It was a dark, stormy night and Sid was seriously regretting his decision to take up the foolish bet of spending a night alone at the haunted house on the outskirts of their small hometown. Though not a nervous or imaginative person by disposition he hadn’t factored in the fierce sound and light show being put up by nature. To be fair, he hadn’t known at the time of betting that the night would turn out like this. It was summer for God’s sake, so the thunder-storm was unanticipated. Or maybe not; maybe it was an omen, an omen that he should cut his losses and go home.
What was the worst that could happen? His friends would gleefully announce in the college that he was a coward. He could take that couldn’t he? But then he thought of Maria and how he had been trying to impress her and wasn’t that the reason he had accepted the bet in the first place. So, Sid sat cross-legged in the middle of the dirty and grimy floor of what was the drawing room and started praying fervently.
But each thunder clap thudded in his heart and each lighting flash seen through the shuttered windows made the dark corners come alive. One by one the horror novels he had read and the movies he had seen came to his mind and sowed the seed of fear, which sprouted and grew with each boom and flash.
That’s when he heard it, for the first time, a door closing on the first floor. Neither a loud sound as if it had been banged closed nor a soft sound as if someone was trying to close it gently. It was a regular sound like someone had stepped out of a room and closed the door behind them. And if it hadn’t been for the silence between thunderclaps, he wouldn’t even have heard it. Now fear squeezed his heart, for he had personally made sure all the doors were closed when he had checked them all in the evening before the starting of the bet when his friends too had been around. He tried to recall if he was the last person to come down the stairs or if any of his friends had come down after him and if one of them had left the door open to scare the shit out of him during the night.
He couldn’t remember, his brain was too scrambled at the moment with fear to allow for any clarity of thought. He turned his head right to try and look over his shoulder to see what was coming down the stairs to get him. And what he saw made his eyes bulge and a scream escaped this throat.
And that’s how they found him the next morning. Sitting cross-legged on the dirty and grimy floor his head turned as if looking over his shoulder and eyes wide with horror and mouth agape from where the scream had escaped.
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