Manit Moorjani, Hindustan Times
October 19, 2012
First Published: 15:25 IST(19/10/2012)
Last Updated: 17:18 IST(20/10/2012)
Horror films and books with their exaggerated ghosts, vampires, evil spirits and aliens have scared us over the years. We’ve slept with the lights on and checked for monsters under our beds. But the cliché brigade – the candles, little girls with little dolls, mirrors and the ridiculous weather
conditions – made horror plain hilarious.
So we decided to pull out every cliché we have seen, read or heard about and weave it around a short story where you are the protagonist. So sit in a dark corner of your house and just follow the footsteps!
It’s the weekend again. You and four of your friends wonder: how about a fun weekend getaway. You pack all essentials and hop into your car, off towards the countryside. A villa awaits you. You park yourselves at this abandoned mansion/haveli considered cursed by the locals. (But the fact that it may not be safe to do so doesn’t occur to you at all!)
It’s nightfall. You’ve settled down. Your candlelight dinner next to the old, rusted statues was brilliant. But all this while, the many spirits, ghosts and eyes in the wall have been following your every move. The statue blinked too. You notice nothing. Bedtime. Tomorrow’s a brand new day. Or so you think.
You’ve been sleeping comfortably for a while now. But what’s that sound you suddenly hear? That’s not normal. Maybe it’s just a stray animal. Whatever, you have to check it out right away. (Apparently, no investigations should wait till the morning.) Also, it’s better if you take an old-fashioned candle with you. (Because somehow the light switches never work so late at night.) You head out alone. (You’ll wake the others up with your screams later of course).
Obviously the hallway is very narrow. And very dark. But there’s a half-open door at one end. But wait, wasn’t it closed when you were this side of the house earlier? There’s that hooting owl in the background now.
Nevertheless, with might and courage, you push the door open.
Suddenly, lightning strikes. The windows fly open and the curtains blow in a frenzy. You don’t know what’s happening but you’re scared out of your mind. You dash back screaming across the hallway to the other rooms: “Wake up, wake up! There’s something there!!” (Just like we predicted you would.)
Now that there are more of you, you feel far braver. (The more the merrier when it comes to the paranormal, right?) You decide to get to the bottom of things. Your friend immediately has a brainwave. “Let’s split up!” says the genius. Every horror film has this one idiot. The One Who Deserves To Die. Another friend doesn’t believe in evil spirits. Of course he doesn’t. But he will.
You and two others decide to tiptoe through the same hallway (this hallway is the core of the mansion, the movie, the book, your life. Everything of any consequence happens right here). There’s something white and small gliding towards you. You absolutely have to get a closer look. It’s holding something. Oh mother of all plots! It’s a little girl in a white dress holding a baby doll.
NOW you’re scared. You bolt down the flight of stairs. The ghost of the little girl doesn’t catch up with you (Ghosts match their speed with their victims, it seems. The distance between the two, at any given time, is constant.) You forego the other clichés in the house: creepy basement or even under the sink! You want out. Finally.
Your two other friends were more interested in a dusty bedroom. Right now, they are staring at a huge mirror and cracking a joke. Suddenly there’s an old woman (complete with wrinkles and dishevelled hair) in the mirror. Or is it a reflection? While you spent so much time searching for something, that something found your friends and crept up from behind. (Now, that’s just bad luck.)
You hear them scream. Just as you try to figure out what to do, you see them running for their lives! (Maybe this will have a happy ending?)
And like an epiphany, the story flashes in front of your eyes: an old woman sits by the window awaiting her brothers who went out hunting. She still waits!
Now all of you are out of the house. Fog is the only thing you can see for miles. But piercing through the thick fog is the blank face of a man staring at you from an upstairs window. “You shouldn’t have come here,” he whispers through the mist. Now he tells you! Incidentally, that ancient gardener you saw earlier? Turns out, he’s a zombie! And there he is, right behind that bush! Taking a cue from Bollywood, there are a few bhoot-pret around too. And an old woman doing black magic in the fields.
You rush towards your car. But it just won’t start. Your phone signal goes blank. (Physics never works in these situations.) Luckily, you manage to get inside the car (car doors usually get jammed, so thank your stars!) “Phew! that was close,” you say. “Are you sure?” asks the friend sitting next to you. His eyes are yellow. His smile is wide.