Friday, August 23, 2013

Contemporary Ghost Stories From China -- Series 2

(1) "Look at Me . . ."

This campus ghost story, sworn to be true, supposedly took place in the women's dorm of a college or university in Sichuan Province.

On this particular night, a student named Xiaoping (小萍, a pseudonym) was tossing and turning in the upper bunk in a room that slept six other young women. For some reason, she just couldn't get to sleep. As just about everyone knows, fretting about not getting to sleep is the worst thing to do, so Xiaoping remained awake.

She looked at her watch: two A.M.!

Oh, get to sleep! she told herself. Got to get up for class in the morning . . .

She looked up and saw that the mosquito netting was slipping down at the end of the bed. Did a breeze loosen the net and make it slip?

She gradually became aware of something floating just beyond the mosquito net at the end of the bed. She squinted at it as it became clearer in the darkness of the room.

It was a face, a male face that appeared to be made of plaster, like some home decoration, and the face was smiling at her.

Xiaoping leaped out of bed, screaming, pointing. "There's a ghost! A ghost!"

That woke everyone up. The other young women got up and gathered around Xiaoping, who was shuddering like mad.

"You were having a nightmare!"

"C'mon, Xiaoping, quit kidding around at this time of the morning!"

"All right," said Xiaoping, "maybe it was a nightmare."

By now, all the other girls were nearly as spooked as Xiaoping.

"Okay, go back to sleep," said one of them.

Everyone went back to sleep; all was peaceful for the rest of the night.

The next night, however, and the night after that, the face reappeared to just Xiaoping. No one could now fall asleep in the room. What could they do? Staying awake and keeping vigil all through the night was not an option.

One of the girls who had gone downstairs to contact their Student Services dean said, "This can't go on. Whether something is really haunting this room or not, we have to do something."

The dean came up to the room and said," Tonight there'll be several security guards posted outside your room. I'll be there, too. If anything happens, just let us know and we'll come in in a flash."

That night, several guards as well as several male volunteer students and the dean himself stationed themselves outside the door to the dorm.

The young ladies, comforted by the presence of the small army outside their room, prepared to sleep.

"With so many people outside, would a ghost dare show his face in here?" one of the women quipped.

The students then turned in early that night.

Two A.M. rolled around. Xiaoping instinctively looked up at the mosquito net over her feet.

Nothing there.

Will it come back? she thought.

No sooner had the thought crossed her mind than the white plaster face appeared once again, leering as it had before.

"It's back! It's back!" cried Xiaoping.

Into the room rushed the dean and the guards.

"Where is it? Show us!" cried the dean.

"It's right there, I said!" Xiaoping pointed to the spot over her bed. "Right there, laughing!"

No one else in the whole room could see what Xiaoping saw.

"Where is it, you say?"

"It's . . . now floating away . . . floating away . . . to the window sill . . . now . . . it's . . . in the open doorway." Xiaoping became silent and then added, "He wants me to go with him . . ."

"All right," said the dean, "go ahead. We're right behind you."

Xiaoping got out of bed and headed out the doorway, following the floating face that only she could see. Following her was everyone else in the room.

The group made their way down the stairs of the dormitory, through the campus and out the main gate, going along a path that took them to a pond, where, according to Xiaoping,  the face, all the while laughing, dropped into the water and disappeared.

"He's gone into the pond," said Xiaoping.

"Get someone to drain the pond immediately," said the dean.

By the next day, the pond had been drained, and there, at the bottom, a body was discovered, that of a male student who had mysteriously vanished the week before. The deceased student's I.D. photo was shown to Xiaoping, and she verified that his was indeed the face that had haunted her during that week.

Everyone was left wondering about the whole affair. The ghost had clearly wanted to be found, but why did he select Xiaoping as the one to uncover the truth? It would have to be a mystery left unsolved.

from 绝对真实的校园鬼故事 - 鬼故事百科

This is one of many campus ghost stories, a branch of urban legends, that are now popular in China and Taiwan. Two things stretch credibility a bit: (i) The original narrative never suggested that anyone, Xiaoping included, had requested a simple change of rooms; and (ii) the dean seemed more than willing to go out of his way to accommodate Xiaoping and her friends' beliefs and demands, at two A.M., mind you! This latter detail probably brings a smile to the face of anyone who's ever had to deal with university bureaucracy and red tape. I found this detail personally more amazing than that of a disembodied face.

Motifs: E.422.1.11.2, "Revenant as face or head"; E544.13, "Drowned man's ghost leaves water
puddles (pond)."

(2) "Skip to My Lou, My Darlin' "

The author of this story attests the following is a true story, told to him/her by a good friend.

A fellow known to be interested in mainly young women and alcohol headed home late one night and prepared to climb the six flights of stairs to his flat. His being inebriated would not make the journey to the sixth floor any easier. It would not be, of course, the first time he arrived home drunk after a full day of drinking; he came home this way just about every night.

It was the dead of night. Everyone in the apartment building, everyone except for him, was fast asleep. His trip up the stairs would take him past the balcony terrace on each floor. He staggered up the first flight.

He was just below the fifth floor when he detected an odd sound coming from the terrace above. Someone was skipping rope. He reached the fifth floor and saw in the profile of a girl on the terrace skipping rope. She was dressed in red and totally made up in a garish and coquettish style. There she was, jumping rope and chanting over and over, "Ninety eight . . . ninety eight . . . ninety eight . . ."

Well, the drunkard was stupefied. Here was a pretty young woman jumping rope and repeating "Ninety eight" repeatedly at an awful hour of the night. What was she doing there? Why was she jumping rope? Why was she saying the same number over and over?

Yes, this was a good-looking young woman. So, his drunkenness and debauched nature overrode whatever small amount of caution may have remained within him. He approached her, asking, "Miss, Miss! Why are you jumping rope and repeating the same number?"

"Move your head in closer, and I'll tell you why!" she said, while jumping.

He came in closer and closer until he was in front of her.

Then he saw that she was literally half a person--the entire left side of her body had been cleft right down the middle and was gone. Where the division was was nothing but dried blood and gore . . .

She continued skipping on her one leg . . .

He sobered up pretty quickly and momentarily looked just beyond her.

There, on the terrace, were scores and scores of men, likewise with half-bodies, skipping along with her on their single legs . . . There must have been at least . . . ninety eight of them up there . . .

"Ninety nine . . . ninety nine . . . ninety nine . . ."  the girl now chanted as she jumped rope.

"Ahhhh!" screamed the drunkard, as he fled like a crazed bat down the long flights of stairs all the down to the first floor, where he collapsed. He was found there later, with the entire left side of his head and face seemingly evaporated.

from 一个真实的鬼故事!

Red seems to be the default color for the most vicious, vengeful ghosts. Two "comeuppance factors" help make this tale similar to other urban legends: (i) the main character's willingness to engage in immoral activities, including walking around drunk (and thus allowing himself to become highly vulnerable) at night; and (ii) his eagerness to approach a pretty woman engaged in a very suspicious and bizarre activity.

Motifs: F525, "Person (Ghost) with half a body"; cK816, "Dupe lured to (supposed) dance and killed"; K850, "Fatal deceptive game." 

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