As I was searching for something else — which the computer had caused to join the “missing (online) persons” list), I ran across this ancient item from about a decade ago. It happens to be seasonably fashionable at the moment, and it is hereby posted to observe both Bat Appreciation Week (October 24-31) and Halloween.
The approach of Halloween occasionally brings reminders of a Halloween-type incident that occurred in STIC. In fact, it was actually in October (of 1944), because I clearly remember that U.S. bombing in the Manila area had started a few weeks earlier — on September 21 — and therefore a total blackout was in effect, which was strictly enforced. (I noted the occasion in my diary, but unfortunately it has long since been lost, as the result of a complicated series of events.) In any case, regardless of the exact date, the event developed as follows.
It was late in the evening, and a blackout was in effect, as noted, due to the bombing. Most internees were in their beds by that time, somewhere around 10 p.m. I had been talking with friends, as we often did, on the first floor of the Main Building, until we broke up and went our separate ways to our respective rooms. I started up the front stairs, accompanied by a couple of friends, who lived on the second floor. I then continued up the stairs alone — slowly, as it was an effort by late 1944 — heading for my room on the third floor. I had reached the landing between the second and third floors, had turned on the landing, and was just starting to climb the last flight of stairs to the third floor.
Suddenly I heard a strange noise, loud enough to catch my attention, but not overly loud. It is hard to describe, sort of a sliding/grinding/whirring sound; it was coming from above me and to the right. I looked up toward the wall (which bordered the west patio), where a window was located; it was about midway between the landing and the third floor, far out of the reach of any individual, whether inside or outside of the building. I recall that it wasn’t overly bright that night, and I just checked online on that — there were two full moons that month, on October 2 and October 31, so it wasn’t too bright during much of the month. But enough starlight coming through the opening clearly showed that the window was sliding downward, though fairly gradually — it was not loose or falling.
Given the situation — it was very dark, I was alone, and no one was anywhere nearby that I could see or hear — I froze in my tracks, eyes fixed on the moving window. Then, believe it or not, the window actually began to slide upward, making the same odd sound. Panic stricken, I snapped out of my stupor and, starvation or not, it seemed as if I covered the last 15 or so steps in a couple of leaps and/or bounds, though of course that was not possible. Nobody was around — everyone was in bed by then — so I quickly got in bed myself, not even bothering to use the sink that our room was blessed with, let alone use the men’s bathroom at the other end of the building. It was quite a relief to be “safe” in the midst of some 60 or so slumbering roommates.
The next morning I looked closely at the window in question, of course, but it appeared “normal” and I could see nothing out of the ordinary; and there was no ladder on the outside when I checked. I never did find out what might have caused the episode, and I never told anyone about it, either then or later, because it sounded too weird to have occurred, and thus I was afraid of being mocked and/or accused of having had hallucinations, or perhaps of just making up the whole thing. Such reactions obviously may ensue now, but that would no longer bother me — not at this point. Any suggested explanations of the event would be welcome.