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The Replacement

Discussion in 'Stories (Fiction)' started by ILoveTulips, Oct 19, 2019.

  1. Tamrakshar

    Tamrakshar Finest Post Winner

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    Tulip, you are getting from strong to stronger position as a writer with the passage of every new episode. Like the removing of bracts of a banana flower, the mystery is slowly unfolding, and boy the horror story is getting thrilling! I am simply enjoying it! I would advice you to bring more horror in the forthcoming episodes. Cheers!
     
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  2. stayblessed

    stayblessed Gold IL'ite

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    ILT what a wonderful writer you are just brilliant. The story is so interesting. The little boy as replacement for a model was so cruel. Felt really bad. Our hero is the replacement for Liam. Not everyone can evaluate right and wrong if they themselves are in a bad situation. Most are opportunists in this world. But it's the rarest breeds like our hero who stand out. Its always people who question the injustice without throwing someone under the bus win our hearts. Hope our hero can find a solution for this without finding a replacement. Even though the story is of horror genre emotions are so nicely captured. Very well written. Loving this story so much. Best wishes.
     
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  3. ILoveTulips

    ILoveTulips Finest Post Winner

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    Hello All,

    Sorry for the delay in coming up with the next chapter. I am halfway through constructing the next chapter(s), and I don't want to post individual chapters for the rest of the story as I am afraid that will dilute the intended effect. My next post will be a bunch of chapters concluding the story. Hope you appreciate my intention and bear with me. I assure the wait will not be too long.

    Thank you for your support and heartwarming comments. Stay with me.
     
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  4. peddadas

    peddadas Platinum IL'ite

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    Holy Cow! Its not an easy fix... this can be definitely turned to a movie...I loved every bit of it dear
     
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  5. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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    @ILoveTulips
    Aiyo! Bone chilling! I am glad I read it during daytime. If at night I would not have slept at all.
    How do you do it ILT - such imagination! Wow!
    Very happy to read your story after a long time.
     
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  6. Tamrakshar

    Tamrakshar Finest Post Winner

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    Tulip, we are waiting for a grand episode!
     
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  7. ILoveTulips

    ILoveTulips Finest Post Winner

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    Chapter 1

    Chapter 2

    Chapter 3

    Chapter 4

    Chapter 5

    Chapter 6

    Chapter 7

    Chapter 8


    The last few leaves that still held to the twigs, stupidly assumed they have managed to survive the fall, swayed to their own final dance under the bright glow of yellow street light. Then giving up their false sense of pride, they too, one after another joined the already decaying leaves on the road.


    The cold that night was merciless and angrily bit the bone. It troubled my already agitated mind. Seeing Liam that morning had brutally hit my head that I have almost forgotten how a normal life would be and the thought that I might have, for at least a little while, got comfortable with the haunted house vexed me.


    Standing before the fence, I looked up to see the house - almost innocent looking, pitifully worn down, as if the façade has no clue about the evilness harboured inside. The bare rotting wooden doors and the windows were plain with no sign of painting done ever. A big part of the first-floor window was missing and the hole it made resembled a creepy form. With absolutely no heating inside, the broken window explains why the house feels like walking into a refrigerator. Years and years of accumulated moss on the roof covered all its straight edges and the house looked like one big curvy structure.


    The sight of it all sickened me rather than terrifying, I walked through the yard kicking the weeds out of my way. Sucking a deep breadth in I prepared myself to face the foul smell in the house.


    Time was just before 8, I restlessly paced the living room expecting the witches to come down with their drama, or the appearance of Ayushman and others. As none arrived yet, the quietness of the house grew unbearable. To be alone having nothing to do but wait, stirred my inner turmoil, started feeding a curiosity in me and at one extremely elevated wit, the question sprang in my mind.


    What’s upstairs?


    I have never wondered about it until then, but once that question roused, everything else seemed unimportant.


    Has anyone before me seen what’s upstairs, or even thought of it?


    Are there something darker waiting to be uncovered?


    Maybe that’s where the answer for all the questions lies!


    My mind quickly weighed the possibilities. None of them who are trapped in the backyard had been killed inside the house, so what’s stopping me? Instead of dreading their arrival, why can’t I go face them myself?


    All of a sudden, the idea appeared irresistible, the excitement amplified and I felt it impossible to waste another second in the living room.


    With hurried long steps I reached the bottom of the stairs, holding the rail, looked up. My heart thumped fast cheering my initiation. I heeded to that, and pushed myself to take the first step when the door right next to me, was knocked. In my nervous condition, the knock on the door threw me off my balance, and I ran few steps behind hit my back on the wall and tripped down.


    The knocking continued. I steadied myself up and opened the door.


    The chill wind slapped my face and my lips quivered. Lauren stood there in a thin dress, with no accessories to keep her warm. It took a forced effort from me to calm down the agitated nerves and sound composed.


    “God, aren’t you cold?”


    “No, don’t feel the cold,” she said. Her usual smile that comes with her simplicity was replaced by a sad frown, and it bothered me instantly.


    “You don’t look well, is everything alright?”


    “You tell me! My dad heard something about this house, from one of the customers.”


    Every single cell in my body vibrated and I forgot the effect of the minus degree weather.


    “What... What are you talking about?”


    “Are you really working on some construction?” her voice reflected her distress.


    “Yes, why do you doubt that?” my voice reflected mine.


    “He says this place is haunted, and nobody ever comes to this street. My dad nearly collapsed when I told him I come here often. What do you do here?”


    “Lauren, there is no need to doubt. This place has not been occupied for many years, so naturally people start spinning stories. What you heard are just rumours. I am here for several months,” swallowing nervously I added, “I haven’t seen any ghosts” I chuckled for convincing effect.


    “…”


    “Even if he says so, what do you think? That I am Ghost buster?” I forced another chuckle.


    She stared at me judging my honesty.


    “But you must have believed me Lauren, why else are you here even after hearing such a scary rumour?”


    “I don’t know what to believe anymore,” she shook her head slowly with the stare still fixed on me.


    “Lauren, I know I don’t give you enough to demand your trust. But if you hang on…” My words only made her more impatient.


    “I told my dad about you,” she announced and the firmness in her voice told me that she will not be so careful with her words or the tone.


    “…”


    “He wants to see you.”


    “…”


    “Come with me now”


    “What? No, I can’t”


    “Why not?” she raised her voice but let it at that probably considering her right in questioning in a relationship that’s yet to bud. However, my act of neglect left her indignant, she couldn’t just avoid conveying it. “Why not?” she repeated in a harmed whisper, her eyes both expressive and arresting. I may go on to live hundred years, experience millions of memorable moments, but the memory of that instant, the picture of her eyes displaying wounded emotions would remain somewhere in the back of my mind, and in totally unexpected moments would flash before my eyes and blame me for not giving her some honesty.


    “I… I have… I have lots of work to do. I can’t leave them”


    “But my shop is not too far,” she said in a way as if she couldn’t believe that the words were coming from her.


    “Sorry Lauren, I can’t” I cursed the curse that stopped me from revealing anymore.


    “I can’t believe this,” she dropped her head down.


    My heart sank and without thinking I reached out my hand, over the threshold, to touch her shoulders. Before my hand could make the contact, as if that touch could cause an excruciating pain to someone, a shrill rusty screech of a voice shrieked from upstairs. Instantly I froze with terror. I couldn’t make out if it was Hannah or Lizzy, the voice was coarse and rumbled like thunder.


    “What was that?” Lauren’s jerked her head up, her eyes widened with fear and my state of weakness only stunned her more.


    Once I recovered from the initial shock, I felt utterly naked in front of Lauren. The picture I have painted so far peeled its fake layers and my vulnerable situation was exposed ugly. I was both terrified and ashamed, and above all dejected that she would run away now and that would be the last I see her.


    “Tell me! “she yelled, “what was that?”.


    There was another shriek and followed by heavy thumps from upstairs. I pushed away all the emotions, and quickly poured the words, “Go away Lauren! Go!”


    “What’s happening? Who is in there?” she craned her neck to see upstairs for herself.


    It was all at once become too much for me to handle. “No! Go now!” and with one hard slam, I closed the door.

    (To be continued...)
     
  8. ILoveTulips

    ILoveTulips Finest Post Winner

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    Chapter 9


    Anger and fear stirred in me; I couldn’t tell one apart from another. It is either fight or flight, cried my brain. Flight was not the solution, so without second thought I held the rail to climb the stairs. A commotion to my left caught my peripheral vision, and I turned to look.


    The living room door was slightly open, so only a part of the window to the backyard was visible. The boy and couple other men fought for their place to see me about to climb the stairs. Theirs eyes were wide in disbelief and their mouth open. Quickly they were pushed out of way by others, and the next set of spirits checked the scene to confirm with their own eyes. Then appeared Ayushman, followed by Mrs. Griffiths. They saw me holding the rail and facing the direction upwards. From my grim look they could have realised they are seeing a man who is determined to go ahead, not someone asking for their permission. Then, to my surprise, they both nodded their head in unison. I would have climbed even without their agreement, yet the support did cheer me up.


    I winced every time the wooden steps creaked below my foot. The more I tried to land carefully, the longer the squeak rang and no way did it quieten the announcement of my arrival. Reaching the landing midway, I assessed the flight of stairs down to the living room, and the one leading to upstairs. Both possessed the same amount of eeriness, so pushing aside the hesitation, I climbed ahead reading the full view of the first floor.


    The broken window that I saw from outside reminded me that I must be cold now, but I wiped a layer of sweat from my forehead and continued climbing. When a forceful wind from outside squeezed itself through the broken hole and sounded like creepy howl, I shuddered. Thick, dense weaving of cobweb obstructed the view behind, but how Hannah and Lizzy managed to pass through them without difficulty, I wondered. I pushed away a bushy layer of cobweb but they stubbornly clung around my clammy hands despite my attempts to shake them away.


    The only light the upstairs had was from the streetlight, so a large portion was masked in darkness. Under a dim glow of light that again seeped through the broken window, three rooms were visible. Recalling the sound of footsteps I have heard all these months from upstairs, I decided the women must have come out from the room that’s opposite to me. Running a quick glance around the dark brick wall, I pushed open the door.


    “Eeehhhhhhhhh,” the women squealed loudly, and quick heavy thuds followed. I pulled my hand back as if I have experienced an electric shock.


    “Someone’s coming!” a petrified voice announced. Is it Hannah, or Lizzy? I couldn’t make out.


    “Must be Garfield!” another voice assumed and sound of footsteps grew louder.


    “Garfield! No! What do we do? Eeeehhhhhhhh!” The roar and the footsteps vibrated the upstairs landing, and I stood there totally confused by the uproar.


    To be honest, I was little bit amused too. Not revelling for longer, I touched the door again, opened it some more.


    “No, leave us! Go away! Go away!” cried the voices together.


    Their fear gave me the total charge of the situation. I moved further and showed myself up hoping to cause an alarm in them. But on seeing the full view of the room, it was I who was startled.


    Coming past the forest of cobwebs, a neatly arranged bedroom astonished me. With pictures on the wall, lit candles, long flowy curtain on the window, flower vase, wooden rocking chair – everything looked as if it was a room occupied by a living human being. Despite the absence of eerie elements, the place had an unmistakeable sinister effect.


    The spine-chilling loud breathing voices and weeps from the corner of the room caught my attention. I turned to look at both the women sitting down curling their legs. Their face hidden behind the big lengthy white sleeve of their dresses.


    The objects in the room merged and went hazy as I imagined what would be their reaction on seeing me and not some Garfield they were fearing.


    One of them slowly paused the weeping, and turned to look at me. Her face was fully covered by her long curly blond hair.


    “It’s you,” she yelled in her hoarse voice.


    The other one twisted her body some more and moved her face towards the wall, in fear I assumed. “Don’t! Don’t!” she whispered repeatedly.


    “Oh stop!” screamed the first one, “It is that stupid of yours!” she added. I understood that must be Lizzy.


    “What?” said Hannah and turned to look up. Half of her face was ghastly white, the other half revealed flesh and eyes bloodshot.


    The gory face of Hannah twisted my insides, and it felt every nerve in my body was pricked by hundreds of needles together. With the burnt flesh she looked much creepier than Lizzy whose face was totally hidden by her hair.


    “How dare you come here?” yelled Lizzy and slid towards me.


    “No, leave him!” cried Hannah and with full force pulled Lizzy by her hand. Next moment both the women are down on the floor. The shock of it made me forget what was I trying to accomplish by coming up there. I was visibly shivering and my teeth drummed not able to withstand the severe cold inside the room.


    “How dare he tried to scare us, in our own house! To remind us of Garfield!” with one sweeping motion Lizzy skated towards me, and I felt an ice-cold slap on my face. I don’t remember her hand touching my cheek, but the slap happened, and I was bleeding from my mouth. In the agony of pain, I fell on the floor.


    My vision was blurring. With great difficulty I tried to focus on Hannah who was now bouncing on Lizzy.


    “Stop! Leave him! You are not to come near him until I say so!” it was a harsh rude tone, completely different from Hannah’s usual tone. Lizzy herself jolted back; her shoulders pulled tight. Then she dropped herself on the rocking chair and swayed angrily. Hannah then moved towards me, I tried to push myself backwards, but as my back touched the wall, I sat there helpless. She crouched down couple of feet away from me and said in her usual kind voice, “I am so glad to see you here, again, after all these years!”


    “…,” the saltness of my own blood tasted vile in my mouth.


    “It’s my thoughts that brought you here. And on this very same day!” said Hannah. With her animated state Lizzy kept me aware of her presence.


    Unable to look at Hannah’s disfigured face, I moved my eyes away. With great struggle I stood up and asked, “What day?”


    “78 years back on this same day, you left from here. Remember? We had a gathering with all your army friends? Oh, how awful it was that day to know that we won’t see each other again for several months. 2 years, William! I waited 2 years! The war was horrible,” she choked and if there was flesh, I would have seen tears running down her cheeks.


    I stared at the floor in disbelief but carefully listened to every word Hannah said.


    “But you weren’t in the army that long, were you? Uncle Arthur wrote to me then, that you were sent home after losing a leg. But you never came here William, why?


    “There were stories. Many stories. Some said you were dead on the way here; some said they saw you in Liverpool happily married to another woman; some said you didn’t fancy me at all, and you went away just to avoid me. I don’t know what to believe, William. But it was horrible, the war was! And missing you was awful!


    “Everybody talked about the sacrifices the men do during war, but nobody knows what we women had to go through. And the children! Poverty kills more people than a war does! I struggled a lot William, a lot, more than you could ever imagine. I endured them all and continued living hoping to see you back one day.


    “Then, who would believe if I say? On the same day you left from here, there was a blast in this part of the town. Everybody I have known, everyone I have laughed with, cried with, who made me suffer – all of them, not a single one spared, were killed by that blast. What’s worse, they all happily departed away from the sound of bombs, from the news of deaths, from the misery of poverty. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t bear the thought that one day when you do come back, I won’t be here! I waited and waited for decades.


    After five decades, can you believe it? Five whole decades, I felt your presence! I knew you are somewhere closer. Oh William, how can I express my happiness? I don’t know how to bring you here. Then -” Lizzy’s rocking chair brushed the floor roughly.


    Hannah continued, “I spelled the curse on whoever walks into this house. That old lady, “I thought Mrs. Griffiths, “came in to feed her sentiments on war. I made her understand that she could leave and live her life only if she brings in another one. I let her go out in the day so she could find the next one. I hoped the chain would lead to you. I hoped someone would bring you in, and they did.


    “But you didn’t seem to remember me, William. I didn’t want to take you immediately after you arrived here. I waited for you to recognise who you are, to be ready. And who would believe, in all the days you stayed here, you picked this very day to come upstairs to see me. The very same day you left the house seventy-eight years ago! Doesn’t it show you are ready?”.


    “I… I don’t understand… I… I… I am not Will… William,” my tongue curled back causing the stammer.


    Lizzy stood up the chair abruptly, the chair rocked few times with after-shock. “You rascal!” she screamed. “You came back to play her again, the same way you did 80 years ago? Look at everybody who lost their lives because of you! And look at me! When we all have to roam as ghosts, how could you live with flesh and blood in this world? “It occurred to me then, who is Lizzy in the story? How is she here?


    As if reading my mind, Hannah said in a calm voice, “Ignore her anger William! She came in just like you, like the others in the backyard. And like you, she too climbed up. She listened to me, she understood me. I don’t have to say to you how lonely it could get in this secluded house, so I decided to keep her with me. She displays her resentment every now and then. All she wishes now is to rest in peace. And now that you are here, we all can leave together and rest in peace. Don’t you agree, William?”


    I felt the blood draining from my face as I worked out what that mean.


    “No, I am not William,” I repeated. I looked at Lizzy standing few feet from me, her anger is still evident from her heavy loud breathing.


    “You just don’t remember,” said Hannah and then, “Look here!” pointed me to a picture.


    I closed my eyes tightly and opened again to correct the blurry vision. A sharp chill spread through my spine as I looked at the picture. A group of men in army uniform smiled happily, couple of girls near the men but my eyes fell straight on the man standing behind them all, in a corner, holding a beer bottle, smiling shyly, bit uncertain in the group and uneasy posing for the picture – the man with an uncanny resemblance of me.


    “That’s…. That’s….” totally captivated by the photo, I forgot for a moment that I am in a room with two ghosts.


    “Yes, you remember now? You left right after taking this photo. Through all the miseries I saved that picture. Look at your face, innocent and sweet like a child. How I yearned all these years to see that face again. Finally, you are here now,” whispered Hannah.


    “That’s not me!” I managed to say.


    “EEeeeehhhhhhh!” screamed Lizzy from behind.


    “Stop! “ordered Hannah.


    “He will play you and leave again! I can’t wait anymore! Relieve me from this hell!” begged Lizzy. It then hit me, all the screams these days were not meant to frighten me. They were Lizzy’s way of venting out her frustration.


    “He won’t leave anymore. Will you? He won’t!” assured Hannah.


    “He will! I told you, you shouldn’t have waited this long!”


    “I wanted him to be ready”


    “He started talking to people.”


    I trembled hearing that, and it looked like Hannah was interpreting my silence.


    “Is she right? Are you planning to leave?” the hoarse whisper pierced my ears.


    “I…. I…. “I don’t know what to say that would save me.


    “All these wretched years! Finally, I got you closer to me; you could see me, talk to me! For that, for just that, I give you this night. By the time the sun rises, you make up your mind to leave,” stated Hannah and moved away from me. Lizzy sat on the chair and started rocking again.

    (To be continued...)
     
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  9. ILoveTulips

    ILoveTulips Finest Post Winner

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    Chapter 10


    My legs braided itself as I ran down the stairs. Lizzy’s shrill laugh pierced my ears and shocked my nerves. My brain was slower than my legs, so before I realised that I reached the end of the stairs, I strode fast as if to touch the next step only to hit the floor and collapse. I couldn’t stop for a second to react to the shock of falling down, I sprang to my feet. In between the fluttering heart beats and sharp quick breadths I tried to figure out what to do next.


    To my left: the door was inviting – to open and run out. My brain alerted, may be that’s what Hannah or Lizzy were expecting me to do. That I would run out, taunt the curse and get killed in what would look like an accident.


    In front of me: the stairs that lead to the witches.


    To my right: Ayushman and others. Uncertain how much time I have got before the witches come down and take my life, and with absolutely no other route to take, I hurried to the living room.


    Everybody jerked to a stop from their lethargic roaming, and swiftly came near the window. Their eyes were charged with curiosity to know what happened. To think each one of them were alive like me once, churned my stomach.


    “What happened?” asked Mr. Ayushman, his words and look weaved with anxiety.


    I couldn’t array my thoughts to tell things in order. In broken sentences I managed to tell the events in bits and pieces: about the photo, about Lizzy, and me being the one possible reason for all the events in home. Added to all this, the deadline Hannah have marked for me – that night!


    “Was that you in the photo then?” Mr. Ayushman asked incredulously.


    “No, that’s not me. Not my dad, or anybody I know. Someone who happened to look like myself.” Even in the panicked state I marvelled at the possibility of it.


    The thumps from upstairs, that constantly announced the witches are alert, rung the ceiling.


    “We heard screams!” asked Mr. Ayushman.


    “Yes,” picturing the frightened ladies and the way they curled to the corner of the house I added, “they were scared!”


    “Really? Scared of you?”


    “No, they thought it was someone called Garfield coming to get them”


    “Garfield!” muttered Ayushman and turned to look at Mrs. Griffiths. Both Mrs. Griffiths’ and Mr. Ayushman’s faces turned bright golden, their hair and face glowed. They stared at each other for what felt like an eternity. Then the glow faded, they turned to face me.


    “Mrs. Griffiths knows Garfield. She says he is one of the Exorcists, someone advanced and have lots of experience in this field. Few years back, after Mrs. Griffiths reached here, he had visited the house to get rid off the evil spirits. She also says that he nearly succeeded, he got hold of the spirits. But midway he collapsed. He never came back. Mrs. Griffiths says he was the last one to go upstairs before you. So, when you went up, they naturally thought it was Garfield who came back again!”


    “Oh!”


    “You must go tell him your situation!”


    “How would I know he is genuine? There are lots of frauds out there!”


    “Garfield Morarti is once an official exorcist in Vatican! There are only a handful of Exorcists in the world and Garfield is one of them. He is only known to public as a Roman Catholic priest. His appointment as an Exorcist for the diocese of Rome is kept a secret to avoid unnecessary attention. He has performed hundreds of exorcisms. All these were discussed here in this living room when he came here many years ago, that’s how Mrs. Griffiths know of him. Considering he was already here and know what he was dealing with, he is your only chance at this crucial hour,” his facial features tightened as he talked.


    The doubtful questions I had about this man died in my throat leaving it parched. A sudden breadth stunned the system, and brought out rough coughs as if some coarse substance rubbed the throat canal.


    Not bothering my coughs Mr. Ayushman continued, “Mrs. Griffiths know where he lives. You must run there at once.”


    The next few seconds, rushes of hope and qualms appeared in and out.


    How to go out still carrying the curse?


    The dim bulb lighting the living room flickered on and off, and a sudden pang of fear engulfed me when I imagined myself stumbling in the pitch-dark room fighting to survive. The feeling of protectiveness gave away inside me, steeling myself I asked, “If I let Lauren in, will you explain everything to her?”


    He met my helpless, humble gaze with a more know-it-all one. I remembered his words the previous day,


    Nobody knows what they are capable of doing until the circumstance arises and fastens them to it shutting all other possible doors.


    It was not the right time to ponder over the harm to my pride. Ignoring it, I keenly waited for his reply.


    “Without any doubt! But I can’t guarantee they won’t show their anger on her.”


    “I am the one they want! It is good that I went upstairs today. Now I know, even if I have successfully found a replacement, they wouldn’t have settled for it. It’s me they want; all this replacement ritual was to see me in the house somehow. And,” feeling the weight of the words I uttered, “with me it will all come to an end! The chain will break!”


    I took few seconds to mull it all over. With Lauren in the house, I will no longer be tied with the curse. I can explain everything to Garfield. Making up my mind, I reached for my bag and rummaged its contents to find my phone.


    At the very moment, there was a knock on the door. I looked at Ayushman and Mrs. Griffiths, both stiffened hearing the knock and others looked at me intently.


    I got up to leave, but before that I looked at them gratefully. If it all worked out, that would be the last time I see them. Involuntarily, my hand touched my heart, and as if they have realised that too, their dead eyes, I assumed, exuded compassion.


    I opened the door, and as I expected Lauren stood there anxious and frightened.


    “You are back,” I said with my voice lowered.


    “I never left. I was too worried hearing the loud screams, so I just stayed outside to see if I could help you in anyway. Is everything ok? Why are you still staying here, come on, let’s go! This place is creepy!” she said running her eyes over the facade.


    “Lauren, if you get a chance to save me, would you take that and help me?”


    “Save you? What do you mean?” her voice squeaked. “Come out! Let’s get out of this bloody place”


    “No Lauren, you come in!” I said yearningly as my last hope dangled in her response.


    “What?”


    “You will soon realise that you are my only hope, please do come inside” a drop of tear ran past my lips and the saltiness tingled me.


    With great hesitation she stepped inside the house. I checked upstairs for any stirring movements, but none happened. The sound of the emptiness sharpened my other senses as I wondered what are they up to now?


    Confused, Lauren walked past me and entered the kitchen.


    “Oh my God! I have never seen an uglier and dirtier place ever in my…. -”, she turned back and for the first time noticed that I am carrying my bag with me.


    I rushed my words now, “I will come back to get you, I promise. Don’t leave the house until I come back. Mr. Ayushman will explain everything to you – just trust me and go into the living room, “I pointed the door to living room.


    “What are you saying?” shouted Lauren, “Where you going? Hey… Why are you closing the door? Hey… Hey…”


    I moved backwards and as stepping down the threshold, I repeated,” Please don’t leave the house until I come back! Please! I assure you; you will be safe here. Nothing will happen to you as long as you don’t leave the house. Go talk to Ayushman! Go! Go to the living room! Through the window, he will talk to you. He will tell you everything. Trust me. I will back as soon as I can!”


    “Hey,” Lauren came running to me and with one swift motion, I pulled the door and closed it.


    From outside I held the door knob tightly as she furiously tried to open the door. I can feel her kicking and beating the door. I used all my strength to hold the door knob tightly and sat on the door step. After a while the kicking stopped, but I still lingered to make sure she wouldn’t open the door and run behind me.


    After what it looked like an hour, things were still calm - I couldn’t hear any loud noise. I assumed Lauren would have met Mr. Ayushman.


    Then taking in a deep breadth of fresh air, I went into the free world, with heavy heart.

    (To be continued...)
     
  10. ILoveTulips

    ILoveTulips Finest Post Winner

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    Chapter 11


    I ran as fast as I could. The time was close to midnight and not a stirring heard in the street, except the loud beats from my footsteps. I was too distressed to wait for transport knowing nobody would come to this area. Moreover, by using up my energy in running I was able to push aside the guilt as Lauren’s face troubled my mind. In few minutes I reached the high street and one or two cabs caught my eyes. I called up one of them, and got into it. I told the address Mr. Ayushman gave me.


    Pulling long breadths, I tried to calm down my thumping heart and racing mind. The cabbie tried to start a conversation, I looked out the window and pretended not to hear him. It was not a good act for the cabbie understood that I am avoiding him, and he didn’t bother me again.


    The address was that of a mid-terraced town house which looked no different from other houses in the street. The humble and innocent look of it surprised me to think that someone who deals with terrifying evil spirits lives inside.


    It was quiet, but thankfully, through the windows I could see the lights were on. But as if my presence was detested, the light went off and under the faint light from the street lamp the house looked like the one I left Lauren in.


    The door of the house opened, a middle-aged man came out and he locked the door.


    “You stunned me there! I didn’t expect anybody at this time of the night,” he said as I stood closer to him.


    “Sorry about that, I am in quite a critical situation,” I said hastily.


    “Oh, how may I help you?”


    “I need to talk to Mr. Garfield.”


    “Garfield Morarti?”


    “Yes! Yes, please! I need to talk to him urgently”


    “I am afraid it’s too late in the night. I don’t think I can disturb him now.”


    “Sir, I understand your situation. But please consider that you have got a chance to save a life today.” my eyes pleaded.


    He looked at me thoughtfully and opened the door. I followed him inside.


    He pointed a chair, “Take a seat”. The fabric had ripped revealing the cushion inside. Everything present in the room were old and murky – the rusty candlesticks, plastic woven sofa whose wires were no longer drawn tight, curtains bleached with sun light, musty and mould ridden carpet.


    Amidst of this a rock crystal chandelier on the ceiling easily attracted my attention. It looked monstrous in the small room and glaringly grandiose when compared to other gloomy items and so out of place. The blue-cut ornamental glass received the meek light from the energy saving bulb, and amplified the reflection. Lost in the magnificent symmetrical and intricate details of the sparkling crystals, I neglected the grave affair I am dealing with. This dazzling, graceful chandelier in every way a total opposite of the rotten, dreary things I was living with the past seven months, and I instantly found myself possessed by the beauty.


    “It’s a gift,” said the man seeing my astonishment.


    “Why is it not lit?” I asked wondering how much more amazing it would be when every little cut-glass crystal exude a stream of lustrous light, the rays interlaced.


    “It is monstrously heavy; it took three men to mount on the ceiling today. Lot more electric work to do before it gets power” As if the purpose of my journey there that night was to see this chandelier lit; his words came as a disappointment.


    “Do wait here, I won’t be a moment. I will check if Mr. Garfield will see you now,” he said, moved his eyes from me to the chandelier and then back towards me. With an uncertainty he climbed the stairs.


    Hearing his name, I was jolted back to the present and I called after him, “Could you please tell him I am coming from Old Compton Drive? He might know it as NoMoonDay drive”


    The man turned back, nodded his head and climbed ahead.


    Sitting and waiting for Mr. Garfield to arrive felt like such a waste of a very little precious time I had in hand, while I could spend that in studying the elaborate details of the chandelier. Standing below, craning my neck I observed the chandelier arms and moved to the one massive crystal that formed the centre part. The carvings ran spirally around its body, gave a unique look when compared to the other tiny crystals in the arms.


    I heard the footsteps approaching as the man came down the stairs. Following him, an old grey-haired man in sleeping robe appeared. Years of dealing with angry spirits set his facial features in a certain way that it permanently looked shocked. Or was he just surprised to look at me. Considering that he came down quickly to see me without complaining about the time, I guessed the name ‘NoMoonDay Drive’ drove him here and he could be equally curious to see me.


    “You live in that damned house?” he asked as he stood mid-way in the stairs.


    Remembering Lauren and the witches I momentarily forgot about the chandelier and said, “Yes! I am in quite an urgent situation now”


    “And you can talk about it?” he asked suspiciously.


    “Oh yes, yes! I have made arrangements”


    “…,” he looked unconvinced, but I preferred to explain Lizzy’s vow rather than telling about Lauren and let him judge my unchivalrous act.


    “There are two women”


    “Yes, I know” his face hardened.


    It encouraged me that Mr. Garfield know the background story and I only have to tell my part, so I hurried my words, “I recently learned that I was the one they were searching for. And one of them vowed that tonight is my last night – “


    “Hey, Hey!” his concern surprised me.


    “Yes, I know! It’s horrible. I saw the photo, there’s someone who looks exactly like – “


    “Move away,” both the men shouted in unison. I was too engrossed in narrating the matter, their scream failed to register in my mind.


    “It might not be my father. Someone, born somewhere, but we look exactly alike, and the witches mistaken me for him, or rebirth – “


    “Move away!” now they were moving towards me faster, and only then I noticed the terror in their face.


    Both of them pointed the ceiling and I looked up. The chandelier, the monstrous chandelier with hundreds of blue-cut crystals, the heavy chandelier that three men lifted to mount on the ceiling, was plummeting towards me. The shock paralysed me from reacting and I watched the magnificent object clash on me.


    * * *


    I had no vision; I couldn’t see anything anymore. But I can feel my body juddering with throbbing pain. I was able to hear - though mostly muffled - the men screaming. There was a vague sense of urgency that I got to be somewhere, and an unclear picture of a girl who needs me now. But quickly, very quickly, everything darkened. There was no pain to suffer, no duty to get to, no ghosts to fear.


    Death was simply beautiful, like the chandelier.

    (To be continued...)
     
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