Saturday, October 5, 2013

A Boy in the Attic

When there is a left over thought which for some reason is beyond the comprehension of the environment around it is reasonable an idea to leave behind a note. I did not know the objective of this practice till an old friend came to me narrating the following incident. He used a lot of strange diction which led me in the course of the narration to think that he had lost his coherence over time but eventually I could not ignore him.

I quote the following narration verbatim: 
The light is upstairs where a boy was said to have left behind his deepest regret. In this house where a toy wakes up beings from deep sleep there seems to be not a trace of any spirit of revival. Knocking on the doors in search of the lost boy, three men stand waiting for someone to open but for fifteen long minutes there is no sign of life. At last footsteps can be heard towards the door. The door opens and the sight of a confused elf with dim vision can be found. “Have you found him?” asks the man. “Not so. But we managed to find out that he has left behind a note. We came to see it. We just want to ensure..” “Don’t. You may come in and search. I have not heard of him leaving behind a note. Even if he did I doubt it would be intelligible.” interrupts the elf. The three men enter.
Tired of the long investigation they sit down and wonder where the boy could have gone. For some reason they did not start searching straightaway. The night outside is howling like a wolf in search of the hollow soul that could possibly reside in any being. The wind however does not do much to pacify the music of the moon light. They thought it wise to close the door and prevent undue visitors from entering their mind which is the very house they are in. They then think through the circumstances and question the confused man about this boy who suddenly disappeared. “He used to spend hours in the attic. I never knew what interested him so much there. I would return every evening when all would be quiet. I would call out ‘Rajan’ but there would be no reply. I would tend to assume that he is playing in a nearby garden. What kept him late is something I never bothered to understand. By the time I buried myself in some of the paperwork that I had carried along with me, it would be late night. I would hear some music. For many days I could not tell where that music came from. One night however I heard his voice.” One of the three men, Badhal asks “What kind of music was it?” –“It was, I think, the new age classical music largely instrumental.” “Please continue Mr...” “Never mind my name. This fellow called out for some water. I said go and get it yourself. He replied that he was repairing some idiotic toy of his.” “I got some water and placed it near his room. He would open the door and let his hand out, pick up the glass and close the door. I never got to see his face. Did you hear that, never!” “Why didn’t you open the door?” –“It is none of my business, Sir to open his door.” 

Badhal contemplated for quite some time. It seems like hours before the silence gets broken. “Let me examine the toy” he said. The second man concurs while the third does not respond.  The elf brings the toy and Badhal looks at it. Before he could grab it the elf drops the toy by accident and it breaks. There is a sudden power cut. It returns...not to worry, it returns. Badhal cannot see the two gentlemen along with him. He can only see the confusion. “Where have they gone?” He calls out their names. They do not respond. He goes towards the door. There is a power cut again and the elf starts shrieking. Badhal gets a panic attack. The power returns and the two gentlemen come downstairs. “The attic is locked. There is no sign of any note. I fear we are going nowhere.” Says the second gentleman and the third does not respond. The elf picks up the broken toy and says, “Once broken it can never be mended”. Badhal says, “I am afraid with no cooperation from you sir, we cannot find Rajan. Do you have the keys to unlock the attic?” –“I am afraid I have lost them. That fellow never would tell me where he leaves them. Once I found out they were under the cellar. I took them to open the crazy attic when he was not there. When I opened it out came smoke that got to my eyes and I fainted. I recovered but did not know what happened in the interval between lack of consciousness and eventual recovery. Was I taken to the hospital?- No idea.” “When I regained my memory the attic was locked. I said blast it and resumed my chores.”   

“What exactly were your chores?” asked Badhal, who is so distracted by the background events that he is not able to ask the right questions pertaining to the investigation. Badhal never really cared about logical questions. He believed that the foundation of the superstructure had to be shaken now and then by what appeared to be irrelevant questions. They would wake up the sleeping labourer by a fresh pool of thought which would prevent resorting to linear delusions of all sorts. What he did not notice in logic he more than made up for in his eccentric interrogations. The elf seemed too disturbed to notice this. 

The men decide to leave. “We have to get going now. Maybe tonight is not the right night.” The concept of a right night as you can see for investigation makes less sense to someone who would seek refuge in common sense under the hygienic assumption that common sense is common when in fact the phrase is a misnomer. “Wait” says the elf, “I have something to show you with respect to the attic which perturbs my imagination beyond articulation. I am quite sure it will do the same to you, although we belong to different worlds”.  They follow the being till they reach the attic. It is customary to wait for a while and reflect on circumstances such as these, for what is lost to the surroundings can never be retrieved by effort. Badhal and his company see the lock to find the dust not by any means reassuring. It seems like ages...centuries so to say judging by the rust of the lock and the cabinet. It is not overstating to say that Badhal is alarmed. “How old is this house?” asks Badhal but before he gets a reply there is a power cut. “Don’t you have an emergency light anywhere near by?” yells Badhal. The elf does not reply. The second gentlemen shrieks and then the power returns leaving Badhal and the third gentlemen shocked to see him dead. Before Badhal can do anything, the lock opens up on its own and a hand emerges holding a dagger dripping with blood.
It has been five years sir and no one has heard from Badhal and the other investigator. “Has the note been found” I asked. He replied, “Yes and it has been given to me but I was asked to not read it till I meet someone who I know for sure would keep this a secret.”

He opened the note. It was for some reason red and I wanted to ask him. He guessed as much that I did and replied, “It is believed to have been written by the boy in the attic.” “Let me read it.” He read it aloud, “I was a lad like any with a bright future and a sealed fate that was very becoming of my generation. But as I grew up gradually, I nursed a fond obsession with the supernatural that has not been explored by either Science or Religion. The reason for this sudden interest emerged from a study of some of the rarest collections of books in a library not too far from the playground that the reader may be familiar with.  Among these books, I found works by two writers whose names or origin I will not disclose in this note. Their subject matter deals with conversions of the brain never to be imitated by ‘the Centre for Artificial Intelligence’3 kilometres from the bay, as you would be familiar with. This is not all. They also delved into the transformation of energy where the eventual destination of matter is a star. This star is invoked by members of a secret society who are not human beings. For long the unsolved mystery as you know is regarding the existence of aliens in outer space. Have you actually ever thought about beings existing underground? You have been too consumed by events that are anthropocentric that you cannot see what lies underneath the eyes. Any mystery has become to you at best an intellectual luxury. Just when I was about to leave the library, someone grabbed me and locked me in what was for long believed to be an attic. This house that you may have heard about is not located above the ground but layers below the earth’s surface. No one can know but me. Yet you may drop in if you wish to see what I have become.” 

The reader stopped reading and showed the instruction to get ‘there’. We wanted to see this place and see what has happened to Badhal and the two investigators. We also wanted to see this lad who welcomes our visit. We reached a place that seemed quite normal. We followed the instructions further to be led to a house not to be found underground but very much on the earth’s surface.   When we entered, we were greeted by a strange being who looked different from anybody else I have seen. He did not speak a word but gave us a glass of rum which he asked us to dilute with water and some concocted essence. Then he led us up stairs. It seemed as though we were in a trance but not a hypnotic trance. Slowly I no longer saw my friend who carried the note. I no longer saw my friend who had accompanied me all this while. When I reached the top of the house led by this strange being, I suddenly realized I did not question him despite wanting to. It seemed as though I was stuck. I saw at last the attic with the lock of dust as described by my friend with his strange narrative. Then there was a power cut and the power returned after an hour only to fluctuate. However, despite the closed doors and windows there was a formidable breeze. The fluctuation rattled me as I saw three men holding an incandescent lamp next to the attic. The being that led me to the floor on top unlocked the attic and entered it. In rage burning with sudden bursts of fury I ran to the doors of the attic but before I could stop the doors from closing the three gentlemen switched off the incandescent lamp and all I could see was the lock closing automatically and gathering dust. Then it seemed as though fifty minutes had passed but when I saw the clock the lock opened up and a hand emerged. A voice uttered the words, “Give me the glass of rum that you prepared”.  I dropped the glass. But before I could run out off the house I became the fourth gentleman to hold an incandescent lamp to the hand that shall emerge.

The End



Pkayen said...

Quite an interesting story and a new direction in your writing. The sense of foreboding and suspense were gripping. I look forward to more stories from you.

Unknown said...

Thanks for your comments. This is my first short story. I will be posting more as and when I write one.

Amar said...

Surreal and well written. The writing maintains the mood of the setting through out. I wish someone like Luis bunuel or David lynch makes a movie out of this.

- Amar