Reflections on the Middle Lift

As we all know, in the spirit of Halloween, the middle lift was revamped with a Halloween-themed interior last semester. The first time I laid eyes on the decorations (from the level lounge), it was still in the midst of being set up. I was impressed by the lighting since it was pretty chic. The second time I saw it, however, the entire décor was up, and my heart sank. I then made a conscious effort to avoid it whenever I could. In an extreme case, I would have pressed the emergency button to get myself out of this nightmare. Had there been a scare actor inside, someone (most likely me) might have gotten hurt from either falling in an attempt to escape or from passing out from fear. In unique cases, the scare actor might end up getting assaulted in the midst of the chaos.

My initial thought was that whoever responsible for this decor must be crazy. I entered the lift, I could feel my heart beating out of my chest. I wanted so desperately to get out. I was in an enclosed area with eerie lighting and disturbing images. At the back, I was greeted with a wig half-covered with a bridal shawl. I looked down and was met with yet another corpse bride-esque picture (that was eventually removed). It wasn’t merely a question of fight or flight. I was trapped within, at the mercy of the lift’s doors. I had to endure a few levels (or more) to get to my destination. I couldn’t even rest my eyes anywhere to allow myself to be oblivious to my surroundings. Thank goodness for the Tembusu events posters; they reminded me that the horror wasn’t real.

The first time I went inside, it was with a friend (let’s call her friend A). As we were heading down for dinner, the middle lift came for us. Fearful of the paranormal, we agreed to enter the lift only if there were other people inside. Otherwise, we would have taken the stairs instead. (No kidding, we were that afraid.) When the elevator arrived, we heaved a sigh of relief at the sight of the large dinner crowd within. That was Round 1 in the bag. Now for the harder part: the long ride down. You could smell the fear in the air. I still remember friend A breaking into nervous laughter and a female student trying to look away from the decor whilst being wary of her surroundings. As the lift came to a stop, friend A then realised that none of us had pressed the button for level one. We were sent to the basement level instead. However, all of us were more than happy to get ourselves out and away from the lift. More than half of us walked up to level one – evidently we would rather walk up a flight of stairs than to endure the excruciating elevator ride back up just one floor.

Not long after, we met friend B for dinner. After a few exchanges on scare-house misadventures, the humour of being in a real-life horror-comedy started to set in and it became apparent that despite my build, I was a scaredy cat. Friend B then became curious about my behaviour in the middle lift and by some cruel trick of fate, it came for us after dinner. Here we go again, another ascension of terror.

Friend B was visibly disappointed after noting that I was rather calm. That was probably because it wasn’t my first time riding it. Then again, my blood was coursing like rapids within, despite having exited the lift. I had successfully overcome that day’s test of my limits.

The subsequent times I entered the elevator weren’t so bad after all. I already knew what to expect and, in a way, I felt safe knowing that was all to it. There were no jump scares, no unfamiliar scary faces or dolls making weird noises. With everything remaining as status quo, I was able to take the middle lift as usual. I could go about my daily routine without having to specially avoid the middle lift.

There’s a group of people who had remained thoroughly unfazed by the Halloween décor, and I salute them for their courage. From them, I learnt that the fear some of us bear towards the décor is purely self-conjured; our minds interpret them as a threat. It’s a biological cognition ingrained in our systems – overreact and you lose nothing; ignore a real threat and it could be deadly. It is the anticipation of something bigger that is coming which keeps us on guard. When you step into the lift, our biological cognitions would place the red lighting in the cautious zone. From the outside, we know that it’s merely a bunch of props and special effects creating another reality. However, when the lift door closes, the mind becomes on guard in preparation of any threats. As we take the lift for a few more times, we become used to the decorations and there were even some elements removed under the request of the Office of Student Housing (OHS). With no new scare factors, the mind now rests with ease, knowing that nothing would appear out of nowhere.

To the organizers of tHalloween, kudos to all of you for the effort. At the end of the day, we recognise that it was all done in the name of fun and festivities. You’ve been successful in scaring the living daylights out of all of us. If anyone said that the lift was “too scary to ride”, it would just be an added testament to your success. To those who were afraid of the middle lift, it’s alright to feel scared and uncomfortable. We’re human, after all.


Image provided by Gao Yiming

About the Author

Ying Hui is an eccentric still trying to comprehend the world of Material Sciences. She enjoys Photography and a great convo anytime, although she usually ends up providing entertainment and talking nonsense instead. Give this caffeine addict her coffee & she might turn you into a cover model.