By Ged Llanes (Class 2021)
I would consider myself as an oxymoron when it comes to horror. I easily get frightened, but I love the thrill of a good scare. I’m a horror-loving scaredy-cat. And honestly, there’s no better place to get a good scare than our very own campus.
In the College of Medicine building, there’s a creepy and isolated lecture hall that our batch calls the ‘Harry Potter’ room. It’s on the second floor, but you have to go down a flight of stairs to reach it. This amphitheater-looking hall was used for anatomy classes where professors dissected cadavers on the front table for the entire class to see. The hall is actually named “Arturo Garcia Hall” (A. Garcia Hall), but I’ve heard it being called quite a few other names in the past — “Dungeon”, “Basement”, and even “that room”. But the eeriest name I’ve ever heard it being called is “Purgatory”.
For those who aren’t familiar with Calderon Hall, right below A. Garcia Hall is the morgue where the pathologists do autopsies. I’d like to think that there were a few people who referred to the morgue as “Hell”, so they called A. Garcia Hall “Purgatory”.
I’ve heard a lot of creepy stories about that hall (aside from lost souls crying over failed exams, that is). I hate listening to them, but the excitement always gets the best of me. I’ve heard people talk about hearing a crowd chattering inside the room while it was locked. I’ve heard of students losing their stuff only to find them in another part of the room. Others tell me they’ve seen shadows move across the lengthy levels of that hall, only to disappear through a door which is always locked. The worst story I know was from a student who took a nap on one of the seats inside that room, only to find himself wake up lying on the front table in the anatomic position, with the feeling of a million gazes staring at him, as if he was a specimen being examined.
Just like all horror stories in this campus and hospital, nothing beats the reality of our broken healthcare system and the physical and mental struggles we go through every day. But that doesn’t mean we don’t experience the supernatural.
There was one lunch time that my friends and I decided to hang out in Purgatory while waiting for the usual 1PM class to start. You’d think that I’d hesitate, but really, my heart was racing at the idea of a first-hand horror experience.
We opened the door and a breath of cold air rushed out of the room. I felt a chill in my spine as the cold creeped all over my skin. The lights were off but it didn’t bother us that much so we went ahead and opened the lights. Just as the lights turned on, I winced at the sight of a faint shadow passing across my eye. I was ready to go back, but with my friends taking their seats. I just tried to suppress my fears. I looked around, and my heart sank. All the aircons were off. WTF was that cold wind? I tried to keep myself calm by sitting next to my friend and studying on my tablet.
Then it happened: The lights suddenly went out. I got pissed and shouted at my friends, “Huy buksan niyo nga yung ilaw, ‘di nakakatawa.” I was shaking in my seat, but I couldn’t find the courage to do anything except try to use my tablet to see through the darkness. Then the lights suddenly turned back on. I was alone. I was freaking out and panicking, but I couldn’t even scream anymore. I was about to cry when I felt something brush the back of my head. I just closed my eyes and prayed it would all go away. When the feeling on my back stopped, I did the stupidest thing I have ever done: I slowly opened my eyes. The room was full of ghastly figures pacing around senselessly. I tried my best not to make a sound, but I shouted. And the moment they all looked at me with hollowed eyes, my mind went blank.
I don’t exactly remember what happened next. Apparently, I fell asleep as soon as I sat down in the hall, and my friends left me alone as a prank. They came back for me because class was about to start, and I still wasn’t awake. They said that I was asleep for 30 minutes. What felt like an eternity of torture was just 30 freaking minutes of me sleeping. I can’t say if it was all a dream or not, but the feeling of being stuck in limbo was real. I guess that’s another reason why it’s called Purgatory. All those souls lost in time, dragging along each second, minute, and hour until they can finally reach Heaven — or Hell.