think again before you read...the story you read can change the way you die....
The lightning flashed and the thunder roared, but I didn’t care. In fact I did not care about anything under the sun anymore. I had no one to care for, no place to call my home, no friends to talk to, I had no money, no future, nothing except for the clothes I had on. At least that, I thought, by god grace was something I owned, I smiled at the thought, for I had nothing to grieve about. I did not have money, so I was peaceful. If you have money, you need more, and if you need more money, you need a job. And that causes tension. If you have an insecure job, well, u have all the tension in life. Who needs all that worry?
My smile widened at the thought. Sometimes its just thoughts like this that keeps me happy. Having money did have its benefits, I thought frowning slightly. If I had money I wouldn’t be squatting on the pavement. If I had a job I would probably have a better place to sleep. I curled up more tightly, but it was no use. I was soaked to my bones and it just made me feel colder. The wall had fallen creating a kind of concrete cave under which I was curled up to protect myself from the rain. I wasn’t much use but at least it kept the rain from splattering on my face.
I rubbed my numb hands in hope of some warmth, but warmth seemed to evade me. It was pitch dark and the rain was coming down in such torrents that the light coming from the streetlights was blurred and almost indistinguishable. All in all it was one of the worst storms I had seen. One thing good about this was that these storms keep everybody home. Nobody wants to venture out on a day like this. I mean being a fifteen year old girl, there are many dangers.
I heard a distant bark, an angry bark; almost murderous. My nerves tensed, and my fists tightened, I hugged my knees tighter to my chest. The storm worsened and the sound of the pattering of raindrops increased. The raindrops sounded like gunshots on the pavement; it sounded deathly. My stomach muscles tightened and I breathed down my own neck. I was glad I was not out there in the rain with nothing on my head ‘cause I was sure if anybody was out right now would not survive.
I was scared, I did not want to feel scared but I was scared.
“Okay now, pull yourself togater there nothing to be scared; after all I have been through many storms. This one is no different” I scolded myself. But a small voice spoke inside my head;
But I am scared…
“No I’m not” I told my self
Yes, you are, and you also have to admit there’s something fishy going on here…something’s not right.
It was true, there was something eerie about today…
Something wasn’t right…
This wasn’t just a storm…
“don’t be stupid,” I scolded myself again, “what else can it be? It just a bloody storm…”
But my conscience spoke again;
You were better of at home…you should never have run away…you would rather be there that sitting here.
“I don’t have a home and can never call that place a home again.” I told myself fiercely, remembering the past unpleasantness of my life, “ I’m better off here than that place.” I thought bitterly.
Yeah, bit at least there you wouldn’t be in danger of being mauled by man-eating dogs, or killed by gunshots from the sky.
My heart sank, but then I remembered dogs that there are no man-eating dogs and those are just bloody raindrops not gunshots.
It was ironic that I should think of “bloody raindrops”, and see bloody raindrops.
Lightning flashed again and during the momentary gleam of light the raindrops looked-red.
I shivered, my heart was hammering against my chest and I felt a chill that had nothing to do with the cold I was feeling. A lump was stuck in my throat and my mind was oddly blank. My head reeled and my life flashed through my eyes. I gasped and fell into darkness
I opened my eyes. It was still dark and I was still wet. I closed my eyes again.
“I hope this was a dream... I hope this was a dream” I chanted with fervor. “ I hope I’m back in my bed at…at…at home.” I said gasping slightly.
It was not a dream; I realized, horrified. The mountain of fear was building up in my chest. I was still in the concrete cove, completely wet. I turned my head to a side and vomited. My eyes were red and my throat was dry. I felt some hot air on my neck and heard heavy breathing. Instinctively I looked up. What I had just seen confirmed my worst nightmare;
There were man-eating dogs!!
It had not red eyes as described in most books, but oddly green. Its fur was a brown colour with black at the tips. It was wet and was dripping slightly. A drop of red liquid (which, I was sure was blood) was trickling down its wrinkled nose. Its canines were sticking out and seemed abnormally big. This was all I took in, before I overcame my shock and took to my heel. I was unable to scream as my shock had muted my sense of speech.
I, however, looked back once to see if the dog was gaining at me, which was a good thing as I discovered there was no dog there. I was just few steps from my cove. The beating of my heart reduced its speed slightly. I straightened up and looked around me. The street was deserted. There was no sign of life. In fact it looked exactly the same as the time when I came here and found my cave. The only difference was that everything was wet. I scanned the street carefully. There was no sign of the dog. Maybe I had started hallucinating. I slapped my forehead in frustration. My forehead was warm, and I shivered uncontrollably. I was down with fever. It took me sometime to realize that there was something at my feet. I looked down. There was a man lying there, sprawled, face down lying in a pool of blood.
“blood…” I whispered, feverishly, remembering the bloody raindrops.
I walked few steps backward, until my knees buckled and I fell. I stared at the corpse with my mouth open. My head was reeling again and I felt faint. “ blood ” I whispered hoarsely. I had seen a dead body before, but it was nothing like this. It was covered in a white cloth and decorated with flowers. But this was something different.
As I watched the body, about to feint, I noticed it twitch and raise a hand a few inches in the air and fall limply again. I should have been relived to see the man was not dead but somehow I felt dread. My mind told me to run for my life but I could not move.
Poor thing, I thought, he’s wounded and I should help him.
Taking pity in the man I walked toward him ignoring the voice in my head which was screaming at me to run. I kneeled down and touched him. An electric shock hit my finger where I touched him. The screaming in my head was worse. But I went against my better choice and turned him around.
Immediately I knew it was a mistake. I should have fled. The man’s eyes flickered open. His eyes were green with red eyeballs…just like the dog. His face was heavily scarred his nose was smashed. Some kind of ugly yellow liquid was drooling out of his mouth and he had no eyebrows. He suddenly sat up and whipped out a knife which was already stained with dried blood. For the first time in my life I remembered god…and then I screamed
Naina shut the book panting wildly. The scream still seemed to echo around her. She clutched her heart and felt the cool table glass on her steaming forehead. Her heart was hammering wildly.
Naina was not scared easily, but this story seemed to scare her. This was not the scariest story she read but this still scared her. She looked down at the book again and noticed a sketch of the dog described in the story, on the front cover. That was not there before!! She racked her brains trying to remember the time when see first saw the book, no, I’m sure the cover of the book was completely blank when I had brought it.
She blinked and looked again, the dog had disappeared. She let out a soft gasp and dropped the book.
The book is jinxed, she thought wildly, letting her imagination run away.
“Pull yourself together”, she scolded herself, there is no such thing as magic. But she still regretted having ever bought that book.
Naina loved horror stories and had vowed to read all the bokkes in the horrer rack oin the liberary.
So as usual she went to the libererary today and and was surfing the rack for bookes she had not read when she came across tyhis one. It was a handsome ancient looking black leather bound book with the title thew screakm stamped in gold. Some how it looked familier, she knew she had seen this somewhere before, but she shrugged of the feeling and took it to the counter.
“ah yes! This book…came in just yesterday,” he informed her when she went to him to get it issued “belonged to my nieces collection, my, that was the largest collection of bookes I had ever seen…too bad she has so many relatives…I was able to lay my hands on on just a few of her bookes” he whispered, for years of sitting in the librerary had cost him his voice. “ I think this was the last she had ever bought, that too, taken it right in front of my nose from that sale…wanted this book very much myself…so old, these old things cost a lot mind you, so u get one tear in this and and I wont ever let you in this liberary again” he warned her in a foreboding voice, “but im letting you take this because I know you can handle bookes, after all I don’t see many children with intrest in bookes as you have” he looked at her through his huge glasses which gave him the look of a wise owl. “ fine girl she was too, hell of an interest in bookes, or would never have had such a collection,” he said more to himself turning around to replace the stamp on the ink pad. “Pity she died. Pity. The very next day too…and what a death too, murdered, never had enemies…why anyone would want to kill her is beyond me…terrible, very terrible.”he whispered, with a blank look on his face. “of you go child, of you go” he said suddenly, looking at her as if he just noticed her.
She left feeling uneasy. She knew how terrible it is when a family member dies, that to murder is worse, her uncle had died like this, stabbed to death.
Naina took a sharp intake of breath and picked up the book. Her hand trembled ss she picked up the book and placed it on the table.
She suddenly became aware that somebody could be behind her. Her heart was hammering against her chest. What is somebody was standing behind her with a hacksaw? She saw her breath misting the surface of the glass. Okey now calm down she told herself. How could anybody have come in? maybe it’s a ghost a voice inside her head spoke. There are no ghosts she cosoled herself, but she couldent shrug of the feeling that somebody was watching her. She took a deep bredth and spun around, and screamed. There were two green eyes staring at her. She blinked. The eyes were gone. There was nothing in front of her but the clock whose radium coated needles were emitting a faint green glow.
Great, so ive stared hallucinating. She turned back to face her wter glass. She suddenly became aware of her legs dangling of the chair. What if a snake bit her? Thought naina was completely sure there was no snake in the room she still lifted her legs and sat crosslegged on the chair.forcing the image of the man with dead eyes to the back of her mind, she forced herself out of the chair and walked towards the window. The weather look like it was going to rain. The sky was cloudy and the air hinted a storm. Just like in the book she thought maybe ill wake up and find a dead body waiting to stab me. The tought would have been funny otherwise but right now she could see no humer in it. She looked around the black pitch it looked lifeless except for a man who was running across it to reach shelter as soon as possible. Nobody would want to be out in this weather. This line had a familier ring to it. Stop thinking about the book she scolded herself. She suddenly felt something brush past on her neck. She jumped back in fear. Somebody was stangling her!!! Instinctively she placed her hand on her neck, but what she felt was not human, it felt more like…the creeper. A month ago a small creeper had found it way to her room, and being a nature loving person she decided never to close the window. But now, for the first time in thirty days she pushed the creeper out and shut the window. An insane unfamiliar feeling of fear had gripped her. Naina had never felt this way before.
She turned around and came face to face with darkness. For the first time she realized how dark her room was. For the first time she realized there could be any number of creatures in there waiting to attack her. She quickly climbed onto her bed. And for the first time she was thankful the the light switch was near her bed. And for the first time naina turned on the light to erase her fear of darkness. The light flickered on. The room was peaceful. There were no men with hacksaws, no green eyes, no snakes, as a matter of fact there were no creatures at all. Everything was normal. She gave a nevous laugh and pulled the blankets up to her eyes. She couldent sleep. The light was too bright. Naina was not used to sleeping with the light on. She was thankful her mother had thought of installing a bed lamp in every bedroom in the house hold. She reach out and turned it on. It was surprising it worked as it had never been used since the time they had bought this house. She turned of the main light and the room was filled with a dull orange glow. She suddenly realized her legs were peeking out of the bed. She folded her legs and curled up.
Nainas eyes were open and bloodshot. She couldent sleep all night. All kinds of things came in her sleep. She got up and sat upright. The weather felt like the aftermath of a storm. The smell of fresh mud filled her nostrils. She heard the storm all night. It was terrible. The sound of the rain splattering on the pavement was literally like gunshots from the sky.
She got up and walked to the bathroom. She filled up a mug of water and splashed it on her face. It was sooting. She looked at her face in the mirror. A stranger stared back at her. Her face was pale which was saying something because she had a dark complexion. Her eyes had sunk in and developed dark circles. She felt so weak that her legs were trembling under her weight. She turned around and trudged across the room to the hallway. Her footsteps echoed around the house. She never knew her house to be so silent. It was around six in the morning, and her parents were usually up, but the house seemed empty. Where are they? She wondered, what if they have died? YOURE GOING SENILE!! She thought furiously, trying to push that thought out of her mind.
Her heart was beating very fast. Her brain must have gone senile, but her mind was set. She knew what she had to do. She had vowed that the first thing she would do today was to return the book to the library.
She walked into the kitchen. It was flooding with light. She filled up a glass with water and drank it. It felt soothing. The morning should have been cheerful because the weather just after a storm was always exellent, but she somehow felt depressed.
Determined not to allow the book to dampen her day she walked across the hall and wrenched open the door. She stood outside and took a deep breath. That felt better. She looked around her. The environment after a storm was always lovely. The trees flushed green, the flowers were bright as if just painted, dry leaves and twigs brought down from the trees by the heavy wind and rain scattered every where. She scanned the whole scenery feeling more confident, there’s nothing abnormal.
Her eyes caught sight of the only dry thing lying in the damp scenery, the newspaper lying at the doorstep. She picked it up and unfurled it, smiling slightly. I don’t know what I’m getting so worried about. Dogs don’t have green eyes.
It was funny she should have thought about that just then.
The terror barely registered, when she set of in a run. She ran wildly thrashing her hands in the air. She could not scream. She seemed to have lost her voice. She barely noticed where she was going. down She flew past the buildings, parks, and kept running till her legs could no longer carry her. Her knees buckled and she sank down on the pavement. She looked wildly around her. The dog wasn't seen anywhere. She was sure she had heard the dog running after her all the way, or… had she just imagined all that?
No! The dog was real. It was there. It had followed her. It was the same dog from the book. It was true. It was solid and it was alive. Was the dog a mark of her death, just as it was for the girl in the book?
I'm going to die. And there’s nothing I can do about it. She looked around her once more. There was nothing there. She was lying on a filthy pavement that looked like it had never been walked on. The dust lay there like brown snow with a single pair of footsteps leading to where she was sitting. Her mind was oddly blank. It’s felt no emotions; it was dreadful. It was like waiting for death to come and get you.
But death refused to come. Crouched like a ball against the wall of the building, hugging her knees to her chest Naina lay there for over an hour. Nothing happened. Not even did wind blow. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She breathed deeply again. Her mom always told her to do that when she felt tensed. She would then hold her shoulders and tell her to analyze the problem and look for the window that opens the solution. Naina remembered her mothers favorite saying; when god closes the door he always opens a window. Even though Naina did not believe in god, this method of looking at a problem always helped.
But where is the window? There is no getting out of this one. Its written in my destiny that I have to die. Naina had waited here for over an hour and nothing had happened. What if nothing will happen? What if I was hallucinating? She took a sharp breath. That line had a familiar ring. Pull yourself together Naina. Book or no book, if was in this situation under other circumstances, I would have thought the same thing.
She slapped her head in frustration, and withdrew it immediately. The girl in the book did that!! She breathed slowly and deeply again. The gear of logic and sense clicked back into place. It was just a dumb scary book nothing else. It just spooked me out.
She stood up suddenly and dusted her clothes. If I want to get back home I have to find my way out of this neighborhood. She pushed her hair out of her eyes and walked determinedly sending out clouds of dust on the dusty road. Well, maybe not so determinedly because her head kept telling her that dog was real. She followed her own footsteps back till she came to a grassy park from where she had absolutely no idea where to go. There was nobody to ask from. She stood there for a moment and analyzed her thoughts. First I need a landmark; ah yes, that dead tree there will do. Now I’ll walk through one of the roads which should lead to a main road. From there I will take an auto home. If the road leads to a dead end I’ll come back here and take a new road.
She took a deep breath again chose a road and started walking. It was not cold but naina was shivering slightly. Her head held up high naina walked, walked and walked. It was like finding your way out of a huge maze. Each street seemed like the next. Twice she reached a dead end and returned to the park and the third time she kept walking till she discovered a pair of footsteps on the road and followed it feeling really happy that it may lead to the owner and she may soon be able to ask him or her the way out; only to discover that she had been walking in circles following her own footsteps.
Feeling really tired and exhausted with disappointment mixed in the misery of her situation, Naina slumped down at the place she started from. The determination which had replaced fear was now dissolving giving way to fear. It was terrible not to see a soul around there. What if she never came out and starved to death there? She buried her face in her hands and sat there brooding.
I’ll never be able to get out like this. I need wings. Then I’d be able to fly above the buildings and find my way home. Above the buildings? YES, that’s where I need to go. She jumped up suddenly and looked up the building she was leaning on. It was a three story building, it was not painted so the bricks were visible. A pipeline was running up till the terrace. I’ve climbed trees; this should not be difficult. The bricks will give a strong foothold. But if I fall…she shivered, she didn’t like to think would happen if she fell. It was worth a try. She grasped the pipe and pulled herself up. Once she got a firm grip on the bricks with her foot pushed herself up grasped the pipe higher up and pulled herself up. Twice she nearly slipped but balanced herself in nick of time. She finally reached the terrace and dropped herself on the ground. She was panting heavily. She could smell the dirt she was lying in. she had no time to waste. She hastily scrambled up. Her vision was blurred but she groped along the floor till she found the compound and heaved herself up. She rubbed her eyes and opened them. The dirt went into her eyes and her eyes were stinging but she look around desperately and squinted till the view came I into focus. Her heart sank. Although she could see the whole city from out here; nothing looked familiar. She stood on tiptoe and squinted into the horizon. Every building looked like the rest till the horizon. There was not even any sign of life.
I can’t have run that far from home. It’s not possible. I never knew such a place even existed near home. It’s not like India to abandon such a huge city. Her eyes widened and she felt sick. She leaned against the compound and vomited. She had never felt so empty nor so lonely. Her knees buckled and she sat down once more. Those feelings of hopelessness she had felt earlier in the day crept back into her again. Only this time she could find even a small clue of where the window might be. She vomited again.
Theres nothing I can do now. There is no way I can get out of this concrete jungle. I will have to succumb to death. She turned around and gasped.
There was a man lying facedown there. Her head reeled, knees buckled and she lay crumpled on the dust once more. She froze all colour drained from her face. Her body seemed to have become numb and her brain stopped working. All the senseless fear; which she had overcome during the past few hours finally convincing herself the she was hallucinating; now rushed back into her. Her eyes rolled and she feinted.
Daylight was dimming. Its just a bad dream, please let it be a bad dream. It was not a dream. The body still lay there, unmoved. Naina pulled herself up and stood up. She was running fever and her body shook uncontrollably. Its just a dead body, and dead bodies don’t jump up and attack people with knives. Naina wasn’t a fool to go and investigate if it was really dead. Or maybe she was just scared. Whatever she backed away located the pipe from which she had climbed up and heaved herself on to it. Her body was trembling and she was not able to grip herself properly. Slowly she lowered herself down. She had barely come down a few feet when her foot slipped and Naina was left dangling holding on to the pipe from one hand. She tried to heave herself up but she had not eaten all day and the shock of seeing the dead body had drained her of all the her energy. She lost her hold on the pipe and fell down slowly and gracefully her legs and hands spread as if she was about to fly. Her head reeled and her leg crunched as it hit the pavement. Her head landed on something soft. She was not able to accumulate her thoughts. Her leg pained un mercifully accompanied by a nagging pain in her stomach and a splitting headache. She raised her head slightly to see what she fell on.
It was the body. And whats more its face pointed upward. And it confirmed her deepest fears.
His eyes were green with red eyeballs…just like in the book. His face was heavily scarred his nose was smashed. Some kind of ugly yellow liquid was drooling out of his mouth and he had no eyebrows. He sat up and whipped out a knife which was already stained with dried blood.
Her life flashed before her eyes, she could see the book again and again…and she even remembered why she had felt the book looked familier. She had seem it in her uncles study during his funeral. She opened her eyes and screamed.
I put my pen down and wiped my forehead. I glanced at the the clock on my table. The radium coated hands showed two thirty. I looked at the sheets of paper that contained my new story. I very much wanted to win the horror story writing competition in our school. I wanted to continue to write but my neurotransmitters (those are those nerve signaling chemicals which control whether we are asleep or awake, so we learnt in science class) refused to agree with me. I couldn’t think of a conclusion anyway. I yawned indecently and crept into bed, knowing fully well I would never be able to get up in the morning to complete it. Pushing my tensions aside I got lost in a land of peaceful slumber.
I slept like a log. I never knew a night to end so fast. It was seven in the morning but I felt as if I had not slept at all. I was woken up roughly by a mother who was literary dragging me out of my bed.
“ Everyday, I tell you, everyday I have to scream my head of to wake you up. Cant you be considerate enough and wake up as soon as I call you? And you say I’m being hard on you. You should see how your grandfather used to treat us. We have never treated you that way, girl, never. A bucket of water poured on our heads if we didn’t wake up at one call.”
“chill, mum, I couldn’t hear you until now. I slept at two thirty yesterday.” I said groggily rubbing my eyes.
“ I DON’T CARE WHEN YOU SLEPT! ITS SEVEN ALREADY AND I WANT YOU IN THE KITCHEN IMMEDIATELY!”
Mum shouting always works as a stimulant. I jumped out of my bed and hurried into the bathroom, brushed, bathed and ran into the kitchen for breakfast. I picked up the brush and violently tried my best to clear the tangles in my hair between morsels of my food. T was seven twenty-five and I had neither packed my bad nor polished my shoes. I thrust any book I could lay my hands on into my bag wore my shoes unpolished and ran to the bus stop.
I arrived just as the bus crawled to a stop. I dumped my bad on the luggage rack and leant against the side of the seat panting. I was a good thing I had at least remembered to bring the story I had spent so much time on. I can at least complete it in school.
I heard a girlish giggle followed by a snort. I looked up, rolled my eyes and looked out of the window. I was quite used to people poking fun at me.
Trust me, till date I haven’t understood why. I guess they just need, as they say in Hindi, a bakra. I’m one ready-made. It hurt my feelings many a times, but I think that’s exactly what they want. They sure get charge out of humiliating a girl. I don’t mind that much anymore. I’ve got used to people poking fun at me, my uniform, my attitude. I don’t give a damn to them anymore.
That bus was crowded and half the people were standing. It was stifling hot in there. Not to mention, the disgusting smell of body odour mixed with the smell of a verity of perfumes. I crinkled my nose tired to think of a proper ending to the story. Unfortunately for me, my brain remained stubbornly fogged.
Alas, another story had just joined the long list of endless stories I had created. I haned over my unfinished novella and took my seat in class. Xyz seemed specially cheery today. She was a good writer and I’m sure she would have come up with an excellent idea for a horror story. I mean, looking back at the story I had written, I suddenly seemed very childish and dumb. Imagine, a great big dog with green eyes, I mean how naïve can I get? I just hope the judge doesn’t fall from the chair laughing.
We all trooped in the auditorium a few minutes later. The winners of yesterday’s competition will be announced and today’s judge will speak. I took a seat next to my friend.
“Any hopes of winning this year?”
“Nah. No chance.”
“ Another unfinished story?”
“How did ya ever guess?”
“well, yeah. Right.” I said grumpily. Maybe I’ll skip school tomorrow. At least I wont have to hear xyz’s name being called out.
A few names were read out and applause followed and then the judge, Mrs. Gupta, rose form her seat and walked to the podium. She was a frail old woman, who looked as though a mere gust of wind would knock her down. I don’t know what she spoke; when I came to my senses again, the auditorium was half empty.
I don’t want to go to school today. I don’t. I don’t. I don’t!
Please, mum, don’t let me go today. Please, huh, please, please, please…
However, under her stern gaze, I couldn’t even open my mouth. So I packed my bags and left the house. I barely walked two steps when I was hit on the head by a newspaper.
“sorry about that!” the newspaper guy called as he cycled at great speed and with great expertise simultaneously tossed the papers to the respective houses.
I was about to toss the paper inside when the headline caught my eye. What I read nearly killed me.
School teacher murdered!
The victim, identified as mrs gupta, teacher of pqr public school, wes reportedly stabbed on the chest while walking in the nearby downtown. There were no witnesses to the incident though the street is usually full of people. There have been no traces, not even the footsteps of the murderer on the sand in the park where her body was found. This incident has left the detectives completely baffled, as to what could be the cause—
I raised my eyes and found a pair of very green eyes looking back at me…