by Pratik Mainali
The abandoned old mansion on the outskirts of town was the subject of persistent rumors of being haunted. The neighbors murmured tales of weird sounds emanating from within, spectral figures appearing in the windows at night, and the curse that had befallen the family who had resided there.
Simran and Sashank chose to tour the estate despite the numerous warnings. They had always been intrigued by the supernatural and unknown, and the estate appeared to be the ideal spot to fulfill their curiosity.
As soon as they entered, they were struck by the uncanny silence that enveloped the room. The only sound was the floors creaking beneath their feet, like if the house itself were alive and living.
They entered the lobby first, where a majestic staircase led up to the second floor. The walls were covered with peeling wallpaper, and the chandelier that formerly hung from the ceiling had corroded and become twisted.
Simran shivered as she scanned the room, convinced that she was being observed by unseen eyes. She said to Sashank, “This location gives me the shivers.”
He bowed his head in agreement, but was unable to resist the draw of the unknown. He responded, “Let’s continue,” and led the way down the hallway.
Each room they passed was more deteriorated than the last. The walls were marred with water damage, the floorboards were twisted and fractured, and the air smelled musty from neglect.
As they approached the end of the hallway, however, they saw a door that was unlike the others. It was made of dark, hefty wood and appeared to be the sole door in the entire mansion that was in decent condition.
Sashank opened the door without hesitation by turning the doorknob and pushing it open. Inside, they discovered a spacious, vacant room.
There was no furniture or ornamentation in the room, and the only source of illumination was a solitary, flickering lamp suspended from the ceiling. With the exception of a few little fractures that reached the ceiling, the walls were bare.
Simran shuddered as she entered the room, perceiving its emptiness as a palpable presence that encircled her. “This room is so odd,” she muttered just above a whisper.
Sashank surveyed every inch of the room as though searching for something. He stated, “I can feel something in this room.”
Simran observed as he walked to the room’s center with his eyes locked on the ceiling. Then, he gasped and staggered backwards, his hands trembling.
“What is it?” she inquired as she rushed to his side.
He pointed to a crevice in the ceiling where a little black spider was creeping. He said in a barely heard voice, “There’s something up there.”
Simran peered upward, but she was unable to see anything. She uttered, “I don’t see anything” with confusion.
Sashank gave a headshake. He repeated, “It’s there; I can feel it.”
They began to feel uneasy as they stood in the empty room. The once-comforting silence suddenly felt oppressive, and the room’s emptiness appeared to be closing in on them.
They suddenly heard a sound. A slight scratching sound emanated from someplace in the room. They glanced at one another with fear-filled eyes.
“What happened?” Simran inquired with a shaky voice.
Sashank didn’t answer. Instead, he started walking towards the sound source with his eyes fixated on the ceiling.
As he reached one of the walls, the noise increased in volume. He pressed his palm against the wall and felt a small tremor beneath his fingertips.
His voice was scarcely audible as he said, “There’s something in here.”
Simran approached him while her heart pounded in her chest. “What do you believe it to be?”
He stated, “I don’t know, but I have a feeling we are not alone in this room.”
While they waited there, the scratching noise became increasingly loud and frenzied. It seemed as if whatever was producing the noise was attempting to breach the wall.
Then, there was a loud impact, and the wall beneath their feet begins to shake. They both lurched backwards with their eyes fixated on the source of the disturbance.
The wall began to fracture and shatter, and dust began to fill the air. Simran and Sashank attempted to shelter their faces from the debris by coughing and covering their faces.
Once the dust settled, they observed a small hole in the wall. That was barely sufficient for a person to crawl through.
Sashank reached into the hole and pulled out a small leather-bound book without a second thought. It was old and weathered, with a peculiar emblem imprinted on the cover.
As he opened the book, Simran noticed that it was filled with unfamiliar symbols and figures written in a language she did not understand. “What is this?” she said with a shaky voice.
Sashank stated, “I don’t know, but I have a feeling it’s the reason this room is empty.”
When they combed over the book, they realized that it included ritual instructions. A ritual that promised to provide the participant enormous power, but at a horrible expense.
The more they studied, the more certain they grew that the family who had resided in the mansion had conducted this ceremony, which led to their demise.
“We must leave,” Simran stated urgently, “this location is cursed.”
Yet, Sashank was unable to tear himself away from the book. He was obsessed with harnessing the power it promised, even if it meant putting his life in danger.
As he read, a peculiar force began to course through his veins. He believed he was on the verge of discovering something powerful that had been concealed for ages.
Simran interrupted just as he was about to execute the ceremony. She seized the book from his grasp and ripped it in half, sending the pages flying everywhere.
What are you up to? Sashank screamed with rage-filled eyes.
“We must leave,” she stated firmly, “this location is not secure.”
Sashank followed her reluctantly out of the room and back into the hallway. When they descended the stairs and left the mansion, they both experienced a wave of relief.
As they drove away, though, they couldn’t help but feel as though they were still being watched. Something that their presence had aroused in the vacant chamber.
When they reflected on their encounter years later, they recognized that the empty chamber had been a warning. There are forces in this world that should never be released.
About the Author:
Pratik Mainali, BIBM University of Wolverhampton. Mainali is an aspiring writer from Kathmandu, Nepal