by Anuradha S. Bannore
Sheeba cleared the mess after the party & stood looking at the cleanroom, feeling quite proud & happy with her work. She once again glanced at it over her shoulder at the doorway, then switched off the light & headed upstairs to her bedroom. She changed into her nightdress, brushed her teeth & wishing good night to herself she smiled at her reflection in the mirror when she felt a sudden pang of fear. She couldn’t remember who all she had invited. She racked her brains till she felt she would turn crazy. So she decided to call up her friends the next day to ask how they enjoyed her party. She got into her bed, said her prayers & covered herself with a thin quilt. She was soon fast asleep.
Sheeba felt that she was in a dark room along with a number of people. She couldn’t see their faces clearly as it was a very dimly lit room. They were shouting at each other very angrily in a strange language. She wondered who these scary strangers were. Anxiously she tried to get out of that room when a very strong arm pulled her down & she screamed her lungs out but it was stifled with another strong hand on her mouth. She started sweating with fear for she hadn’t seen anyone next to her in the darkness of that side of the room.
She heard someone whisper, ‘ Please stay calm if you value your life. These are extremely dangerous people who won’t spare you if they feel you are a noisy nuisance.’
This quietened Sheeba but by now she was trembling in her boots & very timidly she asked, ‘ Who are you? Aren’t you one of them? Are you going to kill me?’
His reply shocked her when he said, ‘ I am not one of them but yes I will surely kill you if you don’t stop exercising your vocal cords. So shut up & listen to me quietly & do as I say, maybe then we can escape from the clutches of these thugs. Now I am going to remove my hands but one more scream & I won’t give a second thought to sending you on your long last journey. Got it!’
This horrified Sheeba & she mumbled very meekly, ‘ Sorry, I won’t do it again but who are you? If you aren’t one of them then what are you doing here? Did they kidnap you too? By the way, where are we? Why are you ready to help me? Are you an invisible man or rather a ghost? O my god! Where & how did I ever land myself in such a spooky place like this? All the gods in heaven please bless me with your protection.’
The man stared at her in the darkness trying to see who she was, then said, ‘Think of me as an angel sent by God to help & protect you. So now shut up & listen carefully. One wrong move & we are dead meat. Now move very quietly, don’t forget any noise at all, keep behind me..try your tricks & you will not live to see the daylight ever again. Just remember that.’
Sheeba tiptoed behind him and when the dim light fell on his face she caught a glimpse of the ‘Angel’ & froze. She almost let out a scream & down thumped a harsh hand on her mouth. This Angel looked anything & anyone but an angel..he looked more like a hideous demon but was a kind-hearted one. They stealthily advanced towards a door to escape when someone pounced on the ‘Angel.’ Sheeba panicked & started screaming hysterically running here & there anxiously looking for an escape.
Suddenly she woke up to find herself drenched in sweat running around her room. She tried to open her bedroom door but couldn’t in her agitated state of mind. Finally calming herself she managed to open it. Darting out of it she rushed downstairs & opened the front door to get help as well as some fresh air but the darkness petrified her & she quickly shut the door. Sitting on her couch she wondered what that was all about. She muttered to herself, ‘Oh God, my God! Please, please help me! I am honestly extremely scared. I don’t know what’s happening to me. Everything appears to be so grisly & weird.’
Amidst all this chaos very unexpectedly crept in the thought of her party. She was very eager to know who all she had invited. She decided to ring up her close friend, Sanya who she was sure she had invited. Sanya would definitely tell her.
As she couldn’t wait till morning she
called her,’ Sanya, do you remember who all I invited to my party yesterday. I don’t seem to remember & it’s bothering me. I am sorry to disturb you but please help me. I am terrified with what all is going on in my life.’
Sanya was in an enigma wondering which party Sheeba was talking about. Sheeba’s distressed tone worried her but very calmly she said, ‘ Look Sheeba it’s 3 am, we will talk about it when I come over to your place in the morning. Why don’t you sleep now? You probably had a bad dream. Be a good girl & get some sleep. Don’t bother about anything.’
Sheeba refused to listen to her & said,’ Strange things are happening to me & I have to know right now before I turn mad. I am scared to death.’
This further perturbed Sanya so she said, ‘ Ok, I will come over to your place. Just give me 15 minutes.’
Sanya soon reached Sheeba’s house & was shocked to see her friend’s disheveled state. Very gently Sanya said to her, ‘ Sheeba dear, please tell me what’s going on? Why are you looking so stressed & alarmed?’
Sheeba said,’ First you tell me who all had come to my party yesterday?’
Sanya didn’t know what she should say because her friend seemed to be in a terrible state but she knew she had to tell her the truth. Holding her hands she gently said, ‘Sheeba, there was no party at your place yesterday. You wanted to have but then you didn’t. Now tell me what’s going on with you?’
Sheeba sat transfixed to her couch Looking blank she blurted, ‘ But I remember cleaning up the mess before going to bed & then I was kidnapped. How I came home I have no idea. Something is going on around here & it’s freaking me out. Sanya I am terror-stricken! If I hadn’t given the party then who did because I can swear before God there were heaps of plates, glasses etc. I’ve no idea what’s happening! Please save me. Someone is bent on destroying me. They will kidnap me again & maybe kill me this time. Last time a frightening looking Angel saved me but I can’t always be lucky. Please help me Sanya, please!’
Sanya sat glued to her chair holding Sheeba’s hands. What Sheeba told her stunned her. She decided to take Sheeba to a hospital but before she could do anything there was a hard continuous knock on the front door. Both sat aghast. Suddenly pulling her hand away from Sanya, Sheeba started screaming & shouting. She tried to run upstairs but Sanya caught her which further frightened Sheeba. She hit her nice & hard & pushing her away ran out of the house from the back door. Sanya was baffled to the core. She was in two minds whether she should check who was at the front door or not but on remembering Sheeba’s words about being kidnapped made her run after Sheeba who couldn’t be seen anywhere. After about half an hour of no luck she finally called the police. Everyone searched for her but till today Sheeba’s still missing. Sanya is in the hospital getting over the shock. Sanya wondered whether it was just a nightmare or a bad dream but the disappearance of her friend went against that belief? Bewildering thoughts kept creeping into her mind. Sanya murmured to herself, ‘But I don’t know anyone named Sheeba. Why did she call me if she’s not my friend? Oh God, am I turning mad? Anyway, whatever it is whether it’s her bad dream or mine doesn’t matter now I hope & pray for Sheeba’s safety. Let the police do their work. I only wish to think of it as a night that wasn’t..
About the Author:
Anuradha S. Bannore is a prolific writer and an alumni of Jabalpur University with M.A in English. She retired as a teacher and currently lives in Vadodara India.