The verdict of Ayodhya was out and contrary to popular belief, the city of Pearls was relatively quiet and the entire day was uneventful. Well, almost.
Over the last few years or so, we had been lucky enough to have been part of something or the exciting at least every other night. Alas, it was not the same now. Nightly ventures, harmless run-ins with the law and those wonderful nocturnal escapades, they were history now. We passed most of our time reliving those dramatic events of yesteryear. Times had changed. Life, simply, was not that exciting any more.
We were playing cards, four of us. Weren’t playing for money, nor for fun. Just for want of a better thing to do. The others were playing to win, while I was looking to end it and hit the sack. My boss at work did not appreciate a dreary face in the morning. A fifth was snoring away in the next room and provided the only regular yet irritating sound in the house which otherwise hung in a bored silence. The hand on the clock was nearing midnight.
Just as I was about to pick a card from the deck, I sensed something move in the room next door. Something white in color for a moment, causing a flutter of excitement in my tummy. Though soundless, it had triggered my ever-jumpy instincts. I said to the guys, “Something’s there…”. As expected, they didn’t react to it with any interest and we went on with our game. A couple of highly eventful moments later, all our cards were down, our antennae were up and we were looking at each with stricken faces full of fear and bearing expressions that would have made Hitchcock proud. For that was when we heard the scream. Only the first, mind you.
My relation with paranormal activity started with Mulder and Scully. It graduated to Stephen King and his “The Shining” which prompted a spate of sleepless nights that fortunately ended in school and a very vivid imagination of unearthly beings that continues to haunt me to this day. And there was “The Exorcist”. For days, I would closely examine every pair of female legs for any that were turned away, all the while dreading the green fluid that might emanate any moment from their mouths. I have encountered quite a bit of unpleasantness come forth from a female mouth, but luckily not the famous bile.
However, having grown up and away from the childish apparitions and dreadful imaginary beasts, I was now content in the world I lived in and was not exactly looking for a date with the other world.
Now, the scream. All 340 m/s of the Speed of Sound brought with it only the scream. Shattering my otherwise humble existence of playing cards with my mates into a frenzy that I still remember. The shudder it caused me and my cholesterol heart was spine chilling to say the least. My hands grew numb and I thought, Yes, I might die this very night, and a virgin at that.
I know thinking of dying on hearing a solitary scream is baseless, but my thinking basically is baseless. I thrive on momentous decisions and a terrible foresight borne out of severe pessimism. As we looked at each other, a gust of wind blew in over the tombs as if to remind us that we live right next to the resting place of the dead, an old run down cemetery, and that such instances should be dealt with nonchalance and a sense of familiarity.
My heart was breaking all records, running at full hilt and then, almost stopped when we heard the scream again. A male voice, yet high-pitched like a girl’s, not exactly earth shattering by way of decibel but clearly in its own way wreaking havoc and bringing our routine of jaded silence to a literally “screech”ing halt.