‘What exactly is your problem?’, The girl dressed in black striped shirt and faded denim deadpanned, interlocking her arms around her chest, swaying back and forth upon the balls of her feet, as she gazed up at her terrified friend.
‘Why don’t you believe me?’, pat came the response from Emanuel, ‘Listen to me, atleast, I need you to understand me and help me out of this mess’, his voice was low but clear, conveying his clear composure.
‘What new story you have got to tell me today?’, She spat back.
Things weren’t going too well with Emanuel. His life was becoming a Hell-hole with every passing day.
But his friend, Aqsa, believed that he was just over-imagining things and needs just one thing….A psychiatrist.
‘When I woke up today, I found a picture in my phone‘, Emanuel began speaking before he filled his lungs with fresh morning breeze, ‘The picture of me sleeping in my bed‘
Aqsa raised a brow at that, ‘And what’s so shocking about that?’
Plastering a weak smirk on his face, he replied, ‘I live alone‘
The hard set frown slowly began to ebb off Aqsa’s face at his last three words. And the look of bewilderment she had on her face was enough to wither stones, ‘Show me that photo‘ she said.
Reaching his jeans pocket with his right hand, Emanuel retrieved the phone and gave it to Aqsa.
She swiped upon the screen and upon going through the captured images, she found the photo Emanuel was talking about.
The image was clicked at 03:17 A.M.
He was sleeping peacefully in his bed, in foetal position.
There was nothing weird about that photo except the question-Who clicked it?
When she swiped through the image to see the next one, the same image re-appeared.
The only difference between the two was that the latter had a leg missing.
He was sleeping in the same fetal position…But with one leg.
Aqsa felt her mouth drying, she could feel the fear that had settled within her very bones.
Tentatively, she took a step back. She had just been blatantly gawking at Emanuel. She stood there stunned, ‘And why did you ask me to come here at the cemetery?‘ She studied him carefully.
“Because of the dream I had last night“, He drew in his breath. “I heard a noise resembling the clash of irons, which when I listened more attentively, sounded like a rattling of a chain. Upon following it, I reached this cemetery. There I saw something standing at a grave, it was the form of a woman, of extremely emaciated and squalid appearance, she had long and shelved hair, her hands and feet were covered with dust and chained and she was rattling the chains of her feet and hands. An obnoxious, foul smell wafted off her’
‘So you’re here to check her?’ Her face tightened, as if in a pain.
Emanuel nodded slowly in affirmative. He believed that there was no harm in going inside a cemetery in daylight.
Sighing, she asked, looking straight into his eyes, ‘How can I be of some help to you?’
‘Just stay here, outside the cemetery, and call the police if I do not return in 15 minutes’, He said, breaking the eye contact.
Just when he was about to enter the cemetery, he felt a push, he teetered for a second, before being nudged from behind and began to fall forward. Aqsa instinctively rushed forward towards Emanuel to save him from falling.
He waited. He trembled. Something told him that for all the trouble he had escaped, this would be the day it caught up with him.
He felt the fear rising within his skin, raising goosebumps in its wake.
Aqsa felt Emanuel’s arms slowly relax the death grip he had on her shirt.
‘I shall go now‘, He breathed, taking a step forward.
Five minutes later, he found a chained skeleton of a woman on a grave. A considerable tome in the ground was purified and moldered, away from the chains.
The sight alone was terrifying, his breath hitched and heart began to thud hard against his chest. Just when he decided to take a step back, the grave attracted swarms of flies, there was banging from inside the grave, the skeleton began to move of its own accord, towards his leg.
The moment he looked at his feet, it got strangled with the chain. He realized the dumb mistake he had made by entering the cemetery. He was confused and scared.
‘What’s happening‘? He said, crying. He tried to run away, but the chain had got the better hold of his feet.
For a while, he wondered if the Lord was punishing him for the things he had done.
So, he quickly turned to God.
‘Will you save me, Jesus? He whispered. He was weeping. He was breathing heavily.
“Hear me, Jesus, please…”, He was near tears.
The swarm of flies, black weird birds over his head, the banging of grave and the chain strangled around his feet…it all lasted until he heard the sound of thunderbolts. Just when first few drops of rain landed on him, on the grave and the skeleton…. The tables turned.
Now there was an eerie silence in the cemetery. There were no flies, no skeleton, no chain or the banging of grave.
‘Was it just a rain drop or the shower of blessings from the above?’ He pondered silently, before he escorted out of the cemetery, catching his breath.
Later the same day, when he was at his workplace, he noticed a Cat. She seemed to be fixated on his face.
Emanuel smirked weakly at her, thinking she had a staring problem. Until, when he realized that she was looking just behind him…
He was terrified, again. He shivered and pulled his coat tight. He felt his eyes tearing up.
Nothing like this had ever happened before.
He rushed out of his cabin and left the place.
Later that night after he’d smoked and sniffed and guzzled alcohol as well, he reached home to find his son sitting in bed. He quickly rushed towards the bed and embraced his four-year-old son, Ammar.
He was happy, nostalgic, upon seeing him after so long.
But Ammar was drowsy, sleepy. So Emanuel began tucking him into bed.
‘Daddy, check for monsters under my bed?’ The sleepy Ammar muttered.
Emanuel laughed at him before he looked underneath the bed for his amusement and see Ammar, another Ammar and whispering–‘Daddy, there’s somebody on my bed‘
Emanuel sat bolt upright, his breath nearly forgotten when he looked at the empty bed and the open Window.
His wife Maryam and his son,Ammar were killed in a Car accident. Six months ago.
Exhausted and frustrated Emanuel decided to go to bed and just sleep, he definitely needed a deep relaxing sleep.
He reached for the light switch to turn it off.
But another hand was already there!
Screaming, he jerked his hands away. The tears of frustration and helplessness welled up in his eyes…The blood circulating in his veins now began to fume, His cheeks were spanned red and forehead bluish as he banged it on the wall, ‘Who are you? What do you want? Why don’t you leave me alone? Will there ever be an end of all this? He screamed. He yelled. He cried and left the house, banging the doors shut.
The next day when he returned home after working a hard day, He came home to see his wife cradling Ammar. He didn’t know which was more frightening, seeing his dead wife and son or knowing that someone broke into his apartment to place them there.
He stared at them for a few seconds.
When he took a step towards them, they disappeared.
Emanuel chose to ignore everything and just sleep, before he cursed himself, his fortune and went to bed, tugging a pillow and blanket with him.
Heavy eye lids, aching head and numb limbs….His mind screamed with the need for sleep, and so he did….. but only to wake up after a minute to the sound of a child’s laughter.
There’s nothing Like a laughter of a baby. Unless it’s 1 A.M and you’re home alone.
He jumped up from his bed, looking around his room to find nothing but utter silence.
Emanuel cried in agony. He had never been this helpless.
He turned to God again, chanted Jesus’s name and tried to sleep again.
An hour later
‘I can’t sleep‘, He heard someone whispering.
‘I can’t sleep, Emanuel‘, it was a female voice.
Emanuel tugged at the blanket.
He decided to not look. No matter what happens he wasn’t going to look who it is.
‘I can’t sleep‘, The voice came louder this time.
‘I won’t look. I won’t look‘ He tugged tighter at the quilt, closing his eyes shut.
‘I can’t sleep alone...’ He heard her whispering right above his ear, ‘I need you to sleep with me….in the grave’ She said crawling into the bed with him.
The last thing he saw was his mobile flashing 03:17 before she pushed a broken glass bottle through his chest, her other hands muffling his screams.
He sat bolt upright, relieved. It was only a dream.
But as he saw his mobile read 03:16, He heard his closet creak open…and a voice echoed, I can’t sleep Alone….