The Dormitory Visitor
So let me get this out of the way- I'm an adult now, mature, responsible working and all, though there was this really weird incident i recall from my childhood days, back from school.
We were on an excursion trip to a popular hill station called Kodaikannal, it's cold all year round over there, and the school chose the month of October for the long awaited escapade, so it was chilly and we were in thick sweaters. The view from the bus was so scenic we could imagine leaving the whole world down below, as the bus circled around narrow mountainous paths. We were shouting, laughing, the music loud and unfaltering as the bus bumped here and there. I wished i were the one at the back row with all the girls instead of Joseph and his doofus friends.
So anyways it was night before we knew it, we were all tired and we still didn't reach. The driver, hardened by the strain of going up against bad roads and avoiding meandering animals, defiantly stood his ground with the angry teacher in charge, reasoning that we would all be there in thirty. I don't remember when we reached, but i remember waking up to hear the teacher yell, to get our bags from the baggage hold. Everyone had already lined up at the back of the bus by then. It was dark and i could make out, while shivering, teeth clattering from cold, from the glinted bus windows, an old mansion. The dark facade of the building, glowed in the dull lights coming off the windows, a few of the panes that were blackened and shattered. That was gonna be our stay, great.
Holding and heaving my airbag as i climbed up the narrow dim stairway, stuffing myself somewhere in the rush of senior sophomore's and classmates trying to get ahead. My friends Vishal and Rahul from behind, were demanding that i move my shit faster. We had to form a line, even the caretaker demanded it. And then we came to the dormitory, a vast space with rows and columns of bunk beds. As long as i had a chance to get some shut eye, i didn't care or give a damn about Vishal's constant cribbing. And then the jocks took the beds they wanted, next to each other, near the windows and stuff. We had the leftovers and i ambled in a drugged state to a vacant bed on top of that guy from the other class, who used to never speak to anyone. I remember Arjun, the headboy had taken the bed diagonally opposite to me.
The lights were switched off, i could still feel the swaying motions, from the long ride, but the effect faded away and i drifted off to a deep sleep.
It was pitch black when i opened my eyes, feeling them glued to my eyelids. It was kind of automatic, although i didn't know what made me wake up at that unearthly hour. The cold bit into me, even though i was tucked underneath a heavy quilt.
I saw this man, hooded in black woolen rags, holding an old lantern that gave an dim eerie light, over him. He walked slowly, slithering almost, across the aisle between the bunk beds where everyone slept. He was hooded, so his face was covered, anyway i couldn't have seen it since i was sleeping on top. I realized that he was moving towards my bed, i was sweating profusely now. My body was kind of locked-in and i couldn't move, not even open my jaw.
He stopped in front of Arjun's bed, the dull crimson glow of the burning lamp illuminated his black rags, and there were slight blue stripes running across the borders. He looked up slowly, and i knew somehow it was up at me. I fell back into the bed, tucked myself into the quilt, shutting my eyes as tight as i could, and felt my heart thud like a drum against my chest. I forced myself back to sleep, even though i could feel a crawling sensation from outside my quilt cocoon. At that moment i feverishly wished that i would become numb, but then i dont remember much of what happened next, only that sleep took me again.
The next day, morning i woke up and found myself the last person to do so, groggy and all i remembered for a fleeting moment what happened last night. If i shared it with someone, they would think me a retard. As it is i found it hard to mix with the others, so .....then i heard Arjun speaking to Joseph and his jockey friends gathered around his bed. He was saying something about seeing someone in the middle of the night, and he was doing that with such a childlike innocence that even i wouldn't have believed him....except i knew what he was talking about.
I was such an idiot, all i had to do was chime in at that moment and share my experience with him, but little introvert me, i was too shy to do that. I didn't even share this with Rahul or Vishal. I just tried to forget it and let it pass, and tried to get on with enjoying the trip. Except that i have never forgotten that and remember it till this day.