Fingers Under the Door
Updated: Apr 27
I was at the balcony smoking a Red feeling that usual throbbing in my ears I feel whenever I am in a crowded space. This throbbing feels like I am hearing the pulses in the arteries of my ears. And it comes whenever the noises around me get intense. For instance, at this house-party I was in. There were more people than usual and I didn’t know half of them. My anxiety was quick to kick in. Pranav had invited his colleagues too. I was about to leave early after having a few drinks, but he insisted that I stay. And, I obliged. So I stood there outside, in some seven degrees, of one of the coldest nights in Delhi that year.
“What’s the deal?” Asked Pranav as he joined me at the balcony.
“There are too many people. You could’ve told me your office mates are coming. I would’ve happily skipped.”
“That’s why I didn’t.”
“Hah. Pass that.” He finished the remainder of the Red. I would’ve finished that myself happily though.
“Do you have more of these? The shops are closed by now I guess.” I knew I would need more if I had to kill the time in that stupid party.
“Why don’t you go and talk with someone?”
“You know what I mean.”
“Fuck that. Not in the mood.”
“Or it’s more like ‘My fucking anxiety is at it’s peak.’.”
Sometimes I regret having an outgoing and spontaneous best friend who is the polar opposite to me. He would drag me to places I would often avoid and get me into conversations with people I definitely avoid.
I kept quiet.
“I got something for you,” and he pulls out two small square strips that have a smiley at the center.
“What the fuck is this,” I knew what that was.
“You know, my bouy.” He was grinning.
“You nuts bro,” I took a few steps back.
“Come on, just this once. And never again.”
“I told you am not doing drugs. Please take that thing away!”
“Hey relax. It’s fucking safe. And only once. I will never ask you again. Just once in our lives, please.”
“You cannot convince me dude.” I was totally cool up to grass. Nothing more and nothing less. Definitely nothing more.
“Fine, suit yourself.” He pulled out his tongue and placed a strip on it. Then closed his mouth. And at that moment I swear I was thrown face first on a crossroad. I could feel the rush of thrill on one side and the spiral of addiction on the other. But what overpowered me was my anxiety and that constant throbbing in my ears. So, I took the strip and put it in my mouth. Nothing happened for the first few minutes. I woke up the next day afternoon and I was terrified to my guts. I have had the worst nightmare of my life. I had a bad fucking trip. And the worst part, it felt too real.
I remember being in a hallway that ran infinite on both the ends. And on the sides were these doors that were painted black. I also felt this presence, lurking behind me inching closer. But whenever I looked behind, there was nothing. But I knew I couldn’t just stand there. Because whatever is behind me would want me to. I tried all of the doors but they were locked. Except one. And I went in.
There was nothing inside of it. The walls and the ceiling were painted black. The linoleum was the only thing that wasn’t. A single window cast some faint light. I closed the door behind me and went towards the window. All I could see outside was a streetlamp that was far ahead and I realized that I was high above some twenty floors. Down was death. Behind me, I didn’t know. Maybe. I squat down the window, praying for the trip to end. I wanted to wake up. If I could wake up then, I swear I would never sleep. I sat there, eyes closed, praying and cursing.
“When I open my eyes, all of these will be gone,” I told myself.
I opened my eyes.
I was in the same room as before. And with me was someone else. No, something else. In the right corner near the door, there it was. It was towering. So huge that it bent forward not to hit the ceiling. It felt like a shadow, but it wasn’t. It had long hands and fingers. It had a long face too, with long white hairs. And the weirdest thing about its face was that its features were moving around. Like the mouth was where the eyes were supposed to be, for a second, and then the nose took its place. Its dark rag ran till the floor.
I tried to scream. But all that came out of my mouth was a squeal. A faint squeal. I was shaking violently and I could feel every single hair on my body stand up. I shut my eyes tightly, telling myself it wasn’t real. I felt this dread coming closer to me. I knew it was coming for me.
I opened my eyes, once again.
And right in front of me was this thing looking down at me. I swear I stared right at its face and all I could feel was this void. A void that sucked the living out of me. It raised its hand and brought it on my neck. It was cold as ice and burnt my skin. It tightened its grip little by little. I was tossing at the place gasping for air. And then I knew, I would never wake up. But I woke up on Pranav's couch to broad daylight. My head was hammering and my whole body ached. The throbbing in my ear came back in an instant and it was unusual. There wasn’t any crowd, no noise. So, I grabbed my things and headed straight for my car. And I drove like a frantic to home. The usual traffic of Delhi felt like hours as I stared straight on the countdown at the light. It felt so hazy that I don’t remember much about the drive.
Back at home, I ate a sandwich or two to fill my stomach that felt like a pit. I drank some whiskey to stop the throbbing in my ears and went straight to the bed. I had left the curtains open. As I lay down, I could feel all the weight of my body pull me down towards the floor. And I knew if I closed my eyes, I would fall asleep instantly as I was too tired. But then, after that dreaded nightmare, I didn’t know if I should. So I just plugged in the earphones and stared at the white ceiling. Some three songs down the playlist, I could feel myself slowly drifting to sleep, wishing I didn’t live alone.
It felt like a dream but not quite. It felt as if I was in my room, in my bed. It felt as if I wasn’t asleep but wide awake. Right then, I heard what gave me instant goosebumps. Someone was scratching the door from outside. The shrill noise of something sharp against the wood tore through the silent room. I sat up and my eyes were fixed on the door. Then…
And then, in the clear daylight, clear as water, I saw these long bony fingers with chipped nails hold the door from the space beneath, placing itself one at a time. My heartbeat shot up straight and I woke up, breathing violently. I could feel sweat on my head on a cold December day. My throat was completely dry so I gulped down the bottle half full that was on the drawer beside the bed. I increased the volume to its maximum and tried to get some shut-eye again. I felt so tired I knew that I needed some.
It was the same dream again. I was in my room. I quickly glanced down under the door and there was nothing. I was relieved. Then, like a stupid fuck I turned my head to the other side of the room, towards the window, and naturally my eyes followed towards the corner. There it was. The same thing from my nightmare. Leaning over and looking at me. The weight that I was feeling pulling at my back shifted to my chest as I struggled for air. The skin on my neck was burning. It felt as if this thing wanted me to feel dread. To feel all the negativity that could be in the world. And that the worst that could happen is death itself.
Four seconds later, I woke up. I know exactly because I was counting. Because if you were at my place, you would do that too. Because, all you can think at that moment is if you will live through it.
I woke up and the thing was gone.
I wasn’t sleeping again. Ever.
To be continued...