Thriller Suspense Horror

This was for the fourth time Katerina got an unnerving sensation by gazing at the framed photograph hung in Jacob’s living room. Her mind was bombarding with questions and was crying for answers. Just when she was about to exclaim with surprise and shout for answers, she saw Mary glaring at her. Mary’s one look was enough to zip her lips; her silence was filled with anger and clamor. Within seconds, without uttering a word, she demanded Katerina’s passivity.

Mary and Jacob, an elderly couple, shifted to Katerina’s neighborhood one month back. Their arrival made the surrounding sensational. As if they had sprinkled bright colors to a black and white monotonous landscape. Earlier, people hardly stepped out of their home and socialized, everyone out there used to keep indoors and minded their own business. They were neither bothered checking on anyone, nor were concerned about making meaningful relation with anyone.

But Jacob and Mary always gave loquacious start to mornings. They even started the practice of organizing evening parties to give a kick start to a social life.

It was ice-cold winter morning. Katerina wrapped herself with a woollen shawl before stepping out to water plants. When she was almost done with watering the plants, she turned off the tap and started to twist the pipe into big circles. She was interrupted mid-way by someone.

“Good morning, Katerina. How are you? Isn’t it very cold out here? I have brought some apple pie for you,” Mary said with a wide smile.

“Hello, Mary. It is a pleasure to see a smiling face like yours in the morning. Please come inside, I will make some tea for you,” Katerina said.

“Ohh! Dear, you are being so kind.”

Katerina made Mary sit in her bedroom for every other room was freezing and they had only one blower heater. While Katerina was away in the kitchen, Mary rummaged through the entire room. After finding a safe place, Mary kept a grey round stone in Katrina's closet. But Mary was very clever, she kept everything exactly where they were before she touched them.

After few minutes, Katerina appeared with a serving tray which was holding two cups filled with hot herbal tea.

“There you are! Come, Dear. Sit next to me. You know what? If I ever had a daughter, she would have been of your age,” Mary said by holding Katerina’s hands.

“Do you have any children, Mary. I hope, I am not being too intrusive,” Katerina asked with hesitation.

“No problem, dear. I had a son, but we lost him when he was 10 yrs old,” Mary told while her eyes showed no sign of sorrow or pain.

Katerina found it bizarre. How could someone give a non-committal expression while talking about a dead someone special, she said to herself.

This small conversation was followed by a dense silence and there was only sound of their chattering teeth. Both sipped on their tea and occasionally shared a blank look.

“I think, I shall take your leave now, Katerina. You and Bob are invited for dinner. This way we will get some time to understand each other. Afterall, we are neighbours now. It is better if we stick together.”

“Sure, Mary. We both would love to join you and Jacob for dinner.”

Mary left the house right way, and her departure filled the air within with suspense.

“I know she is a good woman then why her presence felt so spooky,” Katerina said to herself.

She strutted towards her kitchen with a tray of empty cups and muttered all the way. She was confused.

“What happened Katerina? Are you doing some self-talk sessions?” Bob asked while putting his laptop bag on the couch. He had just returned from office when he saw his wife doing self-talk.

“Bob, today Mary came to our house with an Apple Pie. I know something is off about her. Her presence was elusive and her words did not make much sense. I mean she was being too friendly and usually kind. How could someone be too kind and caring? She doesn’t even know us that well,” Katerina said at a stretch thereafter took a deep breath.

“What’s wrong with that? Katerina, you are getting unnecessarily worried. She is an old woman. Perhaps, all she wants is to make the world a better place,” Bob said.

“But, Bob, it isn’t not about that. My sixth sense is being over sensitive with her presence. Her eyes are enigmatic, today when she held my hands, I felt repulsive. Anyways, you can have the pie if you want,”

“Come. We will have it together,”

“No, my morning sickness has gotten worse. I just don’t feel like eating anything,”

“Ohh! Honey. Don’t worry. Everything will be alright in second trimester,” Bob said and pecked her on cheeks. He wrapped his arms around her and both sat on the couch.

“Bob, Mary has invited us for dinner. This is the fourth time we will be going to her place. I understand that she wants to socialize but why would she single us out for a private dinner. You know, our neighbour, Monica, told us that we are the only ones who ever had dinner with them privately. Surprising! Isn’t it?” Katrina said.

“Katrina, now you are over reacting. This must be because you are having mood swings these days. Perhaps, hormonal imbalance is triggering your suspicion for Mary,” Bob said lightly. But this one light remark was going to put his life in jeopardy.

“What! Bob, I might be having mood swings, but I am not hallucinating. How could you be so insensitive towards my feelings. I just don’t want to talk about it,” Katrina said and pushed Bob away. She made her way to the bed room.

At night, both of them got ready for the dinner. Katrina donned a black color sheath dress, and Bob put on casuals – plain white t-shirt and navy-blue joggers.

They decided to walk to Mary and Jacob’s house. While they were en route, Bob apologized to Katrina and pressed her right palm softly to assure her that he would protect her at any cost.

Once they were at Mary’s, they rang the door-bell.

“Ohh! Dear. You look so pretty. Please come, it is freezing outside. May take your coat?” Mary invited them inside.

“Hello, Jacob,” Bob said.

“Hey, Bob. Long time!” Jacob said while patting Bob’s right shoulder.

Mary invited all of them to the dinning table, which was beautifully decorated with mouth-watering dishes. She was indeed skilled in making things look palatable. Everything was in order, just the way they had to be. Napkins were folded in shape of rose, and cutlery was placed perfectly.

There was moment of complete silence in the dinning hall. One could only hear soft sound of munching and of cutlery chiming. It was the same kind of lull, which one would experience when one enjoys food to an extent of divinity.

“Ohh, God! Mary, you are an amazing cook. The food was awesome,” Bob said

“Seriously, Mary. Everything was very delicious. It reminds me of my childhood when my mom used to cook tasty meals for us,” Katrina said and their eyes met only once during this one long dialogue.

Mary escorted all of them to the living room, wherein she served all some wine and chocolate cake. After few seconds, all of them got engaged in some random discussion. While everyone was lost in the discussion and room was filled with commotion, Katrina got distracted by a photograph hung right in front of her on the opposite wall. It looked alive. It was the photograph of a beach. All of a sudden, waves of the ocean from the photograph started to flow rhythmically and a soft breeze was caressing the palm leaves. Katrina could not believe her eyes. She thought it might be the effect of the wine. She rubbed her eyes and again got bewildered by its mysterious outlook.

She even saw a little boy making sand castle, but his face was not visible. He had squatted down few meters away from the shore with his back facing Katrina. For few seconds, Katrina’s attention was hooked to the photograph, but soon she realized that she was witnessing something petrifying. She was about to shout, but she saw Mary glaring at her.

Katrina urged Bob to leave immediately. She blamed the uneasy sensation for sudden withdrawal.

Along with Bob, she scurried away from there. She did not speak a word to Bod till they reached their home. Once they were home, she locked the door properly and sat on the couch traumatized.

“That photograph was alive, Bob,” Katrina cried.


“Our work is done, after few weeks our magic potion will start to work. We just have to wait for seven more months and our son will again join us in real world. My baby, he had been away for so many years. Finally, our wait will end,” Mary said and laughed loudly and her husband followed suit.

Mary and Jacob both lost their son, John, when he was 10 yrs old to a mighty wave. All of them went to a beach on vacation. John was building sand castle by the sea shore. Mary and Jacob were sitting on tumbona and were enjoying wine. They were distracted by the pleasant weather and forgot to pay attention to their little one. And those few seconds were enough for mighty waves to swallow John.

That incident left a vacuum in their lives. Mary was hell-bent on bringing him back. She tried everything, and one fine day she met an occultist. He suggested them to bring photograph of a latest memory of John. It was of the beach wherein John was playing with sand.

The occultist instilled life into that photograph. And told the couple that the photograph was a temporary connection to john’s world until they could figure out a way to bring him back. To make john part of the real world, they had to find a pregnant woman, preferably in her first trimester. Then occultist gave them a magic potion and asked them to feed it to the pregnant woman. In addition to that potion, the occultist also gave one stone, which was to be kept in the bed room of the new mother of their son.

Mary and Jacob could not find the suitable woman for years until they met Katrina. And their shift to Katrina’s neighbourhood was well planned.

June 17, 2021 17:03

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Alex Sultan
22:54 Jul 06, 2021

Interesting story. I like how you built up the twist, and I think it paid off well. I would try to watch for telling instead of showing with your imagery. "and cutlery was placed perfectly." could be written as "spotless pairs of cutlery lined the table" Just watch out for using the word 'was'. It's a trap most of the time. I enjoyed this story :)


Shoshana A
00:56 Jul 07, 2021

Hey! Thank you very much for feedback. I am glad that you liked the story. Further, the critique was much needed. :)


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