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Miyerkules, Mayo 16, 2012

The Howling in Benitez Hall

It was about 11 in the evening, and the air was damp and heavy with rain.

The evening sky covered the city like a dark gray blanket even though it was right on midnight.

The wind was cold, bitter and crisp, almost vindictive as it howled and made the branches of the old acacia trees that lined the edge of the University of the Philippines Sunken Garden whistle.

Two friends, Alma and Christine (not their real names), both young creative writing instructors at the Diliman campus, were stranded in front of Benitez Hall.

They hadn't expected it to rain so hard that day. There was nothing in the news about an oncoming storm. There were no warnings from PAGASA, as usual.

After alighting from the jeepney, they ran as fast as they could towards the huge wooden door of Benitez Hall where a security guard was sitting quietly, writing something on a small piece of paper.

Christine, who lived nearby, asked the security guard to let them into the building since the rains were getting more furious. The two teachers needed a place to stay for the night, or at least, until rains subsided.

After presenting their IDs, the guard let them in. By that time both Alma and Christine were already soaking wet.

The guard accompanied them into one of the room situated at the left wing of the old building. The guard called Obet, the caretaker of the building, and asked if he had the keys to the classrooms. As the caretaker opened the door, a whiff of frosty air blew toward the faces of the two instructors. Which was strange Christine thought, noticing that all windows were closed.

As the two instructors went in, Christine, who was more spiritually sensitive of the two, felt a certain presence brush near her shoulder. At first she did not mind it. It's probably a wayward breeze, she said to herself.

Benitez Hall, or the college of Education, was one of the oldest buildings in the campus. Aside from being the building where some of the best professors in UP were honed, Benitez Hall is likewise infamous because of its ghost sightings.

In its former incarnation, it was an interrogation camp of the Japanese Army during World War II. Most UP graduates know that it is the most haunted building in the campus.

Christine and Alma settled down, took off their wet business jackets. They put together two tables to use as beds. Since they did not have blankets the two used their jackets.

As Christine was about to hand the jackets to Alma, she heard footsteps coming from the corridor, on the other side of the door. At first, she thought it was the guard, but she noticed that the footsteps were made by someone in rubber soles, like slippers. The guard was wearing leather shoes.

Both knew they were the only ones in the building aside from the guard.

Christine went to the door. She tried to open it, but the door remained tightly shut. Feeling something eerily strange about the goings on, she motioned to Alma to help her open the door.

But even though both of them combined their strengths and pulled with all their might, they could not budge the door.

They started yelling, calling for the guard. Despite their shouts and calls for help, the guard did not come.

But Christine could still hear the footsteps from the other side of the door. After about three minutes, the sound of footsteps stopped. She peeked through the peephole to see who it was on the other side. All she saw was the color red.

Alma, scared stiff because of the ghost stories she heard in the past about Benitez Hall, started banging on the door and kicking it.

A few seconds later, the door opened and the guard rushed in the classroom, asking what happened.

Christine asked, "Is there anyone in the building aside from us?"

The guard shrugged his shoulders.

"We heard footsteps, someone wearing slippers."

"Obet already left. There's no one in the building but us," the guard confirmed.

"Is this building really haunted?" Alma asked.

"I've been guarding this building for the past six months," the guard said. "Yes, I've heard stories of people who died in Benitez Hall. I also heard ghost stories from the former guards. I don't believe these ghost stories. All I know is that a student died here once. A friend of mine who used to be assigned to guard Benitez Hall said he saw a person floating in the air dressed in white, with BIG RED EYES!"

At that christine slumped down in a dead faint.

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