Welcome to the brief series, Short stories of scares. The third chapter shows how a happy dream can transform into ghoulish nightmares if you take one wrong step. Hope you will enjoy the read.
Summer season is also a marriage season in many parts of India. Samir was getting prepared for a weekend getaway to a close friend’s marriage, organized in a village nearly 500 miles from his town. It seemed to him as almost every friend he knew was getting married; he already had eleven invites for the year, out of which seven of them during the harshness of north Indian summer months. Yet he was rejoicing the idea that most of his friends were getting hitched, and life around him seemed happier. He was in a happy relationship with his better half Aditi and considered marriage plans in the upcoming year. Samir valued his friends a lot, so there was no chance he would miss a single event even though it seemed hectic.
He boarded a bus and arrived at the nearest location to the village. A local guide informed that a five-kilometer long grass field has to be crossed if he intends to reach the destination quicker. But he left Samir with a final warning “Sir, the walk is fine, the area is lovely, filled with lush green grass, but avoid the barren patch where nothing grows. They say a spirit of a witch lingers there, and whoever goes there meets with bad luck; hence local avoid that zone at all cost.” Samir thanked the man and laughed, thinking, “Villagers and their superstition.”
Samir is walking through the grassland, thinking about all the fun he will have at the marriage. Probably he will also travel and enjoy the fantastic sight of the outskirts. He is half the way lost in his thoughts, where on his left, he notices a barren area, just a few meters away from him. He recalls the myth but still ignores and walks into the zone to explore it; after a few minutes of inspection, he says to himself, “There is nothing here; people just make stories.” As he tries to step out, he looks at the glaring sun right above his head; he feels giddy and falls as if suffering from a heat stroke. Samir finds himself in a lucid dream; he is entering a beautifully decorated room where his bride is waiting for him, covered head to toe in wedding apparel. He takes off the shimmering red veil to reveal the face of his beloved partner, but instead, he finds a hideous woman with burnt flesh peeling of the bones, long gnarly nails as the entity laughs in a shrieking tone. A devilish voice in his head, there is a prophecy boy, “Eleven marriages you will see before you are mine.” Samir wakes up in his friend’s house, startled and scared. They convince him that he fainted due to sunstroke. He spends the entire two days event, putting a smile on his face, but within, he felt threatened. While returning home, he also asked his friend to accompany him through those fields and walked fast, avoiding even looking at the empty land. Samir’s friend Ajay, who just got married, had noticed his strange behavior in the last couple of days; hence before bidding him farewell, he asked, “Hey man, anything wrong, you don’t seem yourself? He replied as he climbed the bus. “All fine for now. Yes, there is something, but a story for another day. You enjoy your marriage, brother, very happy for you.”
When Samir returned, he tried to forget the horrific event like a bad dream. But just after a week of his return, he started getting the same nightmares. It would occur in the same sequence, but sometimes the creature will touch him with its long talons, leaving burn marks on his body. Sadly for him, the physical patterns on his skin were real. The life of a once cheerful man was turning upside down, and his family, Aditi, started to notice, they asked, but he dismissed any thoughts saying its work pressure. His sufferings were too otherworldly to be proven rational to any sane mind. In one of his recurring dream, the entity teased him, saying, “Attend all the marriages, boy, and I will leave you alone !”. Due to his tragic life, he was not interested in any happy events anymore; he started making excuses to avoid his friend’s invitation, while the hellish torture continued each time, warning him to follow as told. Finally, Samir gave in and decided to attend the next occasion scheduled in a few days.
Suddenly the nightmares stopped; his life started to get better and regular. He was also attending all the marriages, and life seemed happy again. He never missed visiting temples and saying his regular prayer as the terrifying phase had turned him into a man of faith. He truly believed he had exorcised the demon all alone, and there was no fear moving forward. The same fall, his marriage plans were in full flow, scheduled for next summer around April. In March, he had to attend the final wedding; he did not believe that he was finally breaking the record to participate in all the events in a year from one summer to another. And the reward was his marriage.
It was the night of Samir’s marriage; the rituals and the feasts were over. He just had to get back to his beautiful wife, who was waiting for him in a wonderfully decorated room. Aditi was covered head to toe in bridal attire with shimmering ornaments. As Samir stepped into the dimly lit room, he felt the fearful nostalgia. All the past horror resurfaced in his mind. He called for Aditi, stammering, “Aditi, is it you? She laughed teasingly. “Who else would be there?’. He says, “ok. Could you lift your veil, let me see you? Aditi replies, “Isn’t that a tradition? The groom should be doing that.” Samir says, “Yes, you are right; I am just thinking about something, I should not on this blessed day.” Then continues, “There is something I haven’t told you for long, something I fear to tell anyone.” Aditi replies, “I know what you are going to say.” Samir replied, “No, you don’t.” Aditi giggles, “I know all about her, she told me, she told me about her short love story with you, you are all her’s boy.” Her tone is getting bulkier and demonic with each word. Samir trembles with fear as sharp claws extend from the apparel, piercing and sinking deep into his chest.
The following morning, Samir was found charred in his room, burned to ashes, smeared in his wedding clothes. Aditi was found unconscious by his side, burnt mark all over her body, shocked in disbelief without any memory of the tragedy. Two weeks later, Ajay visits Samir’s family while sharing his condolences and grief for the tragic loss of his dear friend when he discloses, “I do not want to promote superstition or make you believe in supernatural, but I have this strange feeling that the witch of the grass field cursed him. Almost a century ago, once a wise woman with knowledge of herbs and medical science; she was a healer, but family and locals considered her as an evil witch and burnt her alive in the same field. She had a bright future and was about to get married to a well-settled suitor, but they snatched her life eleven days before her marriage. Locals believe she returned as a dark entity to avenge for her death and ever since has haunted many young souls. Nothing grows in her field of possession, except agony and fear. To me, it seems like she took a particular interest in Samir, who somehow, unfortunately, got entangled in her vicious web”. To date, no one was able to give a rational explanation for Sameer’s untimely and bizarre demise, and that’s a painful mystery that will consume his loved ones forever, especially Aditi.
Like any weddings, Indian weeding’s are rich in custom, rituals, traditions and family gathering. It’s a particular time of happiness with friends, family when two souls unite in a holy bond. But sometimes all that is happy does not end well. This tale is inspired by the Indian folklores of malevolent she-spirits, who dies tragically before fulfilling their wish for marriage or childbirth. In the afterlife, they lure young men into their trap to devour on their soul—an Indian version of the demon Succubus.