Check Your Six
By Nina Syahira
October 3, 2014
Halloween is slowly creeping in around the corner. There are so many haunted houses popping up and plans for late night parties hosting people dressed like one another’s worst nightmares. Got a costume yet? If you haven’t, fret not. You can check out our past how-to’s.
This year, we decide to bring up an old tradition just for this spooky season! There's no better way to pass the time with family and friends than telling ghost stories! So for the entire month of October, we’ll be sharing with you a story every Friday in our special Halloween series. Let it be known that these stories are all works of fiction and in no way represent anyone or anything real.
Everybody loves a good ghost story now and then. From urban legends to acclaimed personal encounters, you can never know if it’s true or not. Yet it delivers the kind of cheap thrill we like to seek. Unless it actually happens to you, what do you care?
You’re safe where you are. Besides, don’t they say that the human mind is the scariest place of all? If you can control your wandering thoughts, these so-called roaming spirits and the like can’t harm you.
…Or can they?
Well, let’s turn off the lights and find out.
Wei couldn’t quite describe it but he definitely felt it, like a tiny buzz of electricity. It wasn’t the first time it had happened either. Lying in bed, he turned on his right side to face the windows. They had been closed since lights-out just like yesterday when he first heard the sound.
Sleep time seemed like hours ago yet it’s not even close to dawn yet. He cursed under his breath at his wristwatch. Why was time moving so slowly? Of course he was tired. He definitely could use some sleep after today’s intense training in the jungle. Nobody said National Service was going to be easy. It had been extra warm too these days, which really tested everyone’s endurance. Being yelled at by the platoon sergeant all day didn’t help either.
There it was again. This time, he was sure of it. It sounded like someone’s knocking on the window pane. His ears pricked up and his eyes widened. There were 12 beds in total and his was smack in the middle of the room so he’s not actually near the windows but the sound was truly loud. The thing about the dark is that it could completely fill the room, making everything seem like it’s within arm’s reach. His hands started to clench into fists, gripping the blanket. He let out a long inaudible sigh.
Oh, he had heard the stories before. Who hadn’t? Practically everyone would have a story or two about their spooky experiences during NS. If not them, it would be someone they knew. Before enlisting, he had taken them as just that, stories. Though he was never one to dismiss the unexplainable as nonsense like his father would, he tried not to think about them too much.
He couldn’t be imagining it, could he? He’s starting to get anxious so he slowly reached out his hand. It had made him stutter a little when he called for his bunk mate Adam who was sound asleep.
“Uh... Eh…” started Wei, leaning out to tap the shoulder of his friend.
Adam turned. “What?”
But for some reason, he just kept his mouth shut. Best to leave it alone, he suddenly thought to himself. Plus, he didn’t quite know if he had just imagined it after all. So he merely shook his head.
“Uh nothing, nothing,” Wei whispered hastily.
“You okay?” Adam muttered groggily.
Wei nodded and said nothing more. Though Adam couldn’t see his reaction, he just left it as it was in his sleepy daze and went right back to slumber. Hearing his friend snoring lightly once again, Wei turned over and away from the windows. He kept silent and waited to hear the knocking again. But before he knew it, he too fell asleep.
* * *
The next day during breakfast, Wei couldn’t stop thinking about it. Adam noticed the distracted look on his face and once again asked him if he was alright. He was worried of course since they were buddies for the entire course of the training. The few others at the table turned and peered at him curiously. Wei hesitated at first before telling them what he had been experiencing for the past two nights. Immediately, Adam interrupted with a sharp click of his tongue.
“Tsk! You were dreaming lah, Wei Liang! That’s why!”
The others laughed which bothered Wei as he sat there frowning.
“I was still awake and I heard it three times last night. Don’t you remember I tried to wake you up?”
“You said nothing, what?”
Wei started to protest once more but Adam quickly interjected.
“But it’s not just—“
“—Because nothing actually happened. Just forget about it lah.”
There seemed to be a sort of finality in Adam’s tone which Wei found to be quite unsettling but the others took it as a sign to move onto another topic of conversation that morning. Until they were called to assemble, Wei ate his food glumly amidst the endless chattering of his fellow recruits.
* * *
It’s lights-out again.
This time, Wei lay in bed already facing the windows which he kept peering at in the dark. He attempted to clear his mind and allowed himself to relax. Trying to make himself as comfortable as possible on the hard bed, he closed his eyes to welcome sleep. He was both physically and mentally exhausted at this point.
Thankfully, sleep came easy…
Suddenly, he woke up as if he fell from the bed. But then he quickly realized that it had just been a sensation from a dream. Though it still made his heart race, it was a comforting thought. So he tried to calm himself down again to settle back in slumber.
That’s when he heard voices.
If the air was still, any sound made would seem amplified and indeed on that breezeless night, every sigh and movement on those creaky beds could easily be heard. Feeling slightly paranoid, he paused for a moment to listen closely. He couldn’t tell what those whispers were saying as they sounded garbled in his ears. Perhaps it’s just Adam or the other bunkmates mumbling in their sleep. He was used to it because his younger brother, with whom he shared a room with back home, often did that.
He exhaled softly and began to relax again. Aiyah, nothing lah, he could almost hear his father’s voice chiding him. He recalled the conversation with Adam and their friends during breakfast that morning and forced himself not to worry about something he shouldn’t. After all, he really needed to focus on completing his BMT. Today’s exercise drills proved that.
Flip… flop… flip flop… flop…
Hearing this peculiar sound, he could feel a cold tension creeping over his neck and shoulders as his ears pricked up once again. His mind had now begun to play wild thoughts that only fed his growing fear. He opened his eyes and zeroed in on the windows. But it didn’t exactly sound like something was knocking against them like the last two nights, did it?
Slippers. They were distinctly slippers as if someone was walking in that very room right now. Who could it be? Who dared to be up at this hour after lights-out… in the dark? Their superiors were some of the strictest in the army. Nobody would risk getting caught. With each footstep coming closer to him, his heartbeat escalated.
Flip flop… flip flop…
The sound got louder and louder seemingly like thunder in his ears, synchronising with the meteoric rhythm of his heart beating in his chest. In his line of sight was Adam who slept facing him. He yearned to reach out to his friend for help. The footsteps sounded too close to him as if they were right behind him. He didn’t care if Adam might scold him again for having a bad dream again. It felt real enough.
But as the footsteps continued, they strangely began to sound softer as if they were moving away. This went on for a few more seconds until it became all but a whisper. Eventually, the sound stopped altogether and the room was quiet once again.
Where did they go?
His heartbeat remained at its fast pace and the hairs on the back of his neck were still standing. Whoever it was had probably gone to somewhere far behind his back. Try as he might, he blocked out all other thoughts to avoid scaring himself any more than he already was.
So he exhaled more deeply with each breath he took while praying for the morning sun to rise. In an effort to calm himself further, he decided to change to a more comfortable position by lying on his back. His neck was beginning to hurt. He felt exhausted.
But just as he turned his body to the left, in the corner of his eye, he saw something glowing white right next to his bed as if towering over him. He froze midway and kept his eyes glued on his friend. He wanted so much to wake Adam but he couldn’t. For some strange reason, he was fighting hard not to look over his shoulder. So he squeezed his eyes shut while shivering uncontrollably beneath his blanket.
Yet it wasn’t the fear of not knowing what he had just seen that immobilised him. He had no clue what it was. For all he knew, the darkness could be playing tricks on him. But it was that whisper, all excited as if amused, and its thin high-pitched tone was a dead giveaway for it to also be mocking him at the same time. He didn’t need to hold his breath again to listen carefully or do anything at all because he could already hear it clearly and in that moment, he knew. It was unmistakably the voice of a young girl who had been playing him for the past few days.
“Ooh, this one not yet sleep!”
Then it giggled right in his ear.