Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fighting the Dark

Last night I suddenly woke up at three. I thought I heard noises. Not the normal ones. There was an infernal quality about them – bizarre tapping sounds that seemed to be of a devilish quality, with the vague discomforting silence between each tap only serving to increase the ghostly aura.


Perfect interval between each strike; sounds with a sober grievous quality, as though proclaiming the innate melancholy of the inevitable fate of the world; not so much a warning bell as a mourning.


I woke up with beads of perspiration and a suddenness that I couldn’t quite ascribe to. The world around seemed eerily still. It wouldn’t have been a surprise even if I found out that nothing existed around me – and everyone else had disappeared. I looked out to confirm. Darkness, empty corridors and shut doors. It seemed an intentional wicket plot to have put an evil spell of infinite sleep on everything else, and then to wake me up for the awaited confrontation. I got back to the bed closing the door behind me. I feared confrontations.


I could pass it off for a lizard’s tail swatting had it not been so loud. I was in half a mind to go back to sleep. Weird things do happen at the unearthly hour; it was best to let them be – perhaps there was a rich invisible life that sprang to life when human souls migrated to another realm and it simply happened to be an accident that I bounced back a bit too early.

I turned back and forth – but the realization was simply too strong to be pushed away – the sound was getting louder. Something was getting closer. It now seemed to be coming from a source right around me, nearer than a couple of meters away. A part of me was too scared to investigate. I simply wished to shrink away to invisibility; the sense of doom was closing in.


My heart was beating so loud, as if wanting to compete and shut down the noise of the ghastly taps that now seemed right over me. All I needed to do was open the eyes shut so tight and everything could end for good – the doubt, most of all. Yet, I didn’t want to let go – I didn’t want to face the inevitable; the unknown is sometimes better left unknown. The darkness of avoidance was more comforting than the light of truth. The darkness within provided solace from the darkness without.

For what seemed like hours, there was no more sound. Yet, I could feel the presence. It was waiting. Its breath was over me. Time was ticking. Gripping fear had spread to the entire being and become a state of transient existence. It could no longer exert its centralized vigor and was dying a slow death, bringing in its more painful counterpart, despondency.

Somewhere down, I started feeling anger at the inescapable tragedy of it all – for this mystique parasite to be spoiling my peace of mind. All I had to do was open the eyes and see the enemy.Perhaps I could even fight it. Perhaps I could escape and ask for help. Atleast, it was better than lying here having it right over me, poised to attack anytime. 

So loud! The pressure was killing. I responded this time. I opened my eyes.
After 10 long years of coma, Nancy finally responded to treatment and opened her eyes. Following a devastating car crash on Aug 15 2002, where she was in and  saw her husband and kids get killed, Nancy had slipped into a coma. Even after her physiological parameters got working, it was suspected that her fear to come back and face a world without her loved ones made her continue to embrace the darkness within. But finally, she opened her eyes.

Perhaps she will see that reality isn’t as dark or scary as she had imagined it to be. 


PeeVee™ said...

Holding on when everything you cherished and held close is gone requires courage that not many have. If she opened her eyes, then she is stronger than she thought herself to be.

Arumugam said...

Short fiction with a meaning!:) Nice.

Tangled up in blue... said...

This is very interesting, Sinduja. I've always been very fascinated with the disorders of perception. Why do so many people claim to have had out-of-body experiences? Or those who were resuscitated from clinical death who claim to have felt the warm comforting presence of God and were pulled from their comfortable place into cold painful consciousness.

We assume those that are comatose have no higher mental functions, not even dreams. Because that is what mapping brain activity tells us. But what if there are other levels of consciousness? Layers of thoughts where we cannot enter with our probes.

Very interesting indeed. I thought it was all a ghost story till I reached the end. :)

CHIBI said...

Gripping story..! stories with twists, love em'. the ever fascinating brain indeed is much powerful than what can be measured from it..!!

Sinduja said...

Oh God, when did this get published? (and why is the font so small??)

Okay, I had written it months back but was quite embarrassed about it; So scheduled it for some random date and didn't expect to find it here today! :)

Sinduja said...

@PeeVee: Yes, she is! We all will be, inevitably. :)

@Arumugam: Meaning there is it? Appo okay seri! :D

@Chibi: The brain and the universe are two things which will continue to challenge man's intellectual capability. Alas, look at the difference in the size between the two! :)

Sinduja said...

@K: It is interesting that at the beginning of your comment itself, you have termed it a 'disorder of perception'. :) Quite becoming the scientific practitioner I see :D

But can we really tell if a particular perception is abnormal - perhaps we have been taught to perceive it that way. Consciousness is, I sometimes feel, the field which suffers the most at this tug-of-war between religion, science and meta-physics - which is why your second para gives me so much hope and reinforces the admiration I always have for your thought process. This is very interesting indeed!

harishsram said...

I tried thinking a lot on few things here. It would help if you could answer them.

Is it possible for her to know the time when she was at the brim of waking up from a coma or is the whole set-up (bed, corridor, etc) part of the limbo? If so is there any reason for choosing that kind of location other than cleverly deceiving the readers that you are taking about your life.

Can she distinguish between a day & night?

Does the Tap-tap-tap indicate the pulse meter or something more ethereal?

Abhishek said...

Tap , Tap , Tap.

Sounds pretty sinister. Footsteps much ? :S

CHIBI said...

@sindu : It's a good thing, you scheduled this to be published on some random date, so even you would had a good surprise..!
I hope you have more posts like this scheduled for random dates.. :P

btw.. why were you embarrassed about writing such a good story?

and i think the brain's imagination can give tough competition with universe for size..! :P

R-A-J said...

Damn! I was hopin u'd find some kitten or Santa or even the truth fairy even... :)

but loved the 'Kahaani' me twist ;)

See the movie 'The Others'.. is equally yummy... :)

Sooparr storry, Sinduja :)

Anonymous said...

:) Hey nallaa irukkae.

Your writing has consistency and is largely coherent. BTW, like harish asked, "What were the Tap tap sounds"?


ganeshputtu said...

you are on course to become the next Mary Shelley...enuff said?

Tangled up in blue... said...

By disorders of perception, I meant hallucinations actually. Also, illusions to some extent because they fool our senses. :D And yes, well, I must admit that is a term I picked up from my textbooks.

But one must admit, the science that studies the mind is fairly new and fairly superficial. There are several phenomena for which there is no clear or in-depth explanation available. Near-death experiences or coma vigils among them.

The reason I tend to science rather than religion or meta-physics is because for me it is always easier to believe something that is verifiable and reproducible.

Sinduja said...

@Harish: Idhu unnala mattum dhaan mudiyum - interpreting a text so much! :) Glad to have people like you in my life though.

Have you watched the movie 'The Dead End'? I suggest you do. You might find some relevant thoughts on this question though I wrote this story before I saw it (promise! :P)

Frankly, I have not been or heard from someone in a similar condition; so speaking purely from the pov of the way I conceived it:

Everything was a part of a limbo. In fact, she believes she is in a hostel (perhaps from some vague distant memory of the past). She has nil clue in the time period of this story of her current condition. The occurences here are her transition from a deeper rest to the mid-phase between complete consciousness and the deeper rest that she was in. She had a choice here - to go back to rest (coma) or face the fear (awakening)

No, I would presume that she need not know/follow the exact time of our world. So it is not necessary that in the real world too, it was nighttime.

I intended the tap-tap-tap to be the noise created from something here in this world, like say, the pulse meter! :)

Great set of questions! Thank you for making me enjoy the story so much more!

Sinduja said...

@Abhishek: Footsteps? Might be. When I wrote it, I intended the tap to be the noise from some activity in the read world of her hospital and treatment, though I did not exactly define it in my mind. Footsteps? Hmmm..yeah, why not? :)

Sinduja said...

@Chibi: Yeah, this is a good concept - scheduling for random dates! :) Thanks for the kind words Chibi! :)

@R-A-J: Raj, Kitten? Really? :D

And yes, I have watched that one. Truly an amazing movie!

Sinduja said...

@V: Thnx V! Okay, here is a little insider info :) - The story till the point where the fifth paragraph ends - "...sense of doom was closing in" is completely real. I just wake up petrified one night because I thought I heard these creepy taps. And I heard them a couple of times. I swear, I was so scared that night that I thought I was going to be abducted by aliens!

Even after point, the terrible thoughts that went in my head - the fear to investigate further, the sense that something was around somewhere near, the anger at it for spoiling my sleep - make the rest of the story.

So when I started writing this story, I just wanted to pen what happened that day. And then, towards the last paragraph, I didn't know how to end it and suddenly this strikes me in a flash.So, the 'tap tap tap' was really a 'tap tap tap' on one weird night in my life. However, later I meant it to be the pulse meter or something.

Sinduja said...

@Ganesh: More than enuf said! you have made my day! :)

"The reason I tend to science rather than religion or meta-physics is because for me it is always easier to believe something that is verifiable and reproducible"

That is good! :)

For me, it is the hope or faith that someday, some tenets of religion too would be verifiable and reproducible, that keeps me second-guessing. :)