Welcome to the brief series, Short stories of scares. The fifth chapter is a reflection into human conduct, how it’s essential to treat all the fellow beings with love, gratitude and respect. Especially respecting womanhood is as necessary as breathing air, since they have been the symbol of purity and power since the dawn of humankind. And when sometimes sinful deeds cross a specific limit, the otherworldly force takes charge to teach a life-changing lesson.
Dev was born with a golden spoon. A lovely and prosperous family, good education, and a fair paying job in the advertising sector. Even shimmering perfection has few grey areas, and for Dev, it was his Narcissistic behaviour. He was an extraordinarily, arrogant and foul-mouthed person who valued no one. Of course, he had his clan who followed him all around like minions, supporting and praising his insensitive nature. Maybe because they thought following him would uplift their social quotient, or perhaps some of them feared repulsion; anyways, their rewards were extravagant trips, fine dining, and late-night cocktail parties, all coming out of Dev’s pocket. And the worst of all, Dev was a pervert; he had no respect for women. For him, every female existence was a sensual object to fancy his carnal desires. Though he was not vile towards the ladies in his family, mother, and big sister, he particularly hated them. They always educated him to show respect and gratitude towards women. But Dev never bothered; that’s why he was the most hated guy in his college and now at work. However, in his mind, he was a Casanova, the most eligible bachelor which any woman will pursue. The fact that the whole world disagreed except him.
He lived in an old Bangalore area famous for three things: a century-old railway platform, delicious street food, and a 300 years old cemetery. Dev’s home was just three miles away from the railway station, and just adjacent to it was a vast isolated parkland that extended into the infamous graveyard. There were several tall tales of spirits in this region. Local people or cab drivers avoided that route after 8 PM, considering legends about the ghost of war veterans marching their way on winter nights. Most famous is about a woman who was decapitated by her cruel husband and her headless body stitched with a barn owls head in some evil satanic ritual, later buried somewhere near that area. Now her headless ghost is found taking a stroll sometimes. Sometimes she appears as a beautiful maiden, but she is part human and part owl since then the owl lady’s legend was born. And like any urban legends, stories of black cats, weirdly large dogs, strange lights, and even a UFO sighting has been reported for a long time. But Dev had stayed nearby to this place entire life; for him, all these mythologies were a waste of time. Also, because he had encountered nothing so far, he enjoyed taking late-night walks in this area, boasting o his friends about his strength that not even supernatural can touch him. He will say, ” if I meet the owl lady, I will ask her for a date. I am sure she cannot resist me”. Then he will laugh madly. We all know, no illusion in this world can last forever, and Dev’s story is about a particular night when his life was about to take a drastic turn.
It was 11.30 PM; Dev was walking on the old parkland’s muddy roads, very close to the infamous cemetery. He was on the phone talking to one of his favouriting minions, vomiting wild fantasy tales about a new girl in his office; on the other end, his friend was listening to his vile obnoxious theories. Suddenly the most aromatic fragrance hits his nose; it appears to be coming from behind, compelling him to turn around and move towards the source. As he turns around, notices the most beautiful girl he has ever seen in his life; standing a few meters away from him, wearing a white saree that is radiant in the darkness of night; she is laden with silvery ornaments and her face glowing like a sun. She has large sultry intimidating eyes, a vibrant figure, and as she moves at a slow pace towards him, it feels like she is almost gliding in the air. She wears a mysterious grin, teasingly smiles as if speaking to him through her enigmatic presence. Dev is mesmerised by her; he feels drawn and now has forgotten he was on the call; on the other end, his friend has abandoned him for the night after a few attempts. As she approaches him, her body glimmers glistening his eyes, her walk seems like a cat-like walk on a fog cloud, while the jingling sound of her ornament is gradually putting him in a deep trance. Now Dev is just a few inches away from her; she stretches her arms open, laden with shimmering grey bangles, turning her fists towards the sky and gesturing him to come closer. As his eyes meet her, first, there is a deep sense of peace, all blue like a pleasant sky, but the colour changes yellow, then orange, and then fiery red.
Leech faced tentacles appear from the entity’s torso; they are seven in number. Two of them blinds his eyes, and two take away hearing; one has plunged into the heart, one has gripped the groin, and the last has entered headspace; now, there is no escape. Transported into a hellish realm, where the sight is dreadful, the stench is of death, and every feeling filled with despair and agony. He stumbles upon a hideous beast, who frightens him first, but then he realises the creature is non-other than him living his life, staging full chapters of pride, greed, envy, lust, gluttony, sloth, and wrath. Her long monstrous arm reminds him of all the deadly sins he has demonstrated in his short life span. The being withdraws her elongated wormy arms, and Dev feels human again, filled with all fearful emotions; Dev is crawling back from her, terrified and petrified at the same time. The being is still standing with her charming smile, as he calls him again to come closer through her hand gestures. As she is doing that, Dev feels as if his heart will tear off his chest; it’s swaddling now far and close as he can see it stretching out of his skin. He is breathing heavily, almost sure he will die, all emotions gripping him, his past mistakes, not mistakes sins, grabbing him powerfully. He feels a deep sense of despair and pain, the agony he has never felt in his ignorance; now, consumed by guilt and the absence of true love in his life. He realises his flawed nature has affected many in his life, friends, family, and fellow humans who always meant no harm. He thinks about his mother and sisters’ words about still respecting women, and for a brief moment, he feels safe. He lifts his head and notices the woman is gone; shakingly gets up, panting heavily with an uncontrolled heartbeat, vision blurred, feeling groggy, he quickly drags his way towards the main road. He is walking fast; there is no vehicle in view to ask for a lift. As he struggles to reach home, he hears the sound of wings flapping very close to him. Looking up, he can find a human-like figure circling him with a fifteen feet wide wingspan; the thing seems like a giant owl; in his mind, only one thought ” Owl lady.” He somehow reaches home, closes the door behind and for the last time anxiously looks at the night; on the opposite building sits a giant owl, the face of a most magnificent girl, the body of an owl. Her smile, still gracefully sinful. Freaked to the core, Dev retires for the night, but tonight he knows will change him forever.
Following the unfateful supernatural event, Dev has suffered a profound blow to his mental health. He suffers from chronic depression and anxiety disorder. He has stopped speaking to people and mostly spends time isolated in his distressing thoughts. His selfish followers have left him, and he has no real friends to rely upon; his luxurious extroverted life has succumbed to the bound misery of introverted exile. He wakes every night terrified by Bizarre fatal nightmares where he imagines himself performing sinful deeps to kind souls. He dares not to go back to his old ways as even a single evil thought torments his mind, makes his heartbeat like a crazy drum, inviting the insufferable fear. His parent, concerned, has tried all the medications, meditations methods, unsparingly helpful mindfulness practices. Loneliness is rife in Dev’s miserable life, but considering his past reputation, no genuine guy or a girl has advanced their friendship with him as his misdeeds were beyond redemption. As for the owl lady, she does visit him from time to time, watching him from a distance at times sitting on a rooftop, sometimes flying above his head as he walks solo and lonely. At times appearing in his dreams reminding of that night’s affair, sometimes speaking in his mind, “you asked for me and look how much I fancy you, you were right, I cannot resist you, nor you can resist me now.”
Owls are ominous beings throughout different cultures and mythologies. They have associated both as good and dark entities. In India, the beliefs are the same, while owls are believed to be an avatar of powerful goddesses, they are also associated with witchcraft and dark magic. Like in this story, the owl entity did not have a good or a wrong side; it was a reflection of the person’s true nature.