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 a 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 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 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 struggled 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 himself 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 has the audacity 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 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 occured in that house, that grabbed his attention after his friend got home. He decided to meet and greet Sally the next day.

As the door bell 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 clearlyspelledt 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 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 really 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, each and every detail of Sally, Tracy, and Henry were 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 own 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 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 actually 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 the 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 strom. 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. But 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 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 few observation sessions and it was clearly established that she is suffering from schizophrenia. But she pleaded 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 dillussional or there is something more than what meets eye, may be an intention to bury something more heinous” Josh pondered over as many more tangles were still in tact.

Henry meanwhile was brought for the interrogation. Sally’s mental condition ( even barring the fact that she Schizophrenic), the way Tracy’s identity was kept under wraps, huge property involved, 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 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 possibly help to dig out the truth.

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

Cop: “You didn’t tell me how is Tracy, I mean Lizzie was associated to 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 1AM in the morning 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 utter state of shock himself.

Josh rushed wasting no time. Lizzy alias Tracy was lying in a pool of blood, shot twice in 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 there were sirens 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 Josh. Josh felt as if he is still walking through his dream as this is the Sally whom he just now came across 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) simmering 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 turmoils.

“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 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 turn around.

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 the sight. “When will she leave our house?” asked Sally in a tone just a decibel higher than a whisper yet cold and seemingly menacing, signalling 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 it’s 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 she has 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 XVII

Josh left the cafe with his head full – 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 friend 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 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 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 a 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.

That’s what stuck Josh instantly – witnesses!! How about mining it there he thought to himself as the huddle dispersed. 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.

Josh was on a personal mission now that meant he have to trend rather carefully. He himself 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 but Josh wasn’t sure if this approach is going to dig out the truth. He was skeptical, being a police doesn’t mean deriving information would be easy and considering the reason behind his investigation being 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.

With the help of his friend working in local municipality office he got details of the old neighbors around the house where Sally resided. One particular lady Mrs.Philipe was around 90 years old and had been a resident in that area since her childhood. Josh was taking his chances as he was toying with a vague idea of inquiring the neighbor under the disguise of a potential buyer for the Sally’s house.

As he ascended the stairs leading to the doorstep of Mrs.Philipe his brain was at 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 phenomenas, 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.

He rang the bell and waited at the door. He was sure that getting into a strangers house won’t be easy but luck smiled upon him as the door was opened in an unfathomable manner by his long lost friend from high school Ken.

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 few moments to recollect and recognize and he did exchanged pleasantries.

“Tell me what brought you here and before that tell how are you, where are you, what are you doing?” Ken was clearly excited of this unusual meeting. Josh was also happy of this reunion but the business in his mind kept h busy with permutations and combinations.

Josh rushed through the answers to the questions he was asked and finally reached to the actual purpose of his visit. “Actually my broker was supposed to show the house on the opposite lane, I waited for long but he didn’t turn up. Any idea how this locality is, how that house is …” Josh mumbled a bit.

“Is the house listed, didn’t see in the local papers” Ken exclaimed (Josh was a bit nervous now searching for an answer to his friend’s very valid question). ” Well, it’s not listed yet an informal intimation you see”Josh chuckled nervously. “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 definitely aged well. A brief introduction and Ken announced the purpose of his friend’s visit.

As soom 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 of time 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 really 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 into the world of Mrs.Anne Turner. Every incident she mentioned there found 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?” 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 doesn’t require any attention 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 her to sit for a while and continued. “But what’s with the time, I really didn’t get you. What exactly you want me to do?

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 for my present in the past of this house. Unworldly or otherwise my world is definitely 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 first priority should be to know more about Tracy who most probably a criminal off 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 made an attempt to divert Sally’s attention for he was a practical police officer.

Sally was unmoved as if she heard nothing. Josh know what does that mean. “Which agency helped you with this house deal? But how long will this take I can’t promise and definitely Tracy not off my books” Josh made his stance clear.

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