He makes so much noise, at times I feel that I should probably ask his mother to go get his brain examined. There is so much of hyperactivity and energy in that little body, it stuns me. And this time it was a long yell that seemed a little disjointed. It started off from a distance got really loud and then faded into black. But as always, I tried to shut him out mentally. And I did. I usually do. So tonight was like every other night. A little bit of work, a little bit of food, a little bit of continuing with unfinished art, a little bit of music, a little bit of planning for tomorrow, a little bit of dreaming about nice things…and then sleep. Oh… did I forget to mention a little bit of late night ‘sweet nothing croonings’…??? Well … that too.
As the sounds of the silent night lulled me towards the first few laps of sleepfulness, I heard the wail. It was his mother and she was wailing her heart out. A continuous wail like one of those sirens and the scary similarity being that the wail was as dead and as unemotional as the siren’s sound. There was an eerie emptiness in it and it went on and on as though her mind asked her to not think but just WAIL. I could feel a block of ice in the place where my heart once used to be. And the chill started spreading slowly to every nook and cranny of my body. What was happening?
I rushed out of my apartment. Everyone else gave in to the same idea and there were quite a few of us outside, with arms folded tightly around us. Maybe there were blocks of ice in the place where everyone’s heart once used to be. We glanced at each other questioningly not daring to ask the question. Someone came rushing up from the floor below. His face had a greenish white hue, and he looked like he would vomit any second. We saw him fumble with his keys, and he somehow managed to open the door to his apartment and stumble inside. Then we heard loud retching noises and that just did not help us in any manner. Strangely we were still standing there, folded arms and all and still not mustering the courage to question.
Then came stomping angry treads and the looming form of this elderly gentleman who is a retired army general. He came up, back ramrod straight, walrus moustache in a state of quivering agitation and his eyes spewing fire.
“Rot. Sheer rot.” He growled. “Cable should be banned. Internet should be destroyed. Discipline. That’s what is lacking. In all of you.”
With this outburst he glared at all of us and we hung our heads in shame. Though why on earth were we being blamed and made to feel shameful??? None of us knew the answer to this one. Yet we felt ashamed. I’d had enough of this ridiculousness. So I went downstairs to see what the matter was. If only I hadn’t. Oh well…too late for if onlys. I went towards the direction from which the wails were emanating. Yes they still continued. It scared the soul out of me. The door to the flat was slightly ajar throwing out a bar of golden light on the black floor; light that broke and serrated sharply at points where it was obstructed by obstructions.
I opened the door cautiously and stepped inside. He was lying on the floor. His eyes were staring at the ceiling. He was quite dead. His mouth was open. The damned kid would have his mouth open even in death, wouldn’t he? But no noise would come out of it. Ever again. Why hadn’t they closed his eyes? And that mouth? Suddenly he turned his head and looked at me and his mouth opened wider. A black cavernous yawn which invited me to step inside it and lose myself in the cavity, in the space. My heart stopped. I took a step backwards and heard an agonized “OUCH”. It was the idiot from my next door apartment. He had followed me. Like he always did. Serves him right. I glared at him unapologizingly. And predictably, HE apologized – shouldn’t have come up from behind like that without warning, not a problem, blah blah…
I ignored him and went back up. I was a little worried about what I’d seen. I dreamt about dark cavernous spaces, free falling into bottomless abysses and shouting boys playing football. I had a restless night. And I woke up bleary-eyed, the next morning. Thank God it was Sunday. As the day went by I got bits and pieces of what happened last night. Apparently the boy was playing with the rest of his friends on the terrace and he had fallen off the ledge. It was the result of some juvenile dare. Hmmnn…that explained the disjointed yell. Coming from a distance, increasing in decibels and then fading into black. Seems a simple satisfying enough explanation. Then why was a feeling of doubt nagging me like one of those nails that start growing inward and continuously pierce the flesh till it gets infected and hurts like mad. Ok I admit. I was not satisfied. But there was nothing much I could do. So I forgot about it.
I went out for a walk. As I was coming up the stairs the door to one of the apartments opened and a face peeped out. I knew this lady. Her son was a member of the YELL GANG and apparently he had fallen very ill. She looked worried and asked me to spend some time with her. I went inside her son’s room and saw him lying on the bed. He was very unwell and his eyes were glued to the window. I followed the path of his stare and saw a huge tree with strong sturdy branches standing like a sentinel for what seemed like centuries together. After sometime of superficial chatting I left.
The next day was Manic Monday. Work, rush, crowd, racing against time, skipping lunch, quick little mini chats with Knight Eternal and my sister…I did all that and came back tired and ready to dive into sleepy oblivion. But it was not meant to be. A crowd had gathered outside the building. Everyone talking at the top of their voices, everyone talking at the same time. The data that I could gather from this cacophony was that all the members of the YELL GANG had strangely fallen sick and had succumbed to their illnesses. To put it crudely – THEY WERE ALL DEAD! SEVEN AT ONE BLOW!
Ok. THIS was certainly not normal. I walked up the stairs. I heard a patter of steps running towards the terrace. I followed the noise hoping to catch up with the running persons. And the noise grew louder, but why couldn’t I see anyone? I reached the terrace. I looked around. The terrace was empty. In fact everything was empty. Even the sky. No moon. No stars even. Just a wide cavernous wet blanket. Suddenly I saw them. They were all standing on the ledge. Every single one of them. Their leader THE SCREAMER turned and looked straight at me. And still looking at me he jumped, opening his mouth wide, cavernously wide and screaming noiselessly. The others followed suit. I stood rooted to the spot. I was paralyzed. After what seemed like a very long time I went back to my apartment.
A hyperactive kid like that would obviously feel bored even on the other side, wouldn’t he? He would then definitely want his friends to be with him. So he took them along. Was that little ill boy gazing at the leader who might probably have been sitting amongst the strong, sturdy branches of the sentinel tree?…
I still hear them screaming their disjointed yells each time they jump. Mental shut-outs have stopped working.