Monday, April 21, 2014

A Story

Sarah looks out at the gloomy afternoon sky outside of her single storied terrace bedroom window. A deep sense of loneliness envelopes her. It has been 5 days since Allyssa and Diane, her best friends and housemates, left for their end of semester break.  Sarah sighs out loud as she looks onto her computer’s screen. Her thesis work seems endless and she has had little progress for the past three days. Her mind runs idle as her thoughts go to her housemates that are still taking their bachelor’s degree.
After 6 minutes of staring blankly unto the computer’s screen, Sarah decides to take a break and her eyes wanders again to the window beside her computer’s desk. She can see little children playing at the little playground across the street. Their cries of joy and laughter seem desolate and out of place under the ominous, afternoon sky. She wonders what thoughts are playing through their little minds as they scurry over each other playfully. Her train of thoughts was disturbed by the sound of the washing machine’s beeping. Sarah briskly goes to the laundry room at the back of the house beside the kitchen.  As she walks past Allyssa’s and Diane’s room, she notices that the doors were shut tight and just out of curiosity, she checks both doors to make sure they are locked. Both were tightly locked. Sarah chuckles to herself wondering what she was expecting.
                The clock on the wall reads 7pm. The frantic sounds of keyboards can be heard in Sarah’s room. She scoured the internet and found a lot of usable information for her thesis. She has been typing up to her 8th page when she hears the sound of the kettle boiling. Weird she thought as she can’t recall boiling any water beforehand. As she approaches the kitchen she can’t help but notice that the light in the house appear dimmer. Like a thin black veil was covering the light from the fluorescent bulbs overhead. So distraught are her thoughts that she rubs her eyes furiously, thinking maybe she was facing the monitor screen too long, she even tried flipping the light switch a few times but it still remains the same. She shrugs it off thinking that perhaps it is the wiring at fault. Gathering her thoughts, she continues on and suddenly realized that the sound of the boiling kettle has stopped. To her bewilderment the kettle is innocently sitting on the kitchen counter. I must have been working too hard, she thought. As she tries to put the strange events behind her, she hears a timid knock. The knocks are almost inaudible, but clearly there. She approaches the front door cautiously as she is not expecting any visitors. The knocking continues and she finds it discerning that the knocks stops after every 9th knock, a pause and then it would again continue but when she is at the doorstep she realizes that it is not coming from the front door. It is coming from her left. The knocking is coming from her room.  
                She begins to feel a shudder go through her as her hand turns the knob of her room. The knocking stopped immediately as she laid eyes on her room. All her things were as she had left it. All except, for her personal computer. The monitor screen is inexplicably facing the window. She quickly goes over to rectify the screen. As her eyes were fixed on the monitor she thought she saw a flash of movement outside the window. This is it she said she’s in danger. She takes out her phone and was hitting the emergency number when she was interrupted by a voice. Let me in. It’s cold outside. Let me in. So cold.

As eerily as the voice was, Sarah knew the voice all too well. She briskly walks on to the front door and takes a look onto the peephole. Sarah lets out a relieved sigh as she opens the door to greet her housemate, Diane. Sarah is perplexed to see Diane looking so frail hugging herself and standing in front of the doorstep but nevertheless welcomed the sight of her roommate over the bizarre events that took place. Diane stood there just staring at Sarah, expecting an exchange of words perhaps, pondered Sarah. Without delay, Sarah hurriedly hugs her best friend and was caught off guard at how cold the touch of her bare skin felt. Sarah coaxed Diane into the house and is surprised to see the change of her best friend upon entering the house.
Diane let out a huge sigh of relief and exclaims, “Finally! I’ve left my keys at home and have been waiting outside for over an hour for you to open the door!”
She beamingly smiles at Sarah and hugs her lovingly and sincerely. Sarah is taken aback by the sudden change of mood of her best friend but feels relieved that she is no longer alone.
Sarah tries explaining the events that took place before Diane’s arrival but she seems oblivious to her story and keeps staring and beaming to Sarah’s face. Giving up on the idea of sharing her story, Sarah asks Diane why is she here because she is still in the end of semester’s holiday break. Diane explains that she had an argument with her family and decided that she needed a time off and chose to be with her best friend instead. Sarah says she is sorry to hear about that, but deep inside she feels glad that she now has company to stay at the house.
10pm. Sarah is hunched over her computer, eyes glued to the Facebook feeds on the screen. Sarah was about to continue with her thesis when Diane entered her room. Diane asked Sarah if she wants her sleeping in her room to accompany her for the night and apparently she had forgotten to bring her room keys too so it would benefit both of them. Sarah gladly accepts her offer and starts to rummage her wardrobe for a spare mattress. As she laid out the mattress on the floor beside her bed she notices Diane staring at her with an amused look on her face. When confronted, Diane simply said how grateful she is for having a friend as Sarah. Sarah finds the answer vaguely evasive but she ignored it nonetheless and switched off the light. The least she would want right now is to have an argument with her best friend. Hence she just smiled and to get menacing ideas out of her mind continues on browsing Facebook.
It has been 11 minutes since the lights went off and Sarah couldn’t help but feel that she was procrastinating being on Facebook. She hears a rustle behind her. Diane should be so grateful that she’s sleeping tranquilly and does not need to be dealing with all this work thought Sarah. With a heavy heart she opens the Assignment Folder on her desktop. But nothing happens. Ok her pointers not moving. Great. Her computer froze just what she needs right now. She glanced at the clock display on her computer screen. Eleven forty-five. Yawning, she got up off the chair and starts towards the living room. Sarah slumps herself on the couch then turns on the television, and starts browsing through the channels careful to turn the volume down as not to wake Diane. She finds it unnerving that there are forty five channels but nothing good is on. Sarah turns off the TV. She absent mindedly rests her neck and stares at the ceiling fan, spinning ever so fast cooling her on an already pretty chilly evening. It is at that particular moment that Sarah starts to hear the dripping sound from the bathroom.

 Sarah couldn’t care less about the dripping sound. Not that she can do anything about it in the first place. The pipe was installed too tightly and no matter how much effort she put in to turn the pipe to close it, it would still form droplets at its mouth and fill the red pail below it. But the funny thing is, she and her housemates never notice the dripping sound nor seen it happen during the day time. Somehow, it only happens at night. And this night is no exception. It has been a really trying and long day for Sarah and she decides to call it a night and goes into her bedroom. She walks carefully around Diane, and onto her bed, pleased to feel the soft mattress on her back. The room fades into darkness, and she fell asleep within minutes.
She wakes up at 8am as her alarm clock dutifully notifies her. She looks beside her bed but Diane is not there. Nor was the mattress she laid out. It was dark. She went out to the street to find it empty, the street lights were still on but there was no indication of life whatsoever. All the other houses were dark. Sarah double checks the time on her watch just to be sure. 8. 15 Am. The moon was still glowing over the dark, cloudy sky. Then she heard the sound. Then sound of a person sweeping, the plastic bristles brushing the tarred streets. The ominous sound seems to be approaching her, getting louder, and then it abruptly stopped. She turns towards the source of the sound and could almost see an outline of a robed figure, about 10 meters away, directly in between two street lamps, barely visible but undoubtedly there. She can feel the sinister eyes on her as she backed away slowly, at that juncture, the shadowy figure raised one hand pointing towards her, it’s pale, skinny hand touching the lights from the street lamp above. Sarah retreated faster backwards, her eyes never leaving the mysterious figure in front of her. Suddenly, she bumps onto something soft and tall behind her. Without having the chance to glance behind, she was deafened by a high pitch, blood curling scream directly behind her. She tries to cover her ears with her hands, only to find them being held tightly by Diane and Allyssa. She looks in horror as the robed figure looming in front of her starts floating just above the ground, moving left and right but slowly hovering ever closer to her. She feels the grip on her hands tighten and begins to shake violently.

Sarah opens her eyes to see Diane`s worried face directly in front of her. Sarah is sweating heavily and gulping the night’s air greedily. She hugs Diane gratefully for waking her up from the dreadful nightmare. Sarah sobs profusely as she recalls her dream. Diane calms her down whilst holding her hands telling her that everything is alright. Convincing Sarah that it was all a bad dream and did not mean anything. Sarah could not help but embrace Diane tightly, relishing the warmth of her body and her presence. Diane rubs Sarah’s back intuitively, knowing that Sarah needs her now, more than ever. Outside, a gust of wind blew, swaying the playground’s swings ever so slightly, making a soft, sinister, creaking sound that echoes through the cold, dark night. Diane steals a glance at her watch. 1 AM. It’s going to be a long night.

Zulhulaimy Fauzy. 

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