This happened when I was in elementary school. I was one of those so-called “latchkey kids” and whenever I got home, nobody was there. This made me so lonely that I always stayed behind at school until it got dark.
I spent most of my time throwing around a ball with my friends in the playground, but they all had to go home once it reached 4:30. After they disappeared, I’d play alone for a while and then finally go home. First on the horizontal bars, then the swings, the monkey bars, and then the climbing pole. Last of all was the slide.
This slide was strangely shaped. Once you reached the top of it, it split into a V shape, so it was really two slides. Kind of like an elephant with two noses. It was no doubt made so two children could use it at the same time, but in reality, we could only use the left-hand side. The right-hand side was sealed off with wooden planks and a piece of paper that said “Keep Off!”
According to the teachers, there was a splinter or something sharp sticking out of it, and somebody had gotten injured, which was why it was forbidden to use. But of course, if you tell children they can’t do something, that makes them want to do it even more. It was evening. Everyone had gone home. I was alone on the playground. Curiosity gripped me. Nervously I climbed over the wood and went down the forbidden slide.
I should have reached the ground in an instant, but it seemed to go on and on.
Sensing something wasn’t right, I turned and saw a large red face looking at me. It screamed and attacked me.
As for what happened next, I honestly don’t know. It scared the hell out of me and when I finally hit the ground, I took off running from the slide.
The red face by the side of the slide was the exact same height as an adult. Yet its head was larger than a normal adult’s, and it wasn’t a human face. It was red and large, kind of like a namahage or shishi from those lion dances… Basically, something like an oni mask.
Thinking that maybe someone was trying to play a trick on me with a mask, I looked down at its feet. No matter how I looked at it, it appeared to be floating in mid-air. Then it turned and started chasing me. Not running, but floating through the air.
Terrified, I took off. I could hear it grumbling behind me, “Gua, gua.”
“Teacher! Teacher!” I ran screaming towards the school, hoping to get help from the teacher’s room. However, the school was strangely locked, and I couldn’t get in. The front gate was shut as well. As I ran around the school, the monster closed in on me. There was no denying it; it was very much after me. Its red mouth opened and closed, drool dribbling down its chin.
I bawled my eyes out, but nobody came to help me. It was like the only things that even existed were the monster and myself, and I couldn’t get in or out of the school. I started to think that it wouldn’t be long until the monster ate me…
I ran and ran, covered in sweat and tears, and made my way back to the playground. I climbed the slide. I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I went back down the slide, then everything would return to normal again. This time I went down the other side; the left side. The side that didn’t have a “Keep Off!” sign on it.
When I reached the bottom, I felt like something had changed. Like the oppressive air around me had dissipated. I looked around for the red monster, but it was gone. I went inside the school and the teachers were in the staff room, and the front gate was also open.
But then something even more strange happened. The slide shaped like a V with two slides had become just one.
“That slide used to have two slides, didn’t it?” I tried to confirm with the teachers and my friends, but everyone said it had only ever had one slide. Looking closer, there was only one landing spot at the bottom of the slide. But there was no doubt in my mind that there had been two, and I even remembered checking the “Keep Off!” sign with one of my friends. The teachers had told us to stay off it. I remembered.
I still vividly remember that red monster, even now. And yet, I seem to be the only one who remembers the two slides. I still don’t know whether that experience and those memories are real, or if my own memories are wrong somehow. But either way, that was the scariest experience of my youth.