My hands were shaking; it was not fear but the cold wind that blew past me; terrorizing me as I rode my bicycle down the road. It was dark and I was getting late; I was supposed to reach my house about an hour ago. I was returning from my friend’s house in the nearby town.
I lived on the countryside, outside the crowded streets of the nearby town. My friend lived in the town, I never liked going into the town. It is always so crowded, I do not like that; countryside is so peaceful; very few people around, plus they are nicer too.
It had to be around 10 in the night. It was a no moon night, hence it was very dark. The only source of light that guided me was a small light attached to the front of my bicycle. The road was bumpy; cycling down a dirt road is never fun.
It was then when I suddenly realized.
‘Wait a second, DIRT ROAD?’ I was shocked that I was so not paying attention to the road I was travelling. The road to my house was a gravel road; it was filled with stones and sand but the road I was heading was made of dirt. It was only then when I realized that the road on which I was cycling on looked unfamiliar.
‘Did I take a wrong turn somewhere?’ I stopped cycling and began to look at the surroundings. The area was full of trees; it was like I was in the middle of a forest. How did I get here? I stood in silence; the numerous sounds that echoed in the forest came to my attention. I heard crickets chirping, the monotonous hooting of an owl and the sound of a nearby stream flowing calmly somewhere in the forest. I was getting scared. Of all my years living here, I have never come to this place.
It was then a small light flickering at a distance caught my eye. It seemed to be coming from a hut just a bit further down the road. I wanted to get away from the place as quickly as possible so I didn’t decide to find out who lived there. I wanted to go home as fast as possible. The unfamiliar road was making me nervous. I got back on my bike and started pedaling.
I went ahead cautiously. The trip was endless. I didn’t notice it then but after a few minutes I began to realize that that the light I saw before flickering at a distance was once again right before me. It was only then that I realized that I was back at the place that I started from. I was getting scared. How was it possible? I never took a turn and yet I am back where I started from. The light from the hut was still flickering in the distance.
I decided not to give up and continued down the road once more. After a few minutes I was back again at the very same place. I thought to myself, ‘Maybe I am hallucinating; maybe it is a different light. I have to make sure.”
So in order to confirm my theory I got down from my bike and wrote my name on the dirt using my fingers. With this I got back on the bike and started pedaling.
Not long after I reached another flickering light. I looked at the road trying to find out whether my name was written anywhere. Surprising it was not.
‘Huh! What was I thinking? There is no such thing as supernatural. It must be a different hut. Surely there must be many such houses down this road. Also the forest is all the same. I am losing my senses in this darkness.’ I decided to calm myself and decided to go to the house and ask for directions.
I took the torch hanging from my bike and went towards the house in the distance. The forest was quiet. All the sounds I heard earlier were no longer present. It was eerily quiet. I said to myself again and again, ‘There is no such thing as supernatural.’
I took a few steps when suddenly a warm gust of air bloomed right past me. It was then I heard a strange husky voice calling out from behind me. “Turn back”, it called out. I was scared and then for the very first time I felt the presence of something behind me. I stopped in my tracks. Fear gripped me in my place. The air was getting warmer; I slowly turned my head towards the source of that voice. Whatever made that sound was directly behind me.
Horror gripped me as I looked at the strange figure just a few inches ahead of me. It was like a man. But something was different, something was not right. I wanted to call for help but couldn’t scream. There was something strange in the man’s eye. They were glowing. I tried to move but couldn’t. I was paralyzed.
The man started to move towards me. I was scared, my heart started to beat faster. He got closer to me with each passing second. His eyes were constantly starring at me; those bloody red glowing eyes of his peering straight through my eyes, immobilizing me with fear. It seemed as if a hellish fire was burning inside him. My heart started to beat faster, air refused to go into my lungs; I began suffocating with fear. Within seconds he was right in front of me. I could look into his eyes clearly; they were burning. I could feel their warmth. It was getting hotter with each passing second.
It was then I noticed that the thing did not resemble a man anymore; he was all black with fire radiating from his body. A black mass surrounded by fire. I couldn’t bear the heat anymore. It was as if I was burning from the inside. His face was distorted but I could make out the wicked smile that adored his face.
It was then that he opened his mouth, in a strong husky voice he murmured ‘You will pay for your sins, remember me? The torture you put me through. The agony you caused me. You will …PAY.’
I was speechless, I couldn’t move. He wasn’t even gripping me but somehow his gaze paralyzed me. I couldn’t interpret his words. They made no sense, when did I ever torture him? The heat was getting out of control. It was then I was struck by a horrifying discovery. I could see myself clearly in his eyes. I was burning, burning in the hellish fire that encompassed us. I tried to scream but no sound came out. I could feel the pain but unable to react.
I saw my hands covered in flames, my skin; melting, dropping like wax from a burning candle. My whole body was on fire. I desperately tried to shout, struggled hard to move but I was just a mere observer witnessing my own demise.
Seconds passed by as I suffered immensely. My energy was draining; I couldn’t focus on his eyes anymore. My gaze slowly shifted towards the ground. I could barely make out but just beneath his feet, on the dirt was my name, written in my own handwriting. It was indeed the same place that I was returning again and again. My vision became darker until I could no longer see. My mind stopped, my thoughts were fragmented, and finally I couldn’t feel any pain. My brain was shutting down.
I do not remember what happened next. It was all a blur.
I remember waking up in a small room. Was it a dream? I opened my eyes and started feeling my hands and legs. They were there. No burnt marks nothing. I looked around to realize that the bed I was sleeping was my own. My wife lay beside me.
It must have been a dream. It makes no sense otherwise.
I got up from my bed at went to look at the mirror. My face was fine. I looked back to see my wife who was now awake; stare at me in silence.
‘Bad dream?’ she asked.
‘I have no clue’ I said. My voice was shaky.
‘Well. Don’t worry dear. You seem all right. Let me cook you some breakfast.’ She said reassuringly.
With this she went out of the room leaving me alone with my thoughts.
So it was a dream. I was relieved at the sound of that. But the mere thought of that man brought back all the fears. I calmed myself down and dismiss the matter as a bad dream. But the aspiring writer inside me couldn’t let this incident go to waste. With this I grabbed a fresh paper from my desk and began writing this story in full detail.
The rest of the day went by writing about it. My wife would interrupt me occasionally but I was not distracted by her. After the story was done I sat beside her in the bed and began talking with her almost the rest of the day; reciting my tale.
No sooner it was nighttime again and I drifted off to sleep. My thoughts became hazy. In my dream found myself cycling again. I began my monologue…
“My hands were shaking; it was not fear but the cold wind that blew past me; terrorizing me as I rode my bicycle down the road. It was dark and I was getting late; I was supposed to reach my house about an hour ago. I was returning from my friend’s house in the nearby town.….”
Just outside the small room two men starred at the old man sleeping on the bed. He was tossing and turning in his bed again. It seemed like he was having his nightmare again. One of them headed inside his cell and tore a piece of paper from his notebook lying on his table. He has done it again. He came out of the cell carrying the paper and locked the cell behind him.
The other guard came out to him and asked, “Has he written the same story again?”
“Seems so.” Said the other; reading the note that he was carrying.
“God! Help the poor guy. It has been thirty years now since he has been admitted to this asylum but he is still repeating the same behavior every single day.”
“Yeah seems like he is stuck in a never ending cycle. Waking up each day; talks to himself and then scribbling the same old story the entire day. He believes that his wife is still alive, isn’t he?”
“I guess he loved her and couldn’t accept the fact that she cheated on him. Fell in love with another guy. He was supposed to stay at his friend’s house one day but he chose to return; cycling through the woods at night only to find his wife cheating on him.”
“Well such is life, but it is up to us how we deal with it. Instead of accepting it and filing for a divorce. He murdered them in cold blood. Tortured them; beat them and then set fire to both of them. He then burnt the whole house down. Poor souls; such a torture; being burnt alive like that. He had to mentally ill.”
“That is why his crime still haunts him till date. He cannot be sane. Thus he was convicted to this asylum instead of prison. Doctors say he suffers from schizophrenia. He believes that he talks to her everyday; relieving the day he killed them again and again. When will this cycle stop?”
“Perhaps, it is too late. He is cursed to travel the same forsaken road for eternity. Maybe his death is the only solution. But he is not that lucky.”
With this the two men switched off the light to his cell and went to tend to other patients.