This short story/flash fiction is written for the photo prompt at Describli.
Trying To Get Home
Genre: Horror, mystery, paranormal.
It’s getting awfully dark for 5:30 pm. Isn’t the sun supposed to set by 6:30 at least?
Seems only fitting that today it had to set early. How can I have a fucking normal day on the saddest day of the year? Happy birthday, Jackie.
Everything that could go wrong today did. Well, it’s not a surprise if you’d believe my mother. Apparently I was born on “Friday the 13th” on a no-moon day – Amavasya. And today morning she called me just to remind me that today, after 26 years, it is the same fucking Friday the 13th, Amavasya. So, you see, how she almost ruined my morning by wishing me happy birthday.
Sighing heavily I shift my heavy sling bag from left shoulder to the right one. The weight of my bag is literally killing me. Darn you, Henry.
We were supposed to meet at 4:00 outside my office, but then after waiting for him for 15 minutes like a loon standing on the road alone, he texts me saying “I have an urgent meeting, I’ll book you a cab.”
That was almost two hours ago. I tried to wait for the cab, but I really couldn’t afford to wait any longer as Coco gets anxious if I’m not home by 6:00. Yea, I know, she’s spoilt but I really can’t afford not to pamper her as she’s the only living being who actually loves me despite what inauspicious day I was born on. How ironic, the only person who loves a self-help author is her tom cat… Well, what can I say, we gotta do what we gotta do for earning.
I again shift my bag from my right shoulder to the left one and, turning off the music blaring from my headphones, I walk towards the side of the road. There’s this small rock that looks inviting and as I’m staring at it debating whether to take a break or not, exhaustion takes over me like a sudden wave forming in the sea. I move towards it, almost as if it’s pulling me towards it, and dropping my bag beside the rock on the ground, covered with brown and orange leaves, I sit on the rock leaning on the trunk of the tree standing behind it at an awkward angle.
I instantly close my eyes loosing myself to the sweet slumber that swallows me, paying no heed to the clumsy shape of the tree or that there are some engravings upon its trunk just where my head touches it the fact that it’s getting dark like it’s late midnight. Darkness engulfs me making me lose myself entirely.
Loud voices wake me up.
I stir a little but then I hear a weird hollow crying.
I get up with a start and start looking around me frantically, feeling disoriented from the sleep. I take in the darkness that’s lingering around me like a thick black fog. It takes my eyes a few minutes to get adjusted to the darkness around me that is literally swallowing me. And as my vision adjusts, I start to see the gray shadows around me, clearer by every second.
The crying noise is a constant hum in the background, albeit a loud one. And as the reality of my situation dawns on me, the heaviness settles on me more and more as the seconds pass.
For a minute, I don’t even move a muscle thinking that it’s all just a bad dream. But as I sit there waiting for the dream to get over, I realize that it’s not a dream that’ll get over as soon as I’ll wake up, that will fade away as I’ll be going to the kitchen first thing in the morning to make a cup of coffee. Or the one that I’ll remember and brood upon while combing Coco’s black knotty fur.
I take in a deep breath and try to release it as silently as I can, but whom am I kidding, they already know I’m sitting here. My presence only making them more excited. More hungry.
I wish I would have paid more attention to the stories people told about this forest. How I wish I would have been superstitious enough to not have dared to step into this forest in order to take a short-cut for home. How I wish I would have listened to Christina, who tried to stop me like a maniac when I told her I’ll walk through the woods to reach home early.
I wish I wouldn’t have come to the in the first place office today. How I wish I would have been able to see Coco for the last time before I entered this forest or, better yet, I would have died this morning itself.
Well, at least now I know that the folklores about this forest are not just stories that mothers tell their children to scare them, but are true to every little detail.
Now I know that the dead really do dance here at night under the gray light of the moonless sky and that they, indeed, feed on the hearts of the living carved out from their chest while they are still alive…
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