Issue 8, Volume 17
Story time. We’ve all heard about local myths and legends. Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, drop bears, etc. Most people, the non-believers as we call them, brush away these myths with an indifferent air. “The photo is too grainy”, or “that’s so fake”, or “it’s not physically possible, science says so!” they cry in the face of people who chose to believe. I understand that incredulity, because I used to be one of them. Until, that is, I had my very own supernatural experience.
My hometown has a lot of old buildings, the kind that were built upon colonisation and pretty much haven’t been touched since. It was a port city, and so used to be filled with mysterious and insalubrious characters often found on board a ship, or in the ship’s wake. And hundreds of years on, not much has changed. Even though those characters died long ago, some say their spirits still haunt the old buildings that surround the piers, and most have unfinished business.
I used to work in a restaurant which was housed inside one of those hundred-year-old buildings. It had grand windows, scalloped arches on the front and exposed brick all throughout. In 1910 it was established as a hotel, and all was well until a fire raged through it one night, killing a young girl. But when she perished in the flames, her soul remained, determined to find her twin, from whom she had been prematurely separated. The legend goes that to this day, she will often make an appearance, wailing for her twin, and will wreak havoc until they are reunited.
When I was told this story by a fellow employee of the restaurant, at first I thought it was just some light hazing. Just the veteran staff making the new girl feel “welcome”. I brushed it off and didn’t give it much more thought. After all, I was living in the blissful world of disbelievers, where science reigned and such legends were laughed at. Then about six months after I started working there, all of that changed.
It was late at night. We had closed up after a long day, and I was collecting my things, getting ready to leave. There were only three of us in the building; me, the chef cleaning up the kitchen, and the owner. The music had been turned off, and the lights dimmed, so an eerie ambiance settled over the usually bustling restaurant. While I was putting on my jacket, I heard a huge thump come from upstairs. Thinking it was the owner, I called out to see if he was ok, but he appeared behind me, perfectly fine and definitely not making loud noises upstairs. We stared at each other, puzzled for a moment, and then he jokingly said, “It must have been a ghost!”. We laughed, and brushed it off. I said my goodbyes and was heading to the door when suddenly the wine glasses hanging in their racks began to rattle violently. Then the bottles of wine on the shelf began to vibrate, and soon the whole room felt as though it was being shaken from the outside. The owner, the chef and myself were all frozen to the spot, utterly shocked at what we were witnessing. Then came the clincher. An ear piercing shriek erupted from nowhere but everywhere at the same time. Immediately, I thought it must be the little girl, pleading and crying for her twin. Not eager to hang around and find out what would happen next and spurred by a fear I had never felt before, I ran like Usain Bolt for the door, wrenched it open and leapt out onto the footpath and into the calm summer night.
While I dragged in great, heavy breaths, I turned around and faced the building. The owner and the chef were hot on my heels, but even outside we could still hear the chilling cry. It was in that moment that I found myself fully believing in ghosts. It was the only logical explanation for what I was witnessing. There could be no other reason that an undead colonial girl was screaming and breaking things and scaring the living daylights out of us. I decided on the spot to never ever doubt a ghost story or urban legend again.
Before I could begin contemplating my existence in this complicated, multi-faceted, haunted world I found myself in, the owner pointed to the shop next door that was undergoing renovations, and I saw a man drilling into our shared wall with a very noisy drill. So, it might not have been a ghost causing all that ruckus, but I tell you for like half a second I was convinced it was.
Emily Zahra is a third year student with a penchant for the paranormal.