The constant drone of cars cruising along the highway had grown assuring to my ears. It was a curious annoyance at first. I’ve gotten used to the near constant hum now. With the window flung open, the sporadic howl of the wind aside, the regularly irregular hum of tyres speeding by the asphalt was comforting. I live alone and the that sound keeps me company , when the city calls it a night and slumbers.
Sleep is a ritual on most days. Surfing the youtube for funnies to the point of saturation. I’d seek comforts in the pages of the book that I’m currently reading. Somewhere down the line, with my eyes tired and mind numb from constant thinking, I’d usually fold the edge of the page and carelessly toss the book away from my bed.
With the lights out, rays of red would sneak in from the tail of cars zooming past the highway which my window overlooks. Flashes of red, yellow and the occasional blue of sirened ambulances would form a soft lullaby light show of sorts.
Bub – bub.
One of the things that I had initially found unnerving was the fact that an empty house does make sounds. Pipes expanding and contracting because of the cold, wooden floors creaking all by themselves, the radiator gurgling sounds each time the thermostat kicks in. These are the sounds that follow no specific pattern. An empty house is no match for a mind with an hyper active imagination.
The first few weeks, I found it hard to get accustomed to the sounds. With each noise’s crescendo, I’d violently yank myself away from a state of light sleep. This was definitely a classic tell tale sign of lousy sleeping!
Bub – bub
Fortunately, I did have a cure for that. GYM. The evening at the gym always meant that I’d sleep through the ambient noises like a happy blissful baby. Sunday evening was no different. I had spent the noon burning off calories and building confidence and esteem. I head home, conjured a lunch, survived after having it. I lazed around the rest of the day trying not to fall asleep. The plan was set in stone. It was a good gig. It had all the makings of a peaceful night of sleep.
I woke up from an early daze with a jolt. Instinctively I checked the time. It was 12:30 AM. I knew I wasn’t popular enough for folks to be crashing into my isolated house on any given day, 12:30 was ridiculous!!! Nobody I knew would take the pain of staying up that late, walk through a cold rain, climb up 7 floors and knock a rhythm on my door!!!! I immediately dismissed the sound as a trick that my exhausted mind played. It was not real, I assured myself and tried to get back to sleep.
I tried to silence the ticker by taking in deep breaths and decided to force a little peace on my disturbed mind. Things settled down in a short span of time.
bubbubbubbubbubbubbubbub.. My eyes opened wide. Nope, I wasn’t imagining the knocking on the door now. I knew there was a knock. I paused my breathing, sharpened my ears to follow the sounds. Dead silence. The cars had stopped cruising. The radiator no longer groaned. The wooden floor had made it’s peace with the cold. The humming deafening sound of silence was around me.
The ceiling clicked and I got jumpy. I checked the time again. For some reason, I found it sensible and felt safer by knowing what the time was. It was 1 AM. The knocking had apparently stopped. The distant buzz of a car reverberated through the open window. The radiator yawned from it’s slumber. The thermostat kicked in to announce that the room had grown cold indeed.
My mind was not my best of friends in the moment of need. My thoughts first took me to a possible Demonic Possession. Why? Coz I had tried fiddling around with astral projection a while ago before I gave up and called it a night. It was odd. Hollywood had taught me that the unholy time was half past three. I took comforts in knowing that the spooks would not be early to the party. They did have a keen sense of punctuality.
With extreme insanity thrust out of the immediate thought-sphere, I started to focus on realities behind horror. I do live in a strained neighborhood .It could be a bloke, a drunk or a junkie knocking random doors for mischief. Yeah, this appealed to me better than evil demons from the pits of hell!!! Oh God, what the hell was i even thinking moments ago!!!!!
I was jumpy, vigil and excessively alert. I throttled my breathing to ensure that my ears could pick up even the slightest of sounds. Big mistake. In a world of silence of the night, everything was a sinister orchestra at play. The night was the grand stage and I was it’s only audience.
My heart continued to pound recklessly.
I struggled to form sensible flow of thoughts. I soon realized that I was in a vulnerable spot. While the house does boast a comfy private terrace of sorts, It also meant that someone could sneak in through the glass sliding window that would welcome just about anyone into my living room. The house did not have locks except the one that guarded the door. I realized in horror that once the sentry was breached, I had just about nothing to lock and stay guarded.
The hate , in the form of documentaries, that I had watched, the fears of the evil of men’s heart, the imagination that dwells in the darkest of places, and the near drowsy state of my mind and the body, all of it meant that I was living in a horror movie of my own making.
I collected my thoughts and picked up myself to check the living room. Yeah, I did feel a little intimidated to turn the lights on. I was scared of turning them on only to realize that there was a stranger in the house. A house sans curtains = stunning view of the streets below. The dim lights of the city, the tail of reds , ambers and greens ushered a sense of mesmerizing surreal twilight.
The light was sufficient enough to see that there were no intruders around.
The heart went form bubbubbub to a stead stream of bubs. Ah crap, ‘You are going to think yourself to your death, Karthik’ , I told myself.
The horror had been both fake and real. I had made it real to me. I reached out for a glass of cold milk and watched a peaceful city slumber. The horror was now over.