An unexpected visitor at night.


Paranormal fiction / Magic realism


Mainak Basak (India)

Last night’s dream was a strange one. Its peculiarity was principally attributed to the fact that it didn’t feel like a dream at all, or perhaps it felt that way to me because in a way it was so vividly similar to reality. At the beginning there was a bright light which seeped in through my half-open windows and rested on my bed where it lingered for a few seconds, then it was dark again. Almost at the exact moment the light escaped, I felt a presence in my room. Normally this would’ve been a terrifying experience for me, but right at that moment I didn’t feel any fear at all, rather I was curious to know the identity of my untimely visitor. Here I must point out that I can barely recall the small details of this particular incident, a lot of it now seems blurry, like a distant memory from ages ago. However, I won’t try and cram the empty spaces with fabricated lies, I think the blurry part has its own purpose, and it would be criminal of me to rob it of the same. But, before I tend to drift away into something else entirely, here’s what I saw last night: A child stood beside my bedroom window, beckoning me. Without any trepidation whatsoever, I followed him, knowing while I did that my feeling of trust emanated from somewhere deep within me. Maybe Scrooge felt the same way when the Ghost of Christmas Past visited him that night: unflinching, unquestionable trust. I was not surprised when I found myself standing on my windowsill with the boy beside me whose face I had not inspected yet, maybe that was blind trust again. We flew over the cityscape together, mocking the jealous night sky. In all probability I was invisible, insignificant and the thousand blinking lights below me were brighter but they belonged to souls, who, lost in their own brilliance, had never learnt how to fly. How many of them were sleeping peacefully? How many were being tormented by the memories of a love long lost, a dream long broken? I could not help but wonder. The remainder of my extraordinary voyage was lost in a ubiquitous cloud of thoughts, until the moment I found myself staring at a building I knew very well. Even in the gloom I could make out the emblem of a pigeon in full flight and the address: 16, Mandeville Gardens. Without waiting for the boy, I ran through the gates that seemed to swing open on their own accord, or maybe I was expected, by the building itself, which strangely enough I had always thought of as a sentient being. I climbed up the staircase, two steps at a time, just like old days. I dashed through the corridors, laughing like I had never laughed in a long, long time. The walls surrounding me echoed a thousand memories, feeding the void inside me, and I knew at once that this feeling, this trembling sensation inside me was joy, sheer joy. Finally, I found the room I was searching for. My old classroom greeted me with open arms, like a dear friend. On the teacher’s desk sat the child, a smile painted across his lips, and for the first time that night, he spoke: “I apologize for waking you up so late, you see, I’m dying.” For a moment I was lost for words as the happiness inside me refused to make way for the sorrow that occupied my soul, as a result what I felt was painfully close to empathy wrapped in a thin layer of ecstasy than was under a constant threat of being ruptured. “But why?” I asked, as I took my seat beside the window, from where I could see the kitchen of the adjacent house, whose owners had long abandoned it to cobwebs and dust and all other possible sources of decay. I recalled the day when I burst crackers in front of that very house and their pet dog chased me across the street and through the neighbourhood until he lost me amongst the lanes that I knew like the palm of my hand. “It’s because you have abandoned me, left me in this prison from which I cannot escape. I’ve tried and tried, waited for years for you to remember where you left me but you never came, you were too occupied with your perfect life. Amongst all your mundane duties you were absorbed and I was just trivial portion that you chose to ignore, like I didn’t matter anymore.” I stood there dumbfound, speechless as the little boy looked at me with eyes that were filled with admonishment and an abysmal pain which drove a stake right through my heart, causing me to physically feel his anguish. The ache was unbearable, it made my head dizzy to the point I could no longer look at him. “You are not trivial, you’ve always been alive, lost in a deep slumber from which my negligence wouldn’t allow you to wake. They say as you grow older you become wiser, but sometimes you just become impervious to pain, drowning with a smile on your face as life throws you overboard into the sea of sanity. You tend to be happy for other people rather than for yourself, this is our curse dear child.” The remnant of my dream was vague and foggy, interrupted by episodic visions of the child whose face began to morph into someone I knew well, or maybe not at all. Sunlight crept in through my windows and kissed my face. I turned sideways and looked at the photograph lying beside my bed, where the child in my dream stood smiling, flanked by my parents.

Competition: Friendly feedback, Round 1



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