This story takes place back in the late 90s when I was still a kiddo in fruit-themed sundresses going to kindergarten. My grandpa used to work at the same private school where I received my early education.
The school was an old colonial type mansion converted into a pre-school, kindy, primary school and secondary school all in one. Surrounded by lush greenery, the trees there were so large they would often block out the sun which made for a perfectly shady place to play. But not only for us kids – it was a perfect place for otherworldly creatures too. One thing I remember was the distinct fragrance of the frangipani trees that dotted the entire compound. While not very tall, they made their presence known with the sickly sweet fragrance and white or pink hued flowers which we kids used to gather and stick into our hair. Coincidence that puntianaks (vampires) tend to smell exactly like that? I think not, but I digress.
Now my grandpa was a very active teacher when it came to extracurricular activities. He was in fact a scout master which meant having to attend all the campfires the school hosted. Driving his beat-up Toyota, he would park somewhere beneath the shade of a particular cluster of trees and retreat there for a nap once the scouts settled down for the night.
It was on one of these campfires when my grandpa decided to head back to his car for a rest while the boys were busy doing boy scout things around the blazing bonfire in the middle of the field. Settling into the plush old car seat, he opened the windows to let in the cold night air and proceeded tp closed his eyes for a quick forty winks. And that’s when he heard it.
Opening his eyes a bit, he saw nothing but the dancing flames across the field and the shadow of the boys chasing each other round, the rowdy bunch hadn’t yet begun to run out of energy. All was well. So, he resumed his shut-eye.
“Psst psst,” came the call again.
This time, thinking perhaps one of the boys calling from the other side of the car that was in the shadows, my grandpa opened the door and stepped out. Only to be greeted by – nothing. Checking all four tyres he was satisfied that nobody was hiding there, if a little puzzled as to where the noise came from. Again, he stepped into the car and settled back.
“Psst psst. Psst psst.”
Now my grandpa was by no means an expert on ghosts and things that go bump at night although the third eye and sixth sense ran in our family. He was the generation the ‘gift’ skipped. But he had plenty of experience to make up for it. This time he grabbed a flashlight from the glove box and stepped out. Shutting the car door quietly, he waited in the dark.
“Psst psst,” came the voice again.
Quickly flipping the switch on the flashlight, my grandpa aimed it towards where he heard the source of the noise. High up in one of the frangipani trees. As the light hit the branches, he heard a loud rustling and saw the branches parting as if to make way for something bigger than a bird should be. The calling had stopped. And the racket the cricket and frogs made suddenly returned in full force.
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