By Natasha Maya

I’ve felt fear; while listening to scary stories or watching horror movies and replaying certain scenes over and over again in my mind when I can’t fall asleep easily. But what I felt at that moment was beyond fear.

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There’s a lot of ridiculously optimistic stereotypes that pop culture tries to feed us about high school – friendships that last a lifetime, songs, dancing and good food – but reality is stone cold opposite. We get drab classrooms, hopeless food choices and teachers who most definitely hate us. Yet, trying to make the most of it, I, a 14 year old novice, chose to be an active participant in my school’s Cultural Dance Club in a wishful attempt to make my life as a student more exciting. But I ended up getting more than what I bargained for. 

Our practices would usually end in the early evening but this was the night of my very first performance. After owning the stage at a local stadium, my team and I got back to the school compound at around 10:30 p.m. The exhaustion weighed me down but my heart was racing from the excitement of my debut. Was this it? Was I going to make it big? Was dancing my calling?

Our Cultural Dance Club’s HQ was located on the third floor of the canteen building. Laughing and chatting with exhilaration, we hiked up three flights of stairs to the room which stood amongst other classrooms. My legs felt like jelly after the longest night I’ve had in awhile. As soon as the doors were unlocked, I plonked on the floor and laid relaxing till almost all my teammates had changed out of their costumes. Pondering for a few seconds, I decided that I was too conscious to change out of my costume in front of the others and left the club room, alone. As the door shut behind, I realized that the hallways were pitch dark, with not a single light source in sight. Uncertainty slowly bubbled up in my chest. But I had to change out of my outfit, I was too shy to go back in and too drained to be scared.  Anyways, what’s the worst that could happen?

I made my way across the dark hallway, trying to find a spot to change out of my costume. The air was chilly and the night was dead silent, I couldn’t even hear the distant laughter from my clubmates anymore. Unease began creeping in my mind, as I looked around my surroundings. Most of the classrooms on the third floor had grills for doors which had been locked by the guards, all except for one – 3 Kreatif. Surprisingly, the back door of 3 Kreatif was left wide open. Without hesitating, I walked towards the classroom, the sound of my footsteps echoing throughout the hallway. It almost felt as though someone was walking with me.

Before entering the class, my eyes fell upon my own distorted reflection on the classroom window. I looked like a complete mess with smudged make-up and a pale complexion illuminated by the moon outside. Just as I turned, my eyes caught sight of another reflection that wasn’t mine. It was just my imagination, I thought as I went into the classroom.

Immediately I felt goosebumps crawling up my body. It was a feeling I’ve never experienced before. In a blink, the atmosphere had changed – the room was damp and there was this deafening silence that almost sounded like somebody was sucking the life out of the place slowly. 

I stood at the back of the class, on the left side, next to the exit. I willed myself not to worry about it, it was probably my tired mind which was playing tricks on me. With shaky hands, I placed a fresh set of clothes on the table and was about to change when my shoulders went tense. 

My eyes darted nervously around the dark room. I felt a sinister presence, one that I could not explain. It was when my eyes landed on a table at the opposite end of the classroom that my breathing stopped. A tall skinny boy sat there in his white school uniform, his dark hair a mess and his body almost too straight to be human. He was staring at the information board behind the class with a frozen body. He seemed like he wasn’t breathing. I went numb all over.

He turned his head, ever so slowly, until a pair of bloodshot eyes were looking at me. Those two red slits were filled with insane rage as though I had just trespassed his territory. His head began bending to the left with an alarming creaking sound and a low deep gurgle was coming from this throat.

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What those scary movies or stories portray could not match up to the mix of emotions I felt. It was as though every fibre of my being was screaming while my mouth remained tightly shut. I was paralysed. My heart sped up beyond what it could handle and my blood ran cold. 

Without thinking, I grabbed my clothes and ran out of the classroom and back into the club room. My whole body was shaking as my mind tried to make sense of what had just happened. A small crowd formed around me and I explained what I saw, stuttering as I failed to capture it in words. But my seniors… they didn’t look surprised. Apparently, occurrences like these were very common in this school, especially in this particular building. 

From that day on, many of my friends stayed away from that classroom, especially after school hours. Whenever I cross an empty street or find myself alone in a dark room, my mind reels back to the memories from that encounter and the threat he held in his eyes. I was sure something horrible would have happened if I had stayed longer. 

Every school has a story, a history hidden away from the public. So, beware of those moving shadows that you see from the corner of your eyes… they aren’t as harmless as you think. 

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