The Screaming Lady of Zhaojia Bang Lu

June 1st, 2009. Categories / China, Shanghai

The night screamer’s haunt.

Many nights ago at dinner, a friend staying in the same serviced apartment as J. and I told a story. He had been awoken late at night by a woman screaming. Her screams consisted of a repetitive phrase in either Chinese or gibberish. He tried to block it out and go back to sleep, but she persisted. The friend got out of bed and looked over the balcony. The neighborhood was quiet and deserted. No terrifying ghost lady was floating around; the screams had stopped. In the building across the courtyard, a window was flickering with the cool light of a television. The friend wondered if the sound had come from inside the building or if it was simply imagined.

His story was haunting. But I was puzzled that I hadn’t heard the screamer that night. Not only was I up late, but all sorts of loud noises usually wake me up. In our serviced apartment, it’s not uncommon to hear jackhammering, firecrackers, random booms, loud arguments, and heavy trucks clattering by.

But last night, I finally heard her. Around 11:30, a repetitive wailing began. It was definitely a female voice. I went to balcony and looked around. A female figure shambled down one of the dark alleys leading to some old apartment buildings just outside the property. Her cries weren’t as terrifying as my friend described. They sounded more like insane confusion or sadness. The lady was like a weeping La Llorona.

She wailed for more than five minutes, but no one on the street seemed to notice. The security guard for the alley was just sitting there. People walking by didn’t look in her direction. Sound echoes easily between the towers making it hard to find the source. I began to doubt that the woman was really the screamer.

I sat down at my computer and starting being unproductive again. The screaming faded away. After half an hour, it came back. When I went to the balcony, I couldn’t see the lady.

From a balcony above me, someone was shining a green laser in the area she had been before. Was he searching for the screamer with hopes of scaring her away? Was he trying to play with her like a cat? Was it just a weird coincidence?

But it was getting late for such surreal questions. J. and I got ready for bed. Good night moon, good night air, good night noises everywhere.

By the time we turned off the lights, the screaming had stopped again.


Your story of the night screamer reminds me of some of the characters in my friend Seth’s neighborhood and life. People are fascinating! and sad.


hei, i realy like that “my life is significant” thing. great

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