I joined a youth missionary group after high school. Other than going on missions to impoverished areas and visiting disadvantaged communities, we would sometimes be sent to attend something like a summer camp, but with a ton of lectures about faith and physically demanding games and meditation sessions, in the middle of thick woods or up on a hill faraway from modern civilization. 

One such camp took us to a mountainous region blanketed by thick foliage where there were no human settlement for at least 15 kilometres in Indonesia. The only reminder of human life up in those mountains were the sporadic presence of farms, mostly fruit orchards, that permeated the forest every few metres. As it wasn't harvest season, no one stayed on the farms nor nearby. So it was just 30 rambunctious teenagers and young adults with a handful of stern elders for a few nights in a rented manor that was located next to a banana plantation up on a hill with thick forests. 

The first day we arrived, all of us were excited because we really needed the break from everyday life. As none of us attending were Indonesian, we failed to realize that having a banana tree nearby, notwithstanding an entire banana plantation, was very inauspicious, which I found out later on from the locals. 

As dusk was approaching, I began to feel as though someone not from our group was watching me from the cover of the trees. I looked at the trees where the feeling was most intense but never managed to spot anything. 

That night after dinner, we were told to play a game of group charades. Some of us had to sit on the verandah outside to brainstorm a game plan, when I felt a sudden chill on my back, which was facing the forest. I turned around to look behind me, where my gaze fell on several small lights of greenish yellow colour speckled across different heights of the forest foliage. Some were stationary and some were moving about slowly while blinking in and out of existence. Thinking that those were the lights from fireflies, I gazed at them for several minutes, but I noticed that the more I looked, the temperature around me felt like it dropped a degree every few seconds. When a teammate called out to me, I turned my head to answer his question, and looked back at the trees. This time the moving lights were gone, only the stationary ones remained. I mentioned what I supposed were fireflies to him, but he, being a science major at university, said that it was rare for fireflies to be found up in the hills far from a water source, as there was no body of water near us. I pointed at the trees where I saw the lights, but this time even the stationary lights have vanished. I thought I was lucky to have seen the rare instance of fireflies being so far away from a body of water and at such altitudes but my teammate shrugged off what I said, but he did acknowledge that the temperature on the verandah felt unnaturally cold on account of the fact that we were in a tropical region and it wasn't cloudy nor windy. 

The following evening, we were again on the verandah playing yet another game when I heard a rather high-pitched female moan. I looked around and asked if they heard it too. None of the male teammates heard a single thing, but the female teammates said they heard a strange high-pitched sound that was similar to a cat's mating call. That sound repeated itself several times throughout the night with the pitch getting higher and higher each time.

By the third and final night of our stay, some of us were getting spooked. This is when I found out I wasn't the only one who felt being watched when the sky was getting dark, and I definitely wasn't alone in feeling the random and sudden drop in temperature, and there were more than a handful of us at this point who could hear that strange high-pitched sound. That night, I remember it was 3 minutes past 3 am when I awoke to the sound of a woman's cries, but it didn't sound entirely like she was crying either. It sounded like a mix of crying, laughing, shrieking and moaning that got louder and louder as if the person was getting nearer to us at a high speed. I looked around to make sure it wasn't anyone in the same room having an emotional breakdown, but everyone was sound asleep. No one in the room was awake except for me. By now, the cries were coming from just outside our window, which is located on the second floor of the manor. Although I couldn't see who it was, I am very sure that person was flying, not running nor was it a prank. My reasons for this being : it is fucking 3 am in the morning in the woods up on a hill 15 kilometres from the nearest village. Who in their right fucking mind wants to mess with a bunch of sleeping kids in the middle of nowhere? And for what? The cries gradually faded and I stayed awake for about half an hour before falling asleep again. 

In the morning, just before leaving the camp, our camp counselor, an elderly man who had been there several times now, held a short seminar when he asked if any of us had unusual experiences during our stay. About half of us raised our hands and he merely chuckled, and told us that we weren't the only ones. Apparently that manor had been well-known by the missionary group for unexplained phenomena. Every time they held an event there, attendees will report some bizarre incidents. 

When we were taken out of those hills by our local guide, I told him of my experiences the past few nights, and he said it was most definitely a pontianak. He explained that a Pontianak is the vampiric spirit of a deceased pregnant woman who has become vengeful, and flies around at night looking for blood, even period blood from discarded female sanitary products, to feast on. A Pontianak often has glowing eyes, usually in the hues of red or green or even yellow. A Pontianak is known for hanging around dark trees during the night when it is not hunting for blood, but its favourite hideout during the day is within banana trees where it transforms into spirit form and stays in the unripe fruit or within the trunk of the tree. The creepy combination of cries, laughter, shrieks, and moans are meant to confuse and lure victims out by sounding like a damsel in distress or a child in trouble, or even both at the same time. Appearance wise, our local guide said a Pontianak has long hair, sharp claws, fangs, and wears either a green, red or white dress in addition to having the aforementioned glowing eyes. It levitates and flies around looking for prey at night, but some have been known to be out and about during the day, but have to remain in the shade in less noisy and crowded areas, even in urban areas. 

When he was done telling me about Pontianaks, I almost shit my pants out of disbelief and shock from realising how close I was to a real undead creature. The local guide explained that no one lives near that hill we had our camp on because it has a large banana plantation and a very old disused cemetery where the remains of several Pontianaks, and those of unborn children, are believed to be buried. That is why the manor we stayed in is so affordable, and the cost of the camp was very low, for the missionary group as no one else was willing to take up the place because of the location. 

I shudder every time I recall that horrible sound, and I am extremely grateful that I didn't try to look out that window because I don't think I can handle the sight of a floating dead lady ever in my life. 
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