We had just moved to our new house. Owl hoots and fox howls were a regular feature of the surroundings. The place was eerie, but in the world of satellites and computers, I knew there was no room for such superstitions.
Mr. Nayak and his family dropped by for a chat in the afternoon. Mr. Nayak said that the two previous tenants had vacated the house under what they had termed as strange circumstances. The first tenant had a not-so-good-looking daughter who was the neighborhood’s laughing stock. The tenant had hastily vacated the property when he could no longer stand the constant references to his daughter’s poor looks.
The second tenant had moved in just a couple of days later. However, he, too, vacated in a hurry. He said that someone had pushed him into the backyard well. It was, he argued, a shadowy figure. Luckily for him, his good swimming skills meant he escaped with minor injuries. Following this incident, the owner sold the house to us at a fairly cheap price and left the country for good.
The house, nay our house had eight rooms, so we had more than enough space. It was a magnificent house with a large backyard. The kitchen even had a chimney!
Because of the stories going around, the house had been lying vacant for a major part of its twenty-year existence. Gusts of winds often shook the trees violently. Occasional flashes of lightning illuminated the sombre nightly scene, instilling fear in our hearts.
My father and brother cleaned the verandah roof for most part of Sunday. I busied myself in the evening, weeding the garden. Father said he planned to take us to a reception party in the evening.
‘I invited my friends, Nikhil and Ashish, home, dad.’
He gave me a stern look, before agreeing, ‘Alright, you may stay back. But don’t venture out at night.’
After my parents and brother left, I settled down to read a book. Soon, Nikhil and Ashish showed up, one after the other. It was a full-moon night. Suddenly, the lights went off!
‘I hope this candle lasts till the power’s back,’ I said. It was, after all, the only candle at home.
‘Let’s play carrom,’ suggested Nikhil. We agreed to the proposition, for this was the first sensible idea that Nikhil had ever had!
All of us were engrossed in the game when Nikhil remarked, ‘I think I heard someone knock on the door.’
We waited for another knock. It did come. I sprang up, thinking it was my mother. Ashish wondered if his friend’s mother had forgotten something.
I opened the door. There was no one there. Not even a ghost!
When I returned to where the boys were sitting, I could make out a shadow outside the glass window, which was, of course, closed. Ashish offered to take a look. Just as he opened the door, the shadow rushed into the room. Nikhil shrieked with fear while Ashish ran around muttering shlokas. Our mysterious visitor sat next to me on the carrom board and began pushing the coins around the board.
Our guest had red eyes and silvery white, long canines. It had long, sharp nails. To say we were trembling was an understatement.
Suddenly, our guest whirred past us and tore down my brother’s mask, that had adorned the walls not so long ago. I was almost in tears.
Soon, we heard utensils crashing on the floor. And that’s when the lights came back on.
We rushed into the kitchen. There was no sign of the guest! My parents returned a few minutes later. Neither my friends nor I told them about the enigmatic visitor. We knew they wouldn’t believe us, anyway.
A fortnight later, on the new moon night, dad was lying on the sofa as he flicked through the pages of a magazine. Mom was busy reading a novel. About fifteen minutes later, the lights went off.
I spotted a translucent shadow on the window adjoining the door on the wall.
‘Mom, there’s someone at the door,’ I said.
Mom asked me to open the door. I trembled, but did as she had asked me to. There was no one at the door!
The shadow was still where I had last seen it. As soon as I opened the door, the shadow flew past me. I threw the blanket over it and held on to it strongly. Hearing the commotion, my parents rushed into the hall.
The lights came on. I hit the struggling creature under the blanket with the wooden handle of my skipping rope. After a couple of knocks, the creature stopped moving.
Dad removed the blanket. Beneath it lay a bat! It was a large bat with a huge wingspan.
‘Why did it go into the kitchen?’ I wondered later.
Dad replied it could have been because of the mice on the kitchen loft. I garnered a lot of praise for my exemplary courage.
Now, you might have second thoughts about the existence of a human-sized bat. But, then, did I ever mention the size of the “ghost” I was dealing with?
…now that you’re here
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As fond of writing a good story as he is of reading one, Pravin is one of the most promising writers at Ameya. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.