Friday, August 31, 2018

Creaking Wheels at Night--a Chinese Urban Legend

I don't know what year or in which province the following story took place. Unfortunately, the writer/editor didn't mention either one, but, anyway, here we go:

On one warm evening, the teachers took their students, young girls, camping on the grassy field on the right side of the campus. Tents and barbeques were set up; games and other activities were carried out.

Night had fallen.

The teachers were frankly pooped out by all the hectic games, cooking, and all the excitement the girls were having. The teachers decided to sit out the final game of the evening--hide and go seek, with a girl chosen to be the "ghost" who had to go find a "victim" as a replacement.

While the "ghost" was counting down to one, the girls all scattered, with some hiding within some particularly tall stalks of grass, behind the tents, or, in the case of one intrepid girl, inside the last stall of a row of old outdoor toilets, abutting outhouses with doors, left over from a now long-gone complex of buildings.

This girl waited breathlessly inside the stall with the old door closed. There, she waited and waited and waited . . . However, the "ghost" never came by. In fact, no one came by. There were none of the noises she expected of kids being discovered by "the ghost," noises like giggling, laughter, shouting, the noises that would signal the game was over.

When the girl was sure that by this time the game must be over, she decided to leave the stall, but now the door wouldn't open.

She pushed and kicked the door, but it wouldn't budge and remained tightly locked. The girl screamed and shouted for help, but no seemed to hear her.

This went on for some time. The girl just sank down and buried her face in her knees, frustrated, tired, and afraid.

Then, she heard a noise, one that was unexpected at this time and in this place.

She heard the creaking of wheels on an axle, reminiscent of the sound a wheelchair would make. Someone was at the very first stall, knocking on the closed door, asking in a distinctively female voice, "Is anyone in there?"

This frightened the girl even further and she held her breath.

Then, the girl heard the wheels move to the next stall, and once again, some woman she couldn't see banged on the door, asking, "Is anyone in there?"

There were a number of stalls left before the unseen person pushing some kind of cart would get to the very last stall, the one with the young student inside.

One by one, the unseen presence knocked on all the stall doors, and now whoever this was was outside the last stall. She heard the wheels stop outside the door. Terrified out of her wits, she didn't dare take a breath and awaited the rapping on the door.

No such rapping or banging occurred. There was only silence, the kind of deafening silence you experience in a place way out in nowhere.

The girl waited and waited. She was scared but decided she had to leave.

To her great surprise, the stupid door that wouldn't move now slowly opened.

She was free!

Then, she saw who or what was outside. . .

There, right outside the opened stall door, was indeed a wheelchair, but it was floating in the air. Seated in the wheelchair was a very old woman, and behind her and the wheelchair, likewise floating in the air, was a woman in a nurse's uniform.

Both were looking down upon the girl, grinning from ear to ear.

The girl screamed. . .

It is said that the row of outdoor toilet stalls once belonged to a large hospital which had years before burnt to the ground . . .

from Huang He, ed., pp. 89-90. (See 8/2/15 for complete citation.); 小女孩遇见鬼 - 地下道鬼故事

The above story purports to be a modern ghost story (urban legend), but there is no further information from the source about other details, which, I suppose, is fitting for an urban legend. No source, informant, witness, or storyteller, is identified. There is nothing so much as "This happened to my cousin's friend" or "to my friend's cousin."

Motifs: cE235, "Ghostlike conveyance" (i.e., wheelchair); E275, "Ghosts haunt place of great accident or misfortune"; E279.1, "Ghosts haunt outside at night in human shape"; E293, "Ghosts frighten people (deliberately); cE402, "Invisible ghost makes rapping or knocking noise": E402.1.1.1, "Ghost calls"; cE577, "Dead persons play games"; E587.4 "Ghosts are (always) in the air"; E599.11, "Locked doors open at touch of ghost."

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