Behind the Veil
By Susan Carig
I used to volunteer at a hospital in the pediatrics ward. At one point we had a very young girl as a patient. As part of my rounds I’d visit each patient’s room to refill their water, ice, or change blankets. This particular patient would always wait until I’d finished my rounds so we could play ball toss. Her eyes were covered with gauze so I would have to tell her which hand to extend in order to catch the ball. This game would would last for about 15 minutes.
One day when I arrived at the ward there were a lot of people and doctors in her room. I found out that she had passed away the night before and that her mom would not release her grip from her child. The hospital staff asked me to talk to her into letting go of her deceased child. She agreed, but requested that I unravel the gauze from her little girl’s eyes, not the nurses or doctor. She said that I should do it since I was the only one who had taken time to play with her daughter.
Of course I agreed. As I unraveled the gauze from her eyes I saw this pretty little girl who appeared to be peacefully sleeping. But at that moment her eyes opened and she said to me, “Thank you for playing ball with me.” And just like that, her eyes closed again. Those were her last words, but she’d already been pronounced dead.
This became a real source of fear for me, and I’d think about it every night. At one point I saw and heard her while I was working at school grading papers alone in the classroom. I said to myself, “She is not real, she's dead.” Then I told her, in a nice way, that she needs to go and not bother me. She said again, “Thank you,” and then disappeared.
To this day I still get the occasional visit from her asking to play ball, but she doesn’t scare me at all anymore.
How to trap duendes
By Miriam Rupley
Growing up, I never paid much attention to the stories of the duendes that my elderly family members used to tell. I knew a few things about them, like that they’re mischievous creatures that play tricks on people who’ve stepped on wild mushrooms (where they supposedly live) or who enter the jungles of Guam without first asking permission. It wasn’t until my adulthood that I started taking them seriously, after seeing them with my own eyes.
A few years ago I had to help my daughter with a school project. She was assigned to come up with a way to trap duendes and make a model of the trap. Her idea was to hang a basket of snacks on a tree branch with a hole in the ground below covered with leaves. As they attempted to grab the fruit they’d fall into the hole and get trapped.
We built the model exactly how she imagined, using a cardboard drink box, construction paper, some glue, and a lot of tape. All that was left was to gather leaves to disguise the hole in the ground. By the time we finished it was after 6 p.m. If you grew up on Guam, you know not to pick flowers or leaves during dusk, because this was the hour that the taotaomo'na roam the area. But her project was due the next day so I went ahead and picked the leaves of an i’ba (gooseberry) tree growing in the yard at my grandparent’s home.
This was a big mistake.
We finished the project as soon as we got home, and then set it aside and ate dinner. As we got ready for bed I heard the cabinets in my kitchen open and close. Our apartment has a central aircon system and our windows are always closed, so it couldn’t have been the wind. I ignored it. A few minutes later, I heard knocking on my window. I looked outside but no one was there. Hours later, I heard what I thought were kids laughing in my living room. “Maybe my daughter left the TV on,” I thought. I checked, but the TV was off. Tired, I ignored this, too. I settled into bed, pulled my comforter over me to get some sleep, but… I couldn’t! From the corner of my eyes I saw something move, then I heard the laughter again – but now it was louder and seemed to be closer than before. Scared as I was, I got up to go to my daughter’s room to see if it was her, but she was peacefully asleep. I recall thinking in a panic, “I must be going crazy!”
I went back to my room, shook it off, and jumped into bed. Almost immediately, I heard the laughter again! I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I pulled my comforter down and looked up at the ceiling. Then I saw them, above me – small, childlike creatures moving through the shadows. I thought to myself, “Why are there babies on my ceiling?!” I closed my eyes, covered my head, and prayed. The laughter got louder and even closer. Now I could sense they were right next to me. I jumped up, grabbed my phone, and called my sister who lived upstairs. She was panicked and scared and knew I wasn’t messing around with her, so she called my mom and my aunt to come over. When they arrived I explained to them what I had heard and what I’d seen on ceiling above me. My aunt interrupted and said, “Those aren’t babies you’re seeing, they’re duendes! You made a trap to catch them and picked leaves when you weren’t supposed to.
Suddenly, it all made sense.
My aunt then burned palm leaves that had been blessed on Palm Sunday, letting the smoke go to all the rooms in my apartment. She then dipped the burning leaves in a mixture of holy water and coconut oil. She rubbed the mixture on me from head to toe, prayed, and told me that I needed to go to the i’ba tree and apologize.
To this day, I still feel a chill every time I see the i’ba tree in grandma’s yard. I keep my distance and don’t pick anything after dark. I don’t ever want to get trapped by the duendes again!
A Face in the Window
By Ronnisha Quintanilla
One night, when I was about 12 years old, my family and I were at our grandma’s house in Dededo. My mom, brother, and grandma were all sitting at the table in the extended kitchen at the back of her home. I felt tired and complained to my mom that I wanted to go home. She said not yet, so I decided to go lay down in our car parked on the side of the house not far from the kitchen.
I opened the back door of the car and lay down. My head was behind the driver’s seat and my feet behind the passenger seat. I heard someone approach the car, so I opened my eyes and saw my brother standing at the passenger window looking in. “He’s just trying to scare me,” I thought. I closed my eyes again, but I could still feel him staring at me. I opened my eyes but he wasn't at the passenger window. I quickly turned to see him looking in through the back window with his hands on the glass, just staring at me. It was so dark that I couldn’t see his face, but I knew it was him teasing me so I closed my eyes again. But at this point I felt afraid and whispered, "OK, I'm going to count to three, then he should be gone." When I opened my eyes he was gone. I jumped up and looked all around but didn’t see my brother. My heart was racing like I’d just run a marathon.
Now I was just furious with him. I rushed out of the car, ran to the kitchen, and yelled at my brother, "You know what, RJ? You're not funny at all!"
He looked incredibly confused and said, "What is your problem?"
Of course he’d try to play innocent. "Why were you trying to scare me at the car when I was trying to sleep? Ugh!"
He replied in a calm voice, "Sha, I wasn't at the car. I've been here the whole time."
I looked at my mom and grandma, still in shock and confused. It must have been him! But then my mom said, "Sha, RJ never got up from that chair. He's been sitting there." I felt the hair on my arms stand as goose bumps traveled my body. My grandma asked me if I saw the person’s face. I told her I hadn’t. His face was black, but he was wearing a white t-shirt just like my brother was wearing. Now we were worried that some random guy was wandering around the property. RJ checked around the house but no was there anymore.
We went home a little later that night. I showered and went straight to bed. But as I was falling asleep I felt someone tickling my feet. Tired, I ignored it. Then I felt as if someone was caressing my hair. My hair was really long at the time, going down to my thighs. I felt the goose bumps again as I got out of bed and went to my dad to tell him what happened. He calmly said he believed I had a "friend." He said it was a friendly spirit. A gentle taotaomo'na. Still, he lit a blessed palm leaf in my room to make sure I was safe. I was able to sleep peacefully that night.
However, even after that, the tickling and caressing of my hair continued. I began to sleep with blessed rosary beads hanging on my door and palm leaves on my window. I would wake up with dark bruises on my legs but they never hurt. My dad told me that just means that they like me and to not be afraid of them. I wasn't afraid, and after a while it stopped. It's been over 10 years and I still have the rosary beads hanging on my door.
Spirits in a Bed
By Jessica Galiendes
A few years ago my grandpa was giving away his bed. I needed one, so I ended up taking it. One day, not long afterward, I was asleep on the bed when all of a sudden it started shaking like crazy. At first I thought it was an earthquake. As I tried to get up and off the bed I realized I couldn’t move; I was completely stiff. I tried screaming for my mom but no words would come. I couldn’t speak.
“What the hell is going on!?,” I wanted to scream. Frightened, I closed my eyes again and just thought, “God please help me.”
At that point the shaking stopped and I could finally move again.
I ran to the other room to check on everyone else but no one else had felt the shaking or become momentarily paralyzed. It had only happened only to me. Later, when my mom told my auntie about what happened, she freaked out. My auntie said the reason my grandpa gave away the bed was because once while he was sleeping she saw a sinister black shadow sitting on the bed beside him.
Needless to say, I stopped sleeping on that bed for a while. I left a Bible on it to remove whatever bad spirit was there, and nothing like that has happened again.
‘Daddy sees things we can’t see’
By Kimberly Jadine Kaipat
It was a Saturday night and my family went to my auntie's house in Barrigada for a BBQ. It was one of those parties with awesome food, desserts, sodas, and beer that turns into a whole weekend thing. It seems like this should be remembered as another great family weekend, but it remains one of my worst memories.
We were inside the house snacking, playing games, and watching TV. Everyone was having fun, but I had this constant feeling that someone was watching me. From the corner of my right eye I saw a black shadow standing in the hallway. Nothing but pure black. “Maybe it's just one of the boys trying to scare me again,” I told myself. I was only nine years old at the time.
The shadow seemed to be a lady, though. I could see her hair floating with her dress but she was facing out toward the door. Then, all of a sudden, she slowly moved toward the door, looked back, and then went through it. I was shocked and didn't move a muscle. A few minutes later, my little brother Daniel came in and told me that we were headed home now. I looked at the clock and it was already midnight.
As we were getting in the car my dad kept saying, "Lanya babe, I told you to stop poking me when I was sleeping on the hammock." My mom replied jokingly, "I didn't touch you. Why am I gonna poke you when I could just slap you?"
“Are you sure?,” he asked.
"Yes Jay, I‘d remember if I had."
My dad scratched his head and looked around. Then he froze. He stood there with his eyes wide open staring under the lemai tree near my Nina's house. I looked toward the tree and saw the same shadow lady standing there.
My mom saw my dad’s expression and said, "Hafa Babe, are you okay?" My dad looked at her and said with fear in his voice, "Just get in the car. Don't look near the tree or else she's gonna try to hurt you. Just get in the car and we’ll leave."
My mom did as he said. As we were leaving my dad adjusted the mirrors and kept looking back. Then he saw the lady yelling and running after the car. He sped off fast.
I asked my mom what was going on and she said she’d explain when we got home. As we arrived back at our house my dad told my mom to bring us inside and lock the door so he could deal with this. Mom rushed us inside as fast as she could as my dad began yelling at someone out there. Mom asked us to get the blessed palm leaf and burn it, then said to find any red shirt and burn it. We all started praying. Then I asked her again, "Mommy what's going on with daddy? How come I see a lady following him?" She answered, "My kids, your daddy can see things we can't see. He is almost like a suruhåna. And tonight, there's a lady, a very mean lady, who is trying to take daddy away from us because she has fallen in love with him."
I remember thinking, why would she want my dad when he already has a family? Then I heard what sounded like big boulders slamming on top of us (we were living in a tin roof house).
We opened the door to look at my dad and boy was I scared. It looked like my dad’s hips were being squeezed really tightly and his eyes were huge from yelling and the pressure of the lady squeezing him. He kept saying, “Leave me alone, I'm married! I have a family… I love my wife and I love my kids! I don't love you, I don't want you, get out of my house. You don't belong here!”
My mom told me and my older brother to run around the house as fast as we can with the burned palm leaf and the red shirt and say, “No one is stronger than God. He is the protector of our house!" We did as we were told. I was so scared of the dark, but that night I was more scared to lose my dad.
Our house began to shake and rattle. I heard a lady scream with anger and run across our roof stomping and scratching and throwing rocks down. Then my mom yelled, "Get out of my house you evil witch! This is my husband. These are our kids. Can't you see we're happy? Leave us alone and go find someone else!" But the shadow lady kept screeching.
Then momma yelled, "No one is stronger than God! He is the protector of my house! So get out! You're not welcome here! Get out and never come back!"
With that, the running and scratching noises began to fade away. We felt the energy in the air change. It was good energy now. She had let go of my dad, and I could see his waist go back to normal before he passed out. We ran over to my parents and hugged them, crying. My mom said that everything will be okay, she's gone. Mom picked up dad and put him to bed on the couch in the living room.
When we talked about it later I learned that my mother and brother were able to hear everything but couldn't see the shadow lady. Only my father and I could. My dad, who is Carolinian, Chamorro, and Chuukese, grew up seeing taotaomo'na and evil spirits. But I’ve never seen anything like it since, except for a face with monstrous eyes looking into our home, but that’s another story. They say that kids can see things that older people can’t, and that ghosts and angels will reveal themselves to the innocents. I believe I saw the woman that night because I was so young that I didn’t know not to believe in such things.
All my life, I’ve been afraid of seeing that lady again. I’ve prayed every night to keep her away from us.