fiction

The Unknown

Ahumai hastened towards The City. His team had discovered an unknown, the first discovery in over a decade. It was big news. His team mates – Dalila and Jidlaph followed him, trying to keep up. They were Ahumai’s blood-sworn and were tasked with watching his back. It had been a long mission and they were tired. However, they knew that even though they were out of dangerous waters, they could not afford to ease up. Enemies could be lurking behind any coral, waiting to ambush them. Ahumai was not making their task any easier. He had abandoned all vigilance and was making a straight dash to The City, and who could blame him? The mission had been an astounding success. Clutched in his hands was a safety packet and within it resided the unknown. They had given up trying to slow him down and instead focused on surveying their surroundings to the best of their ability, without losing sight of his swishing emerald tail.

The three blood-sworn belonged to the Selachii Kingdom, one of the many Sea-folk kingdoms. The City was the capital of Selachii Kingdom, and the birthplace of the three.  After a swift and arduous swim through the azure waters of Selachii, the trio finally gazed upon The City. It was city of pale golden colour, masterfully architected with a slew of magnificent minarets towering over each other. A crystal-clear purifier dome separated the city limits from the outer Azure waters. It was truly a sight to beholden, and no matter how many times Ahumai saw it, he always fell in love with its pristine beauty. The three made their way to the city entrance, swimming alongside shoals of persimmon coloured fish. The guards positioned at the entrance saluted the three as they entered. Ahumai was used to salutes because he was the younger Selachii prince, but he had never liked them. However, today for a change he acknowledged the salutes whole-heartedly. For the first time, he felt as if he had earned them. He had after all discovered an unknown.

As soon he entered the city premises, he spotted his older brother approaching. It was difficult to miss his muscular frame. It was even more difficult to miss his bright acid green tail. Ahumai was gleaming with joy when his brother was close enough to look at the safety packet.

“Ahumai, is that an unknown?”

“It sure is, Pachu’a. The first one found in so many years.”

“Very good. Take it directly to the Science Center. I want to know if it can be used as a weapon against our enemies.”

Ahumai hated this about his brother. He was only concerned with warfare. If something did not aid in increasing his own power, it was of no interest to him. He had no inclination towards history at all. In contrast to his older brother, Ahumai loved knowledge. Even the discovery of simple trivial knowledge excited him, and this was an unknown. He was eager to know what stories it held. However, he could not say all this to his sibling. Ahumai nodded.

“Yes, I will take it to the science center.”

Pachu’a placed his burly right arm on Ahumai’s shoulder.

“Good. We need to strengthen ourselves as much as we can, little brother. Our enemies are many and we need all the advantages we can get.”

Ahumai bowed his head. His companions followed suit and kept their heads bowed until the heir to the Selachii Kingdom had passed them. Ahumai turned to face Dalila and Jidlaph.

“Well, as my brother told us, we are going to the Science Center. But, after we meet Grandpa. I want him to see it before the other scientists.”

Dalila shook her head.

“I knew this was coming. You always have to undermine your brother in some way.”

Jidlaph grunted in agreement.

“Come on, it is not about that. At least, not this time. Grandpa always has something interesting to share. I want to know what he thinks before the other war-hungry scientists look at the unknown we found. Are you both coming?”

Jidlaph shrugged his shoulders. Dalila opened her mouth to argue and closed it after a split second. She realized Ahumai was not going to change his mind. She beckoned Ahumai to lead the way. Ahumai smiled to himself.

Making their way through the busy streets of The City, the trio reached Grandpa’s house. The house was ancient, which was quite visible to any onlooker. Before Ahumai could place his palm on the door to let Grandpa know he had visitors, the door slid open. The trio heard Grandpa’s gruff voice.

“Come on in, kids. This house may be old, but I assure you the technology on which it runs is cutting edge.”

The three blood-sworn entered. They swam past the meeting area and into Grandpa’s study. Ahumai held up the safety packet as soon as he saw Grandpa. Grandpa’s jaw dropped.

“My dear boy! Is that an unknown? Did you really find one?”

The trio chimed in unison.

“Yes, Grandpa!”

“Where did you find it?”

“We were scouting the brooding caverns. Found it in a small unclaimed chest.”

“That was mighty lucky. Well then, let us see it. Quickly now.”

Ahumai opened the lock on the safety packet and removed the unknown. It looked like a covering of some kind much like the gauntlets worn by Selachii soldiers, but they were flatter in shape and their material unlike any that had been encountered before. Each side of the unknown was marked by similar markings.

“Have you ever seen this mark, Grandpa?”

“No, I have not. Maybe it is an ancient language.”

Ahumai nodded. To his eyes, the markings looked like the outline made by his thumb and his index finger, when he stuck them both out. Maybe, they communicated with their fingers. Ahumai observed that Grandpa looked pleased.

“Grandpa, what are you thinking? You seem happy.”

“You see, child, I have been working on a theory for many years now. This might be the first proof supporting this theory.”

“What theory is that?”

“I believe that many millions of years ago, the world was not entirely submerged in water. In those times, our ancestors lived on land. They probably had limbs that aided them in moving around on land. This unknown may be a gauntlet of sorts for their lower limbs. And then after some time, due to some reason, the entire world flooded.”

The three blood-sworn gaped at Grandpa. He burst out laughing.

“Kids, it is just a theory. I know it sounds absurd – areas without water and our ancestors living in such areas.”

 

 

 

*The names used in the story, are all connected to water in some way.

Ahumai : A meadow of waters

Dalila: Water bearer

Jidlaph: He that distills water

Pachu’a: Feathered water snake

Source

 

**Those who found the description of the markings confusing, this is what I intended to convey :

RJ62DEg.jpg

 

 

If you like stories related to the Sea you may want to give the Sea of Blood series a read!

 

 

 

Graveyard Walk

The moon observed the two friends as they crossed the cobbled street. In contrast to the white splendor of the moon, the two were clothed in dull, tattered garbs. They held on to each other for support as they hobbled along. The gaslights were the only source of illumination for the two, in these wee hours. The duo stopped in front of the cemetery.

“We are here, Harry.”

“Yes, we are, Don.”

Harry pushed open the gate. Don could see it was taking Harry a massive effort. He put his body weight against the door. With much effort, the two managed to get the rusted iron gate open. They stood at their spots for a couple of minutes, panting and wheezing. It was to be expected. They were not young anymore. Harry bent clutching his stomach and looked up at Don.

“That took a lot of gas. Shall we make a move?”

“We should. I feel so old.”

“Don, you are old.”

Don caught Harry’s eye and they burst out laughing. They stopped abruptly as soon as they heard their laughter echoing. They continued walking deeper into the graveyard, the ever-watchful moon illuminating the rough terrain in front of them. The two friends continued walking slowly. They peered at the names on the gravestones that lay on either side.

“You know Harry, I don’t remember the graveyard being so big. At least it does not look so big from the outside.”

“Your memory serves you well, old fellow. The war is the cause of the expansion.”

“Oh yes, we live in times of war. Brutal times, claiming the lives of so many.”

“They always have Don, they always have. Wars deplete lives and resources. Wow! All this walking is really killing me.”

“I think it is the lack of walking that is killing us.”

Harry chuckled.

Don placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder.

“Have we reached, yet?”

Harry looked around.

“Nah! These are old graves. The new ones are much further. Quit complaining and keep walking.”

Don grumbled. He hated walking. Harry on the other hand, quite enjoyed it. In all their many years of friendship, Harry had never once heard Don go on long walks without grumbling. So, he was quite used to it.

“Let’s go back Harry. I don’t feel like walking any more.”

“Stop being so cranky. You know this is important for me, important for us. We need to do it. Besides, both of us know very well, that after we reach you are going to think the long walk was completely worth it.”

Don ran his fingers through his white hair. He knew Harry was right. However, he enjoyed complaining to Harry. He found it entertaining. The two continued their ritualistic walk silently, pausing every few minutes to catch their breath. After a good ten more minutes, Harry stopped and looked around with a smile on his face.

“This is it, we are here.”

Don flopped on the ground.

“Finally! The torturous walk is finally over.”

Harry snorted.

“Enough of the complaining, Don. It is now time to enjoy.”

Harry walked to the nearest gravestone, the one to his left. Don got up to his feet and followed Harry. Harry bent down, looking at the gravestone and read aloud:

“Pvt. Timothy Douglas lies here. How does this Timothy Douglas sound like?”

Don rubbed his hands in anticipation.

“Sounds like a real fine treat.”

Harry bent down and began unearthing the grave.

“Well, thank heavens for wars. As long as men deplete each other, our kind will never have to go hungry.”

Don smacked his lips in response.

 

via Daily Prompt: Deplete

Daily Prompt: Froth

Gini placed her glass on the coaster. The Dunkel in her frosted glass frothed intensely, threatening to spill out. Inu gave her a disapproving look.

“How you can like your beer like this, has always escaped me.”

Gini looked at Inu’s glass. Her pale ale was sitting perfectly, its copper hued body showing only mild signs of a white head.

“Yeah, yeah! I can’t help it if you like to have it in an unhealthy way.”

“Hey! If you are going to froth it and waste so much of it, I would call that a waste.”

Gini lifted the glass and took a deep sip.

“Like I always say – To each their own.”

Inu laughed.

“Are you laughing at my statement?”

“Not at all. Just at your choice in growing facial hair.”

Gini realized she had froth around her mouth. She joined in the laughter. Their laughter was quite loud, but this in no way caused any ruckus, for there was no else in the pub. It was just the two of them and a couple of servers. The dark pub was tailored to emulate an olden Irish establishment. The walls and tiles had a grey stone-finish while the tables were a complimentary shade of gingerbread brown. The setup was complete with a fully stocked bar, displaying all its wares on wooden open-top shelves, and a multitude of beer taps at a ready reach for the barkeep. Maroon-cushioned bar stools completed the look.

“But, speaking of beer froth, is this not where it all began for us?”

“Right you are, Gini. Right you are. Fifteen years ago.”

“Wow! Has it been so long already?”

“Yep! The first year in our graduation struggle. Wait, my graduation struggle. You were always among the top-scorers.”

“Come on, nothing like that.”

“Gini Siqueira – honour student and pride of the batch.”

“Let’s not forget – party animal.”

“Oh yes! That is how we met. You had had one beer too many and were gyrating on the table, much to the delight of all the boys there.”

Gini chortled as she took another swig from her glass.

“I agree. I had had a lot I guess.”

“Totally! And I had to drop you home after you passed out, knocking the whole table’s drinks on to me.”

“Come on, Inu. I have apologized for that. Besides, that is how we met for the first time.”

Inu winked.

“No apologies needed, stupid. I am glad that happened. After that incident, we frequented this place. Our bond growing stronger hand in hand with the increasing potency of the concoctions we drained here.“

“Indeed. But, nothing could replace beer.”

“Cheers to that!”

Gini and Inu clanked their glasses together, spilling the brown and copper liquids on the table.

“That was a hard cheer. We need to be careful, Inu. Lest we repeat what we did after our final marks came through.”

Inu chuckled, but was quick to place her glass down.

“I did not even expect to pass, you know. I hated numbers, and accounts, and all that shit. I just did it because my parents asked me to do it. ”

“Yes, I know. I remember you announcing that they were tyrants who dictated every move you made in life.”

“I said too much, I guess. You know there was a lot happening then. My parents wanted to marry me off. I had my own dreams, I wanted to do a lot before I settled down. They just did not get it.”

“So, you just ran off and came to live with me. Very mature indeed!”

Inu took a large gulp of the beer.

“Come on, I was a kid back then.”

Gini stuck out her tongue.

“And I wasn’t?”

“No you weren’t. You were always the mature one. You were the one who convinced my parents to drop marriage plans. You convinced them that it was okay for me to leave my house and seek my own adventure. Well, all that as long as I promised to call them every day.”

“I may have done that. However, I was not always the mature one. You handled me through my multiple break-ups and problems. Anyone wanting to mess with me had to go through you.”

“That is what best friends are for, no? I had every faith in you that you would become a big-shot – minting money every day.”

“I had to live up to my best friend’s faith, no? I was never as brave as you were. I stuck to the status quo. Worked at those boring 9 to 5 jobs and worked my way up the corporate ladder. I simply walked down a beaten path. You are different Inu. You took the road through the woods. I don’t think I would have been able to work at jobs that interested me but offered no stability.”

“Yeah, I did a lot of different gigs. However, I continued saving up and always worked towards my dream. Speaking of which, I need to get to work now.”

Inu drained her glass and walked up to the bar. She took her place behind the bar. Gini followed her, glass in hand and sat down on the plush stool.

“So, barkeeper, can I get a refill?”

Inu laughed as she took the glass from Gini and refilled it at the tap.

“You can froth it up, Inu. Our journey began covered with froth. Now, I see you have finally achieved your dream. I think we can do with more froth – a refill for my glass and a refuel for our journey.”

“Thanks a lot for everything Gini. I owe you my dream.”

“No you don’t. Your dream is yours and you worked hard to achieve it. I just helped my best friend achieve it. The victory is yours.”

“No, it is ours.”

“Cheers to that, Inu. Shall we turn on the lights then? It is opening night after all.”

Inu had tears in her eyes as she nodded.

“Very well, co-owner. The Frothy Beer has now reopened for business. My dream is our dream now.”

 

Image Credit: http://img.webmd.com/dtmcms/live/webmd/consumer_assets/site_images/rich_media_quiz/topic/rmq_beer_calories/photolibrary_rm_photo_of_two_glasses_beer.jpg

via Daily Prompt: Froth

Whodunit? Part-2

Bruce sat along with his guests in the living room. There was a deathly silence in the room. No one was uttering a word from their mouth. The guests’ eyes moved back and forth, trying to catch each other but trying to avoid Bruce’s piercing gaze. After Alfred had been declared dead, Bruce had activated the lockdown again. He had made it clear to his guests that no one was leaving until the murderer was caught. His guests had been wise not to protest. Bruce had led them to the living room and asked everyone to take a seat. He sat in his armchair and tried to decipher if his guests were involved in the death of Alfred just by looking at their faces. He soon realized this would not work and he decided to break the silence.

“Now, if any of you had any hand or even a finger in the murder of my butler, I want you to confess right now. I promise I will simply hand you over to the police. But, if I decipher it later, there will be no police and no justice. It will be just you and me, and nothing will stop me.”

L gave Bruce a smirk.

“Mr. Wayne, I understand how you must be feeling right now. But, you cannot hold us here as prisoners, you know.  I can make one call from my cellphone and have the cops come here.”

Bruce looked L straight in the eye.

“I knew that was a possibility, so I have already jammed your phones. You cannot have any contact with the outside world until the killer is caught.”

L held Bruce’s gaze evenly. Sherlock cleared his throat.

“Bruce, there was a lockdown that was initiated here previously this evening. Only you or Alfred could have initiated it, since there is no one else here. Definitely not one of us. Now, Alfred is dead and you would not have initiated a lockdown for no reason. So, we could continue being suspicious of each other or accept the possibility that there is another person in this house. The person because of whom the lockdown was initiated and the person who killed Alfred is still somewhere in this house, trapped with us.”

Shaggy laughed nervously and whispered to Scooby.

“More like, we are trapped here with him.”

Sherlock ignored the comment and addressed the detectives in the room.

“We are all under suspicion here, even you Mr. Wayne. Anyone could be an accomplice to the killer here, or maybe even the killer himself. So, if we work together, we can keep an eye on each other and solve the murder case as well. What say?”

Everyone nodded in agreement. Bruce got up from his place.

“Very well, we shall work together. But, since you know my secret I think we should all be on level ground here. I have been keeping a tab on all of you. Let me start with you Sherlock. Wasn’t Irene Adler just a red herring for Watson? You never wanted him to suspect that you had the hots for him and have been jealous of his wife.”

Sherlock turned a deep shade of red. Without waiting for a response, Bruce continued the expose.

“L, you have been known to aid various police departments in apprehending criminals by solving unsolvable cases. But, you also have cut a lot of deals with the criminals, keeping the truly dangerous ones hidden away, until a case carrying renown turns up, and only then you miraculously solve it and apprehend the ones you shielded yourself.”

L sank back into his chair, pinching hard on his lower lip and gazing into distance. Bruce turned towards Inspector Clousseau.

“Now, my French Inspector. You managed to prevent the robbery of the Pink Panther on multiple occasions, even managed to recover it several times. This made you a hero in the eyes of the French population. But, what they do not know is that it was not you who managed to pull off these feats. There were others who did the hard work, but you managed to steal their glory and take all the credit, taking harsh steps to silence the ones who did their duty.”

The French Inspector began fidgeting with his fingers and turned his eyes away from Bruce. Without stopping, Bruce turned to Shaggy and Scooby.

“You are both renowned paranormal investigators. You claim to see ghosts and communicate with them, this the general populace knows. But, do they know that these ghosts and apparitions you have claimed to see are actually hallucinations? Hallucinations caused by those Scooby Snacks you keep munching on.”

Shaggy and Scooby hugged each other as their shivering resumed. Satisfied with the effects his words had on his guests, Bruce got up from his seat.

“Now, I think we are all in a position to work together. Everyone knows each other’s secrets, so we now have leverage over everyone, and hopefully some trust as well. Let us study the crime scene, there are bound to be clues there.”

Everyone murmured in agreement. All the guests were shocked after listening to their hidden truths. With their masks torn off, they felt naked in the gaze of everyone. But, they found their courage in the fact that everyone was in the same boat, and the only way they could get out of this situation, was by working together. They made their way to the scene of the crime. Bruce was not wearing his bat-suit and knew he could not access it without leading the others to the bat cave. He realized he only had his raw-detective skills and smarts to depend on. His huge array of gadgets, save his scanner, were of no help here. Sherlock took the lead while entering the room. He hated other people defiling the crime scene. As he entered, he noticed the body was lying as it was, but there was something new at the crime scene. A page was lying next to Alfred. Sherlock gingerly picked it up, not to touch the dead body. He saw that the page had a note scribbled on it.

Greetings great Detectives,

I hope you are enjoying your evening in Wayne Manor. I wanted to join in on the fun. So, consider this dead old butler my invitation card to your party. Well, it is also a challenge. I am here in this very manor. Prove to me that you are indeed the greatest detectives alive (for now). You have the entire night to solve this challenge. Figure out who I am, and I shall concede defeat.

Yours Sincerely,

Chuckles

PS- Don’t let your guard down, that would be a fatal error.

PPS- Let me give you a hint – We have met.

 

Sherlock read out the message to the others and passed it around for everyone to read. While people took their turns reading and observing the note, others tried to find clues on and around the body. After looking around for a good fifteen minutes, the detectives decided to take a break. Inspector Clousseau wiped his brow with his handkerchief.

“Eet eez not pozzible. Zere waz no cloo we could find.”

Sherlock shook his head sideways.

“Gentlemen, I think we have been directing our efforts in the wrong direction. Clearly, the murderer is smart. He wants us to play the game his way and purposely left the note next to Alfred. That would mean there is a clue in that note.”

L held the note in one hand and pointed at it with the other.

“This name, Chuckles. Does it ring any bells?”

Whodunit? Part-1

My interest in whodunits was developed after reading Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. This interest developed into admiration after watching films on the genre. But, it was the parody movie Murder by Death that got me into wanting to write something of that sorts. The Whodunit Short Story Series is what my mind churned out. Readers, I hope you like it. Please let me know your thoughts about it. Happy Reading! 

Note: It may be possible that characters here might be unfamiliar to you. In that case it is recommended you read about the characters( I have provided the links to their wikis) in order to get a better understanding of this series. Thanks!

 

The Wayne Manor was well lit for a change this night. Instead of the dead silence of the night, jazz music reverberated through the dining room. The air was filled with the aromas of the various treats Alfred had prepared for the guests. Guests were another rare occurrence in the manor and Alfred was pleased at their presence. He was of the opinion that his Master Bruce needed to spend some time in the company of normal folk. Well, these people were almost normal. All of them were detectives, but not the kind Master Bruce was used to. These were the kind of criminal-catchers who investigated crimes. Not the kind of people who beat up criminals and risked their lives every day (or night in Master Bruce’s case). No super human kind either, just simple humans. Alfred thought this was a shade better than hosting The Justice League, in fact, many shades better.

“Alfred, could you serve the Hors d’oeuvres?”

Alfred picked up the plate of baked mushrooms and walked towards the dining room.

“Coming, master Bruce.”

Bruce Wayne, billionaire-playboy by day and vicious crime-fighter by night, had donned a tuxedo instead of a bat-suit this night. He was seated at the head of the dining table. Also seated at the table were his guests for the night – Sherlock Holmes, L Lawliet, Inspector Jacques Clouseau, and Scooby and Shaggy. All of them were detectives of great repute. Sherlock Holmes was the indisputable best ‘consulting detective’ in the world. L Lawliet or L as he was known around the world had cracked many-a-case that had befuddled police departments all over. Inspector Clouseau, The Hero of France, was credited with solving the robbery cases of the exquisite Pink Panther. Scooby and Shaggy were the foremost authorities around cases revolving around the paranormal. The guests were uncomfortably eyeing each other. Bruce decided to bring the dinner to order.

“My guests, you are the top detectives in the world, today. I decided to invite you all to dinner in order to have a discussion among detectives – Insights into crimes and certain interesting cases. Please enjoy the delicious dinner my butler Alfred has prepared, and I hope it compliments our conversation.”

Alfred walked into the room and served everyone a portion of the baked mushrooms.

“Baked mushrooms, sirs.”

No sooner had Alfred served Shaggy and Scooby than they had gobbled up the contents of their plates. Alfred looked at the duo in distaste.

“I shall get more. Enjoy!”

Alfred left the room to set the next course in order.

Sherlock Holmes had been eyeing the room the entire team.

“I must say this room is quite not what it used to be. It has been hurriedly cleaned, most probably to prepare for this party. However, that haste has left much dust and grit in certain locations it takes ages for such dust and grit to build up. I suspect this room does not see much use, Mr. Wayne. “

Bruce smiled.

“Perfectly deduced, Mr. Holmes. I see the legends are quite true.”

Homes acknowledged with a nod and proceeded to smell the glass of wine held in his hand.

L, who was sitting on his chair in the most peculiar manner – in the ‘Indian Style’, left his glass untouched. He cocked his head towards Bruce.

“Mr. Wayne, I don’t see why you would want to play host to us detectives. We cannot share the details of criminals with an aristocrat such as you. I cannot see what you seek to gain. Unless you want to buy information of some kind from us, you would not have hosted us. Am I correct?”

Bruce narrowed his eyes.

“Come now Mr. L, you don’t really think everyone is quite as nefarious as your Kira now, do you? Besides, I’m sure you jested when you said you cannot share information with a fellow detective. ”

L smiled.

“I never said I would not share it with fellow detectives. I said I cannot share it with you, as you are no detective.”

Bruce laughed hard.

“Do you mean to say you can only speak if my alter-ego is present?”

All guests looked quizzically at their host. Bruce stopped laughing.

“Do you really want me to get into my batman costume and then join dinner?”

Inspector Clouseau’s eyes widened.

“Meezter Wayne, does eet mean you are ze Batman. “

Bruce stood up from his chair.

“Of course, I’m batman. I’m sure all of you knew that.”

Bruce’s guests looked at each other and then at Bruce and nodded their heads to their sides. Bruce dropped in his chair.

“So, none of you had figured this out. I can’t believe you do not keep tabs on the World’s Greatest Detective. I had expected you all to have uncovered my secret and kept it that way because of detective’s code of honor and of course, because you all are afraid of me.”

Scooby Doo howled.

“Scooby roooo!”

Shaggy petted him on his head.

“There there Scoobs. I like..agree with you. Scooby and I are afraid of the Batman. Bats are so scary.”

L put his right thumb on his lower lip. He tended to do that when he began thinking. Sherlock kept his wine glass down.

“First, Mr. Wayne, I did not know about your secret because I do not think you are as important a person to keep tabs on. Second, I believe you wrongly used the title of the Greatest Detective for yourself. It belongs to me.”

He sat down and began picking on his mushrooms, smelling them before putting them in his mouth. Inspector Clouseau drained his glass of wine and stood up.

“Eet eez an hhonour to meet ze Batman. I waz too beezee with ze Pink Panzther caze, so did not inveztigate you.”

Bruce poured himself another drink and drained it instantaneously.

“I think we need something stronger than wine to get through this night. Alfred, get me a bottle of scotch from the cellar.”

At that moment the lights went out. The entirety of Wayne Manor was swept over by darkness. The silence was abruptly ended by a siren going off and the windows and doors being shut.

The guests at the table were taken aback. Shaggy and Scooby grabbed on to each other. Sherlock shouted over the siren’s sound.

“Mr. Wayne! What is going on?”

At that moment, the siren stopped blaring.

“Mr. Holmes, my house seems to be on lockdown. I’m sure the lockdown will be lifted as soon as the power kicks in. It won’t be long.”

Alfred dashed into the room, candlestick in hand.

“Master Bruce, I’m afraid there is some bad news. Our power grid is out and the backup power is not kicking in. We have no electricity as of now. All our systems are offline and the lockdown will stay put.”

“Don’t worry, Alfred. I’ll check it out and fix it. Till then I would want you to show our guests to their rooms. I request all of you to retire to your rooms for a while. I will have the power up and running in no time. Dinner will be delayed though, I do apologize.”

All of Bruce’s guests grumbled about the situation and that they understood the delay, but followed Alfred to their rooms. Bruce made his way to the generator room through the secret passage activated by his grandfather clock. He began fixing the problem. Alfred arrived there after a while.

“Ah! Alfred, were all the guests shown to their rooms?”

“Of course, sir. I trust the power will be up in no time?”

“Yes, Alfred. It won’t be long.”

“Very good, sir. I’ll head back to the kitchen and fix up what I can for dinner. I don’t think our guests would be too happy if dinner isn’t ready by the time the lights are back on.”

“Right you are, Alfred. I am confident your cooking will not be affected much by the lack of electricity.”

Alfred headed back.

“Don’t count on that, sir.”

A good half an hour had passed before Bruce had finally got the power up and running. He decided to check up on Alfred first. Bruce headed up the stairs and made his way to the kitchen. By this time, all the guests had also made their way to the kitchen, probably led by their stomachs. As they reached the dining room a foul sight met their eyes. Alfred was lying on the kitchen floor. Bruce rushed up to Alfred and removed his Bat-scanner from the pocket. He detected no vitals on Alfred.

All the detectives shouted together in shock.

“HE’S DEAD!”

 

 

To be continued……

Helpline

via Daily Prompt: Chuckle

It was late afternoon and I was sitting at my desk. I was a volunteer at an NGO that ran a suicide helpline to talk people out of their attempts to commit suicide. I had a break from college and I wanted to utilize my time by contributing to the society. I had just recovered from a serious bout of depression, a depression that had given birth to thoughts of suicide in my mind. I was lucky that my family had talked to me during that time. They explained that my then boyfriend’s abusive behavior was no reason to give up on living. They had told me that I was strong and he was not worth my feelings or efforts. They had heard me out. I had been lucky. But, there are so many people out there who have no one to hear them out and talk them out of committing the unwarranted act. I wanted to be that person. This is why I joined the NGO.

I was just starting out back then, and being a rookie, the NGO had assigned the afternoon slot to me. This time slot statistically showed the lowest attempts at suicide. It had been two weeks now and I had had to pick up the landline phone on my desk only thrice, among which one of them was a call asking about a Pizza delivery. There was only an hour to go before my shift ended. I was leaning back against my chair. Not expecting any calls, I was relaxing with a smoke. Just as I had taken my third drag, the telephone rang. The caller ID showed an unsaved number. I stubbed out my cigarette and picked up the call.

“Hello! Angel Ears, we are here to help you.”

The person on the other side responded with a chuckle. It was hoarse and raspy, as if the person was going out of breath. It chilled my insides.

“Do you think taking of life is the right thing?” the person asked in a soft pitched voice. It sounded as if the person was a male.

“Sir, let me help you out. It is never the right thing to take your own life. Tell me what is on your mind. We will find a way out.”

He chuckled again.

“What if death is the only way out? What if it is a lost cause to continue living?”

His voice was sinister and irritating at the same time. I had a feeling this was a prank call. But, I could not cut the call, it was against the NGO’s policy. I had to continue respond.

“Living is never a lost cause and death is not the way out.  Sir, could I know your name?”

He chuckled, his voice getting hoarser and hoarser. It was making me uneasy. Half of me wanted to cut the call right away.

“You can call me… Chuckles. What if a person does not deserve to live? What if there is no redemption available in life for a person? What if that person nearly led someone else to their death?”

“Chuckles, none of that warrants a person to take their own life. Everyone deserves to live.”

And the chuckling started again. It lasted longer than the previous times.

“Not even if he abuses his girlfriend, physically and mentally torments her every day? Does he still deserve to live?”

The question hit me hard. I was at a loss for words as memories came flooding back to me. I could still hear the man chuckling. It took all my willpower to resist slamming the receiver down. I replied to him as calmly as I could.

“Yes, even such a person deserves to live. Do not give up on life.”

“I know you aren’t being honest. Do such fiends deserve to live?”

A stream of tears had started running down my cheeks.

“No, such fiends deserve to die. But Chuckles, please do not do something as bad as killing yourself. Promise me you won’t suicide.”

My seniors at the NGO had told me that asking for promise was a good way to prevent the suicide attempt. The man did not reply for a few seconds, but I could hear his breath. He seemed to be thinking.

“Very well, I promise you I will not kill…myself.”

He chuckled again before he cut the call. I felt relieved. I had prevented another suicide attempt and I did not have to hear any more of that voice or the chuckles. I lit a cigarette and took a long drag. Even though I felt relaxed, I could still not get over the pause he took before saying ‘myself’. It had an ominous ring to it. Pushing those thoughts to the back of my mind, I tried getting comfortable in my chair. At that moment, I heard a loud crash coming from the street. I got up from my chair and ran to the window. The NGO had a rented out office space on the third floor of a building overlooking a side street. As I looked out from the window, I could see a throng of people encircling a wrecked car. As I concentrated on the wreck, I realized a man was lying on top of it, sprawled in an awkward angle. It was my best guess that this man had plummeted to his death. By the looks of it, he had jumped out of a window of the building that was opposite to the building I was in. I couldn’t help but think that it was Chuckles who was lying on top of the car. I could hear the police coming in and I headed back to my chair. The guilt was weighing down on me. I paced around the room, trying to clear my head.

It had been a good fifteen minutes before I heard the phone ring again. I was hoping that the caller was Chuckles. I ran back to the phone, stubbed my cigarette out and checked the dialer ID. It was a different number. I picked up the receiver. But, before I could say anything, I heard the familiar chuckling.

“Relieved to hear my voice? I had promised I would not kill myself hadn’t I? I keep my promises.”

“I’m glad to hear that Chuckles. Are you feeling positive about life now?”

“Yes…I am. But, you were right. Fiends do not deserve to live. I feel better now.”

“I am glad you do. Do have a nice rest of the day and remember, never give up on your life.”

“I will never forget that. Thank you. “

His chuckling had progressed into a full-fledged laughter which was even creepier. I quickly slammed the receiver down. No sooner had I done that, than the phone rang again. It was yet another phone number. I picked it up.

“Hello! Angel Ears, we are here to help you.”

“This is Detective D’Souza from the police department. May I know what conversation did you have a few minutes ago with Mr. Aviral Singh?”

I was taken aback.

“Aviral Singh? No, sir. I haven’t spoken to him.”

“Ma’am, it would be better for the both of us if you stopped lying. I have Aviral Singh’s phone here with me. Before falling to his death at Reggae Street, the last conversation he had was with this number. Give me the address registered to this number. You and I need to have a chat.”

The detective cut the call. I was shell-shocked. Reggae Street was the street I was on right now. So, the man I saw on the car, must have been Aviral Singh.

It may have been a massive coincidence, but Aviral Singh was the name of my ex-boyfriend. I could feel Chuckles’ chuckling around me.

 

 

Image Credits: http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2012/02/19/article-2103456-11C80587000005DC-203_468x497.jpg

If you liked my work (or hated it) please leave a comment. Let me know what if there is a theme you want me to explore. Cheers and Happy Reading!

 

The Hill

Books have been called a great many things – best friends, keys to wisdom’s treasure and a great deal of other titles. This is because of their ability of fueling imaginations. They have a tendency to warp our sense of reality. But, what if books managed to warp reality itself? What if they took you to new places in earnest?

Being a typical Sunday afternoon, Jon was lazing around his house. Not really in a mood to go outdoors in the summer heat, he decided to indulge in his favorite past time – reading. Jon went to his room and opened up the drawers inside which his many books were neatly arranged. While going through his books and trying to pick one, he found a book he hadn’t seen before. Its tattered look and yellow pages told Jon that the book was rather old. The book had no title on it. Jon opened the book. Instead of a title page, the page had a very peculiar message on it.

Please place your finger on the symbol below. It will seal the bond between book and reader.

Jon scoffed at the message. He figured it must have been something of a trend in the older generations. He decided to play along. He placed his right index finger on the symbol. However, the second he did that he felt a static shock on his finger. He pulled back his hand in reflex and dropped the book. The slight shock on his finger soon transcended into a deep throbbing. His head began to hurt and his eyes began to lose focus. Jon started losing his center of balance and blacked out.

When Jon came to, he realized he was lying on something soft. He thought it was his bed. But, when his eyes gained focus, he realized he was lying on something green. He blinked several times, allowing clarity to return to his vision. He realized the green he was lying on, was actually grass. He got to his feet and brushed off the grass clinging to his body. He looked around and noticed that he was standing at the base of a grassy hill. He thought that he was dreaming, because the last thing he could remember was fainting in his bedroom. He tried willing himself to wake up, but it was to no avail. He then remembered the weird message on the book. He knew that something was fishy, but he had no information to work on. He decided to explore the area.  As he took a few steps forward, the sound of approaching people reached him. He hid behind the bushes. Peeping out, he spotted the approaching people. They turned out to be a pair – a guy and a lady. Their clothing was outlandish. Jon had seen this style of clothing in one of his encyclopedias. It was common clothing during the medieval times. Jon decided to tail the pair. He could barely listen to what they were discussing. The accent was heavy, but he could make out what they were saying. The pair was a married couple. The wife was carrying an empty pail and the husband was carrying a hunting dagger, tucked in his waistband. The wife was complaining about climbing the hill.

“Why did you suddenly want to go on a walk together today? Did the deer you chase around every day, finally get tired of you?”

“Hahahaha! I just wanted to spend some time with my lovely wife. Did you have any other plans?”

“No! Nothing like that. I love spending time with you. I just don’t get why you want to go to the top of the hill right now?”

“It is an ideal spot. Besides, we need to get water too, we are almost out.”

“Very well, but let us not speak while climbing up. It is too tedious.”

The husband guffawed but remained silent. I followed them, making sure my presence went unnoticed.

After a climb of ten minutes, they finally reached the top. The top of the hill was quite rocky, unlike the grassy sides of the hill. At the center of the hill was well. The couple approached the well. Jon hid behind a small bush. He had to crouch low in order to conceal his presence. The wife placed the pail near the well.

“Now, why don’t you draw the water out?”

“Now my dear, what is the hurry? Let us enjoy our time. So, tell me. What are you usually up to when I am gone on my long hunting trips?”

“Well, I tend to our cattle, complete the daily chores, have a chat with my friends, ….”

“…and fool around with mine? Sleep with them?”

Her husband’s statement had clearly shocked the lady. Jon could feel her voice tremor.

“What are you saying, dear?”

“Stop playing dumb. Do you think I wouldn’t find out?”

Growling these words, the man drew his knife. The wife started backing away. With the large knife held in his left hand, the man rushed forward. The woman screamed, but no sound escaped her mouth, for the moment she had opened it, her head had been cut clean off her shoulders. Her head fell down, rolled and stopped near the bush Jon was hiding behind. He could see her wide eyes and open mouth clearly now. He stuffed his hand into his mouth, to avoid making any sound. The hunter had picked up the body of his wife which was still gushing blood. He dropped the body in the well. As Jon heard the splash, he realized the husband was walking towards him to retrieve the head of his wife. Jon’s heart began to pound as the man got closer to the bush. As the man bent to pick up the head, Jon felt as if his heart would give in explode inside his chest. However, nothing of that sort happened and the hunter started walking back to the well, head in hand. When he had reached about halfway, Jon felt that similar tingling in his right index finger. It soon turned into a shock and Jon gasped. The gasp was pretty audible. The hunter turned and his eyes narrowed down on the source of the sound. Jon broke cover and started backing away towards the edge of the hill. The hunter held the head in his right arm and his knife in the left. He charged at Jon, determined to end the witness to his heinous act. Jon’s head was already throbbing. His body had stopped responding. As he saw the hunter get closer, Jon gave up all hope. Groggy-headed, he watched the hunter trip on his own feet near the edge of the hill. The hunter fell down and hit his head on a rock, splitting his head open. Due to the motion of his fall, he continued tumbling down the hill. The head of his wife had fallen out of his hand when he had tripped. It started rolling down the hill as well, following her husband. Upon seeing this, Jon’s eyes closed as he blacked out for the second time in the same day.

Jon woke up to find himself in familiar surroundings of his room. His head was still throbbing, but it was quite mild. He noticed the book lying open, next to him on the floor. The page read

 

 

 

…..And Jill came tumbling after!

 

Image credits:  https://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-3473861-stock-footage-aerial-shot-of-antelope-running-on-grassy-hill.html

The Forest Lake

Thinking back to the incident, I don’t remember which one of my idiot friends came up with the genius idea of going on an overnight camping trip in the Dhar district, Madhya Pradesh. Granted, I was keen on the idea back then. The district is known for being picturesque due to its location, surrounded by forests and lakes. It sounded like a good idea. However, looking back, I am glad I got back from there.
The trip started off well. I caught a flight from Mumbai, and met my friends at Devi Ahilyabai Holkar airport in Indore. Pritish, Saanvi and Advik were all geared up to go camping. We settled ourselves in Pritish’s Skoda Yeti. Advik was the group-appointed shotgun. He informed us that according to Google maps, the camping location was a couple of hours from Indore. It was around 5.30pm when we left. The ride was incredibly smooth. We raced across the highway, blasting our speakers at full volume, giving other cars a taste of AC/DC and Metallica. At about 7pm, the map directed us to take an exit from the highway. This road was not so smooth. The Yeti handled itself well, but Advik, not so well. Fifteen minutes down the line, he felt his nausea kicking in. After taking a brief stop for Advik to churn out his lunch, we resumed our trip. I took over as shotgun while Advik decided to catch some shut eye. After another half an hour or so, we ended up reaching a crossroads. Pritish turned to me.
“Well, which way now shotgun?”
I looked down at Advik’s mobile. Since the road had been pretty much straight, I had not bothered to keep a tab on the navigation, choosing instead to focus on the evening scenery. The screen read no signal.
“There’s no signal on this piece of junk.”
Pritish sighed.
“I need to do everything myself all the time. Okay, let me check.”
He fished out his mobile from his pocket and found his screen flashing the same.
“I have no signal. Saanvi, shotgun, both of you try your luck as well.”
Saanvi chirped from behind me.
“Just did, I have a no go on the signal.”
I looked at Pritish and shook my head.
Pritish ran his hands through his hair. It was his habit to do that when he gets frustrated.
“This is great. We are stuck here with no signal. I think we should just head back.”
“Whoa, whoa! Who said anything about going back?”
Advik had woken up.
“We’ll use our sense of nature to guide us to the right destination.”
I burst out laughing, much to the annoyance of Pritish.
“Wow, just listen to our joker-navigator. He can’t even handle his lunch, and he wants to handle this trip.”
Saanvi cut him off.
“Stop it Pritish. Let’s go with Advik’s sense of navigation. He did take the responsibility to get us to the lake. Besides, we don’t want to waste this trip, do we?”
Pritish calmed down. Typical, happens every time. Saanvi has Pritish wrapped around her well-manicured fingers.
“Thank you Saanvi. Now my sense of direction says that we take a right from here. The forest is thicker over there, so that must be where the lake is. Which means that is where our camp site is.”
Pritish sighed.
“As you say, Chewie.”
Pritish took the right and we were on our way again.

Soon we had entered the forest we had seen from the crossroads. It had grown really dark. The only light in our vicinity came from our car’s headlights. After driving in the darkness and increasing cold, we came to a point where the road forked into two.
“Which way do we go now navigator?”
Advik popped his head outside the window.
“Well, I don’t know. But, I think we could ask at that house close by.”
He pointed towards a small cottage near the fork. A faint light coming from the lone window was visible. A small dirt road led to the cottage.
“Good idea, let’s go.”
Pritish nodded. He drove the Yeti down the dirt road towards the cottage. As we neared the cottage, we saw a female figure sitting on the steps that led to the cottage door. She had pulled a garment over her head and was sitting next to what appeared to be a sack. Her hands were holding something close to her mouth. We could not make out what it was due to the garment. I rolled down the window.
“Hey! We are lost. Could you please help us out?”
She did not respond. I called out again in hindi.
“We would really be grateful to you if you could help us.”
She tilted her head downwards. She had heard us and was ignoring us. Maybe, she did not understand hindi. Pritish decided to honk at her. But, it was to no avail. She continued ignoring us.
“She’s ignoring us. Let’s see if she continues doing so when I shine my headlights on her.”
Before I could dissuade him from doing so, Pritish had already turned the car. The beams of light started moving towards the female figure. The light revealed the sack lying next to her. Only, it wasn’t a sack as we had guessed. It was the headless carcass of a goat. From the looks of it, it had been freshly cut. The beams now shone onto the figure. Her black saree looked ragged with parts of it torn out. The parts of her hand that were not covered seemed bruised and bloody. As the light hit her, she stood up. My suspicions were right. The object in her hands was the missing head of the goat. As she stood up, the garment covering her head fell back. Her eyes did not seem to reflect the light being shined on her. She started walking towards our car. The four of us immediately grew uncomfortable.
“Pritish, I think we should get going.”
I turned towards him. His eyes were fixed upon the figure and his fingers were shivering. I looked back at the figure. She had almost made her way across towards us. Having stepped outside the beams of light, I could make out more of her features. And what I saw, did not give me any sort of comfort. Her face was full of cuts and scars. Her unkempt hair looked as if she had not had the touch of water on her for a long time. Her mouth hung open, red goat blood dripping from it. The worst part of her visage was her eyes. Not only were they inhumanely wide but also were bloodshot. As she edged near, I could see her eyes were fixed on me. I rolled up my window. Advik whispered.
“Pritish let’s go.”
The saree-clad figure had reached right next to my window. She dropped the goat’s head and dug her hands into her cheeks. As her nails drew blood, she let out a shrill scream and proceeded to make gurgling noises. She placed her palms on my window, bloodying it up. The female started hitting her palms against the window laughing eerily as she did it. Saanvi screamed. Pritish snapped out of his trance and gunned the engine. He turned towards the forked road and accelerated. The lady limped across chasing our car, but she was soon left behind in the dust. As we reached the forked road, Pritish decided to head back the way we had come. The camp had ended for him, and we were all in silent agreement. As we went down the road, we saw a group of saree-clad females heading towards the forked road. Pritish stepped on the accelerator and did not slow down until we hit the highway.
We were soon running low on fuel and decided to stop at the first petrol pump we saw. It was still too close for my comfort but we needed the fuel. As Pritish got out of the car to get the car refueled, the three of us decided to pick up a snack at the adjacent dhaba. As we went inside the dhaba to order food, we saw that were a few villagers already in queue to place their orders. As we took our place behind them, one of them turned towards us. Looking at our pale faces he must decided to ask us the reason for them.
“What happened? You look very scared. Was there an accident? Are you okay?”
I gave him a weak smile.
“Yes, we are all okay. You could say we were in an accident.”
The man looked at us knowingly.
“Did you come from Shivpur lake or the surrounding area by any chance?”
I was surprised he had guessed it.
“Yes, we did come from the forests at Shivpur.”
The man nodded.
“Say no more, my friend. I know what you saw there. Haven’t you heard about Shivpur? I guess you haven’t.”
“Well, we know it has a nice lake and forests, and so is a good camping spot.”
“That is true. The lake however, is a different story. It is believed that Shivpur lake is blessed with unearthly powers. It can cure unexplained ailments and is most famous for curing possessions. People who are believed to be possessed take a bath in the lake to cure themselves.”
We listened to the man with our mouths wide open. He continued.
“In fact, there is a fair that is held in Shivpur every year – The Ghost Fair, it is called. People from around India attend the fair.”
The three of us exchanged looks.
The man’s friends left and he started walking with them. He stopped in his tracks and turned towards us.
He gave us a chilling grin that revealed sharp teeth, dripping in red.
“We are heading to Shivpur. Want to come with us?”
The words sent a chill down our spines. We ran out of the dhaba, got into the refuelled car, and asked Pritish to gun the engine again.

Like i said, looking back at the incident, i do not think it was a good idea. But now I know one place I will always stay away from. But, unlike me, if you are the adventurous kind, or if you suffer from a possession, Shivpur lake is the place for you.

Please Close The Door – I

Moving to a new city has its fair share of problems. Finding good housing is one of those problems. I had faced this problem up till a month ago. At that point, I was flat hunting. Luckily, I did not have to hunt for long. I found a flat in a good locality which was not too far from my workplace. The flat felt cozy and had a great sea-side view. The owner was a cheery old man. The only rule he set up for the flat was that I would have to pay for any damages I caused. Otherwise I was free to do what I wanted within the flat. I thought that was the end of my housing problem. I was wrong.

My flat was on the 11th floor of the building. I agree I like to stay fit. But, the thought of climbing eleven floors never crossed my mind. The elevator was the only option for me. The elevator used a double gate system.  The outer gate was a metal door with a small window at the top, allowing a person standing outside to look in and vice versa. The inner gate was a scissor gate. The elevator did not move unless the inner gate and outer gate were both closed. I was settling into my new job as well. There wasn’t a lot of workload, but I generally take my time to get used to a new environment. So, I used to end up coming late every night from work and after work dinner parties. My new flat was treating me well too. No leaks, no pests and no other bad surprises. However, three weeks ago was when the weird incidents started happening.

It was a Friday night, which meant that it was booze night. I had had my regular share of beers and was mildly buzzing by the time I got back. The night had grown late – 1am. My friends dropped me outside my building and I stepped in after waving them goodnight. I pressed the button for the lift. After it arrived, I opened the outer gate and was met with a familiar high pitched female voice saying

“Please close the door.”

I slid open the inner gate and stepped inside.

”Please close the door.”

My buzzing mind was finding this voice highly irritating.

“Please close the door.”

“Yea, yea, you dumb hag.”

I pulled the outer door and slid the inner gate back into the closed position. I pressed the button for the 11th floor and waited back. The annoying voice finally stopped and the lift began moving. My head was buzzing really hard now. I shifted my attention the LCD display that showed the floor number. Having nothing better to do I decided to count out the floor numbers.

Zero..

One..

Two..

Three..

Four..

Five..

Si –

The lift had halted at five. The female voice started speaking again

“Please open the door.”

I was not sure whether I heard that correctly. Did the voice say open instead of close, or was it the beer finally finishing its job? I started to feel very cold and a sense of uneasiness came over me. I decided to brush the feeling off. The lift had halted but no one entered the lift. I pressed the 11th floor button again. The lift resumed its climb and halted at my floor. I walked up to my flat, unlocked the door and settled into my bed. I decided to call it a night.

A couple of days went by without incident. I woke up in the morning, got ready for work and left my house. As I neared the outer gate of the lift, I noticed a sign put up on it. The sign read:

Lift is closed for maintenance. Please use the stairs.

Inconvenience is regretted.

– Management

I muttered a few curses and rushed towards the staircase. Now, my building had no main staircase. It only had an emergency staircase. On every floor, a door connected the floor to the staircase. I pushed the door open and began my long dash down the stairs. As I reached the fifth floor, I was almost out of breath. I agree, my fitness level was not what it once used to be. I noticed something peculiar. The door that led to the staircase was barricaded shut. This was weird. I figured there was an alternate staircase for the lower floors or something. I was in a hurry so I decided to not dwell on the peculiarity. However, as I reached the fourth floor, I noticed it had a normal functioning door. The same held true for the remaining three floors.  I thought it was really strange. I realized I had to get to office and decided to focus on that.

I got back early from work that evening. I was admiring my building basking in the setting sun when I noticed it. All the windows on the fifth floor were barricaded as well. I had never noticed this before. Or maybe I had, but had ignored it. Now, the entire situation seemed very peculiar. The lift stopping there, the change of statement and now the door and windows being barricaded, I had a feeling it was all connected. I decided to ask my watchman about it.

“Baburao, is the lift functioning now?”

“No sir. It will restart from tomorrow morning for sure.”

“Oh! Baburao, tell me this. Who lives on the fifth floor?”

The watchman gave me a very puzzled look.

“Sir, no one lives on the fifth floor. It has been empty for five years. In fact, it has been sealed shut.”

 

(To be continued…)

 

 

 

The Darkness II

Yes, it is.

, Said a voice behind me.

My reaction to the statement was instantaneous. My eyes widened in horror and a scream escaped my mouth. Only, no sound came out of it. My throat had turned so dry that I seemed to have lost the ability to scream, much less talk. My body had frozen in spot, as a sub-zero chill settled on me. I felt numb, almost as if all my bones had been replaced by rods of ice. Now, in horror movies, the characters usually turn around after hearing a sound behind them, only to be inadvertently taken out by the antagonist. But, I wasn’t going to turn around. Not because I knew what was going to happen after I turned or that I was brave enough not to give my adversary the pleasure of my scream, but because my body had stopped moving. The only action it could do was shiver uncontrollably.

Are you scared? I bet you are.’

The voice spoke again. It was very soft, like a whisper.

Really, if I had to kill you, I would have done that already. But you are still standing. So come on, talk to me.

The voice did not seem menacing, it seemed almost friendly. I felt myself regain control of my body as the ice around my bones began thawing.

You can turn around. I promise you won’t see anything.

Somehow, my instincts told me to trust this alien voice. I slowly turned around, almost certain I was going to meet my maker. But, the voice was right. I couldn’t see anything. No guy wearing a hockey mask, or person in a striped tee and long claws, no nothing. There was no one there. I wasn’t sure whether to feel relieved or to freak out even more. I managed to mutter out a few words,

‘What are you?’

I think that was rather impolite. The question should have been who am I, not what am I. I was the last person to live in this room. I don’t really remember my name. It has been a few decades since anyone spoke it. As to what I am, it is fairly obvious.

This was unreal. I was actually talking to a dead person. I managed to stutter out a reply to him,

‘A ghost?’

‘Ghost, spirit, aatma, does it really matter?’

‘No, no. I was just asking. Doesn’t really matter. I guess. So, what do you want with me?’

Oh, nothing really. I just heard you talk to yourself about the darkness. I confirmed your thoughts. Also, I get bored. This is just one night every year I get to interact with a living person. You see, I can’t leave this room for some reason. I’m trapped here.

‘Hey, wait a minute. I was only thinking all of that, an internal dialogue. How did you hear it? Do you have ghostly telepathy powers?’

Well, you were thinking alright, thinking out loud. So yes, I heard you. I don’t have any telepathy powers.

‘I see.’

A silence followed. I did not really know what to talk about to a ghost. He did seem to have a flair for conversing, strange as he seemed to lack communication for so long, but it was a better thing than him wanting to kill or possess me.

So, powers. Yes, I do have powers. But none that you would want to know about.’

‘No that’s alright. You can tell me.’

Alright then, don’t say that I did not warn you. I have a knack for possessing people. After my death, they closed the room for a few years. After that, they reopened it and gave it to a first year like you. I really wanted to get out of the room. So I tried to possess that boy’s body and it worked. I entered him and stayed within him. But, I realized the cold truth only after he left the room. I did not really understand my powers of possession. I was inside him when he left the room. I could see through his eyes as he walked on through the corridor. He stopped in front of the mirror to check himself out. That is when I realized the horrors of my power. There were visible cuts on his face. He touched his face only to realize it had got further bloodied. He checked his hands to realize that they were covered in blood. His skin had peeled-off, leaving behind uncovered flesh and blood. He ran back to the room and locked himself inside. His body started crumbling slowly. Tears of blood dripped from his eyes. His body grew covered in cuts and I could feel him losing his grip on sanity. I got out from his body, hoping that all of this would stop. I was too late, a couple of minutes after I got out, he jumped out of that window right there, ending his torture.

I stood aghast. The incident was indeed horrible. The more I visualized it, the more the bile in my throat welled up.

For so many years, I felt horrible about the incident. But, I decided to perfect my power by contemplating upon it. Finally, a decade ago, the students here started this yearly ritual of holding a party here. I started practicing a little by little. Initially, the students did get harmed slightly, bleeding here, cuts there, but nothing serious. Of course, I only transferred a bit of my essence into them, not my entirety. Finally, I think I’ve got a hold of my power. I think I need to give it a test run.

I thought he was kidding and flashed a smile.

‘A test run you say? That sounds interesting. How are you going to do that?’

By possessing you, of course

My smile faded away faster than it had appeared.

‘Wait, you don’t really mean it, do you?’

Yes, I do.

The lights that had gone out, started flickering. Fear had found its way back into my heart.

‘Then why would you tell me all this? Why make your presence known?’

It’s really simple. While contemplating, I realized that the host would have to be aware of my presence. That way the mind and body would accept me faster, and without harm. I promised I wouldn’t kill you, but I really need to get out. So, I’m just going to take your body. I promise it won’t hurt, much.

As soon as I heard those words, my flight or fight instincts kicked in. I decided to make a dash for the door. But, as I was turning, I managed to trip over my legs and fell to the floor. As my eyes adjusted to the flickering lights, they fell upon wires coming out of the floorboard. I followed them to where the voice had originated from. Now, that I thought of it, the voice really did seem soft, with a static effect to it.

‘Could it be?’, I thought to myself.

I crawled and made my way to where the wires seemed to end. My suspicions were confirmed, connected to the end of the wires was a speakers and a microphone apparatus carefully placed out of view on the ground. I stood up and screamed

‘This was all a very good setup. But, it is over now. I found out the speakers, you assholes. I’m pretty sure I’ll find the others microphones and the cameras. So, the game is up. Open the door and let me out.’

The lights stopped flickering, and came back on. I could hear the door being unbolted from the outside. I quickly went outside and saw a couple of seniors looking at me with concerned faces.

‘Hey man, are you alright? We had gone out to party and completely forgot about you. We are sorry.’

I flashed them a grin.

‘You can stop the act now, you assholes. It was a real neat setup and it really got me for a while. But, I found out those speakers. Nice touch, with the voice.’

‘We know that we tried to prank you with the speakers, but they did not work, nor did the microphones and the hidden cameras. So, you don’t need to rub it in our faces.’

‘This is annoying. Anyway, I’m going off to bed it was a long night. Goodnight, losers.’

Like I said, the experience changed my life. It was brilliant. I conquered my fear of darkness, and on top of that I managed to show up my seniors, all in one night. It really boosted my confidence. I felt really elated, so elated that I did not even hear my seniors call out after me,

‘Hey man, how did you get those cuts on your face?’