THE VOICE INSIDE

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The small flat was bare and empty. There was hardly anything in it except the bed they had bought and the mattress on it.

His wife had packed a dinner for him and put in a quarter bottle of whiskey along with a soda bottle. He had some of the whiskey and then ate part of the dinner.

He went and lay down on the bed.

Outside, it was surprisingly quiet. Lights were on in some of the other apartments on different floors of the building. But there was hardly any sound. Not even the noise of a TV. Only small sounds of muted laughter came from somewhere nearby.

On one side of the room were glass doors; facing out. On the other side was the bedroom door opening inside the house. The room itself was small.

From the floor above came the sound of a toilet being flushed and then someone moving around. That too went quiet after sometime.

He slipped off to sleep but woke up to find a solitary mosquito buzzing around. He pulled a rug that he had brought over his head trying to keep the mosquito out.

He woke again to sharp mosquito bites and swore; scratching the side of his face where the mosquito had bitten.

Sometime afterwards, he again slipped off to sleep. He woke numerously. The mosquito wasn’t there. The few lights that had been on were off now. He would look at the dark face of the building around visible from his un-curtained glass doors and would doze off to intermittent small sleeps.

Then he woke up again.

This time it was different. He was immediately uncomfortable as he woke up.

Instinctively, his glance went to the half open door of the bedroom opening towards the inside. There was a faint moonlight coming through the glass doors. He didn’t see anything there. But he heard a voice inside his head murmuring, “someone is watching……”

He didn’t know when he fell asleep again. He woke up early morning to the continuous barking of a dog.

He quickly collected the few things he had brought along for the night and tidied up a little. Then he drove back to where they lived.

That night his wife asked, “how was your first night in our new apartment?”

He shrugged, “it was surprisingly quiet. I had expected the place to be more lively”.

“Maybe because it was a Monday night”, his wife said.

“Maybe,” he nodded.

He suddenly remembered that feeling of someone watching at that unknown hour of the night.

But he kept quiet.

When he thought over that feeling; he could sense a woman.

A woman somewhere around forty; tall, fair and attractive. Watching quietly; but intently.

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Some days after, they shifted to their new apartment.

The first few days were busy; occupied in settling down.

It was after about a week.

He was sipping hot tea in the evening. His wife was telling the maid what to cook for dinner. Then she frowned, as if she remembered something.

“You know we had a guest today, when you were away. She said she lives nearby. I asked her to come in; but she said she would come again.”

He stopped sipping his tea.

She pursed her lips, “I asked her how she knew about us. And you know, she gave a strange answer”.

“What did she say?” he asked quickly.

“She said that some persons she liked watching …….

xxx–xxx

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