I grew up listening to all sorts of scary stories from my parents, and my grandparents, but I never really believed in anything supernatural firmly. This was, though, till one particular night when I was fifteen.
My grandmother lived with us and it had been around 3 months since she passed away. I would often stay up listening to her stories, and had taken to studying in the same room after her passing. I always had a sense of comfort in that room, even though almost everyone I knew found it to be quite creepy. Their view was understandable for me as well; the room had a dusty old closet attached to it, which was still had a lot of antiques and old chests stowed away in it. Apart from that, the room also led to the dark and cramped up attic, which was no better than the closet when it came to being free of spider webs, being generally dark and damp. I was still always quite comfortable in that room though. It opened up to the lounge, and had a window at the back, which looked into our backyard, and I would often just go to the window and stare into the darkness lost in thought.
On that particular night though, I was preparing for my exams. I am a night-owl by nature, my brain worked best in the dark. I had been staying up studying till 3 am yet again, and finally feeling tired I thought it was time to go to sleep. I left the door to the lounge open before I slept, because the light from the kitchen was always on, and I liked sleeping in semi-darkness. I had just done the same and was on my side, facing away from the closet and the lounge door when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the closet door opening. It did not make the usual creaking sound it made while opening, perhaps the sound was drowned under the sound of the fan, but I saw it open slowly and surely nevertheless.
This very sight scared me and I lay completely still, to make sure I was just not imagining it. I was not. The door opened, and a tall, dark shadow floated out of it. I say floated here, because that is exactly what it seemed to do. There were no footsteps, just a mass of darkness in the shape of a cloaked man, slithering towards me. I lay absolutely still, even breathing a little more lightly. I was afraid that it would know that I was awake, afraid that it would do something. I wanted it to go back into the closet, but it didn’t. Instead, it slithered to the side of my bed, where it stood tall right behind me.
I could still see it from the corner of my eye, though now I was every twitching muscle in my body, aware of the depth of my breath, and the soft thump of my heart in my chest. I kept repeating “I must stay absolutely still” in my mind, because I had convinced myself that it would leave me alone if it thought I was asleep. It stood right next to me for too long a while, as if observing me, and then, instead of moving, it bowed down. It bowed down till I could feel the mass of darkness, its hood or face or whatever it was, touching my ear ever so slightly. And then, it started whispering. I could not understand what it was saying, and thinking back it sounded much like a snake’s whispers in my ears. It kept whispering for what felt like hours. I could feel the cool and warmth of its whispers on my ears all that while, as I lay there stone-still and unable to even quiver in fear. I was frozen with terror.
The whispers ended as abruptly as they had begun. It rose back up to its full height, and slithered slowly back to the closet as quietly as it had come. The door opened again soundlessly, and it slipped inside. I wanted to run. I wanted to run out to the lounge and to go to my parents, but I waited. Part of me was afraid of seeing he door open again and it coming back, and if I had moved, it would know I was awake. So I waited, for as long as I could, for as long as my nerves would let me. Finally, when I managed to convince myself that the shade would not be coming back, I crept out of my bed as quietly as I could, and slipped out into the lounge. I went over to my mother’s room and found her sleeping. I sat down by the corner of her bed and touched her feet. She got up.
“Are you okay?” she asked me.
I was. But more importantly that told me that I had not dreamt it all. I was still awake.
For the readers who are wondering what I did after, I should add that I went back to the same room to sleep that night. I had been afraid, but the shade had not harmed me. And it never did.
Based on personal experiences by
Salman Shahid Khan