* As a brief kindness to the reader, it may be valuable for you to read the following “A Very Very Very Very Short Story” and then “A Very Very Very Short Story.” It is ultimately your choice, however; they are directly connected to the tale that you are about to read, and as their titles suggest – they are exceptionally short reads. Regardless, enjoy this miniature tail of the macabre. *
Gopal woke up of his own accord in a darkened room. He allowed his eyes a brief respite to adjust to the limited lighting, supplied only by a muted wafer thin bar of light from a door frame a few feet way. He stood up and placed his hands on the cool black walls and walked until he found a corner. He proceeded to walk the length of the walls in the room, counting his steps and searching for any useful information that the room could give him. By his own estimation, the room was 10 X 12, with no furniture nor any discernible items of any kind, not even a light switch. Gopal had no idea where he was or how he got there. His last memory was of leaving a family gathering at his parent’s home. It was his first time to see some of his brothers and sisters in years, as his work kept him busy and constantly traveling. Briefly, he wished he was back with his family, eating bhel puri and catching up with his loved ones. The sharp sting of a headache, and the slight bump on the back of his neck indicated that he was likely violently abducted, yet he had no remembrance of being attacked, which indicated that he was struck from behind be a clandestine villain. The mound on his neck throbbed in waves of pain and was excruciatingly tender to the touch. He checked the door handle and was cautiously optimistic when it turned easily and the door opened.
Gopal’s room opened up to a hallway that went in both directions, to the left it was pitch black and to the right it was partially lit with 2 opened doors down the hallway and a “Y” shaped split at the end with 2 more closed doors. He quietly made his way to the first open door on his left down the lit corridor and inspected the room. He combed the room for new clues, but found that the only difference between this space and the one he initially left was that the floor here was slightly damp. It was a curious conundrum, since there were no immediate indicators as to where the liquid came from. He knelt down and sniffed the moist spot, and could not discern a specific aroma. He dabbed his forefinger on the spot and raised it up to inspect. Indeed his finger was wet, but there was no color apparent. Unable to completely guess the nature of the moisture, he wiped his finger on his shirt and left the room. Just a few feet down the hallway was another open door to the right. He scoped the room out, and it was unremarkable as well. No items, no furniture and no damp spots in this room. For a moment he considered exploring one of the doors down the “Y” shaped split, but ultimately decided against it purely based on a gut feeling that he had.
Gopal turned back and headed into the darkened portion of the hallway. As his eyes adjusted to the diminishing light, he came across a new closed door on his right, and in hopes that he might find more clues he unlatched the door. Slowly and quietly he opened the door to reveal another pitch black room. There was just enough light entering the room for him to make out the outline of a woman lying on the floor unconscious. Gopal knelt down next to the woman and gently attempted to wake her up. Reluctantly the woman started to rouse, and in the midst of catching her bearings she panicked and screamed at the sight of the strange man in front of her.
Gopal shushed her with a finger to his lips and then said, “Please be quiet. I am very sorry to be waking you up, but I think we have been abducted.”
The woman was hardly able to catch her breath as she backed away from Gopal and into the wall behind her. “Where are we? Who are you?” She nervously asked.
“My name is Gopal,” he answered, “and I have no idea where we are, but I was hoping that we could find a way out of here together.”
“Why should I go with you?”
“You can do as you please,” he responded. “I do not wish to be here for even a second longer than I have to be, and if this is truly a place where people are being abducted, I would not wish to leave anybody who is trapped here behind.”
The woman took a few seconds to process the information and to assess the situation, and then replied, “my name is Josephine. I should be home in bed right now, that’s the last thing I remember.”
“Pleased to meet you Josephine. I too should not be here, in fact I had just left my parent’s house. I hadn’t even gotten in my car yet. I inexplicably woke up here just a few minutes ago.”
“What do we do?” Josephine asked.
“We need to find a way out,” Gopal suggested.
The sound of faint footsteps could be heard in the distance coming from the darkened portion of the hallway.
“Somebody’s coming,” Josephine stated. “We should see if they need help too.”
“No,” Gopal insisted, “we should wait and see who they are first. They might be our captor!”
“Nonsense,” Josephine insisted as she walked out the door and into the hallway. Gopal stood on in silent horror as she hollered, “Hey, come here,” to the approaching footsteps. Gopal quietly closed the door and listened with extreme intent.
The footsteps drew closer, and with each step they sounded less like a normal step and more like an intense thud, as if ancient chain mail chausses where being worn by the unknown visitor. Gopal could not see anything, but he heard the steps come to a stop as the visitor finally arrived just outside the door.
“You look terrible,” Josephine bemoaned with genuine sympathy. “Are you alright? Are you hurt?” A clutching sound could be heard and Josephine began to struggle and squeal frantically. A horrifying snapping rang through the door and down both ends of the hall. Josephine had stopped all her fussing, her dead body dropped to the floor.
Instinctively, Gopal quietly dropped to the floor and went prone, his face pointing away from the door. The violent visitor opened the door and looked down on the seemingly unconscious body. The visitor gave the body a swift kick, with the force of a ten pound sledgehammer, had been dropped into Gopal’s rib cage. The opossum playing victim’s body slid about a foot across the floor in response to the aggressive attack, yet not a sound was heard from Gopal. Although he wanted to shriek in agony, but instead sucked in his breath and pushed through the pain.
Content that Gopal was still unconscious, the brutal visitor left, slamming the door behind him. Gopal turned his head to look through the slit underneath the door. For a brief moment he was eye to lifeless eye with Josephine, just before her head disappeared from view as the visitor dragged her away. The frightened captive let out a labored sigh, panting frantically as he finally found time to reconcile the severe amount of pain that he was experiencing. He was beside himself that he didn’t have an opportunity to see his captor, but was overjoyed that he had not been killed as well.
Gopal had placed a high value on his life and on returning to his family. Through his swift actions, he had found a way to stay alive for just a little bit longer. His next decision would quite possibly be his most important.