“Do you believe in spirits?”
“No Jessi! For the hundredth time I do not believe in spirits! Why do you always ask these weird questions dude?”
“But I’m telling you! Spirits are as real as the blue bananas that you didn’t believe existed until I showed you that documentary on them!”
“Dude! Bananas can exist! It’s a fruit. Spirits on the other hand are a load of gibberish! Tell me! Do you have any do you have any of your “documentaries” to prove this spirit theory?”
“No. But I-”
“Jessi, leave it. I’m never going to believe your nonsense on this spirit business! Gosh!”
“Oh but I have something else you might find interesting.”
“Jessi, I swear to god if you bring up a word about spi-”
“Shhh! Now listen. Do ever get a weird mysterious tingling feeling on your spine sometimes?”
“Umm…. Yeah I do sometimes.”
“Ah ha! Do you kno-”
“It’s nothing Jess, just a funny feeling probably!”
“Shut up! Listen to me very carefully. There is a saying, that this happens when someone is walking over your future grave.”
The road was completely empty. Quite unusual for the normally busy West East Bastian Road. I ignored the silence and walked on. The cold air whipped against my hair and the chill of the evening dissolved through my skin right into my bones, making my entire body shiver, and my teeth chatter against each other. I should have listened to Jessica’s warning about the cold weather and worn a sweater like she’d advised. She might be a bit strange, but she’s weirdly right about almost ninety-nine percent of the things she blabbers about.
The conversation we’d had this evening kept replaying in my head. What she’d said about the tingling sensation had left me a bit shaky. I felt creeped out to be honest – not that I believed her stupid spirit talk; but Jessica is rarely wrong about anything. There are times that I even suspected she had special abilities. That girl could tell me that the Earth is flat and it would turn out to be correct within the day! What if spirits do really exist like she said? And that tingling thing, what if it really is someone walking over your grave?
Just then, as if on cue, I got that weird feeling in my spine.
I stopped dead in my tracks. My breathing suddenly became laboured. I felt like I couldn’t move my feet any further. I looked around and realised that I was in front of the floating market. The Pettah Floating Market. The one place I had always wanted to visit after I moved to Colombo, but could never find the time to. The whole place was deserted and looked pretty dreary. I remembered that it was temporarily closed off to the public ever since the great protest, so it was not surprising to see overturned tables and chairs, abandoned shops and trash strewn all over the place. The place gave me the creeps just by staring at it from afar.
Just as I was about to walk away, I heard a small noise from inside the market. I stopped and listened hard. Yes! It was definitely coming from inside one of the abandoned shops. The sound of someone crying. Was it a girl or a boy?
While I was debating on whether to go inside and check it out or not, I got that odd prickle in my spine again. I wanted to walk away and forget it all, the sound, the feeling; all of it. I wanted to go home, take a nice warm bath and get into bed. But something was off. The closed-off market was drawing me inside. Before I could come back to my senses, I found myself slowly walking to the entrance of the market.
The boards beneath me creaked loudly. The water making quiet swaying sounds underneath the boardwalk did not help my already shaken nerves. Water had always been something I feared, but the dark water at night? Gosh, I hated it! I was minutes away from breaking down then and there. The path was lit up by some lamps. It did not comfort me though. These lights seemed too sombre and gloomy to be of any warm assistance to me. It only heightened the ghostly atmosphere.
I made my way to the place where the stores began and looked around quickly. Everything was dark and quiet. A stray gust of wind stirred up the scattered trash and made a scary rustling sound which gave me goosebumps all over.
Was that what I’d heard? It was a hushed sound, but I could swear the voice said “no”. I made my way to the corner shop, which looked abandoned and as dark as the others. However, my instincts just told me to go there, and being the idiot I am, I just followed it without any second thought.
Yes! That was definitely a voice, and a girl’s one at that. And it was coming from where the last shop was.
There it was! That eerie tingling! What in the world was even happening to me? I’d got this feeling far too many times today. It was becoming terrifying by the minute. Should I go into the shop? Should I see what the sound was? Was it an illusion? But what if it was real? Was someone in trouble? A million thoughts ran in my head and I was beginning to feel dizzy by all of what was happening to me.
Waving it all away, I slowly tip-toed over to the shop. As I got closer I saw a faint light from within it and I realised that just after that shop, was the lake. There were no more shops, no more paths, just the dark waters beyond it. As I went into the shop and peered inside, my insides did a back flip.
I was looking at something sinister. A single candle lit up the empty shop. A small girl, badly bruised was trembling on the floor, her small hands curled up to a begging position. A large man was standing over her, his huge shadow covering almost half of the wall. I clapped my hands to my mouth, afraid that he – I was assuming it was a he by the large proportions of his body – might hear my breathing.
As I looked on the girl continued her slow whimpers while the man stood over her motionless. Why wasn’t he moving? Was that a knife in his hand? Yes! Oh God! What should I do? My hands were beginning to hurt from how tight I was holding my mouth, but I didn’t let go. I couldn’t risk it. I slowly took my free hand and took out my phone from my pocket and tried dialling the police.
My phone fell!
My heart stopped as I heard the man turn around and walk over to me.
I froze. My body went numb. My mind went blank. The man, whose face I still couldn’t see clearly, started walking towards me. And there it was, that spine-chilling feeling again! I looked at the figure walking towards me and I looked at his feet. Was he walking over my grave? It made no sense! There were only wooden boards. And then it hit me! Water! The water! Was I gonna drown or something?
The man got to me and grabbed me by my feet and dragged me with him into that shop. I was screaming but there was no sound. My voice was nothing more than a whisper. He dropped me next to the girl and stepped back. I looked over at the girl beside me. She was not moving. She had lost consciousness. I turned to look the man. His face was covered, but I could see his eyes. They gleamed with a maniac glint. Tears stung in my eyes.
He said nothing but came closer and raised his knife, which glistened in the candle light. He stabbed me in the stomach. The pain was too much. The wound burned. I gasped for air and I tried to move, but I couldn’t. I cried out. But only small whimpers came out of my mouth. The man stabbed me again. And again. And again. Over and over. The last thing I remember was the image of two eyes glistening over me.
I woke up to sheer darkness. I sat up and looked around. Objects around me came into focus and I saw the girl from before tied up in a corner. She was not moving. I stood up and curiously enough, I didn’t feel any pain. I looked at my stomach where I was stabbed and found the wounds and I touched them. I felt……. nothing? What in the world was going on? How can this be? I walked over to the girl and whispered to her.
“Hey! Are you alright? Can you hear me?”
No response. I slowly made my way out of the shop and suddenly froze. The man was just outside. He was crouching over something. As I walked around I realised the boards were not making any noise under me. Not thinking much about it, I crept closer to the man. As I got nearer, I saw he was struggling with something. I peered around him and saw what it was.
Everything stopped around me. The world paused for a moment. The water stopped lapping. The wind stopped whooshing. And even the moon over us seemed to stop shinning. It was me! It was my body! I watched helplessly, as the man he tied a big rock around my dead corpse and pushed me into the water. All sorts of emotions arose inside me, tears threatened to pour, but none did. I just stood there watching, staring, unable to move.
I finally understood why my spine tingled all that time. I finally believed Jessica. I finally accepted every single word Jessica had said. I had to, as I watched my lifeless body go down, beneath the dark and murky waters, of the Pettah Floating Market.
Rtr. Sayuri S. Wijesinghe
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