Sun, 16 Jun, 2024

Midnight Fear

By Navaraj Kharel

Photo Courtesy: "When are you leaving Pranil?", asked Natasha with her lips stretched in a thin smile spreading across her face. I have to showcase my project tomorrow. I will stay for couple of hours. Natasha left and I went to the corner of our college library and it had been just an hour, I could listen to the sound of my hungry stomach. I could not resist the hunger and went to a local shop nearby to grab a snicker. I bought cold drinks, biscuits and two snickers. It was a long day. By the time I reached back again the library was about to be closed and our librarian told me that he was waiting for me to take my belongings. Thereafter, I went straight to computer lab. Some of my seniors were playing game (Dota) in there. I plugged in my laptop and started coding. I was so into my work when they patted me on my shoulder, I got frightened. They asked me when I was going to leave. It was 8:30 then. I told them I would stay for another half an hour. They left. I was feeling sleepy but I had to complete my work. So, I went downstairs and got myself a cup of hot water. I added a packet of coffee in there. I used some sugar free capsules to make it sweet. Again, coding. I was done with the code by 9:00 pm but when I complied it and ran the program. It showed errors. Damn!…. I sat putting my hands on my head. I was worried. What on earth is this subject? With no choice to leave, I started to debug. Half an hour passed but the code still did not work. I was so pissed off, without thinking for a second I closed my laptop (angrily)..… I was tired as a hell and no sooner I had my head on my desk, I fell asleep. I woke up. It was so silent that I could even listen to my own heartbeat. I looked through the window. It was so bright, but I could not see anyone. On the table was my coffee, which was now cold. Still I took a sip and started to pack my things. I packed everything. I looked around the wall searching for a clock. It showed 8. Oh, these Chinese clocks. I smiled. I was so lazy to open my laptop to look at the time, so I took out my watch from my bag and wore it. Oh my god! It was 12:05! It was midnight. Suddenly, I remembered stories about ghosts who prefer to walk at midnight. Giving myself courage, I went to the washroom. When I was washing my hands, I could hear the flush inside one of the toilets. “Hey, who is in there?” But no one replied. My fear, which was just a bug, started to grow. Again, I asked. But no one replied. I went near it and was about to open the door. Something stopped me. That made my hands and feet cold. I do not want to look back. But I did and found that my bag was struck in the pin of the wall. I took a long sigh of relief. It’s nothing, I told myself, and I’m imagining things. And I remembered I had left my cup in the lab itself. It was my favorite cup how could I leave it? No sooner I had entered the computer lab and held my cup, electricity went off. The room was then pitch black. My cellphone was also dead. I felt the breeze of cold air through the window. I was almost half dead when I heard what sounded like footsteps. My pulse ramped up. I froze my breath trapped. I closed my eyes, wrapped myself and sat leaning against the wall. My heart pounded too heavily and my breathing was harsh. My chest was drawn. I would not look no matter how close these footsteps came. I would not look….I would not look…. Wavering between my two conflicting desires, either to run or wait for electricity to come back, I sat there shivering in fear of death. The moment of the call came when electricity was back. I slowly stood up, peeped through the door by making a small opening. I looked both sides. On the left side, I saw a long dark shadow. “But something is here. I’m not alone in this place.” In a split second, I started to run towards the gate. Yet no matter how fast I urged my legs to go, the fear of the shadow chasing me stayed in my head, moving down the long staircase, down the corridor, then down again. It was one of the fastest descents I had ever made. But my hope fell when my shoe slipped on something, and as I tumbled forward my head crashed in the wall and as I rolled down, my head again crashed against the sharp edge of stairs, plunging me into complete darkness I had ever encountered. I lay there awhile feeling the nothingness above me. When the pain of my bruised head settled over, I started crawling through the staircase to reach the gate. I do not know how much longer I crawled. I only remember the horror and the fear of shadow that was following me. I could not see the ground. My eyes slammed shut. I fell silent and as still as dead. When my eyes unlocked, I found myself in a hospital. I was overwhelmed by the joy of being alive and so was my mother sitting by my side holding my hand. “Who brought me to the hospital?”, I asked. “Navaraj sir brought you to the hospital” said my mother. “If it was even an hour late, you would have died because of blood loss” said the nurse. The news of mine regaining of consciousness was spread everywhere. At the evening time, Navaraj sir dropped to ask me about my health. I greeted him and thanked him for saving my life. My parents and doctors were thanking him as well. “Why were you at college till midnight, Sir”, I asked. Midnight! He exclaimed. “I had some undone issue of college so I stayed back. It was 10:15 and I was about to leave when I heard the sound of water and went towards it. The tap was left open. I closed it. No sooner I came out, I again heard the sound of water. It was from the flush system that was not working properly. So, I went down and asked Gopal to close the main supply of water. I just had started my car; suddenly I heard someone screaming and followed the voice. I found you on the ground, drenched in blood. I covered your head with my jacket and ran towards my car and brought you to the hospital. You slipped on the biscuit wrapper”, he said. He angrily added that he kept all the students of college inside the auditorium for four hours, for such great mistake of throwing a biscuit wrapper on the staircase. Tears rolled down from my eyes. He was a guardian angel sent by god to save me. I thanked him again and he left. I asked my mother to give my watch. I looked at my watch and smiled. It was 12:05 still. To this day, I have not told a soul. After all, I did not want my friends to make fun of me.  A false evidence appearing real. Everything you are running away from is in your head.