Under The Bed
There was once a fine young gentleman from the north peninsular coming to Kuala Lumpur for business trips. Not much of a big business, really. Just some hand-made small trinkets, little amulets that brings no good luck, little rings made from beads, and also some key chains of wooden voodoo figures. But there’s a similarity in big and small businesses if you know how to save. The fine young gentleman had his lifetime savings put in a wooden box and carried it wherever he goes. When one becomes rich, he attracts friends. But he did not see the storm coming.
Words are spread, even if it was meant to be kept a secret. The legend of the wooden box circulated around the gentleman’s friends. So they made a deal to steal from the fine young gentleman. In case you didn’t know, wealth is indeed more important than friendship. It was not a hard work either, since they’ll all know that he will be staying in one of the hotels in Kuala Lumpur. The three companions set out for his wealth. It took them one gruelling day just to get to Kuala Lumpur. After asking around for his whereabouts, they pin-pointed at one location, the hotel the fine young gentleman was staying in.
All three of them entered the hotel room. It was dark. They are clever indeed. They know the fine young gentleman would set off to open his stall in Petaling Street every night. They all know that he would be selling his stupid trinkets. The three companions had once told the fine young gentleman that all his plans would never work and it sounds stupid.
“You can’t get rich by selling trinkets! What a stupid idea!”
Well, what’s the point of having friends if not for them to put you down?
So he set out still, eager to prove himself. It doesn’t matter how small your assets are, it’s all about your plans. And there he is with a box of wealth in his arm. But his friends won’t just accept their defeats. So they steal the victory. The prize.
The room was turned upside down in hopes they would find a wooden box of any size. They swore and grunted under their breaths for there were still no signs of the wooden box. The meek young gentleman, tired after a long hard night at the streets opens the door of the hotel room to find it barged in and scoured by his three friends. One of the three companions pulls out a hammer from his pockets and delivered a crushing blow on the gentleman’s temple. If you were there, you can almost hear the sounds of bones cracking, just like the sound when you cracked open a fresh coconut. It was not enough to kill him.
So the three adversaries tied him up on a chair and used some safety pins for unsafe reasons. They pinned the eyelids of the gentleman to his forehead, so he can’t close his eyes. What a beautiful display of torture. One of the three had once interrogated a Communist back in his days. It was just convenient that the gentleman had torchlight in his room.
The gentleman thought it was light at the end of the tunnel. You know, heaven? But he was wrong. He got tossed out of heaven and back into the world, where all hell comes alive. He woke up with a scream, realising that his face was wet with tears. But tears can never be thick and drooling, it was blood. He realised it too. Blood had that kind of faint smell of rust, and he had that all over his face. He screamed and tried to close his eyes to hide from the light. But the more he tried, the more he suffered. His eyelids were about to tear from the pulling pressure and the safety pins. What wrong had he done in this world to deserve this? Success, that’s what it is.
One of the three questioned the gentleman about his revered wooden box. Despite all this pain, he wouldn’t tell it. Wealth is more important than life.
The gentleman uttered his famous last words: “I wouldn’t tell it to you. And the wooden box shall never be revealed ever again after I died.”
The Communist interrogator then said, “So be it.”
And they duct taped the gentleman’s mouth, took a table to put the torchlight on it facing the gentleman’s unclosing eyes. They closed the door and let the gentleman bathe in the light until he dies.
He will give out. It’s just a matter of time before his eyes absorbed too much light and popped out from his eyes. He wanted to scream, but can’t. He wanted to cry, but his eyes were already drooling with blood, even tears aren’t visible anymore. He twisted and groaned, as his eyes started to sting. He could feel it throbbing at the back of his head as he twitched around like a kitten in a frying pan. So meek, so voiceless. How would it feel to be tortured but can’t scream?
His eyeballs started to narrow, as a result from the torchlight. He prayed and cried to God, hoping that the ropes binding him would break. Or at the least, his eyelids would tear to let him close his eyes. He wanted to bite his own tongue but his mouth was duct-taped, no bite is enough to end his life but left his tongue slightly chewed off. Can you imagine a worse way to die? That was just sad.
Tomorrow finally comes, the three friends come in to clean up the mess. The face of the dead gentleman was swollen; all sorts of mucus ran through his nose and eyes. His eyes, of course, popped out. And just when we began to wonder that eyes are round in shape, the gentleman’s eyes trail out from the socket, and there were a bunch of veins attached to the end of his eyeballs. Looks somewhat like a cartoon.
The three companions stuffed the good dead friend into a large plastic bag and stuffed it under the bed with hopes to hide it. But it’s just the matter of time before the smell spreads through the whole hotel. The whereabouts of the wooden box remains unrevealed ever since.
“Beggars can’t be choosers.” I muttered as I looked around the hotel room. The keeper left the room after he left the keys on the table. The good thing about this room was the maintenance; the keeper comes in regularly to clean it. But the wallpaper seems like they are about to be scraped off anytime I bumped into it. The fans are creaking in every spin.
The room screams out the horrors hidden in every patches of the wall. The wallpaper of roses and tulips wilted, losing its essence of life each time I gazed upon it. The chair and the table – the so-called ‘makeup’ table, rusted and seemed to have survived the wars in the past. I always had a nightmare after looking at this particular piece of furniture. I had always imagined a face forming from the patches of dust in the mirror. Especially at night. Evil takes its form at night.
A radio with a blooming flower as the speaker caught my attention. I don’t know whether this should be called a radio or not. There should be a fancy word to describe this device. I bet this thing wouldn’t work anymore. The dust on that whole thing tells everything.
This hotel sure is historical. Not so sure whether it would attract tourists, though.
I went for the bed. Nicely maintained. No speck of dust on it. But there’s a large patch of black rust under the bed. I would be an idiot to think this was blood.
I took out my packet of Marlboros and lit one up as I sat myself on the sofa and crossed my legs on the coffee table. I looked outside through the balcony to see the streets before my iPhone rang.
“Yeah, what do you want?”
It was my boss. That son of a bitch. He was the one who put me in this rat’s nest in the first place. I was sitting in my cubicle two days before he invaded my space of work and threw a bunch of files on my desk. It was a business proposal with some big guys in KL. Which means I need to take 2 hours trip to reach there. Just when I thought I could stay in some 3-star hotel at the least, he threw me into this dusty pit. Cheap ass.
“You’d better promote me after this.”
I switched off my phone and rested on the sofa.
It’s been a long time since I stayed in hotels. My last time was in Genting Highlands Resort. Not a great experience though. My pockets were emptied in one night. Bunch of swindlers. Never will believe in casinos anymore. You can never win in a casino. That’s where they find their income for those big ass statues at the entrance. They never spend without profits. It was that very night I spent drinking all my problems away and had to call my nephew to fetch me tomorrow morning.
Not to mention that most hotels are haunted, no matter what country you’re in. You could sleep on the bed alone to find that you had another bed mate at 2.59 am. It sucks. Judging by the looks of this room, I would most probably find a ‘bed mate’. Best sleep early.
But first, I need to see my client.
My second-hand Proton Saga squeaked as I pushed one of the buttons on my car keys. I looked at myself in the rear-view mirror while I licked my fingers and fondled my hair. The watch on my wrist states 3.30 pm. The meeting was supposed to start at 3.
Phone calls had been coming in all the while I was driving, asking me where the hell I am right now. At some point, I shouted to them.
“Better late than never! You’re going to get me killed!”
I was driving – speeding at that. What are they thinking?
15 minutes later, I arrived at their company. Barging in through the meeting room door, I got myself half an hour scolding before I could proceed and sell my merchandise.
Few hours later of what seemingly an autopilot of my life, I found myself in Starbucks grabbing myself a sandwich and one expensive coffee. I think of how miserable my life was. Having to work like a dog and having to stay in that crappy hotel.
I was born as a meek child and I have fears for the dark. Not too proud to admit but I rarely sleep alone. Perhaps the thing that gains the most worry from me is not the business trip itself, but how to get through the night.
I drove myself back to that forsaken pit and crossed my fingers that my business proposal would get through. After all, I should end up with a raise and more importantly, back to my own room.
Pulling out the set of hotel keys from my pockets, I noticed a faint light coming out from the slit underneath my door. Was it the hotel clean-up crews? Behind my back, I noticed another guest turning the knob of his hotel door. As he opened the door to his room, I took a glimpse at how perfectly decorated his room is. I would give it 3 stars in comparison of my no-star room. But then again, I couldn’t help but wonder why the hell is my room so bad in shape? And more intriguingly, why does it seem like I was the only one who had ever booked in to that room?
I called the guy as he was about to enter his room.
“Hey uh, is your room the same as any of the other guests here? Or are you a VIP or something?”
The guy adjusted himself as he was plunged into the middle of the conversation with a stranger.
“Well, I don’t know. I asked for a regular room. Why?”
I laughed a little and said, “Why, you ask?”
And I slot in the keys into my room. As I turned the knob, I could see the faint light from underneath the door gradually vanished. The door opened with a loud creak. I pushed the light switch and I could hear him gasp a little.
“Yeah, that is why,” I said, feeling the little rip-off that the hotel crew had pulled on me.
“That can’t be. If my room would be in the same hallway as yours, it should be the same suite. The same package,” the guy muttered, putting his head into my room to inspect. “Maybe you should talk to the keeper downstairs.”
“Yes, I will.” I said as I threw my business case into my room and locked the door again.
I approached the hotel keeper that previously escorts me into my room. He looked at me as if he knew I’d be coming down with complains. I put my fist on the counter.
“Would you tell me why I get that room while the others got the ‘normal’ ones?”
The keeper adjusted his glasses and adjusted his table as he said, “That was the only room left. The others were fully booked. I’m sorry but your company called in late and we have no other choice but to put you in that room since they insisted that we make a room for you.”
“But why didn’t the room maintained as the others?” I shouted a little. “When is the last time the previous guest stayed in that room?”
“I’m so sorry about the conditions in that room but it is our responsibility to keep the information of our previous guest from any other people.”
“Well, that was dumb. You know what? The least you could do was to clean up that mess!”
“We tried our best to maintain that room for you.” He said, “We did cut down the rental prices earlier for the conditions.”
“Screw you. Let me see the person in charge!”
“Well, I am the person in charge. Again, we’re sorry about the room and we suggest that you stay elsewhere and check out tomorrow morning.”
Where can I find another place to stay? I have no relatives or friends staying anywhere near this place. In fact, nobody I knew stays in Kuala Lumpur. I just dismissed him and walked back to my room as I made another complain to my boss. Of course, that wouldn’t change anything. He asked me not to whine so much and just stay in that damn room for one night and I’ll be out tomorrow. I took out my tie and unbuttoned my shirt as I approach the showers. I couldn’t help but wonder what’s the deal with those black rusts under my bed anyway. What did the previous guest do to make this kind of mess? Did he burn something? Or worse, were there any Satanic worship going on here? This place had better not be haunted. I’ve heard some cases where people involved with black magic and jampi stayed in some hotels and some entities that travelled with them never left the place.
The cold waters brushed down my neck as I reached for the hotel shampoo. I put my palm to my face as I sighed at the stressful events today. This should be the longest day ever in my life. As I removed my palms from my face, everything was pitch-black. The electricity was somehow cut off. I don’t know about whether this had occurred in hotels before, but this is the first time electricity was cut off in a hotel. I shouted and cursed at my fate.
Wrapping myself with the towels, I navigated through the bathroom to find some source of light that could at least help me find my clothes and the door. Through my unclosed bathroom door, there it is again. The faint yellow light. Where is it from? Was it some backup lighting from the hotel in case of electricity shutdown? The faint light turned on and off. For a split second, I could see it illuminate my bed. Then it was gone. And there it is again. I tried to walk over the light, but when the light goes on again, I saw something under the bed. I couldn’t make out what it is and I couldn’t care less. Eyes see things only when you imagine it, especially in the dark.
I resumed walking slowly to not trip over something and fall to my death. I was waiting for the faint light to come again. As it turned on again, I could see a face under the bed. Chills spiralled down my bone but it could just be an imagination. I grabbed on the hinge of my bathroom door as I tried to look for the light source. The faint light was gone. I grabbed on my T-shirt and shorts and hastily put it on me as I walked to the exit of the room. I could easily make it out as there were some fluorescent light coming from underneath the door. I turned over the knob and ran down to the lobby to confront the keeper again.
“Can you explain why does my room run out of electricity?”
The keeper should get tired of me by now. But not before I got tired of the management of this hotel.
“Are you sure? Well, that had never occurred to our hotel before.”
“It shouldn’t occur in any of other hotels too, including this crappy hotel.”
He laughed a little as I sensed some anger and frustration brewing inside him. He reached for his torchlight and walked with me back to my room. Awkward moments of silence drifted around us as we walked. I can’t strike up any decent conversation with him – anything that doesn’t concern any shortcomings about the hotel.
As the door of my room creaked open, I whispered “Hell, no.”
The light was on again. Not merciful enough to spare me from a moment of embarrassment. The keeper looked at me, pretended to be baffled. I put my heads down for a few seconds to savour my embarrassing 3 seconds.
“Well, good to have you back, electricity!” He broke the silence as he walked back to the lobby. “In case of another ‘electrical shutdown’, this torchlight will be handy.”
I gripped on the torchlight tightly. I watched him walk downstairs to greet more of his unsatisfied customers. I inspected the room’s lighting for a while. It baffles me too, how the lights can suddenly go off. But it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m actually looking forward to sleep as early as I could and get out of this hotel. I turned off lights as I walked into the room again.
I dropped the torchlight on the coffee table and slammed my face into the soft pillows. Ah, tranquil sleep. Finally. I slipped off my slippers with my other leg as I put both my feet on the bed and pulled the blanket over my body.
I lost track of how long I had slept, but it was still dark outside with no sign of any traffics. I looked around the room and wondered what woke me up. I tried hard to sleep again. I tossed and turned my body as I stopped moving, listening to a sound underneath my bed. What the hell was that?
I heard some scratching noise from under my bed. But that might be the sound of me tossing and turning. So I let myself into my sleep. I lied on my back with my hand sticking out of the bed to feel the breeze brushing against it. But I was jolted up from my sleep again as I feel something slapped my hand. At that point, I began to think all sorts of creepy thoughts. Did I mention that I was a freaking coward?
I tried putting my head on the edge of the bed as I heard another scratching noise coming from underneath. I tried not to move at all, but the sounds are still there. Which means one thing; I did not make those noises. There is someone under the bed. Oh, what am I thinking? Ghosts don’t exist. They don’t. They are just the fickle of human imagination.
I pulled the blanket over my head to stop myself from hearing those scratching noises. But then it starts to get intense as the noises transformed into somewhat a knocking sound. There is somebody knocking from underneath the bed. I can feel it so closely. From beneath the pillows, I can listen to someone knocking, the vibration so strong that it rattles my ears. Perhaps what I had seen earlier was real. Perhaps the ‘face’ I had seen was really existent and not my imagination. I closed my eyes tightly, praying that I would be asleep again. In a split second, I heard a muffled scream with vibrations enough to jolt me up again. I sat on the bed, not even have the guts to leave the bed. The torchlight on the table seems to be on and off. My forehead was full of sweat as I figured out how to leave the room without stepping in front of the gap underneath the bed.
The knocking sound turns into banging noise, as I ran out of my bed to grab my torchlight.
“Who... Who’s there?” My hands were shaking as I struggled to push the ‘on’ button on the torchlight. The light was on and I pointed it towards underneath the bed.
I let out a shattering scream as I moved backwards to reach the door. My feet caught on to something as I tripped. My vision turns darker and darker. The only sound I hear was someone’s muffled screams coming from under the bed.
“I didn’t know how this happened, sir.” The keeper was seen talking with a police holding a notepad. “Can you please not make this public? This will ruin my business.”
“Cool down, buddy. I’ll tell you what. There are no signs of struggle. It seems that he tripped over his suitcase and fell headfirst to the coffee table. No signs of foul play.”
“I would suggest you to close this room down. You know how people perceive rooms in which somebody died in.” The police added, “It’s for the sake of your business.”
The next day, the newspaper published the incident; the hotel’s name was obscured. Nobody knew what really happened except the hotel keeper.
The room in which the fine young gentleman died in was known by the keeper. After his murder, the keeper sealed it down for 12 years. After the 12 years, a company called in to demand for a room for one of his staffs to stay in. They ran out of room but was offered a large sum of money, as that business was really important and there were no other hotels anywhere in the range of 9 KM. So the keeper figured that it is time to reopen the old room. So they maintained it the day before the guest arrives. After all, things the customers didn’t know won’t hurt them. Superstitions stay as superstitions.
Seeing the first customer to stay in that room after 12 long years died of a freak accident; the keeper had no choice but to close it down again. And God forbid, some day, after a few more years, the room might be opened again for customers after the hotel management gets tired of its legend. And by that time, that customer won’t be haunted by just one ghost. This time it won’t be just one.
Other than that, nothing really changes after the incident.
The wooden box still remains unknown of its whereabouts.