Written in response to: Set your story during the night shift.... view prompt




Satish pulled down the shutter. Locked the factory. He took out his car and reached home after driving for nearly two hours. The inaugural function passed off smoothly. Around 200 persons had gathered to wish him for his endeavor of starting a micro-unit manufacturing electronic gadget.

It was May 1972. The electronics industry was in its infancy stage. The computers were newly introduced to the market. Satish, after his graduation in Electronics Engineering, designed a product and decided to manufacture it. He purchased a plot in an industrial estate and built a small one-level factory of 500 square feet. After furnishing it as per requirement, recruiting staff of 7 personnel, 5 technicians, a supervisor, and an office assistant, he started his operation in this isolated unit. The software development, the major component of his product, was Satish’s main responsibility before the gadget was introduced to the market. Initially, the factory was to operate in the first shift with timing 9:30 to 5:30.

In the first week itself, Satish realized the road to get the product ready for  the market was not smooth. Many interruptions in the power supply were experienced due to heavy industry in the nearby area. As a result,  operating the computer for the development of software was getting difficult.

Even after a week of operation, the software could not be implemented as per expectation. So the only immediate solution was to use the computer in the night shift when the other heavy industry would not be operating. Satish started developing software in the night all alone. Slowly, he felt that an office assistant for the night shift would be helpful. He asked the boy, recruited as an office assistant to come for the night shift with some monetary benefits. The young man readily agreed to it.   

The day the boy joined him on the night shift passed off very well. He had to sit on the chair reading storybooks while Satish was busy developing the logic. To provide the hot coffee whenever Satish asked for, was his duty.

Once Satish noticed the boy was reading ghost stories. As expected, he asked Satish, “Sir, are you not afraid of ghosts?”

“Not at all. The ghosts don’t exist at all. I have been staying here in the nights all alone for last one month, the ghosts never came to meet me.” Saying this Satish laughed. The boy never opened the topic of ghosts again. A fortnight passed without any event.

That night, Satish was absorbed in some program logic development. Only the light near the computer was on, while the rest of the lights were put off.

 Suddenly, just after midnight, the boy heard a knock. Tuck.Tuck.Tuck. He got alert. And immediately, the light of the washroom came on. After a couple of minutes the light went off. The boy was horrified. He came close to Satish. He was trembling. ”Sir, did you hear the knock?” Satish was engrossed in programming. The boy was shivering. “Sir, Did you hear the knock?” He somehow uttered the words. Satish looked up. “Did you say something?”

“Sir, there was a knock and the washroom light got on and went off”

“How can it be? Some other sound you must have heard.”

“No. Sir. There was definitely a knock. Also, the light in the washroom came on and went off.”

“See, you were reading ghost stories, so you are imagining ghosts everywhere. There are no ghosts in the world.” Satish got into program development.

After some time, again the boy heard the knock. Tuck.Tuck.Tuck.

Now the boy got terrified. He came close to Satish and held his arm.

“Sir, Did you hear the knock now? I am really scared.” 

Satish moved in his direction. "Don't worry. That must be some other sound."

And Satish heard. Tuck. Tuck. Tuck. He was shocked. For a moment he also thought of ghosts. Next moment he controlled himself.

“Nothing. Forget about it. Let me carry on my development.”

“Sir, I am frightened. Do something.”

Satish gathered his wits. He got up from the chair. Dragged the boy by holding him by his arm. They came to the washroom. And automatically, the lights went on. The boy gave out a shriek. Satish pushed open the door of the washroom. In the light, they looked around the room with an searching eye. Nothing suspicious was noticed.  And Satish saw the tail of the rat hanging down from the loft above. Satish burst out laughing.

“See, the ghost is hiding there on the loft. Note the piano switch. When the rat climbed up the electrical wiring to go up, the switch got operated. And the lights came on. When the rat will go down along the wiring, pressing the piano switch, the lights will go off. “

The boy was not convinced. He was still frightened. He repeatedly looked at the hanging tail of the rat. He still could not believe that the lights going on and off was caused by the rat’s movement along the electrical wiring.

“Now let us close the door of the washroom. We will go away from here.”

They moved to the other side after closing the door of washroom. For 15-20 minutes, nothing happened.

And suddenly the lights of washroom went off. Satish rushed to the washroom, pushed open the door and switched on the light.

The tail of the rat had disappeared.

“See, the rat escaped using the electrical wiring and in the process, it had switched off the light. Are you convinced now?” Satish looked at the boy.

The boy was satisfied with the explanation. “But what about the knocks?” he murmured.

And there was knock. Tuck. Tuck. Tuck. Satish watched carefully in the corner of the ceiling. A house lizard was holding a cockroach in its mouth. When the lizard opened its mouth to gulp the cockroach, the cockroach fluttered its wings to escape. To retain its hold on the cockroach, in a desperate attempt, the lizard hit its tail three times on the wall. Tuck. Tuck. Tuck.

Satish explained the action. The boy was now led to believe. That too was not the act of ghost.

Both of them laughed out loud.

Satish came to the computer. Started working on developing the logic.

The boy was in a great mood for having solved the two big mysteries.

August 29, 2021 17:34

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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