Written and submitted by Jacqueline Benita Paul.
I woke up at 3AM again today. Dreaming the same twisted dream. For someone with a goldfish memory, in my dreams I have a near perfect recollection of every piece of furniture, décor and architectural structure of my family’s apartment in Ampang Damai. Sure, we lived there for nearly 10 years, but does that explain the horrifying and murderous dreams that are trying to summon me back. I know I brought this upon myself and even if I live far away, sometimes my mind goes back to that night. The night that made me a believer of the supernatural.
On a Saturday, my mom proposed that we take a family trip to Bukit Belacan to play in the waterfall and spend some quality time together. Emma, my maid, was already on top of the arrangements to pack extra clothes, snacks and an offering of banana and flowers on a betel leaf. She’s from Indonesia so at the time, I just assumed it was a part of her custom to bring such a thing to the jungle. Though…it was a first.
I brought along my bucket with the single agenda of upgrading my bug catcher status to fish catcher. When we arrived at the river, I wasted no time and caught as many fish as possible and filled up my bucket with my sister’s help. Easily I had around 50 tiny fish and while I reveled in my glory, I saw Emma laying down the leaf she brought under a tree near the river. It looked like she whispered something but I couldn’t tell with the sudden gusty wind. It looked like it was going to rain, so we all rushed home.
My mother wouldn’t let me bring my catch back to my room so I reluctantly left it outside. Something felt different when I walked in my room that day. I looked at my triple decker bed trying to see if my sister was in my room with mischievous plan. I couldn’t find her so I went across my room to my computer table beside the window to search if my sister was hiding near the stairs leading up to my bed. I heard a crash from the kitchen and Emma was screaming that something had made the plates fly. My mother will not accept that excuse I thought so I helped her hide the crime, but Emma being as honest as she is still told her. My mother seemed angrier with her about something else though, I heard that it had something to do with the leaf that Emma offered.
Since it wasn’t my business, I went outside to check on my fish. My heart sank to see that each one was still and lifeless. I couldn’t believe that it just died so quickly. I didn’t want to burden mom with more bad news and fuel her theories so I just hid the bucket in the fire escape so I can flush down the fishes in the toilet when she goes to work. I distracted myself with my favorite RPG game on my X-box and the next thing I realized the sun was gone, everyone was asleep, and it was 3.30AM.
Since it’s Sunday, I figured I could just sleep in. I know every nook and cranny of my home like the back of my hand so I didn’t mind walking back to my room in the darkness. I was too tired to be bothered with reopening the balcony curtains so I just started walking towards my Flowerhorn fish aquarium when suddenly a ball of light appeared before the arch that lead to my room on the left and Emma’s room on the right. It was blue-ish in colour. I thought it had to be the neighbours playing around with a laser light but the balcony was closed away with the curtains and there was nobody around. I couldn’t even see the ray of light. My heart raced, refusing to entertain what I didn’t want to believe in, I ran straight to my room. I settled down after seeing my sister deep asleep on the 2nd tier of the triple decker bed while I went up the stairs to my own bed.
I forced myself to sleep, thinking of the game I played and reassuring myself that my eyes must have been affected from playing for too long. It was getting too cold, so I tried to wake up to cover myself. As I struggled to wake up, I had a horrifying realization. I was awake, but I couldn’t move. I was being pressed down and I couldn’t even open my eyes. I knew I was awake from the sharp cold sensation on my feet that I was trying to cover up. I screamed in my head begging anyone to come save me. I could feel a burning sensation in the middle of my chest. I prayed to any and every god I knew from Jesus, his Father, Allah, Hanuman, Ganesha and Buddha. When it all failed, I demanded that whatever it is that held me down to release me at the top of my voice – in my head.
It finally released me, my sister woke up realizing that I was going frantic with what just transpired. My hysteria was further fueled with what she told me next. She saw a misty white shadow with the figure of a child walk through the room door to the hall. Even if I was shivering with fear, with the burning sensation in my chest, I was curious to see if there really was something there. We slowly walked out of my room to the arc. As soon as we stepped into the hall, we heard a crack and then we saw the Flowerhorn fish aquarium just shattered. We screamed for Emma and our mother. There was no way a fish was no bigger than 15 cm could single handedly break a 10-gallon aquarium.
I froze while Emma, mom and Anysha rolled into action to clean up the mess and save our Flowerhorn fish. When we thought things couldn’t get scarier, we hear the Goldfish bowl cracking. We decided to put all the fishes we had into the biggest bowl we could find. Mom wanted to speak with Emma privately and my sister was on the phone with her then boyfriend. I went to the bathroom to take a shower to get rid of the pungent fishy smell from all the cleaning (I did lend some assistance). While undressing, I recalled the burning sensation that was imprinted on me when I was paralyzed. I faced the mirror and saw that I had a burn mark right there.
Emma said I was marked by a guardian of sorts that was displeased that I took something from the jungle but to this day my mother still blames Emma for “feeding” the forest with the betel leaf. Regardless, I had a target on my chest and the next few weeks were a series of cleansing by various different religious practices and horrifying nightmares of being impaled, dismembered or falling from the 17th floor. Eventually, we made some kind of peace with the entity after an Indian priest hung the pumpkin wrapped in a white cloth. Not sure what made it work but I slept like a baby for the first time in weeks. Although, it still felt like something was always lingering in my room.
There were some compromises that we had to make; we couldn’t have any sea creatures in the house. The goldfish that we kept in the Tupperware was mutilated and killed by the Flowerhorn fish and eventually even the Flowerhorn fish died. Any turtles or fish we kept, just didn’t last more than a week and not from a lack of trying. My dog, Snow was the only animal that was “allowed” to stick around. I also learned that my room was no place to argue with my sister. Something there tends to feed off our negative emotions and sometimes I hear whispers to do things that I wouldn’t think off normally.
When we decided to move years later, my mom got a pretty bloody injury from moving out the dining table and claimed that it was the spirit claiming blood. I wished it just claimed blood from me that day. Since we moved, I’ve often been haunted by the entity I once lived with. It would tell me to come back and then I get killed in a brutal way, there was once it showed me an image of my family hating me and wishing I was dead but it always needed me to die in that house. I don’t think ill ever find out why or shake it off but it taught me a valuable lesson about messing with the supernatural world especially in a jungle. It also made me a believer and I have the mark to prove it.