Utown Auditorium 3 of NUS has always been one of my favourite auditoriums in school. Its lighting isn’t glaring which makes my eyes comfortable – sometimes comfortable enough for a short nap. The seats are soft and ergonomic, and there are charging points all over the floor so I can play with my phone without worrying it running out of juice.
It is the best auditorium to me, until this happened.
Now every Tuesday I have a lecture at Auditorium 3 from 4 to 6pm for a module called Cultural Industries. It is conducted by Professor Gui, whom I will just refer to Prof as we go on. That day I was particularly tired after a hectic weekend and a restless night of sleep – during lecture I felt myself nodding off every now and then. Prof’s voice was always soft, almost like a lullaby, and the dim lighting made it conducive for napping. I think I dozed off for a little while, but it wasn’t deep sleep, so I could hear the Prof’s voice in the background.
Before I knew it, in my semi-conscious state, I heard students getting up all around me and packing their stuff. I vaguely heard the Prof telling us that we would be doing the Creativity lecture next week and to prepare well for our tutorials. I felt my friend Sherlyn getting up next to me and I forced my eyes to open. Exhaustion was taking its toll on me, pulling my eyelids shut as I mumble my goodbyes to Sherlyn and headed off to the restroom to wash up.
After spending a good 20 minutes in the toilet as part of my post-lecture rituals, I decided to head back to the auditorium to catch a quick nap before meeting my friend for dinner. My lecture was the last one in the auditorium on that day, so I was certain there was going to be nobody.
I re-entered the auditorium. I was right – there was no one in sight.
The quiet hum of electricity – I suppose – was rather soothing and I fell back into a deeper slumber this time knowing there was nothing for me to listen to.
Sometime during my nap the humming seemed to get louder then softer. It eventually woke me up as I started to feel chilly. My mind was still blurred from my nap and I had the feeling that I was being watched. You know, that feeling of your lecturer staring a hole into your sleeping form as you snore away in class in utter oblivion. I put on my glasses and got a shock when I saw Ken, whom I was supposed to be meeting for dinner, sitting a few seats down the aisle from me, engrossed in his phone.
“OH SHUCKS” I cursed out loud checking for the time, it was almost 8pm.
“I am so so super sorry, I overslept, I was really tired and all,” I blustered to explain whilst stifling a yawn.
Ken make an absent-minded humming noise, eyes glued to his phone.
I stretched myself out in my seat and looked over at my friend. He was still engrossed in his phone.
Oh, he is probably playing Clash, I thought, let’s not distract him for now.
I yawned again and glanced around the auditorium. That was when I got a second shock.
Prof was standing at the lectern.
Okay, I know there is supposed to be nothing creepy about this. He could have forgotten some notes and came back for them, and in the mean time caught me sleeping in the auditorium after lecture. It is perhaps at worst somewhat embarrassing.
Yet, I felt a slow chill crawling up my spine as I stare at the figure of my prof on stage, behind the podium.
He wasn’t moving or doing anything in particular. Just staring into air past me.
What is he doing, what is he staring at, my mind flooded me with questions. I looked around and apart from the engrossed figure of my friend playing clash, there wasn’t anyone in the auditorium.
At this point of time my heart rate is slowly started to climb.
You have to imagine this: waking up slowly in a supposedly empty auditorium to see someone who looks exactly like your prof just staring past you like he is intensely focused on something.
I took a few calming breaths and felt relieved that I had my friend here with me. I started to pack up my stuff, planning to bring along all my stuff before dragging him out of his game.
Just as I was about to get out of my seat to walk towards him, my phone rang.
The caller was Ken.
I made a disbelieving sound and half laughed, saying loudly, “Geez, you are so lame.”
Then just for fun, I picked up the call.
Ken’s labored voice came over the phone, “YY where are you? Sorry I am a little late, making my way…”
The rest of his words were no longer heard by me as my heart skidded to a stop and I felt a wave of utter, indescribable fear washing over me. I opened my mouth in a bid to speak but the sheer intensity of the horror I felt left me tongue tied and I made a weird gurgling sound into the phone.
RUN I NEED TO RUN RUN RUN. My brain commanded.
My legs felt weak, like jelly and I spent the next 5 seconds frozen to the spot, not daring to turn in the direction where I knew my friend was originally seated at, playing his phone.
“Hello? Hello? Can you hear?” Ken’s voice was puzzled on the phone.
I stole a glance at the other “Ken” sitting at the seat before hastily crab-walking out of the aisle I was seated in. In my short glance, I realized that he wasn’t tapping on his phone or anything – just staring. Rather blankly.
He was humming.
The humming noise didn’t come from the lights or the electricity that I thought. It came from him. It was so subtle that I barely noticed.
I stumbled towards the door, and pushed at it with all my might then stumbled into the outer door, my heart beating a fierce rhythm against my chest. All of my hairs were standing on their ends and I felt like crying hysterically for some strange reason.
I met Ken after, and whoever the person sitting in the auditorium wasn’t him.
Nor do I believe the person standing at the lectern to be my professor.