I Sense A Presence – Final

Tears and blood started flowing at an equal pace leaving Henry inert and collapsed at Sally’s feet. His gaze locked at her face with many questions struggling to find a voice.

Sally got down at her knees, gently ran her fingers through Henry’s hair, and blew softly repeatedly and her voice choked with pain “I am sorry honey, I had to help Anne. For so many days she suffered silently. He cheated on her. As she spoke to him she raised her left-hand and kept it angled at shoulder level as if someone was sitting next to her. She looked that side and nodded in agreement to something.

It was unbearable to Henry now, the pain as well as Sally’s lunacy. He groaned in agony “Stop it! Stop it! tell me why I am being punished this way?” He mustered the strength and tightened his grip around Sally’s throat, now his tone was filled with rage. “Answer me”

Sally wrestled to get herself out of his grip and in her bid to do so, she crashed a wooden bowl on Henry’s head that her hand managed to get from the table behind her. Henry lost the grip and was wriggling in pain. Sally gasped for breath.

Now Sally chucked the cloak of innocence and grief she was hiding in. She pulled Henry’s hair and her face was in extreme proximity to his as she said ” You can fool the law, not me? Seems you care about Tracy more than me, like my father, isn’t it?”. The villainous smirk, anger, and blood on her face made her look demonic that no one is aware of. And it was her counter-question that rattled Henry beyond belief.

With a struggle Henry asked, “you knew it all the time, isn’t it?”

She laughed like a maniac and paused to look and answer him. “I was fortunate to get a whip of dirty rotten secrets of my father. I found how he used to meet Tracy secretly to give her the fatherly love that he deprived her of. I kept silent until mom (Sally’s mom was dead long back) spoke to me. I realized my father cheated on two ladies. And he dares to give away not only love but what was MINE, a part of my properties. My nerves imploded as my mom stood there asking me how I will set things right and I had to put him at rest. I wish he had seen our marriage though. Mom told me, he is a well-behaved man now. And when we moved here, I met Anne. I offered my shoulder to lean on but saw my pillar of strength crumbling under the cascades of tresses of my nemesis. You tell me what wrong I have done. How can I part from what is rightfully Mine, be it property or Love, My Love !”.

Sally’s statement left Henry more puzzled than putting an end to his trauma. Is she a victim of undiagnosed, unattended mental illness that breached her sanity completely, or is she a smart criminal who knows how to use her cards well? Why she waited so long, what happened that night between the ladies is still a mystery.

“But now you don’t have your love. You should have trusted me instead of Anne” Henry said as he couldn’t keep his eyes open anymore. Clutching to his wound tightly, he felt how slowly his breath was escaping his body.

Sally kissed Henry passionately as he lied motionless “I am sorry, I was hard on you but can you blame me? Seeing you in her arms is more painful than anything else. Now I can rest” and she sang a lullaby the entire night, keeping Henry’s head in her lap.


Josh at his home (relieved after months) accidentally ran into grandma’s letter. He read it over and over. Was it a coincidence of mental illnesses and unfortunate happenings or something else beyond his capabilities and understanding that occurred in that house, that grabbed his attention after his friend got home? He decided to meet and greet Sally the next day.

As the doorbell rang, Sally slightly peeped from the window upstairs, holding the diary of Anne Turner, and said ” Anne, Josh is here, to see me. Do you think he will love me truly?”…

I Sense A Presence – XXIV

Investigator to Henry: Is it a new bluff, its better be not.

Henry replied with a smirk: Neither you are my friend nor this is a place and time to be bluffing around. I would rather choose to prove my innocence, I trust your intelligence, don’t question mine.

Investigator (sighed): hmmm, how can you prove your point, and does Sally know about her step-sister? How can step-sisters crop up all of a sudden, over the night? I am not ready to buy your fantasy fiction yet, keep trying till you drop and the truth finds its way out.

Henry gave a detailed account of when and how the secret was revealed to him by the family lawyer and put across a few valid cross-questions. He was not going to be a passive spectator of proceedings that spelled doom for him and his love.

“Extra-marital relationships are usually less spoken about or completely kept under wraps, no matter how progressive we think we have become. I don’t blame Sally if she is unaware of her relationship with Tracy(He also stated that he doesn’t remember the lawyer mentioning anything about Sally’s knowledge of Tracy). Had she known about the same I don’t think she would have kept obscured from me. She let Tracy stay in her home” Henry put forth a strong point.

Investigator: Letting someone stay at home doesn’t acquit you directly, especially when the person gets murdered on your premises and no traces of any outsider’s involvement has been found. Tell me one thing, was Sally never bothered by Tracy’s presence in the house, to be precise around and with you? Even if I give her a benefit of the doubt when it comes to her relationship with Tracy but no woman can tolerate a strikingly good-looking woman constantly making her presence around her spouse. Can you deny that? wasn’t there a single moment in all these months where Sally was wary of your closeness with Tracy? I bet you that can be a big motive enough to commit this “accident” as specified by you. I need you to speak up NOW (he placed his fist with a certain amount of force on the table as he looked intensely into Henry’s eyes as if he wanted to scare him of the consequences of holding onto the information).

Henry remained unfazed. “Yes, Sally was a bit disturbed and it was natural for her to be so, also given the trauma she had been into. She imagined things and I suppose after her medical condition has to do more with it rather than anything else. And on the given day when I entered the house, it was Tracy who was trying to attack Sally. What happened then was a tragic accident. I had to save Sally, but unfortunately, I couldn’t do it for Tracy.

Investigators are finding it hard to break Henry’s defense. They will need more evidence and probably a reverse psychological game to ascertain the modus-operandi and the motive behind the crime. For this moment it seemed to be an open and shut case where these two people are under trial by a conspiracy of fate.

Meanwhile, every detail of Sally, Tracy, and Henry was being dug up. No matter how hard they tried there was nothing that could even remotely associate Sally or for that matter Henry to this murder. It was proved that Sally didn’t have any idea about Tracy as the investigators cross-checked with the family lawyer. “Mr.Pattinson was a man of secrets and this secret settlement of property is not an exception. I couldn’t settle it immediately or for that matter bring it to light due to my own professional and personal reasons. I did meet Sally after her father’s demise and spoke about other settlements but she completely seemed to be aloof” the lawyer concluded.

To add to the testimony for Sally and Henry, Tracy’s stint with illegal activities, her act of disappearance from the city, owning a gun illegally proved quite helpful, receiving petty sums of cash from an anonymous account that traced back to Sally’s father proved quite a big point against her. Josh also chipped in with his statement “Sally always complained of someone trying to attack her, someone watching her. We can completely squash those fears as illusions or imaginary but given how things have shaped up now, how Tracy used her relationship with Henry to enter Sally’s life says a lot of things”.

On the other hand, Sally’s condition improved. She gave an account of what happened that day. She also showed a few injuries that she received in the scuffle. Sobbing and trying to regain her composure Sally said “I was alone when that night when Tracy attacked me. She was repeatedly saying that I took from her what was rightfully hers. I didn’t get what she was trying to say. She said her only motto in her life was to get revenge for her mother who died in misery and poverty and it was my father that caused her so much pain. Things seemed to get clearer then. But before I could apologize to her…”

Then why did you say “It was Anne who made you do this,” the investigator asked Sally?

“I am sure by this time you all know my condition. Chaos all around triggered voices in my head” and she hid her face in her palms.

After two months of rigorous investigation when the cops failed to prove anything substantial they did let Henry and Sally go and it was the case was recorded as an accidental death in the course of self-defense. An undertaking was taken that Sally will continue her treatment.

Feeling comforted to be in their house, Sally and Henry embraced each other tightly. Sally softly whispered into Henry’s ears “Thank you for being on my side”. Henry kissed her passionately and picked her up in his arms and took her to the dining table, where he laid her on the table, looking lovingly into her eyes. Caressing her hair softly, kissing her forehead, he was indulging himself in the moment as the past few months have been nothing less than catastrophic to their relationship. He was just mending everything. Suddenly he asked in-between their lovey-dovey talks “You never had an idea who Tracy was? What has happened that night honey?”.

And Sally looked right past through Henry and said “Anne you are here again?” and she stabbed Henry with a knife from the basket nearby…

I Sense A Presence XXIII

Cops quickly surrounded the place and took Henry and Sally into custody. Recovered a gun that was lying by the dead body’s side. Josh had to stay out of it as he wasn’t present there as a cop but a friend and an acquaintance. As the day progressed, silence blanketed the house but the cover was quickly off the news and took the neighborhood by the storm. Gossips, speculations, doubts and not to mention the old demons of rumours loomed large and loud.

Department had to keep Josh officially out of this case because of his proximity to the accused. Nevertheless, they needed his help unofficially.

Henry and Sally were in separate cells and in the same palpitated situation. Interrogation still hasn’t commenced. Henry was struggling to keep his inner turmoil veiled from everyone whereas Sally on the other hand couldn’t restrain herself from exhibiting the frail self. Swearing profusely, clutching her hair in despair with both her hands while covering her ears and continuously murmuring and vehemently shaking her head. As the guards came to fetch her they overheard her saying in the same position “Go away please!!” For a moment they paused and paid attention to her words. It seemed she was talking to someone else. Sally continued “Anne you have to go now, you have already troubled me a lot. You smeared blood on my palms. It was your revenge, not mine” and she broke down crying hysterically.

She was truly not in her senses. Was it the incident that troubled her mentally or something oblivious earlier that came to the surface for everyone to see? Is she a victim herself? Looking at the disconsolate state of Sally cops checked with Henry and he gave the details of her psychiatrist with whom they were in touch since the time of her father’s death (murder).

People close to Sally always had an idea of how sensitive and feeble she was emotionally. But the true revelation was made by her psychiatrist that left especially two people shocked – Henry & Josh. “She is schizophrenic. After her father’s death, she had a complete meltdown. Henry accompanied her for about three months or so. After that, she used to visit alone. She complained of visions haunting her. She told me she always sensed as if someone is lurking around her, watching her. I conducted a few observation sessions and it was established that she is suffering from schizophrenia. But she pleaded to me that it should be confidential between her and me, she meant not even Henry should know about it” the doctor explained the reason behind Sally’s puzzling behavior.

For Josh things were falling into places as far as Sally’s complaints were concerned. “Could everything be possibly completely delusional or there is something more than what meets eye, maybe an intention to bury something more heinous” Josh pondered over as many more tangles were still intact.

Henry meanwhile was brought for the interrogation. Sally’s mental condition ( even barring the fact that she is Schizophrenic), the way Tracy’s identity was kept under wraps, the huge property involved, the presence of a gun in the premises (ownership still to be traced), the fact that Henry has his past intertwined with Tracy – everything surely had Henry in the docks. All Henry had to say was he had to intervene between the ladies and this incident was nothing but an unfortunate accident in the course of avoiding a disaster.

Five days have passed and, Sally was still in the observation where she still battled with her demons. On the other hand, preliminary investigations confirmed that the gun belonged to Tracy, her troubled past, murky identity in the police records firmly established that she was indeed Lizzie. Now the investigators worked in the direction of tweaking the Henry – Tracy relationship. And to add to the misery to Henry’s wounds deleted data from their phones was churned. And they found what they were looking for – an intimate photograph of Henry and Tracy from the dump. Though just one, cops thought this could help to dig out the truth.

Now the cops were more determined to frisk Henry to give this case closure.

Cop: “You didn’t tell me how is Tracy, I mean Lizzie was associated with you? Don’t give us the crap of childhood friends, I warn you” and he flung across the photograph. Henry glanced at it and maintained his calm and said “we both were completely sloshed when this picture was taken. I don’t know if that can establish anything. I have been always loyal to my wife. This trick of yours won’t prove anything. I told you earlier that it was an accident. The ladies had an altercation and I stopped, I mean I tried to stop them” Henry concluded.

Cop chuckled “why would two ladies fight? Let me guess, could be because of the same outfit for the same event” and he jeeringly looked at Henry. And continued “Nah, I don’t think the case is so here. Let me make another guess, isn’t it about the same man?” This time the tone was serious.

“So tell me who had your favour – wife battling with mental illness or a temptress” Cop questioned Henry.

To which Henry replied “why you forgot that there’s a property involved too. Lizzie was Sally’s step-sister, can you ascertain the cause of the fight now?” Henry’s revelation shocked everyone…

I Sense A Presence XXII

Both Henry and Josh were quite a bit puzzled by their respective callers and kept it obscure from each other. The former had no reason to tell and the latter has every reason to hide. Both dispersed from the scene without concluding and with odd excuses.

Henry wasted no time and reverted the call to Mr.Chad. As the call was on its way, Henry was blank as to what to expect from this conversation. Mr.Chad, the family lawyer of Sally for a long time now is just over an acquaintance for Henry as their relationship was cordial and professional to the core. But Mr.Chad calling Henry late that evening seemed unnatural to him.

Mr.Chad answers the call ” Henry, thank you for returning the call. I tried to call Sally but she is unreachable and I am afraid I couldn’t wait till tomorrow. So, I had to give trouble you at this hour” his words had a tone of unmistakable urgency to them.

“That’s fine, please tell me, what’s the matter” replied Henry.

“After your father-in-law passed away, as a legal advisor and the lawyer of the family I am entrusted with the responsibility of settling the legal issues, property settlement to be more precise” and there was a pause for fraction of seconds but long enough for Henry to raise his doubt.

“huh” Henry cleared his throat and continued “Settlement? I thought property belong to Sally as a sole legal heiress of her father’s properties and valuables. Am I missing something?” Henry raised his eyebrows as he slightly exclaimed over this new development out of his knowledge.

“Can you drop by at this moment? I could have waited till tomorrow but I have a flight to catch early in the morning and my return is quite ambiguous considering the nature of my visit. So I would like to explain few things now, so that proceedings become easier in my physical absence and for everything else I will be available virtually”, Mr.Chad concluded and awaited Henry’s response. And it was affirmative. It was going to be a long night for Henry.

Meanwhile Josh called back his caller but received no answer. He called Sally thrice but met with the same response and was directed to the message box. He was in a fix now whether he should go check her or not; whether Henry would be there or not by the time he reaches; if yes, then his entry might trigger or add to the unnecessary tension to their strained relationship as Henry’s visit to him was quite eloquent in itself of how things got complicated between them. Josh tried to convince himself that that call might be accidental. He went back to home with his head clustered and suffocating with voices and thoughts. He badly wanted to call it a day. As soon as he reached home, he hit straight to the bar and made a drink. His poison was Glenfiddich which he liked on the rocks for himself and gulped it at one go. He repeated. Four drinks down, and he snoozed off.

Even in his inebriated state his mind was mobbed by strange visions. A wailing girl, people shouting at each other and amidst them Sally pacing up and down the stairs in a rush and saying “come I have to show you something. You didn’t believe me but the thing is you didn’t know me well, don’t get surprised or shocked” and there was a lot of commotion.

Around 1 AM his phone rang incessantly that shook him out of his slumber. It was Henry again. The moment Josh answered, rubbing his eyes, a wave of shock jolted him out of his sleep. “Tracy is dead, please come soon” Henry was in an utter state of shock himself.

Josh rushed wasting no time. Lizzy alias Tracy was lying in a pool of blood, shot twice in the chest and abdomen. His stare instantly shifted to Sally who drew herself to a corner in the kitchen, petrified and pale. And he looked for Henry who stood next to her, equally motionless.

Breaking the silence that blanketed the entire house sirens were approaching the house (Josh intimated 911 as soon he set out to reach Sally’s).

On hearing the fast-approaching emergency vehicles, Sally finally spoke in a panic-stricken tone “I did nothing, it was Anne that prompted me. Otherwise, Tracy would have taken him away (gesturing towards Henry). I swear she was here, please tell them not to punish me. It was Anne. Anne!! Anne!! Where are you? Come show yourself” She was screaming hysterically, clinging to Henry and pleading with Josh. Josh felt as if he is still walking through his dream as it was Sally whom he saw in his strange vision.

And soon the police entered, surrounding the crime scene…

I Sense A Presence XXI

As Henry’s name flashed on screen Josh was a bit confused. “What could have driven him to call me at this hour. Hope Sally is fine, hope everything is fine between them” and amidst such thoughts clouding his mind Josh picked up the phone.

“Hello” Josh answered the call.

“Hi Josh, Henry this side. Is it a right time to talk to you? Even if it’s not I am afraid I have to speak to you before it’s too late” Henry’s words had quite a restless tone to them, well at least this time around which is unusual of him for the kind of personality he is.

While Josh still in his elements and a stark contrast to Henry on the other side softly said “Yes, I am hearing, go on”

“Are you seeing Sally?” Henry minced no words as he continued “if it’s the case I am ready to be out of your way but want to know the truth”.

Josh chuckled at the weird question as he very well knew what might have ignited the same “Really Henry! I never thought this would be so easy. No hue and cry, no possessiveness, not even a hint of feeling emasculated at the verge of being rejected or looked over for the kind of GENTLEMEN the world has been a spectator too you are indeed a rare specie. Did you speak to Sally about the sacrifice you intend to make ? ”

Henry wasn’t feebleminded not to catch the sarcasm of Josh’s words. “I am man enough to see and accept things as they unfold” said Henry in a firm voice and continued “can you meet me now? I am at the fountain park near your place”.

“Ok, I am coming” Josh disconnected the call wasting no time. In ten minutes he reached the spot. He meant business when he greeted Henry with “when did the idea of giving up on Sally dawn upon you. Is it sacrifice or harbinger to an unexpected end?”

Josh paused to let Henry speak. “Well I want Sally to be happy. Since we moved here she is drifting away from me or say moving closer to you. What I saw today…” Henry fumbled and was immediately interrupted by Josh “What? What did you see? What’s the catch Henry? Is it really about Sally or TRACY has a role in your over the top altruism? Anyways did you speak to Sally about your decision to sacrifice your relationship?

Henry sighed “speaking to Sally!! How do you think it’s possible with her volatile self. Josh, I don’t understand how to put it, even if I struggle my way with my words and feelings I am sure you won’t understand. But one thing that is beyond my comprehension, what’s with Tracy, what are you hinting at?

Josh chuckled, put his hand around Henry and guided him towards a bench in the park. “Come let’s sit and talk. Forget about Sally for I know her really well and I can actually fathom to give you a benefit of doubt if it was really about Sally and her unpredictable nature. At this moment I am really interested in talking about Tracy. Is Tracy her real name? I hope it is and I really wish that you are not holding any cards close to your heart. In case you don’t know Tracy have an uncanny resemblance with a convict who went missing in thin air. I shared it with Sally, didn’t she tell you?

A long pause ensued. Henry was visibly uncomfortable and hesitant, yet he decided to spill the beans of things he know for he needed a face off with truth. “See Josh, I don’t know what are you talking about but I would like to confess that I concealed a truth from everyone’s glare. Her name isn’t Tracy indeed. When I saw her for the first time, I reached out to her and addressed her as I used to during our school days. But to my utter disbelief she told me that she has severed ties from her past including her name. She told me that she was being harassed constantly by a man called Manny and he happened to have strong connections in the police department. Her world completely collapsed under fear and abuse. And when she lost her mother she decided to move out of Texas with a new identity. Anything that reminded her of her past haunted her, so is her name. That’s why TRACY. That’s the reason I was hesitant to meet you as I know you were posted in that zone. I was only trying to protect my childhood friend”.

Josh was all attentive to what Henry was narrating. And by the time Henry finished a strange veil of calmness was clad over his face that was missing since he started his conversation with Josh. It was Josh’s turn to drive the conversation – either towards an end or through another round of interrogation. Placing his right hand pointer on his lips while his thumb firmly held his chin up, eyes closed and Josh sighed “hmmm” as if he understood and bought the entire story Henry just mentioned. “By the way what’s her actual name?” Josh asked with an “obvious” pinch of curiosity.

“Lizzy” Henry replied. And it fitted the bill of Josh’s intuition/ doubts about this beautiful, mysterious lady around Sally. It’s time for action And before Josh could say anything their respective phones buzzed. Sally was calling Josh while Mr.Samuel Chad, Sally’s family lawyer was trying to reach Henry. One glance at the screen and now they were looking at each other, a bit alarmed!!

I Sense A Presence XX

There was an awkward silence that enveloped the room. Emotions (rather anxiety) simmered in hearts. Before that silence could attain a monstrous shape Sally ran to Henry embracing him and pouring her heart, to be precise her fears to him.

“Someone is trying to kill me. Someone is after my life, watching me 24*7. Trust me, please!!!” Clinging to Henry as Sally spoke, words seem to be gushes of streams of her inner turmoil.

“Sshh honey, I am here, no one gonna hurt you. Calm down love, I won’t let anything happen to you. We will see through it” Henry spoke as he caressed Sally’s hair to pacify her. But warmth seemed to be missing in his words and a momentary glance at Josh had some other equations wrapped up in itself.

“But I wasn’t expecting you” quipped Sally all of a sudden and that shifted his attention towards Sally again while Josh was still looking at Henry. And Sally continued her questions “and how you ended up coming from the backyard, and Tracy!! There was a vibe of suspicion in her tone.

“He wanted to surprise you ” Tracy (rolling her eyes) finally intervened who till now was a mute spectator of the entire chaotic scene.

Tracy’s presence has always evoked unpleasant feelings in Sally. Tracy’s intervention ruffled the same feathers in Sally who snapped back at her “a backdoor entry is more of a shock than a surprise. I deserve an explanation, don’t I?” Sally was fiery that no one knew of. From awkward silence to flaring tempers, that was a complete turnaround.

Josh thought quitting the scene might result in some sort of serenity immediately. He did so, took leave, and left. Henry on the other hand didn’t have this convenient option. He invested himself in handling Sally, trying to tackle her questions and dodge her stares. And Tracy has nothing better to do but to go to her room.

Sally wasn’t done yet. Her stare followed Tracy till she went out of sight. “When will she leave our house?” asked Sally in a tone just a decibel higher than a whisper yet cold and seemingly menacing, signaling the dislike sedimented in her heart for her.

“Soon” replied Henry in a placid tone. And before Sally could further her investigation he took the initiative and tried to mellow down the tense situation with his care and caressing. “Honey let me make a cup of coffee for you. Something is bothering you and I see that but can’t see through it. Trust me” and he kissed on her forehead.

Around 9’o clock in the night:

Josh was still occupied with everything that passed throughout the day. He wanted a diversion but suddenly one more thing from the day’s minutes struck his senses – the letter !!

Crushing himself on the couch he opened the letter. It read:

Dear Diana,

Georgia finally found peace but how I wished it was amidst us. She was in pain, in deep pain which was beyond our comprehension. She wailed, she fought and she succumbed but unfortunately, she was alone. We did everything in our capacity and understanding, from prayers to rituals, everything we were told we did in a bid to drive that demon away from our child. A mother’s heart knows how excruciatingly painful it is to see her child go hungry over days, restrained by shackles, bearing the burnt of religious fanaticism as a demon drive-out exercise. She screamed in pain and I stood there just to offer my service as a hand holding a fragile, fear-stricken girl with all its might telling her to “mind her ways”. I was only a fiddle to my god-fearing husband and more than the god it was the world who he was fearing. We tried to keep things wrapped tight, so tight that we suffocated our own child. Demons still haunt us after Georgia left – demons of guilt, indecisiveness, agony, and going to stay till we are buried in our own remorse. What we thought will be our safe and beautiful abode turned out to be our castle of nightmares. Georgia always complained about a presence. Why does she have to go through it…

Josh finished an unfinished letter. Now his head was heavy with an imaginary vision of what could have transpired in that house, what happened to Georgia, demons, or something less cared and talked about. What is it?

As Josh has different concoctions cooking up in his mind the trance was broken by his buzzing phone.

Before he could pick it up it stopped but a message popped up “we need to talk right away” and the sender was Henry…..

I Sense A Presence XIX

Josh rushed to see Sally, she sounded quite disturbed. In his rush, he didn’t heed any attention towards the letter that grandam handed over to him. He simply shoved it inside his pocket.

He rang the doorbell and waited at the door. It was taking unusually long for Sally to open the door and that rendered a certain amount of curiosity and restlessness in Josh. He peeped through the windows to see if Sally is around or not. There was no trace of Sally.

As Josh turned to leave the door behind his back slowly opened. Sally was standing there with an iron bar in her hands. She firmly held yet was shivering tremendously. She was in a distorted state. She was pale and profusely perspired.

Josh wasted no time holding her as if he meant to say “I have your back”. He took her inside, made her sit, and rushed to offer her water. Just as she took a sip from the glass he asked “What happened to you Sally? What took you so long to open the door? Why are you holding this bar? You don’t look fine, tell me what happened?”.

With feeble hands, she pointed towards the staircase running down to the basement. Josh looked over his shoulder in the direction she pointed and within a moment turned to ask her what it was about.

“someone came from here, someone is here. I was attacked” Sally said in a breaking and shaky voice. “What! I didn’t get you. Attacked as in? Are you sure? I mean it might be some bad dream” Josh wanted to ascertain the situation, therefore was dismissive, to begin with.

“I was here in the hall when She tried to choke me from behind. I struggled my way to the room upstairs and called you…” And before Sally could finish the word “She” caught Josh’s attention.

“You said She, how do you know it was “She” and who was it? Do you remember anything?” Josh was now in action. But Sally’s answer this time hinted some underlying problem.

Sally in a lot more composed yet illusionary tone said “I know it’s the lady on the wall. From the first day she had an eye on me, I can feel her presence. Her presence is suffocating me”. Josh was both confused and concerned for his friend now. He looked at the wall she pointed towards to find absolutely nothing.

“There’s nothing. I think you had a sort of nightmare. You probably need some rest. First, you said there’s someone from the basement, now you are pointing towards the wall but I see nothing and no one. I hate to say this but I am finding it hard to believe you at this moment for being in a profession that trusts nothing but tangible substances” Josh struggled to put forth his stance.

Josh’s words made Sally wary and restless. There was a burst out of tears and hysteria filled out the space of the room around ” you don’t believe me!!! No one does!!! You won’t believe me even if show you these” She flashed her shoulders that had bruise marks all over.

As Josh slightly leaned over Sally to have a look at the bruises there was a noise in the backyard. Suddenly the door opens and enters Tracy along with Henry.

Both the parties are in a fix concerning the position of their counterparts.

I Sense A Presence XVIII

An unintended chuckle escaped Josh’s mouth the moment he heard the grandma saying “it is cursed”. His reaction was met with a cold shoulder and a stoic pose that had an immediate dominos effect on Josh silencing him too.

After a few seconds of silence, she resumed talking “well I see this generation tosses up everything in air that is out of their comprehension. Many things in this cosmos might not fit into your tiny realm of LOGIC but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist”. Her words did restrain Josh from being eloquent about his thoughts via his expressions. He has resolved now to let only his ears do the working. And the grandma continued.

“A house isn’t just a structure of mortar and bricks but a mirror capturing the vibes of emotions parading amidst the walls. And this house is a glass cage, beautiful from outside but stinks from the staunch of a tormented soul trapped inside” before she could continue she was interrupted by the blaring sound of a phone ringer that happened to be Josh’s. It slipped out of his mind to silence it while entering into the house and most importantly the conversation.

Silencing the phone hurriedly and slipping it into his pockets he apologized for such an unintentional unruly behaviour of his and asked “who used to live here? You were acquainted with the families who dwelled there? What nursed the commotion that this house is “cursed”? What has transpired beyond those walls? I am intrigued “. This was in a way Josh’s attempt to make the grandma talk succinctly without the buildup like that of a youtube channel credits that thrive on click baits. And seemingly he was successful in his effort.

“As a child, I remember lovely Turners once gracing that beautiful house. One of the most beautiful houses in the quarter also hosted some of the most opulent parties in the neighborhood. My grandparents had the opportunity to be on the guest list of a few of those parties. It was all hunky-dory. But things turned upside down quickly in a matter of a couple of years. Gatherings slowly dwindled and the usually chirpy atmosphere around and in the house was devoured by queer silence. The lady of the house as heard by the people fell ill and chose to remain in solitude. My grandmother tried to peep into their troubled paradise with a genuine intention of pitching in with help but all went futile. And after a few days, even the little news from the house died as if it was engulfed by a big black cloud of oblivion. And Ann died, reasons best known to the family. And after that misfortune seemed to be a permanent guest wishing every occupant thereafter. The Mark’s, The Schindler’s, The Scott’s everyone had a trail, from unpleasant to scary events driving them out. Last was the young girl Georgia whose horrifying screams were heard across the neighbourhood. Once a healthy child was reduced to a bag of bones when the family left the place. It has been almost a decade I guess when Georgia and her family left this place” Grandma paused, so did the history in her eyes.

Josh scoffed and reinitiated the conversation ” any idea where all the families are by any chance? And couldn’t I be a mere coincidence of misfortunes and mishaps? Not everything that doesn’t meet the human eye is supernatural, I am sure there will be some explanation behind these stories. Fear is as bad as any other addiction and needs rehabilitation of truth” Josh made quite a statement there.

And as he awaited Grandma’s reaction his phone vibrated, it was a call from Sally. Josh excused himself to attend the call. “Come home as soon as possible” requested Sally in a rather shaky and petrified tone.

Josh was in a rush at the next moment. Just as he reached the door he was stopped by grandma ” too many coincidences in or around something spells phenomena, my experience says so. Hope you prove me wrong dear” and handed him a letter addressed to her by Georgia’s mother. “Hope it might help you,” said the grandma.

With just one glance at the tattered letter and a smile on his face, Josh left the place slipping the letter in his pocket.

I Sense A Presence XVII

Josh left the cafe with his head full of disbelief about how his friend got entangled in utter nonsense; with a tug of war engaging within whether to step back or go ahead, he reached his office. As he was exchanging pleasantries with his colleagues, one of his friends casually showed an online video about “haunted/cursed buildings” of the history. Many stories woven around those buildings led to their abandonment and not to mention how they featured on the bucket list of many adventure seekers. But what happened to those adventure lovers was not revealed. How once a piece of beautiful architecture is now secluded and scary, the roots to be searched in the numerous folk tales, rumours aired, the history and a few pair of eyes that witnessed silently a belief being built. “Do you believe in these stories?” one colleague from the group asked the man who was showing the video. ” We are seekers, all we need is proof and witness. Don’t try to cross-check my beliefs, the reason why I showed you this video is that it is better than those TikTok videos” and a loud laugh ensued.

Just as he was settling in his chair to began his day at work his phone chimed. It was Sally who texted him the real estate agency details. He was in a fix now about how shall he go about this job at the hand.

Josh was on a personal mission now that meant he have to trend rather carefully. He was not convinced about why he agreed to embark on this journey into the past. Though he got the details of the real estate agency that facilitated this deal Josh wasn’t sure if this approach is going to dig out the truth. He was sceptical, being police doesn’t mean deriving information would be easy, and considering the reason behind his investigation is quite bizarre. So he decided to trend a different path for his investigation.

“Agencies, department, files – they are all about dimensions, commissions, census, houses but I need to peep into a home. I need to search for a lens that witnessed the time very closely. I need that good old neighbour who is a witness to different transitions that transpired behind those walls” Josh thought.

As he was walking lost in his thoughts, he accidentally bumped into an old friend who coincidentally happened to move into the same neighbourhood as Sally’s recently. Josh didn’t recognize him first but it was the other way round. “My Gracious God I never thought of seeing you again Josh, how are you?” Ken was all grin. It took a few moments to recollect and recognize and he did exchange pleasantries. “Tell me what are you doing in this neighbourhood?” asked an excited Ken. Josh fumbled a bit “ahh, friend, house, buy” as his mind was busy with different permutations and combinations about the secret mission which he embarked on rather unwillingly and unconvinced.

“Never mind, come let’s go to my place. There’s so much to catch up” Ken almost pulled Josh and the latter just followed.  They soon reached Ken’s place.

As he ascended the stairs leading to the doorstep his brain was on the verge of an explosion. Ironically and more or less funnily tales that he heard in his childhood from his grandmother were doing rounds, tales about supernatural phenomena, ghosts, out-of-this-world creatures, and everything entailing were told in abundance along with stories of kings, knights, fairies, and everything in between. He chuckled and waved his head in disbelief both at the stories and why he was doing this after all. But apparently he was all attentive to Ken’s excitement and tales full of fun and froly from their childhood.

Ken repeated the question “what brought you here my friend?”. To this Josh in a more consolidated tone said “was here to see a friend of mine who lives 15 minutes away from here. She actually wants to sell her house as her husband is winding up his business from this city. So she wanted to know if I would be interested in the property.  How long you have been here? Can you tell me about the neighbourhood, that particular property, I mean would it be a good purchase worth the money and effort?” Josh has cast his dice, also mentioned the address he was talking about.

 “Oh, I see. Anyways I don’t live here as much as I love to be but I am sure my grandmother might give you some insights about the area and houses in her 4-5 km radius. She spent her entire life here and yes a very good neighbor who knows her neighbors and neighborhood well (Ken winked)” and he left to bring his grandmother.

Josh sat in the hall as his eyes took a tour of the same. The walls were adorned with numerous photographs that aged with the walls. His wait was over with the entry of Ken’s grandmother. For a 90+ woman, she was quite agile. Standing on her feet, walked with almost no support. She aged well. A brief introduction and Ken announced the purpose of his friend’s visit.

As soon as she heard the address the first thing that escaped her mouth was “that’s cursed!”…

I Sense A Presence XVI

Sally was at this moment lost yet continued “Josh, I know you would find it insane and call me one but I Sense A Presence in my home. Something seems unworldly, observing me, following me. Some days I get up gasping for breath and sometimes I am covered with bruises all over and some days… I don’t know how to explain this. There’s a diary that I found in my basement and as I took a plunge into it, I found myself drowning in the world of Mrs.Anne Turner. Every incident she mentioned there found a place in my life. And she too had another woman in her life and I have Tracy, though I am not sure yet who is she. It seems like a prophecy. This coincidence, if it is by any chance is blowing my mind. Are you getting what I am trying to say?” Sally fixed her pleading gaze at Josh.

But her words put Josh in a fix. Had it been some other he would have easily laughed off them but knowing Sally and her vulnerable state of mind he decided to trend rather carefully. “Look Sally what you are saying might be just your illusion considering the traumatic incident you just had been through. Have you discussed this with Henry?  I think you need some help, I mean some consultation. Look I understand what you are going through and I also know that it might be difficult for you to open up about the issues haunting you. I am glad you chose me to pour out your heart and in the position of being your true friend, I believe it’s my responsibility to guide you better and in a good direction. We usually don’t talk about the fears dwelling in us as we, in particular, fear the stigma associated with them. I think we need a different perception at this point. What do say, Sally?” Josh put the ball in Sally’s court and awaited her response.

Sally sighed heavily “Josh I can’t bring it to Henry’s notice. He already had enough of my madness. He might not show his disbelief and dismay just to comfort me. I don’t want that. I don’t want this crazy mystery to suck Henry in. That leaves only one person to whom I can confide in, it’s you! But if you think my fears are baseless and are a result of any mental illness, then I have to set off my journey alone” and she started getting up to leave.

“Hey Sally listen, I am with you, trust me” Josh placed his hand over Sally’s and gestured for her to sit for a while, and continued. “But what’s with the time, I didn’t get you. What exactly do you want me to do?” Josh had to convince Sally that she can trust him.

Sally was now assured of being heard and gave an insight of what she had in her mind “Henry isn’t in town for three days, that’s the time I have to unearth this puzzle I am entangled in. I want you to get every possible detail of this house, it’s past that you have to gaze at. Who lived there, what happened there, I want to know everything. I know I am sounding insane but my heart says I might find answers in the past of this house. Unworldly or otherwise my world is hinged to it”.

Josh was quite unconvinced, he was more eloquent now to persuade Sally out of her illusions without apparently dismissing her. “Dear I think your priority should be to know more about Tracy who is most probably a criminal off the radar. I am surprised you are not perturbed by the mere thought of it. Let’s focus on Tracy first, I am sure her presence in your house will explain many things. First, we have to be sure about her real identity” Josh attempted to divert Sally’s attention for he was a practical police officer.

Sally was unmoved as if she heard nothing. Josh knows what does that means. “Which agency helped you with this house deal? But how long will this take I can’t promise and Tracy is not off my books yet” Josh made his stance clear.  Sally left the cafe convinced leaving Josh introspecting her words, his promise to her, the very idea of if the past can haunt someone’s present (which in his mind seemed quite foolish to him and next to impossible going by the explanation and strange request made by Sally).  The proceedings of the day opened up a pandora of all the tales of unusual occurrences that his grandmother and other elders of the family used to claim that they have witnessed or heard of.  Josh chuckled for a moment “How on earth people believe in such things, so illogical” and left the cafe on his mission to unearth the truth.

To be continued…