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The Replacement

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

  1. ILoveTulips

    ILoveTulips Finest Post Winner

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    Chapter 12


    When I woke up, everything was contrary to what I experienced before. I remember the dark night when I ran from the house, but now I am surrounded by a brilliant bright light. I remember the bone chilling cold, but now it is like a sunny day! Only that I don’t feel the warmth on my skin, the dazzling brightness doesn’t glare my eyes. I don’t feel the weight of my body, it was as light as a feather. I rubbed my cheek but I don’t feel the touch. I tried to swallow, but I don’t feel the moisture in my mouth. I looked at my shirt, it was drenched with blood, but I don’t feel the pain. I realised none of my regular ailments - heart burn, leg cramps - would be felt anymore.


    I looked around but couldn’t identify the place. It was covered thick with fog. and was bleached white everywhere. I waved my hand to clear some fog, but my hands just went through without disturbing it’s form.


    I walked in the abyss of the unknown. Neither my face felt the chill of the fog, nor the nose smelled the air. As I walked one after another, everybody became visible.


    Mrs. Griffiths, the little boy with the cricket ball, the pretty girl, the men, and Mr. Ayushman. Their face looked disappointed.


    After looking at them the fog in me cleared and then I identified the backyard! The Backyard!


    I turned to my left and saw the living room of the house through the wide French window. The living room I spent my nights for the past seven months. The chair, the dim light bulb everything looked desolate. The door was ajar but no sign of anyone on the other side.


    Mr. Ayushman came forward. If I had my life left in me, I must have felt weary and exhausted. But then devoid of those physical feelings, with just the remembrance of it, I said, “I met him.”


    “…”


    “I met Mr. Garfield. I talked to him. I thought I have done it. I thought I won this,” I extended my arms either side to mean the backyard.


    He just nodded pitifully.


    “Then this chandelier in Mr. Garfield’s home crashed on me. That was an unexpected accident! To think that should happen when I was so near the finish - ”


    “It was no accident!” said Mr. Ayushman.


    “What?”


    “The curse! That did it”


    “The curse? How? “Suddenly I remembered Lauren. I frantically searched the living room, there was no sign of her. “Where is Lauren? Did she run away? Is that why the accident happened?” I looked around the spirits in the backyard, and couldn’t find her there either.


    “…”


    “No, if she did run away, the accident must have happened to her, not to me! Then why? I don’t understand Mr. Ayushman. Where is Lauren, is she alright?”


    “All these days you were here, we have seen the happenings in the living room, but not anything outside of it. But sadly, you haven’t seen everything inside the living room”


    “In living room? In the nights? I don’t understand. What didn’t I see? And what didn’t you see?”


    “You didn’t see the witches and we didn’t see Lauren”


    “The witches? You don’t believe how gory Hannah looks. It was only flesh - “


    “Not always! They decide what we should see. When you went upstairs, you scared them of Garfield, so you might have seen the gory form of them. What we saw were two pretty young women. “I hung to every single word of his, but too confused to ask anything.


    “…”


    “When you finally left to see Garfield after trapping Lauren in the house, she walked into the room. Here, “he pointed near the living room door and continued, “we all saw her here. That was not the face of the stranger we saw for the first time. But it was the face of the woman we saw every night. When she came in screaming, and when you hide your face between your legs trying to protect yourself”


    “What are you saying?” suddenly it was too much for me to understand. Carefully pondering his words, I asked slowly, “There was no Lauren?”


    He nodded his head, “No!”


    “Was it… Was it… Hannah then, all along?” I asked incredulously.


    “Yes, hence there was no replacement when you left the house. She played you!”


    It all slowly came to me then.


    - The fact that Lauren liked me instantly the very first day;


    - The fact that she never felt cold;


    - or never let me open the pizza box;


    - Hannah’s words: Finally, I got you closer to me; you could see me, talk to me! She didn’t mean her talking to me as a ghost, but talking to me daily as Lauren.


    - The scream from upstairs when I tried to touch Lauren. It was not because Hannah was jealous of Lauren, as I stupidly assumed, but a touch would have revealed Lauren was just a spirit in human form.


    - Lizzy’s scream the night before, “You avoiding to look at us, isn’t going to help you!”


    - Then, the photo. When I looked at the photo, I focused on just the man who resembled me. Being a spirit, I can recall the picture and see the details as if the picture is right then in front of my eyes. This time I looked closely at the girls. There she was! Happily raising the beer glass in one hand, holding bunch of balloons in another, in a polka dot summer dress, stood black and white version of Lauren.


    “She got what she wanted after all,” said Mr. Ayushman bringing my thoughts back to the topic, “She never let you leave”


    I wish I couldn’t feel the resentment as I couldn’t feel my other senses. It’s upsetting that while the physical senses were lost after the death, the emotional ones stay.


    “But you did break the chain though”, he added consolingly, “There are no replacements anymore.”


    The chain ended with me.


    * * *


    We never saw Lizzy after that. May be Hannah finally let her go after my arrival.


    One after another disappeared from the backyard after they realised, they are free to go.


    Hannah managed to earn my attention as Lauren when I was alive. Now as a spirit, she had no control over me, hence she still remained a sour spirit.


    Sometimes the little boy and me play throw-catch with his cricket ball.


    It was not bad after all.

    THE END
     
    jillcastle, kkrish, Sofea and 4 others like this.
  2. ILoveTulips

    ILoveTulips Finest Post Winner

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    Dear Readers,

    Thank you for staying with me throughout this story. I hope you enjoyed reading the story and it lived up to your expectations. I am a slow reader and an even slow writer. I took a minimum of 4 hours in writing each chapter. The last 5 episodes took longer than expected as I had to chuck 2 chapters and rewrite them. And of course, there is this long process of editing. I thoroughly enjoyed building up this story, and learned a lot on the way.

    As always, kindly let me know your views.

    Thank you :)
     
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  3. Sofea

    Sofea IL Hall of Fame

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    OH MY GOD!!!!!!! TULS! :hearteyes::hearteyes::hearteyes:You've strike gold here! :cheer::cheer::cheer:Seriously, this is a masterpiece! Pure genius, I must say! :clap2::clap2::clap2:

    Lauren being Hannah was a total shock to me! Seriously, who would have thought about this! :thumbup::thumbup: I can't express how amazingly you've woven the entire story to reach to this phenomenal climax! Amazingly brilliant! You are an absolute gem Tuls! :number_one: I seriously don't know how you thought about this story but it's an absolute, absolute pleasure reading each chapter. And the climax chapters- I could almost feel my heartbeat thumping from the time he started walking upstairs...the thrills are maddening!:yikes::yikes:

    Promise me that you will think about writing professionally, Tuls! You really should! I cannot wait for the day I read a full thriller novel from you! That would be the day I strike gold myself! :cheer:
     
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  4. Sofea

    Sofea IL Hall of Fame

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    By the way, was it a conscious move not to name the lead guy? Any particular reason for that?

    I have a question regarding Lauren - I know that Lauren never lets the guy to open the pizza box whenever they meet (cos obviously there were no pizzas inside the box), but if I recall correctly, the guy first met Lauren when she came to deliver the pizza that he ordered through the phone. So what happened there? Did he really order the pizza then? Or was the call part of Hannah's plan? What happened to the pizza that Lauren delivered, if she did deliver it?

    And also, what about Liam's story about the whorehouse and two girls being caught in fire? They were not related to the actual story behind Hannah?

    Please tell me, my head is spinning (ennaku thalaiyE vedichirumpola irukku!:sconf:)
     
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  5. SpringB

    SpringB Platinum IL'ite

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    It was a real ghost thriller. Excellent plot and wonderful narration. Awesome story :number_one: you are such a wonderful writer :cheer:

    i have some questions just like sofea above and i am sure your response will make sense. Thanks for a wonderful story. Felt like watching a super thriller movie. Yes can be made as a movie.
     
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  6. Tamrakshar

    Tamrakshar Finest Post Winner

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    First of all, I must thank you for entertaining us by writing a thoroughly enthralling horror story. You have superb writing skills that even a professional writer would be proud of. The build-up of the story has been so good that the readers have been glued to the IL for the new episodes. The finishing of the story, too, has been done with adept hand.

    There might be a few unimportant incongruities in the story, which will be ironed out when you edit the story. This is definitely publish-worthy, and should be a superhit.

    Some of the readers maybe a tad disappointed, as you chose to kill the protagonist at the end. There could be an alternative ending where the protagonist solved the problem without being killed.

    Hope to read more from you in future! :clap2::number_one::beer-toast1:
     
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  7. ILoveTulips

    ILoveTulips Finest Post Winner

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    Dear Sof @Sofea, I choose to answer your questions first as I believe many readers would be wondering about them too.



    Sof, if you notice it's not just the lead character, the one you call it NNAY (Not Named As of Yet :)), but the two women ghosts weren't named in the story as well. Lizzy and Hannah were just the names that NNAY picked to distinguish two women (Chapter 6 - Liam was surprised to hear that NNAY named the ghosts). The reason behind this is just personal. As I said in one of the replies to a comment here, this was originally a dream I had one night. The house described here is my house, and the 2 ghosts I dreamed were Tamil women in white saree. Imagine the nanny character Mrs. Elizabeth from the movie Jenma Natchathiram, played by actress Indira Devi. I vividly remember her name in my dream as Gomathy akka. In July I wrote the first draft (hardly 10 pages long) to show it to the writing group I used to attend. It was just a skeleton of the plot, with no backstories for any of the characters. Liam and Garfield weren't invented then. I picked the English names so they could easily connect to. Nobody shown any interest in reading the story, so I decided to post the same in IL adding more descriptions in the narration. I hadn't still worked out the characters’ backstory then, so I was fumbling between the idea having the ghosts and NNAY to be Indian (Tamil) or English. I wanted NNAY to be Tamil too (Remember he tells Liam that he is new to the country). The confusion continued even after posting few chapters. The idea of a Tamil ghost Gomathy Akka in a western country was very interesting, so I wasn’t ready to give up on that. I spent so much time thinking about it, so I decided not to reveal any names until I fully design the flashback. Eventually I grew tired of the idea, and settled with having them as English. Because I spent weeks figuring this out, and because I felt bad in settling for what I thought a dull backstory in compared to how exciting the flashback would have been if they were Tamil, I couldn’t bring myself to think of new names. Not revealing the names seemed like the next best solution.



    If you recall Chapter 4, NNAY wouldn’t have called the pizza place because he was hungry. He found a flyer in the house, and he became more inquisitive. Hardly anyone dare to come to the street, how come there was a flyer in the house then? Who dared to come near the house? The hope raised in him, so he called the pizza place to find out if there could be some means for his escape. He made the order. When Lauren came, he was too nervous to prolong the chat fearing for the ghosts, so their chats were short. In the process of stressing the fact that NNAY fell for Lauren, I missed other details. I understand now that there should have been a dialogue, during their first meet, to show why NNAY didn’t mention the pizza as he was not really looking for food then, or what was Lauren’s reason for not giving the pizza box to him. Yes, the phone call, the pizza shop, Lauren and her dad – all are non-existent elements that Hannah created and played to make NNAY believe that he is talking to a human being. Because he was totally avoiding looking at her, she hatched this plan to get closer to him so he would see her charming self. I thought I did carefully cover all the scenarios, dropped hints in all necessary places, and left no loop holes open – but you brilliantly pointed out the mistake I committed. Everything involved with the ghosts were intangible. That’s why NNAY never touched Lauren or the pizza boxes she brought; that’s why when Lizzy hit him, NNAY didn’t feel the touch but only the blow. So, I should have explained about the flyer. That he saw the flyer, and that when dropped inside the house the flyer fell with its front page up, so he could read the number without picking it up. And somewhere later in the chapters I should have mentioned that the flyer was still present in the same place he saw first but it was never touched, picked or moved. Thank you Sof, I will add these missed parts to the story.


    Yes, they were just some findings of Liam, not really related to Hannah/Lizzy themselves. While the idea of Lauren being non-existent was initially thought out, and the whole story was spun around that, I was still figuring out an apt flashback. And the newspaper headlines were some ideas I thought of. The incidents that Liam highlighted happened in a house in Old Compton drive. Judging by the location mentioned in the newspaper article, Liam assumed that that could be NoMoonDrive. Remember the haunted house is the only house in the street. So NoMoonDay drive is not Old Compton drive. Nobody knows the name of the street. In Chapter 11, NNAY mentioned to Garfield’s housekeeper that he is coming from Old Compton drive. If he hadn’t added the name NoMoonDay Drive, Garfield might have not come down to meet him, and would have simply dismissed him asking to try some other day.



    I haven’t forgotten the other 2 questions you asked a while ago. You asked what did Hannah actually cook? She didn’t cook anything. It’s just her ghostly hormones playing as she tries so much to show that she cares for NNAY. Your 2nd question, why hadn’t Mr. Ayushman return to the house before 8, is answered in Chapter 5. He had a heart attack while at work, so he couldn’t make it to the house by 8.

    Hope these explanations would have helped to stabilise your spinning head, Sof. Thank you so much for asking the questions, it helped to figure out the mistakes I made and correct them.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2019
  8. blackbeauty84

    blackbeauty84 IL Hall of Fame

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    Read all the chapters in one go. Unbelievable..this is the best ghost thriller I have read. You are such an awesome writer.
     
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  9. ILoveTulips

    ILoveTulips Finest Post Winner

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    Dear Sof, your appreciations and encouragement have shaped me so much. Hope you know that I am not exaggerating by saying that. Thank you for your interest Sof, and the lovely comments. I hope you were not too disappointed by the ending as you wished NNAY to escape somehow. But I hope it would be convincing for you.

    Love you dearie.
     
  10. ILoveTulips

    ILoveTulips Finest Post Winner

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    Hi @Tamrakshar, thank you for leaving this comment. Only after reading this, it hit me that the 3 chapters before which you posted the comment, contained only conversations. So I worked towards adding some horror elements. But I know there werent many scary scenes that would have made the reader jump. I am still learning how to instill that kind of scariness. Thanks once again dear. Appreciate your support throughout.
     

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