Red Dreams

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


This is a work in progress.

Submitted: April 08, 2018

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Submitted: April 08, 2018

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RED DREAMS

It started with summer. When summer began to lengthen the day. We all noticed the onset of summer. We would play football till 6.30, the next week till 6.45, then the next till 7.

 

This year, we played in decent light all the way up to 7.20. We should have seen this for the warning sign it was. But we were too worried about CIAs and projects and attendance.

 

All that I saw, I shall put down to the best I can remember. Not just because I like to write, but also because I fear for my sanity. All that I say, did happen truly. Yet no one seems to remember it. “You dreamt it all, because it just didnt happen!!” they say. Why was I chosen to be the dreamer of this saga, if not to warn the future generations of our college?!

Okay, I see I am not making much sense. Lemme begin. My name is Akashnath. One of my nicknames is "Nath" and the other ones are best left unsaid in polite company. The other characters, I shall introduce as this farce plays on.

 

The night that we finished playing at 7.20, none of us had dinner. We bathed, then dilly-dallied at our rendezvous spot, AS1, debating what to eat (maggi,mess food or outside) and where to eat (mess, KC, Canopy, outside). We were sort of evenly split on the options, and we decided on nothing till it was 8.15, too late to go out and the shop was closed, hence mess food it was. I decided to forgo dinner.

 

I should not have, in hindsight. Ah well, shit happens.

 

I couldn't sleep that night. I listened to CityWatch podcast, I watched videos on YouTube (starting with the sixth episode of Genghis Khan, Extra History. Amazing channel, an offshoot of Extra Credits, do check it out), I tried to read a book so I might fall asleep quicker, I even tried going on ACS (American Chemical Society), looking up a research paper and trying to understand what it was all about, not something I usually do.

 

To no avail.

 

It was 2.45 in the morning, I was no closer to sleep than I was at 10. My YouTube feed suggested something weird. "This Aztec Death Whistle Makes The Scariest Noise You've Ever Heard". Wow, sure is worth looking at.

A minute into the video, and the guy blew into a skull shaped whistle. My earphones were on and the volume was optimal, not too high, yet, what came out of the whistle numbed me. It was the scream of the damned. It sounded exactly like how you would imagine a tortured person to scream. Goosebumps erupted all over my body, my spine tingled and my ears and nose felt cold. I put down my phone. This was enough for the day, I was tired and I should be able to fall asleep. I slept fitfully.

 

I had a dream, a very vivid and visceral one. I was on a battlefield, shoulder to shoulder with a bunch of Indian dudes, all of us carrying a hoplite-style shield and spear. Across the field, a couple hundred metres away, were these weirdly garbed men, on their heads was a eagle shaped cap and upon their shoulders were man-sized wings with feathers attached. On their arms was attached a tiny shield.

 

What a bunch of losers. I wished we had bows so we could make short work of them. I was imagining what a splendid sight it would be to draw and loose a longbow at these cotton-armoured meatsacks when they charged. They charged with a ferocity I had never seen-well of course I had never seen, this was my first ever battle. Then they pulled out what appeared to be conches.

Those were actually skull shaped whistles. Do they ring a bell? (Pun intended, but this is not the time to joke). They blew into them as they charged. What should issue from the "conch", but the death whistle? I nearly shit myself. A hundred of these whistles were rattling in my skull now, and we were being charged by Aztec elite warriors.

 

My mind spun. Where are the archers, where is our cavalry? I was terrified. It would be very easy to drop my spear and just run away. But I was on a battlefield, I had signed up to die. My mindset changed.

What a bunch of wannabies! They expected us to drop our weapons and rout. They anticipated running us down, capturing us and using our bones to make more death whistles. I gripped my spear tighter. "Hold!!" someone screamed. "Wait for them to reach us!" We were locked in formation.

 

We would not break, our resolve was strong. The first of the Aztecs reached our spearwall. I don't remember exactly, but I think I wildly jabbed at an eagle shaped hear gear and caught him in the eye with the spear point.

 

The dream abruptly shifted. The adrenaline was coursing through my veins but I was back in my bed. It was dawn. Except, the sky was red. The trees were crimson, the road was scarlet, every object was on a different point in MS Paint's spectrum of red.

 

Outside my window, right behind the mosquito mesh, floated an orb. Of course it was red, bordering on black, menacing and angry. It pulsated. I think I screamed.

 

Oh, how I wish my dream self had just dropped the spear and run. Why had no one warned us about this? Surely our seniors knew what this university held. Maybe not our immediate seniors, but atleast those from a few years back, the passed-out ones. How is it that a secret of this magnitude was never talked about, yet everybody knew about? I guess this is what they call an open secret.

 

(the phone and the radio, the room experiment where the witch cant enter, the pit of varying dimensions, the realization a sacrifice needs be made, the changing of realities, the end-Koko's babies)

 

They say connecting the dots in hindsight is a thousand times easier than seeing the entire picture for what it is as things are happening. In hindsight, I wish I had dinner that night. I wish I'd slept earlier. I wish I'd never heard that death whistle. Because, once that dream occured, there is no going back-I had to see things through to the end.

 

I awoke screaming at dawn. Everything was back to its normal shade, no red anywhere except the sun. It was too early to get up, so I rolled over and went back to sleep. Yet again I couldn't sleep. I remember thinking, something is horribly wrong. I could taste blood, I heard the Aztec whistle going off, I felt like there was something urgently important that I had completely forgotten. It was annoying. I opened my phone, got the Chess app running and thoroughly enjoyed getting my ass whooped repeatedly by the bot. I forgot all about the dream, and it was a normal day from thereon. However, later in the day, I did hear rumours that some State authorities were coming to our university to inspect the new laboratory opened in my building. At the time I assumed it was something of minor importance.

 

That evening, after dinner, I was in AS1 with Ashwin and Rajat-I was doing the Sudoku while these two played FIFA. Ashwin's phone beeped-the damn thing was always beeping. See, Ashwin-ugh, lets call him Kanji, he's a bodybuilder buff and is insanely obsessed with protein shakes and proper diet and strongly believes oats (Tamil-kanji) is the most nutritious thing in the world- has a girlfriend. The only messages I get are from Vodafone urging me to link my SIM to my Aadhar (yes, Modiji, its done, no worries) and yet my phone's always on silent. This faggot gets a million messages a day and his phone's on loud. Of course I got annoyed, and I unlocked his phone and put it on "Do not disturb" mode, where it wouldn't even vibrate. I set the phone down. The score on FIFA was 2-1, I didn't see who was leading. I was more preoccupied with an elusive 9 on my Sudoku. The phone vibrated insistently-not a message notification vibrate but more of a continuous vibrate. I unlocked Kanji's phone, fully intending to turn it off and absent-mindedly imagining dunking it in a bucket of cold water. At the time I did not notice the incongruence of "do not disturb" and "insistent vibrating". Connecting dots in hindsight,see.

 

He had received a Whatsapp message-there was a girl's name followed by a heart emoji so I thought it must be his girlfriend, and swiped to clear the notification. The phone's display went a bright red, and the Whatsapp chat opened. I froze from shock. I did not want to read his messages, it might give me a cringe attack so bad I died on the spot. I also did not understand how the phone suddenly went red. I didn't really stop to think, I just assumed an app like Twilight had been unpaused.

 

The chat screen was blank, except for one message. "Go to CS22", it read. I was flummoxed.

 

"Dei, take a look at this" I said, handing the phone to Kanji. He jumped , exclaiming that it was getting very late and he better be on his way to his hostel before they shut the gates. He didn't seem to have noticed anything amiss. We lived in different buildings, and mine was certainly more friendly. I have never been made to listen to hour long sermons from Hindu religious leaders on morals and other such BS for some minor infraction, like being five minutes late.

 

"Why does she want you to go to CS22?" I asked. Kanji was confused. I grabbed his phone and pointed at the red screen, and the chat that instructed us to go to CS22. He looked at me like I had lost my mind. He hurriedly explained that he had no time for my silly jokes, that it was high time he left, and so saying ran out of the room, forgetting his bag in his alacrity.

 

Rajat was looking at me weird. "There was no red screen and no message from anybody. What are you trying to say?"

 

I don't know what I am trying to say. Maybe I just hallucinated. I mean, for a few days now my sleep hours were very limited, especially so today..

 

Ah. The red orb. The red screen. I definitely am losing my mind. What an elaborate hallucination!! Surely this is something to base a story off of, I remember thinking excitedly. I had been trying in vain to write something halfway decent, see, and for many weeks now all I could come up with were laughably childish scribblings of an utter imbecile. Looking back, I wish I never had had anything to write about. This entire account is my attempt at helping a future bunch who might face the same problem, like how chroniclers of famine record the weather conditions in the hope of being better prepared for future calamity. But, I digress.

 

"I tried to mess with him, and failed epically", I told Rajat. He didn't look convinced, but laughed and let it pass nevertheless.

 

After roll call, it was time for coffee. Probably not the wisest idea, everything considered. AS1 is our cafe, so I settled there for some Sudoku+coffee time. My phone pinged me, saying Trump had just fired/replaced McMaster AND was being sued by Stormy Daniels for..well, long story. Suffice to say I had forgotten the entire Red Episode. It really is remarkable, the human mind's ability to rationalize the irrational and plod on with life. So, Abinav (aka Noob, he got this name because he plays a lot of Dota2, specializes in Fountain Diving with Bristleback whose build included Satanic and calls everyone else Noobs for not accompanying him into the enemy Fountain), Nihith (aka Bujji, the person whose room we used as a Chatram) and myself were having coffee. I seem to recall I have told you about Koko..oh, I haven't? Alright.

 

See, Koko is a beautiful dog, about six months old at the time of these incidents, much loved by all the hostel residents. As a puppy she was abandoned by her mother, so a few of our seniors adopted her, named and fed and sheltered and cultured her and she grew up to become a fine specimen. Her one uncultured habit was shitting in the dead centre of a triangular open area where we play football, but we loved her so we didn't really mind too much. She had just given birth to a litter of four pups. I am told she was a model mother, she didn't eat even a single puppy (unlike sickly Milo who ate two of her five puppies, the third died practically the same day it was born and we buried it and prayed over its grave beseeching the Old Gods to grant it a rebirth, and the other two died as well). I might have shown you her photos, but, like the old saying goes, shit happens.

 

Back in AS1, coffee time, Noob asked us if we had seen Koko's pups. No, we hadn't, we replied, shall we go now? Where is Koko? Koko and the pups are in CS22, Noob replied. My coffee lost all its appeal and I felt faintly sick. I think I shrugged it off then, thinking that coincidences abound in this infinite universe and this was just another drop in the ocean. We finished the coffee and headed to CS22.

 

This was the room ofone of Noob's friends, so upon arrivederci we saw the door unlocked and barged right in. There was no sign of the dogs, the room didn't even smell slightly doggish. I guess the senior took good care of the pups and cleaned up after them. We took a quick look in the bathroom to make sure no dogs were around, and were filing out when the senior arrived, muching on a biscuit. I hoped it wasn't the dog's rations.

 

When asked where thepuppies were, he said Koko had taken them away. He unlocked his phone and turned on the radio. The radio?! Do people do that nowadays?

 

The guy took his seat on his bed and offered us biscuits. We politely refused. He continued gobbling biscuits and looking into his phone. He seemed to be watching a video, and was even giggling. But all that ensued from the phone's speakers was static. We leaned forward a bit to peek at what was on his screen. The screen was black and white, like how a TV improperly tuned would display nothing but static. The three of us, Noob, Nihith and me, were frozen. This went on for half a minute. Then, a piercing shriek. The senior was oblivious to the sound, but the three of us clutched at our ears. We were scared really badly, nothing this odd had ever happened to us. The door that was open ajar slowly creaked shut. The bolt that's used to lock the door from the inside slid across by itself, as if operated by an invisible person. I was petrified, I couldn't even breate, it was all so surreal. The senior continued watching the static screen. His giggles were the most disturbing sound. Not the static, not our laboured breating, not even the ominous self-locking door, but his insane giggling.

 

All this while the tubelight, almost imperceptibly, had been dimming. By the time the door was fully locked the room was almost too dark to see in. Then the light's intensity picked up. Except, the light was no longer white. You don't win any prizes for guessing what colour the tubelight morphed into.

 

I felt like I was back in my dream. No, no no no, this is not happening! I thought to myself. I just kept repeating "no" in my head, as if willing it would make it true. Then, I remembered something else from my dream. The orb. I stared unblinkingly outside the window. It was there, alright. I pointed at it, and that's when my friends noticed it. Like me, their brains had gone soupy and useless in their skulls.

 

The static on our senior's phone went silent. It restarted momentarily, like switching radio channels, and a voice issued out of the phone. The full moon soon arrives, it announed in a flat voice. Appease me. Minions, feed the sacred earth with the blood of your beloved. Sate my hunger, and you shall be rewarded. Fail, and face my wrath. Lifeblood I need when the moon's at its highest and the night at its brightest. Fail, and watch your world bleed. Innocent flesh and love undiluted must be the offerings at my altar. Fail, and I shall take from you, everything. Follow my voice to find my grove.

 

The phone crackled and went silent. The orb outside the window let out another shriek. This time I recognized it for what it was, the death whistle. Oh Gods, give us strength.

 

The tubelight switched to its everyday shade of a bright white. The door unlocked and swung open. The senior was watching a stand-up comedy video of Russell Peters making fun of the Indian accent. I was standing closest to the door. I took a step toward it, and my leg trembled so violently I fell flat on my face. There were a bunch of guys just chatting in the annexe's corridor. They saw me flat on my face and not even attempting to get up. They rushed into the room, got me back on my feet, gave me some water. Only then did they notice the catatonic faces of Noob and Bujji, after some frantic gesturing and yelling from our giggling-at-static friend. We all had water splashed on our faces.

 

The cold water brought us back to our senses, somewhat. Why did we look like we just met the Devil, they asked us. I think I laughed at that. We didn't just meet the Devil, we inadvertently sold our souls to him, I remember thinking. But how do I tell them this and escape getting carted off to the nearest insane asylum?!

 

Shakily and very slowly the three of us made out way back to AS1. None of us spoke. We made ourseves some more coffee and sipped pensively. I felt like I was on the brink of insanity. I had this feeling, this desire, to run and run and run, till my legs crumpled and my heart gave out.

 

At long last, Noob spoke. What did you guys hear that orb say, he asked. My heart sank further, if at all it was possible. I had entertained a very faint hope that maybe, just maybe, the other two did not see the orb or hear a demonic demand. The words the static voice uttered were etched in my brain. I recited them to Noob. I perhaps did it in the same flat-sounding voice, because after I had finished the other two had assumed a wide eyed expression that, if taken a step farther, would result in their eyes popping out. Eyes popped from skulls are not my forte, I had enough on my plate already, so I snapped my fingers at them and told them to listen carefully. I recalled my Red Dream in as much detail as possible. By the end their jaws had dropped far enough to threaten jaw dislocation. I snapped my fingers again. Stop gaping! I screamed suddenly. This did the trick. Their faces were no longer in imminent danger of disfigurement.

 

Another gap opened in our conversation, just as interminable as the last. We were lost in our own worlds, grappling with questions better left unphrased. There was a knock on the door, and Vathsan entered. He had come for some coffee. Yo guys, he chirped. He warbled on, I don't remember what he said. I do remember thinking then, if he was now part of the sacrificial circle. I think maybe the entrance of someone unconnected to the trauma we just went through gave me courage, lent me hope, urged me onward, set me upon the track to confront whatever apparition had spoken to us in an attempt to end the saga and fulfill the voice's commands. I tapped twice on the wall, and spoke quietly, envisioning that pulsating red orb as vividly as I could in my inner eye. What do you expect of us, where is the sacred earth and how do we follow your voice, I chanted in a monotone voice.

 

No response, of course, except surprise from Vathsan and shock from the others. I expected the..lets call the thing Windigo. I expected Windigo wouldn't respond to every question we asked. Ha, imagine if I'm writing a test and I ask, what's the definition of Thiele's modulus, and this orb appears and crackles in its static voice. No, most certainly the hungry spirit would lead me to its altar when it felt the moment was right. Like, at 1AM it would compel me to scale the hostel's compound, I assumed. What a chore that would be.

 

I did not realize it then, but this was how the circle expanded. Speak of Windigo's commands to a person and that person was henceforth involved in fulfilling the command. This person could see or hear anything Windigo might send their way. Like a dream where you cook and eat human meat. Or something like that. I had potentially endangered yet another person's life.

 

Vathsan sipped his coffee, waiting for me to explain, or atleast confess that what I had said was utter bullshit. This is when Noob stepped in.

 

Abhinav might seem like a laid back character but this time he really handled the issue well. Nihith and I were still to get over the shock, and Noob was prepared to tackle Windigo head on.

 

Hunger, lifeblood and innocent flesh, he said. Sacred earth, blood of a beloved, this must mean we spill blood at its altar. It wants a sacrifice. A blood ritual. Who volunteers? I have this really annoying professor, maybe we can lure him in..?

 

We didn't laugh at his weak attempt at humour. But the fact that he tried, made us feel a whole lot better. Now, the problem was in front of us in black and white. All that was required of us was a human sacrifice. Nice and easy. Since I was the source of this mess, I would gladly have volunteered. Just as this thought occured, I imagined what my brother's reaction would be, half the planet away, when he heard of my gory death. He'd be heartbroken to say the least. I can't possibly offer myself. Neither was I fleshy enough to give Windigo a hearty meal and survive the ordeal.

 

Something else that should be obvious to you, the reader, clicked just then. The members of the circle CAN'T offer themselves. They must offer their beloved. Do I even have a beloved? Does this mean my family? And this offering must be innocent. Innocent of what? Legally innocent? Or maybe this meant pure of heart, mind and soul? Is anybody pure of heart, mind and soul?

 

I relayed these revolutionary insights to my fellows. As I was speaking, something else struck me. The only pure humans I know are babies, I said, matter of factly. Its true I have no great affection for human babies, but I won't spill their blood. Besides, where would we even obtain a baby? The Dark Web? Stop joking around, we are serious here.

 

Bujji spoke up. You guys are honestly considering human sacrifice? Just imagine the headlines! Our lives would be ruined! If we are caught, the least that can happen to us is jail time. The electric chair sounds more likely. Our families would be utterly ruined! Human sacrifice?! Even reading about such stuff makes me sick, and you guys are scoping out targets? Babies?! I'd rather be buried alive than sacrifice a baby to save myself!

 

Strong words, I replied, but this is the task set before us. We-

 

WAIT! You guys are serious with this shit? Vathsan interrupted, wide eyed.

 

We only replied with a pained expression. We weren't kidding around, for sure. This was no subject to laugh about. I wish we had had a group hallucination, I said, but we didn't. You should have been with us to believe it happened. It's probably for the best that you weren't around, though. That thing, the Windigo, threatened to tear everything down! Everything!

 

I think I was beginning to sound hysterical, bordering on mad even.

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