Chapter 1 : The smoke monster

Welcome to the brief series, Short stories of scares. The first chapter takes you into a eerie festive night, that begins with fun but then it gets sinister in middle and finally ends with a moral lesson. Hope you will enjoy the read.

It was the eve of Diwali. Vinay, as usual, was thrilled as it was his favorite festive season. The festival of lights and a night full of celebrations, sweets, grand suppers, exquisite dinners, and the best part was the bursting of crackers and fireworks. Like any year, this season as well, he was all ready for the best firework show in his colony.

After a heart-filled meal and family time, he picked up his fireworks collection and headed towards his best friend’s house. His whole group had planned to meet there and have a great time. Full of excitement, Vinay started showing off this significant collection of fiery assets, and one by one, started lighting them to their full potential. Some had a unique sound, some with fantastic visuals. And with each spectacle of these firecrackers, Vinay felt a sinister pride of accomplishment. While some of his troops joined hands in the act, others photographed the extraordinary moments.

One of his friends, Vijay, picked up a debate topic; he said, “I know Diwali is all fun with fireworks, but all this impacts the environment and increases the pollution levels. Let it be any festival or event around the globe; the smoke from these fire devils is not good for nature or to animals or humankind.” Vinay looked at him with mocking eyes, grinned, and said, “Common man! Why you have to pick such severe issues for such a great night. One night won’t hurt anyone, you, me, or nature. So relax, enjoy the moment.” Thus shutting down the debate, and none of the other folks bothered to speak.

The show was over except for the final ritual, where Vinay use to stack all the firecracker boxes and make a mountain of it. Then burn it like a huge bonfire, creating smoke that will spread a mile long in the air. Then his friends will gather to tell a round of spooky tales. His favorite one was from his grandma; that how the new moon night of Diwali was a symbol of darkness and evil entities roamed on earth and to ward them off the festival of light came into existence. And this year, he went with the same non-fictional warning of an old wives tale. With that, the night was about to come to an end, and he had to return home, which was a mile away.

Saying his goodbye to the group, he took a short cut to reduce half of his walk towards home. The night was mystical, eerily cold. Smoke mixing with the chilly October air created smog, giving a haunting atmosphere to the night. Vinay walked a few meters and looked back at the bonfire; the smoke was still standing tall; he smiled as if relishing a great success. But suddenly, his happiness turned pale as he noticed the smoke forming the shape of a massive beast. It roared and charged towards him. His surrounding seemed silent, undisturbed, as he stood there in shock, unable to move after witnessing the horrific sight. The entity approached him, snarled on his tiny face, picked him as a little piece of stick, and tossed him miles away. The last that Vinay could remember was this unbearable pain before all went blank.

Two weeks after Vinay wakes up in a hospital bed, realizing he met with a freak accident breaking half of his bones, they say he was hit by a car as he could not see it coming on that smoggy night. He was lucky to survive such a catastrophe. Vinay, confused, lay on the bed, paralyzed by agony, contemplating the memories from that bizarre events, remembering the old folk warning from his grandma. He moves, his broken neck caged in a neckband to take a glimpse of outside from the hospital window. The window is sealed, covered with cold mist, and on it a written message. “One night can hurt someone.”

Diwali is one of the prime festivals in India celebrated between the fall and winter seasons. The night of the festivity falls on a new moon, and on this night, it is a belief that evil entities of darkness roam the earth. Hence, to ward the evil, light’s festivity came into existence, wherein many households decorated with lamps and sparkly lights. The festival also celebrates Lord Rama’s victorious return to his home after 14 years of exile after defeating the evil Ravana, as depicted in the Indian epic Ramayana. On this night, goddesses Lakshmi and Kali are both worshipped; while one is the symbol of prosperity and wealth, the other is the fiercest protector of good from evil. Overall the significance of this festival is the triumph of good over evil.

11 comments

    • Thanks a lot, Brad, short story writing is something I am still learning. Hence the idea is to keep my words simple at the same time convey the message. Glad you read and liked it 😊

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  1. A nice read but how did the smoke monster charging towards him did not leave burn marks rather break his bones. A mystery. πŸ€” Or am I taking it too seriously?

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    • Thanks for reading, and an excellent question, well, but if you go in details of the chemical composition of smoke, they are burnt hydrocarbons hotter near the surface and cold as the evaporate, and the smoke monster is an incarnation of that smoke cloud. Moreover, it’s fantasy fiction, so in reality, a smoke throwing a man is kind of not possible, but in my story it is. And also we can’t rule the fact that vin was hit by the car and rest all the smoke monster and the writing on the window is all his imagination. Maybe he does feel the guilt of all the pollution that harms nature and that surfaced as one of his worst fears. There are many areas in a story that opens questions for new possibilities, but I will let the readers decide. And a golden rule you get what you give to nature, the same happened to vin. Thanks for reading and asking the intriguing question, makes me feel happy that I am engaging with someone on my stories and it’s a big thing for me πŸ˜ŠπŸ™

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