90’s by June Ong

Let’s take a look at the 90’s,

An interesting decade filled with whimsical “niceties”.

Playing Mario, collecting mushrooms,

Watching the little red man jump across my screen could literally make my day.

Less violent cartoons: Powerpuff Girls,

C’mon seriously where else in the world do you get superheroes that help open pickle jars?

Teletubbies was my jam,

Having television on our bellies, that was my childhood dream.

Popeye the Sailorman,

My grandmother used to relate him to make me eat my vegetables. Genius.

Tetris but it was way cooler back then,

When you see another guy with the same big “Gameboy”, you just felt this instant connection.

“I’m a Barbie girl in a Barbie world”,

I know I wasn’t the only one singing that in the shower, right? 😉

The Goosebumps series, the amazing brainchild of R.L.Stine,

He made you gasped, cringed, and most importantly, be aware of Slappy, he might just be near……

Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera came into the limelight,

The battle of the divas commenced, who was your favourite?

Mr. Bean, of course, who else!

An amazing guy who could just reduce us to laughter even without uttering a single word. #HeadInTurkey #Mop-controlledDriving

The Spice Girls invaded the world stage in some seriously flashy outfits,

Scary, Baby, Ginger, Sporty and Posh, the British girl power certainly taught us the word of “Wannabe”.

Two words: Carrie Bradshaw,

We lost count on how many trends this character single-handedly started.

The 90’s was a decade with amazing hipster fashion,

Welcome to the era of scrunchies and………HIGH PANTS!!!

With just the right blend of quirky fashion and breakthrough technology,

The 90’s was a great nostalgic moment that gave us courage to explore new frontiers.

Thank you 90’s for being such an inspiration, the world is forever in debt to you. #Throwback90’s

By: June Ong

Horrors Of Our Time

By: Tiffany Hoo

Be afraid, be very afraid.

It’s that time of the year again when the monsters are welcome and scares become an enjoyment. It’s Halloween time! Although considered a Western celebration, that doesn’t mean we in the East can get in on all the fun that comes with Halloween! So, to get into the spirit of things, here a few movies you could watch during the season of horrors and scare the wits out of yourself!

  • Saw

saw-iv-unrated-directors-cut-20080116022659946-000The franchise (boasting of a total of 7 movies!) tells us the story of John Kramer, who is also known as the “Jigsaw Killer” or simply “Jigsaw”. Initially a caring young man who cared deeply for his loved ones, his life turn upside down when a series of unfortunate events occurred, tearing his family asunder. John was underwent a metamorphosis and was “reborn”. He believed that in order to salvage what little goodness there was in the world, he nurtured the thought that the only way for someone to change for the better is for them to change themselves. Therefore, instead of killing his victims (those he believes to have committed sins) outright, Jigsaw traps them in situations that he calls “tests” or “games” to test their will to live through physical or psychological torture.

He regarded them as a form of “instant rehabilitation” that would change the world, “one person at a time”. John was soon given the name “The Jigsaw Killer” (or “Jigsaw”), because he removed a puzzle-piece-shaped chunk of flesh from those who did not escape his traps, which represented the absence of their “survival instinct”. However, not all his victims meet their end though caught in gruesome traps. The story itself has an interesting background as it delves into the human psychology. However, if you were to see the traps for yourselves… be prepared for a few sleepless nights.

  • Child’s Play

ChuckyDollThis is a well known movie franchise that has transcended the years and remains an iconic horror to both children and adults alike. The story revolves around Charles Lee Ray (Chucky), a serial killer obsessed with voodoo who is on the run from local police department. Charles takes refuge in a toy shop one day after being abandoned by his partner in crime when they were being chased by the police. During the scuffle, he is shot and left mortally wounded. He then transfers his soul into a Good Guy doll via a voodoo ritual to evade being captured. He then swears revenge on those who were determined to catch him and promises to do anything to achieve that.

In his quest for revenge, Chucky is willing to go to the extremes to get what he wants and never thinks of what his actions may cause others. Ironically, as the movie progresses, the initially adorable looking doll we first saw begins to warp as Chucky possesses the doll longer, indicating that his dark soul had contaminated an object which was once so innocent. Cunning and full of malice, once you see the doll in action in the movie, trust me when I say, you will never see dolls the same way again.

So embrace your sense of courage and challenge yourself to a marathon of skin crawling horror! Trust me, there will be joy in the horror!

Ghosts: Are they real?

By: Maasi Haleem

Ghosts; this word alone would create a heated debate, and spark up interesting conversations about stories that has been passed down from different people about these so-called “ghosts”. Now the big question is: do they really exist or not?

Over the past decades, “ghosts” has become a popular subject. Countless movies and books have had plots containing ghosts, and not to mention that almost half of them are said to be based on true life events. Thus making us all wonder – are they real? Do they really exist? Could we have unknowingly encountered one already without us noticing? I know, the last one sounds even worse!

As far back as it can be remembered, it has been known that people have tried to, or even have claimed that they have communicated to ghosts through holding séances. Then there were those psychic mediums who claimed they can speak to the dead, of which most of these psychics were later on exposed to be frauds.

It was a decade ago the phenomena of ghost hunting became popular  mostly due to the hit TV series “Ghost Hunters”, which most of you have probably heard of or even watched. This lead on to the emergence of a number of ghost hunters not only in America, but in all parts of the world.

When it comes to science, the logic of whether ghosts really do exist is highly debatable. Many have claimed that there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that there are ghosts, especially when there is not one universally agreed-upon definition of what a ghost is. Different people define it and describe it to be in different ways. Some claim that these ghosts are the dead who has unsolved issues (they might have watched a little too much of Ghost Whisperers!), while others claim that they are telepathic entities projected into the world from our minds, and lastly, that they are an inhumane form of living that exists in this world just like us humans.

It has been claimed that science and physics can explain these paranormal encounters that you see on TV, unless you really did encounter an unexplainable event that left you covered in goosebumps and sleepless at night. The failure of the weekend ghost hunters to prove that ghosts really do exist has lead to the evidence for ghosts no better than it was a year ago, a decade ago, or a century ago.

With this lack of solid evidence about the existence of ghosts despite the numerous reality shows, movies, and books, it perhaps comes down to what you believe. Maybe this is the year you will encounter one, if that is something you have wanted. Either way who doesn’t love a good ghost story, am I right? Don’t look over your shoulder now.. just saying!

Hold Your Desires 2015

by  Chloe Kong

 

After months of gruelling preparations and planning, Hold Your Desires 2015 finally came to an end. The campaign was held from 11.11.2015 until 13,11,2015 (Wednesday to Friday) to raise awareness about Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD for short) and also about safe sex. Being a topic that is considered a taboo in Malaysia by many, this topic is seldom raised by the people in Malaysia. The objective of this campaign is to educate the public about the two topic besides raising awareness.

 

Day one began with an exhibition, a doodle face off as well as a blackbox cinema for all to participate! The opening ceremony was held the day after that alongside with the exhibition and vendors as well as the blackbox cinema. On the final day itself, the exhibition ended at one o’clock in the afternoon and the students get to attend a talk by Miss Lalita from Pejabat Kesihatan Daerah and Miss Jacqueline Gun, from the Psychology Department in Sunway University!

 

The ECHO newsletter team and the Monash Radio crew were invited as media partners for the event. It was an honour for us to be able to interview some of the guests from Day 2 and Day 3! So here are the joined interviews!

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Day 2 (12.11.2015, Thursday)

On Thursday, the ECHO newsletter team had the chance to interview  the Senior Principal Assistant Director Of Disease Control Division from Ministry of Health Malaysia, Dr Mohd Nasir Bin Abdul Aziz as well as Dr Wong Kok Keung, the Head of the DCLA Program.

 

Senior Principal Assistant Director Of Disease Control Division from Ministry of Health Malaysia, Dr Mohd Nasir Bin Abdul Aziz .

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Q1: What do you think of the campaign?

A1: Personally, I think the students have done a good job and it is very relevant. I think that the    university has chosen a very relevant topic for the students. I am very happy that the university has chosen this topic. It was done very well and it was well organized.

 

Q2: What is your personal take on STD?

A2: In my line of work, I am doing programs and activities for HIV and STDs for the Ministry of Health. We have been developing programs and activities for STDs and HIV infections and faced many patients. So, if you ask my about STD, of course I would advise the younger generation to avoid being infected by STDs., it is quite sad to see the majority of the people being infected are people of the younger age group. If you ask me, be smart and try not to get infected by STDs. Other than that, it is also a must to know the definition about safe sex and from my perspective it should only be done with a legitimate spouse.

 

Question by the Monash Radio Crew: So doctor, had this event not happen, what other activities can be held to raise the awareness?

Answer A: Well, it all depends on the local Health Ministry . I used to work at Kuala Lumpur and there were attempts in having such events at Kuala Lumpur. Furthermore, we have also reached out to four to five universities yearly. If we just try to reach out, it can be boring. Hence, innovative ideas are needed to teach the youths.

 

Question 2 (Monash Radio Crew): Dr. Nasir, what is your thought about reaching out to youths regarding such practices?

Answer 2: The youths of today have the internet to turn to for information. Hence, they are able to get their hands on such information even without participating in the awareness campaigns for STDS. So, even without the campaigns, they already have some form of knowledge about STDs. Here, the targeted group would be about 15 to 30 or 40 years old and that is the prime age group to reach out to.

 

Q4: This campaign is a ‘for students, by the students campaign’, do you think such efforts should be continued?

A4: It is a good effort made. But, it needs to be enhanced. My suggestion would be to have it yearly with different approaches instead of just a one time event, such as a film festival. Or maybe, a talk with the patients who are infected by the disease, or dialogues or even games. There is no need to have just one approach.

 

Q5: Lastly, what message would you leave our readers with?

Well, I have three kids of my own so I would advice them about STDs. Please know your limitations, please respect your elders and please listen to the advices given to you by your family and friends. It is also important to have discussions with your family should you come across the disease. And also, please be responsible as well as be safe.

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Interview #2: Dr Wong Kok Keung, the Head of the DCLA Program.

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Q1: What do you think about the campaign?

A1: I have not been able to attend the entire campaign due to my hectic schedule. After reading about it, I was quite impressed with the various activities being held for public participation and also with the number of sponsors because it makes things more easier, like the lunch today. So that is good, yeah.

 

Q2: From a lecturer’s point of view, what is your personal take on STDs?

A2: Well, I agree and we can get a lot of information online. I think that the challenge today would be to be able to obtain more credible and reliable information about STDs. In the past, the hurdle would be to get information. Now, we can get information but not everything is credible. I would always tell my students, I do not know whether I have told you that you may come across something online but for all we know, it could have been your ten year old neighbor who wrote it.

 

Q3: What are the challenges in educating the current generation about STDs?

A3: It takes time to change the mindset of the people today and the best way to go about it is through education. But I think  that the parents should play a part in educating their children about STDs. My idea is that students can get the information from anywhere these days but they should use  the lecturers are there to help in obtaining the more credible ones. Once the students have gotten hold of such knowledge, it would be good to discuss them with their parents so that the parents are also aware of it.

 

Question 1 (Monash Radio Crew): Seeing as how the response of the event, should such initiative be taken again next year?

Answers 1: That is a good question. Well, it depends and I do not know whether he (Mr. Suffian) will be teaching the subject again. It all depends on the interest of the students and so far I have noticed that the students would come up with different topics every semester, every year. Hence, I suspect that the next semester students would do something else but I hope that it may come back to this topic after a year or so.

 

Mr Suffian: What I am looking is not just fall under HIV or STDs but more onto health Communication. The same thing but a different area and maybe on how sift through the information posted online. This is a risk  the generation is facing at the moment, for all we know as what Dr. Wong said, it could your 10 year old neighbor who posted it. This is because the current generation tend to believe whatever that is being posted on the internet with going through the actual materials. Not many of us would go to the library to source for the actual material and such. Yeah, there are pros and cons about it. In the end of the day, the students are going to pitch in on where they will be heading next semester. But I am looking towards health communication but a different theme all together.

 

Question 2 ( Monash Radio Crew): I was thinking that since education is important. Do you think such initiative be addressed earlier?

 

Dr Wong: Well, I think it should be addressed at the beginning of the high school level but to do that we need to look up  at the education policy. I think that we had that discussion for a long time where we stand right now I am not quite sure. Universities and colleges also play a part in this as well.

 

Mr. Suffian: Well, in Malaysia, sex education is a taboo. I think that the ministry has also aapproachch the matter but I am unsure of the success rate.

 

Dr Nazir: Sex education in school..We have tried. Unfortunately, there were different views regarding it from the Ministry of Education. So, there is a need to teach the teachers so that is the challenge.

 

Dr Wong: To be sure, this controversy on the difficulties on having sex education in high school, is not unique in Malaysia. Many other countries have also struggled about the matter on whether sex education should be taught at a high school level, even in the U.S. Sex education in Malaysia and also at other parts of the world begin in high school. And this is an important subject. This topic links to our behaviours, values and also upbringing as well as teaching. I think that once the students have gone pass the high school level, perhaps it should be exploit more openly.I am not saying that the teachers have all the answers but at least there is an attempt to encourage the student to explore the topic much openly and not telling them all the bad things about it. Just let them know and educate them about what the dangers are. Also, I am intrigued about what Dr. Nazir said earlier about safe sex and I think that it is important to clarify because safe sex is different cross-culture.

 

Q4: How would you approach the difficulties presented when teaching about the matter?

A4: I think that the lecturers should be well educated. Again, this can be viewed as something really personal as it can be viewed differently.It would be great to talk about the views/ perspectives of others about what safe sex and whatnot. If there is a lecturer  who is open to all kinds of different thing and talk about to the students, then that would be the first step. I always believe that sex education can start with the school but it cannot end with the school. The involvement of other parties is needed. Actually, the lecturers are not that much involved to spread information about what safe sex is and what is it important. Outside of the school, people are living in the real world and getting into all kinds of situation. That is challenging for anyone. You may have the theoretical knowledge about the dos and don’ts. But as soon as you have encountered someone you like, all of that can just fly out of the window. So, that is the challenge that all of us would face.

 

Q5: Lastly, what is the message that you would want to leave your students with?

A5: I think that you have to educate yourself as much as possible. You should also talk to your friends and family about the topic. It will not be easy but the barrier needs to be slowly taken down. Hence, it will be a good place to build more possibilities of other discussions. If the barrier can be taken down, then we can reach out to discuss such topics in the future.

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In conclusion, never trust anything posted on the internet completely and take caution. Family plays an important role so never be afraid to speak to them.

 

Meat

By June Ong

It was a beautiful morning. Trees were swaying gaily in the gentle breeze and there was a scrumptious scent of waffles wafting in the air. Stifling a yawn, I gingerly pulled myself out of my cozy snuggly bed and turned my head lazily to the right.

Wait, my senses were immediately on high alert, where is my husband?

Craning my head left and right, I detected no signs that indicated my husband was home last night. Millions of questions raced through my mind that split second. Where was he? What was he doing? Overworking to the wee hours of the morning? That did not make sense. I paced around my bedroom, trying to figure out the cause of my husband’s absence until my gaze landed upon the scar on my forehead. At that instant, I knew where he was spending the night.

My thoughts were interrupted when I heard the front door slam. Quicker than you can say Jack Robinson, I threw myself under the duvet covers and pretended to be asleep. He thinks he can fool me? Well two can play this game. The door knob jiggled and in entered my husband, who was shuffling quietly into bed. It is now or never, time to let the cat out of the bag.

Putting on an act, I groggily rubbed my eyes and gazed tenderly at my husband, the bastard who was pretending to be snoring.

“Hi honey, where were you last night?” I asked in a voice as smooth as silk, playing the part of an inane gullible wife.

“What are you mumbling about? I was sleeping next to you throughout the whole night darling,” that hypocrite replied without batting an eyelid, his expression revealing nothing.

Upon hearing this, I knew that he was lying. I had two options. One, I could play the part of the forgiving wife and let bygones be bygones. Two, I could question his motives and lashed out vitriolic bellicose remarks which would most probably lead to an initiation of a heated argument. I debated with myself for a split second but the answer was crystal clear. Determined to dig out the truth, it was Hobson’s choice for me but to choose the latter.

“Henry, don’t you dare lie to me! Where were you? Having an affair with Becky?” I yelled at him, my face fuming with anger.

A look of disbelief flitted across his face, which turned to guilt and in a split second later, a face contorted with rage.

“How dare you accuse me, you bitch! Do you have any proof? Or are you just spinning tales from that pompous wild imagination of yours?” He looked like he was about to fly off the handle any moment now.

He started circling me around the room, like a predator hunting down his prey. A cold shiver went down my spine and for an instant, I just stood there numbed, dumb rooted to the spot. His fervid grip on my neck would definitely mean the end of me. That guy had no qualms in killing me. Helpless, I gazed frantically around the room and just then, a lightbulb lit in my head, I had an idea.

I took quick swift steps backwards to my bedside and quietly, slipped my hand behind my back and grabbed the brass lamp. My heart was palpitating wildly within me and the butterflies couldn’t stop fluttering in my stomach.

As he was about to strangle me, I gazed up at those piercing blue eyes of his that once charmed me so long ago for one last time, trying to locate any ounce of love but no, all I could see was an abusive monster, a monster who had been given too many second chances. So, feeling no remorse, I tightened my grip on the brass lamp and with one hard blow, smashed it heavily against his skull.

There was an ear-splitting crack and Henry started wailing in pain but I could no longer care less, I continued knocking the lamp repeatedly against his head. I was totally blinded by rage. All these years of abuse, mockery, pretend forgiveness……An eye for an eye. He hurt me, and now was my turn to hurt him.

Bit by bit, his shrieks subsided into a moan and later, diminished until there was nothing but silence. Coolly, I placed the murder weapon back on the table and crouched down, examining his unconscious figure.

Maybe I just knocked him out cold, I presumed but as I placed my fingers over his pulse, my worst fears were confirmed. I just killed my husband.

Fear gripped my heart and I felt cold. What should I do? How could I dispose his body? Suppressing my anxiety, I paced around my bedroom, trying to get myself rid of this bloody situation when something outside caught my eye and halted me dead in my tracks. It was an advertisement, advertising a newly-opened butcher store.

A few days later, there was a long queue outside Hanks’s Butcher; apparently there was a new type of exotic meat on sale, for a limited time only.

“Step right up, come and savor the latest exotic meat, hailing all the way from the Caribbean Islands,” Hank bellowed over the commotion of the customers fighting to get a piece of it.

You see, after glancing upon the advertisement, I knew just how to solve my dilemma. There it was, staring right back at me, my golden ticket to salvation. Hank is my brother, so persuading him to sell my husband’s meat to unsuspecting customers was a piece of cake. No one would ever find out, right?

As I walked by the store, Hank caught my eye and gave me a mischievous wink. Finally, after all these miserable abusive years, I was finally free. I feel refreshed, like my vigor in life has been renewed. I returned Hank a smile and continued to walk down the rocky pavement into the glorious sunshine. It was certainly a beautiful morning.

The Disturbing Truths about Classic Fairy Tales

By: Tan Li Ying (Merissa)

If you are a fan of Disney’s works of classic fairy tales, I’m sure you can easily name a handful of their timeless masterpieces. Have you ever wondered though, why they all seem to have perfectly simple and favourable solutions to diabolical schemes plotted by the evil antagonists? That’s because Disney tales all end in lies! What you may not know, is that Disney has altered these fairy tales into family friendly versions with happy endings, which is probably a good thing, because unbeknown to most people, a majority of the original versions of these fairy tales actually have some really, REALLY disturbing contents.

Warning: This article might potentially ruin your childhood, because we are about to reveal some horrifying truths behind these glamorised classic tales!

  1. The Little Mermaid

The Disney Version:

Ariel, with the help of the prince, defeats the evil sea witch Ursula. They marry and live happily ever after.

The Truth:

In the original story penned by Hans Christian Andersen, Ursula grants Ariel legs, but curses her to walk with excruciating pain with every step. There’s another teeny tiny hitch: If the prince marries someone else, Ariel will die. Spoiler alert: He did. In an attempt to save their kin, Ariel’s sisters made a deal with the sea witch. In exchange of their hair, she fashioned a dagger. If Ariel kills the prince with the dagger and drips his blood onto her legs, she will become a mermaid again. Ariel snuck into the newlyweds’ room on their honeymoon sailing trip, but couldn’t bring herself to kill the prince for she loved him too much. In the end, she took her own life by jumping into the waters and dissolving into sea foam.

  1. Cinderella

The Disney Version:

The stepsisters tried but failed to fit the glass slipper. The Prince found Cinderella whose foot fits the glass slipper perfectly; they marry and live happily ever after.

The Truth:

In the Brothers Grimm version, Cinderella’s stepsisters took extreme measures to deceive the prince so that he might marry one of them. Trying to fit their foot into the glass slipper, one of them chopped off her toes while the other chopped off her heels. However, in both cases, two doves were sent by Cinderella’s deceased mother to alert the prince of the sisters’ blood in the slippers. Eventually, Cinderella was found to be the true owner of the slipper, but during her wedding to the prince, the doves returned and poked her stepsisters’ eyes out. That’s a lesson on karma, people!

  1. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

The Disney Version:

Snow White fell into a coma induced by a poisonous apple, and was awoken by a kiss from the prince. They marry and live..of course, happily ever after. What happened to the Queen afterwards was not addressed.

The Truth:

The story is a rather dark one according to the Brothers Grimm. The hunter was ordered by the evil queen not only to kill her and return with her heart, but also to bring back her liver and kidneys for her to feast on. Later in the story, the prince and Snow White get married, and all royalty in the land were invited. The Queen attended the wedding, not knowing that it was Snow White’s wedding. When she arrived, she was punished for her sins. The punishment however, was rather inhumane for a fairy tale. She was forced to dance non-stop in burning, red-hot iron shoes brought from the fireplace until she dropped dead.

So much for happy endings, right? From now on, whenever you watch one of Disney’s greatest films, remember that it’s not always happily ever after…

The Supernatural Fandom: Signs That You’re Really into It

By: Sim Wan Yong

“Carry on my wayward son,

There’ll be peace when you’re done,

Lay your weary head to rest,

Don’t you cry no more.”

You sang that in your mind, didn’t you?

Hands up, Supernatural fans! It’s October, the month of spooks and horror and of course the only thing that popped up in my mind to write about is the Winchester brothers saving people, hunting things – doing the family business. You would be aware if you’re a fan of this series, yes, but in case you just wanted to make sure, here are some indicators that you are a fan.

Supernatural fans would probably be the ones looking at salt packages and think about hoarding them. I know that I do have a small container of salt somewhere in the fridge in case of, well, demons. Also, in case I want extra salt on my fries.

Come on, be honest. Have you never thought of getting a temporary (maybe even permanent) anti-possession tattoo that the Winchester brothers have on their chests? Okay, maybe not. But what about hiding a transparent-paint devil’s trap at your front door? No? You must have thought of that it once, or perhaps it would strike you as a good idea now.

Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus,” Tell me. Have you ever tried to read along to the exorcism incantations or even remember it? I may not have done that, but I sure knew enough to feel relief when upon the ”AUDI NOS!” part of incantation was finally reached and I see huge amount of black smoke expelled from the vessel. Speaking of black smoke, there was once when I was in campus with another Supernatural fan friend of mine when we saw black smoke coming out of nowhere and we just looked at each other and knew exactly what was on our minds. Demons. Needless to say, we ran.

You might not be a fan or cars, but Supernatural made you look up to the black 1967 Chevy Impala with the license plate KAZ 2Y5 which, did you know (small trivia!), refers to Kansas, the Winchester brothers’ home state and the year the Supernatural series premiered in 2005? You might even have hummed along to the songs that Dean likes although you may not be a fan of rock music.

I’m not that much of a burger person, especially so after that episode in Season 7 about the Leviathans and the blue-goo burgers. I’d much rather enjoy a good slice of pie or even a salad, which as the Leviathans put it, ‘dead plants with creamy goo.’ It’s like eating self-righteousness. Dean referred to salad as ‘rabbit food’. Maybe you’d laugh a little remembering that episode with puddings?

I don’t know about you, but I find it a simple and efficient solution to use a game of scissors-paper-stone to settle disputes. Questions of ‘where to eat’, ‘where to go’ or ‘who is going to talk to that friend in a bad mood’ is made so much easier with this childhood game. It’s something I picked up from this series, aside from the obvious fact of ‘Do NOT ever deal with demons,” and maybe have some silver/ pure iron/ holy water around. Just in case. Also, clowns can kill.

You have and probably still do feel sorry for some of the characters. “I lost my shoe.” Enough said.

There’s one sure sign, however, and that is how we would all agree that the Winchester brothers are precious, as are Bobby, Castiel, Ellen, Jo, Layla … the list goes on and on. Maybe you’d like to add in the comments about some things you learnt from the pizza man?

The Note

By Elycia Lee

There it is.

There it is again.

They’re everywhere.

And there’s nowhere I can run to.

This is a nightmare I can never wake up from. A darkness I can never escape. A room without an exit, and I’m trapped in here forever.

Will you save me?

Matthew discovered the piece of paper on the floor. He wasn’t even that curious. He was just trying to tie his shoelaces that got untied, and right where he knelt, there it was – a dusty brown note with scrawny handwriting. The note was opened nicely and the words were looking right at him, as if someone had purposely placed it there for him to read it.

He picks it up and rereads it over and over, flipping the note to see if there was at least a name of a person or place written somewhere. Nothing.

“How do I save you if I don’t know where you are?” Matthew mumbles under his breath.

The wind howls, but gives no answer to his question.

“Hm, maybe it’s just some kind of poem written by a teenage girl,” he thinks, wanting to dispose the note, then decides to pocket the note instead, seeing as there is no bin anywhere nearby.

Matthew continues his evening walk, forgetting all about the note he stored deep in the pocket of his jacket, and stored deeper at the back of his mind.

“I’m home,” Matthew bellows, taking off his jacket and hanging it on the coat rack. There’s a note on the refrigerator from his mother.

Went to visit grandma. Will be back tomorrow afternoon. Lasagna in microwave.

Matthews retrieves the lasagna, the plate still hot. “Mother must have just left,” he thinks.

Taking the plate to the living room, he turns on the television and gets into a comfortable position. After sitting there for hours, he dozes off and falls asleep.

The house is silent. And it’s too silent, that’s why when Matthew wakes up in the middle of the night in need to use the washroom, he hears it. The screams and cries for help from outside… or inside?

“Help! Help meeee! Please!” The shouts are muffled, yet eerie, sounding like the screeching noise of metal against metal.

Matthew’s feet stay rooted to the ground, feeling horrified yet curious as he glances around to look for the source of the sound. Braving himself, he tries peeking out the curtains of the windows, expecting to see some girl somewhere, but he doesn’t, and part of him is relieved, because he’s definitely watched way too many horror movies. Even when there’s nothing there, he feels like he can just imagine the bloody face of a young girl staring back at him.

He approaches the front door, and he hears it clearer this time. The screams are starting to give him a headache. Then suddenly, the note from earlier that evening came to his mind. He doubts it, but his right hand reaches out to the pocket of his jacket to grab for the note. The note screams in his hand and he screams back at it, dropping it on the floor.

The note seems to light up the dark room, and it fidgets, as if someone is trapped inside the note. That’s when Matthew understands the contents of the note. Slowly, he crouches to observe the words on the note and discovers that it’s different now.

Please save me. Please save me. I can’t breathe. Please. HELP!

“How?” Unknowingly, he yells back.

Then the words fade away and disappear, revealing a reply.

You hear me! I don’t know how you can get me out of here, but please do!

Matthew feels afraid, but the fear is suppressed by an overwhelming amount of curiosity. He tries tearing the paper, but it doesn’t even make a crease.

STOP! STOP! You’re tearing my soul apart!

Matthew immediately stops and smoothens out the paper instead. He grabs the note and runs to the study table, hands rummaging the drawers for a pen. He tries scribbling something, but the ink gets absorbed.

STOP! It screams again. You’re drowning me!

The note lets out what sounds like a choke.

“What then should I do?” Matthew asks frantically. His head was beginning to hurt more and more.

Save me.

The words glow in a different colour – a bright colour of purple instead of the initial grey. Without thinking, Matthew touches the words with his finger and in an instant his head starts hurting at an intensity as if it was about to break apart. He screams in agony, no longer feeling anything but pain. It’s a pain not in the flesh, but of the mind and it’s torture.

Suddenly the pain subsides. Everything is still. Matthew opens his eyes and complete darkness embraces him. He wonders if he became blind. Then, he hears a shrill laughter, cackling evilly.

“Now it’s your turn to be trapped. I’ve been set free!”

He hears his own voice. Matthew gasps and shouts but words don’t form, and he realises that his voice has been taken away.

“Thank you, Matthew. Thanks to your kind heart, and gullible mind, I, who was trapped in that rotten piece of paper for almost 20 years, can be free. I now have a body to walk in and I can breathe! Finally people can hear me!”

“All your screams will now be mere words on a paper. But of course, I can’t let your parents discover that you’re now trapped in a paper, can I? They wouldn’t believe you anyway, for I am the one living in your body now. You, then, should be disposed. Burned, maybe?”

Matthew cries, but he is trapped in darkness, unable to see anything at all. His voice goes unheard as well. He wishes for it to be a dream, that he could just wake up and all would be gone –

“I wished the same, Matthew. I, Marriott, wished for years to be woken up from this nightmare. I would be grateful to you for saving my soul, but sadly, for me to be free, you need to take my place.”

“For I too have a heart, I will spare you. I will not burn you, for I know that the darkness and emptiness itself is torture enough. I will keep you in one of the books here on this table, but I warn you, if you were to escape from the note, another’s soul will have to be sacrificed, and it may be your friend or a family.”

“Goodbye, Matthew.”

And Matthew knew no more.

“Hey Matt! You should really clear up all your books on the table, didn’t I tell you give them away or recycle it since last Saturday?”

“Sorry mom! Just leave your unwanted books along with the pile next to the door and I’ll send them for recycling later,” Matthew (Marriott) replies.

Matthew’s mother picks up an old book but doesn’t bother to flip through it. She dumps it along with the other pile of books for recycling.

Very silently, someone is crying.

Someone is screaming for help, but no one sees him, no one hears him.

7 years.

The voices of my family, of people, are everywhere.

But there’s nowhere I can run to. No one can hear me.

I’m trapped in here forever – a nightmare I can never wake up from, a darkness I can never escape, a room without an exit.

Someone please hear me. Please, save me.

Treat and Treat

By: Clinton Wee Yuan

“Trick or Treat!!” – the infallible sales pitch used by children all over the world to obtain their beloved teeth-corroding treasure that is candy. Note how the phrase has evolved from a question to a straight-up statement. The ancient tradition of trick-or-treating goes way back to the invention of Halloween.

Back then, children and the poor would dress up in costumes as they would today, and go door to door begging for food & money in exchange for prayers or songs. This was known as “guising”. Albeit today, only children still do it, begging was replaced with the magical phrase that we know today, and the exchange was candy for basically nothing in return for the homeowners.

 

Trick-or-treating isn’t the only Halloween tradition that has changed. When asked, most people don’t even really know what Halloween is really about in the first place.

The origin of this spooky holiday dates back 6000 years ago where it started as an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain. The Celts believed that on this very day, the boundary between the world of the living and the dead will be blurred, allowing spirits from both dimensions to interact with one another. Although this sounds like the plot from “Thor 2” where harmonic convergence allows the 7 realms to be aligned with one another,  the Celts had surprisingly convincing evidence to back this claim. Moreover, they weren’t the only people to stumble upon this horrifying truth, as the Chinese also discovered the “Hungry Ghost Festival” which lies just a month earlier, and has almost the exact same plot. Coincidence? I think not.

Unlike Thor 2 however, the original storyline of Halloween has been tampered with and skewed throughout generations, giving birth to a totally different holiday altogether. Nowadays Halloween is better known to kids as a chance to stock up on free candy, and to adults as a horror themed Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, even this holiday isn’t what it used to be. Santa was the common name of the Fire God who would come down the chimneys of pagans to burn infants and consume them as human sacrifices. He’s not getting any cookies and milk from me this year. So why do we celebrate these grotesque holidays in the first place? The reason is that we seldom reflect on why we believe the things we believe or do the things we do. We live in this world filled with all kinds of traditions, but seldom do we seek the truth behind them. In a nutshell? Monkey see, monkey do.

Everything changes with time. Although the current Halloween is by far more child-friendly than the original Halloween, it is crucial to keep in mind how nothing is immune to the flow of time. Even sacred traditions and memories eventually bow down to this principle. Imagine our world 100 years down the road, Halloween may become a whole new holiday altogether. And if we are really lucky, by then, trick-or-treating would have faded into a myth just like how guising is today.