Friday, August 10, 2012

Close Encounters of an Unknown Kind


Goosebumps. I am not referring to the best-selling novel series by R.L. Stine for young readers. I am referring to the peculiar bumps that appear on your skin as a chill runs down your spine. They can be caused by many things: extreme awesomeness, a spiritual awakening, a touching story. But they are more frequently associated with things that are frightening and sinisterly mysterious. Things that hide in the dark and things that live in the dark corners of the imagination...

A while ago, my friend Seagate challenged me to write about a mystical experience. I confess that I have not had the privilege of experiencing anything vividly spiritual, so I will go for the secondary meaning: mysterious and supernatural experiences.  I have decided to narrow it down to some of the mysterious and relatively scary experiences that gave me Goosebumps. Throughout my life, I have had a fair share of frightening or unexplainable occurrences.

A memorable experience is one that, as strange as it sounds, I don’t remember. I only know that it happened. My family was the witness of this event. It occurred on a warm afternoon in our old house in our hometown. I was still in Junior High School. That day, I was sick with the fever and, as usual, trying to free myself from it by copious amounts of sleep. I slept many times a day for a few hours at a time and it usually made me feel better – if I was lucky. At other times, I would be talking in my sleep (also a statement proven by my family) due to a bad dream which was annoyingly repetitive.

Anyway, my family stated that they were sitting casually on the family couch, not doing anything in particular. I suddenly came out of the room I was sleeping in, my clothes disheveled, and in tears, claiming that the TV in the room was on fire. I also claimed that a talk black figure had appeared in the room. They immediately checked the room (those who weren’t afraid, of course) and saw that there was nothing there and the TV was not on fire. Then they tried to console me. Moments later, I fell asleep while my family was reciting verses from the Qur’an by my side.

When I woke up the first thing I told them to do was shut up, haha... When I’m really sick and I have a high fever, I usually have this crazy problem with my senses. It’s like I’m suddenly Spiderman and everything is so loud and bright. The pressure of a soft touch becomes a hard nudge. So, without really comprehending what they were saying, I told them to be quiet. When I was fully awake, I asked them what they were all doing and why I was in a different room. They gave me a brief recount of what had happened and I, rather senselessly, laughed in disbelief. I actually hoped that they would give me a recount of “the black figure”, but no one saw it. My dad confirmed that it must’ve been a hallucination because of my fever and I believed him. Case closed.

Not too scary, right?

Let’s give you another story then.

This experience also occurred when I was in Junior high school. It was in my second year, if I am not mistaken. My friends and I were camping in one of the most beautiful beaches in Lombok. We had been there for a few days, enjoying the warm sunlight and cool sea in the daytime, and sleeping snugly in our tents during the night. One night, we were having a casual talk outside of our tents, enjoying cups of coffee and tea beside a small fire that had been burning pleasantly for a couple of hours. I think it was a few minutes before midnight. Suddenly, some of my friends started screaming and shouting in fright, scrambling to their feet, away from the direction they were just looking at. I looked in that direction and saw the huge tree on the far side of the beach. I didn’t see anything strange, but my friends’ frightened expressions and shouts of “Pocong” were enough to give me Goosebumps. They reported that it appeared under the tree (or was it on one of its huge branches?) and it was moving in our direction. A few seconds later, it suddenly disappeared.

Indonesian people should be very familiar with the term Pocong. I guess they believe it to be a type of ghost dressed in the “kain kaffan” (the white cloth used to wrap the body of the dead before being buried in the ground) so that only the face is visible. In the corresponding horror movies, it is usually a very scary face. It moves by jumping up and down, which is rather comical when you really think about it. Nevertheless, thank Allah I have never had a direct encounter with this frightening character.

Anyway, some of my friends and I checked the grounds and we didn’t see any sign of it. We looked intently at the tree and we still didn’t see anything that might even look like a Pocong. We tried to console our friends who did see it but had little success. That night, we all slept together outside beside the fire.

Haha... all this ghostly talk is giving me the chills right now.

There are some other experiences I can’t really explain. Most of them happened when I was alone and, thankfully, they aren’t too scary. Actually some of them are rather beneficial. There were a few times when I fell asleep too early before doing the Isya prayer. I would find myself waking up in the middle of the night or a few hours before dawn because of a sound. I can’t explain what it is really like. The closest description would be a sigh or a whisper, like someone saying “shhh” to me. I’d immediately wake up, not necessarily afraid, but aware that I had heard something. I would always assume that it was the pipes or the wind. Then I would look at the time. Frequently, I would wake at really odd hours like exactly 3am or one minute before midnight. My first thought would be, cool time. My second thought would be about how weird it was. Then, after dismissing my active imagination, I would conclude that it was either coincidence or I had a really cool sleeping mechanism. After that, I would realize that I hadn’t prayed and a sense of gratefulness would arrive. Maybe God sent an angel to wake me up. Maybe I got a special angel just to wake me up, like a guardian angel. That would be pretty cool. Maybe the sound I had heard was the sound of its wings... etc. My mind can wander. Sorry.

There are times when I enter a new place and get the chills. Have you ever experienced that? It’s like the area has an odd and eerie vibe to it. I suddenly feel like someone, or something, is watching me. Then my imagination goes wild and creates a few scenarios about things that pop up in the dark and things that can go through walls and other solid objects. Then I’d become as twitchy as a cat and scare myself silly. In the end, after nothing strange happens (thankfully), I would conclude that I have watched too many horror movies and my mind would certainly drive me insane if I don’t hammer some sense into it.

At times I can be so logical that feelings have a hard time coming through to keep me humane. Other times, my imagination will conquer all. Meanwhile, I hate the feeling of being scared. It is consuming and prevents me from being productive and effective. I wish the logic would excel in this field.

Several sources have made me believe that ghosts aren’t real. All those frightening creatures are just forms that Jinn and Satan created to disturb humans and destroy their faith. This fact is both food for logic and a consolation for me. I hope this belief doesn’t waver.

I hope I never have any more frightening experiences, as intriguing as they are. My imagination is enough to keep me occupied.

No more horror movies for me, then.


  1. First, i would like to say thank you for responding my writing challenge, I think u are real a story teller, when i read this story, it feels like as if i am involved inside.

    I'm sure the mystical experience had happened to everyone even it once or twice in a lifetime, and i notice at least u had 3 times such an experience. For the first experience, I think i agree with your father, when we got a fever sometimes a hallucination come with it.
    For the second one, i think your friend has watched too many pocong movies lol
    But I think most of mystical experiences start from the feeling of being scared, that's only our feeling, but in fact there is nothing worry there :)

    I also have the mystical experience, but i have found the answer why did it happen, you can read it on

    1. Hi Seagate! I'm glad you found this post quickly. It is my pleasure, and I hope to finish your other challenge later;)

      Really? I'm glad you like it. I love telling stories, as a hobby. But usually it is just in the form of a bedtime story to my little brother.

      Yeah... I agree with my father 'till now too. It's good that I get the privlige of forgetting the hallucinations too.

      Haha... yeah, maybe they have watched too many pocong movies. It's good that I don't like them at all. But I like the scary western horrors. The ghosts look different-,-"

      Okay, I'll check it out. Thanks for the link!

  2. lumayan merinding bacanya nay.. baidewei. aku dulu suka banget lo seri goosebumpsnya RL Stine.. tapi sekarang kalau baca lagi kok kayaknya biasa ja ya.. heheh

    1. iyakah? seneng donk aku.. hehe;) makasi amel

      Iya, aku juga tp waktu zaman SD. Aku setuju... emang ga serem lagi, ga dapet kesan seperti dulu... apa karena tontonannya udah lebih serem ya? hehe

  3. ih awas atas lemari kmu nayaaaaaa hahahaa. dutty