I Sense A Presence XV


After Sally called Josh in a hurried manner and hung up on him he kept calling her but she wouldn’t respond. She was taking time to get back to her senses from a horrific nightmare she just witnessed.

After a string of calls Josh left a message “what happened”. Sally consolidated herself and simply reverted “10:30 AM at any cost. Don’t ask anything now” and hit the sack switching off her phone. After a brief struggle and with the help of mild tranquilizers Sally did doze off.

She got up around 7 in the morning, checked for Henry on her bedside as she didn’t speak to him about the chaos and horrific vision she experienced yesterday. And before she could say anything Henry who arrived from the bathroom after a shower, came to Sally and as usual planted a kiss on her forehead “good morning love” he whispered. He seemed to be in a hurry.

Sally’s gaze followed him in the room as he was getting ready much earlier than his usual routine. “What’s the matter? Any emergency? Where are you going? You seem to be hustled?” Sally asked.

Henry : Honey, I have a sudden client meeting to attend and will be out of the town for three days . There might be an extension too depending upon the circumstances . Wanted to tell you yesterday but you were sleeping. Didn’t want to disturb you. See you soon honey.

And Henry left hurriedly even before Sally could say something.

Sally was silent yet her silence was contemplating something. There was a lot of chatter in her head as she laid back once again on her bed. Fog of memories, unusual occurrences that happened off late began to seize her mind. Faces were flashing in and fading out. Probably the tranquilizer effect. But suddenly two frames collided in her mind – Anne Turner’s mystery from the tottered pages and Tracy flashing her conspicuous smile. That effect was enough to get Sally back to her senses. She checked her phone to see what time it was.

9:15 it was already. Sally sprinted like a deer to get ready as she was supposed to meet Josh. In no time she was in her car and drove towards Charlie’s cafe and restaurant, a resto-cafe they decided to meet at. Meeting at police station could make things awkward so they decided otherwise.

Josh arrived 10 minutes past 10:30. Tucking hi shades into his shirt’s pocket he waved at Sally entering the place.

“Have you placed an order or no?” Josh asked Sally looking at the Menu at the table.

“Yeah our regular from college days” Sally answered Josh and quickly moved to Tracy’s matter.

“How on earth did you identity that Tracy isn’t Tracy in such a short span of time? What’s the issue after all?” Sally in her usual inquisitive tone questioned Josh.

Picking up coffee that the waiter just served, sipping it Josh asked ” Dear there’s a reason why I am in police force. Have you ever noticed the peculiar birth mark in her left eye and on left temple? And besides the face quite closely resembles to Lizzy that I mentioned to you”.

“Birth mark?” Sally rephrased quite puzzled. “When did you notice, except for eyes I never noticed anything else” Sally shrugged her shoulders in denial.

“Well, chances are minute to non existent that you could have noticed anything as the birth mark I am talking about is quite frail now. Unless you have seen her before it’s hard to make out. I sensed her discomfort when I told her I might have seen her before. She immediately covered her temple area on some pretext. She is definitely doing some sort of cover up. I vividly remember how she was caught earlier for possession of drugs by police. There wasn’t a slightest remorse on her face. She was last seen when she left the Hemington prison premises to be changed to a new prison. After that was never seen never heard of, simply never reached the other prison…. ” Josh was still continuing when Sally interrupted him.

“What if you are mistaken and she is not the one you are looking for. How can you be so sure” Sally countered Josh.

“Hmm, may be I am mistaken. In fact would love to be proven wrong here as I don’t want a criminal in your proximity. Just wait and watch” Josh replied to Sally.

“I wish I could wait. I need to unravel mysteries before they unsettle me. Time is running out” said Sally with a deadpan look on her face.

“They? Mysteries? Time? What’s on your mind Sally, speak up” Josh’s tone had depth and pause this time…..

To be continued……

I Sense A Presence XIV


Sally rushed to the door. It was jammed. Exerted pressure both with her hands and her vocals. “Open up damn” she struggled with the door. Kicked it, levered the knob and it separated from the door. It left her baffled and worried. She didn’t had her phone with her, no one was at home and with the diminishing daylight it dawned upon her that she was trapped.

She settled down at the feet of the chair positioned in the centre of that dingy room. Silence and darkness were slowly getting themselves acquainted with her. Her fingers caught hold of iron shackles tied to the chair.

As she was getting a feel of them a drop trickled down her neck from the backside. She turned and raised her head to see what it was. In the faint brightness of streetlights basking inside that basement through the ventilator it was hard to ascertain what it was. She didn’t pay much attention to it and walked towards the light filtering through the bars of the ventilator. She sensed huge shadows looming over her. And in a moment she realized she couldn’t move further. Something was dragging her back. In a jiffy she turned to find that the shackles she was moments ago fiddling with now bound her. As she tried to free herself the door sprang open and a woman with a knife charged at her. Her face was masked. Before Sally could unmask her she stabbed Sally with vigour and was laughing in a demonic way. Sally collapsed wailing and wriggling in pain. Her shrieks tore apart the blanket of silence that room was embracing till that moment.

Sally woke up in a jolted state. She didn’t realize that she slipped into sleep when she settled near the chair. Her hands raced to reach her abdomen It was an illusion, a dream, a gruesome one. As she was perplexed and gasping for her breath the jammed door did open.

Standing in front was Tracy with a knife in her hand.

She approached the petrified Sally and knelt down on her knees and peeped into Sally’s eyes and said ” you fear me right?” whiled holding knife close to Sally’s face.

Sally by this time was stone cold sans any emotion. Silence ensued again before Tracey broke out in hysterical laugh and handed over her hand to lift up Sally. “I just came home and heard you screaming and tracked you down here. And this knife is to cut… Apples…Red as Blood, I was doing the same when I heard you”.

Both of them climbed up the stairs. Sally couldn’t take her eyes off Tracy. The dream, Tracy and knife still playing havoc in and with her mind. She was struggling hard to divert her mind and posed an unmindful question ” where’s Henry? Isn’t he with you?”

Tracy smiled and said ” you aren’t as naive as you seem to be, isn’t it?” Their gaze was locked in awkwardness before they reached the common area between their bedrooms. With a good night they retired to their respective rooms.

Sally rushed and shut herself in her room and called Josh. ” See you tomorrow” she concluded without giving him time to respond. Sally’s heart was racing…….

To be continued..

I Sense A Presence XIII


Night passed in restlessness but Sally chose not to open up first. She awaited for Henry to make the first move and enquire about the last night as that would give a confirmation to her doubts if she was being watched over by him. But nothing of that sort happened. And the day began to roll out as usual. And Tracy too didn’t exhibit any change in her behavior, it was cold yet cordial as it used to be.

At the breakfast table Sally intentionally mentioned about Josh, his police diaries, fugitives on run, tricks they adhere to escape from the trap, adventurous chase downs. She was playing a bluff. She wanted to see Tracy’s reaction as she couldn’t have directly questioned her in the absence of any evidence. Sally was suddenly over friendly with Tracy.

She turned to Tracy and said “You know what he narrated so many stories to me. I was just dumbfound. Real life incidents sometimes could be more stranger and unbelievable than the fictional tales. He mentioned about a strange case, there was a girl who was caught with drugs, charged and after spending sometime in the custody puff.. she was gone… Vanished into thin air!!! Police simply couldn’t trace her. Bizarre, isn’t it? ” (Pauses with a conniving smirk.)

Though Sally spoke at an unusual pace but her eyes kept a close track of every minute change in the facial expressions of Tracy. She didn’t utter a word, didn’t show exasperation, didn’t exclaimed in disbelief and her face had a veil of stoic poise but her gaze was lowered. It almost seemed she was avoiding meeting the questioning stare of Sally. And Sally was observing, and somewhat enjoying the awkward silence of Tracy.

Henry whereas interrupted Sally “I am sure Josh got many escapades in his kitty. I would love to hear them at leisure but some other time honey, now we shall make a move” and smilingly left the breakfast table and planted a kiss on Sally’s forehead. Tracy too excused herself cordially. With a plastic grin on her face Sally watched them leave.

As soon as they left Sally called Josh. But she reached his mailbox. So she left a message:

“Hey Josh, this is Sally. Can we meet at the earliest possible day? It’s urgent”

And she got busy winding up chores and after that she proceeded to her room. Alone in the room her mind incessantly ran towards the scribblings that rested in her bedside drawer. She was intrigued at the coincidence of how details of a diary are intertwined with her own life. Her fingers ran through the pages as her mind spoke to her “I am not sure why I am doing this, how on earth is it even possible? Two complete strangers, different time zones yet similar lives. Is it the history repeating itself or a prophecy? If I share this with anyone they will call me mad. Am I thinking too much? There’s something about this… This diary, Anne Turner, this house…..I..I can sense a presence. Argh.. this is only in my head, nothing else” she had so many convoluted thoughts.

To her surprise all she could find in the diary was torn pages, struck out words. The last thing that was mentioned was – I was trapped in my own house!!

That raised Sally’s curiousity. She grabbed that diary and marched towards the basement to see if it had any more sequels. The basement is still an unexplored landmine for her, especially that room from where she found Anne Turner.

She set her foot again in that room. Sensing every inch of it with her fingers – The racks, dirty clothes, the shackles, the slight rays of light falling on the chair like it was in the spotlight. Sally sat on the chair and leaned back. There was strong wind blowing outside, she could feel it from the ventilator.

Thad! The door closed with a bang. She rose and ran to open the door, but it was jammed. Hours passed, storm did die so did the sunlight. There was darkness all around her and Sally was Trapped in her own house…….

** to be continued

I Sense A Presence XII


Sally couldn’t believe her ears. She jumped out of the bed and left the room in a hurry lest not to disturb Henry.

“Are you sure? You better be serious, I am in no mood for your pranks Josh” warned a shocked Sally yet keeping decibels quite low.

“Prank!! At this hour!! I thought you know me better than this. I agree that I goofed up by calling at this hour but my suspicion about having seen her before isn’t wrong at all. Her awkward hesitant behavior in our short meeting if at all you have noticed especially when I told her that it seems it isn’t our first meeting kept me pondering over and over – Who is she? Did I actually see her before? Some flashes from past about a certain case started hoovering around in my mind. Once I reached the station, the first thing that I did was to access the records across different cities in the country. There I saw photograph of Lizzy, a 20 years old girl, caught and charged with possession of drugs.”

As Sally was quite intrigued in what Josh has to say she felt a presence watching and listening to her. She hung up on Josh hurriedly and turned to see who was there. She could find no one. She rushed to her bedroom to see if it was Henry. She found him in sound sleep. “Was it Tracy? Is it possible?” She thought to herself as she once again found herself in anxiety ridden situation.

“Talk to you later” she sent a message in jiffy

To calm herself down and divert herself and get a grip on her nerves she chose to resort to her new found interest, reading the diary of Anne Turner. And she began restlessly:

“Vile is an understatement. Her eyes are keepers of secrets, secrets so dark and devastating. Her smirk is venomous and her silence is a silent catastrophe that’s waiting to knock us over”

Those words churned a whirlpool of emotions in Sally. A realisation suddenly dawned upon her ” is it a mere coincidence?” She asked aloud in her head at the turn of events in her life and the notes she was reading – striking similarities. Mysterious aura of Tracy, Her own bruised arms, inebriated Tracy, Josh expressing his doubts about the identity of Tracy – everything flashed in front of Sally’s eyes. She was lost in the fluttering pages and was perspiring heavily.

Suddenly shocked by a hand that jolted her from behind. It was Henry.

“What happened? Not slept yet? What are you reading now?” Henry looking at the diary in Sally’s hands.

“N..N..Nothing, I thought you were sleeping, in deep sound slumber” Sally’s tone was a mix of anxiety, intrigue and suspicion. And she continued “Did I disturb you?” She asked fixing her gaze on Henry’s face.

Henry chuckled and said “Indeed I was sleeping but the continuous buzzing sound of your phone disturbed me , I would say a little”.

Sally realised her phone was not in the silent mode she usually activates at night and was at this point not sure if Henry heard her conversation or not. “Oh I am sorry today I forgot to switch on the aeroplane mode. My apologies for the disturbance” Sally put on fake smile so as to not to give him an insight of her state of mind at this very moment.

Henry calmly tossed to the other side and said “it’s ok Honey. But seems someone is really restless to send out notifications at this hour. Anyways good night darling”

And Sally kept staring at Henry in utter confusion. She had many questions and was battling for answers. That might passed in absolute silence to what meets eye but a storm was raging inside Sally, swaying her strongly.

I Sense A Presence XI


“Not for once he cared to know the details of Josh. Is it trust or indifference? This man never fails to puzzle me” Sally kept thinking for a while as her eyes followed Henry before he vanished from her sight.

As he went away she picked up her phone and instantaneously called Josh.

“Hi Josh, Sally here. Henry told me about your call. Tell me” Sally stretched herself a bit as she started speaking to Josh.

“Are you ok or it is your normal regime to get up around this time” Josh had a pinch of sarcasm mixed with concern in his tone. “Actually saw you a bit worried yesterday so called to check upon you” Josh mentioned his reason to call her.

“Yeah I am fine, it’s just that couldn’t sleep last night, nothing to really worry about” Sally replied. After a brief chit chat she invited Josh to home on weekend since he is in the same city, to which he cordially agreed too but instead of a weekend a weekday was agreed upon.

As she ended the call Henry entered the room to check upon Sally. He found her to be in a clam state of mind. He sat beside her, held her hand compassionately and asked ” is there anything that is tormenting you?” looking deeply into her eyes. Sally sighed deeply “can you read my mind?” and silence ensued as they kept looking into each other’s eyes and Sally broke down in tears. Yet not a word said as Henry embraced her in his arms and let her drench him in her vulnerabilities and fears flowing through her eyes. This type of emotional breakdown was not new to him.

After a while she was tranquil and announced to Henry about Josh. Resting on his chest, fiddling her fingers with his “Honey, I have invited my friend Josh to our place for lunch. He was my senior in college and now in police department. He moved to this city recently. Though I wanted him to be here on weekend but due to the nature of his work he decided to come over on Thursday. He will join us for lunch, so I would love you to be around that day.

Henry heard her and drew back his arm that was resting around her on her shoulder. Sally noticed this gesture, yet was waiting for his response looking at him. “Honey I would love to welcome him but Thursday would be a tough call for me. Anyways, you guys carry on, I shall meet him some other day. Since he is in the same city we shall meet more often” Henry replied but his usual warmth was a bit amiss. But Sally didn’t mind that. She didn’t want to overthink especially after that insane night she had.

*****************

Thursday (around 12:30 PM) :

Josh arrived with white carnations, Sally’s favourite flowers. “You still remember!!!” Exclaimed Sally as she warmly welcomed Josh into her house. She apologized for the absence of Henry on this lunch. “Sorry Josh, how I wish you could meet Henry, my husband today. But his work kept him engaged..” and before she could conclude Josh picked up “and the other day it was you, give the poor chap space lady” and winked. This is the Josh she knew over the years – witty and sarcastic.

They had lunch and walked down the memory lane for a while. And then the conversations returned to the present. “How long it has been in this part of the city?” Josh casually asked. “Been here for a couple of months now. Father’s demise made it difficult for me to stay in our old house. I was losing myself. So Henry proposed to move out, so here we are. But this house seems to have some character. Do you know that I discovered a patch on the kitchen wall that resembled to face of a woman, it scared me to no ends before it was painted” Sally shared her experience and offered tour of the house to Josh.

“It’s beautiful” quipped Josh, looking at every nook and corner he was shown. He was soon taken to the basement and to the very room where Sally found the diary. “Woah!! This house as surely seem to have a character or two looking at this basement or this is your preparation for the Halloween?” Josh cracked a joke looking at the basement that had a bizarre vibe to it.

Both had a good laugh about it. It was 5:30 in the evening when Josh received an emergency notice to report at the station. He left hurriedly. But came back in about an hour as he forgot his wallet at Sally’s place.

This time both Henry and Tracy were present and were formally introduced by Sally. The instant reaction of Josh while shaking hands with Tracy was that of déja vu “I strongly feel that this is not our first meeting”. To this Tracy rolled her eyes and smiled sheepishly. She was a beautiful woman after all and such remarks not new to her. Sally was a bit surprised at this behavior of her friend though but she dismissed further pondering.

Josh left.

**************

Around 11:00PM Sally’s phone vibrated. It was Josh. “I have a news for you. This is about Tracy. I was not wrong. I have met her before. She isn’t Tracy Tucker but Lizzy – a small time drug peddler” Josh broke the news.

“WHAT” Sally in shock…..

I Sense A Presence X


Sally’s gaze was fixed on the diary but feet petrified. She stood at the window all night long as a motionless statue but her mind was raging. There were tornadoes, volcanoes, whirlpools swirling, erupting and devastating her from within. She wanted to cry, shout, scream but it seemed as if something caged her at this moment. Panic attacks aren’t new to Sally, her emotionally vulnerable nature have always put her on the receiving end.

Hours passed and it was dawn. Henry woke up around 6 AM and was terrified for a moment to see a motionless and emotionless Sally standing at the window staring at him without battling an eyelid. It seemed as if she is possessed.

“Are you Ok honey?” Henry quizzed as he got from the bed to get a hold of Sally. But before he could touch her she collapsed. Her body couldn’t take more.

“Sally!!” Screamed Henry catching her. He lifted her to the bed, placed her body comfortably. Meanwhile Tracy entered their room as she heard Henry screaming.

“I heard you screaming, what happened? What happened to Sally?” Tracy asked as she looked at unconscious Sally.

“I don’t know, when I woke up I found her standing at the window, looking pale and ghostly. When I tried to reach her she collapsed” explained Henry.

Tracy without furthering the discussion or showing any concern asked Henry if he would be going to office today or shall she start without him.

Henry gave a stern look to Tracy but cordially replied “gonna take a leave today, can’t leave Sally in this condition. And to think otherwise is a stupidity to say the least”.

To that reply Tracy walks up to Sally, settles beside her and gently carassess her hair and says “yeah, she will need a lot of that care now (emphasising on the last two words). Ok I shall take your leave now” and she left the room and Henry returned to Sally. As he was attending Sally, Tracy turned her head once more to get a glimpse of them over her shoulder. She had a smirk on her face.

Around 2 PM Sally woke up, struggled to get up straight as her head was in immense pain and felt dizzy. Henry at once dashed to her to help her. But even in such misery she was cold to the concern that Henry showed. He noticed that at once.

“Look I explained myself yesterday itself that how Tracy ended up at dinner with my client. To accept it or scrutinize my words is your call. I can handle your unwelcoming, cold, suspicious behavior towards me. That’s not my concern, people do change. This is surely not you, I mean not the one I know or have known. My worry is what or who is changing you” and he left Sally to ponder over his words as he got busy arranging lunch for her.

Resting her head on the pillow she turned to her left with Henry’s words now echoing in her head. She thought “he is not completely wrong. Women around Henry isn’t a new sight to me but I have never found it awkward or untoward or say never looked at it in that perspective where I could doubt his loyalty towards me. He gave his explanation, then why I am not able to process it. Am I really getting influenced, is there anything that is taking a toll on my common sense and understanding of circumstances”. She was immersed in her thoughts while looking at the diary as Henry entered the bedroom with lunch. She was so lost in her thoughts that “adventures and miseries” of Anne Turner couldn’t magnetize Sally to pick and turn to read the next turn of events in her life.

Sally and Henry had lunch in utter silence. As Henry got up to take back the lunch set up to the kitchen a sorry escaped Sally’s lips. That was nothing more than a whisper but did reach Henry’s notice. He simply smiled and nodes and turned towards the door to leave.

But before leaving he once again paused at the threshold “by the way honey I forgot to tell you a guy called Josh called when you were asleep”.

This made Sally a bit uncomfortable as she never disclosed about Josh to Henry, though she has been in touch with him for quite a some time now. “Oh Josh! Wh..what he was saying? She enquired in an inquisitive yet shaky tone.

“He asked you to call once you are awake, nothing in particular. Call him” Henry gestured to give a call and left. He left Sally in a guilt ride by not asking Who, Where, What…….

I Sense A Presence IX


Josh didn’t ask anything further and Sally left.

Josh knew Sally for quite a sometime now. He has seen her sensitive side, he has seen how she could hesitate to empty her heart and needed persuasion to vocalise her emotions and thoughts. A tiff with one of her best friend over her boyfriend whom Sally thought wasn’t right for her , left Sally disarrayed for weeks. It took lot of insistence by her other friends that included Josh as well to pull her out of the shell she has drawn herself into. As their paths crossed each other after years that old image of Sally loomed large in front of Josh as the petite figure of Sally diminished.

“Hmm, she is unsettled again” he sighed and retreated to his office.

Sally drove back with her head and heart full of the convict she met at the police station. His demonic demeanor invaded her thoughts . Cold sweat trickled down her spine as she rushed through the empty roads surrounded by dense woods. She was driving at such a speed as if someone or something was chasing her on those desolate streets. As Sally was lost in her incoherent thoughts “THUD” something hit the speeding car so hard that for a moment it shook the car. The tyres made a screeching sound bringing the car to a halt and Sally got down to see what was it.

She could find nothing but a trail of blood running towards the woods. “Gosh Sally What have you done!” She exclaimed and held her forehead in disbelief. She wanted to check as she inched few steps further in the direction of the blood into the woods. But the very sight of blood, deserted road had made her put off her plans and run towards her haven – her home while she apologised for the unknown creature that she hurt in her thoughts.

As Sally reached home she got a call from Henry. “Darling have a dinner with client, will be late tonight” and he hung up.

Sally quickly retreated to her bedroom. She needed a strong distraction from the tornado of negative emotions and thoughts she was experiencing at that very moment. And her eyes showed her a way out, the diary was still lying there. She picked up and continued.

…. you chose to trade them with a charade. Charade of emotions being reciprocated.

“Interesting” Sally thought asshe turned pages and continued to read.. your attention short lived, affection faded and admiration died towards me. We are now strangers in the guise of a relationship.

Page turns ….. I saw you snuggling with that witch in those sheets that still has my imprint all over. Can anything else be more painful than to see your heart being torn apart by someone who dwells in there…..

Sally felt for the woman as she got a peek through through these ragged piece of papers. As she was sympathising with the stranger she was reading about she heard faint giggling sound of a woman. She went close to her window as she was sure that it was from outside.

She was metted with a sight of bewilderment. It was Tracy, in an inebriated state and that was not the case of concern for Sally. It was her closeness to Henry that made Sally’s heart pound faster. She is a beautiful woman after all!!

Henry helped Tracy reached her room as she giggled and blabbered throughout. As he turned back, was taken aback by Sally who stood behind him.

“Oh my God! You scared the hell out of me Sally!” exclaimed Henry, loosening his tie and making his way to the bedroom. “Is it? How? Have I caught you? By the way how was the dinner with client? Was Tracy a part of your job? I am all ears for all your answers” Sally was unprecedent in the way she behaved – taunting, sarcastic. She has seen Henry with many beautiful women before too, but never for once a speck of doubt even faintly crossed her mind. But today it was not the same. Something is playing with her mind. She has been given a different prism to look at the situations.

Henry did come up with his explanations as to how Tracy ended up in the scene but was received by a rather cold Sally.

It was around 10:30PM, Sally stood near her window staring at blissfully sleeping Henry. Her stares were blank, emotionless. After standing at the window for an unreasonably long time, an unsettled Sally looked pale, her emotionless reflection in the mirror was nothing less than spooky. As the stares crossed Henry and reached her side drawer the diary was there, enticing her to dig deeper…..

**Is the life of Anne Turner the new prism for Sally?**

I Sense A Presence VIII


As Sally drove to the police station she was quite restless. “Who it could be and why?” resonated all along in her mind. The flurry of emotions made her jump few red lights too, but was fortunate enough not to meet any untoward incident.

She was received by Josh Edward, police officer and Sally’s senior in the college. They used to represent their college in chess and were members of college’s debate society. They shared a good rapport. It was by chance that he was assigned this particular case. They were seeing each other after almost a decade and the reunion wasn’t cheerful at all considering the situation surrounding it.

“Hello Sally, how are you” Josh greeted her cordially extending his hand for a handshake. His gesture was met with a nervous smile that stayed just for a fraction of seconds. “I want to know” Sally said in a rather shaky voice, fixing her impatient gaze on Josh’s face.

“This way please” Josh guided Sally towards the interrogation cell. She saw a frail looking man there at the centre of the room that had just a table in the centre and two chairs on both sides of it. One was occupied by the man, who could be in his late 40s or early 50s, had salt and pepper hair & beard, lean build, hands were cuffed and was staring the ceiling & walls of the empty room. There wasn’t a slightest hint of nervousness or fear on his face that ought to be evident from a convict’s face. He was calm and static as a stone and cold as grave.

Sally observed him from behind a window and asked Josh “is he the one?” The fragile frame of the man had churned the wheels of confusion in Sally’s mind for her late father was a well built man.

“Investigation is running in full throttle. You mentioned in your statements of having seen a masked person running away. And he is a serial killer infamous for his signature Mask. The police has been on a lookout for him for 10 cases in and around the city, including your father’s…” Josh was still talking when Sally stormed into the interrogation room.

“Did you kill my father? Did you kill Mr.Pattinson? Answer me” Sally was mad with rage, as she banged her fist on the table. She thought her emotions can evoke a reaction from the convict. But she was wrong. He was still composed in a quirky manner.

Looking away from Sally, he said in a soft tone “I don’t remember names. I just love the sound of crackling bones, sight of gushing blood gives me an adrenaline rush, the wailing bodies are symphony to ears. I have only numbers – 1,2,3,4…”. He was chuckling as he counted. This enraged Sally even more. She opened her phone gallery and showed her father’s picture to him “I am sure this would ring your memory bells. Now tell me why you killed him” Sally boomed at him. He looked at the photo for a moment but before he could say anything Sally was taken out of the room by Josh citing the norms and regulations of the interrogation laws.

Sally was now impatient than ever, awaiting his answer, rather a confession.

As Josh entered the scene he asked the convict about Mr.Pattinson “you are the masked killer, isn’t it? Confess it”.

The convict took a deep breath and started laughing like a lunatic. The room was echoing with his cynical laughter. After few moments he stopped, catching his breath and said “someone used my signature to hide their identity. And when I say signature I mean my identity, would never hide it. This man was never my target. But yes other 1,2,3,4….” he whistled a rhythm. His unruffled calmness opposed to the raging tempers made his words sound menacing even in those secured doors. Josh left the room.

Came to Sally who was in the other room having a view of the interrogation cell. Before she could bombard him with her questions, he took his cigarette case and left for the smoking area. Sally followed him.

After few puffs, having calmed down his nerves he said “May be we are knocking a wrong door. If he could confess about killing his other victims, I see no reason him denying this. Something is missing. Someone might have used his trademark Mask modus operandi. I am sorry for unnecessarily troubling you Sally. Ufff” he sharply exhaled. Sally was calm now.

She just patted on his arm as if saying “its ok”. And she went silent. But her silence couldn’t camouflage her nervousness. “Is there anything you want to say Sally?” Enquired Josh.

“Nothing” Sally dismissed the question with a smile. “Since you are in the city now, how about dinner this weekend, my place? Sally thoughtfully diverted the intriguing glares of Josh. But Josh knew that something was bothering Sally.

“Hmm, thanks for the invite. I shall let you know soon. Would love to meet your better half” Josh obliged.

Before leaving though Sally made a strange request “Josh, I forgot to tell you, don’t tell Henry about this meeting”.

I Sense A Presence VII


Sense of being choked to death in her sleep left Sally perplexed. She reached out to the glass of water on her bedside and saw the diary she was reading before she dozed off. Her fingers danced in confusion for a while that whether she should pick up the diary and start from where she has left. After few moments of dilemma she pulled the drawer, put the diary back and picked up aspirin instead as the disturbed sleep left her with a severe headache.

Ward off bad dreams” grunted Sally, tossing in her bed. It was 4 AM, when she finally slept. Four and a half hours later she heard some footsteps pacing up and down the room. It was Henry getting ready for the office. Around 8:30 AM he kissed her forehead and lovingly “Honey have a great day, I am leaving for the office”. Both indulged in a sweet moment as Sally acknowledged him while still keeping her eyes closed. But the harmony of the moment broke as there was a knock on the door and a voice followed “I am getting late HONEY”. It was Tracy, clicked her tongue and immediately corrected herself “I am getting late Henry, may I come in?”.

Her rectification couldn’t though avoid an awkward moment for Henry and Sally, it was uncomfortable for Henry and a suspicious one for Sally. Clearing his throat Henry said “her office is one the way so …

“I get that” interrupted stern Sally freeing Henry from her embrace and permitted Tracy to enter. The question “what’s going on, I need an explanation” was all over Sally’s face. Henry hasted to leave to avoid further tensions. “While you take out the car from the garage I will have a quick word with your beautiful wife” Tracy prolonged her stay in their bedroom.

Good morning Sally. I am sorry for the last evening and now as well. See, I can be weird sometimes with people I consider as my own. Whenever this past thing erupts I fumble, I go crazy, I….” and she paused for a while as she settled on Sally’s bedside, very close to her staring straight into her eyes. “Look at those beautiful eyes, so dark and dreamy, resting place to rainbow clad dreams. I envy you my darling” Tracy had a certain amount of cynicism to her tone that can send shivers down the spine. Her words were not loud, just more than a whisper. They were like a whip of air catching someone from behind unaware on an absolute silent night – scary! They left Sally dumbfounded.

The moment froze for few seconds and the stillness of the room was broken by the car horn on the road. “Bye dear have a good day. Once again thank you and sorry for everything” Tracy left with a devilish smile leaving Sally at a junction of conundrum.

“Am I overthinking about this lady or there is truly something to ponder or dig into about her? Was the entire Honey-Henry episode just a fumble or there’s something more to it than what meets the eye?” Sally’s head was buzzing with these questions as she left the bed and went to freshen up.

In the mirror she saw herself and realised that her right arm is bruised, it turned blue. That sight brought the words from the book to her mind “bruises were my constant companions”. But she decided to brush everything under the carpet of coincidence. “Must be a sleep thing” she shrugged and yet decided to know more what’s there.

She settled again on her bed comfortably and laid her hands on the diary, now it started from the beginning. By this time thought of Tracy was put at the backburner.

The first page had a small photo of a lady with a disfigured face and at the bottom was mentioned the name “Miss Anne Turner”.

“Hello Lady” said Sally to herself and continued. Those pages to begin with were just like any other ordinary diary – an in and out account of miscellaneous and mundane activities, incidents of one’s life. Sally wasn’t much interested in the petty chores of Miss Turner and she decided to go random. And she was successful in finding the interesting spot. It read:

I loved you with my heart, my smiles, my tears, my soul. But you chose to trade them with a ……

Before Sally could finish the portion (pale letters were a tough read) her phone rang. It was Josh, her friend from the police department.

“Hi Sally, I have a news for you. Its regarding your father’s murder. Can you come over?” Asked Josh. And this left Sally at the very same spot she was months ago, battling….

I Sense A Presence VI


Sally kept on her excavation to see what else this room hosts. There were more words engraved very minutely. They seemed to be cluster of bees, making it difficult for Sally to read. They were entangled mangle of letters. She could hardly phrase out – mad, free, go. That extra stress on her eyes made her shut down that exercise in the middle.

“Huh” grunted Sally as she shifted her focus to the rest of the room. In her quest she found a very dirty gown and wrapped in it a book, probably a diary. Pages have age written all over them, few were torn, writing was neat to begin with but slowly became more scribbled.

Sally took the diary upstairs and preserved reading for sometime later. In the evening Henry arrived with their guest – Tracy. Sally warmly welcomed her. Tracy was a 38 years old, beautiful looking woman. Standing 5 feet 5 inches tall, brown curly cascades of hair running till her waist, unmistakably enchanting honey glaze eyes and a figure that could make any woman envious and man go weak in knees. But Sally was looking beyond her physical appearance – a broken person from personal loss, just as herself.

“Sally thank you so much for having me” Tracy thanked Sally cordially, to which Sally smiled and said “most welcome” and they moved in. At the dinner table amidst the chit chat rounds Sally brought up the issue of Tracy’s mother.

“Tracy, by the way Henry told me about your loss. I can totally relate to your pain. May I know what happened to her and what about your father, where is he?” Sally’s eyes now fixed on Tracy waiting for her response.

Tracy went silent for a moment and after a pause she continued ” my mother meant the world to me. The loveliest person of my life had to suffer the most because of the love of her life, my father. Till her last breath she waited for him who abandoned her for another woman. That’s why I killed him”. That word engulfed the room in an eerie silence. Tracy’s eyes were stone cold, devilish anger veiled her beautiful face and the fish in the plate got butchered to shreds.

Henry coughed and Tracy came back to her senses. “What I meant was I wiped him out of my thoughts forever” and she gulped down a glass of water and excused herself to her room.

Sally was stunned to see Tracy’s behaviour but brushed it aside with a thought that emotions can be overwhelming and might make people say words that they didn’t mean literally. She only tried to understand her agony and pain. She apologized to Henry for having brought up this topic. She felt guilty. But Henry being Henry “Darling, don’t be, she can be extremely emotional sometimes. She will be fine, don’t worry, have your dinner”.

Sally went to the guest room in about five minutes to sort out the issue with Tracy. “Tracy I am sorry, I shouldn’t have spoken about your family at the dining table. I promise it shall never be repeated. Will catch up tomorrow, have a good sleep. Anything else you need don’t hesitate to ask me. My room is just over there” Sally pointed out towards her bedroom while apologising about the tense situation that arose few moments earlier. They hugged and Sally left.

Marching towards her room Sally turned to see Tracy once again. She could sense a steel cold vibe. “Oh Sally! give the poor soul time” she thought in her head and went to her room.

In the room she found Henry already hit the sack and in deep slumber. Sally lied down on her side of the bed, drew a drawer where she kept her new found diary. Turned some random pages. She could hardly read the paled out ink. With some tussle she could read ” I feel suffocated at nights as if someone gagging me to death. Bruises are now my new constant companions”. This gripped Sally but not before fatigue & sleep took over.

1:00 AM – Sally suddenly felt as if she is being strangulated. She wanted to move but couldn’t budge, felt chocked. In few moments She got up and sat straight gasping for breath , found none around. Was it just a dream or was someone here? Her thoughts set to tick…..