually mentioned to Zhang, “I had a weird dream last night. I dreamt grandpa was alive and came here to visit me.”
Every time Zhang recounts the story to us or someone else, he shudders and gets goosebumps.
This story, I believe, is pretty well-known by most people from my old school. I found out about it through word of mouth both from fellow students and a couple of gossipy teachers, so perhaps a few details may be off as I was only 6-years-old then. But this was the first “real life” ghost story I’d ever heard, so it stuck with me.
We attended a Catholic school run by nuns, which stood directly behind the city cathedral. The school offered bi-weekly piano lessons, which were held in one of the oldest sections of the school.
The piano area, as it was called, was basically just a series of small rooms. If you went there, you’d be met by a narrow hallway with several doors on each side of you. These doors led to cramped rooms, each with space enough for only one piano and a bench.
One particular day, a 5th grader was practicing in one of the rooms. The nun supervising her had left to check on someone else playing in another room.
The student carried on as normal. She stopped because she wanted to get something from her backpack (perhaps a pencil to mark the music sheet with), which she had placed on the floor, leaning against one of the piano legs.
As she leaned down to reach for her bag, she was met with a horrifying sight.
She screamed and screamed until the supervising nun (and a few teachers and students who happened to be outside the piano area) came rushing to see what was wrong. The room was empty bar for the furniture, but the student was inconsolable and kept crying until her nanny arrived to pick her up.
Finally, she calmed down enough to talk.
The student revealed to everyone that when she had bent down to pick up her backpack, she saw a bloody, sliced-off head of a nun lying beside the piano pedals. The teachers reinspected the piano room, but everything was normal.
The next day, rumors began flying. A prominent one was that before our school was a school, it was just the backyard of the city cathedral. They say a part of that former backyard used to be a graveyard for deceased priests and nuns.
I know someone from my childhood who used to work as a chef. Let’s call her Candy*.
Candy had to prepare a dinner party for a politician, but she and her workmates had run out of some ingredients. Since she drove a motorcycle, she offered to rush to a nearby store around 7km away.
The house they were working for was settled on a hill. Aside from other affluent people’s houses, there weren’t any stores or establishments in the area. If one were to drive in that area, even to this day, it’d be normal to see only one or two other cars/motorists.
This particular instance, the road was empty.
Candy finished the errand, and began to drove back. She was halfway on her journey when she felt a weight push against her back. Startled, she glanced at her rearview mirror and saw an unfamiliar woman sitting at the back of her motorcycle, smiling and staring directly at her.
Candy was so shocked she nearly lost control of her motorbike. She concentrated as hard as she could and revved the accelerator as fast as it would go. She began cursing at the woman, telling her to “get the fuck off my bike, I don’t care what or who the fuck you are, I will fucking kill you if you don’t fucking leave me alone.”
As soon as Candy could see the house in the distance, she heard the woman laugh, and suddenly her motorcycle felt lighter. She couldn’t feel anything pressing up against her anymore. She dared to glance at her rearview mirror again, and thankfully saw no one.
When she arrived at the house, she was trembling from terror. She knew she would sound delusional and possibly even lose her job, but she told the people there about what she saw. To her astonishment, a couple of the politician’s security guards chuckled and told her this was “normal”.
Apparently, a few other motorists living in the area also endured the same encounter.
After graduating college, most of us students naturally moved to other cities in order to attend University. A few of my high school classmates were studying in a University at a city that got hit by a powerful tropical storm in 2011. One of them was my best friend, Dexter*.
Despite our years of friendship, I’d never fully believed Dexter’s claims that he had the ability to see supernatural beings – as in ghosts and spirits. I always dismissed it as just childish wishful thinking. However, his particular narration of this event made me reconsider.
During that storm in 2011, a river over-flooded killing countless people. It was so bad that once the storm had passed and rescue/relief operations began, corpses of those who perished lined the high way. Dexter was living there at the time with two other of our high school classmates, Betty* and Nancy*.
According to them, one could smell the stench of decaying bodies if one happened to be near the highway. Funeral homes were packed with people paying their last respects to their departed loved ones. Additionally, there was no electricity or water. Stores, malls, grocery shops, gasoline stations, etc. were completely shut down.
It was maybe two nights after the tragedy that Dexter, Betty, and Nancy decided to meet up. They wanted to check on each other and try to find a place where they could buy water and food from. Ultimately they managed to find a diner where they ate dinner.
Around 8PM, they took a walk to get some fresh air before heading home. They passed by one of the funeral parlors. Betty and Nancy were busily chatting, when Dexter suddenly gripped both their arms. His hands were ice cold and sweaty. They looked at him and saw his face was pale.
“Someone’s following us,” Dexter whispered.
Betty and Nancy looked around. There were a few people walking the streets, but none were close enough to seem to be following them. When they asked him what he meant, he said that when they passed the funeral place, a little girl’s body was resting there.
The ghost of the little girl was also there. When she saw Dexter and sensed he could see her, she had begun to follow them for a whole block, talking to Dexter, asking him to help her.
Both Betty and Nancy state they believe in Dexter. In the middle of their walk, they had both individually been feeling uneasy, as if someone was looking at them. But they didn’t want to mention it to the other and cause unnecessary panic in case they were just being paranoid.
* * *
This is a different incident, but involves the same people.
Years before the storm happened, Betty and the others had just moved to the city. Betty was living in an apartment with one of her family’s house maids. Her parents were very strict and religious, so they sent one of the house maids to live with Betty and keep an eye on her.
Months after they moved in, Betty’s house maid told her that a few instances when she was alone when Betty was at school, she’d hear footsteps and knocking from the apartment next door – which was unoccupied. She also sometimes felt as though someone was staring at her.
Betty didn’t mention this conversation to anyone else.
One day, Dexter and Nancy visited her apartment for the first time. Nancy left quickly as she had a group project she needed to finish. Dexter stayed for a sleepover.
He and Betty were sitting in the dining room while the maid cooked dinner. Out of the blue, Dexter asked Betty, “You and your nanny have been feeling some strange things in here, haven’t you?”
Betty was taken aback, but she said, “Only Manang (the maid). She mentioned a few weeks ago that she thought she heard some weird noises coming from next door. I told her it’s probably the neighbors downstairs. Why?”
Dexter told her it was because he could see the spirit of a man sometimes standing in a corner of the apartment. At first, Betty waved off Dexter’s seemingly silly comment. But eventually, she herself began to hear the footsteps and the eerie feeling of being watched by someone.
A year later, her little brother moved in with her as he was attending the same University as her. He also claims to have heard the same sounds. They all even attest to sometimes hearing what seemed to be people talking in the empty apartment next door.
That apartment never did get rented out the entire 5 years they lived there.
A Village Monster?
This account is from another of my high school classmates, Anjie*.
Anjie lives in a gated subdivision. There are probably less than 100 houses there, and one has to pass through a gate guarded by a security guard in order to enter the area.
One evening, Anjie was in her bedroom hanging out with her cousin, Lisa*. They were talking about Lisa’s love life and Anjie was giving her a sermon regarding a boy. Suddenly, Lisa said to her, “Shut up. Listen.”
It was then Anjie heard what seemed like giant bat wings flapping, accompanied by an inhuman voice cackling. The two girls huddled together in fear.
Anjie’s mom walked in to their bedroom, wide-eyed, “Do you girls hear that?”
They nodded. The peculiar animalistic sounds seemed to last for an entire 10 minutes. When it was over, they cautiously opened the window to see what was going on. They spotted their neighbors doing the same. Some had even wandered outside on the street.
Almost everyone living there had heard the strange creature, but nobody had dared to open a window or door to see what it was while it was still flying there.
It’s not often I hear a white person recount a creepy experience.
Usually, it’s fellow Filipinos and other Asians who are more keen to believe in the supernatural. Most people here in Europe dismiss the idea of ghosts, spirits, or whatnot. I met one girl, though, that had a questionable experience.
Sarah* is my husband’s best friend’s girlfriend. She told us that when she was still 16, she and a girl friend had decided to rent a small camping wagon and spend a night in a camping area. This was around autumn, and the camping area was deserted.
In the middle of the night, as they were getting ready to tuck in, they both distinctly heard someone knocking on the camp wagon’s door. Sarah’s friend went to open it, but when she did, there was no one there.
They both couldn’t imagine it as a prank, since there was basically no place for a prankster to hide, and if a prankster were to run to the nearby woods to conceal himself, they would have heard him do so.
My ex is a very logical nerd.
Whenever I’d tell him I was scared of the dark or express my fear of seeing a ghost in my probably haunted bedroom, he would roll his eyes and mock me. All that changed one night.
He had just finished brushing his teeth and decided he wanted to read a book. He placed his phone on his study table so that he wouldn’t get interrupted in case I texted him. He walked to his bed, settled in, and began reading.
Without warning, he felt his bed lurch. At first he thought it was an earthquake, but then he looked around the room and realized it was only his bed moving, rocking back and forth as if somebody were shaking it. Terrified, he tossed his book and grabbed the blanket over his bed.
Approximately two minutes passed, and the bed stopped moving. He began to calm down and told himself it was probably just an earthquake.
Suddenly, from across the room, his phone started playing music. According to him, the lyrics of the song that randomly played were, “And will you dance with me tonight?”
Losing what little composure he had left, he ran out and went straight to his parents’ bedroom. When he told them what happened, they laughed in his face. He slept with them in their bed that night.