They often say that life imitates art, but a recent news story about a group of Cambodian students attempted to take that maxim to a frightening extreme.
Website iO9 reports that 136 students at a Cambodian high school passed out while being forced to stand at attention as punishment for failing to show the proper respect for the national flag. That in itself isn’t particularly terrifying, but it is odd.
No, where things get a little spooky is in the “explanation” from the local police chief. According to authorities – who cite a nearby hospital who examined the children, the kids lost consciousness because a large nearby tree was hogging all the oxygen. Trees striking back at humanity? It sounds like something straight out of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening – which is perhaps scarier than anything we’ve ever heard. When nature starts mimicking bad Shyamalan films, humanity's days are clearly numbered.
The police and school director insist that the fainting couldn’t have been caused by the punishment (the school director says the punishment never even happened in the first place) because a nearby teacher also fell ill and nearly fainted as well.
We’re no biologists, but as we remember it trees take in carbon dioxide and make oxygen – they don’t suck it all up or we’d be chopping the rainforest down even faster than we already are. Perhaps there’s some miscommunication here – the original reports call the tree a “medicinal” one, so maybe it was giving off some kind of odor that knocked people out.
Cambodia seems to be a pretty scary place – first it was teenagers having nightmares and then dying in their sleep (which served as the inspiration for Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street) and now the trees are knocking people out – and that’s not even considering how terrifying it had to have been during the days of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. We think we’ll be marking the country off our list of future vacation destinations for the time being.