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 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 III


Loss of her father left Sally devastated. It took her months to be convinced to set herself out in the open air again. Her marriage with Henry was stalled momentarily, it was a mutual decision though. That gruesome incident left Sally so shocked, absorbed by anxiety. Fear was her new constant companion. She feared slightest breeze that ruffled past her ears. Shadows loomed large for her where as softest tinkling of the bells too echoed quite eloquently. It was a chaos. Henry had to intervene and started sessions with a therapist. Sessions rolled but the effect was not as huge as envisaged.

Henry had to persuade her to move in together to a new place for change of the scenery, distance from the gore that house has witnessed could possibly be a last resort to help Sally. And then Henry chose this exquisitely beautiful house for his lady love in the countryside. His efforts did pay off when Sally unexpectedly posed if he would still love to be a part of her life, handling her madness & vulnerabilities and having her back; giving her the ground to touch the sky of her dreams as she is very much ready to soak her soul completely in his colours. And the answer was a big YES with a bear hug. And soon they got married and moved to their dream house. In her heart of hearts though she knew that she was still away from the shores of complete recovery but one thing she was certain of was that with Henry on her side she will conquer every fear of hers. And to lose him is the biggest fear of all.

Present….

Henry who fell asleep in the chair next to Sally’s headrest was suddenly woken up by some commotion outside. He yawned and checked his phone. It was nine in the morning. A glance at Sally, she was in blissful sleep. He got up, freshened up and went to prepare coffee and breakfast for both of them. As he entered the kitchen the patch got his attention. Immediately he checked for the plumber services in the area and made an online request. And he got busy in the kitchen meanwhile checking some news online. Within 20 minutes he got responses of various service providers. “Thank God we are in internet era” he thought as he was going through different bids to do the work. Soon one plumber was zeroed in and contacted.

Henry brought the breakfast and greeted Sally with a kiss on her forehead “Honey, get up, don’t you want to reward this faithful servant of yours who got your favourite breakfast walking upto you right down here”. Henry, for a natural he was, always used to tease and tweak just the right way to make Sally smile, laugh and of course go weak in her knees. Sally reluctantly tossing in her sheets hid her face with a pillow murmured “Henryyyy…let me sleep baby…pleeeeease…will have it later”. Henry tried to playfully take off the pillow and said “hurry up someone waiting for you in the kitchen for the last time”. His hands were playful but words had a different intonation to them. This made Sally sprung up straight in her bed. “What do you mean by that?” She was intrigued by his words and posed him a question.

Henry maintained an emotionless straight face for about ten seconds before he burst out into a peal of laughter. “I am really sorry Sally, the lady who was living in our kitchen without your permission is bading us goodbye today. A plumber is coming to fix her, I mean that patch”. To this act of Henry Sally put up a charade of being angry only to melt in Henry’s embrace.

Both lost in the trance of a soulful embrace. Henry muttered “you have only me to trouble you in this house my darling, nothing or no one else can dare to do so. I have all the bonafide rights“. He chuckled and made Sally smile ear to ear…….

CROSSROADS – I


“Think once again, it’s not too late,” said concerned Avinash to Riddhima as he saw her sign the rent agreement. But determined Riddhima didn’t buzz, not even lifted her stare from the pages as she finished the formality and accepted the keys to her new abode and showed the same to Avinash smiling. “Welcome back […]

CROSSROADS – I

AND SHE MET HER ONCE AGAIN


PROMPT: Standing in front of the mirror she didn’t like what she saw… Standing in front of the mirror she didn’t like what she saw. It’s not her. The reflection was only a mirage of her presence but the zealous, free-spirited girl was lost. He just kept imposing boundaries caging her while she kept compromising […]

AND SHE MET HER ONCE AGAIN