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Mystery Horror Inspirational

The headlines read “48 year old man arrested for misbehaving with a female tenant.” On further reading, the address read “1241 Drummond St”. That was just down the road of my apartment. It’s a mansion on a really big fenced lawn. There’s no front yard or back yard or garage. It’s just a house with grass all around. It’s painted in light green color & has a brown color roof. The interiors are pale.

If you’re wondering, how I’d know the interiors, well, my roommates and I had gone for its viewing 4 months before. We had rejected that place because there seemed to be something really fishy about the owner. We gave in to our gut feelings and after reading the headlines, we thanked our stars.  

From that day onwards, my life started to change. Since then the house seemed to call out to me. 

It all started with imagery. Images of weird symbols drawn around it. Symbols I’ve seen before, but can’t recollect. I can identify them by name but don’t understand the meaning. For instance, if I see a stick figure of a hybrid animal of dog and cat. I can tell you it’s cat and dog, but I don’t know what the hybrid figure symbolizes.

The weird part yet is the fact that only I see them. Nobody else does. Neither my roommates, friends nor family. As a matter of fact my family doesn’t reside here - they stay miles away, in another land. I have come to the States to pursue my Bachelors.

I stay in a three-storied apartment with 2 other roommates. We often go on walks in the evening - our only attempt to get in the breath of fresh air amidst the maze of school, study and part-time jobs. I work as a barista in Starbucks. That's way down the road where I live and I have to pass 1241 Drummond St to get there. Being a person of color, I hate the job - I get so many racist remarks passed at me. I cry in the washroom but act fine later.

October was in full swing and the Halloween lights were up. Eerily enough, I had to work a late night shift that day. As I was returning, I tried my best to take my eyes off the house. But that street seemed different. I no longer recognized the houses. I could swear there was no fence on this one house and that other house was anything but painted in white. The trees seemed to overgrow and the interiors of the house were no longer visible. I was certain that I too wasn’t visible to them. At this moment, unfortunately or coincidentally, my eyes fell on the damned house. Just then, a symbol of a moon with rays of sun came into focus on the front door. The spotlight came from a distant tree with lights on it. I don’t know how far the tree was. 

I stood a while trying to make sense of it. There was no one on the street - it was too desolate for 9 PM on a Wednesday evening. A chilly wind and the rustling of leaves, brought me back to my senses and I rushed home. 

As I got ready for bed that night, I seemed to get some strange nostalgia. Of my past. Of present. Of my family and friends. I’ve never felt homesick before. I wasn’t in touch with most of them. I didn’t have many friends other than Aaron Knight from 9th Grade. But he had been absconding since graduation. No one knows why. So I didn’t have anyone to talk to. Weirdly, the nostalgic episode lasted only 2 minutes. I felt indifferent after that. 

The next morning, as I was making myself some coffee, I saw an object shadow on the wall. It was the shape of the symbol I saw last night. I turned around, aghast!! It seemed to fall from the sky with some leaves. I pinch myself to reassure myself that I’m not dreaming. But I see it falling over again, with the last remnants of autumn leaves. I rush to the window and peek down. Though, I could swear multiple symbols fell down - there, lying down amidst the grass is one shiny symbol. I think twice if I should go down or not. The leaves rustled around that, giving me complete visibility. Despite the fear and uncertainty, I rushed down to find the symbol. As I lifted it in my hand, I felt the weight of it. For its size, it’s definitely a lot heavier. 

It was very weird. Now, more than ever, I was certain, to fill in the piece - I had to go to 1241 Drummond St.

“Girls, we need to go to 1241 Drummond St. It’s been meaning to tell me something. My head hurts from all the signs!” I try my best to convince my roommates - Ruth Higgins and Lea Koch.

“Maithree, please! It was a crime sight. Stay out of it.” Says Lea.

“What signs?” Says Ruth.

“Here see this - wait, where did it go?” Girls, I just had it with me!” I scour my room and my bag, still I don’t find it. Maybe it wasn’t visible to others?

“I found a pendant - it fell from above. From the sky maybe? A pendant having the shape of the moon with rays of sun. I saw the same symbol etched on the door of that house. It just… please….accompany me on that house.”

“Moon with sun rays??? From the sky? Maithree, are you out of your mind? How is that even possible? It would make an amusing Halloween costume for sure, but we don’t buy this” they ridiculed.

From their talks, it was clear - I had to go alone. And, I would on the coming Saturday at 10:00 AM.

***

I show up as scheduled - and knock on the door. No response. I could feel something move in the curtains though. I take a deep breath and push the door knob. It’s open! I step inside and I’m doing so my heart thumps harder. My breath gets heavier with each passing minute. There’s absolutely nothing in the house. The indoors are primarily dark with a dim light entering through a small gap between the curtains. I cannot find switches anywhere to turn on lights. I expected cobwebs at the least, if not furniture covered in white cloth. But there’s not even that. I wonder how terrorizing it must’ve been here.

Suddenly, the door closes shut - and I can hear some screeching. The heaters in the room spring to life and make sounds. This noise gets unbearable and louder. I close my ears, eyes and yell “Stop!! Who’s there? What do you want from me?”

It gets quiet. I can hear my heartbeat. I take my hands off my ears and open my eyes. To my surprise, there’s a full-length mirror in front of me. It wasn’t there earlier.

The curtains out of nowhere, cover the windows, blocking all light. I hear knocking on the windows, chattering of teeth, and the night sky comes into light in the mirror. Moon amidst million stars.

It feels trippy.

A voice starts narrating - “The sun is fire. The moon is illuminated from his fire. The sun controls the spirit. The moon is the soul. The sun is masculine. The moon is feminine. The moon nurtures people and helps them realize what they are destined to see. They use the past and memory to help people. I speak as the moon.”

“But...who are you?” 

“My name doesn’t matter. I’m the girl who stayed in this place. The one that reported the landlord. Rather, land devil? The one who got pity glances after that. As a victim. Helpless victim.”

“I’m... so sorry. But why does this involve me?”

“Because, before me it was you who came to view this house. You sensed something fishy in him. But didn’t listen to your gut feeling. You could have raised your voice and used social media. You are fickle minded. A sadist.”

“What? How can you say that?”

“You play victim when you face racial discrimination in the States. You took shelter behind your white best friend Aaron in high-school but back in India you were a bully too. Not once have you repented your actions over people you’ve hurt. Yet, you have the audacity to play the victim. Mend your ways. Mend them before others like me come back and make you pay for your deeds.

How… how do you...know all this about me?” I managed to stammer.

“That’s where the sunbeams come into play. The sun may be the spirit, but the beams channelize the negative feelings away from us. They request us to get rid of them before engulfing us in the dark hole. And one of my hatred is channeled towards you. The other is rotting in jail. But what do I do with you? If I hurt you or kill you, my sins would come back to me. So, I have decided that I want the best of both the moon and the sunbeam to stay with me. Thus, the only choice is to guide you. Apologize to the girl who you bullied!!”

Her words hit me. They impacted me. So I ask her: “You could have stayed alive to tell me all these. Why did you commit suicide and spook me with all this imagery?” 

“Well, depression is different. A redemption happens after-life. And I don’t want you to wait until then. I don’t want anyone to reside in this house. I will hence, haunt it forever. I will guide people like you.”

A bright light blinds me, forcing me to close my eyes. When I open, it’s the same empty room. A ray of light peeks through, I came outside. And it’s nearly 11 AM. I have new found knowledge and sit down and cry.

I miss Aaron Knight terribly. He was my best friend when I came to the States in 9th Grade. He was the only one who didn’t discriminate against me on the color of my skin. He was fighting a battle himself with his family, I wonder if that got too serious. He fled the city without informing anyone. Not even me. Maybe I meant nothing to him.

My life in India was entirely different from what I faced here. I came from a well off family and the kids swarmed to be friends with me. I loved to hear people stories and how I mostly had a better life than them. But, Anwesha never shared hers. I don’t know why she was so silent. Maybe, I never respected that and wanted to dig deep. Maybe this is what they called bullying?

Whatever it is, Anwesha was definitely easier to contact than Aaron Knight, so I do some internet stalking. Seems like she’s becoming an entrepreneur. So, I text her on Facebook - “Hi. Congratulations on starting your company. You never spoke in school and now you have to divulge details to investors. This is not a snide remark, rather it’s me thinking about the turntables. I now know how it feels to have your privacy invaded. The realization has been long. I’m so sorry.”

I’m not certain if she will reply. I don’t know if she’ll remember me or she’ll care. 

As I walk home, I reflect on many things. I decide to uplift my self and pride myself on skin colour, instead of letting others' comments affect me.

“Do you girls want to get some coffee this evening?” I chirp excitedly after I get home. At this point, I'd really appreciate some social support.

“You had gone to that house...we don’t want to talk to you”.. they say. I hide my apprehensions and reply - “What? Nooo! I went to meet a teacher and we had a great conversation”.

They laughed and said “We were just joking, coffee sounds great! But let's get back by 5 PM?”

We had a great time. To my absolute surprise, they had hosted a Halloween party and invited some of our friends. 

As I reminisce about the day, my phone beeps - it’s from Anwesha. “Heyy, it’s totally fine. The fact that you’ve finally realized this makes me happier. Cheers!” 

I’m content that we’re at peace. Deep inside I pray Aaron is hale and healthy. 

[Author’s Note - If you’re curious about Aaron Knight, read my story ‘Unfathomable Regret’. If you’re curious about Anwesha’s entrepreneurial journey, read ‘Future on Hand’. I’m trying to create character spin-offs. :)]

October 22, 2020 06:00

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9 comments

Pratheeksha R
00:09 Nov 08, 2020

Any suggestions will be appreciated. :)

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Nilay Jha
06:11 Oct 22, 2020

Is this last minute? I noticed some very minor inconsistencies. But if explored well, you’d get many spin offs. :)

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Pratheeksha R
06:13 Oct 22, 2020

Thank you! :)

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Radhika Diksha
05:59 Nov 05, 2020

This is a good story. The beginning was great but from the middle section of the story, I felt the story became a bit childish. Your story outline is pretty good but you execute your writing very badly. I find something missing in your writing style. And I want to ask you one thing? Are some situations in your story based on real-life incidents? hope my feedback helps.

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Pratheeksha R
15:38 Nov 05, 2020

For some prompts - I get ideas from real life situations and then I let my imagination take on. Again, thanks for your feedback. :)

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Hannah Fransen
06:59 Oct 29, 2020

I really like this! I love the use of repetition with the address and the symbols throughout the story, it helps enhance some of the creepy-ness!

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Pratheeksha R
16:57 Oct 29, 2020

Thank you very much! This was my first time in a horror genre. :)

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06:04 Oct 22, 2020

You’ve evolved tremendously as a writer. I read the 2 stories mentioned in this prompt and I think your way of weaving stories is not entirely predictable. Good job!

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Pratheeksha R
06:11 Oct 22, 2020

Thank you very much for your time!!

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