You

You are that love

Which I couldn’t preserve

Circumstances didn’t allow

In a different time

In a different world

We are together

Where life is not complicated

Where You are older

And I am younger

Where we don’t have to

Fight for each other

We don’t have to

Fight with each other

Where the world

Is simpler

Is peaceful

Where I am

Only yours

And you mine

I wish things

Were different

I wish I was

Something else

Maybe less of a

Psychopath

More of a

Romantic

More in touch

With my emotions

More stable

I wish I hadn’t been

Torn between choices

Torn between people

We could sleep

At peace

With ease

I wouldn’t have

Had to hurt you

I miss how beautiful

You are

Inside and outside

With your scars

Inside and outside

I miss our hugs, the kisses

Our secret trysts

Everything was

Amazing

In a different world

In a different time

You will be mine

I’ll be yours

Losing my best friend

Yeah, I lost my best friend

And my love

Not because of conditions

Or the environment

But because I am

An utter fool

A blight on relations

The error was so massive

That I can’t even repent

I broke your trust

I can’t hope to regain

I played with your feelings

I can’t hope to rekindle

I can’t even ask for forgiveness

I have hurt you that much

I wish I wasn’t who I am

But that doesn’t change facts

Does it?

Doesn’t change who I am

A blight

A fool

Who can’t see things

For what they are

I am too ashamed

To ask for forgiveness

I realised my mistake

A bit too late

That’s all I can say

I shouldn’t have

Blamed you

When the fault

Was all mine

I wish I wasn’t who I am

But know this

It pains me deep

To know what I lost

And to know

What I did

I can’t hope to have

What I lost.

Humanity lost

Humans

Supposedly the wise ones

Better than animals

With higher thoughts

Expected to uphold

Nature

Ecosystem

Values

But the truth

The truth is

Something else

Humans forgot

Everything except

The feeling

That they are better

Than the rest

That apparently

They are wiser

Than the rest

The ego

Brought down

The whole planet

Wars

Money

Corruption

Wastage

All were assumed

To be actions

Of the wise

Nature degraded

Resources depleted

Only the animals

Cared

The ones who were

Assumed to be

Of lower thoughts

Humanity lost

Somewhere

In the illusion

That the humans

Are better

Than the rest.

Dreams

Dreams are what

People live for

Dreams are what

People strive for

Dreams are those

That drive people

Young ones

Dream of being

Superheroes

Powerful

Benevolent

With age

They forget

Those dreams

With age

They have

New dreams

Dreams of

Cars, money

And a house

Dreams of

Loans, mortgage

That is how

This world is

Qualities are

Substituted by quantity

Young dreams

Of helping

Substituted by

Older, practical

Dreams of

More money

More stuff

To fill a house

That isn’t

Their own

To call

Dreams remain

But never realised

A Hunter’s Tale

It was a dark night, moon shrouded by grey clouds. The stars had hidden themselves away. Endless forests stretched beneath the black sky, the trees murmuring in the moist laden wind. The base of the trees had disappeared inside the dense fog. The rumble of a twin cylinder motorcycle flooded the snoring forest followed by intense beam of foglamps. The beam jumped from root to root as the motorcycle made through the forest. The rider, covered in a charcoal grey leather jacket and blue denim jeans held the helm deftly, the fingers of his leather gloves firmly holding the handlebars, keeping the feral vehicle on track. The condensed dew on his glasses hid his tears, a phantom pain keeping his jaws clenched.

His destination was a nearby small town called Slotter. The town had been terrorised by an entity whose modus operandi was well known to him. He had spent years to learn about such entities and to hunt them down. Learning was no easy task. Conventional subjects have had millions of books published for their study but the field that our protagonist pursued didn’t come with a DO IT YOURSELF manual. There were lores and bits of information scattered all over the land in not so accessible places. Lores that emphasized hunting entities was not as simple as point and shoot. Appropriate preparations were needed before facing the enemy, carrying a silver blade was a must. He used to scour through local newspapers all over the country for unnatural phenomena, track them, all in secrecy. Common folk either believed that entities beyond vision don’t exist or shun the existence of such knowledge entirely. He had spent nights in places so evil that even the shadows petrified the passersby. He had been beaten, bruised sometimes, tortured till he could concoct only a miracle to save himself but nothing could break his resolve.

The trail to Slotter was picked up from an online blog which tabulated unexplained events. The blog post mentioned homeless people who were found dead two mornings ago, under mysterious circumstances. Several pictures of the dead bodies were posted on the blog which seemed to be taken by people who had discovered the bodies and the view wasn’t pretty. It seemed as if everything from inside the body was sucked out. The skin had turned white and stuck to the bones, eyeballs sunk in their sockets, veins shrunk to the thickness of threads and blue. There was no information regarding postmortem. Our rider knew Slotter was the destination he was looking for. He slipped into dreams in his chair, the glass of scotch resting on the table in front of him, the dim light from the blog post providing the only source illuminating his drawing room. He saw a bright white door, wall lamps at its sides. He knocked on it and it opened slightly. Surprised, he opened the door wide and entered. It was dazzling white on the other side. At his right was a white couch and a chair facing the television, all surrounding a round white table. He looked at the television, it’s screen blank white. Then he noticed faint whimpering coming from the floor above. The sound was too feeble to understand clearly. He ran upstairs. All he could see was a long passage. There were white doors on both sides but he wasn’t sure of the door leading to that sound. He ran towards each door, opening it only to find a white passage leading to more white doors. He ran straight to the end of the passage, there was this blinding light. Sun had rose in the horizon, birds were chirping, another day had come.

He started for Slotter that afternoon, it was going to be a long ride even with the shortcuts. The town reached him the next morning. Another homeless had died, the same way. He straight went to the morgue.
“Hi, I am from the office of the coroner. Here’s my ID. I was hoping to check on the bodies of the homeless people that died two days ago.”
“Yeah, sure man. What does the coroner’s office wants with those bodies? I thought their job was done.”
“Another one was found this morning. They asked me to check on the previous ones. Just following orders”
“Alright follow me”
White tiles, cold room, nothing he hadn’t seen before. He was good at lying, lying his way through areas where only designated officials were allowed. The attendant took him to the last row, pulled out a tray. There it was, a skeleton wearing a skin and veins. Chest sewn up after the postmortem, specks of pink around the nostrils and mouth.

“The others are in tray number 254 and 257.”
“Hey, can I get your postmortem reports?”
“Sure man”
The postmortem reports cleared his doubts. All internal organs were missing and not an ounce of blood left. The internal organs had been liquefied and sucked through the nose and mouth. The victims died of the causes he was too familiar with. Time of death was placed around at 4AM for each. It was a wraith. His next stop was the Slotter police station.
“Heath Ledger, FBI. I am here for the recent deaths of the homeless.”
“Heath Ledger? Seriously? You don’t look like him”
“Yeah, I tried telling my parents.”
“Why is the FBI interested in the deaths of a few homeless people?”
“It’s not about them being homeless. We came across similar cases in other parts of the country.”
“Didn’t see that coming.”
According to the police reports, the victims were found in secluded places, abandoned buildings, alleyways. A wraith would of course like its victims secluded, he thought.
The place of  the last murder was a nearby abandoned building frequented by squatters. There were several floors and finding a squatter in isolated condition was not going to be a problem, not for the wraith but it was for the hunter to find which isolated guy was the target. Killing wraiths was not easy. Not that other entities presented their heads on a platter but a wraith, it was on another level. Night had fallen.
He went to a roadside motel, one which did not ask many questions, presented a credit card. The manager looked at the card, it read Henry Macintosh. The hunter did not look like a Henry, he thought.
“Room #120, take a left, the last one to your right”
“Thank you”
And the hunter left, his bag over his shoulder. The bag had everything he knew or used for hunting, wooden stake, shotgun with shells filled with rock salt, engraved pistol with silver bullets, silver coated blades, some herbs unknown to the general populace, all in their own compartment, neatly arranged. He ordered room service, sat down with his journal and a glass of whiskey. It was going to be a long night. He flipped through a few pages.
Wraiths can take human form, which meant it was somewhere among people living in the town. It could be identified but only when you looked through a mirror. Killing a wraith was, even more tricky. They could only be killed when they were feeding on the victims, a silver bullet to the head.
He was again staring down the white passage, running, the whimpering seemed so loud but the passage always ended at the white blinding light.
Another homeless died, in another abandoned house. The wraith had developed a taste for the homeless, he thought. Where is the wraith? Which human’s form has it taken? The local police department could help.
“Mr. Ledger, how can we help you today?”
“I have a hunch. Do you know about anyone who might have moved into the town just before the murders?”
“We will check it out.”
“Is there a place where the homeless gather? Maybe a lunch home or any specific place they might meet together?”
“There’s a place where they serve stew to the homeless, once a day. If you go now, you might be able to meet the guys running that place. They are a bunch of nice people.”
The hunter raised his eyebrows, “How long have they been running the place?”
“Well, I think a few months. Most of them are old faces.”
“Can you guide me to the location?”
“Sure, as you get out of here, take a left, go straight, take the second right, you will see their soup kitchen.”
“Thanks”
Harry’s Soup Kitchen said the large signboard above the small warehouse. It was 12 noon. A long queue had already formed awaiting the mass cooked stew and bread. Harry was inside, along with an assistant, arranging the utensils for serving the food.
“Heath Ledger, FBI. Can I ask you a few questions about the recent deaths in the town?”
“Yes yes, of course. I was heartbroken after I learnt of their deaths. I knew them personally. They came here almost everyday. David there was good friends with those fellows even though he joined our kitchen recently. David is such a nice guy, he knows everyone personally.”
“That is awfully nice of him. We don’t see such selfless people nowadays do we?” He thought, David fits the profile. Let’s check in the mirror.
“We sure don’t.”
“Can I talk to him?”
“Yes of course. Hey, David, Agent Ledger would like to talk to you.”
“Yeah sure, what’s up?”
Agent Ledger was checking his phone. He held the shiny phone screen at a deliberate angle and saw David’s face in it. He was not the wraith.
“Hi David, just wanted to ask some routine questions” still checking his phone,”Harry said you knew the victims personally. Did they look any different the days before they were killed? Like frail or weak?”
“Actually they did. I thought they were sick or something. I did ask but they were incoherent. I didn’t push because of the rush we face everyday.”
And suddenly, he saw, a face as white as ice, filled with creases, yellow eyes, two holes where the nose should be, pass through the shiny screen. He lifted his face, a homeless was joining the queue, perfect disguise.
“Who is that guy?”
“Ohh, he recently started coming to our kitchen. Not so chatty let me tell you. Just eats and leaves. I did see him talking briefly to those guys before they died.”
“Did you get his name?”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Alright, thanks. That will be all.”
The prey had been found or was it the predator. Only time would tell. Now, he needed to track it till night when the wraith made its move.
The Sun moved slowly to the west and sunk into the horizon. It was time. An abandoned building, the homeless were still awake. The wraith had moved into the second floor. The hunter stayed outside, hidden behind dense foliage, following its movements using his binoculars. It had a new friend, a fellow squatter. Another night, another victim, hopefully not. Not so soon, the building went dark except the fires which kept the homeless alive, shielded them from the cold. 
The hunter tiptoed into the building, keeping in the shadows and climbed the never-ending stairs. Second floor, his mark was lying on a tattered mattress near the to be victim. He positioned himself in a dark corner, inside a blanket. He had applied some of his herbs to mask his smell.
4AM, the wraith rises, yellow eyes shining bright in the dimly lit room. Night vision goggles were doing their job perfectly.
Slowly, it climbs over its victim, face as pale as snow looking satisfied, the cold wind flowing through its white hair. Slowly, snake like tongue emerged from its mouth making its way to its unwary prey. The liquefied organs made their way into its mouth, lumps moving through the long tongue.
A whistle, followed by the clatter of bullet casing and the wraith fell.
Another night, another prey.
The town reverberated with the dying sound of his motorcycle.
Another night, survived.

Rift in the veil

I was having my morning coffee when it all began. I heard the doorbell chime. I peeked through the curtains of the drawing room. I saw a thin person clad in black. I was little wary since the men dressed in black I have met in my life have been rarely decent. I walked to the door with the coffee mug in my hand and opened. It was a catholic priest as per his dress. I was albeit suprised. Catholics tend to hate me for my blasphemous activities. I ushered him in. He was visibly upset, something gnawing at him. He sat down and wiped the sweat off his face.

I asked, “Would you like to have some coffee or something?”

“Just a glass of water please. Thank you.”

I brought him some water from the kitchen and sat down on my chair facing him.

He started, “I am father Aaron from Biskra, Algeria. Something happened at the Convent for Benevolent Sisters situated outside Biskra day before yesterday. One the nuns, Agatha had gone to the basement to check on the wine casks. It was her turn that night. She saw something unfortunate, one of her fellow nuns, Susan was floating in the air. She was trying to say something but only a black fluid oozed out of her mouth. Agatha flipped out and ran back to their dining hall. She reported everything to the head sister. The sister went to the basement with the rest of the girls to investigate. They only found Susan’s dead body covered in a black sticky liquid. They could hear a faint hum. They followed the sound whose source was found in an old cellar. That cellar has been sealed for about 3 centuries. The key was found in the restricted section of the library. When opened up, they saw a thin red line pulsating, floating in the air. It hummed with a low pitch but clear enough to be heard beyond the walls.”

I smiled, “So, you people do have restricted sections. Why the hell do you behave so high and mighty? Whatever, this red floating line, what do you think it is?”

The priest looked offended, I ignored that. He replied, “We think it is a gateway to another world. We aren’t sure yet.” Before he could speak any further, his smartphone buzzed. He picked up the call and almost instantly his face looked disturbed. He spoke into the phone, “Let me get back. I’ll do something.”

He looked at me with pleading eyes,”There has been another instance of the same. This time it was a child. She died horribly. You must come with me.”

I knew he meant what he said. I replied,”I expect fair compensation from your church in return of my services and I don’t like haggling. Of course, my transportation will be borne by the church again.” And thus began my journey to Algiers.

I am Graham, a professional hunter of supernatural beings. Monsters commonly called have always been there. My services come at a price which isn’t negotiable. I have killed werewolves, vampires, liberated spirits and demons stuck in this world. I am fairly popular in my circles.

Biskra airport was larger than I expected. I took my luggage from the conveyor belt and moved to the immigration. The airport seldom received any new visitors which was evident from the surprise among the immigration officials. A Rolls Royce was waiting for me outside the airport which took me to my destination.

The convent was more like a palace carved inside a mountain. The car entered through a large gate into a massive parking space large enough to house a Boeing Jet. Mother sister was waiting along with two of her pupils. She said hello, I am Mother Margaret. We don’t encourage outside visitors especially males but here we didn’t have a choice. The safety of the girls is in question.

I replied, I don’t really like working with priests or priestesses but the case is challenging.

The lady took me to a guest room which was inside the large gates but outside the main covent, adjacent to it. Security was housed alongwith. I smirked at their arrangements. Isolating themselves from the world to serve a fictitious entity and they claim to be benevolent.

I told the head, “I would need to enter the convent to investigate properly. Also, where was did the second death take place?”

She replied, “Yes, I realised that with immense displeasure. The other child died in the lawn of her house. That place is a few kilometres from here. Her parents are devastated. Please be less forward with them.

I smiled a little,”Ma’am, as it happens it’s not my first case. I know how to approach grieving parents. Just point me to the necessary locations and I’ll do the rest. I’ll get freshened up and meet you at the inner gate of the convent in twenty minutes. Please don’t poke into my luggage. There’s sensitive equipment inside.”

The lady was taken aback, “Why would I search through your belongings? I respect a man’s privacy.”

“I certainly hope so”, and I beckoned her to leave.

After a brisk shower, I wore my typical uniform, a denim jacket over a cotton shirt and a pair of cargo pants. I pulled out the necessary equipment from my luggage and placed them in my backpack. I got out of my room and started walking towards the entrance. Two of the security guards were on guard at each side of the large pair of doors. The mother sister along with two of her disciples was waiting just beyond the doors.

“No man other than the grand bishop has walked through this gate till date. Please maintain the dignity of the convent.”

“I have little interest as to who walked through these doors. I’d like to finish my job soon and leave for home. Where is the humming red line?”

And she lead me through a long yellow stone corridor with doors on both sides till we reached the last door which was smaller than the others. She brought out a huge key from her gown and opened the door. Stairs led downstairs. The light was dim.

She said, “the basement primarily houses the wine but at the far end there is a cellar which has never been opened in three hundred years. I had been told that the room contained important documents and rarest of books. You will know the rest when we reach the room.”

Large wine casks, arranged in four rows occupied the basement forming two narrow aisles. There was only enough light to see where everything was. We walked through one of the aisles to reach the other end. I could hear the humming with increasing intensity as we approached the room. It was clear yet very subtle. Then I saw a reddish glow from underneath of what seemed to be an iron door. I looked at mother Sister with inquisitiveness and she looked back with a hint of fear in her eyes. The glow brightened as we finally reached the end. The door was small but seemed strong. Rivets adorned the iron frame on all sides to which the door was hinged. The door seemed to be made of one thick iron sheet with a pentagram engraved on it. I stoked my hand across the surface of the door and found some more engravings. I pulled out my torch to look closely, the engravings were sigils strong enough to ward off demons and similar dark entities. I wondered about the reason for such strong warding. What were they trying stop?

I turned to Mother Margaret, “What can you tell me about these sigils?”

She was taken aback,”These are sigils? I always thought they were some sort of decorations. There’s nothing mentioned in our Bible.”

“Ma’am, it seems you have a lot more to learn about your religion. These sigils are there keep off demons from the underworld. The question is why are these sigils here? Please open the door.”

Margaret brought out another large brass key, this time one with two heads with some markings on it. I was curious if she had a special pocket inside her gown made only for keeping such keys. She put the key inside a keyhole at the centre of the pentagram and twisted it twice counterclockwise and once clockwise. The door clanged loudly, the sound reverberating throughout the large basement and opened to its back. Smell of sulphur filled the air. It was dark inside except for a faint red glow at the centre of the room. Apparently, nobody in last hundred years thought it needed some electric lighting. I took out my lighter, flicked out a flame and moved it around. Two wooden torches hung from wrought iron frames at both sides of the door and more were placed at regular gaps. I went ahead and lit half of the torches. Things were clearer now and Margaret looked like a spectre in a black gown. It was funny. I approached the red glow, I could see a thin red line pulsating amidst the glow which was increasing and decreasing in intensity at regular intervals.

Margaret exclaimed, “The line is slightly smaller than what we last saw. What does it mean?”

I said calmly,”That can mean only one thing, the doorway is closing. Which means we have to grab that fucker ASAP.” Margaret drew a cross on her chest hearing the cuss word. I said, “Please give it a rest. Don’t take the lord’s name in vain. Let’s move out. I need to investigate further and for that first I need to talk to the last person who saw Susan. I believe her name is Agatha.”

“Alright but remember that she hasn’t spoken to a man since she was a child. She might not speak much.”

“Don’t worry about it. She is not the first nun I have interviewed.”

“If you say so.” And she ushered me from the basement and led me to their dining hall. She beckoned me to sit on one of the chairs.”Please wait here while I get her.”

After a while sister Margaret came back with three nuns. I didn’t bother to introduce myself. One of them came forward and sat on the chair across the table in front of me. The rest stood near the door.

“I presume you are Agatha. I am here to investigate the cause of death of your fellow nun Susan. Are you comfortable talking about it?”

Agatha nodded her head in confirmation.

I continued,”If there’s any discomfort let me know. I’d understand. Shall we continue?”

She nodded again.

“As I heard, you had gone to the basement to procure some wine and you saw Susan. Can you describe what you saw?”

“That night will be forever etched in my mind. I went down to the basement and reached the specified wine cask. I heard a faint humming noise. I turned and went ahead to check the source of the sound, it was coming from the sealed door. I was little scared and as soon as I turned to leave the place, I heard groaning. Then I saw Susan, her eyes were all white, fixated on me and she was floating, as if someone had grabbed her neck from behind and lifted her. Her arms and legs seemed lifeless. She tried to tell me something and lifted her hand but only black fluid came out of her mouth. I couldn’t help myself and I screamed out of fear. I ran from there. I even fell down once but I got up and ran till I reached the dining hall.”

I nodded deep in my thoughts. It was a clear case of possession but I wasn’t sure if it was demonic. I turned to the sister, “Ma’am, I think Agatha needs to rest now. Could you please take a seat and tell me the rest of what happened?”

Margaret whispered to the other two nuns who came forward and took Agatha to their living quarters. Margaret sat on the chair previously occupied by Agatha.

“Shall I start?”

Sister nodded in confirmation.

“What happened after Agatha reported to you about Susan?”

“I made Agatha sit down and asked Emily to look after her. Then I took three disciples and went to the basement. It was colder than usual. We all could hear the humming and the whole place reeked of sulphur. Susan’s body was on the ground, lifeless in a pool of thick black liquid. Her eyes were open, specks of the same liquid could be seen on her eyes, nostrils and mouth. We were repelled and afraid at the same time.”

Margaret exhaled audibly and then continued, “I followed the sound of humming and could see the pulsating red glow coming from under the door of the cellar. I was astonished because that cellar door has been closed for so long. I remembered that the key was in the restricted section of our library inside a chest. I ran back to the nuns and asked them to bring the body out of the basement. Then I strode fast to the library to find the key. I ran back and opened the door and saw the thin red glowing line floating in the air. I had to take a step back and take support of the wall. It was overwhelming.”

“Please have some water. Take a deep breath”, I said to her. She took a sip of water.

“I am alright. There was no one around and I was scared. I came out of the room and locked the door. Then I straight went to the dining hall where everyone was present. Agatha was better as I could see. I went and sat down on a chair and asked for a glass of water. It was almost midnight by then. All of us except Emily and Agatha waited in the dining hall till daybreak”, she took another sip, “As soon as the first light struck, I went to my office and called father Aaron for help. He suggested we need a specialist. I didn’t know it was you he was talking about. You know the rest.”

“Hmmm, I need to talk to father Aaron to shed some light on my queries. Is it possible to meet him in the evening. Tomorrow I’d like to meet the parents of the child who died.”

“I’ll make a call. Till then you can have your lunch and get some rest.”

“Yes, that would be nice.”

I must say, for a old ignorant convent the food was pretty good of not so elaborate. I went to my room afterwards and fell into a deep slumber. Loud knocks broke my sleep. It was 5PM already. I got up, groggy from my sleep and walked upto the door. A security guard stood there. Behind him was a black car. I could see sister Margaret sitting in the back seat. I told the guard, “Please ask her to give me five minutes.” And I went in to get ready.

We reached father Aaron’s chapel in about half an hour. He had just returned to his chambers after finishing his sermons. Margaret knocked on his door.

“Come in Sister Margaret. I was wondering when you would come.”

Sister Margaret bowed to the father and he reciprocated by bowing to her. I stepped forward and shook his hand and then we took our seats. Aaron looked at me, “Are you comfortable with the arrangements?”

“Yeah, stone walls with no windows make me real happy” I said sarcastically, “However, I must say that the food is good. Filled the hole in my stomach. I am already looking forward to the dinner.” Margaret looked at me sternly and said,”I think it’s better to get down to the matter at hand. I am not really comfortable staying away from the convent for long.”

“Yes, of course. I understand staying outside the dimly lit cave in the mountain can be overwhelming” Margaret glared at me again. I continued,”Father Aaron, I saw something in the cellar. Care to explain?”

“What are you talking about?”

“What is a pentagram doing on the door to the cellar and another inside the cellar? Also, why are there sigils on the door?”

“I was hoping I won’t have to answer those questions but I don’t believe it can be kept a secret anymore since you found the markings on the door. Whatever I tell you would help towards your investigation but no one outside this room should know about it.” He took a deep breath and continued, “As you may know, there’s the underworld which is the home to demons and other cursed souls. The dimensional demarcation between our world and theirs is especially thin in the space inside the cellar. The whole convent was built to keep such evil inside. The pentagrams and the sigils are to trap anything dark that might be able to come into our world. This secret has been handed down over generations of priests of Biskra chapel. We always believed that the wardings were strong enough to keep any dark entity inside but we were wrong. What would you do now?”

“As far as I could gather from the smell of sulphur and the deal with the black goo, it is a demon. So, first we need to find the demon, then we need to exorcise it and we need to do it as soon as possible. That red pulsating line of light seems to be a rift between the two worlds and is closing. I think the demon is ancient and that is why the wardings were useless against it. Moreover, given the nature of deaths, the demon is on its way to find a suitable host. For everyone’s sake, let’s hope it hasn’t found one yet. Whom do you know in the police?”

“Why? What do you need from the police.”

“Well, I need a large net to catch the demon and only the police can drop such a net. If possible call your contacts in the police and run any report of weird behaviour through you. Make up a story if you feel like. There are religious nutters everywhere. I think we should return to the convent now. I need to make preparations for the exorcism. If we wait for another day after tomorrow, the damage might be irreversible.” Saying this, I got up from my chair. Sister Margaret followed suit. We both bid good night to father Aaron and started towards the convent.

Margaret was quiet throughout our journey. I could understand her shock upon hearing such a secret about the convent where she spent most of her life. She asked me to meet in her office as soon as we reached the convent. Her office was adjacent to her living quarters on what we can call the first floor. I went to her office after keeping my stuff in my room. The office was modest with a few shelves for books, a large desk and three chairs. She asked me to come in as I knocked on the door.

“Mr. Graham, please have a seat”, she continued as I sat down, “I knew this place had its history but I never knew there would be secrets that I won’t be informed about. I am not angry, just surprised and now concerned for the wellbeing of my girls. How do you plan to curb this evil?”

“Let’s first meet those parents tomorrow and then I can devise a proper plan. I need to find out ways to exorcise an ancient demon and for that I need access to your library and also the restricted section”

She nodded in agreement, “If you don’t mind, Emily would stay in the library till you are done, not to keep an eye on you but just to keep the books in their places after you are done.”

“That won’t be a problem. I’ll call father Aaron so that we can discuss anything relevant I find.”

We went to the library which was on the ground floor adjacent to the dining hall. Margaret turned towards me,”I believe it’s wise to have your dinner before you go inside the library. Emily would accompany you.”

I nodded. Emily was waiting at the door by the time I finished my dinner. She led me to the library, opened its door and moved on to sit on a chair by the side of a large reading table. I went in search of the relevant books. The library was huge to say the least with at least a few thousand books. It took me a while to find books on demonic possession. Normally, demonic possession proceeds by occupation of the host body through some form of permission given by the host. The hosts are generally weak willed and unknowingly provide “legal rights” to the demon. However, an ancient demon may be strong enough to bend the laws and occupy any host at will. However, it would need some form of permission. I kept on searching for a demon that leaves black sludge while possessing a host or after killing the host. It must have been hours. Emily had dozed off in her chair with a book in her hand. I tried calling Aaron but there was no cellphone reception. I moved towards the restricted section and suddenly felt a chill run down my spine. This place was haunted. I didn’t pay much heed, most spirits are harmless. I brought out my EM wave meter which flickered weakly. Yes, indeed it was a spirit. Since, no one was harmed here to my knowledge, it didn’t seem dangerous. I kept searching and a shadow passed by me. I would have done something but I don’t hunt spirits that don’t hurt others. I had found my book and it was very old. The writings were in old latin and spoke of entities older than the Bible. I went to the reading table and flipped through the pages till I saw a diagram of a man lying lifeless and black fluid spread around him. Yes, this demon indeed was ancient, about a few thousand years old and needed a strong host to sustain its existence in our realm. It didn’t need much legal rights. Any nearby human asking for help was enough for it to possess the body.

I understood why the sigils or the pentagram were not enough to hold it. A completely different set of signs was needed for warding off the entity and only the pentagram was not enough. Those sigils needed to be also drawn inside the pentagram with something that resembles blood for the trap to work. My job was clear now, first I had to draw the sigils on the door with red paint and also inside the pentagram in the cellar. Next move was to find the host and bring it to the trap and chant the incantation written in the book in its parent language that would force the demon out of the host. I believed as soon as the demon was pushed out the rift would pull in the demon to the other side. It was past midnight and I had to start early the next morning. I woke up Emily and asked her to go to the living quarters. I went to my room after she left the library and fell asleep.

The blare of my alarm woke me up. It was 6AM. I finished my morning duties and approached the gate of the convent. The security called in Sister Margaret who led me to the basement. On the way I explained my plan as to how I needed to draw a new set of signs for the trap. I asked her to procure some red paint till I began chanting the initial incantations. It was long and I wasn’t habituated with old Latin. Within a few minutes one of the nuns came and placed a can of red paint with a brush beside me. I was almost done with the chanting till then. I brought out the paper on which I had made the required diagram along with the sigils. It took another half an hour to complete ward the cellar and draw a new trap. The red line had thinned out as compared to yesterday. We were running out of time.

I came out of the cellar, closed the door and went straight to the dining hall. Sister was chatting with a few disciples and the rest were having their breakfast. I heard faint murmuring which I assumed was directed towards me. I gave a smile and walked towards Margaret,”The trap is set. Let’s go to the parents. I am sure we would find some clues to the next target.”

I called father Aaron as we came out of the convent. He had arranged a meeting with the parents of the child that died. Basira and Sami Touati, both were in the police force, the wife being senior to the husband. Weirdly, we didn’t get any further news of anyone behaving in any manner that might resemble demonic possession. Their home was just outside the city about forty minutes from the convent. We reached their before 9AM. Basira welcomed us into their home. It was colder than was supposed to be. Something was wrong. She asked if we would like some coffee which we politely declined. She sat on a single chair across the table from where I sat. Margaret and Aaron made themselves comfortable on the couch by my side. Grief was visible on her face. Dark circles beneath her eyes said she had trouble sleeping. I looked at Sister who nodded back as a hint to start my investigation.

“I regret disturbing you at this moment. Father Aaron might have told you that I intend to catch whatever caused your daughter’s death.”

Hearing about her daughter, Basira started sobbing, “She was just a child you know. We never expected she would die let alone like this.”

“Can you tell what did you see?”

I could see she had trouble speaking. Margaret went to the kitchen to get a glass of water for Basira. She needed it.

Basira took a small gulp of water. She took a deep breath and started again,”That night we heard a loud bang from Saida’s room. Sami went to check and I was behind him. The view shocked us to the core. Saida was stuck on the ceiling, above her bed. Her eyes were glowing red and a black liquid was dripping from her mouth and nose. Her bed was covered in that liquid. All we could hear were groans coming from her. Then suddenly her body dropped to the bed with a loud thud. Sami dashed to check on her. He was thrown back as soon as he touched her.”

She paused for a moment, “I was still in shock. Saida’s body was thrown to the ceiling again, I started crying. Sami was knocked unconscious. As if an invisible hand had caught her and throwing her about. The ceiling was red where her head struck. I started crying profusely. I couldn’t do anything to help her. Sami had regained consciousness by then. He started begging and crying to leave Saida alone but nothing helped. Then we saw Saida’s body arch backwards. There was a loud crack and then she fell to the bed. Everything became suddenly calm. Sami crawled to her bed and took her lifeless body in his arms. Saida was no more. We wept and then we heard a sound. It sounded like a laugh but more like hissing. The next morning we buried her. Sami hasn’t been the same since then. He has locked himself in Saida’s room and refuses to come out or talk to me.”

I stood up and said, “I need to see him right now. I need to check if he is alright.”

Basira looked at me, “But how? The door is locked.”

“I have to break the door. Your husband might be in danger.”

Basira stood up and took us upstairs to Saida’s room. I put my ear to the door, I could hear a faint sound, sound of groaning. The smell of sulphur choked my lungs. My hunch was correct. The demon was latched on to the family. Grieving parents are the best targets for demonic possession. They are depressed and would do anything to get out of the grief.

I kicked on the door. Sound of laughter could be heard from the other side.

Basira shrieked, “What is happening inside? Is Sami ok?”

“Let me break down the door first.”

I kicked harder and the door flew open. There was Sami, stuck on the wall a foot above the ground. A malicious grin could be seen on his face. His whole face was covered in the black liquid which streamed down his body till the floor. A hoarse voice came out of his mouth, saying something illegible, most probably some ancient tongue which I couldn’t understand followed by crackling. I screamed,”Dude, you need to speak in English for us to understand”

He uttered something in his own language, more black fluid oozed out of his mouth. He needed to be put down. I was out of my wits. Father Aaron started calling the Holy spirit. Sami laughed at Aaron and his body was lifted further with his hands being stretched outwards. Sami screamed now, “HELP ME!!!” followed by that hoarse laughter. With an evil grin, again he said some illegible. A cut appeared on Sami’s right cheek followed by another laughter. This demon was not gonna be easy to tackle. Fortunately, I had procured an incantation to weaken the demon from the book I read last night but that spell wasn’t going to hold him for long. I turned to Basira, “get a thick rope or anything to bind him right now.” I’ll weaken the demon and we will tie him up to halt his movements.” Basira stayed still, eyes open wide. Sami was being turned over still stuck to the wall.

I moved towards her, held her shoulders and shook her. She came out of her trance and said,”I’ll get the rope. Please help him ”

As soon as she tried to move, the door slammed shut. I heard Sami cackle loudly. This was bad. The demon had locked us in. I had no choice but to recite the chant to weaken the demon.

And I began chanting, “Consummatum est. Diabolo fuge. Diabolo fuge!” again and again. All hell broke loose. A storm brewed up in that room. Everything in the room flew in all directions and the laughter was deafening. I didn’t stop, I kept on chanting till storm died down. The laughter stopped, I could hear only groaning. Basira was waiting and as soon as Sami dropped she ran to get a rope. I gave the diagram of the trap to Sister Margaret and asked her to draw it inside the lid of the trunk. It was impossible to contain the demon for such a long distance without the trap. Sami had to be carried in the trunk of the car. Basira ran inside within a few minutes with a rope and handed over to me. I asked father Aaron to lend a hand to tie up Sami. I was shaking with excitement. Sami was spewing the black liquid continuously and stank like a garbage dump. We somehow tied his hands and legs. Basira stood near a corner not being able to believe what she was seeing.

We carried Sami to the car. Basira also had to lend a hand,, her husband was quite heavy. Just before we could shift him, the demon woke up. Sami’s body started convulsing violently along with illegible curses from the demon. We could barely contain him. With a jolt, I dropped him inside the trunk and closed the lid.

The rest of the journey was not smooth. The demon inside Sami kept kicking the trunk. He could not kick the lid because of the wardings inside the pentagram. Aaron had a difficult time keeping the car in control such was the force of the demon. The forty minute ride took ages. Margaret recited bible. I knew that wasn’t going to help.

“Sister, please give it a rest. If bible was so helpful you wouldn’t have required my help. Father, try to reach as fast as possible. That demon won’t be able to do much other than kick and punch.”

Finally, we reached the convent. I asked Sister to get the guards and myself ran to the back of the car. I recited the incantation again to weaken the demon. The guards had arrived by then. Sami was groaning and the black fluid oozed out of his mouth. I knew he was slowly dying and everything had to be done fast. The rift was closing and Sami had to be saved. Me, Aaron and the guards carried him to the cellar as fast as we could. The other nuns had gathered outside to see what was happening. They had never seen a demonic possession before. We placed him inside the pentagram near the rift. We had to wait till the demon woke up. The demon needed to hear the exorcism to be pushed out of Sami’s body.

The demon woke after a few moments. He started cursing us all. He was trapped.

“Sister Margaret and father Aaron, I have to start now. Brace yourselves.”

And I started, Exorcizamus te, omnis immundus spiritus, omnis satanica potestas, omnis incursio infernalis adversarii, omnis legio, omnis congregatio et secta diabolica. Ergo, omnis legio diabolica, adiuramus te…cessa decipere humanas creaturas, eisque æternæ perditionìs venenum propinare…Vade, satana, inventor et magister omnis fallaciæ, hostis humanæ salutis…Humiliare sub potenti manu Dei; contremisce et effuge, invocato a nobis sancto et terribili nomine…quem inferi tremunt…Ab insidiis diaboli, libera nos, Domine. Ut Ecclesiam tuam secura tibi facias libertate servire, te rogamus, audi nos.

As soon as the chanting was over, a black smoke emerged out of Sami’s mouth and his body fell down. The rift was pulsating with higher frequency now. The black smoke howled while hovering inside its trap. It was visibly being pulled by the thin red line and all of a sudden it was gone, sucked inside the rift. The rift closed behind the demon. Everything was calm now. Basira ran towards Sami crying. She took his head in her lap. Margaret and Aaron sat down on the floor, exhausted. I was still shaking with the events that just happened. Aaron rose up slowly and walked towards me. He took my hands in his and exhaled loudly, “Thank you for saving us and this city. I don’t know what would have happened if you hadn’t been here.”

I shook his hands and said,”it’s time that I take my leave.”

The sun shone bright over Biskra.

My experiences with the Paranormal!!!

Well, the above topic is controversial and many would disregard. Some more would say, how can I encourage such topics when I am a man of science.

Well, for the former it’s upto you to not believe me. I will not force you.

For the latter, science does not teach me to disbelieve the paranormal. It teaches me to record all possible observations and record them and finally analyze them.

Whatsoever, I am merely mentioning my observations and the analysis.
First encounter: It was a long time back. I was in class VI and very studious. Me and my parents used to live in Indore and that too in a newly built home. The incident I am about to mention is only one that happened in that home during our stay which is 7 years. The day it happened was not a special day. My school was off. I was studying on our dining table and my mother was working outside in the garden. The dining hall was connected to a washroom which had a tap that made a specific sound when opened. I used to concentrate hard on my studies back then. Suddenly, I heard that tap being opened. I didn’t pay any attention as I assumed my mother must have gone in. I felt strange when no one came out even after half an hour. So, I went to check and found the door open with no one inside. I was curious and went outside to ask my mother when did she get out. Her reply shocked me. She told me that she thought it was me in the bathroom. Yes, the tap made sound loud enough to be heard from outside.
Second encounter: This incident happened when my family used to stay in Raipur. We had just returned from our trip to Sri Lanka. It was a Saturday and we had a dinner invitation that evening. My mother offered prayers to the god Shani(Saturn) every Saturday and same happened that evening. We were supposed to go directly to our host’s place when my father suggested that we take the laptop to show them photos from our trip. So, we went back home and I got inside to get the laptop. When I was getting out of my parents’ bedroom, I noticed a cat entering the guestroom. It was not unnatural since a lot of cats did that in our home. I went to take it out but couldn’t find it anywhere in the room. I assumed that I must have seen wrong and went out, locked the door and left for the dinner. When we came back, the house seemed to be ransacked. The whole volume of encyclopedias were dropped from their original place, magazines in my parents’ bedroom were strewn about. I thought maybe it’s the cat that entered did it but again no sign of its existence could be found. Weirdest part, there was a bouquet of flowers kept adjacent to the encyclopedia which was untouched. Furthermore, none of the windows were open when we got back which meant whatever was inside did not try to get out. Nothing of such sort happened again.
Third encounter: It is the strangest. This happened in my hostel room during my stay at IIT Kharagpur. I had a habit of taking my own pics using my webcam in my room. I didn’t always try to check the photos. I stayed in that room for only one year and shifted to the adjacent room the next year. That year I was sharing my self photos with my girlfriend when I came across the following photograph. By the way, I don’t edit photographs and I don’t know how to use Photoshop.

Picture 111

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I hope the reader can notice the faint image of a hand on my shoulder. Well, it is not mine. The thumb can be noticed near my neck. I didn’t feel anything when taking the picture. I have also attached a photo of my left hand for comparison. I have felt a certain presence from time to time and my friend who used to stay in that room has witnessed certain incidents too. He used to complain in a regular basis that there was knocking on his bed when he was sleeping. I didn’t understand when one night in August it happened to me too. I had just dozed off when there was a sharp sound of a kick on my bed. I sat up, shocked and there was no one to be seen in my room, the door was tightly shut from inside.

Another incident happened during February early morning. I was woken up by the fluttering of a curtain fixed on my window. All the windows were shut since it was cold outside so there was no chance of any wind that could flutter the curtain. I suggested whoever was doing it to stop fluttering and let me sleep. The movement stopped immediately.

The last and the most recent incident, the entity stole two matchboxes from my table drawer. I distinctly remember keeping them there before I left for Kolkata on a Saturday morning. When I came back on Monday, they were gone. I searched the room frantically and didn’t find even a trace.

My observations have been made under no influence of drugs or alcohol. My analysis? There are spirits but they don’t exactly affect in the way shown in movies. I have not been able to contact the one in my room. I really don’t know how else to place these observations.

The Lady and the Python

This story is a translation from a Bengali story. I couldn’t find the name of the author.

A lady had a pet python. She had taken him in when he was very young. She loved the snake a lot and the snake also loved her back. She used to eat with him, sleep with him, bathed him regularly. In a short span of time, the python had grown to a length of eight metres.

One day, the snake stopped eating completely. The lady was depressed. She tried to bring different meals but her pet won’t eat. Then she went to a veterinarian for advice.

She said, “Doctor, my pet python refuses to eat. What should I do?”

The doctor was very calm. He asked, “Does your python sleep with you?”

She replied, “Yes”

He asked, “Does he tend to wrap around your body while sleeping?”

She said excitedly, “How did you know? Yes , he does. That is how I know that he loves me a lot.”

The doctor replied calmly, “Madam, your loving pet python is measuring your body. He is analysing how much space he needs in his stomach to eat you. That’s not love. He is simply checking out his prey.”

He further said, “Your snake isn’t eating so that he can keep enough space in his stomach while eating you. Just because you see it as love doesn’t mean it is love. A snake would behave like one, no matter the environment.”

**Image from Shutterstock