I was 10 when we shifted to this new building on the outskirts. It looked more like a dilapidated one as it was partially complete. The first time I visited it with my father I could feel an eeriness but my complaints fell on deaf ears. Nevertheless, when I saw the room we had to rent, I fell in love with its French windows and all the ominous feeling just went away. Back home I was too excited and blabbered all about the modern architecture to my mom. She was a rather superstitious lady and warned us against windows and doors too wide and long which according to her could open portals to another world. We laughed it off and just went our usual way.
Soon the day came when father and I were to experience a night at the new house before we officially shifted to the house. The purpose was not just to stay the night there; we were there to make sure all the required repairs were done. The repairs were all done; only painting and furniture arrangement was pending. Father and I had so much fun cleaning the house, moving the furniture, gossiping about mom’s friends, talking about stars and the moon.
But I enjoyed painting the walls with him the most; I felt like an artist stroking the brush section by section filling the bare walls with dark and light hues. I just wished we had already shifted. And so I forced my father to stay overnight. In the beginning, he was reluctant but later with the help of the builder, we arranged for a couple of blankets and bedsheets as those were still in the old house. It was rather strange to stay in the building overnight with no tenants and our voices echoing back but every sound was crystal clear. It felt wildly serene.
After a round of cards and our playful banter, we decided to call it a night. After a lot of convincing, I got permission to stay in the bedroom while he slept in the hall. My father always got panicky especially in the nights if I decided to sleep alone in any room. No idea about the reason for this extra protective behaviour. The bedroom was unusually spacious partly due to the absence of any furniture. Droplets hitting the floor in the bathroom felt like an hourglass ticking off.
As I laid down stretching my sore legs after all the standing, I reminisced about the pleasant memories of my old house. How my brothers, George, Gladson and I used to make our separate tents while imitating soldiers out in a battle? How I hoarded my tent with the best biscuits and juices available in the kitchen? The time when I hit my head on a stone and my entire family sat crying while I looked at their faces bursting into laughter after my stitches. For some odd reason, I never felt pain like others. Nothing was too painful for me. My family is yet to unravel this perplexity. Anyways, a smile drew all over my face as I felt excitement for all the fun I would be having in the new house.
As I sat there with my eyes wide open, I imagined the rectangular wall dazzling in its yellow paint reserved for my brother’s bookshelf. It was still a little wet but I loved the smell of wet paint and so I got busy savouring the moment when a sudden chime startled me. I ignored it taking it for some nature monstrosity causing the sound. But the chime got louder and intense. I woke up from the bed, went to the hall. Father was busy sleeping like a log. I was a strong girl I told myself. The 2 bedroom apartment suddenly felt like a Conjuring movie with its long corridor and French Windows. There was nothing I could discover but the chime continued.
I decided to sleep beside my father to avoid any drama. It was strange that he didn’t wake up despite being a light sleeper; the reason the rest of us slept like babies in our old home. Thinking it to be exhaustion I let him be. But then from the corner of my eye, I felt I saw something lurking by the Frech windows. Unlike how they show in horror flicks, I was too stunned and terrified to feed my doubts about what I imagined it to be.
The chime was too intense by now and I decided to wake up my father as I was not even able to switch the lights on. I tugged at my father slowly initially to avoid getting the attention of whatever I saw near the windows. What happened next left me paralysed. My father kept lying down like a lifeless body. His hands were cold and peace painted all his face making him look like a sort of an angel. Tears started trickling down my cheeks as I vigorously started shaking him hoping to wake him up from his slumber.
My body and mind went into a deep shock and then I felt something hovering over the ceiling. The chime had turned into a menacing muttering. My heart stopped beating when I raised my head to see what had arrived to collect my soul.
It was FATHER!