The situation I’m in right now is a perfect setting for a serial murder. A stormy night. Current out. Girls’ hostel.
I sit with my eyes wide open, not that I can see much, anyway. I stand up and peer out of the tiny ventilator window before me. I could figure out the whole block had a blackout as they were no visible lights anywhere. A second later I get my proof when a streak of lightning pierces through the sky. I cower at the sound that follows, my hands tight over my ears.
A feeble whimper escapes my lips. Thunderstorms and the dark are not a combination I prefer. The rain is relentless; it roars as it batters everything it touches.
I had sneaked out of my room a while ago since Tabi had one of her annoying friends over. I climbed up to the topmost step on the stairs to the terrace, the door to it locked by security. I sat there with my music on full blast and doodled my pages away.
‘I knew it was a bad sign to come here! I tripped twice while getting out of the room!’ I think.
The sane part of my mind coos, ‘You speak as if you never tripped over the laptop wire before.’
I ignore it.
I check my phone to see the time was 1:37 AM. I sigh, realizing I lost track of time again. I turn on the flashlight and gather my things as I gather my courage. I have to get down 3 flight of stairs and walk the entire length of a long ass corridor to get to my room. No biggie.
I clutch my phone tight to my chest, a poor protection against the horrors of the night. I make my way down, step by step, jerking at every odd turn of my shadow. It’s frightening and fascinating how the dark turns even the brightest of objects into scary unidentifiable figures.
My journey down the stairs is almost complete, and I have encountered no Casper-turned-evil yet. I have three steps left when I hear a sound from the corridor that makes me freeze mid-step. A weird click-plop of footsteps.
‘What is that? A one-legged pirate? What if it’s a one legged clown sporting a long sword? Oh God, I’m dead. I’m so dead. I’ll be stabbed with a red-nosed ice pick and then hacked to pieces!’
As my brain finds it difficult to even put my foot down, the click-plop grows louder by the second.
Just as the killer clown turns towards the stairs, I brandish the only weapon I have on me. I close my eyes tight and flash the light in its face. Hoping my one silly theory, about light making their makeup melt and hence leaving them too embarrassed to fight, was true.
“Goddamnit Pri! What’re you doing?” a familiar voice shouts. I open my eyes to see Tabi, in her shorts and a tee, shielding her eyes from the light.
“Oh, it’s you!” I exclaim, happy to see my comrade.
“Give me that!” she snaps and grabs the light I am still pointing at her face. She holds the light towards the ground and massages her forehead above her eyes. I would feel guilty, but something else catches my eye.
“You know, I agree I am weird. But that is damn weird for even me,” I say, pointing at her footwear. She has a 2-inch wedge on one foot and a flip flop on the other. Both for the left foot. Now I understand where the sound was coming from.
She rolls her eyes. “I was sleepy. Couldn’t find the match.”
“What happened to your phone?”
“I couldn’t find that either,” she scratches her head. “I was worried you were cooped up some place fighting imaginary ghosts.”
“Aww,” I coo. “You were worried about me?”
I go up to her and clutch her arm like a happy Koala. She gives me her usual deadpan expression.
“Yeah, and I’m regretting it too. Come on,” she says. She takes off her footwear and holds them instead. She moves towards our room. I follow, much braver now that Tabi is with me.
I have a tight grip on her sleeve and she’s moving slower to keep pace with my shaky steps. Halfway down the corridor, a loud clang rings from the broom closet we’re passing by. We both jump at the sound. We stare at the closet for a second. I’m half sure the killer clown is going to pop out of it.
“Something must have fallen,” Tabi murmurs, unsure. As if to prove her wrong, a series of clunks and clangs follow from inside the closet. I’m surprised nobody else have woken up at the sounds.
“What if it’s a boggart?” I whimper, referring to Harry Potter.
“Do you want a giant cockroach to come out of it?”
“Nooo,” I whine, clutching her sleeve tighter. A faint scratching sound ensues from the closet now.
“Hold on, that doesn’t sound right,” she says.
‘Of course, it doesn’t! There is a probably a tiny monster dying to get out,’ I think, but too scared to voice the thought.
Tabi goes to open the door. I stand there with my hand over my eyes, hoping against all hopes that a zombie goblin will not pop out. I peek through my fingers as she slowly opens the door.
She bends down to pick up something. I slowly take my hand off my face, assured we were not in danger as she hasn’t been mauled yet.
“This the boggart you were talking about?” She turns around showing what’s in her hand.
“Oh my gosh! It’s a kitty!” I take the kitten in my arms, pushing the stuff I’m holding into Tabi’s hands. All thoughts of monsters and ghosts wiped out of my head. The kitten, barely a few weeks old, moves around a little and quickly settles into the nook of my arm.
“What do you know? The cat likes the scaredy cat,” Tabi says. I just poke my tongue at her.
“He’s so cute! Can we keep him?”
“Well, I don’t kn-,” her voice gets cut off by the sudden light that surrounds us. We scrunch our eyes, adjusting to the brightness.
“See, he’s a good omen, he even turned the power back on” I conclude. She looks amused and doesn’t protest anymore. She knows I won’t listen anyway.
“Fine. But what’re you gonna name him?”
“How about broom? Since he came out of the broom closet,” I suggest, smiling brightly.
“No.” Back to the deadpan expression. I get ready to whine but get distracted as the kitten nuzzles his head on my arm and purrs.
“Aww, look at him cuddling,” I say. The kitten meows for the first time since we saw him. I smile up at Tabi.
“You like that? Cuddles?” she asks. Cuddles meows in response.
We giggle at that, unanimously deciding on his name. We finally go to our room and get Cuddles settled in.
And that’s the story of the night, Cuddles prevented a serial murder from taking place.