Is anyone there?

An illustration of a girl's fractured reflection in broken glass
Perfect Blue (Satoshi Kon) by Ethan Sharp


Dear Reader,

Hello, I’m Samuel, the new editorial assistant at Ethos! I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that this period of social distancing has made me re-examine what my hobbies truly are. Among the few that made the cut, running emerged as one that has remained faithful to me.

I thought I’d found the perfect running trail last month after I deviated from my usual route and turned into Mount Pleasant Road. I remembered that my dad had mentioned it before, a tough but satisfying uphill run: and that’s just what it was. Few cars, almost no runners, plenty of tree cover; it was perhaps the best run I’d had in a while, as compared to running along the busy and dusty Thomson Road.

Nearing the peak of the small hill (for it wasn’t as uphill as my dad described it), a sign pointed left to Onraet Road, and I figured I could run through a shortcut to loop back to where I’d started by connecting through a short bit of the Pan Island Expressway. I turned off the road and was led into an untouched bit of forest. I noticed a small, grey altar sitting in the middle of the trail. Strange, I thought, but I didn’t think much more of it. An abandoned guard post with an entry barrier stood ahead, ancient, as if to warn me of something. Against my better instincts, I ducked under the old barrier and found myself in the middle of a forest trail.

Suddenly everything became intensely quiet. It was almost as if the trees had bent over to stare down at me. I could feel the dense humidity of the breathing, living plants that enclosed me in a tightening circle. Something was off. It was different this time—I trusted my gut and headed out of the forest trail at once.

A few days later, I met a few friends and mentioned running through Mount Pleasant Road in passing.

One of them asked, “Mount Pleasant? Isn’t that place haunted?”

The story of the forest trail niggled at the back of my mind. “My dad doesn’t even dare to drive through Mount Pleasant,” he continued. “There’s a graveyard there, right?”

That explained it. I shared my experience of the strange forest trail. “Luckily for me, at least I didn’t see some little girl waiting for me there, right?” I joked, trying to laugh it off.

“Don’t say that!” He warned. “That’d be the better scenario. What if you saw her at home?”

Understandably, I no longer run through Mount Pleasant Road. It’s a shame: it really was a wonderful run.


(From September 5, 2020)