Finders, Keepers. Worst decision ever.
Saranya was lazy. She cajoled herself into finally drying the clothes she washed the day before. She groaned as she got off her beanbag and walked to the bucket of clothes.
“I should have switched. I should have done the dishes this week instead of laundry,” she complained as she lifted the bucket and walked awkwardly owing to the weight of the load. She made her way to the terrace.
It was a windy night in Mumbai and she fought with the wind to put the clothes on the line. After a fierce battle, she finally managed to clip every article of clothing without letting any of it fly away to the main road, or that’s what she thought. In the distance, far away, she noticed a pale yellow dupatta flying and she turned to check which of hers it was. Her clothes on the line seemed perfectly fine, flying against the wind but held back like an angry dog on a leash.
She turned back to the yellow dupatta and noticed it was coming right at her.
Instinctively she took two steps forward before noticing it had human eyes, a nose and a mouth. She felt her heartbeat increase every millisecond and it was so loud she could barely hear the wind anymore. She turned to run away from this creature, whatever it was. It was definitely something not from this world and something about it felt like it didn’t want to make friends. She turned and found herself face to face with the same eyes, nose and mouth. She couldn’t scream. She couldn’t move. She watched it smile or at least the mouth curved before she was pushed down to the floor.
The moment she landed, the fear in her seemed to have disappeared on impact. She got up and ran to the lift, kicking the bucket in the process. She kept pressing the button to close, but the doors moved at a patient pace. The figure was moving in her direction. It came closer and she could almost see the smile again. Then the doors closed.
“What’s wrong with you?”, asked Anjana when she found Saranya lying in her room, shivering yet drenched with sweat. She pointed at the glass showcase which opened on its own. A confused Anjana just looked from her to the glass door. It cracked in front their eyes. Anjana gasped and dropped her bag. Saranya shivered and pointed to the ceiling.
RETURN WHAT IS MINE was written in blood. The blood that was obviously from Saranya’s hand.
“I didn’t do it”, she said between sobs and shivers. The girl could barely hold on and could faint at any moment.
The photos from their last trip to Goa lined Anjana’s room. Saranya looked at them as Anjana bandaged her hand.
“We have to return it, Anie.”
“What thing?” she asked without looking up.
“The stone! Everything that’s been happening. It’s happening only after that!”
“What? You mean this thing?!” said Anjana, obviously confused pointing at the little souvenir they got from the Seminary Arch at Goa “But I found it!”
The minute she said that they heard a loud crash followed by a gut-wrenching noise. Bravery aside, curiosity got the better of them. They ran to see what or where the noise came from only to find a very hurt, nearly dead cat slashed at the stomach. Anjana’s cat: Misty.
Saranya’s boyfriend Kiran, who barely believed anything they said last night, now steered the wheel to Rachol or the Raitur village where the arch was. Cursing under his breath helped him stay up at the wheel.
“Thanks for coming, Kiran,” said Saranya sweetly yet groggily, hugging Anjana who was still crying about Misty. Kiran just grunted. He didn’t want them coming back here alone and yet he missed the comfort of his king-size mattress that he slept on. When he knew the girls were determined to go, however, he didn’t have the heart to let them do it alone.
It took them an hour to get there and when they reached, Saranya went pale in the face seeing the same cloth-like figure floating there to greet her. The arch had stories of ghosts from the Portuguese era. The stories of the sentinel who marched from one end of the arch to the other. The cloth like figure took form of a guard in full Portugese garb except for his hollow eye sockets. Kiran who up until now, didn’t believe anything they said, backed slowly towards his car. The guard gestured to Anjana to bring the stone with his bony fingers. Anjana was quiet, walked with a sense of determination and threw it at the guard. The rock passed through the guard but also made him smile and disappear in wisps of yellow smoke.
Anjana burst into tears and dropped to her knees.
They flew back the same night, never looking at Goa the same way again. Saranya never did laundry chores and constantly checked over her shoulders. Few months later, Anjana was finally starting to smile more but they still heard Misty cry every night.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction and bears no resemblance to any real person or events.
Cover photo credit: ghostscariestphotos.blogspot.in