My university was a bloody WWII Japanese garrison… (not a made-up story)

My university was a bloody WWII Japanese garrison… (not a made-up story)

I live in the Philippines, and historically speaking, we were a base for the Japanese troops during WWII for over 3 years. Naturally, there was bloodshed and a lot of unspeakable horrors going on in the garrisons where the troops were stationed. Unfortunately, these horrors find ways to make the present remember them.

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The school where I go to college to was once a Japanese military base, and the building that stands as the admin building today is the same that was erected there during the Japanese occupation. Proof of this are the prison cells in the basement of the building, with just small, barred windows for air to pass through. Today, the basement is off limits to everyone, but during my years as a freshman, this was a working room for some Arts students.

I can still remember it clearly. One day after my classes, one of the Arts professors invited me to watch some Arts students paint in the basement. He was like a mentor and father to me even if I was in the Business department, and he knows my knack for the arts, so he always invites me over to watch his students work on their masterpieces.

It was past 6 p.m. and the sky was getting dark. All my friends went home so I figured I could stop by a few minutes before I head home. When I stepped in the basement, I was immediately greeted with a kind of depressing feeling. During this time, I didn't really believe any of the spooky stories the upperclassmen tell us freshmen, brushing them off as merely a way to scare us off their territory. What I felt, however, was something I couldn't explain. It was heavy, very heavy, and even with bright lights, the room still inexplicably looked dark.

I sat down in one area while the professor introduced me to some of his students. I noticed some empty bottles of beer on the tables where the paints and brushes were, and was told that they students would sometimes drink while working as it helps them with their art. I awkwardly just sat there while observing everything around me. There were canvases on easels all over the place, paint cans, brushes, wooden blocks for carving, carving tools, and old newspapers.

About an hour went by and I was already hungry. There were only 4 of us in the basement left, including myself and the professor. I stood up and was about to head to the door when the lights suddenly went out. Through the small windows, I saw that there were lights outside, so apparently, only the basement lost power. The professor then told us to stay put while he takes out his lighter-flashlight. Just as he finished those words, I heard glass breaking. One, and then another. Someone screamed. Our professor turned on his pocket lighter-flashlight around and asked us to slowly approach him so we could get out together and not bump into anything. We did so and made it out just as another glass on the far corner of the room shattered.

By this time, I was already shaking. The room suddenly felt even heavier, and a smell of something other than the paints just wafted. It smelled like smoke, or burnt plastic. I don't really know, but it smelled burnt.

We made it out, all four of us. Just as we started asking our professor questions, the lights went back on in the basement. Our professor said he had to go back down so he could turn off the lights and lock up, and without thinking twice, I volunteered to go with him and pick up the other two students' bags that were left as we hurried out.

As we descended the stairs, the smell of burnt something just got stronger, and I noticed our professor noticing it too, for he covered his nose with his handkerchief. When we reached the basement, we immediately saw that something was wrong.

Canvasses were strewn all over the floor, face down, and not a single one of them left on an easel. These couldn't have been possible, as the four of us were just in one corner of the room, and the canvasses were all propped up on easels before the lights went off. What was even more unnerving were the beer bottles. They didn't fall, like I thought they did when we heard glass shattering. Rather, they were all exactly where they were on the tables, with only their top half broken and shattered. It was as if they broke right where they stood.

The smell of burnt something got even stronger, which our professor described as the smell of gunpowder. It suddenly grew very hot and suffocating in the room, and I was already crying without even noticing it. He looked at me with fear, as we grabbed all the bags, turned off the lights, and hurried outside. The moment we stepped outside, I broke down. I felt like something was pressing on me and it was just forcing me to cry. I didn't feel fear, but rather, loss- and it was making me cry so much, the two Arts students had to help me sip some water as I was shaking all over.

That was the last time the basement was used as a room for students. Over the next few days, materials were taken out, leaving some old chairs, tables and supplies behind. The doors were then heavily bolted, and a huge "UNAUTHORIZED PERSONS KEEP OUT" sign was stuck on them.

Our professor later told me that that basement was where Filipino and American soldiers alike were imprisoned and executed by the Japanese troops during the war. The administration thought keeping it well-lit and occupied with people would make it alright to be used. However, now I know that there are just some places best left alone.

Submitted April 14, 2019 at 12:05AM by Kahreezia

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