by Ratnika Singh
(Karaikal, Puduchery, India)
“Hello?”Meher whispered into the silent night. No one answered. She looked around again and on not seeing anyone, continued walking forward. The feeling of being followed was still creeping up her spine. She had had it since she came out of the cinema theatre. She knew watching a movie alone at night was a bad idea and walking back home alone was worse. At the moment she was living the horrible experience. The wretched thriller had left her spooked to the bone and now she was imagining someone following her. The daily news of abductions and rape didn’t help her psych either.
“If only I could get a stupid cab right about now, it would be fantastic. But with my luck that’s probably hoping for too much.” She sighed. Sometimes being alone sucked. She loved her independence but sometimes even her friends couldn’t fill the aching gap in her life, and thus the night movie therapy.
Meher had a lot of experience walking alone at night in the deserted city streets but she hadn’t been followed ever. Technically she knew it was a common risk to women at night, but she hadn’t dealt with this situation before. She had no idea what to do. Well, she knew freaking out wasn’t an option. Maybe it was her overactive imagination at work again. She turned around the next corner and waited till she heard it again, the crunch of gravels, light enough to go unnoticed if she wasn’t looking for it. So, she wasn’t imagining it after all. Someone was following her. She tried not to think of it and at the same time try to think of a smart way out. She looked around carefully. The surrounding area was shady and desolate. Most of the houses were dark, closed and/or locked. She had thought at the time that a shortcut might be a good idea but no more. There was no way she would get a cab or even any help here in this street. The panic began to set in earnest now. She fumbled for her mobile and speed dialed her best friend Avantika. “No network? Perfect. Get me killed you dumb smart phone!” she whispered harshly. Now it was time to run.
She increased her pace, almost rushing to get out of that street. If only she could get across the next junction she would be safely home. The thought of her comfy couch and her pet cat Jane almost made her weep. Behind her the steps of her pursuer lengthened, not as if he was hurrying but more like an added effortless bounce in his steps that kept the distance between them constant. “OK, so he’s not leaving me alone. Let’s not freak, please.” she took in a shaky breath and started on a brisk jog wishing she had worn anything but her tight red cocktail dress
with her black high heels. A fearful backward glance still showed her no one, but she knew he was there, in the dark, waiting for her. She raised her gaze upward towards the starless sky and closed her eyes in a silent prayer. For not the first time she desperately wished there was someone up there, watching, listening, and hoped he would intervene. And then, she ran.
She heard him closing in and knew instinctively that he wouldn’t let her get around the corner to that junction. Terror gripped her heart in a grip so fierce that she couldn’t breathe. She believed she could feel his hot wet breath on her neck; feel him getting closer by the second. Her feet moved faster than she had ever made them go before. It was a bad night. Why, oh why did she have to watch that movie? And why did she have to go alone? Meher wished for the hundredth time that she had asked Avantika for some company. Even her monotonous lectures on her private life, or lack thereof, were better than getting killed in a murky alley!
Suddenly he was on her. He grabbed her from behind just as she opened her mouth to scream. Before her ears could stop ringing from the high pitch shrill scream that she herself was responsible for, his cold and dry fingers covered her lips, effectively blocking any further cry for help. Meher started struggling. She jerked around but he had her in a grip so strong that she couldn’t move an inch. He was smothering her and strangling her at the same time and there was nothing she could do about it. Her inner self was still screaming at the top of her voice but it knew that she had no chance.
“Ssshhhh…” he whispered in her ear. The eerie ring in his voice stopped her struggles and she stilled. She twisted around to look at her captor and her eyes widened in fear. She saw the chalky paleness of his skin, the red rimmed eyes and the calm gaze that held her eyes. The terror that grabbed her heart was so overpowering that she couldn’t even think of screaming again. Slowly he lowered his gaze to her wide neckline. She stopped breathing as she got a glimpse of the hunger she saw in his look. He was starving and she was food. A flash of light showed him opening his lips and a glimpse of what looked like … extremely long canines? Were those… fangs?? A tug of his hands and she was pressed back against him as those fangs sank deep into her carotid artery and sucked her essence away.
Her last thought as she passed out was of the monster of the night, that who wasn’t particularly of the human kind. Humans were not the only monsters out there. ********