The Secret under the Tarpaulin

The informant is a 20 year old female who went to Shipai elementary school in Taipei, Taiwan. The interview was conducted through a video call. Shipai Elementary school is a public elementary school in Beitou District. It’s directly next to Shipai Junior High School.

Informant: I remember when I was third grade, my classmate at the time asked me if I have heard about the rumors. I asked her, “What rumors?” She said that people are saying there was a dead body under the tarpaulin at the corner of the school. I asked her where exactly was she talking about. It was an empty space between the first grade building and the third grade building, next to the wall that separates the elementary school and the Junior High School. We, and other kids, decided to check it out during the long recess. We ran downstairs to the place and saw this huge tarpaulin with blue and white stripes. The tarpaulin was covering a lump on the ground, so we know there is something underneath. None of us were brave enough to approach the thing, let along uncover it. I remember we were all standing there, 10 meters away from the tarpaulin, and a squirrel ran across the tarpaulin and we all started screaming. That was that. There was another time I walked past it and a corner of the thing underneath was out. It was just a pile of wood. We don’t really know who started a rumor and we don’t really know if it was a pile of wood when we first saw it, but that corner of the school always feel weird to me. I don’t really know why though. After I started junior high, people were talking about how some bad kids would hide there, on the other side of the wall, and smoke, maybe that’s why.

This legend that circled among kids around early 2010s in a particular local school shows how a simple trivial unknown thing can become the greatest mystery through imagination. The informant’s later revelation drew a conclusion to her early legend quest and she may have found the logical explanation as of why the legend appear in the first place. There is a chance that the school teachers were trying to keep the young kids away from that space by making up the rumors in order to shelter them from exposure to bad substance.