I apologize in advance for the style in which I write this column. I am neither a creative writer nor journalist. I simply tell my story to my best ability and memory in hopes that someone who reads it can relate or assist me in search for answers. This story begins from the time I first entered University in the Fall of 1996.
Find the clues that lead you to the University and dormitory building I attended. Remember the dates that will clear up a lot of confusion. PLEASE keep in mind I only write to be heard. I am more the active person interested in sports and playing softball. Writing is not my hobby.
Yet, like a terrible sickness, the stories I write are the images that repeat in my head since the events in Chapter 1, The Meeting.
Writing, I have found, is my cure and release. It eases the anger I saw in her that morning. Through my sharing and with your attention, you are taking with you a part of her, and her rage, her curse in your life in my hope that it will lead me farther away...from her.
Chapter 1 The Meeting (Revised)
Entering the dormitories meant the beginning of a new life, new friends, and new experiences. As the years passed, learning the untold history of my dorm room meant the beginning of a bad dream. Before the Fall of 1996, I believed in spirits and ghosts the same way I believed in Santa Claus: simple fairy tales meant to entertain children.
1996 was a year in which movies like eThe Ring,f and eThe Grudge,f were years away from influencing Hollywood. I was simply the all-Asian American schoolboy who went to college, worked part-time, and enjoyed playing basketball Friday nights. In other words, I was a normal kid.
When I first moved into my dorm room, the excitement of escaping the familiarity of my small country town and into the big city prevented me from noticing the obvious facts of my new environment. First, my dormitory building was almost 50 years old. And lastly, the furnished beds and desks originated from a local penitentiary.
I admit I was naive at the time not to realize that with much time also came much history. There were many untold stories of my roomfs past that I did not know. I am sure there were some good stories. Yet, I am certain there were the stories that you wouldnft want to remember. I learned later, when I married my wife, that when a person inherits old places and things, even for a little while, a small part of the inerasable realities associated with it is carried along. In a way, it is like a glass cup being passed around with the fingerprints of the many who held it.
As October arrived, so did midterms.
I spent the nights of that week studying. The week leading to the morning of October 17th was a week I try, but fail to forget. I sat at my usual spot behind my desk facing the window of my room.
Suddenly, a reflection of a person on the window in front of me caught my attention. The reflection was of my door behind me opened with a person standing outside in the hallway...as if waiting for me. I thought it was either one of the many girls who usually asked me my phone number during lunch and dinner, or my Taiwanese roommate returning from his night class.
Turning my chair, I noticed my door was closed and there was no view of the hallway or of anyone on the other side, unless the reflection of the person was coming from the inside of my empty room. I approached the peephole of my door and looked outside. The hallway was more empty and quiet than my church on weeknights.
Throughout that week, the coldness behind my shoulder reminded me I was not alone. It was like I had a new friend who was curious of how I spent my nights and wanted to know more about me. Except, I didnft know my new friend. In a way, I felt this imagination of mine was a lot like myself: curious, sociable, but alone.
Naturally, I ignored the incidences as a result of my over studying.
On the morning of October 17, it began. That morning would be the first of many nightmares I would experience in the years to come. The morning began with the sounds of someone struggling with a door. The doorknob rattled along with thudding sounds of the door as it pushed against the wall. The urgency of that person wanting to enter troubled me. I figured it was my next-door neighbor having problems with the key or the custodian doing his early morning rounds.
The thudding stopped, but a slow creaking noise followed.
In a little while, I realized the creaking was not coming from the outside of my room, but from the inside. It was my door that was being opened.
Maybe it was my roommate, or an intruder. I had to get up and make sure. I quickly found myself struggling to wake up. I was trapped between the world of consciousness and a world that existed only in nightmares. My body was awake, but my mind was not. It felt like I was drowning without knowing how to reach the surface. All I could do was kick and think. I could not even breathe.
I continued struggling out of bed, but it felt like the more I wanted to get up, the more something held me down. I was being held against my will to witness something I did not want to see.
I watched powerlessly in bed as the door of my room slowly, but completely opened. Entered were two pale feet; one foot after another it walked in a ceremonial pace as if it were in a wedding, or a funeral. It entered inside with a sense of purpose or familiarity. It was as if it had done this many times before. I did not know it then, but I was witnessing an old ritual, a curse.
With each step, water trailed onto the carpet.
Only three thoughts entered my mind as I watched the feet enter my room. First, my roommate had the worst case of pale skin I had ever seen. Secondly, he should learn to better wipe himself off after taking a shower. And lastly, if this person wasnft my roommate, they better be ready for a fight (if I can get up).
As the feet continued walking parallel to my bedside, I realized it was not my roommate from what it wore. Unless my roommate was a cross-dresser, he wouldnft be wearing a clean white dress.
The feet stopped still parallel to my side. Then, the feet slowly turned in place until the toes pointed at me. It stopped again and moments later began walking. This time towards me.
I tried calming myself by finding reasons and logic as to why this was happening. I presumed the only person able to enter the room was my roommate. He was the only one with the other key.
Logic was telling me that my roommate would only walk toward my bed because he was gay and he found me cute, as the girls told me, and that his dress was a fetish he never told me about. But there was no reason why his feet showed the deep blue veins and black, decaying toenails. I soon accepted that there was really no logic for what was occurring.
Approaching closer to the side of my bed, it stopped and waited. Then, continuing in itsf slow rhythm, the right foot slowly lifts itself toward my bed. I was fighting myself harder now, shaking whatever I could of my body hoping that whatever movement I can make would free me from my state of paralysis. Then I saw the other foot lift from the floor.
I struggled again as I turned my head now able to look up toward the ceiling with my eyes barely open trying harder to wake up. It was like someone placed tape over my eyelids. I could see her feet, and in between them were my own feet. Her legs, pale as her feet, stood over me with her arms limped to her side. Yet, I could not feel any weight on my mattress. All around me became colder. I knew at that moment death had surrounded me. On the ceiling, just above my head, a hazy image of what appeared to be a rope hung from the ceiling.
"What the hell is going on?"was all I could think of.
Suddenly, with the speed of a snake snapping itsf fangs at itfs prey, she reached for me. With putrefied arms she grabbed me angrily...angrily...angrily.
All I could see was a faceless head hidden behind brittle, gray and black hairs that hung just above her shoulders, and behind it were the eyes of pure hate I was spared to see. My life flashed before me. I couldnft talk, or scream, but she did. "Get out of my bed! Get out of my bed!"
I felt the rage in her voice. That seed still grows inside of me.
Then I awoke, screaming on top of my bed just the way she had picked me up. I was alone, but the sunlight shining through the window reminded me again of the gift of life.
"Not my idea of a first date."I whispered to myself.
My room remained empty. Another hour before my roommate would return from his morning class.
I was convinced for the next two years that it was the pizza I had eaten the night before that gave me that nightmare.
Stepping off the side of my bed, I felt the sogginess of the carpet. I reminded myself to tell my roommate to dry off better after coming out of the shower. Removing my shirt, two fresh bruises rested on the sides of my shoulders.
As my roommate arrived back from his morning class I asked, gDid you have problems opening the door this morning?"
"No," he replied.
"O.K. Did you take a shower this morning?"
"I donft take showers in the morning. I only take showers before going to sleep. Why? Do I smell bad?"
"You wouldnft happen to have a dress?"
Two years later, I moved to the Sunset District near to the dormitories as I continued my studies at the University.
I knew many residents and friends who remained living on the campus and occasionally I would visit that old room to meet the new residents. I never told anyone the details of that morning not even to the new residents.
"If you want to make friends," I said to myself, "donft say anything crazy."
The new resident was a simple guy, like myself, from San Diego. After introductions, we decided to have lunch together at the Cantina, the campusf cafeteria. During our lunch he asked me,
"When you were living in my room before, did you ever have the feeling that someone else was watching you? Like a girl? At night when you were studying?"
I felt the same coldness surround me as it had two years before.
"How did you know that? " was my only reply.
We had lunch October 19, 1998.
To be continued...
(My apologizes if you missed the unrevised version of Chapter 1.)
iiiiiiThis story takes place in the Spring of 1997. Two months after "The Meeting."
Lunch and dinnertime at the Cantina meant more than eating with friends. It was a time to talk about anything. Ty, a pudgy Hmong neighbor who lived in the room across from mine and held many titles such as "Campus Cupid" and "Credentialed Porn Site Critic," never failed to start:
"So, Robbi, any luck with Kaoru?"
"No, it's" Sherri now," Ray replied.
"No," John said, "It's..."
"Don't worry about me guys," I interrupted. "Girls are not exactly on my mind right now."
"Then what exactly is? Guys?!" Ty always used sarcasm to hide the poor self-image of himself.
"Nothing is." I hesitated deciding whether to tell them or not. Then it just came out.
"Do any of you guys believe in ghosts?"
"I do," said Tom, a computer graphics major. "My grandparents from China told me about spirits all the time when I was a kid. That stuff is serious."
"Not as serious as my Dad's hemorrhoids,"said Ty elfishly laughing.
"Why the sudden question?"asked Ray.
"I just had a bad dream, but it was so real. At least it felt real."
"O.K., Robbi, no more rice curry. The acid at night is terrible. Just ask my Dad."
"Quiet, Ty. Let him speak. What was it about?" John asked.
"It was about a girl."
Ty interrupted again, "Was it Kaoru? No, Sherri! Did youi-you know."
Clapping his hands and laughing as he continued, "Great, Roooobbi! You see. There is someone you are willing to sleep with. Too bad it's in your dreams. I knew you could do it. You are not hopeless after all! Ha! Iti's your mind telling you that you badly need to get laid. That's all."
"Thank you, Dr. Ty. Anyways, the girl in my dreams, I think she was telling me, or at least trying to tell me something."
I still believed it was a dream.
"It's a spirit trying to communicate with you through your dreams!" shouted Tom. "My Grandparents told me about that stuff."
"Let's talk with her!" Ray suggested.
"How are we going to talk with Robbi's ""Dream Girl?"" asked Ty.
"I brought my ouija board from home," said John. "I thought it would be great for parties."
"That stuff is as bogus as Ty's manlihood, " I replied.
"C'mon even if it is bogus, it will be fun. Besides, we don't have anything else planned for tonight. We're all single here except for Ray," answered Ty.
"Screw Stephanie! I'm in!" Ray shouted.
"Yay! A party!" John, never to turn down an invitation to any party, shouted with excitement.
"I shoulda kept my mouth shut." I thought.
As the five of us finished lunch, we headed to my room. I attempted to change our plans as John began to set up his ouija board on my floor.
"Honestly, guys. I think this is a waste of time. Ouija boards are just marketable products. They doni't work. C'mon we're just throwing away a good Saturday evening. We still have time to catch Jim Carrey's new movie, 'Liar Liar.'"
Ignoring me, Ray suggested, "I have an idea! Leti's ask a question that nobody would know about."
"Yeah! That will prove nobody is purposely moving it. Right, Ty?" said Tom winking one eye at him.
It was hopeless. Nobody was listening to me.
"Wait! You guys doni't know what you are doing!" Ty shouted.
"Finally," I thought to myself, "Ty does have some decency he is willing to use."
Ty continued, "Let ME show you how iti's done!"
"First," he began sounding like a t.v. preacher, "You gotta believe. Do you all believe?"
"Sorta." "I think so." "A little bit." "I don't know about this, guys..."
"No!" Ty yelled frustratingly shaking his hands in the air at everyone. "Let me ask again. DO YOU ALL belieeeeeve?"
"O.K." "Sure." "Leti's do it." "What the hell."
"Alright. That's better. Now, everyone put your hands here."
We placed our hands onto the small triangle, the piece that guides the ouija board..
Ty, still trying to sound like an expert, but doing a good job keeping us amused continued, "Now, obviously nobody here has done this before so all of you just follow me."
"You done this before?" asked John.
"No, but I seen plenty of movies and commercials. O.K. Quiet! Now, everyone repeat after me."
And in a voice of a cheap palm reader Ty began, "Oh spirits of the beyond. We humble you and call upon you tonight and bring forth the girl who wants to smell Robbi's underwear."
"Seriously, Ty," I said.
"Shhhhh! Don't disturb me. We call specifically of the girl who attempted to speak to my troubled friend, Robbi inside of his room. Forgive him for he is lonely and desperate for anybodyi-OoooOoooOooo."
Hush filled the room. We listened and waited for the triangle to move.
There was someone at my door. All of us jumped up letting go of the triangle.
"Well," said Ty frightened as he looked at me, "go see who it is. It's your room!"
"Whatever," I said as I stood walking to the door.
I looked through the peephole.
"Ray. It's Stephanie."
I opened the door and Stephanie, with her fists at her hips, stood angrily staring at Ray, her boyfriend.
"Where were you?!"
"Sorry, honey. I'll see you after I finish here with the guys. O.K.?"
"O.K.,"she replied leaning over Ray's shoulders looking at us strangely with our hands back on the ouija board, "Sorry to disturb everyone with whatever it is you are all doing. AND DON'T BE LATE!" she reminds Ray before turning to leave.
"The directions say not to let go of the triangle during the middle." John explained concerned.
"Yeah? O.K. Nobody let go this time, O.K.?" Ty commanded.
"Oh spirit who attempted to sleep with my lonely friend Robbi tells us, are you here?"
The triangle slowly moved. First across to the left and then to the right until finally stopping on the lower corner of the board over the letter "Y" for "Yes."
We looked at each other in amazement. This was the first time for all of us, including myself, seeing the ouija board in motion. We quickly became more interested.
"Oh humble and available spirit, my single and handsome friend, Robbi, would like to know if you are lonely as well. Tell us, are you lonely?"
I shook my head frustratingly at Ty.
Again, as same as before, the triangle, slowly moved across the board until finally resting over the letter "Y."
John, sensitive as always, was getting fearful.
Tom and Ray looked like school kids during recess, excited and curious.
I was doubtful, but at the same time scared.
Ty continued to make sure the party did not stop.
"O.K. Ray ask the question. You know. The one ""nobody would know the answer to?"""
Snickering, Ray uttered, "How many pairs of underwear are in Robbii's dresser?"
"Wait!" Tom shoued, "Robbi would know the answer to that!"
"No," Ty replied, "Who actually counts and remembers the number of their underwear?"
We all agreed.
The triangle again slowly began to slide across the board this time at the top with the numbers lined across. Back and forth the triangle went until stopping on the number six.
Like children, Ray and Tom raced excitedly to my dresser pulling out all my drawers until finally finding the one containing my underwear.
"Hey! I thought we wereni't supposed to let go of the triangle!" I reminded everyone angrily.
Ignoring me as always, everyone began to count as they threw my folded underwear unto my bed. One. Two. Three. Fouri- FIVEi-.
Tom and Ray were more excited and satisfied now that what was happening felt more real. Ty thought it was funny. John looked worried. I was mad as I looked at my clean underwear on top of my bed.
"Hey!" Ty yelled, "C'mon! Let's keep going! It's getting good!"
But it was too late for us, and for me. We twice let go of the triangle trapping her with us, and with me.
"O.K. I got a question," Ty said sounding more serious now.
"What is your name?"
Slowly as before the triangle slid across the board momentarily stopping at each of the letters: "J," "L," and "C."
"Jelec?" John said keeping his hand on the triangle.
"No," Ray said, "It's J-LO like in Jennifer Lopez."
"You're all wrong," Ty sounding more serious. "Those are initials."
Though Ty had a unique humor, he was sharper than any of us.
"Is it getting cold in here or is it just me?"
John was having doubts now about continuing.
"This is getting to scary for me."
"Wait hold on," Ty added. "Leti's ask her what she wants."
Tom and Ray quickly approved.
"Spirit," Ty began again still with the seriousness in his voice. "What do you want?"
The triangle began to slide across the letters of the board. Slow at first and then gradually faster as it stopped on the letter "R."
Ray took his hand off the triangle.
"O.K. no way. I'm not playing anymore."
"Awww, Ray! It might have spelled Robbi!" Ty cried out.
"O.K. Fun is over. Let's get out of here." I told everyone as I motioned to John to start placing his ouija board back into the box.
We concluded that night in my room and eventually we decided to watch, "Dante's Peak" at the Kabuki theatre.
After that night, and the semesters that followed, the friendship we all shared slowly spoiled like the way an apple would but in years time. We argued and yelled at each other at times over little matters. Our friendship we once had at the University would never be the same as it did before that night.
The calling of her and then letting go of the triangle trapped not only her in our lives, but also the rage that followed with her. Learning more about ouija boards, I was shocked to later read that after calling a spirit into the world of the living, you had to eventually put them back-- back into their world. We never did.
Ray and Stephanie eventually separated. And as the years passed I lost contact with all of the guys. Eventually, as the Internet continued to advance, I was able find and locate some of the guys.
I learned Ray had died in a motorcycle accident six years after that night. The same number to the answer of his question he asked of her from the night of...