HOUSE BY THE SEA. After ages of boring office work, I needed a break and wanted to have a vacation somewhere nice, to restore my physical and mental balance. I reckoned that I would need at least two weeks to recuperate from the taxing strain accumulated over past months, due to boredom and routines. I visited few travel agents, collected some brochures and studied those to find a suitable place for my vacations. I thought deeply about the location where I was going to spend my time. In the past I had done lot of touring and tracking inland, visiting wide open plains, walking through hills and climbing few mountains, although not very high. I wanted a seaside holidays this time, in an off beaten track. I had enough of the people in my life and it would be nice to get away from them for a while, away from their little moaning and their boasting and about their conquests of the opposite sex or about their children and their accumulated wealth. I did not want simply to spend my time dozing in the warm sunshine with drinks in one hand and a newspaper in the other or spending time in trivial pursuits. Not just golden sand and blue skies I wanted a coastline of rugged structures, weather beaten rocks, coves and some secret places hidden in between. After due considerations, I chose a spot in a quieter part, in a resort which was famous for its natural beauty and rugged coastline but away from touristy hotels and large crowds. It was two miles away from a country railway station with no motoring roads to reach but a walk through fields of the countryside. I rented an old fisherman’s hut, which had been abandoned for a few years but was bought by a property company, restored and refurbished to a modest standard. As I was going to spend most part of the day exploring coastline, I was not after luxurious furnishings but a simple clean habitation to spend my nights in. The company assured me that it was a clean simple place with a lounge and a kitchenette downstairs and a bedroom upstairs, which was all that I needed. I was greatly looking forward to my vacations. At the start of my vacation, I duly packed my suitcase. I traveled light with only two pieces of luggage. The suitcase contained my clothes, two paperbacks, toiletries etc and the shoulder bag was packed with ready to eat food, my camera and a small transistor radio, to while away evenings listening to music. I am not very fond of noisy popular music but like classical music, which can enhance the surroundings or could give you time to think about the deeper things in life. * * * When I arrived at my destination, I found the property satisfactory and true to the descriptions provided by the company. I settled in comfortably and had a good night’s sleep. Following morning, I followed the coastal path and the sun shown brightly and it was cool and temperate in the morning Very few people were around and I nearly had the whole coastline to myself. It was silent except the natural sounds of sea and wind. I sat in a cove like formation where a part of blue green sea was visible and the waves were playing with the sandy beach, pushing the grains of clean sand up the beach. They came up to my feet sometime and the feel of water was pleasant. I sat there listening to the wind and the waves. I thought they were trying to communicate and were saying something special for the benefit of myself as a listener. If you are of poetical temperament, you were sure to make a sense of it .I walked and rested and did it over and over again till it was nearly noon, when I unpacked my bundle of sandwiches to appease my hunger, sharpened up by pleasant but strenuous walk. I walked further along, after taking an afternoon siesta, admiring the coastal scenery and the jagged shapes of the rocks, carved by the wind and the waves. They were like sculptors hard at creating some weird shapes out of the gray rocks. In the afternoon, I took my homeward journey. Soon it became dark inside the house, as there was no electricity, I had to light an old fashion oil fired lantern, which made hissing noise casting weird shapes across the white walls of the room. Three pleasant days and nights had passed but on fourth day, when I returned to my place, I felt a sort of gloom as I entered the building and clearly envisaged some dark shadows crossing the facade of the building as if someone was trying to warn me from entering the building. I dismissed it all due to my tiredness and tried to get the thought out of my mind. Imagination can play so many tricks on one’s mind. As usual I took my meals, put my feet up across a table and listened to the music from my transistor radio. The music being classical and a large symphonic work was being played. The four movements of symphony played, different themes but the overall impression was tragic as if a soul was struggling against all odds, to overcome the pain and suffering of the life. The contents were not totally dark but I would say it was of solar darkness: where the composer, though overwhelmed with grief, was still giving flashes of his inward genius through the music. I listened contemplating and a landscape spread out in the darkness of the night and then a storm issued forth. The music with its lashes of rain and lightening was illuminating the gloominess by its defiance and sort of hope from which one could take courage to fight against the very odds. I listened to the symphonic work and afterwards some lyrical pieces on the piano, which somehow changed my mood, and so I went to bed a bit cheery, with pleasant thoughts for the adventures of the coming day. I must have slept for a few hours but in the midst of my sleep, I thought I heard a knock on my front door. Who could that be? I did not know a single soul in that part of the country. It might have been a burglar trying to get in, to steal my belongings. But such thing had not happened before and could not happen now. So I ignored it and tried to go to sleep again. After a few minutes, there was another knock and this time heavier and persistent and an airy feeling came over me. I looked through the window but as far as I could see there was no one at the ground level. My heart began to throb wildly. Then it looked as if somebody had either entered the house or was trying to knock down the front door. I did not have either the strength or the courage to go down and confront the intruder. Muffled voices were heard and then the commanding voice of someone to bring ‘them’ in. It sounded that the people present were trying to drag heavy things from outside to inside of the house. An airy wailing sound came across the sea and I froze with panic. There was a silence again but then the same process started all over again. This time the dragging sounds were heavier and more audible, it sounded like something wooded or metallic being dragged across the shore and into the house. I did not know what to do next. If I wanted to get out of the house and run, there was no way out except thorough the ground floor exist, confronting those terrible horrors. Unseen things are more horrific then the seen things as your imagination adds to all the fears you had in your mind already. I mustered all the courage and went to my bedroom door, unlocked it and looked through the chunk of opening and what did I find? There were bodies littered all over the floor with oozing blood and broken limbs, screaming in agony, their mouths twisted and some with silent screams. Half of the bodies were covered in white sheets and some were quivering underneath their shrouds. More bodies were being dragged in but there was hardly a room for them. There was a sort of a figure standing at the foot of stairs leading to my bedroom and I shivered at the sight of him. He sensed me presence and turned to look at me. By God! It was blood-curdling sight. Half of his facing was missing and the other half was made of some green stuff, seaweeds or plant life. The weeds were quivering with a life of their own, like those snakes on gorgon’s head. I looked closely at the other half and in that empty dark space, there was something glowing. It was one eye staring at me. I just propped myself against the wall in order to prevent myself falling, in a fainting spell. The man gurgled out a heavy broken sound as if he wanted to bring the rest of the bodies into my room. Even under great shock and shivering, I managed to shut the door and bolted it from inside. I stood there panting and listened. Heavy thudding sound was coming as if the man with half face was ascending the stairs and advancing towards my door. With s super human effort, I dragged all the heavy furniture against the door and climbed into my bed. My heart was thumping and began to beat at faster and faster. Soon I felt a sudden pain in my chest, which began to advance through my back and the whole of body. There was a heavy knock at my bedroom door. The pain in my chest became excruciating and I thought I was going to have a heart attack and might die soon, devoured by that hideous ghoul waiting outside my door. I covered myself completely in the blanket and as the sound of knocks continued, I put my fingers in the ears to block it. I must not panic and die. As long as I was alive, there was some hope of escaping the nightmare .The intensity of pain in my chest was more important than the attack of any ghoul. Having wiped out thus a portion of panic, I felt a little relief in my chest and simply lay there. After ages, the sounds of knocks ceased and a tiring exhaustion came over me and I went to sleep. When I awoke, it was light outside and birds were singing, it must have been morning. It was such a blessed sight though the effect of the last night’s nightmare was still with me. I gathered my tings together, packed everything and just left the cursed house alone. There were no marks or anything on the ground floor except pools of water and bits of sea plants and weeds. I came back to town and to my house. The experiences of that night had left a permanent mark on my brain. I felt disorientated and slept a great deal for days, in order to minimize the numbing pain and brain fever. After two weeks I went to my office and got myself back busy in the work, to forget those memories. A friend of mine invited me to his place for the weekend and I was glad to accept his invitation. I related my experiences. He was both shocked and curious and wanted to find the rational explanation for all that. He was a librarian in the central library and had access to the past record. He consulted the records and newspapers of the past few years and thought he had found a clue to my troubles. He brought me a newspaper cutting about the shipwreck on a coastline, of my vacations. A fisherman’s boat was caught in a big storm about twenty years ago on one night and was smashed against the coastal rocks and broke up. People tried to rescue the dead and the injured but were not successful. Durlabh Singh ©2015.