Fariya was about to knock but stopped. She handed over the food to Zoya.
“What? Where are you going?” Zoya shouted while trying to stop foiled food from falling. Once she got control of it she also followed Fariya.
Fariya ignored her and hurried towards the old ladies.
“Assalam O Alaikum.” She smiled and greeted them. Zoya stood there clueless as to what her sister was trying to do.
“Walaikum Salam.” Some of them replied.
They were nine ladies sitting on blue plastic chairs.
“How are you all?” Fariya asked awkwardly.
She wanted to ask them questions regarding her building but was clueless as to how to start this particular conversation.
“Frightened.” One of the ladies replied sarcastically and left.
Wow few of them are even hostile.
Zoya thought standing there awkwardly.
“Sorry for her behaviour. She is a bit moody.” One of them apologetically smiled. She was apparently the oldest among them.
“Umm. It’s okay I guess.” Fariya shrugged ignoring the previous lady’s not so friendly behaviour.
“I was hoping if you could answer a few questions that are haunting me since yesterday.”
“Sure baita.” Replied the same lady while others just watched. Children had stopped playing and were staring towards us. Fariya smiled and waved at the kids. Few of them waved back while others just smiled.
“Why is everyone afraid of my building?”
All the ladies ohed in surprise.
“Oh baita! You don’t know? Didn’t the buyer tell your family when they bought it?”
“Well apparently my father does but he didn’t tell and dismissed me by saying that it’s just a myth.” I replied sheepishly.
“What? What do dad and you know that I don’t know?” Zoya butted in.
“Shut up and let me talk.” Fariya shushed her.
“Baita this place was a tuition centre about 20 years ago. No one ever visited it after dark because it wasn’t required. One day kids were playing cricket and ball broke first floor’s window and went inside. One of them took the keys from guard and went inside to retrieve their ball. After five minutes the kid screamed. Guard went inside to check on him and found him dead. It seemed like he had fallen off the stairs” Old lady signed with tears in her eyes.
“Oh! poor child!”
“But he might have just tripped.” Zoya voiced her thought.
“Guard said it seemed like as if someone had thrown him off the stairs. Tuition centre was closed after that and no one visited the place till now”
“So the building was labelled haunted just because some boy tripped and died inside it.” Zoya scoffed.
“Amina these people don’t deserve to know. Let them experience themselves then they’ll know what happens when one makes fun of such matters.” One other lady said harshly.
“Calm down Sabira.” The oldest lady whose name now I know was Amina patted Sabira on her shoulder.
“Sorry on behalf of my sister. Apart from this anything else has happened here?” Fariya asked.
“Sometimes people hear screams at night. People living in the building opposite to yours have seen shadows as well. They refer to the horrors as IT or THEM. The last guard of the building died of a heart attack during his duty hours. People say that he saw something.”
Zoya and Fariya both looked at each other. Fariya was startled whereas Zoya was trying to suppress her laughter. Fariya thought it was best to take her away from them before she bursts into a laughter.
“Thank you so much for the information, I have to go, food is getting cold. Allah Hafiz” She said while pointing towards the food that Zoya was holding.
“No problem baita. Just be safe. Khuda Hafiz.”
Fariya and Zoya moved towards the first house. Fariya was in deep thought. Zoya started laughing loudly.
“OMG! Are these people crazy or what? Just because a kid couldn’t properly climb down stairs they assumed that the building is haunted.” Zoya couldn’t stop laughing.
“Stop it Zoya. They might be correct” Fariya’s seemed quite irritated.
“Not you Fariya.”
Fariya rolled her eyes at Zoya.
“Let’s get this over with and head home.”
Zoya and Fariya quickly delivered the food. Some neighbours asked them to stay but they denied politely.
They were quite tired when they returned home.
“So according to some gaga ladies, our building is haunted and we will die if we won’t acknowledge it.” Zoya roared with laughter as she conveyed the news to Aisha and Sultana.
Aisha stared at them with horror and her mouth hanging open.
“Mom I don’t want to live here.” Aisha ran and hugged her mom.
Aisha is ten years old. She is a mirror image of Fariya but is about a foot short than her because of age.
“It’s alright sweetie. Your dad told me all about it. This is all just a myth and the boy died because she tripped.” Mom hugged her and kissed her forehead. This calmed her a bit.
It was around 3 a.m. and the Khan family was sleeping peacefully. Suddenly the middle sister Zoya woke up as she felt pressure on her chest. It was like as if someone was sitting on top of her. She opened her eyes but it was completely dark. She tried to ignore it but suddenly she felt two icy cold hands wrap around her neck. She was too shocked to scream. Hands started choking her. She tried to take them off but they won’t budge. She was desperately trying to breathe. She wanted to scream but no voice came out of her throat. As she gave up hope, the strangling hands loosened and soon the weight over her chest was gone. She screamed at the top of her lungs.
The whole house woke up due to her screams. Fariya quickly switched on the lamp.
“What happened are you alright?”
Zoya started whimpering and frantically looked around herself but there was no one except Fariya. Her mom and dad came running in her room followed by Aisha.
“What happened? Is everything okay?” Yameen asked urgently.
“T-there was s-someone. H-he was trying t-to c-choke me.” Zoya replied amidst her whimpers.
“But baita there’s no one. It must have been a nightmare.”
“No dad s-someone was here. Look at my n-neck.”
Yameen examined her neck and was shocked to see fresh bruises. In fact, there were two handprints indicating that Zoya was speaking the truth and it wasn’t a nightmare. Everyone was shocked.
Suddenly they were pulled out of their thoughts as someone knocked twice on their door.