Singaporeans love creepy stories! In this bustling city that never sleeps, they say the dead find it hard to rest. And this time of the year, they are out and about among us.
Yes, it’s Ghost Month once more, where spirits are said to roam the earth for a month. Most Chinese people tend to be rather superstitious during the days leading up to the Hungry Ghost Festival. They have taboos such as avoiding swimming and out at night, being careful not to step over offerings, and so on. They believe that if they break these rules, they might fall sick or even be possessed by a spirit.
We’re big fans of ghost stories ourselves, and we’ve reached out to some of our readers for their own spooky stories.
For privacy reasons, names have been altered in these stories, but rest assured that they are all true and real! In the spirit of Ghost Festival 2022, we hope that these tales will send a shiver down your spine.
The Extras of Flight Training Class
Cassandra was a flight trainer for a local airline, and she constantly trained new batches of airline crew before they went on actual flights. For context, flight crew go through a meticulous training regime before they are allowed to fly as crew members of an airline.
She was in charge of teaching the trainee crew how to make flight announcements, proper speech and mannerism, personal grooming, and even handling safety training for on-board emergencies. These classes were usually held in an academy building with lecture halls and training rooms, similar to local colleges and universities.
Among the other trainers and staff, Cassandra was well aware that they weren’t the only occupants of the building.
You see, Cassandra was born with a natural sense for the supernatural. While she was unable to see, she could feel and sense whenever an entity was near. Before she became a trainer, she was a flight crew herself, and travelled all around the world – which meant she also had her fair share of spooky sensations and encounters. When she became an on-ground trainer, she thought she was fortunate enough to have left that life behind – but alas, she still had her fair share of disturbing encounters in the training building.
It was a popular rumour that the building was haunted, especially after 6PM. People said that they could sense the temperature drop, and their hairs would stand on end if they happened to be walking through an empty corridor. Some said that they could sometimes see a white figure at the corner of their eyes in the building’s underground car park, especially if they had the misfortune of parking further away from the building entrance.
Rumours aside, Cassandra believed in the good old saying – if you don’t bother them, they won’t bother you. She had brushes with the supernatural (or so she believed) before as a flight crew – couple of TVs turned on in the middle of the night in a hotel room, her chalet kettle suddenly boiling itself at 2AM in the morning, and even the occasional showerhead mysteriously turning itself on while she was out. Certainly, she knew that the flight academy had other unseen people in attendance, and she respected them enough to leave them alone.
Some of them liked to occasionally act out, however. Cassandra recounted a time where she was teaching with a laptop and a projector, and the projector suddenly started flickering. Random letters started appearing on the screen, as if someone – or something – happened to be typing gibberish onto the laptop’s Powerpoint. It would have been a funny prank if there wasn’t a single person near the laptop.
When asked about how the students reacted, Cassandra mentioned that some of them looked confused, some of them weren’t even paying attention, and some of them looked nervous. She said she laughed it off by saying – “You’re welcome to join my class, we have extra seats at the back!” and the typing stopped. She then reassured her students, telling them that it was either their friendly, resident ghostie who was curious about the class she was teaching, or her Powerpoint glitching – although, she admitted, she was half-trying to convince herself as well.
Cassandra then continued with the class, feeling the back of her neck tingle throughout the hour – although towards the end, the feeling subsided, and she managed to finish the class as intended. As the students left the classroom and she packed up her teaching materials, she thought she heard the faint creak of a plastic chair in the empty room, and quickly stood up to look around… only to see no one in the room with her. She remembered hastily leaving the room with a chill around her ankles.
Ever since that day, people tended to leave the last row of the classrooms empty, citing that it felt too cold to sit there.
When Cassandra stopped being a trainer and transitioned to becoming an operations manager, she never really forgot about the extra occupants of the academy. Both former and new students would tell her about their vaguely creepy encounters, and she would tell them about her own. However, before she left, a rather popular question used to pop up among both trainers and students –
“Do you have any extra students in your class?”
Dialling For An Exorcism
Emily was a young child when she went to the beach with her three older brothers and their friends. It was the perfect little getaway without her parents around, as they were back at her mother’s hometown. The children got to stay at another relative’s empty house for two weeks with their cousins.
It was bliss to have the privilege to play without strict adult supervision, only having to listen to her older brothers or tag along for food. She did everything a child would normally do – play, swim, eat, chase her brothers or be chased by them down the sandy beaches. She slept in during the mornings, and stayed up late watching her brothers goof out with their friends.
Of course, she did not expect to have to watch an exorcism being performed over the phone.
Let’s go back for some context. On the third day of their getaway, Emily’s brother started acting strange. He would stare out of the window for ages, sit on the sand wordlessly, or stand in the shallow waves for hours on end. He stopped eating and drinking on his own, and even stopped going to the toilet – both actions had to be prompted by others. Even so, he would do it silently, his eyes glazing over as he stared at nothing.
Emily was so spooked out by her brother that she insisted on sleeping with her other brothers in her aunt’s room, as she remembered hearing her brother mumbling feverishly in his sleep. The night before, when she woke up to go to the bathroom, she turned to see her brother staring directly at her with glassy eyes, unblinking and unfocused. That was enough to make anyone refuse to sleep in the same room as him.
By the fifth day of their getaway, her brother’s friends started to worry that her brother was unwell. They called Emily’s parents to ask if they could take him to the nearby clinic, which they agreed to. The doctor promptly cleared him with a clean bill of health, much to the family’s confusion.
By the seventh day, Emily’s mother was sure – there was something definitely wrong with her son. She instructed that he be brought to a temple for a priest to examine. However, the nearest temple back then was a good distance away, and the oldest friend in the group could barely drive with their new license. They called a taxi, but that would take a while to come as well.
Emily recalled holding the phone and talking to her mother while watching her brothers argue over the best way to get to the temple. After a good ten minutes, Emily’s mother told her to follow her instructions – put the phone on speaker, hold the phone out, and make sure her brother could hear it. In the timeframe that the group was arranging for a way to get to the temple, Emily’s mother had made it to the temple in her hometown.
As Emily hesitantly held out the phone to her brother – who was still staring out of the window while drooling out of his mouth – she heard her mother conversing to someone in Cantonese. A male voice started to chant, and the last thing that Emily remembered was her mother telling her to stay on the line, all the way in the taxi to the temple. The chanting was eerie, and the more she listened to it, the sleepier she felt. She held the phone until her arms got tired, and she fell asleep while her other siblings took over.
Emily said that after she woke up, she was already back at the house. It was early in the morning, and her other siblings were snoring next to her. Wondering if it was a bad dream, she checked the room that her brother was in, only to see that he was tucked into bed in a deep sleep.
From what her siblings told her after that, it seemed that her brother had been possessed by a spirit, who took hold of his body and was reluctant to leave. The chanting through the phone was a Buddhist mantra used for exorcism, used to weaken the spirit and drive it away from the host. At the temple, the monks then managed to rid her brother of the possession, and he immediately fell asleep. When he woke up almost 16 hours later, he could finally speak and talk on his own – only that he couldn’t remember anything from the past week.
Till today, Emily distinctly remembered the chanting over the phone, and how it made her feel so heavy and tired. Since then, her mother often burned joss sticks and made offerings at the altar back home, encouraging her children to do the same. Emily said that her mother became rather superstitious after that – and that she didn’t blame her.
“The phone? It stopped working after the exorcism was done,” she said, shrugging. “Mum burned it herself after that.”
“Mom, The Printer Said Hello”
Long story short, Lia and her family moved into an old, 3-storey house that was on the market for cheap, and weird things started happening. Sound familiar? Yeah, that’s basically the plot of half the horror movies available online.
Well, in this encounter, Lia’s story was very much real. She was in her early tween years, when 3G and Bluetooth were still relatively new to most of the general population. This will soon become relevant, so take note of that.
Lia grew up without ever really wondering why there were talismans hung and stuck around the walls and nooks of the house. To her, it felt natural, as her mother was a devout Buddhists, and joss sticks, offerings, and Buddhist chanting on the radio were just part of her daily life. She would never have thought that those talismans were meant for something – or someone else – specifically.
It was during her secondary school years when Lia committed the grave mistake every kid would have made in their schooling years – forgetting to print out something for class. Half-asleep, she dragged herself out of bed and grudgingly booted up her computer to search for her homework file. It was roughly almost 3 in the morning, and the house was silent, save for the heavy ticking of the grandfather clock behind Lia.
While she was attempting to find her digital file with half-open eyes, she heard the sound of the printer booting up. Still half-asleep, she stared at it for a good twenty seconds before she realised that it was vibrating – the printer was chugging out a sheet of paper.
Now wide-awake, Lia slowly stood up and backed away. Remember how we mentioned that 3G and Bluetooth were still relatively new during these years? Well, this was one of those older printers, meaning it was not Wi-Fi enabled, but USB instead.
And Lia certainly did not plug the printer into the computer, or even turn it on in the first place.
Feeling scared, Lia watched as the printer spat out the paper that it was printing on. It fell to the floor, where she could see a single word, printed out clearly in jet-black ink.
Right at that moment, the grandfather clock behind her struck 3, and the loud chime made Lia almost jump out of her skin. Her computer screen glitched momentarily before becoming a dead blue screen, then shutting off abruptly. As she stood there, frozen, she swore she could hear footsteps on the floor above her – footsteps so slow and heavy that they couldn’t possibly belong to her mother, or any of her siblings.
And they were coming down the stairs.
The now-terrified Lia ran back to her room and locked the door, jumping into bed and covering herself with the sheets. She squeezed her eyes shut and tried to not to make a sound, telling herself that it was just a bad dream or that she was seeing things. Much to her horror, she heard the footsteps approaching her door… and stopping right outside of it.
Three knocks that sounded like heavier thumps.
Continuous, muffled thumping against the door.
Too scared to even cry for help, Lia curled into a ball and started thinking of all the prayers she could remember, while also trying to block out the sound with her hands over her ears. She wasn’t sure how long it was, but after a while the thumping stopped, and she fell back into a deep sleep.
The next morning, Lia tried to recount what happened, but also half-played it off as a nightmare. The printer was now silent, and the printed paper was nowhere to be seen, so Lia felt unsure if it happened or not. Her brothers gave her sceptical looks, but her mother was relatively silent. When Lia left for school (safely with her printed work), she saw her mother examining the printer with a careful eye.
By the end of that year, Lia and her family moved out to a different neighbourhood, into a HDB flat on the other side of the city. She recalled her mother saying that the old house made her feel uneasy, and that she, too, sometimes heard footsteps or felt a chill down her spine.
When Lia got older, she then learned that the talismans in the old house were already there when they moved in, left by the previous tenant. There was a heavy, suffocating presence in the house that seemed to weigh down on those who lived in it, as if something or someone else uninvited was living with them. Or in Lia’s mother’s words, they were the uninvited ones.
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