Guard Post No 9
I was doing my national service at Selarang Barracks some thirty years ago when this incident happened.
Selarang Barracks was built in 1938, and housed the British Army Infantry Regiment.
When the Second World War broke out, the Japanese invaded Singapore. They occupied Singapore from 1942 to 1945. During the occupation period, they used this camp as a 'Prisoner-of-war camp'.
The Japanese were cruel to the prisoners—I don't know how many POWs must have died there by the end of the occupation. Anyway, after the Second World War, the camp was taken over again by the colonial peace keeping forces: the British, Australian and New Zealand forces. In 1971, the camp was handed over to The 42 SAB and The 42nd Singapore Armoured Battalion.
The camp, as I remember, was bathed in an eerie atmosphere. I suppose the ghosts of the POWs who had died there could have lingered on.
One night, I was on guard duty detail, so my sergeant ordered me to guard Post Number 9. The number I will always remember.
When my sergeant, a heavy set man who had to stop to breath after walking a hundred paces or so, picked me to guard Post 9, there was a murmur from the other guards. It made me wonder why, but I didn't bother much about it then.
When we were dismissed from the parade, the other guards joked that I would pee in my pants before the night was over. Of course, I didn't believe them. I was never a believer of this kinds of things. If anything, I liked busting myths of these sorts.
So, there I was, walking leisurely to my post, which was quite a distance from the other posts, when I heard a howl. It sounded as if an animal was in excruciating pain.
I shook my head and sighed in disbelief at the immaturity of my fellow guards.
After some distance of walking, I turned a corner and saw the legendary Post Number 9. It stood serenely amid thin smog. It did look like a scene from a horror movie—an upright, near dilapidated shack in the middle of nowhere with its moon shadow sharp and black on the cracked tarmac. The moon was hanging midway from the zenith and the horizon, so its light created strong highlights on the shinny areas of the zinc roof. The entire scene was picturesque. If only I had a camera.
I have always been attracted to serenity and darkness, but this picture was different. The night was still, too still. There was no leaf swaying or insect buzzing, just the dull sound of my heels digging into the tarmac.
I kicked some dried leaves out of the post floor and put my M16 down. There was no real need to be vigilant, I thought. "Who was going to infiltrate this old laid back camp, anyway?" I muttered to myself and sat down on the floor.
It was a cold night, so the air felt kind of icy. I snuggled up against the inside corner of the shack and shut my eyes. The night was uncannily silent, even the ringing in my ears was not bothering me.
A while later, I heard footsteps. It must be Sergeant Tan checking in on me, I thought. I sprang up, slung my M16 over my shoulder, and stood vigilant in the booth. I waited and waited, hoping to have the last laugh seeing him astonished to find me on the ball. No one walked by. Frowning, I popped my head out. There was no one! But I swear I heard footsteps!
Since I was already kind of alert, I kept on standing vigil in the booth and began to wonder about all the stories I had heard regarding Post Number 9. Are they true? I wondered for a moment. Naaaah, I wasn't going to start believing just because I thought I heard footsteps. But the thought of the stories had kept me excited, and I couldn't keep them out of my head for some reason. So, I sat at the doorway of the booth and looked at the beautiful moon, trying to get my mind off the spooky stories surrounding Post Number 9. I thought about my girlfriend; holding her hand, kissing her neck, and much more. It worked. I became relaxed and even enjoyed the peace.
It must have been two hours since I arrived at Post No. 9. There were absolutely no spooky incidents whatsoever apart from the footsteps I had heard. I was getting quite bored, so I wondered about one of the stories' claims that I could ask for 4D numbers[like a lottery]. I thought I would test it for myself.
I searched for paper in my pockets, and found a few used bus tickets. I tore the tickets into smaller pieces and wrote numbers zero to nine; one number on one torn piece. Then, I crushed the small pieces of paper into tiny balls. I picked up a thin straight twig from the ground and placed it in front of me as a marker. My idea was to toss the crushed paper balls against the wall of the post and let them bounce off it. The ball that crossed the twig and landed the closest to me would be my first number. I'd repeat the process and get 4 numbers that way.
I tossed the ten tiny paper balls against the corroded zinc wall and they bounced back. Some crossed the twigs and some did not. The ball that came closest to me was the number 9. What a coincidence, I thought. I crushed the number 9 piece and added it back to the bunch. I tossed the ten balls the second time. They bounced back and I picked the ball nearest to me. I started to unwrap it. I hadn't even fully unwrapped the paper when the other nine balls suddenly LEAPED off the floor and jumped across the twig towards me!
I GASPED, SPRUNG UP, AND RAN!
I was running and screaming my lungs out when I heard someone shouting, "Stop! Stop soldier!"
I didn't stop. I kept running towards him. I thought I saw him lifting his rifle and pointing it at me. But I didn't care. Shoot me! Kill me! I didn't care. I kept running towards him. It was my sergeant, and he knew I was not endangering him so he put down his rifle and grabbed me by the collar when I got to him.
“What the F__K are you doing? Why are you running? Where's your rifle?” My sergeant's megaphone voice blasted at my face.
“I DON'T CARE SERGEANT! CHARGE ME! DO WHAT YOU WANT! I'M NOT GOING BACK THERE!”
"GET BACK IN THERE!" he screamed at me. "AND WHERE THE F__K IS YOUR RIFLE?"
I didn't go back in the booth, of course. My sergeant called for a couple of guards from the command post and they escorted me back. My sergeant took my ID card and pushed me into a cell. “I will charge you tomorrow,” he said and left.
I didn't speak about it to anyone until morning. The other guards laughed and teased me. They had made a believer out of a skeptic, so they had good reason to bask in victory. Even my sergeant laughed and shook his head in disbelief.
Hearing about my bizarre experience had caused him to change his mind about charging me for leaving my guard post. He gave me my ID back and laughed some more at my wet camouflaged pants.
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Posted - 9 May 2009