by Anindita Nair

As you stand in front of the mansion you start to regret your decision.

The mansion looms over you, its white marble appearing grey in the dim light of the full moon. A cold breeze blows, sending shivers down your spine. It’s almost like the wind is whispering to you, telling you to turn back while you still can.

You take a deep breath. Ghosts don’t exist. It’s just a dumb rumor going around. You’re going to prove your friends wrong. After all, that is why you accepted this dare.

‘Good luck. You’ll need it’, says your friend Ajay.

You ignore him and put your hand on the large oak front doors. They swing open .Okay,  you think, creepy.

You step into the house and the doors immediately shut and lock behind you. A feeling of dread washes over you. You turn and pound on the door, screaming. You soon realize that it’s useless. You’re starting to get scared and decide to find another way out  of this ‘haunted’ house.

You turn to face the hallway and the sight in front of you makes you  want to pass out. The hall is so dark it would have been impossible to see if it weren’t for the moonlight streaming in through the windows. A thin layer of dust coats everything in the hall, from the floor to the leaves of the small dying potted plants. The place looks like it hasn’t been visited by anyone in ages, which you figure, it probably hasn’t.

But that’s not what scares you. What scares you are the thousands of large spiders scuttling around, coming forward to greet you.

And ofcourse, with your luck, you have arachnophobia. Joy.

You freeze in fear for a moment, then start to back up against the door.

Right when you’re sure the spiders are about to scuttle onto you and inject you with poison(in a house like this, ofcourse the spiders are poisonous), a creepy voice rings out through the mansion, echoing in the hallway that is deserted except for you, the spiders and whoever had spoken  .’Not yet’ it says.

The spiders stop immediately. Then, very slowly, they start to retreat.

You’re not sure whether to be happy that the spiders are retreating or whether to to be scared that the spiders seem afraid of whoever had spoken.

Place sure seems haunted now, says a voice in back of your head. ‘Shut up’, you say out loud.

You gather up your courage and try to sound as brave as you can.’Who’s there?’, you ask.

No reply. Ofcourse not. And all of a sudden your life looks like a scene straight out of a horror movie, which never has a happy ending.

You shake that thought out of your head. No, you think, ghosts don’t exist and that is a fact.

You try to think that it was all just a dream. That you had fainted at the sight of the spiders. That the voice you heard was just part of a horrible nightmare. That the spiders had retreated at their own will.

You wander around the house for hours, hopelessly lost.

You open doors at random, climb staircases, turn corners and find yourself face-to-face with dead-ends.

As you walk into another dead-end you scream in frustration. I’m never going to get out of this place you think.  A voice speaks up behind you, ‘There is a way out, ‘, it says, ‘but not alive’.

You turn around to see who is speaking and what you see is worse than anything you can imagine. The corridor you walked down is on fire. You look around trying to find an escape route.

You open a door to your right and see your friends standing in the room, talking. You call out to them and they turn to face you.’What’s going on?’, you scream. They ignore you and continue talking. ‘Guys!’, you scream trying to get their attention. They continue ignoring you. ‘We have to get out of here! The place is on fire!’.

This time they notice you. ‘What do you want?, asks Uma. ‘Why are you constantly annoying us?’.They turn and walk through another door in the room.

You think about following them but you turn your attention back to the fire.  But now there is no fire, instead the corridor has turned in to a dark alley with voices echoing in it.

‘Choose’,  says the same voice you heard before. ‘You can save yourself but sacrifices will have to be made’. ‘What do you mean?’, you ask. That’s when you hear the screams.

You look to your right at the open door and see your friends tied to a pole. ‘Help!’, they scream. You take a step forward but you stop. Weren’t this the same friends who turned their back on you just moments ago? And now they are asking for your help. You try and concentrate on what to do and how get out of here alive, possibly with your friends. But the laughter makes it hard.

All of a sudden you take notice. The laughter. It’s not the cold and cruel laughter you heard in the hallways through which you just walked.  It’s normal, happy laughter and sounds strangely familiar.

‘Kiran?’, you call out. The laughter grows louder as your friends and family come out of different rooms in the corridor, laughing their heads off.

It’s lucky it’s still dark, cause your face has turned redder than a tomato. You don’t know what to say. ‘Happy Halloween!’, you friends cry out. You look at your watch. Yup. It’s one in the morning on the 31st of October.

Your friends and family lead you out of the house when you hear a scream behind you. You ball your fists in anger. You turn to face them; they’re not laughing anymore.

Infact, they seems quite surprised.

You give a sarcastic laugh. ‘Ha ha, very funny. I got pranked. I get it’, you say.  You turn around and start to walk home in anger.

As soon as you reach home you get into bed . As you lie there in your bed trying to fall asleep you hear your parents come in to the house.

Your mom is saying ,’That wasn’t part of the plan. We should call Ajay’s parents’. ‘You are right’, says your Dad. ‘But before you call them we should search the house properly. May be he got lost in the house’.

You wanted to scream at them that you weren’t going to fall for it again. That you won’t fall for their dumb pranks again. But you find yourself unable to say anything.

The next morning when you wake up you find that you parents are not at home. You open the front door to pick up the milk and the newspaper.

You sit down to read the paper and an article catches your attention. Some article about a kid found murdered in an abandoned house.

Normally it would not have concerned you. But this is different.

The kid who was murdered is Ajay, your best friend.

The same voice you heard in the mansion speaks again, ‘Did you think it was all part of a prank?’



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