On In InnerVoice

"He pinched himself to wake up from the nightmare, and it hurt."

Rahul woke up with a start. He felt hot under the comforter despite the chill. He had switched off the oil heater before he had slept. There was no reason for him to feel warm, unless of course he had forgotten to turn off the heater. Worse, his bladder was full and that meant a trip to the bathroom, which could disrupt his sleep for the night. Of late, he had not been sleeping well. He would wake up in the morning with aching limbs and a heavy head. He made a mental note to fix an appointment for his annual medical check-up which was long overdue. He decided to brazen it out under the comforter. He was not a child who would wet his bed.

He pulled the comforter over his face, but an irritating bluish light prevented him from going to sleep. He dragged the comforter to completely cover his face, but it was of no use. The damned light seemed to penetrate. He shrugged off the comforter and got up. Then, he screamed as if nothing made sense anymore. Simone sat naked on a stool, covered in blue luminescence, not far from the foot of his bed. She was combing her hair, looking into the full-length mirror in front of her with wide eyes. He saw his terrified face and Simone in the mirror, her bare back looking hideous in the bluish light.

His screams remained stuck in his throat as Simone finished combing her hair and continued to look at him through the mirror. Then she got up to face him and sprayed herself liberally with her favourite perfume. She lifted her leg and placed it on the stool. Then she sprayed inside of her as well, looking at him seductively all the time. He saw a bit of red flesh. To his horror he realized that the inside of her vaginal lips was crimson red, in sharp contrast to the sepulchral, bluish tonality of her body. The smell of the perfume filled the room. He gagged, feeling invaded as the strong scent seeped into every pore of his body. Simone walked to the bedroom door, spraying the room liberally and closed the door behind her.

It took Rahul a few seconds before he could breathe properly. He threw off the comforter and raced out looking for her. He switched on all the lights, but there was no sign of her. He sniffed around, but the trail of perfume had disappeared with her. He pinched himself to wake up from the nightmare, and it hurt. He knew that she had been there in the room. Or was his paranoia getting the better of him?

The story above is an excerpt from the book 'Fear is the Key' by author Juggi Bhasin, which is published by Penguin Random House.PS: Images used in the story are for representative purpose only. Cover image source: www.ltw.org