Sometimes I look back at that night and wonder if it was all a dream.

By Akshay Gajria

It was 2 am in the night, as I walked home down a maze of streets. The narrow lanes were empty and silent. I can’t honestly say I was completely sober that night, but a couple of glasses of wine can hardly count as being drunk. Right?

My wife was waiting for me at home, ready to swallow any excuse I would make. In the early days of our marriage we made love often, but her skin was no longer tender, her body loose in all the wrong places. I can barely think of touching her now.

But I get my fill from outside.

Shelly’s perfume enveloped me. Its faint fragrance brought back the feel of my fingers tracing her white skin over her porcelain figure, as we lay under her stark-white bedsheets. Her skin was soft and tender and young. But it did not compare to the soft, soft skin of that little girl I met on the bus. Remembering her made me drool. Only if she hadn’t died after…

I stopped reminiscing when a cold gust of air brushed the back of my neck giving me goosebumps all over. My eyes swept over the dark eerie trees lining the street. They were tall and menacing and sinister looking. But what frightened me was that they were still — not a single leaf swayed with the wind.

I shivered, pulling my collar up against the cold.

There was a low growl from behind and I looked back. The orange glow from the equally spaced street lights showed me an empty street.

Maybe I had drank too much.

I walked faster. The wind around me was cold and my breath came out as pale vapour. There was a small scuttling sound at the side of the road, in the depths of the darkness where the orange glow could not penetrate. Something moved at the edges.

In retrospect, it was probably just a rat; but my heart was beating fast, and fear mixed with adrenaline and a touch of alcohol can create some strange effects.

I ran; and that was my biggest mistake.

A howl erupted behind me turning into paws striking the cement road. I did not look back, only kept running. The fear clouding all the thoughts I had of curiosity.

If I had the clarity of thought as I do now, I would have guessed that I was passing through the territory of a street dog; and reeking of alcohol and fear, the dog was trying to chase me away.

But no. I had no such epiphany. I ran, faster than I knew I could, fear egging me on. The sound of the approaching beast grew closer and closer, until I could feel its presence inches from me.

I reached the end of the lane; the last street lamp was flickering from light to dark. The wind had ceased to blow and the paws following me sounded no more. I looked back at the lighted street, nothing moved.

All was still and silent.

I turned to face the bend in the road, but I was not alone under the flickering light. A black dog, as tall as me, with dead hollow eyes glazed with orange light, exhaling smoke with each breath and chains coiled around each limb stood there facing me. He barred his sharp fangs and the light flickered shut.

When the light flooded around me again there was no one else but me. The wind was silent; the only sound to be heard was the rapid rhythm of my heart beat.

Taking a deep breath, I hurried home.

I’ve never forgotten that night. I still don’t know if what I saw under the flickering light was real. I avoid walking late at night now.

But I still hear the growls clearly over the screams of my fair prey, as a reminder.

I am an aspiring storyteller. All and any feedback is welcome. Recommendations too. ☺

Storyteller | Writer | Writing Coach | Read more at akshaygajria.com

Storyteller | Writer | Writing Coach | Read more at akshaygajria.com