Story time: The whispering shadows

Published June 22, 2024
Illustration by Aamnah Arshad
Illustration by Aamnah Arshad

As the clock struck 10 pm, heavy clouds started to pour raindrops on the ground. A bolt of terrifying lightning flashed across the dark sky. In the blink of an eye, these drops transformed the calm evening into a chaotic one. The only light that could be seen came from occasional flashes of street lamps. The pathway that was once routine to traverse now felt like a scene from a nightmare.

Silah stared at the raindrops without blinking. Internally, she blamed herself, acknowledging that no matter how much work pressure there was, she should have gone back to her hostel earlier. She questioned herself about how she would reach the hostel. She began to think of different ways to get there, but in the end, she was still clueless.

The route from the college library to her hostel was short, and she could usually walk it easily, but the eerie scene outside was frightening. Knowing that her roommate, Ifra, usually slept early, she decided to call her to see if she could pick her up from the library. As expected, Ifra didn’t answer the call. Feeling weary, Silah realised she had no other option but to go alone to the hostel.

She waited a little longer, hoping the rain would stop or lighten, but it seemed that tonight the rain had a lengthy meeting with the sky. The small hand on the clock was about to reach 11. She opened the library door and peeked outside, the rain was relentless. Gathering her courage, she stepped out of the library gate and started to walk.

Silah was about to reach her hostel when she suddenly realised that something had passed by her from behind. She looked back and saw a shadow, but she tried to convince herself that it was just a reflection of her fear. She continued walking slowly, but the same thing happened again.

This time, when she looked behind, a man was coming towards her. The scary part was that there was no other soul on the road except Silah, so she quickened her pace. She looked back again and there was nothing. Suddenly, she felt the shadow on her left side. She looked, but there was nothing there. Then she felt it on her right, but again, there was nothing. Eerie noises filled the air, which Silah could not comprehend.

She started running and finally reached her hostel, where a watchman opened the gate for her. She ran to her room and locked the door behind her. Without making any noise, she lay on her bed.

Ifra was fast asleep. Silah could feel her heart pounding in her chest. She decided not to tell anybody about the incident, because she knew her friends would make fun of her if they heard about it.

The next morning was clear and sunny. Like every day, Silah got up, freshened up and went to college. She kept thinking about the previous night, but remained quiet about it. During class, one of her classmates, who had been absent the day before, entered looking dejected. When asked what was wrong, he narrated the incidents similar to what had happened to Silah. Silah wondered how it could be possible.

Over the next three to four days, similar incidents occurred with different students at the college. Being a curious soul, Silah decided to uncover the truth behind it. So, together with Ifra, she planned to hide on the road the next night to see what was going on. They did exactly as they planned.

At night, they hid behind one of the old big trees, and Silah started recording with her mobile phone. After waiting for a while, they saw some people placing a dummy covered with a white cloth and hiding themselves in the bushes by the roadside.

A few minutes later, a student was passing by. As the student moved ahead, those people started moving the dummy to create its shadow behind the student, just like what had happened with Silah. Then, they signalled to one of their members, who then started walking toward the student from behind. So, all this was a made-up spooky scene by those unknown men. The student managed to run away finally, but all of this was recorded on Silah’s phone.

After those people left, Silah and Ifra also left. The next day, they showed the recording to the police, who said they would catch the culprits red-handed and planned to hide the following night. That night, the police witnessed everything with their own eyes and caught those people on the spot. During the investigation, it was uncovered that those people would often loot and rob hostellers and whoever crossed the road late at night.

The story gives us a lesson that, just like Silah didn’t let fear take over her, we should all never lose courage and never let fear enter our hearts.

Published in Dawn, Young World, June 22nd, 2024

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