RedPaper.in – Short Fiction
By: Nidheesh Samant | RedPaper.in
Tina had returned within an hour. I had firmly planted myself in the hall during her absence. I could see my bedroom lights flickering periodically, but nothing else happened. I felt a foreboding that this lull in activity was the calm before the storm and that whatever was happening was waiting until Tina returned. It sounded absurd even to my mind, so I chose not to share this with Tina after she returned. She had returned with packets of instant noodles. She beat me to a comment.
“Don’t you even start, mister. I offered to cook and this is all I can make. So zip it.”
I sniggered and offered to help her. She refused and sashayed into the kitchen. After she had disappeared behind the wall, I turned my attention back to my bedroom. The lights were stable now. Maybe, having Tina over was a good idea after all. Even though I had a torrid past with her, she had always been a great friend to me and her presence calmed me down. Tina called for me from the kitchen.
“Oye, what is wrong with your tap? Why is there no running water here?”
“Wait, I’m coming.”
I got up from my seat and rushed to the kitchen. I saw Tina struggling with the tap at the sink.
“Move aside, chef.”
Tina narrowed her eyes at me and stepped aside. I checked turned the tap both ways. No cigar. I bent down to check the main tap that was under the sink. Sure enough, it was shut tight. I turned it on and then tried the sink again. This time the spout responded with a stream of cold water. I turned to Tina.
She continued staring at the flowing water.
“Umm, I think there is still something wrong with your tap.”
I turned to look at the water. The water had mild rusty color to it.
“Yeah, this is the first time I’ve used the sink tap since I got here. Probably rusted.”
Tina shrugged and turned her attention to getting the noodles out of the packets.
I extended my arm to turn off the tap, when I caught the change in the water. The color was changing from a rust shade to a deep shade of red, much like the color of blood. I pulled my hand back.
“Tina, look at the water!”
She turned to see the crimson water flowing in the sink. She rushed to the tap and shut it off.
“You definitely need to call the plumber. I think I’ll use mineral water.”
I checked the sink while Tina stepped towards the refrigerator. The red hue had disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. There was no trace of the water ever having been red. As I was about to turn the tap on to recheck, I heard Tina scream loudly and shut the fridge.
“What happened, Tina?”
Tina took a few steps back and held on to my arm.
“I..I saw a head in the fridge. My head. And it smiled at me.”
The normal of voice of Tina had shrunk down to a whisper. She started pulling me by the arm.
“Let’s get out. You were right. There is something wrong here. We can crash at my place. Let’s just get out.”
I was in agreement with her words and offered no resistance to the idea. I held on to her hand and walked across the hall to the front door. I tried opening the door, but it would not swing. I swung the handle with all my strength, to no avail. We ran to the windows, but the grills had shut and similarly would not budge. We were trapped inside. Tina turned to me.
“Now what are we gonna do?”
Before I could answer, I felt my cellphone ringing. I removed it from my pocket.
Dr. Ramaya was calling.