This happened in December 1997 after my O levels before the Punggol area was built-up. It was all dark and quite forestry. I was staying over at the Major Seminary (the place where catholic priests receive their formation. It’s also a retreat centre.) in Punggol with a couple of friends (4 of us; one of which was the scout friend who was chairing the debrief as shared earlier. The other 2 are not from a CCA group.) because we sort of needed a break away from the normal hustle and bustle of life. It’s rather far in, around the area where Punggol Marina and the “grasslands” and “forests” were? Those who went to the old MOE campsite in Punggol would roughly know the area.
After lunch on one of those days, I suggested to my friends to go walk around the “grasslands” area, and cut diagonally across to Punggol Marina. Also just for 4 of us to spend time talking and walking… Well, we only realised then how big the grasslands area really was – because it was nearing evening and we could see Punggol Marina, but had to get back in time for meals. Since we were running late, I suggested taking a shortcut through the nearby forest and circle around the back. I also remembered a gate somewhere along the back fence, so there was a chance to enter by the back… Or so I thought.
Anyway, we were trekking along a path in the foresty area. Just bashing through as usual, until we came upon a quite large clearing. On our left, there was this work shed/hut.. Just a usual tools shed. What first struck us was that there were very thick chains tied around the shed. Of course, back then we assumed it was because someone kept very expensive equipment there and didn’t want it stolen.. So we stepped onto the clearing and started to cross it. After about 15 paces or so, one of my friends (Let’s call him W, he’s not my scout friend) asked us all to Stop! We were wondering why, but he looked behind and we realised, somehow, we were walking towards the shed! He voiced his concern to us, and we all realised that too. I told him, take another 5 steps towards the “exit” and see how….
So we took those 5 steps, and somehow, it was a lot of effort, and we were still sort of moving towards that shed. Now, the other non-scout friend (let’s call him L), said out loud that he feels like going to the shed to open it! The funny thing was, all of us were feeling the same thing. This strong strong urge to open the shed! Of course my scout friend (P) and I quickly told them to just try and get out of the clearing. Something was very very wrong with that hut.. And at that moment, we made a conscious effort to move towards the exit A, and walk past the centre of the clearing and the shed…
Now, we were reaching the 3/4 point when we all felt like we were trying to walk through water? That feeling of being impeded, dragged back, and sort of pulled back towards the centre (and the shed, as we know now is there). L started to cry and get very scared about it all, and at that moment, we were very very afraid of what was in that shed. We also started to feel anger behind us and were just very scared la. L was also feeling like he had to go over and somehow break that chain and open that shed… We actually had to hold him back and stop him from trying to walk it. Also, at that time, we distinctly felt/heard something say “Come back and free me.”. (It’s hard to explain, but it’s not just hearing with the ears? It’s like you are all thinking and feeling the same thing at the same time). P grabbed L and forced him to his knees, and all of us knelt there for a moment just to pray… It was quite freaky… It sort of helped us to calm down a bit, but it didn’t take away the problem, which was feeling quite strong and angry… So we stood up and tried to move towards A again… Somehow, we almost made it, when L lost his nerve and started to run.
At that moment, we felt a surge of anger and something sort of trying to get to us, so we all panicked and ran.. All 4 of us.. P and I were shouting at the other 2 to get to somewhere urban, a road house… anything not quite “forest”… And we could feel this very angry being behind us and sort of chasing us and closing in very fast? It was very scary.. So we kept running, turned one corner, and somehow found ourselves near the edge of the forest, onto a side road. We rushed towards the road and the moment we stepped onto the road, there was this sudden feeling of release… It was kind of like trying to run in water, you run and run and suddenly the constraints are released… Very eerie feeling.
What sort of confirmed it for P and i was when we had to go back to the Punggol MOE campsite 3 months later to facilitate at the Sec 1 orientation camp. We passed roughly the area where we could look into the forest, and somehow, the pathway that we once took? There were 2 sort of fully grown trees there blocking the way, and from where we stood, sort of in an “X” shape. In 3 months, trees cannot grow so quickly, and why would one tree grow in a different direction from the other.
The overwhelming feeling of hate and anger was something I never forgot. And I learnt there and then that prayer really does help, if anything else, to give strength. It will not solve the problems for you, but calm you down enough to go on..