At the Dorm
It happened five years ago on my first day at my new school’s dorm—just the very first day. I was at first very glad to know that there were only a few girls staying; ‘more people means more problems,’ I believed.
“Gimme back, Onni!!” her eyes turned red and watery.
“Wan’ it? Come get it yourself! Duh,” Yuri mocked, raising even higher, a pink plastic cup with ‘Ga-Eun’ marked on.
“Knock it off, will ya?” Pollyanna cut in; she looked annoyed but coolly paced past them to the sink where I was standing. “How long have they been fooling around?” she sighed, sharing the water from the sink to wash her cup. The two girls were still making boisterous noises behind.
“Just now,” I replied, taking my cup off the sink and rubbing it dry with the cloth from the wall.
Ga-Eun was still jumping and screeching at Yuri, a year-seven student who was way taller and bigger in mass than herself, who was half the size of Yuri. Watching the little fifth-grader struggling for her cup, I shook Pollyanna’s sleeve, demanding her to do something. Pollyanna just smiled, still focusing on wiping her cup. Then after a brief second, she turned to me and grinned. “Everything is just fine, man,” tapping on my shoulder, she walked off the kitchen.
I stood perplexed at the corner, watching my new Taiwanese roommate in her white shorts, revealing her perfect slim long legs. Pollyanna was in year eight but was already fourteen—only a year younger than me. I was in year ten—seemingly to be the only senior at this dorm.
But I was wrong. There were other seniors in this dorm.
Thinking back carefully, what Pollyanna said seemed right—it’s just fine. Even though it was my first day here, I could somewhat see that these two girls would turn out to be just the same. Yuri and Ga-Eun were both Korean girls. They sat together on the bus, as I saw today, and also stayed together in the same room. On the bus was when I started to get to know each of them. Seated myself alone at the second row, I observed; my dorm friends were spaced out in a few rows behind. Yuri was saying something to Ga-Eun who was also listening attentively. They smiled, laughed, and all of a sudden raised their voices, scowled, and turned to laugh again. Yuri was tallest and biggest among us—she may seem stout, but she still looked immature to me. Ga-Eun was the youngest girl of this dorm, so she kept calling everyone ‘Onni’, meaning ‘older sister’. The real stout was actually sitting next to my row—my stouthearted Pollyanna. She sat alone, listening to her MP3 player, looking outside the window. Her fair face was appealing under her silky long hair lying on her honey slim hand. Regardless of her Asian good looks, her independent character really impressed me.
Yet, there were also two other girls, sitting together at the far end of the bus—so far and distantly that I could not clearly perceive them. Despite that, I had already heard about them, the so-called strange Indonesian sisters of the girls’ dorm. Their room was right opposite Yuri and Ga-Eun’s room, just next to my room.
Just before the bus came to pick us up, Yuri, Ga-Eun, and Pollyanna came to introduce themselves to me. I was so glad to know that I could already make new friends just on the first day.
Chatting for a while, Yuri suddenly rose up an issue; the one that seemed to petrify little Ga-Eun whose little white face turned even paler. Yuri began the story by saying that many students had left the dorm because the Indonesian sisters scared them away. Ga-Eun became speechless. I gawked at each of them—completely lost. Pollyanna goggled, turning away indifferently.
After a minute of uneasy pause, Ga-Eun uttered, “I—I--I don’t like them.” Then she continued, mumbling, about the night when she saw the twins’ fingers from under the door’s gap, clacking and giggling. Yuri firmly nodded and started to tell us about when both of them woke up with a fright in the middle of the night as they heard the door banging hard over and over again.
I turned to Pollyanna for some explanations. She did not seem to respond but kept looking down the street. Sitting apprehensively, I felt a chill running down my spine, accelerating my heartbeat, but I forced myself to stay calm. It must be like a joke for a new-comer like me, so I must stay calm.
Just then, the bus arrived.
Everyone had their plates ready for dinner. Yuri was still teasing her small roommate. Ga-Eun pouted. Pollyanna had already started scooping some soup. Other girls I still did not know were chuckling with each other.
CLUNK!! A spoon was dumped aside a loaded plate, rice scattered off. Yuri gaped; her hand stopped dead right above the plunked spoon; she sat frozen. Alarmed by the sudden clunk, voices on the table became choked up and gradually faded. One-by-one, from where Yuri was seated—at the opposite end of the table—started turning to my direction, following with Yuri’s eyes. Pollyanna, seated at the edge on my left, did not physically turn; she sat still for a brief second and gave me a tap on my lap under the table. What? Bewildered, I gawked back at Pollyanna.
Something or someone was approaching behind me. I kept myself sitting still, waiting for the explanation for the unexpected silence. Auntie stepped out of the kitchen door; she must have noticed the tension.
“What--” she paused, “Oh, you two just woke up? Come and get yours before everything finished up.”
A girl with dark shoulder-length hair slowly paced to the table, closely followed by another girl with the same height but slightly thinner and yellower; her dark hair was tied up, seemingly short. Both stopped at the rice pot close to my right—it was so close that I could sight their blank red eyes through their thick glasses. They were just incredibly alike.
“Girls,” Auntie broke off the silence, “if y’all don’t want to eat, I’ll get everything cleaned up in an instance!”
Yuri wiped out her mess, still eyeing up to the same direction. I interrupted her with my glare, so she ducked her head and continued eating. Everyone else tensely kept silent; no one dared scoop any more beef curry. The vegetables stayed untouched.
So I uttered, “Pollyanna, can you pass me the veggies?”
Pollyanna raised her eyebrows, handing me the dish quietly.
I did not reply. The table stayed quiet. The twins were still scooping rice and curry into their plates. I offered it to the twins. “Would you like some?” I said.
Yuri coughed; she stopped eating. I glanced but did not say a word to her.
“Thank you,” whispered the girl in front. It was so soft that I could hardly hear it. She slowly took some of the vegetables and bit by bit placed them in to her sister’s plate. Slowly and quietly, every one of her movements took time to progress. The short-haired placed the lid on the pot, and both paced to the sofa to have their dinner, leaving everyone else on the table stunned.
After the tense dinner, I headed up to my room. Before I took the first flight, I hesitantly turned to the sofa, but there was already no one. My head was still mulling over the stories at school—stories about the twins. My eyes were staring blankly at each step I walked; not actually heading up front.
“Ah! Sor--” I felt the flash of frost. I had just banged into someone.
It was one of the sisters—the younger one, I supposed. Her eyes were chilling and strangely completely black; her stare at me was mysteriously empty. I stood stiff in front of her, eyes wide open, hearing no other voices than the winds moaning. How long have I been standing here? I felt like my face was only an inch away from her pale motionless face. I could smell her breath; it was as awful as something rotten. I did not know if it was her breath or the wind that it was so chilly and hair-raising. Then gradually, she walked past my rigid body down the stairs. I could hardly hear her steps—her movement was cold, smooth, and slow—like she was floating down. I wanted to apologize, but no words came out; my mouth was frozen. Then my head said that I must walk up. Instead, I ran up the stairs to my room in an instant, flung the door close and plunked myself down on my bed.
The moment at the stairs kept flashing back. I felt her skin; it was ice-cold. The chill crept up on my spine, and I hid myself under the blanket.
Slowly looking up the ceiling, I noticed that the room was dark. I grabbed my cell phone to check the time—01:01. I was shocked at what I read. Realizing that I had not yet ironed my uniforms for tomorrow, I rose and ran off the room at once.
The entire dorm was in pitch black, except the small light coming from my cell phone. I slowly stepped down, so carefully that I would not slip off the stairs.
WHOOSH! I turned abruptly to the balcony—the sliding door was left open. All the monsters outside began relentlessly swaying their twigs and branches as the furious night blast fiercely blustered inside the bleak hall. The clothes rack was still left outside; shirts and skirts were waving intensely under the moonlight. WHOOSH! Chilly and shivering, I headed to the lonesome balcony. The rack was full of shirts, skirts and vests. The night blast was howling, hitting me with freezing thrust. Why did they leave it out here? I frowned, dragging the rack into the hall, sliding the door close. I heaved a sigh, trying not to look outside the balcony. I gazed warily at the clothes—they were all just the same. Peeking through one by one, I remembered marking my name somewhere at the bottom. I had to get out of there as soon as possible.
Thunderstruck, I was suddenly stabbed harshly on my back; unintentionally hit the hangers off the rack. I could hear it, my heartbeat, bumping out of me. I grasped the rack pole, panting. My mind scattered apart. What was that?! A sudden shriek—a sudden blood-curdling shriek. Then there were noises of feet stamping above my head, doors banging. What happened up there?! The scream was surely from the second floor. I wanted to run up, but my legs were rooted.
The door was flung open, just opposite from where I stood. It was auntie’s room. She stood out of the bright light coming from her room. I squinted.
“Who’s that right there?!” she asked me.
“It’s me, auntie, it’s--” Before I finished my words, auntie switched on all the lights and ran up straight away. It took me a few seconds to follow her up. My body could not stop shivering.
And I ran up.
The second floor was already filled with the other girls standing nervously in front of the twins’ room; Ga-Eun was crying, hugging tightly Yuri who was also trembling; other girls were grouped together, voices whispering. It seemed like they already knew the situation. They all looked alarmed.
Auntie immediately banged the door open without knocking. After a second, the wooden door squeaked open, gradually revealed the room—everyone was shocked by what they saw.
The room was full of dolls. Some were hanging upside-down; some were cut apart; some were staring at us, looking creepily alive. In the middle of the room, the twins were sitting together on their single bed, hugging each other, sobbing.
Some girls started crying out. Ga-Eun was weeping, and dragged Yuri back to their room. I stood stunned—did not believe what I had just seen. Pollyanna walked slowly to me, her eyes still staring inside the room; she held my hand tight.
What happened? No one could give me answers at the moment. My stomach was going crazy. The hall was spinning, becoming vague. I felt like I was not standing straight; it seemed slightly slanting left and right--left and right--left and right. Stop it! I felt so dizzy. I fe---Whoosh!
“Onni! Onni!” everything was blurred; I rubbed my eyes and I saw Yuri’s face, shaking me really hard. I raised my hand as a sign for her to stop; otherwise, I would have possibly thrown up. I slowly sat up. I was on my bed. I turned to Yuri and saw Ga-Eun sitting behind her, along with Pollyanna. They were all looking at me worriedly.
“Are you okay? You look sallow,” said Yuri.
I raised my eyebrows, trying to compose myself.
Then I recalled--The scream, the room, the twins.
“What happened?! Is everyone okay?” I exclaimed. Turning around for the response, everyone looked perplexed, giving me back no words. Then I asked again, “C’mon guys, what happened to the twins?! Are they okay?!”
Out of the blue, three of them looked shocked. I became even more confused.
“Wh--who told you about the twins?” mumbled Pollyanna. It was the first time I saw her looking insecure. ‘But wait,’ I froze, ‘why on earth did she say that? Was I dreaming?’
“Err—wasn’t there--well--umm--like a scream last night?”
Wordless—I did not expect this silence.
“Ye—yeah,” Pollyanna disrupted the tension, raising her dark eyebrows.
Her reply made me feel so stupid; they were looking at me like I had gone mad. I created another awkward moment, thinking. If I was not dreaming—then there was really a scream. “So tell me what happened to the twins?!” I raised my voice.
The same question seemed to get into them very clearly now—just by their looks. They were taken aback and started turning swiftly left and right to each other. Yuri glared at Ga-Eun who kept shaking her head, “I said NOTHING!”
“Guys! Guys! Just give it up, okay? You two were telling me about them before the bus came, REMEMBER?” I panted, “Besides, you all were standing RIGHT THERE in front of the twins’ room!” I paused again, breathing, “So tell--”
“BUT WE DID NOT TELL YOU THEY WERE TWINS!!” shrieked out Yuri.
I was completely shocked, eyes widely open. ‘They did not?’ My heart drumming fiercely disrupted me from reflecting back.
“S—So what?!” I started to mumble, “I--I saw them, didn’t I?!—o--on the bus, an--and at the dining room, a--and also inside their room,”
Yuri turned pale. Ga-Eun was about to cry. Pollyanna was glaring at me.
“The twins--the twins left this dorm last year, Jesse,” uttered Pollyanna, “They left the school as well—and never came back.”
“Th--then wh--who did I see at th--” I shivered.
“Did you mean the new auntie?” Pollyanna gaped, “She’s the strictest one we’ve ever had,” pausing, “Anyway, Jesse, ever since they left, the room was not in use; no one wanted to stay there,”
“But Auntie Meg,” Yuri cut in, “She volunteered to stay there,” eyes turning red, “a--an--and last night, she just saw a rat, a fake rat,”
“From the boys,” Pollyanna continued, “they climbed to her room the night before. They hate her.”
I sat stunned, horrified. ‘No way. I saw them. I really saw them. Auntie Marry also said from the kitchen, I remembered; she said: You two just wok… Hold on. They were right. It was you too. Auntie did not say two but she meant you also’
I sat still on my bed, bewildered. I felt again a sharp cold, hearing Ga-Eun or maybe Yuri sobbing. I felt like the world was frozen.
Then I heard someone giggling in my head.