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Horror Urban Fantasy Suspense

The Vetal

It is said that Halloween night is indeed magical, attracting the souls from other realms into one of the mortal beings for that particular night. Throughout the world, spooky incidents are reported on the eve of the 31st of October every year.

It was yet another chilly Halloween night in the relatively deserted town of Yorkshire, London and the big Banyan tree at the dead-end of the 5th block, looked especially eerie that day.

The dense cloud of fog around the tree was causing the light of decorative pumpkin lanterns put on in it to fade, giving the tree a very spooky appearance. The two boys who left the home on their bicycles with the utmost zeal to collect maximum trick-or-treat goodies were now standing spell bounded in front of the tree, they could not sway their eyes from it.

Boy 1: “What is this thing even doing here? This species doesn’t look native to England.”

Boy 2: “It is apparently private, owned by an Indian family. I have heard they even put an appeal in the town council for keeping it, citing ‘religious reasons’.

Boy 1: “What is that? The form like thing?”

Boy 2: “Stop it, Erwin, I am not going to……. what…. the hell is that!”

Boy 1: “Run ...Mate …Run”

The two boys ran at the top speed that their jaded bicycles offered and were lucky to get away but the patriarch of the said Indian family wasn’t going to be that lucky.

The Halloween eve had once again worked its magic, the ghoul or the Vetal had come to life out of the dead body, buried so deep under the trunk of the Banyan tree for so long. It was another thing, no it had no features of its past life, no sex-no gender. It was now a bodiless smoky entity. It did however have some memories of its previous human life and that was all, it needed.


Sudheer smoked chillum in his Veranda, it was surprisingly silent even for a Halloween night in the deserted town of Yorkshire. It was all dark, but a small light from the nearby bonfire was keeping him from freezing and was making his face glow.

“What is better than gazing at stars while smoking chillum” he murmured lazily. The bright full moon in the clear sky was suddenly engulfed by a shadow, which went unnoticed by the man buried in his thoughts. His reverie was broken when the negligible light coming to his face from the bonfire, was also blocked by the same black shadow.

The man turned and saw an unearthly creature looming in the air. ‘What was this creature?’ he thought. It looked nothing like anything he had seen; it was a dark, smoky, and a shapeless mass with de-formed holes for features. He felt the creature was an inhabitant of some godforsaken deepest circles of hell; cursed to roam earth till eternity. The man was experiencing the most horrifying incident of his life, he wanted to scream but his mouth froze in a perpetual ‘O’, he wanted to run for his life but his feet were not ‘his’ anymore, his eyes widened never leaving the ghastly creature that was moving towards him. The man froze in his spot, sweating profusely in the cold while the creature bared its, what seemed like fangs, in a mirthless laugh.

Almost levitating, it moved towards the man. Seeing his impending doom, the man prayed to whatever god he could remember, for cardiac arrest or any other quicker than the one that approached him. Poor him, his fate was sealed, the entity or as the locals christened it ‘the Vetal’ loomed over him. It scooped him up in the air and with its foam-like hands, ripped his chest apart and poked straight at his heart. As the blood and flesh spurted around, the man convulsed, and vomited a cocktail of blood and entrails. He screeched in pain, a scream so chilling that it could have frozen bones miles away; and it was over. This scream was accompanied by another ‘thud’ of utensils scattering on the ground. In a single flip, the Vetal turned around and saw a lady frozen with shock and yet shivering in fear simultaneously.

“Fascinating!” the Vetal spoke in broken syllables and then bared its fangs in another mirthless laughter at this new victim. The lady’s eyes widened with fear as she saw her now-dead husband fall to the ground. Vetal was now slowly approaching her, but this sight was so ghastly that dare she moved. So she kept there staring in Vetal's ‘bottom-less holes’ for eyes for what it felt like an eternity.

And finally, when it hovered over her head that she mustered all her courage to scream. Too bad for her, it was too late; in an instant, the unearthly creature jumped on her neck. It coiled around her neck like hissing cobra. She felt a sharp sting in her neck that deepened right into her voice box. Pain caused her eyes popped out from the sockets; dilating the pupils so much that her eyes now appeared as the black pool of waters. The last thing she felt was the trickling of warm blood from her neck, soaking her cream silk sari; then with a ‘thud’ her fragile body fell to the ground.

The Vetal then glanced at the corpse and pointing its foam-like fingers to the dead lady’s wedding ring, it spurted “mine”. Satisfied with the macabre it created on the ground, the Vetal turned towards the entrance to the house and saw another prey waiting for it inside the house, peeping at it through the window.

The poor old lady had just witnessed the soul rotting scene of her son and daughter-in-law's murder from the window. Scared, she ran to the other corner of the room where her toddler granddaughter lay fast asleep in a cot. She jammed the door from inside, but she could feel Vetal's persistent presence just outside the door. Shivering in a corner, she waited for the door to open any moment now, but instead a black moss-like substance seeped-in through the hinges of the door. The old lady did not know what was more unbearable; her fear of the unknown entity or the stench from the moss. Once inside, the moss took the form of the Vetal who was now creeping towards her in a lizard-like manner; making terrifying hissing sounds like that of a snake.

She closed her eyes in fear, while Vetal hung over her head contemplating if she should meet the same end as the other two. And as Vetal calibrated, its own past ran like a reel of cinema in front of its ‘bottomless holes’ of eyes.

A past that seemed so old now in its racked memory like eternities have passed already, an era when it was not “the Vetal”-a cursed bodiless mass, when it was not yet reduced to being an ‘it’ but was a very feminine ‘she’. Yes, before becoming this dreaded creature she was once a woman with dreams and a name; ‘Maya’. She was a daughter, a wife, a mother. This old lady; - her mother –in- law back then, had plundered Maya’s dreams by plotting latter’s murder with her son & Maya’s husband- ‘Sudheer’.

Maya’s only fault was that she had not brought much gold in dowry like new – now dead daughter-in-law, on top of it she could not give birth to a son; a vice as per patriarchal Indians? Vetal still remembered the pain when in her past life as Maya she was burnt alive and then her half burnt-half alive self was buried under the Banyan in the front of the lawn. They did not even think of her daughter once, who was only a baby then. Vetal looked at the toddler sleeping on the cot. Though she had grown up considerably, she still looked famished and malnourished. These people have subjected her to much negligence at such a tender age. Anger and emotions brewed inside the hollows of Vetal’s eyes, emotions that it was not even sure existed anymore.

In an instant, the Vetal decided it will not kill the old lady, not because she was old, not because she was innocent –No, she was not; but because of two reasons; -

1) The toddler would need someone for taking care of her for a while (decided the mother inside Vetal) and 2) the old lady’s crime was too huge for an easy punishment like death; she was to be tormented for the rest of her life (decided Vetal out of pure rage). It bared its fangs in a smile of satisfaction and then gurgled a “yes” as if pleased with its own reasoning and decision.

The old lady who up till now was awaiting her death with closed eyes and folded hands slightly opened her eyes. The Vetal was flipping in the air right in front of her eyes. In a split second, it went behind her back and clung to her oily braid. The poor lady’s neck crooked on one side as if some unknown force powerful than gravity itself was pulling her down on one side. She shouted in pain and in response there was a peal of ringing laughter like that of a child, that churned the insides of the old lady with fear.

“Mother-in-law…Rem..mber…M... e?” the Vetal said in a broken voice; a voice so vile that it seemed to have not belonged to any man, women, or even animal of the earth. The old lady’s eyes popped in shock, “No…No..it is not possible, I buried her dead body myself. She is dead” Old lady muttered, shivering like a leaf in the wind.

The Vetal negated her statement by swinging on her braid left to right like a child on a tire swing, dragging along the old lady’s fragile neck along. She screamed in pain, her pain that was a joy to Vetal. It decided not to kill her yet but meanwhile sure it could have some fun with her; the Vetal smirked at the ingenuity of the thought. It then rotated her rag-doll of a body to face the mirror in the opposite corner.

Seeing her reflection in the mirror sent chills to her spine. If she had been scared so far, it was nothing compared to what she felt now. She could not believe her traitorous old eyes, on her back was Maya, her former daughter-in-law’s half-burned body that was clutching the old lady’s neck, her decayed & twisted ankles circling the old lady’s waist. Her voice choked back in her throat and all she could manage in response was a labored & broken sentence “Maya, you came back?”

The room rang with another chilling round of giggling and it whispered in the lady’s ear a distorted “for...everrrr...” Resigning to her doomed fate, she led out one last defeated shriek “Naaah…” that echoed the entire town of Yorkshire that night.

October 27, 2020 14:32

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1 comment

Esther Ojifinni
23:49 Nov 11, 2020

Oooo! This gave me the chills. I loved the story though. I would suggest maybe using Italics for the thoughts because It was a tad bit hard to find them. Other than that, great job!


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