Thai Ghost Stories
GHOST ON THE TRAIN
I had just been to Singapore and Malaysia, and then I was on my way to Thailand. I had taken the Malaysian KTM Intercity Train, which took me to Hatyai, and from Hatyai, I boarded the SRT(State Railway of Thailand) to take me to Bangkok.
The journey was to be an overnight one, and I would arrive in Bangkok sometime at noon the next day. I was in the second-class sleeper cab, which meant my seat and the one facing mine would be butt-joined to form the lower bunk bed at night, which would be around 9 pm. The top bunk bed was a plank attached to the wall by foldable metal brackets, and would just be unfolded. Before that, I had to endure sitting through the long and arduous six-hour journey on the thinly padded seat.
It was a hot day, and the train was slow. It stopped every half an hour, or so, at small town stations where more passengers would board. I hated to see the train getting more crowded at each station, but at the same time, it did bring food vendors aboard, which was good. It gave me the opportunity to refill my snack bag.
The seat in front of mine was vacant, and an old woman was pushing her way through the narrow aisle towards it. She was struggling with her luggage, so feeling like a Samaritan, I offered to help. I was amazed that her two bags were very heavy, too heavy for someone her age, but somehow, she had managed until here.
She sat opposite me but was too shy to look at me. I didn’t really expect a ‘thank you’ anyway, so I sunk my face back into my book. Once in a while, I would sense her stealing glances at me. Every time I looked up, she averted her eyes. I assumed it was natural for the rural Thais to be shy of farangs[Caucasians]. After all, they hardly saw white people.
Things started getting interesting when I had to go to the toilet. Because I had to push aside her large PVC bag, which was in the way, I looked up at her hoping to translate my intention with an apology. Instead, I froze with my mouth wide open. The old woman had transformed. SHE WAS YOUNG!
How is this possible? She was an old lady of seventy years old at least. I yelled within the walls of my skull. Had I fallen asleep during the time she walked in and now? Had the old woman switched seats with this gorgeous young lady?
I was confused and tempted to find out from her, but she simply refused to look at me. Humiliated and annoyed, I stood up, crossed over her tall bag, and was on my way to the end of the car.
How can a switch happen right under my nose and I not know of it? I thought.
When I was back in my seat, I had my focus on her every second and thinking I should ask her something. But, because she still appeared unfriendly, I couldn’t find it in me to talk to her. However, it was hard not to look at her, for the more I peeked, the more attractive she became. Then she looked up and our eyes met for the first time. I felt my heart racing. I wanted to smile, but my face had stiffen somewhat. Then the irises of her eyes opened up and her pupils became hollow. I felt a force sucking me into her dark eyes. The pull gave euphoria, but at the same time, fear.
We must have locked gaze for a full minute before I began to realise something was not right. I was totally paralysed—my face, my arms, and my legs were becoming numb. Then she smiled. Her eyelids elongated and her lips widened, but they didn’t stop there. Her eyes and lips kept broadening right up to the edge of her face. It was the most unnatural, horrendous, and evil looking face I had ever seen.
I fought to free myself from her hold but found it impossible. Only after half a minute of struggling, I was suddenly released from her clutches. I was thrown aback as if some invisible entity had pushed me. Immediately, she looked away. I was glad she did, for I didn’t want to look at her anymore. I tried to focus on my reading, but my mind was still tormented by the recent experience. Then my vision blurred and I felt drowsy. When I opened my eyes, it was already dark outside. Instinctively, I looked up at the woman before me. She smiled, but I turned my face away from her.
At 9 o’clock, the train staff came around to assemble the bunk beds. While the uniformed man worked, I stood silently beside the young woman. I saw from the corner of my eye that she was looking at me. That made my knees weak and my head feel like a helium balloon. Luckily, the beds were ready in minutes, so I climbed onto the upper deck, closed the curtains, and lay down.
I managed to sleep for some hours before being awoken by the pressure in my bladder. I sat up. Dazed with a brain that was too lazy to think, I pulled the curtains apart. I was ready to thrust myself forward when instinct yanked me back. A wrinkled face with glowering eyes was staring hard at me. The bodiless head was floating at the level of my mattress. It was the old woman’s head. She started hissing through her stained teeth. And when she opened her mouth, a pair of fangs stuck out from behind her upper lips.
I shrieked like a girl and pulled the curtains together. Soon, there was a commotion outside; some of the other passengers had woken up because of my scream. I was too afraid to come out, so I remained trembling in my bunk. When all was silent again, I put a finger between the curtains and parted one side just enough for a peek. The face was no longer there. Still, I waited. Then I realized something—the mattress was cold.
Shit, I’ve wet my bed!
I was angry. I was fuming mad that the old woman had humiliated me like this, so I pulled the cotton hangs apart with such force that a few of the plastic rings broke off from the rail. I jumped down and stared at the bottom bunk bed where the old hag would have been sleeping. My hand went close to the curtain, ready to peel it aside, but I just couldn’t do it. I guess I was too scared of what I might see. I grabbed a pair of shorts and a towel and headed to the lavatory. After a brisk wash, I was back climbing up the aluminium ladder to my upper bunk bed.
Thankfully, there were no more disturbances, and I was able to catch a wink. At first light, I popped my head out between the curtains and glanced below. I was so relieved to find the lower bunk vacant.
Radiographer, 2 May 2003.
P.S. This is the short version of the story. A complete account of this story can be found in my book.