Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Just a Dream.

The moon was high over the lake. Vishal and I sat nervously over the edge of the cliff, 300 feet above.
It wasn't your typical cliff, more like a grassy lip on the side of a big mountain.
"Do you think they'll find us here?" I hug my knees to my chest.
"I can hear them... Shh" Vishal hisses.
A tense minute later, the crunch of twigs. Someone's above us, beating at the bushes to see clearer.
The crunching stops.
Vishal touches my arm to alert me.
I suck in my breath till my spleen hurts. I think I'm going to be sick.
They come at us every night. Every night we abandon our shelter, our home, and run and hide in the wild on this mountain. I have no idea who they are. I have been running from them since as far back as I remember.
We're supposed to run. We all are.
It is said that they come from that wrecked mansion on top of the hill that no one goes to.
Vishal says we'll go there tonight. When they've stopped wandering. And hunting. We'll go there tonight.
The crunching starts again. It gets distant. And then suddenly I can't hear it anymore. I heave and gasp with relief, as oxygen floods my lungs. Vishal smiles. It's time to go.
We clamber up through the bramble, trying to be as silent as possible. On flatter ground now, it suddenly made sense to run.
I looked at Vishal, and I knew he was thinking the same thing.
Spines erect, we bolted.
We ran through the high grasses without knowing what's on the other side. We ran till we were out of breath. We ran till we had the irrepressible urge to giggle.
I spotted the mansion up ahead, its top sailing over the grasses. The excitement was mounting. The adrenaline killing me. I turned to Vishal.
I turned to Vishal. Who was not there.
My instincts urged me to drop to the ground before anything else. In the dark of the night, my torso hit the rough ground with a soft thud.
They took him. Oh my god they took my friend. I'm so angry inside. So scared.
So curious. Anger makes me brave.
I crawl on towards the mansion. My nails filling with mud as I drag myself forward without a sound.
I can hear my own rough breathing. What is this hell? How does it end?
The mansion is so close I can see its rough stone walls, solid and eternal.
Just as suddenly, there was no ground under me. I fell into a room lit by a sharp tubelight.
I hit the ground, ribs first.
Excruciating pain. My eyes scan the room, struggling to focus. A man sits on a table, picking at a glass bowl, filling it with mud, using a hammer to lightly assist the balance of the bowl.
"Run!!" I scream. "Run quickly! They're coming!"
He doesn't even move. He can't hear me! Why can't he hear me? Why doesn't he run?
A thought strikes me.
Wait. Am I inside the mansion?
I scan the room a second time. There's a fireplace-like opening.
I scuttle over and peek inside. It's a very narrow flight of steps. But there's light at the end. I think I can make it. There's no headroom. I have to lie down and scramble up.
I'm scared. What if they're waiting for me at the other end? I could be walking right into a trap.
I get nearer to the light and peek out slowly.
It's shocking. It's so shocking. What is this?
There's nobody at the other end waiting to kill me. No blades, no sharp lights, no blood or raw flesh.
It seems I've climbed up into the plush living room of a king. Its a large room. There are plush cushions here and there. The curtain drapes are gold and unending. I sweep my gaze swiftly across the long room.
And then I see him. He's sitting with his back to me, wearing a bedroom gown. He's old. He doesn't notice me.
But I'm scared of him. I don't want him to turn around.
He starts to turn to look at me. Fear strikes deep, and I turn in the other direction and run before he sees me. Or I him.
I run out of the long oak doors, down many hallways, past many empty rooms. I run till I see a wooden staircase with a gold plate pointing up to the library.
I pause. Unsure. I slowly climb up the steps and peep into the large room.
Half the room is exposed to a large courtyard.
It's daylight? Morning? When did that happen? I feel faint.
What is going on?
There's a table, dimly lit by the morning light, next to the bookshelves.
Two women sit at that table, eating, making pleasant conversation. I feel safer knowing it's day. I inch closer to them.
I know one of them. It's Protyasha.
What is she doing here?
Nothing fits. Nothing fits. Who is that other woman? I think I've seen her!
I can't control myself anymore.
I run to the table and sit, my eyes full of questions. Relief, too. But questions.
Protyasha cheerily hugs me. And then the other woman hugs me.
"Vishal wasn't well, they said. He was missing home."
I hear a car back up into the courtyard. I turn towards the courtyard. A door opens, and Vishal is carried out on a stretcher.
I can't watch anymore. What did they do to him?
Suddenly the man from that first underground room enters the library. He proceeds to clear away the plates.
My head is aching. Protyasha says he's the butler. How can he be the butler? Where are the killers? Who was that man in the dressing gown? What is this place?
Then the doctor walks in. He's not in his dressing gown anymore. I feel giddy.
There are so many people around me now. I think they've just woken up.
I want light. I want to look at light. I look at the Courtyard. I hope Vishal is ohkay.
Then I see it.
I see the sign. Or part of it.
'--me for schizophrenia'
Pain. So much pain.
"It's alright, Amri." A soothing voice.
I turn to the woman next to Protyasha.

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