It’s all in the head. Or is it?

“For my roommate, it was a dream come true; but for me, it was the stuff of my nightmares. Moving to a new house is always how horror movies begin. It usually seems normal at first, and then it slowly traps you and there is no escaping it. My roommate researched extensively to check if there was anything horrifying that happened there in the past and found nothing. I wouldn’t have agreed even to this theoretically good house if I had been able to get my hands on a better deal, like an apartment, where horror stories are somehow unlikely – or so the movies say. But fate didn’t favour me.

While my roommate was marvelling at the amazing deal we’d struck, I still felt that there was something off. Was it the smell? Was it the lack of natural lighting even in broad daylight? I wasn’t able to put a finger on it. But as adults, you just have to do things because you don’t have a choice.

Weeks passed, and nothing seemed to be amiss. But I still found myself feeling constantly low. I was very stressed; it seemed like there was too much going on at my workplace – things were not as they used to be and it was all too overwhelming. The change in my routine disturbed the state of my mind to a great extent and I couldn’t help but think that it was because of something in the house despising my well-being.

It seemed like an absurd thought and I had brushed it away to start finding a new routine at work. Meanwhile, my roommate had to leave town for some personal work for a day and a night. That was the first time in my life I regretted not being a social butterfly. I didn’t know anyone well enough to crash at their place for the night and I was afraid to deal with my thoughts about my own house. I decided to stay at work as long as possible, just to stay away from the house as much as I could.

I saw my roommate away to the airport and went to work, trying to find meaning in the chaos and deliberately stay till late evening; until the security guard is at the verge of kicking me out of the place. I drag myself to that wretched structure that I had to call home. I knew that whatever was in that miserable building was observing me till then and was about to demolish me now. I resolved to not move from my bed until the next morning. Sleep was hard to come by, but eventually, I felt my eyelids droop, and slowly the dreadful thoughts in my mind faded away, as I fell into a slumber.

I woke up in the middle of the night with a parched throat, badly in need of water. I was confused because I knew that I did not want to move out of my bed and I also thought I could go through the night without water, but something made me want to go to the kitchen and get some water. My body gave in and I was walking downstairs to the kitchen. The doorway was dark, and all I could see was a red light from the dining room. 

I found myself doing things that people in horror movies would’ve done. I walked to the dining room, clutching hard at my soul that was trying to slip away in fear. All I could hear was my breath. I walked closer as if I were walking towards my own death warily. I was unsure of what lay ahead. I peeped through the corridor to look at the source of the disturbing red light, that barely illuminated anything. I felt safe enough to sigh in relief. The digital clock was hanging on the wall. But my imagination started running riots when I saw the time. It read 03:07 and the second’s colon was not blinking! This ordeal already had me exhausted and I was not ready for anything else. 

I walked towards the bedroom, scared for my life. I didn’t move far away yet, and I was sure I heard something from the kitchen. It seemed to be something remotely like a cackle. It sent cold shivers down my spine and I was standing still as a doll, petrified, unable to breathe, unable to think; as my worst nightmare had actually come true. I stood still, with only air to separate me and that thing in the kitchen. I almost expected a banshee to float right outside the kitchen and continue with its weirdly convulsive chortling noise that would make me tremble in fear.

Impulsively I took a couple of steps, not towards the bedroom, but towards the kitchen. I thought I was going there for water, but I didn’t quite know why I was doing anything. The guffawing resumed, only louder. I continued moving, against my own will. I was almost in the kitchen, and I stopped. The raucous sound that had reached a colossal amplitude stopped with my steps. The silence that followed was in some way, more sickening than the evil, inhuman laughter. 

Moments of silence; and then I felt it turn towards me, looked me right in the eye, and even though I couldn’t see it, I felt the piercing look that it gave me. And then it came, towards me. Steadily, surely it walked out of the kitchen. The sound of footsteps was deceiving. The floor was marble, but the sound was that of shoes on a wooden floor. Tap…tap…tap, it was coming, and I wanted to run for my life, out of this accursed place, never to return again. But I could not. I was paralysed. I could do nothing but breathe, and see. I was not able to call out for help. My body collapsed from paralysis and I lay there waiting for the thing to kill me. 

The steps stopped and the most torturous noise rang in my ears. It was a mixture of several people wailing, screaming, and dying. The noise was too much for ears, but I could not do anything to stop it. My head ached more than ever. Like all the other noises, this too stopped. Nothing came out of the kitchen, but for a screeching voice that screamed, “salvaveris te!” repeatedly. I immediately recognized the language. It was telling me to save my life in Latin. 

I was able to move once again and I did not take time to get out of that room. I ran up to my room, bolted the door shut. I went to the restroom to look at the mess that I was in the mirror. It was a bad decision. I heard knocking sounds from the bathroom window and the thing started screaming again. “Salvaveris te! Salvaveris te!” I was too scared and when I looked back into the mirror, only to see blood oozing out of my eyes, nose and mouth in the mirror. I touched my face and saw there was no blood. And then my reflection also started to scream the same thing. “Salvaveris te! Salvaveris te!”

I locked the bathroom door shut and took out my Bible and the Cross from my bedside drawer and my diary to write this down. I’ve written all that I have seen and felt here. It is your wish to stay here or not, but I will not. I don’t care if my things never return to me, but I will never ever come to that damned building again in my life. I will not be here when you come here, but I’ve taken my phone with me. Call me once you are out of that building for once and for all.”

I read this detailed account my roommate left for me and panicked, but I was more worried about the plight he would be in. I picked up my phone and did what the note told me to do. My roommate picked the call and started acting all psychotic. I had to call for help and get my seemingly deranged roommate admitted in a hospital. 

One week of observation later, the diagnosis was Early-onset schizophrenia. Now it all made sense. The noises were all in the head. The thing never showed itself, because schizophrenia mostly caused auditory hallucinations and rarely caused visual hallucinations, like the mirror incident.

I felt like an absolute idiot to not have given the note to the diagnostician before. It would have helped speed up the diagnosis. When the doctor read it, he was not only able to confirm his diagnosis better but was also able to say what caused the onset of this condition. He pointed out that the most common cause was having a stressful and erratic lifestyle, which leads to psychotic episodes, leading to schizophrenia. 

It had been a week since my roommate got discharged from the hospital to live with his parents, combating his mental illness for years to come. I was still in pursuit of a roommate to share the rent. It did feel lonely to be alone in such a huge home; until I wished I was lonely. 

It started the other evening when I was cooking dinner for myself in the kitchen. I heard it for the first time. Someone was knocking at a door somewhere near the farther end of the kitchen, only there was no door. The knocking became vigorous soon enough and then suddenly stopped. I calmly turned the stove off and moved away from the kitchen. As I reached close to the stairs to go to my room, I hear the weirdest thing. It seemed like a battery toy that makes these noises when turned on. It came from below my feet, which was weird because of two reasons. The floor was made with a thick foundation and marble tiles. But that was not it. The noise seemed to come from the basement, a space that the house never had to begin with. The toy stopped doing its thing and I heard footsteps from the same place. Surprisingly, the footsteps moved away from me. But the footsteps climbed up to the floor at that very end of the kitchen where I first heard the knocking sound. A brief pause and then the non-existent door seemed to crash open, unleashing the evil into the house.

I too ran for my life as my roommate did; only I decided to not talk about this to anyone. I now knew that there really was something there in that house that was unearthly, wicked and sinister. I was confused if he really had schizophrenia. I was unsure of everything around me.

Vishnu Dhinakaran

Should I do this? Meh.

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