He woke up with a start, an immense pressure on his chest, both without and within, his heart thumping madly as if someone had been hammering at it from the outside synchronous with his pounding heartbeats. Strangely however, he felt cold – ice cold – limbs numb and lifeless, his extremities fallen asleep as if bloodless. Instinctively, with some effort he moved his hand up to his chest and found it bare, his nightshirt pulled apart, buttons ripped off. His brain was getting quite muddled now, unable to comprehend the unusual situation. Groping around on the side table for his cell phone, he switched on the display; it read 03:05. But there was something wrong with the display, it had turned monochrome! Puzzling over what could be wrong with his phone, he reached out for the master switch above the side table and flipped it on. His whole world exploded at that instance. Everything around him was monochrome – plain black and white! No, it couldn’t be! He rubbed his eyes vigorously, but even through the now hazy vision he could see no colour except a profusion of black with a streaking interruption of white. No, do not panic, he was constantly prompting his brain now, but a cold sweat had already started to form on his brow.

His limbs, though still pins and needles, were somewhat better with the blood pumping out of his thudding heart. Struggling to his unsteady feet, he hobbled to the bathroom. Maybe a splash of cold water would clear out his vision; or even wake him up from this realistic nightmare! Turning on the tap with a shivering hand he gathered the gushing chilled water in two trembling palms and head bent into the basin, splashed it on to his face. After repeating it a couple of times, he reached out and grabbed the crisp white Turkish towel off the rack to his left. Raising his head, he dabbed at his eyes with the towel, roughly at first and then gently, as if wanting to wipe off the torment. As his vision cleared, he stared at his reflection in the mirror above the sink. His heart skipped a bit as his two blood red eyes looked back at him from the mirror; everything else was still monochrome! At the same instance, his gaze settled on the reflection of the bed visible behind him through the mirror. A chill ran down his spine as he saw himself, still lying on the bed, eyes closed, limbs askew. He was now drenched in a cold sweat, terrorised and completely numb, his brain unable to reason with what lay behind him. In great panic he turned around and rushed to the bed. His brain refused to acknowledge his call for help, reasoning or comprehension. He was now moving as if in a trance, relying only on his instinct. The figure on the bed, his own self, was cold and lifeless. Instinctively, he placed his trembling hand on the chest of the prone figure, nothing! Acting on impulse, he ripped open the nightshirt and began pounding upon the lifeless chest in a frenzy, trying to resuscitate himself. It was all so bizarre, but at that moment he could think of nothing!

And then he suddenly woke up with a jolt, an immense pressure on his chest, as if someone had been pounding it…

– Narendra Nayak © 2018

Terror is my third short story as part of the series “Add Salt to Taste”.

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