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Don't look behind you

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People say that if you're walking alone... if you saw any supernatural creatures, don't call out to them. If they called on you, don't answer.

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"People say if you're walking by yourself... if you saw any supernatural beings, don't call out to them. If they called on you, don't answer. Because then they will know that you saw them, can hear them... then they'll follow you. And they might harm you..."

Rosnita immediately shook her head. "Yeah right, you liked telling these kinds of stories... isn't it? As if things like that going to ever happen. Who knows if it's just people making pranks, and you had yourself fooled."

Khai immediately scolded the girl. "Hey! What lies, this is all true. My friend was the one that experienced this—a girl—two years ago. She was the one that told me... on the same day when she had the incident. It happens that there was an event organized around the neighbourhood area, she helped in the organization of the event. A lot of my other friends also came to the event, gathering to meet each other annually. She didn't feel comfortable after that incident, so when she saw me she told everything that happened to her."

He smiled. "These kinds of supernatural stuffs, we shouldn't quickly assumed all of them are fictional. But we shouldn't fear it too much, since it will lead to apostasy. For fearing the supernatural beings more than you feared God..."

Rosnita hastily apologized. "But... have you seen these supernatural things?" Cos... you know, considering it's a free-for-all activities right now... we're having a test of courage session. And suddenly we started telling ghost stories to each other...!

"I have... several times. My housing area had some very haunted spots... so occasionally you can see some stuff. And sometimes, with my friends... we did a bit of our own 'ghost hunts'. Once we went to this very haunted spot... whoa! Suddenly you sensed this unexplained presence, it sent shivers to the bones!"

Hearing that made Rosnita's blood ran cold. And the other members inside their little group also gave different reactions to the story; some were scared, sceptical... and some just laughed wholeheartedly, amused seeing how many of them were so easily scared by such silly story told by their senior.

"What happened after that, on the story you told earlier? You said it's your friend. How did she ended up into that situation?" A girl named Jessica Liew who sat beside Rosnita, asked. Geez, why did you have to ask about it even more? I'm already scared stiff over here! If I can't sleep tonight, who will take the blame?

Khai laughed. "Alright, I'll resume the story. Like I said, my friend was helping out in this event. It was a big group of like-minded friends organizing a fan-event, held every year. Because of that, she was required to come early. Since her house was not that far, she came straight from home. It's only a half-hour long trip if you take the train." Khai sighed, as he took a sip from his drink to quench his thirst.

"My friend unexpectedly started out a bit too early, she forgot that this station she was going to get to... opened a a bit late. Since the station was undergoing a renovation. So she had to walk towards the station after, and took a little short-cut. The short-cut was this long lane behind this housing area. She occasionally used the short-cut before... at noon or mornings, late in the evenings; she never encountered any incidents to give her any concern. So she didn't expect anything to happen to her that day."

"So what happened?" asked Ashraf, as Rosnita kept eyeing her other classmates who still rooted for Senior Khai to finish his story.

"My friend took this lane...it was nearly dawn at that time. So she thought it should be okay. Who knows, at mid-way... she saw a silhouette sitting at the back of this one house. Fanning itself and around. It was weird... since who in their right minds would sit at the back of the kitchen around that time? It was very early in the morning, that the sun hasn't even out yet. She didn't think much about that, and resumed walking."

"Who'd expected it then, the more she got closer to the silhouette the clearer she could see it. The silhouette was sitting crossed-leg; one hand holding a thick paper to fan itself, another hand holding a long cane. She was looking from the corner of her eyes, she didn't dare looking straight at it. The silhouette looked like an aged old lady; wearing a baju kurung and had 'her' head covered with batik cloth. Somehow she recalled the image of her late grandmother in her mind. The moment she had all these realisation, suddenly that 'old lady' started hitting the floor rapidly with her cane! The closer she neared 'her', the more the knocking went rapid. She said at that time... it scared her almost to tears."

Mei Ling, who sad beside her and Jessica... suddenly grabbed on Rosnita's arm out of fright. "W-what... happened after?"

Khai stared at each of them closely. "That 'old lady' called towards her, giving a salaam. My friend without thinking had answered on reflex. Since people said that it was a sin to not answer a salaam. That 'old lady' suddenly spoke loudly, 'Are you a Muslim? If you are, keep on walking. But don't turn around and look behind you. There's a Djinn following behind you. Don't ever come over here again!' That, gave her a fright."

Jamal suddenly started laughing hilariously. "Don't look behind you? Isn't there a ghost movie with that title before? Haha... you guys are getting fooled by Senior Khai!"

"Yeesh!" Khai scolded. "That movie is just nonsense! It wasn't even scary. Even that friend of mine found it ridiculous. That movie don't even come close to what she had experience at that time! Don't even think to compare the two."

Jamal immediately clammed up as Khai resumed.

"My friend was worried and slowly nodded her head.. and kept walking. The 'old lady' started ranting in a foreign language, as if being mad at something. My friend by then was scared stiff... even to move her legs forward was difficult. Even after the adhan that signalled the arrival of subh, that uncomfortable dread she felt inside of her didn't go away. So she recited the various Quranic verses loudly by herself, over and over as she kept on walking."

"At first, it was hard to do since it felt as if she couldn't even utter a single sound. But she held on. The more she repeated the recitations, the louder her voice became. The more her feet gained speed and strength to immediately leave the area. She still didn't dare look behind her though, the words that 'old lady' gave her was still ringing inside her head. Once she reached the area where the next station was at, she immediately rushed towards the nearest mamak eatery that was open. Luckily there was a number of patrons there already, having their breakfast there. Only then she dared to look back towards the area she just walked past. It was a relief that nothing bad happened that day."

Rosnita stared at Khai suspiciously. "That's it? I thought it'd be so scary..." she said aloud, a bit cynical... even though she was feeling a bit scared. "It's not like there was an actual ghost!"

"Then... you want Senior Khai's friend to be disturbed by a Jinn?" snapped Sherina, a sweet girl who sat not far from her. Not so sweet at the moment though. Rosnita was silent.

"Luckily nothing happened... since my friend had no desire to see any supernatural beings," Khai continued, as if unaffected by the brief argument between Rosnita and Sherina. "Because before... her uncle had told her, if she had kept her prayers asking to be protected from these beings; asking so that her sight would be cleared... by god's will she'd be allowed the ability to see these invisible beings. She didn't want that... since she did have similar experiences before, being able to sense when there's supernatural presence nearby. Before, her family used to experience weird things... as there were people that used to want to attack them using supernatural means. She was also told before... that Djinns used to disturbed her many times without her knowing it. A religious scholar once told her that; when her family went to seek consultation... as there were problems with her elder sister."

"So when things like this happened... my friend didn't want to take it lightly. Because she didn't want to unknowingly attract unwanted beings towards her. Who would want for some supernatural beings to suddenly come to your home, causing harm to you?"

All of the gathered students expressed their agreements about that. For sure... just watching those horror movies was scary enough, who wanted those things to happen to them for real?

Other students started to asked the senior even more, as Khai added. The main reason his friend was concerned about the incident... was because of her family background. Her late grandfather used to know of the old Javanese language and was a translator for it. It was an old language often used by native shamans to communicate with the Djinns. She was a bit unsure if that was the same language she heard spoken by the 'old lady', but she couldn't forget about the incident on that day. Moreover, not long after, she thought she saw the same old lady at the same spot when she passed over that area.

Senior Khai added, since he and her friend had discussed more on it... his friend did have some other doubts about the incident. Was that 'old lady' just a normal person that wanted to warn her about the presence of another Djinn... or the Djinn was the 'old lady' herself. Khai added that his friend used to see—or thought she saw—the appearance of a 'nenek kebayan'. From some legends, it's said that 'nenek kebayan' was a witch or an old granny from the supernatural world who wields evil magic. Or something like that. And from what she remembered, the two did somehow looked similar...

"My friend had mused, that perhaps there was a hidden grace from that incident. Because... if she hadn't replied the salam, perhaps she'd have gotten it worse. Perhaps the Djinn would have tried to press her to answer... or worse, do something even scarier to make her react to them. She thought... that the hidden grace was; that now she have a stronger faith that as long as we remembered our religious teachings and kept it to our hearts, God will always watch and protect us from harm."

That night, all of the students kept discussing the story between themselves and the lesson it taught them. It can be said... even after the motivational camp ended, some of the students still mentioned the story in passing. They even met the senior often to talk about even more ghostly tales!

Rosnita didn't like that at all, she always tried to forget she ever heard of such tales. It's not like she hoped to experience that situation herself, so there was no need to ponder about the many possibilities how the situation could have gone bad. Like what could have happen if the friend had looked behind her... or if she hadn't answered and having the old lady come closer, just to make the senior's friend admit that she could see them. Or anything else that could have happened after.

What's the point of doing that? Besides scaring herself...

It was almost dusk as Rosnita came home to the countryside. There was a new construction site near the housing area where he family house was at. So she decided to take another short-cut, in order to reach her home. Even if this lane was not the one she was familiar with, she had lived in this corner of the countryside for a long time. It's impossible for her to consider the thought that she could even get lost here.

Rosnita smiled as she thought about meeting her family members again after months being away. Oh, how she missed them...

Suddenly, an unfamiliar voice called out towards her. The voice gave a salaam to Rosnita. Immediately she froze.

"Don't look behind you..."

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