A flash Fiction by Vandita Dharni
The stillness of night spelled doom for the Bellamy family as the light of their home flickered only to be extinguished tragically someday. The neighbourhood echoed with a cacophony of strange moaning sounds each night. Everyone had ostracized them ever since their only child was declared a witch or to put it more plainly, ‘demon possessed’. Neurologists failed to find a remedy and so they termed it as a form of epilepsy. Neighbours vouched seeing her walk barefoot along isolated lanes, communing with spirits while some saw her in the small of night eating bugs and lashing herself with a serpent. They attributed these strange occurrences to paranormal visitations or an entity that had taken possession of her body. A ghastly expression now painted the contours of her cheeks that bore perpetual scratch marks on them.
I had been practicing exorcism for a year, without any professional training. When these occurrences crawled into my ears, I became insanely curious to meet this girl. A shop vendor who was pulling down his shutters to the setting sun, guided me to their home. I had carted all the paraphernalia I required to vanquish these diabolic spirits, hoping they wouldn’t be needed. But there she was in a catatonic state looking at me from the corner of her eyes, manacled to her bed. I was horrified to see her tied up with a thick rope so I requested her parents to release her. They quipped, “It is a regular ritual now. We have to strap her up or Satan will take her away.”
Not convinced by their logic, I asked my man Friday, to light candles so we could create a sombre atmosphere. Aromatic incense sticks were burnt that swallowed up the nauseating stench emanating from the dark room. The girl gnashed her teeth and laughed mockingly on observing the crucifix in my hand. Her hair hung loose like the wild untethered fury of the Niagara below her shoulders while her head spun like a ferris-wheel. Her body shook convulsively as I began to chant the beads of the rosary. She tattooed her hands with feline claws, digging deep into her skin until streaks of blood dripped from both arms. The two white balls of eyes upturned, without visible corneas. She held her neck, trying to release herself from being strangulated by an invisible force, all the while hissing with guttural sounds. She grabbed her thighs, pounded her chest and contorted her restless body while her throat swelled up like a balloon. I began to work her up into a state of hysteria by clicking my fingers and summoning the demonic spirits to leave her body. I murmured a few verses from the scriptures while invoking them,
“Be quiet, I rebuke you in the name of the Almighty. Leave her alone, I command you.”
Within seconds, the tongues slithered out speaking strange languages, hissing and cussing. All I could understand was, “I am Lucifer,” “I am Aamon,” “I am Agares,” “and I am Belzebub.” “We have taken possession of what is our inheritance and we are not leaving.” They spoke in multiple tongues all at the same time. It was for the most part gibberish to me.
But I continued to mutter words from the holy book and within seconds, the girl’s movements became more chaotic. Her cheeks turned ashen, face contorted, with eyes charcoal black and teeth laced with blood and traces of chewed up skin almost like a revenant. Demons hurled her up and down in the volcano of her head. Twin black pellets rolled in their sockets while her hands were splaying frantically in revulsion. Soon, a violent seizure gripped her when I began uttering my rosary prayers. I sprinkled holy water on her forehead to expel the spirits but they wailed inside, persisting to be left alone. Her body broke into a feverish sweat as rivulets of blood splattered out from her raw wounds. I bound the spirits with a final prayer of deliverance, ordering the powers and principalities resident within her to loosen their control immediately. After six grueling hours, I heard the wind howl, rustling the four shrieking demons into the blanket of night. An owl perched upon a tree screeched, to chorus their departure as it glared at the sky.
The cavernous gloom melted away suddenly as the first kiss of sun streamed through the dewy-lipped morning to dispel all the forebodings of the night. Vanessa’s catatonia had withdrawn. She collapsed, almost in a comatose. On waking, her eyes wore innocence once more. The ethereal calmness of her smile returned, injecting hope into the cold dark walls of a home that shut its doors to sinister visitations forever. The night buried its evil in graves of rotten leaves only to be resurrected again in another resident of the neighbourhood.
Vandita Dharni is an acclaimed poet, scholar and a gold medalist from the University of Allahabad. Thereafter, she got a Ph.D. degree in American Literature from the same University. Her articles, poems and stories have been published in journals like Criterion, Ruminations, GNOSIS, HellBound Publishing House and International magazines like Immagine and Poessia, Synchronised Chaos, Sipay, Fasihi and Guido Gozzano. She has published three anthologies.
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