It was 2:15 am, and Kamil knew that it was it for sleep. The insomnia was a debilitating disease that had no cure. He had consulted every doctor, tried every type of sleeping pill, every known remedy on the Internet and nothing had worked. The magic realm of sleep was not one that he could so easily penetrate.
Back in Nepal, when the sleep was drained from his soul, the man would go out and sit in a tree. His property overlooked a huge Savannah and there were tigers roaming about, their green translucent eyes shiny in the face of the luminous moon.
In North America, he stared out the back window. It overlooked a decent sized yard with a few trees and some flowers. Kamil was retired and gardening was a hobby. He kept the hedge in the front yard trimmed like a different cartoon character every month that amused the neighbourhood kids and drew plenty of passersby with their cameras. He had made the six o’clock news and had appeared on the cover of a few magazine covers.
Kamil shambled down the stairs and went into the kitchen for a glass of water. He had breezed through this routine so often that a light wasn’t necessary. He went to the living room and sat the glass down expertly on the coaster and plopped down in the Lazy-Boy chair.
He stared outside in the blackness that spread over the small yard like a giant roosting bat.
The first movement didn’t catch his eye. But, the second one did because whatever was out there had knocked over the rake. Lately, because it was late spring/early summer there had been the usual problems with the raccoons and the odd possum.
Mrs. Bodger across the street claimed they were thieves stealing her prized gardenias.
On the third movement, Kamil knew that it wasn’t a raccoon or a possum or dog or cat. It was something entirely different.
He stood up carefully, trying not to make any sound and then proceeded to slide across the hardwood floor as quietly as possible to be close to the window. It turned around and the old man almost screamed.
There was no mistaken it; it was a Khyah. Back in his native country, the creature was thought to be a small demon, with a body full of hair and a humanoid figure. They were nocturnal and were deadly afraid of artificial lights. There were the white ones; those that brought bountiful gifts to a home. The black ones brought only bad luck, problems and in some cases debilitating diseases.
It was gone as soon as it was spotted. Kamil quickly made sure that every accessible window and door in the house was completely locked. The old man moved swiftly out of deep-seated fear.
Suddenly, sleep was the last thing on his mind.
But, he knew what he had to do.
The next day, he went to the hardware store and bought all of the necessary items. Then, he came home and set up the trap.
Now, it wasn’t a matter of not getting sleep because of the insomnia; it was the sheer excitement of reversing a process that had robbed him of certain aspects in life.
Back in Nepal, when he was twelve, he and his friends were convinced that there was a Khyah held up in a cave. They were sure of it and one Saturday after a number of livestock had been attacked and killed, they moved in with all of their artillery.
They had firecrackers, stones, homemade rockets, and one kid had even managed to sneak away a flare. They counted to three and threw everything in the cave and ran. There was a loud, raucous racket and an explosion that rocked the cave. There was also an ear-piercing, blood curdling scream that rendered the one boy deaf in one ear.
They had killed or maimed the Khyah. Later, the deaths of the livestock were squarely and properly placed on the shoulders of a Bengal tiger.
It was about this time that Kamil’s insomnia began.
He finished setting everything up around supper time.
“Now if only a raccoon or some other animal doesn’t interfere, this will work out great.”
It was late and as usual Kamil could not sleep; he was too excited.
He slipped out of bed and went through the usual routine of getting something to drink. This time, it wasn’t a simple glass of water, but a thimbleful of whiskey, something he rarely drank. A bottle stretched out for months even a year or two.
“Come on, you little varmint, you know the drill.”
He chortled in the dark.
Ironically, the one time that he want to stay away, he fell asleep in the chair. There was some kind of dream of his friends back in the day and then total pandemonium.
The trap had caught something.
He jumped out of the chair and looked out the window. The floodlight cast its accusing eyes at a raccoon.
“Ah, you stupid animal,” he sighed and put some shoes on to let it out of the trap.
The next day, he reset the trap and again and wished for the best.
“I hope that the Khyah wasn’t alerted.”
That night, he waited falling in and out of sleep, but with no positive results. The morning sun broke through and he went to catch a few hours of sleep.
Kamil was a little frustrated, but he kept it up every night even when there was no action. Finally, on the sixth night there was success.
The old man ran out of the house and danced around as the bright light startled the Khyah.
“Hello, you little Devil.”
It hissed at him.
“This is the deal. I will let you go. But, in return, you give me my ability to sleep again. No more insomnia does we understand each other?”
The Khyah hesitated and then smiled an evil, bone-chilling smile. It nodded its furry head affirmative.
Kamil let it go and the creature took off running.
“I think I lost that round.”
Kamil went back inside and up to bed after making sure the patio door was locked, not once, but three times.
His head hit the pillow and he slept like he had never slept before.
As the days and nights floated by, the insomnia was cured. He was getting a full night’s rest and couldn’t remember what that felt like. But, then he started having a rash on his leg in the shape of a Khyah.
“Well, you win some and you lose some,” chortled the old man.