‘AC or Non AC, Sir?’ she asked.
‘AC.’ I was desperate to get into bed.
I’d been driving continueusly for six hours, and reached this beautiful hill station, ‘Koba’, situated in Himalayan Range. I’d to cross this village kinda place to reach the Leh, but heavy rain led me to find this two-storyed fairly standard hotel.
‘3000 Rs. Sir, breakfast and hot water bath included.’ she announced the charges, which was too much for this kinda hotel.
But..! This was the only hotel over there.
‘Right.’ I didn’t show my anger.
‘Your ID and Credit Card please.’
‘I presented my Driving License and Credit Card.’
‘Reason to visit Koba?’ she enquired while filling the blocks in register.
‘Fun.’ I said.
She stopped writing and looked into my eyes. For the first time I noticed her beautiful big-black eyes. There was lot of things in there, but she might have seen the agony into my eyes, and she gave me a key. ‘Upstairs, Room No. 270.’
I picked my travel bag. Upstaires I started scanning the No. of rooms for my 270. It was at the other end of corridor. Before opening my room I instinctly looked back, the opposite room had no number.
And it was strange to me.
In my room I decided the plan for next day, and jumped over the bed to sleep. It was around 00:30.
As I am a Bed Sick (who needs his own bed for a comfortable sleep) I couldn’t sleep at once, and I started turning and tossing. My mind started reasoning for what I was alone? What the hell was the reason for I would escape from home to wander, and let myself be lost, and I don’t know when I dozed off.
It was some sound that made me awake. I tried to see into the darkness. What was that sound?
‘Hallucination !!’ I thought, then I rejected the idea. I closed the eyes.
‘Scratch Scratch.’ It was a sound as though somebody was scratching a wooden piece with bare nails. The sound was clear; amplified by the silence of an isolated place I was in.
‘Scratch Scratch.’ Was someone scratching my door. This thought made me jump outta bed, and I tried to turn the lights on. There was no power. I found my mobile phone and turned the screen on, the light was not enough, however I could have seen my room.
Nobody was in my room. I pushed myself to the door and placed my ear on door’s surface.
‘Scratch Scratch, ‘Scra…’. The sound was not being generated by scratching my door. It was coming from outside.
I opened the door and stepped out.
The corridor was empty. But, another sound told me that it was coming from the room which had been left unnumbered.
Silently I reached there and again put ear on door.
”SCRATCH ..SCRATCH … ..SCRATCH, Krrrr.” O My God. Somebody was in there.
I turned the bolt to open the door, but it didn’t move. It was locked.
I bend down and placed my eyes on keyhole, and what I saw was nothing but RED, it was like somebody had pasted a red glass over keyhole to block inside’s view.
I stood up. And concluded, ‘maybe a cat is stuck in there.’ And turned back.
‘Sratch Scratch Scratch Scratch..’
It had become irritating to me, the scratchings were disturbing me. I bent on my knees and peeped again through the keyhole. Nothing but glossey Red.
‘Damn it.’ I crossed the corridor, came downstairs to see if receiptionist could open the room and see what was inside, so desperate to get out.
There was nobody on front desk.
Helplessly, I came back to my room. Locked it. Plugged my ears with my iPOD earphone and played my favourite Ghazal, ‘Kal Chaundvi Ki Raat Thi…’ by the legend Jagjeet Singh. His silky voice started acting like a dozen sleeping pills.
It was 11AM when I opened my eyes. I felt the throbbings inside my skull, iPOD had exhausted and stopped.
An old man came in with a cup of coffee. I drank it and asked for another.
An hour latter. I took shower, finished my breakfast, packed my travel bag and reached the receiption. The girl was there.
‘Is there anything you guys locked in the room opposite 270.’
She looked into my eyes. There was horror in there. ‘No..! Why?’ She was lying.
‘Then who was scratching the doors in there all night. Don’t lie.’
I saw her face turning pale, and she started speaking, ‘Two years back a couple visited here and stayed in that room for a night.’
‘Next morning we found the woman dead. A long spike had been inserted into her head, so the blood of her brain moves down and stuck into her eyes. Her eyes had become like cherries.’
‘Goddamit!’ I left the hotel instantly. Now I knew what the glossey red thing was I’d seen through keyhole.
I hate all kinda Scratching since then.
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