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Confession by Imagine Merlion
This story took place about 10 years ago, when I was on an internship in a science lab back in my university days. As it was the summer break, there were a good number of students who chose to intern at this company; the department lab I was in had four to five of us student interns in that period. Since we were all around the same age, we got along quite well. We would go for lunch together, tell silly jokes, prank one another, and even have random singalongs in the intern room - just what you’d expect a bunch of kindred spirits to be like when we were together.
Now, to give a bit of setting to the story: the building that the labs were in was planned out in such a way that a central corridor ran across the length of the building floor, with labs on one side and the office area on the other side. The office area was very open - no cubicle walls, no pillars. Even the wall that divided the corridor and office area was all glass, so essentially you could look from any point in the office area into the corridor.
The toilets were at the end of this central corridor. They were designed in such a way that both male and female toilet doors were faced each other, with the sink placed directly behind each door. If both doors were open at the same time you would be able to quickly glimpse into the sink area of the other toilet before the spring mechanism closes the door again. Both toilets exited into a small walkway separated from the main central corridor by another door (which I will refer to as a common toilet door).
One day after I was done using the toilet and was washing my hands at the sink, the door behind me opened for someone to enter the male toilet. I look up into the mirror to see if it was a friend (it wasn’t) and noticed from the background my friend was exiting the female toilet. I wanted to catch up with her so I called out her name and quickly rushed out without drying my hands. But as I stepped into the small walkway, I noticed that strangely, the common toilet door was fully closed - my friend was that quick, huh! So I rushed out into the main corridor to find her, thinking that since our lab was at the other end of the building I would definitely be able to catch up with her. But as I got out into the corridor, not a single soul was in sight. “Weird”, I thought, “did she run her way back to the office or lab?”
I made my way back into the office and saw my friend sitting at her seat, and I went up to her and asked her “wah did you run back or what, so fast?” and she looked at me with a face of confusion. I asked her if she was just at the toilet and she replied that she had not left her seat for the past half hour. This was confirmed by other friends. So who was it that I saw exiting the toilet and seemingly disappearing into thin air? Was it someone with hair as long as and a complexion as fair as my friend’s? Maybe someone indeed left really quickly, ducking into one of the store rooms nearby before I dashed out? She would have to sprint very fast though and I would have at least seen a door close along the way. But there was nothing like that. Oh well, I decided not dwell too much into it.
A few weeks passed and I quickly forgot about the incident. The Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival and the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan had begun. I was in one of the smaller rooms in the lab with two other colleagues; Jane to my right in the corner of the room and Hazel towards my back.
We were all doing our own experiments, trying to finish up before the day was done when I heard humming in a lady's voice at my right. It was an unusual tune, slow, calming and melodic but I couldn’t identify which song it belonged to. Oddly, it felt reminiscent of the Chinese songs from the 50s and 60s I’d hear on my dad’s radio when he listened to Capital 95.8 fm.
Another reason why this seemed odd was that Jane, a fellow intern, was a rather… posh girl. She is from a very well to do family, had studied in a top university in London, was very well mannered and presented herself with decorum and poise. When we engaged in our tomfoolery, she would be at the side laughing at us but never joining in. When we had our mini concerts, she would listen and never joined in with the singing. I had always thought it was because she couldn’t sing and didn’t want to make a fool of herself. But now, hearing her hum such a pleasant tune made me think she was actually a hidden songbird!
The humming lasted for about 10, 15 seconds before it stopped. I turned to Jane and kindly complimented her on her nice musical voice.
Jane returned a look of confusion. “Huh? What are you talking about?”
“Oh you were just humming right? That was a nice tune. Seems like you can hold a tune and sing well! You should join us in our singing sessions!”
But Jane looked even more confused and replied “I wasn’t making any sounds at all, I wasn’t humming”. I didn’t believe her, I knew I just heard humming coming from my right side. Who else could it be? Maybe this is her trying to prank me instead? But Jane was adamant that it wasn’t her. So I turned to Hazel behind me and asked if she heard Jane humming too. Hazel said that she didn’t hear anyone humming or singing and that it was all quiet until I broke the silence when I randomly told Jane that she’s got a nice voice.
It then dawned upon us that it was the 7th month and that maybe neither of us were pranking each other. Maybe, there was someone else in the room with us. We shrugged it off so as to not scare ourselves.
It wasn’t until a few days later when another friend, Shah, got wind of our strange incident. He then shared a strange encounter of his own.
Shah was doing his final year project in the lab, and one of his experiments required him to stay back late almost every day. However as he was fasting for the month of Ramadan, he needed to go home on time to break fast with his family, so he decided to start his day super early instead at 5am to make up for the lost time.
That fateful day, he’d just reached the office, the lights were all turned off as usual and the office and corridor was dark, save for the dim lights from the exit signs. He didn’t want to turn on the office light since he would be spending his time in the lab and there wouldn’t be anyone in the office for another two hours. Just as he was unpacking his bag after reaching his desk, he saw from the corner of his eye, a lady walking quickly past the corridor.
“Strange, there’s usually no one at this hour. Has Judy arrived already? The lights are all still turned off though…” (Judy was usually the first person to reach and would turn on all the lights). He thought something was amiss so he went out and searched all the labs and rooms to find the lady who walked by. He could not find anyone.
Who could that lady be? It could not be security guards because they did not have access into the labs nor did they have a reason to come in. I asked Shah to give a description of the lady. He said that she had long flowing hair and was dressed in white. She went past very quickly but was not actually running - more like she was gliding by. I then asked how he could be sure of what he saw since he mentioned that the lights were all off. He thought about it, then said that although it was dark, she strangely seemed to be lit by her own glow so he could see her fairly clearly.
It was then that we realized the three encounters could be related; twice, a lady with long flowing hair gliding by quickly then disappearing without a trace, and once, a disembodied lady’s voice humming an unusual tune that no one else could hear but me.
Is there a long-haired lady who roams the halls of our lab? What about the neighbouring buildings? - I’ve shared this story with other colleagues over the years and one of them shared had a story that showed strange similarities. She was in a different company two buildings down from my internship lab. She was supposed to go for a business trip overseas but had forgotten something in the office, so on the way to the airport at 4am in the morning, she dropped in to pick it up. When she got there, she saw a lady at the other end walking through the office. She had a distinctive feature - long flowing hair. Maybe it was someone working the graveyard shift, maybe it was something else. Maybe… it was the hantu? Honestly it wouldn’t be far-fetched if you know the history of the place - the grounds that our buildings were built on used to be an old British camp in WWII, and I was told that just about 20 odd years ago there was a prison or detention centre with female inmates next to where the building now stands.
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