A Horror Short
Dakshina stood outside her one-bedroom apartment, her phone in her hand, talking to the neighbours. The area's transformer had blasted, and the electricians reported it would take until late night to fix it. The residents stood in the hallway, chatting in the sweaty, silent night.
"They've cut down all those trees and there’s not much wind since", said the stout lady next door.
Everybody nodded. The backside of the apartments used to have a mini-forest feel. But now, the trees were all gone, and in their place were a stupid corporate building and a stupider park. Dakshina used to sit by her bedroom window to observe rare birds that flew over that area. Now, seeing a bird was rare. Fuck you capitalism!
The clock struck ten, and the families with kids retreated to their beds. The hallway emptied significantly. So the rest of the neighbours, including Dakshina, bid each other goodnight and went in.
Dakshina latched her apartment's door. The balcony and the living room were comfortingly lit by the full moon. She noticed the mosquito netted door of the balcony was open. Are you kidding me?
That door had a magnet to keep it closed. The magnet seemed to have worn off lately, and the door sometimes opened by itself. She had called for a carpenter two days ago, but that guy never arrived. She usually lets the door be, keeps the fan on full speed, and uses a bed sheet to avoid the mosquito bites. But today, she has to have a perfectly shut door, or mosquitoes would swarm in, and there’s no current to turn on the fan and put on a blanket.
She closed the netted door; the magnet gave a tiny click. She held it for a while. The longer she held, the stronger the magnetism. Stupid thoughts. She observed the distant park. It was empty; only a streetlight illuminated the amateur play sets—a set of swings, a slider, a set of see-saws, and that thing which looked like the framework of a construction building. There was a walking path, plots of unmowed grass, an unimpressive gazebo, and that inner compound wall with those amateur paintings of cartoon characters—Jerry looked like a psycho, Garfield looked like a monster, Tigger looked like Slender Man. Ugh. You cut down all those precious trees for this crap?
The trees and the birds used to be a comforting sight when she had moved to this area from her old apartment. She got a job immediately after graduation. This had been the best choice of apartments closer to her office.
She spends every day feeling trapped inside those corporate walls, and now the sight of another corporate building right outside her window was irritating.
She sighed, took the pressure off the balcony door, and stepped back. She squinted, considered the door for a moment, and kicked a nearby stool against the door to keep it closed. She waited for a while to check if the door opened; it didn't. She walked back to the main door, double checked the latch, and started towards the hallway.
At the entrance of the hallway, her foot glided over a smooth tile. She caught the wall just in time. She shined the torch over the tile and glided a foot over it. It was an enemy of friction. She would do something about it tomorrow. She now needed her bed.
She walked through the hallway, into her bedroom, sat on her bed and fiddled with her phone. A mosquito was already buzzing next to her. It hit her face and she shook it off. It did so again and again, and she sweared through gritted teeth. She strode to her wardrobe and took out a long-sleeved shirt. She swung it around herself, buttoned it, turned off the torch, threw herself on the bed and hugged a pillow to her face.
She couldn't breathe. She removed the pillow, and stared at the ceiling. Another mosquito buzzed near her ear. She growled and got up.
The mosquito bat sat on the edge of the bedside table. She grabbed it and swung it around until electric blue sparks crackled, filling the air with the smell of smoky blood. She waved off the smell, and the room was silent. The whole area was silent. She heard it then—the creak of the park swings.
The noises from the park were usually muffled by the traffic or her fan. So now, without the traffic and her fan, she found the park's sound amusing.
She moved to the side of the bed close to the moonlit window and peered at the park. Her eyes focused and adjusted between the left out trees, to the swings. There wasn't anyone playing there.
It was pretty deserted. The swings alone were alive, like in those horror movies. The character checks the noise, and the next minute, the ghost haunts them and they'll probably die. You're staring at it now. You're the character now. The ghost is gonna come for you. Her heartbeat felt out of control. Shut up Dakshina! At this, her thoughts didn't stop, but the swings did. It was as if they heard her, and obeyed like a military squad obeys their commander. Or maybe like a ghost that has found its victim.
Dakshina flickered her head; it was a mosquito. It settled on her arm and she hit it.
That wasn't the sound of her hit. That was the sound of the balcony door sliding open along with the stool being pushed across the floor. That stupid door! She clicked her tongue and crawled over to the other side of the bed closer to the bedroom door to go and place something heavier than the stool.
Dakshina froze. Did the door just close? Did the stool drag back into place? Her heart was free-falling inside her chest. The bedroom door was a lean away. If she leaned forward, she could spy half of the moonlit hallway. So she did that. The hallway slowly came into her vicinity, and so did a shadow. Not hers. Someone else's. Or something else's. It was short, like a child, but the features were that of an adult. A dwarf? No. An abominable dwarf.
Dakshina didn’t scream at the sight of this shadow. She didn’t demand, “Who is it?” She had just convinced herself that she was now a character from a horror movie. Screaming now meant that she would confirm her presence for the ghost to come and get her. Besides she was alone at the very end of her apartment; she couldn’t stand a chance at escaping with something blocking the hallway.
So, as the abomination started to move through the hallway, Dakshina backed away from the door and instinctively crept under the bed. No. No! It's short! It might see under the bed. But it was too late to change her mind. A pair of large grotesque feet emerged into the bedroom.
Dakshina held a hand tight to her mouth. I should’ve taken that mosquito bat. Why didn’t I? She was just as angry with herself as she was terrified at the sight of the abomination. Her eyes stung from being wide and alert, her breathing minimal. Her other hand shook from clutching the phone too tight. She could call someone. But turning on the phone would light up the room and give her position away. Someone could call her. Fuck no! Her phone was always on vibrate mode, but in the silence of that night...
The feet moved further inside. No. No. Please get me out of here. Please just go away. The legs moved around to the wider side of the bed and stopped. Dakshina winced. She could now see its rotten legs and fingers. It was naked.
On her right was a wall, on her left was the abomination, on her front was the door. She should crawl out silently from under the bed and run through the hallway and out of her house. She could escape even if it chases. Once she's out of her house, she could run down screaming and people will help her. The shadow of the abomination on the floor moved. Shit! It's bending!
Dakshina should throw her phone at its face, and escape while it struggles in pain. She didn't know why, but she was convinced that she should never see its grotesque face. With that thought churning in her mind, she threw the phone.
It hit the wall; she was too quick! The abomination ceased for a split second. Dakshina shivered and prepared herself for the run. As her body started crawling out, the abomination dropped down with a thud that shook her heart. She whimpered as she crawled out; she could sense the abomination crawling behind her. She rose up as she reached the hallway, and ran. The abomination was chasing her. She can do it! It's just a latch on the door. She can unlatch it, get out, and hold the door closed and scream. Her neighbours would still be awake.
As she reached the living room, her foot glided over that traitor of a tile. She almost fell, but she grabbed onto the couch on her right. Ahead, was the balcony. To reach the entrance door, she had to turn her body left and start over. It was too late. Her body was towards the right and was already running towards the balcony. The abomination was getting closer. She dragged the balcony door open, ran into the balcony and swung it shut. The lousy magnet being a lousy magnet failed and let the door open. This was it. Nowhere else to go. She shouldn't turn. She shouldn't see its face.
So she clambered over the railing and leaped into the air. Her foot hooked itself onto the edge of the railing, but got tugged away by the force of her free-falling body. Dakshina couldn't care about her broken foot, she had to die. When she lands on that hard ground, three storeys below her, she has to be dead. Otherwise she might have to see the possibly grotesque face of the abomination. I should've grabbed that bat.
But the abomination was falling next to her. Its wings were violently flapping. The abomination could fly. Dakshina couldn't help but turn to observe this madness. Her eyes hovered over the thin, shiny wings and then settled upon its face. In the moonlight, she could see two large eyes. That was all. That was all it had on its face. As the ground was nearing to touch her, the abomination's face grew a needle. Her world turned hazy, her face started to itch, her lungs started to suffocate.
Dakshina woke up.
She pushed away the pillow that covered her face, and waved away the mosquitoes that managed to get her cheeks. She lay on her bed, staring at the ceiling, trying to calm herself. Her underarms were itching from all the sweat. She got up and sat straight on her bed, wiping the sweat on her lips.
There was that creak again—the swings. She crawled to the window, frowning irritatingly at the swing set. They were swinging, and there was no one there, alright. Ouch. Her foot was aching, like it had been misplaced.
A loud beep filled her apartment. She shuddered. It was just her fridge. The current was back. She let out a breath of relief. They fixed it just now? What's the time?
She looked on the bad for her phone. It wasn't there, but the mosquito bat was. She shrugged it off, and raised her pillows to check under them.
She veered around. Her phone had just now hit the wall, and had fallen to the floor. A grotesque hand slid up over the edge of the bed.
This time, Dakshina grabbed the bat.