Posted in Life and After, Love

The Bell

First line offered by Marina Osipova

The doorbell rang with shrill urgency. I opened the door yet again. No one was there.

Of course, it would be so. My doorbell was having a day. Nothing I did or said could make her let go off her fear. With all the anxiety, she was close to having a cog attack and I wondered if I should get her checked by a professional. Of course, they wouldn’t really understand the problem. They’ll just open her up, oil her, double check her wires for any cuts and, then, return with a suggestion of buying a new, more reliable door bell. And there lay the problem.

May, my girlfriend, had suggested just the thing earlier that day insisting that my doorbell never rang whenever she pressed the button. She believed the thing had a faulty wiring. Well, in a way she was right. It is wired to my jealous dead-wife’s soul.

When alive, my wife would call my office landline under various pretexts to check I was really there and follow me in her car when I was too cheery about the weekend fishing with my friends. But it was nothing compared to now.

Ever since she died, I felt I wasn’t alone; that I was being watched. I would glance over my shoulder so frequently, I had kinks in my neck every now and then.

When a few months later, I mentioned it to a friend, he suggested that the loneliness was probably getting at me. He set up a blind date with his cousin, May.

Once I reached the venue for the date, my car door wouldn’t open. I had to get out by breaking a window. A few weeks later, when my car failed to start every time I planned a date with her, I sold it and bought a new one but the problem continued and I could see a pattern forming. I started calling May to pick me up instead. It was then that my cellphone stopped working whenever I called her or she called me.

I could clearly see the issue now. The feeling of being watched was intense. I craved being left alone. Desperate to get out of the horror show that my life had become, I requested a witch doctor for help. He was quite understanding, having once suffered similar pain (Not my story to tell). He offered to cage my late wife inside a house fixture and asked me to choose one. I didn’t want her shaking the walls or bringing down the pillars, nor did I want lampposts falling on my head or door handles getting stuck. So, I chose the doorbell, which was out of the way, believing it would cause me the least distress.

Well, so we are here now. The felling of being watched is less intense and limited to the area around the doorbell. But ever since my girlfriend’s mention of a new bell, my doorbell has been ringing frantically every five minutes, demanding my presence. All coddling and reasoning have failed. Frustrated in extreme with the constant ringing that kicks up my heart rate and bring my blood to boil, I finally chuck the doorbell out of the door to be rid of her forever. She can spend the rest of her time in a landfill or, maybe, a recycling plant until the day of judgement.

It is quiet now. The feeling of being watched is gone and I am truly alone. I had believed I would revel in the alone-ness, but weirdly enough, I miss it. I look outside and think of my erratic wife lying outside in the snow. True that she couldn’t feel the elements anymore but still…she loves me, even if a little too much. And I still love her, even if she is being insufferable now a days.

Half an hour later, I still can’t get away from the window, watching her protectively. Car headlights flash ahead. What if it crushes her? I rush outside and pick the doorbell up from the freezing road and bring her back in where it is warm. Placing her on the table, I hear her ring without the wiring; a faint call, reminding she was still there. It is time for tough decisions.

I call May one last time and break up with her. Then I pull off the enchanted rope that the witch doctor had used to tie my wife to the doorbell.

The feeling of being watched is back.

I’m not lonely anymore.

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Posted in Life and After

Giggles

Author’s note: Thank you, Gavin Marriott, for the first line of the story.

I had only just come indoors from the cold and wet, putting the kettle on while I was to change into something warm, yearning for that hot brew, when the phone rang. Wearily, I picked up the receiver of the old landline.

The giggle was horribly familiar. But for the first time in our three-year marriage, it gave me goosebumps.

I looked around for her cellphone. It had to be here somewhere. Wasn’t she texting on it when I struck her from behind? Gah! She had pocketed it by the time the blow made impact. Which means she still has it! And she is making calls. How did she survive? I had checked her pulse before driving her to the forest and throwing her where only animals could find her. I should have buried her! Had she called the police yet? I might still have time.

I ran to my wardrobe and threw everything of value in a bag and rushed to the door of my cabin. If I drove without stopping for food or sleep, I could make it to the next state by tomorrow. Only, the old lock on the door was stuck. I tried with all my might. But the door didn’t relent. I tried to break it down but felt like I dislocated a shoulder in stead.

I looked out of the window. I could jump out of it but I’d never survive the fall from the steep cliff. The only way to get out was through the door. I checked the storage for anything that could help me open the door. An axe, a shovel, not even a carving knife… Desperate, I threw the chair at the door but it bounced off. Not even a dent! I tried the table next. The table broke in splinters but the door stood unaffected.

I went through my options. I could wait here for the police and tell them she was lying. But with that head injury, she’d have a clear case. I could almost see the glint of cruel madness in her eyes when she knew she had me at her pity. I’d seen it too often during our marriage.

And she giggled…

She was really there, standing in the room in front of me. She had probably locked the door and had the key. I could try reasoning but had it ever worked in the past, I wouldn’t have killed her…or rather, since she was standing here, tried killing her. So, I picked the only remaining chair and swung at her. But, somehow I missed. I tried again and the chair passed through her. She giggled…

Horrified, I rushed to the door and yanked the door bolt, only managing to break the handle of the bolt. There was no way I could stay at the cabin with her. I quickly picked up my phone to call my bestie to break down the door but there was no connectivity. Only her giggles were coming out of its speakers setting my teeth on the edge.

I was shaking as I rushed to my bedroom, closed the door and opened my laptop, hoping to catch someone online. She slipped inside through the closed door and stood sentry, fixing her gaze on me with an intensity that frayed my nerves, and giggled…

After an eternity, the laptop finally booted and her grinning face filled the screen. Scared, I skittered backwards. In the process, I had upset the laptop. It fell on the floor and broke in two pieces.

I turned my eyes skywards seeking help from the almighty and found her hovering on the roof, grinning down on me.

I threw myself at the room’s door. It, too, was locked. I threw things at the door while screaming at the top my lungs for help even though I knew no one could hear me. The nearest house was a mile away. Soon I was standing in a pool of broken things with nothing left to throw at the door while she giggled from the roof.

I could not stay with her here. Anything had to be better than this.

There was only one way to go.

I opened the window and jumped off the cliff. I could hear her giggles following me all the way down. When my body made contact with the rocky floor, the pain had me blinded and, for a few seconds, all I could feel was my broken body and all I could hear was my own ragged breath as life seeped out of me until the blessed silence enveloped me. I was finally free of her…

And then, she giggled…

Posted in Life and After

Late

It was a beautiful night-the moon was red and full–that made you wish you had someone to share it with. I was returning home after the day at the restaurant serving clients and bussing tables. The shops were all closed and, somehow, it made the moon shine even more brilliantly.

I was tired. My limbs wanted to go to sleep right there on the pavement, but I reminded myself that it was temporary. It was paying for my degree and once I complete it in five months, I will be able to get a decent job that I actually enjoy. I was looking forward to that day. I had practiced my interview speech a thousand times already.

I turned into a short dark alley that I crossed twice a day ever since I took up this job last year, and stiffened immediately. Something was off. I couldn’t see or hear anything, but that was the point. It was too quiet as if someone had put a blanket on the entire alley blocking the outside noises. Also, there was a funny smell, the one you get when crossing a butcher’s shop…blood?

I wasn’t the superstitious kind but I trusted my instinct. So, I decided to backtrack. As I cautiously took steps backwards, I heard a human moan, a growl, a snapping of bones, and then, silence. I gasped. Three set of eyes gleamed green in the dark, looking straight at me. Canine eyes, set far higher than an average dog, or even a wolf.

I felt frozen for a second. And then, I turned back and ran with all I had in me. The streetlights were the only illumination on the path. I dare not look behind me for the fear of slowing down or falling, but I knew I was being chased. Their footfall wasn’t audible and they weren’t barking, unlike the neighbourhood strays. For a second, I wondered if I wasn’t just hallucinating but I didn’t stop to check.

In fact, I ran harder. I wasn’t sure where to go though. The shops were closed and my own restaurant was locked. So, I ran to the underground railway station, hoping that it would be crowded and these ‘things’ will stop chasing or pick a new target. Else, I would catch any train I could. I would return home later in the morning.

The stairs leading down to the platform were deserted. I could hear a train approaching the platform. I thanked my lucky stars and covered the last stretch with a burst of energy I never knew I had.

When I reached the platform, it was empty of people. I heard a group coming down the stairs slowly–click of heals and boots…I was so relieved to hear fellow human beings that I nearly cried. I turned to look and found two men and a woman pulling out their shades to cover their eyes. Canine. The woman had something red around her mouth. Leisurely, she licked clean with an unnaturally long tongue and smiled at me.

Furtively, I glanced behind me willing the train to stop or, at least, slow down.

It didn’t.


Free photo by Charl Folscher on Unsplash

Posted in Life and After

Blood Red Moon

The moon is dripping blood tonight.

I wonder if I’ll get a drop.

I wait outside the movie hall

after the midnight show.

A huge chunk of meat whistles at me,

flexing his biceps in the red glow.

I raise an eyebrow

and walk towards the trees.

I can hear his footsteps

right behind me.

The moon is dripping blood tonight.

I’m sure to get a drop.


Photo by Vivek Doshi on Unsplash

Posted in Life and After

The Lighthouse

Sigh! I simply love this lighthouse. The view from the top is breathtaking, especially on starry nights. I can sit here and look at it forever. The same stars that light up the sky also shine in the ocean; you, in the middle, feel like you’re floating in the outer space…

But people avoid this place. They call it haunted!

Earlier, I tried to talk to the few people who came here, probably on a dare. I assured them there is nobody here but me. I should know—I’ve lived here for more than a thousand years.

But they ran away! What Ninnies! Well, nobody can say I didn’t try.


 Photo by Introspectivenl on Unsplash

Posted in Life and After

My Scrapes with It: Part 2

True incidents from my crazy life…

I have always been a TV Aerial, too receptive to things unseen. And having lived in 25 houses means that I received too many signals.

If you think it is funny, consider sleeping in your room for several years with the constant knowledge that someone is lurking in the next room; that your house is built on a demolished graveyard and the resident will most likely visit you in your dream; or that your dog is crazily barking at the ceiling of your room, which looks like it is made of water.

Only, you can’t see him…her…them…

You can’t ask them, however politely, to move their arse away. You can’t tell them, “Hey! Why don’t you go haunt Mrs. Snubnose in the house down the lane?” You might try exorcism, but it doesn’t always get the expected results, and failure will lead to a rebellion of the ‘permanent residents’ against you.

So, you get the idea.

Whenever faced with situations like these, my first response was to run to another room where my parents or my friends slept (depending on the location of the ‘incident’). But there are only so many times I could do that without raising suspicion.

Do you think I should have told them?

What response do you expect from them? If they were easy on me, they would have brushed it away by saying, “I don’t feel anything.”, “I think you are watching too many horror movies.”, or “You need to reign in your imagination.” Or they would have put it down as me “being a woman”. But, gradually, they would have begun questioning my intelligence. In the end, if they really loved me, they would have moved me out of the haunted house into a mental asylum.

So, telling my family and friends was a strict ‘No’.

Hence, most of the time, I would sit up late at night alone and try to discern what I was dealing with.

I would usually begin with questions like ‘how many?’

I know for sure that one of my houses had at least three. One of them lived in the room upstairs and tried to strangle me on the first night (I never went to that room at night again.). When I moved to the spare room downstairs, I felt another who liked to lay in the bed next to mine quite often. The third one used to simply cross the room at a certain time of the night and, if I blocked the path by placing my chair a certain way, it would begin muttering threats under its breath (Irony, I know!).

I would wonder what they were and if they could hurt me.

But there were too many possibilities: Ghosts, Poltergeists, Djinn, Ghouls… Since I couldn’t see them, I wasn’t sure. Their powers could also differ from the time they landed the job and the practice they had. They could have been around since before my great-great-great-grandfather was born or someone fairly new at the jig.

Did they mean to scare me?

Did they get paid for scaring humans like me or did they just exist as we do, and I just had a sensory overload by their presence? Aren’t lizards scared of me? Does that make me scary? (In case you are wondering, Lizards don’t scare me–I have lived in government-built houses half of my life.)

Did they mean to hurt me?

In most cases, they seemed to be just going on with their lives. Maybe they were late for their jobs but I blocked their path by strewing my stuff around. What if they were raising their kids in the house that (according to them) I decided to break in? I slept in their beds and ate from their bowls. Of course, they wanted me out. I wonder why only three tried to strangle me, especially since I was playing Ghazals around the house (Pure torture, I know!).

After my last encounter, I realized that in most cases, I can co-exist with them like lizards with me. So, now, I carry on with my life and let the Djinn in my spare room live in peace.

Posted in Life and After

The Poltergeist

This story is based on my personal experience in one of the modern Delhi houses I had once lived in.

She was living with me for 56 years, unaware of my existence, until someone told her. So, she decided to banish me. She invited someone who lit incense and candles, threw around some powder, said some mumbo-jumbo, and I felt I was on fire! Writhing in pain, I cut the bond between us and ran to the air shaft to hide.

I was aghast! What had I done to deserve this? I loved her! That’s why I stuck around for so long without scaring her. I never even peeped when she changed clothes. Clearly, she wasn’t worth it! So I stayed in the shaft.

Once she moved to another house, I decided to take over the place–a typical Delhi house having two rooms with windows opening in an air shaft and no sunlight, just as I like it. Still recovering from the heartbreak, I made up my mind not to share the space with anyone anymore. So, when the next tenants came along, I decided they had to go.

I started by making some noise to announce my presence, but they didn’t react. The girl who stayed home was more responsive–she shivered when she entered the place. So I decided to target her. I would stand too close, touch her back, and give her strangling dreams. The last one did it!

They went on high alert. But rather than running out of the place, they started praying everyday. Now, I couldn’t touch them. So, I began moving stuff around, clanging door locks and blocking doors, but they behaved as if I didn’t matter. They accepted me as a permanent resident!

Today, after six months of sharing their house with me, they are finally moving, and it makes me sad. I clang the locks to bid farewell.

If only ‘she’ had accepted me the same way, I wouldn’t be so lonely.


Photo by Mikhail Elfimov on Unsplash

Posted in Life and After

Tiny Story: The Accident(?)

By the time it was dusk, he was tired of hiding in the old warehouse. He had looked for shapes in the peeling paint of the walls all day. Now that the hall was darkening, he was a little spooked, not that he would ever admit it.

Suddenly he found a shape resembling a face of a man clutching something. Was it a knife?

He looked away trying to curb the guilt and dread rising in his chest, only to find one that resembled a woman dead on the floor.

Suddenly, the peeling paint that was her hand moved slightly.

He clutched his heart and died…