Brita Roy

Drama Horror Tragedy


Brita Roy

Drama Horror Tragedy

The Apparition

The Apparition

8 mins

It was late in the evening and it was getting dark. Patsy hurried towards home and quickened her steps. It had become too cold for her liking. Though the firmly entrenched winter was slowly receding, and spring was gently tiptoeing in, a cold wave from the North had compelled the people living in Kalimpong to unpack their woollies again.

Patsy was averse to wearing warm clothes. She was allergic to wool and broke out in rashes whenever she wore woollen clothing. She was shivering in the cold and her teeth were chattering. But once encapsulated within the four walls of her bed room she would indulge in the luxury of a welcoming fire burning cheerfully in the fire place. Though electric heaters were common, the house still boasted of the Colonial fire place with a traditional chimney. As a child she used to love hearing stories of how Santa would descend from the chimney with his bag full of gifts. When she was near the house, she wondered whether her mother had prepared a piping hot bowl of asparagus soup for her which she loved. With these thoughts in her mind, she entered the secure confines of her abode.

She had taken up Medicine as her career option. It required a lot of studying and sometimes she would sit up all night till three or four in the morning. She had planned to do the same on that day too. Though she had taken up Medicine, she was not sure whether she would be able to continue and complete her course for another three years. Some of her classmates had given up. As for her friend Ted, he went to the extreme of taking his own life. Medicine had been such a strain on his mental health and the workload had been so great that he could not take it. First he had stopped eating and then he avoided interacting with others, and finally, in a bout of depression, he had committed suicide.

Ted and Patsy had been very close friends. He would confide in her initially and tell her about his hard struggle to cope up with the studies. She empathized with him as she could well understand what he was going through. But on hearing about his having ended his life, she was shattered. It weighed on her mind at all hours of the day. She just could not get him off her mind. She would constantly see his woe-be-gone face coming up in front of her eyes and she herself was becoming a psychological wreck. He used to tell her about his ambition, how he wanted to be a famous doctor and make his widowed mother proud of him.

One great passion in his life was to relieve human beings of pain, suffering, and distress. He was a good person but unfortunately, he came to a very sad end. He used to tell her that their friendship would last even after death.

It was very comforting to enter her bedroom and find a welcoming fire burning in the grate. The flames leapt and danced and to Patsy’s imaginative mind, it seemed they were beckoning her to come into the warmth of their close embrace.

She sat down in her comfortable revolving chair and sighed contentedly. It was wonderful to be at home. She had selected the chair with soft paddings so that she would not get a backache after sitting up all night. On a table next to her chair was an electric kettle and some instant coffee to keep her from dozing off to sleep.

On that day Patsy was studying a difficult chapter in Pharmacology. A lot of concentration was required. The flames danced and pranced and she stretched out her toes to keep them warm. All of a sudden she looked up and it seemed she was trying to hear something. But was it her imagination or did she hear correctly someone calling out her name, “Patsy, Patsy!” The fire in the fire place crackled and spat. Something was sputtering and popping too. The sound as if somebody was calling her must have come from the fireplace. The fire does make all sorts of noises! As she bent over her book in a renewed attempt at concentration, again she heard somebody calling her by her name. The fire made a snapping and whooshing sound and the hair on her arms stood up in an unexplained spasm of fear.

Then the pages in her book automatically started to turn, page after page. As the flames rose up in spurts and bobbed up and down, they started changing colour from subdued orange to bright yellow and then a greenish blue. The smoke climbed up in a murky mass in grotesque formation, casting weird shadows on the wall. Did she actually see somebody waving out to her in the reflection! Perhaps it was also a gust of wind which had ruffled up her pages! But then a gnawing thought sent a shiver down her spine. Could it be that Ted was trying to make his presence felt? She blocked the thought from her mind. She must not give into fanciful fears.

In another brave attempt, she continued with her studies. But her efforts proved futile because now she was very sure that somebody was breathing down her back. She could sense the heavy inhaling and exhaling. In a paroxysm of panic, a cold sweat bathed her body. Somebody was also rattling the door, and there was a sound of the knob being turned. The weather was admittedly inclement but would there be the knocking sound! Patsy closed her eyes and clenched her hands in prayer. At that moment the flames made a loud snapping sound and went off. Fear gripped her and nearly squeezed the life out of her. What had made the fire go out!

Again the thought of Ted came foremost to the mind. Now she remembered people telling her that if one had any object made of iron on one’s person, then the spirits from the other world could be kept at bay. She quickly took out her steel keys from her bag and held onto them. That gave her some mental strength and she got up to put on all the lights in the room. Folks had also said something about spirits not appearing where there was a bright light. Having done that, she swallowed two sleeping pills and buried herself way down under her quilt. But she felt somebody pulling the cover off her body. She tried to pull it back with all her strength. When she could not, she discovered that one end of her quilt had got entangled in the bedpost. She wrenched it free and again slid under the only means of escape, her quilt. She closed her eyes tight in an effort to sleep. But when fear takes the upper hand, people do the unexpected. She again popped her head out to see whether everything was normal. Her heart almost stopped beating. The lights had gone off!

The next day she was determined to do something about the terrifying occurrence. There had to be special prayers to be said for the soul of the departed if it did not find rest. She would organize a prayer meeting of the Medical students so that Ted’s spirit would not wander about. With these thoughts in mind, she approached the Students’ Union. The Student Leader was very co-operative and got the students to make the necessary preparations. A priest was invited to pray for Ted. An enlarged photograph of the deceased was also placed in the centre of the hall in the far end. Candles and incense sticks were put in front of the photograph. The students bought white lilies matching the mood of the occasion.

About a hundred and fifty students had assembled and five professors were also present. The atmosphere was very sombre and solemn. The priest recited the prayers in a clear voice and the students repeated them. All of a sudden the girls sitting in the front jumped up with a loud cry. Then some others also joined in the screaming and shouting. There was the Apparition in front of their eyes. They all stared in wonderment and disbelief. They were rubbing their eyes to make sure they were seeing correctly. In front of them was the exact replica of Ted!

It was then that the apparition spoke. He was puzzled at the reaction of the students-----why had they all screamed on seeing him? With the greatest difficulty, it was explained to him that the service was being conducted so that his soul could rest in peace. At that, he could put two and two together. He then explained to the whole gathering exactly what had happened.

He had to be admitted to a hospital when he had taken Insecticide to end his life. The rumour spread that he was dead. The Doctors had pumped out the poison from his stomach as much as they could and had given him an antidote to counter the ill effects. When he was once more stable physically, they started treating him for his nervous breakdown in the Psychiatric wing of the hospital. Now that the Doctors had certified that he was totally cured, he had come back to complete his Medical Degree course. The students were dumbfounded. They then turned to Patsy questioningly.

Patsy then explained that she had been very strung up lately. The pressure of her studies was too much and the news that Ted had taken his life was the last straw. She could not see things in the proper perspective and had herself become a victim of hallucinations. The crowd then dispersed, still in a state of bewilderment. But the incident had been an eye-opener. The Professors decided to sit for a meeting to revise the over-burdening Medical Course.

Rate this content
Log in

Similar english story from Drama