Scorching sun was getting harsh with its light projected right on her face and a bead of sweat dripping down her forehead sacrificing itself to her cotton top damped with sweat. She lethargically fanned herself with a piece of paper in hope of some respite from the rising temperatures. Thick air with humidity and moisture had their presence like a swimming pool through which she could easily swim. She waited for her AC repair man to fix the unit of air-condition.
Veronica had her stuff scattered here and there. Camera lenses, negatives, some sketches and a cup of coffee. Being a photographer, she had morning assignments when sun is light and the light is bright. It was a busy day; Veronica pushed her blonde curls back and let them drop onto her neck. She was a beautiful photographer in every sense with big brown eyes and creamiest skin. She was tall and slim. Her lips were the color of morning sun and there was no reason for David to have not fallen in love with her. With a pencil in her mouth, she was trying to look at some pictures while marking something on it. She grabbed her cup of cold coffee. It was her favorite mug, David gifted her 2 months back with “world’s greatest babe” inscribed on it. The sweat and humidity was making work difficult for her. She restlessly looked up to have a quick glance at her watch.
The place looked different. For a moment she was appalled looking around at the strange yellow walls. How did she come here? She was working on her photographs and suddenly this place? She closed her eyes and opened it, but it was the same place.
“What the fuck is wrong with me” she murmured to herself and looked at her pictures once again. They were still there.
Did David drop me here??
Did he tell me something??
Why don’t I remember anything??
Gathering all her courage she stood up to explore the place. Veronica often got urbex photography assignments. She went to remote, creepy places to have a perfect shot. In a way, she was not as scared as any other girl could have been, but was confused. For a moment she thought of getting affected by some disease which make people forget things.
It was a beautiful house but covered in dust.
“Someone left the place in hurry” was her first thought.
Half-filled glasses still lay on the table and food containers had the remaining amount of food in it for lizards, ants and spiders to feast on it. The bathrooms had half-filled buckets with frogs swimming inside having their own pool party and there in the passage she saw a beautiful painting that adorned the wall.
“But wait a minute, why was it hanging there?? The wall face another wall, so in a way, no one could see the painting”
“Strange house” she thought to herself
It was an oil canvas painting with a couple that seem completely in love. The lady was beautiful blonde with blue eyes and she wore a beautiful and quite a unique outfit. Nor the people, nor the clothes looked vintage and everything was of this era itself. For some reason Veronica thought the men looked much like David. She was staring at the picture when she heard a noise from the adjoining room. The house was filled with a strong pungent smell. Things had dust on it but were not rusting. The place was old, but not very old. Veronica moved in the direction of the noise. Confused with the tricks that her brain was played with her, she took a step forward.
It was a big room with a twin bed in center and closet on one side. There lay a rocking chair at the far end near the window. It was moving lightly as if someone was sitting on it. The chair faced an open glass with deserted roads outiside. The sky was blue outside indicating it was morning.
“Anybody there” Veronica was now getting butterflies in her stomach. Something was strange about the place. She failed to get positive vibes and wanted to run but her instincts told her a different story, as if some supernatural power is asking her to stay back. Suddenly, she heard a voice and her attention drifted towards the location
“Veronica, how are you?”
Veronica had not heard the voice before.
How did she know her name?
Who was she?
Veronica had many questions when again the voice started addressing her. It was a female voice, kind of sweet with sadness it.
“David is not a nice man”
“He is a killer, he will kill you one day”
“Who are yous, why don’t you face me”
“Facing you is not important Veronica; I am here to warn you”
“David will rob you, David will kill you”
A familiar breath moved closer to her face and Veronica could smell David getting closer to her. She opened her eyes and found herself in her bedroom, snuggled in David’s arms. Her face was drained of color as she continued staring at him.
“Whats wrong hun?”
“Nothing” she forced a smile on her face. She decided to keep mum. After all dreams are dreams. Everyone has a bad dream and there is nothing to worry about it. She comforted herself that it was just a dream, and that she could have not got a person better than David. Though he had no job, David was a rich man.
David and Veronica met at a local bar in 2012. While David was sitting with a friend at the corner of the bar with a glass of whisky in his hands, watching people dance, his eyes fell on a beautiful girl in violet dress with luscious bouncing curls and most adorable brown eyes. Her white skin had the color of clean creamy macaroni right before you put some cheese on it. Veronica looked beautiful and David had his eyes on her. He followed her across the party and finally got an opportunity he was looking for. He asked his friend to give her a little push, her 3 inch long stellates were sure to make her tumble and this is what David wanted. He wanted to catch her fall.
He was a true charmer and never failed to impress anyone. He was tall and broad-shouldered, with a mop of dark burgundy hair and heavy, thick defined brows that were equipoised by a boyish grin. Looking in to his eyes, one can find the colors of ocean. He had blue eyes with a charming smile. His planned worked well. Veronica got pushed, and was about to fall unable to balance herself, while David was ready to catch her. She landed right in to his arms. She thanked him and this is how they started talking. Soon they were communicating on the phone and few weeks later, they started dating. 6 months back Veronica shifted with David in his new house.
The new baronial house was a true beauty with numerous glass windows from where the blue sky with clouds can be seen, just like a heaven kissed view and wire fencing bordering the property. The entry was a large door that could accumulate a whole family of elephants. It further opened to a foyer with a vast curving staircase that probably went to heaven. Polished banister curved up leading to a brilliantly designed bedroom. The clean white walls had modern art paintings artistically arranged on the wall. A round bed lay in the center with sliding closets opposite to it. Thin green shag carpet embraced the floor.
Veronica had a dream which seem almost like reality. She was still engrossed within her thoughts when a strong aroma of freshly brewed coffee entered her nostrils.
“Here’s your coffee” David was smiling like a little kid surprising his mom with a handmade birthday card.
For a moment she forgot her dream and smiled back. She held her cup of coffee and the mug reminded her of the dream again. She looked at the words inscribed. She closed her eyes for a moment.
“So it’s my day today” David planted a kiss on her cheeks. It was Sunday, the only day when veronica was off the work and spent some time with him.
“So let’s go for a movie”
“As you say”
“Where should we go? Alexis is the nearest”
“We will grab a bite at Uncle Petty’s and then head for the movie”
“Ok, you get ready, I will check the garden till then”
“David, is the air-condition working in the living room?”
“NO!! I am trying to figure out the problem since morning, you knew about it?”
“mmmm, I had tried it in the night”, She hadn’t.
“It might be a coincidence veronica” she thought to herself.
She wore a yellow shirt with blue shorts that went down her knees. With pearls in her ears and her favorite MG watch on her wrist, she looked perfect. Climbing down, she found David in the gardens checking on some flowers. He was ready and waiting for her. She grabbed her ankle sandals and they jumped in the car. It was 11 am and Veronica was hungry. They had a burger with coke and some brownie at Uncle Patty’s and headed towards Alexis, a city cinema where the movies featured.
They resided in New York, where people jammed streets to have their share of extraordinary fun and astonishment. Life is sweet and simple in New York, with walking more prominent than driving, blocking most of the roads. They passed through the Times Square, which looked as colorful as a rainbow in the morning light. As they were nearing Alexis, on the right side of the road, a strange little house at the corner of a street caught veronica’s eyes. It looked similar to the house in her dream. She watched it till it was out of the sight.
She decided to check on it later on. It was evening when they got out and David had some work, he dropped Veronica home. He never took her for his personal work. Veronica had asked once or twice about it but ended up fcing David’s anger. They had a clean policy of not interfering in each other’s work. David never asked her where she went and in-turn she was supposed to keep quite.
“This was the right time to check the house” Veronica thought to herself. Soon David left and once he was out of sight she left the house in her own car.
From far end, the house looked pretty. It was built in red lyons and sandstones. She gazed across the property. An awful looking picket fence surrounded it. Though the city silvered by the sun, the place looked dead as if it has been freezing from 100 winters within that secluded location. She saw a big golden lock on the door. She headed towards a rusty old abandoned mailbox which was partially visible and partially hidden by tall trees. There were dirty bushes and brambles against the door.
“To tress pass a property is considered a crime” she thought to herself.
Suddenly, her eyes feel on the lock, she looked closely at the door and found the golden lock partially opened. It was just hanging there like a precious thing kept in museum.
“I can easily peep inside, and put it back, just the way it was”
Veronica entered the house carefully removing the lock and placing it in her bag. Green slimes covered the wall. As she moved inside she was taken aback. It was the same place. It looked more clean in her dream but this was awfully dirty. The roof had some of its shingles missing, the wall were cracked and weathered. Someone indeed left the place in hurry just like her dream. Things inside looked frozen in time. The glasses at its original location, a piano lay in the foyer with some notes still clipped to it.
“The owners never got a chance to pack” thought Veronica.
She was searching for the room she saw in her dream and the lady, who was she. Her eyes cornered a spider web with a spider hanging from it eating its prey and giving her a sick feeling. Something was strange about this place. The air was cold and damp inside. She looked here and there and was trying to explore the property filled with dust and half broken things.
“It’s the same painting” She exclaimed standing in front of it. The location of the picture was indeed strange. It was hanged in the passage where no one could see it. Why would anyone hang such a beautiful picture here?
She walked further and found the room. It had the same glass wall and rocking chair. The glass wall was dirty and almost opaque. The room was misty, muddy and smoky. Her heart was beating so loud that she could actually hear it pounding. She took baby steps towards the chair. It was still and the room had dead silence. A step more and she could see the chair.
A knife lay on the chair. Her face which had drained all colors was relieved seeing no one on it, she expected a ghost. She took the knife in her hands to examine it closely. It had some black dried liquid on it. She kept it back. There was a twin bed in the center of the room and a closet in a corner. Veronica moved towards the closet and tried opening it.
“Crack” it opened with a strange sound. Female dresses were neatly hanged in there. They all looked beautiful and expensive.
“This lady was indeed a fashionista” she thought to herself.
Suddenly a small photograph that was placed on the side of the closet caught her attention, She held it close to herself
“no no no, this is not possible” agitated and confused, she started sweating and felt a pain in her chest. Suddenly she felt light headed and she glanced back at the picture one more time. It was a lady with David and this was not a painting. It was a clicked photograph.
When they met 6 months back David had mentioned himself as single. He never mentioned having a girl friend or a wife. Veronica was not sure who the lady was. She felt empty inside. She could feel dread slowly creeping in her gut.
“thuttt” A book fell on the ground.
It must be on the top of that cupboard, how it fell, in the absence of wind was a mystery. She picked it up. The smell of those dusty pages reminded her of reminiscent of candlelit libraries on snowy nights. It smelled sweet, with a hint of glue, and a little musty. Veronica could sense a rank odor with no physical presence and she turned around to find no one.
“A little bit of me – by Christina” Veronica read the cover of the book.
It looked more like a personal diary. It was self-made using hand-made paper and had some great designs and colors on it. It was more of a work from a creative person. The book was divide din several section, one of them read “DAVID”. Flipping open the section, she read it line by line, and surrealistic feeling surrounded her. With her eyes still on the pages she took a step back and sat on the corner of the dirt covered bed.
“I met David today, he invited me for a coffee after the school, I think David likes me”
“David and I are dating, omg, I am so happy, life is beautiful”
“I won the first prize in costume designing, my dream of becoming a dress designer is stronger now”
Veronica turned the page
“Mom caught me talking to David, I don’t know what will happen when the dad arrives”
“Dad said he liked David, I am so happy, David is coming home for dinner”
She turned the page again
“David proposed me for marriage and guess what I said ‘yes’”
“I and David are shifting to New York, Dad bought us a house”
“I got a job in leading fashion house, life can’t be better than this”
Veronica had tears in her eyes.
“I think I will quit my job, David needs me”
“I left my job, but David isn’t working either, he needs my support, he will find a job soon”
“David does not speak properly, he want me to work and earn”
There was page with a picture of Christina and David on their wedding day. It was the same person with who she lived. Suddenly everything seemed alienated. David seemed like a stranger. She turned the page.
“I think David is cheating on me, my friend Lucy saw David with a girl in the coffee shop”
“Even Peter found David with someone at the restaurant”
“David seems strange this days, he behaves rude, should I call dad?”
“I am tired running the house on my daddy’s money. Daddy gave me those money for opening up my boutique, what will daddy think of me when he would find out that Davis is using them all”
And the book ended. The last message was dated “12/6/2012”. A year and a half had passed away. What happened to Christina? Where was she?
Veronica started searching the house again, in a hope to find some clues. She found a bottle of perfume, some love letters indicating David’s writing and few more photographs. She found an old telephone diary from the same closet. It had a number with “mom” scribbled inside. Veronica took out her cellphone to dial the number. It was ringing
“Hello, can I speak to Christina?”
“Christina???? Who are you?”
“mam I am her friend from school days, we were not in touch from 5 years, I found this number after a great difficulty”
“Oh dear, Christina passed away in December last to last year” and the women on the line started crying
“I am so sorry mam, can I ask, what happened to her?”
“It’s a terrible story dear, a fateful day that took away our daughter. She went missing ad non one could find her. Her husband called us that Christina is missing, police tried everything and finally Christina was declared dead, she just vanished”
“I am so sorry to hear that, god bless you”
“Thank you dear”
And the line went dead.
Veronica looked at her watch, it was the time for David to return. She wanted to settle her sore with David. She took the diary with her and even the photographs and placed it carefully in her bag. She got her camera and clicked few pictures of the place to look at it later on and carefully made her way out of the room towards the door. Suddenly a big noise from inside the house halted her way. It was like something just fell on the ground. Veronica ran inside and found the painting of Christina and David lying on the ground with its glass broken and shattered in thousand pieces. She looked at the blank space on the wall from where it came down and something caught her attention.
The color of the wall with Painting was somewhat different than rest of the wall. It looked painted later on. Also the wall look dismembered. Someone had tried to do something with it or might have done something to it.
“Was it a sign that something present inside this house is trying to tell me?” Veronica thought to herself.
She looked around and found and old iron rod lying in the corner. Picking it up, she looked at it closely. It had a pointed end with some wall residues on it. Someone has used the same iron rod to temper the wall. She started banging the rod against the wall. It required great strength and she was trying her best. Negative thoughts were coming back again and again. At a point she stopped, but then started again thinking about Christina. She hoped a secret passage behind the wall and may be Christina was there hidden from the world.
Finally the bricks came out. She digged a little bit and suddenly a hand was visible. It was a spine chilling sight. She saw a ring on the finger and quickly took out the snaps she had just placed inside her bag. The ring was familiar, she had just seen it. She checked Christina in the pictures and her worst nightmare was true, it was her.
Veronica felt betrayed. A deep seeded feeling was growing inside her. She was in a state of inconceivable thoughts with no way of connecting words spoken. Her face grimaced and her eyes tightened. She called Christina’s mom once again along with the police.
A day filled with drama, a fateful Sunday that changed Veronica’s life forever. She had survived a maniac. She never knew she was trapped. Her story was difficult to be believed, ghosts and spirits do not exist in normal world, but based on the proof, the diary and the pictures, David was arrested. Christina’s parents were in a state of shock. Her father regretted his decision of giving his only daughter in the hands of a monster. Christina never said anything to anybody. She was lonely and David made her even lonelier. Veronica sympathized with her imagining all the horror she might have gone through. For her, it was an intense pain, a feeling of shock and sympathy at the same time.
It wasn’t easy for the officers to make David confess the crime. But he did. It took them two weeks and finally David opened his mouth. He never loved Christina, he loved her money. He married her for the money and soon was tired of her. Christina was expecting too much from him. She wanted to have a baby. David meanwhile had fallen in love with Veronica and wanted to have a life with her. He knew well that leaving Christina would meant leaving behind all her money. Veronica would never want to be with a broke. He planned a murder. He killed his own wife stabbing her to death.
Veronica was dumbfounded. She would have to live with a notion of “being responsible for someone’s death” She never communicated the method of killing to Christina’s parents. They were old and already in grief. She moved out of David’s house and decided never to see his face again. Attending a few court hearing she ensured that David would rot in hell, may be that way Christina would forgive her. A death sentence was inflicted upon David. The same day, Veronica visited the house where Christina’s body was found with no flesh on it. She apologized, she felt Christina’s presence around her and found a note with “I forgive you” inside the house. Her lips curved in a soft smile, she left the house, never to return again.
For Veronica, the day started with hugs and kisses and ended with bidding a final good bye.