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Sonajhoori Maitra

Horror Action Thriller


4.5  

Sonajhoori Maitra

Horror Action Thriller


Photograph

Photograph

9 mins 574 9 mins 574

“ Beware cause there’s blood on snow;

Beware of those, you think you know;

Beware when you hear the slightest sound;

Beware, cause you just have found

the “ PHOTOGRAPH”.”


Jane took a closer look at the photo again. It was a simple family photo, there was nothing special. Father, mother, and sisters, standing hand in hand, beaming at the camera. They looked like a happy family. The only thing unusual about the picture was this weird poem written on the back. It didn’t make any sense. Why should one be careful about a family photo? As Jane looked closer, she found out that the name of each member was written below in their standing arrangement. “ Henry, Katy, Lucy and Lily”, she read out loud. Those were their names then. She turned the photograph again and reread the verses. Nah! They didn’t make any sense. Jane sighed and looked out of the window. It was snowing harder than it did when they arrived here. She closed the windows, turned up the room heater, and curled up on the sofa, waiting for her husband to return. That’s when she heard the soft hissing sound. " Beware when you hear the slightest sound”, she remembered. It was coming from her daughter’s room.

 

Richard looked at the advertisement over and over again. “ House on the Hills” – it said. They were selling the house at a really cheap rate. Richard had always wanted to live amidst the hills. He closed his eyes and thought about it. Green valley, blue mist, snowfall, daisies, and a hot cup of tea. Oh! how happy Jane and Nina will be. Jane is a writer and what is better than sitting in the lap of nature brewing a beautiful romance on paper? Nina has hardly seen mountains in her five years long life. They could totally buy the house and stay there during the holidays. Jane could use it as her writing studio. Richard opened his eyes, looked at the computer screen again, and clicked on “Buy”.

 

Nina was so happy when they reached “ Bluevale”. What appealed to her most was the swing on the lawn. The house was even more beautiful than it looked in the advertisement. It was enormous - almost a mansion. “Why did they sell it so cheap? Richard wondered out loud. The house was already furnished. It had an enormous drawing-room. There was a sofa, a furnace, a huge showcase with all sorts of small sculptures from the ancient days. There were paintings on the walls. Clearly, the previous inhabitants were big fans of art. For some reason, they didn’t carry those when they moved. The dining space was another wonder. It had a long table with twelve chairs around it. There were unlit candles in the chandeliers. There was even a flowerpot at the center. The first floor had four bedrooms. The beds were neatly made and the cupboards were cleaned. Jane couldn’t help but feel grateful for the authority that looked after this place. They have done a great job.

 “ I’m gonna go get us some rations, you guys wanna come?”, Richard asked. ”Umm, I would rather look around. And Nina’s tired. She’s gotta sleep early. You go.”

“Okk, Bye then. Be back soon.”

“Bye and don’t be late. I am thinking of a candlelight dinner today”, Jane closed the door after Richard.

Nina had already gone up to her room. Jane started looking around the house. It was a grand house indeed. She went down to the basement to explore it. The basement was probably the most “ un-grand” part of the house. It looked like any ordinary basement. After seeing all the magnificent stuff upstairs, Jane had expected the basement to look like some sort of an oversized dollhouse. But it didn’t have anything special. In fact, there were cobwebs too. It didn’t bother Jane though. The rest of the house was too good to fuss about the basement. Along with other broken, disposed stuff, the basement had a small almirah with lots of drawers. The almirah was actually in great shape. She wondered what it was doing there with all the unwanted stuff. She pulled open the drawers. They were all empty except the fourth. The fourth drawer had a small photograph in it.


“Nina!” Jane called as she opened the door to her daughter’s room. “Where are you, Honey?” she looked around the room. It was empty. “ Nina, Where are you? Where did you go?” She pulled up the blankets, she checked inside the washroom, she bent down and looked under the bed. The kid had just vanished into thin air it seemed. “Shhhh! Mom doesn’t make noise.”, Nina whispered out of a closet at the far corner of the room. Jane almost jumped. “Jeez!, Nina, you gave me a heart attack. What are you doing there? Come out”. “Please Mommy please don’t make any sound. They’ll find us”, Nina begged. Her face shimmered with sweat, her eyes were wide open, she had a look of absolute terror on her face. “What are you talking about sweetie? Who will find us?” All Nina could do was shake her head slowly. Her gaze was fixated somewhere behind Jane. Her little face grew redder and redder. “ They found us” was all she could say before dropping unconscious. Jane turned her head slowly. Who were they standing at the door? Weren’t they the girls from the photo? “ Found you”, they whispered and ran down the staircase. 


The snow fell heavy and cold. The entrance of Bluevale was already under 2-inch thick snow. Storm winds made the windows rattle and pine trees swayed uncontrollably. The huge grandfather clock on the wall has suddenly stopped. It showed 3:30. Jane checked her phone. It was eight ‘o'clock at night. Jane glanced at the clock again. She couldn’t remember it not working when they got here. She looked at all the paintings. It seemed as if the house has suddenly turned a thousand years old. Of course, the house had antique stuff, but when they reached here, those seemed well cared for. Now when she looked again, Jane could find cobwebs hanging off the paintings. The sculptures in the showcase were broken, the sofa seemed to be covered with layers of dust. Suddenly the house didn’t seem as impressive as it had seemed earlier. Richard hasn’t returned yet. He has been out for more than three hours now. Nina was running a high fever. “ I don’t wanna play with you. Please let me go. I don’t wanna play. Please. Please”, she kept murmuring. Jane was scared out of her wits. Her throat felt dry. After those girls ran down the stairs, she had checked the entire house. It was empty except for her and Nina. Then she had locked all the doors and windows. Now she could hear someone swinging in the swing outside. She could hear the faint laughter of little girls playing. Who plays out in a snowstorm? What was wrong with those girls? Were they……? Jane couldn’t think anymore. She plucked up the last ounce of courage she had left in her and looked out of the window. There was no one outside. The swing swayed in the stormy wind. But wait..... the snow in the lawn was sprayed with blood. She could vaguely make out the top of a car, buried in the snow. "Not really. Not real. This is not real.", she kept on chanting to herself and drew all the curtains back. She hoped against hope that Richard will be back soon. The phone tower was not working, the battery was dying, even the room heater has died. She kept thinking about the photograph. What did the poem mean? 


 It was almost eleven when the headlights of Richard’s car hit the windows. “ Oh! finally”, Jane sighed out loud. She ran to the door but Richard was already in. “How did you get in? I had locked…….” “Let’s go get some dinner I’m starving”, Richard cut Jane off. “What took you so long? Do you have any idea how late it is? Nina is sick. She is running a high fever. Richard, are you even listening?” Richard was acting really weird. It seemed as if he couldn’t even hear Jane. " Richard, something is wrong with this place. There's this photo ...... and ....and ...did you see blood on the lawn? What's going on? Why are you so late?"Richard didn't reply. He slowly walked towards the dining room. Jane followed. Someone has already decorated the dining beautifully. There were candles burning in the chandeliers, there were fresh flowers in the vase. The table was laid perfectly with a white cloth. Lots of foods awaited to be served and savored. There were plates, knives, forks. A perfect candlelight dinner. A chill ran down her spine as Jane looked around the chairs. All of them were occupied except three. There were nine complete strangers joining them for dinner. Wait, not everybody was a stranger. Jane knew four of them. They were the people from the photograph. Richard smiled at her. He pulled a chair and sat down. “ Join us, Mommy. What are you waiting for?” Jane gasped as she saw Nina, sitting between those two little girls from the photograph. Lucy and Lily, Jane recalled. How did Nina get here? She was asleep on the sofa. There was one empty chair left now. “Sit with us”, the eleven others said in unison. Jane felt as if she was going into a trance. She slowly walked forward. They kept summoning her. “join us, join us, join us……….”With each step, Jane felt heavier and heavier. Her eyes turned slowly towards the clear, crystal plate. She could see her reflection, floating in the air, slowly becoming fainter and fainter. She looked at the reflection of the others. It took her breath away. Why was Richard covered in blood and Nina looked frozen to death? Why did all the others look like they have just come out of the grave? They were covered in mud. They smelled horrible. She looked at her hands. Her palms were frozen blue. Her fingers were frosted. She couldn't move them anymore. “The room heater was not working”, was all she could think. Finally, she reached her chair and stumbled down into it.

 

“What a beautiful house. Oh My God! Thank you, Alex. It’s ……… it’s just ……. Majestic.”

“You wouldn’t believe how cheap I got it for”

“ Well I can’t wait to look around.”, Lizzy almost shrieked in delight.

 

In the basement, Lizzy found a photograph. It was a sweet family photo. Father, Mother, and a little girl beaming at the camera. Oh! they had their names written down at the bottom. “Richard, Jane, and Nina”, Lizzy readout softly. She turned the photograph. There was something written on the back too. She leaned closer. It read:

 

             “ Beware cause there’s blood on snow;

             Beware of those, you think you know;

            Beware when you hear the slightest sound;

             Beware cause you just have found

             The “ PHOTOGRAPH”.”


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