The Stranger Upstairs

Stories

By Afrah Maryam, Class 8 C, Unity Public School, Chennai

The stranger upstairs. I clearly remember the time when the stranger resided in the house above ours. Apart from the luggage, the first thing that caught my eyes was the cartons. They were all over the room. I mean there were a lot of them. The man himself was tall and thin with a scar on the right of his forehead. He had crooked teeth and the dim light illuminated his long fingernails. He somehow reminded me of a Dracula. A gust of cold air from the open window rattled my bones. I wondered why I had agreed with my mom to help this man with his luggage. ‘Nice young boy, aren’t you? What is your name son?’ the man asked when the work was done. ‘Luke’ I muttered, shivering, ‘um...if you want anything please let me know, Mr-?’ ‘Sylar, Dan Sylar’ the man replied, turning his dark eyes on me. I backed away with a feeling I couldn’t quite explain. Something like a mixture of suspicion and fear. From that day onwards, my imaginations started going wild. MR. Sylar acted pretty suspiciously all the time.

He kept to himself all the time, avoided mingling with people too much and from time to time I would notice stuff arriving in weird packages. Mom told me that it was none of my business if he was not a very good mixer. You can’t expect everyone to be the same. But I never was completely convinced. ‘Mom, he is the last specie from the vampire family or those cartons – he maybe a smuggler. We ought to turn him out!’ ‘Luke, for goodness’ sake, do stop pestering me. I have absolutely no time for your silly whims’ ‘Please, mom, why would anyone want a zillion crates unless- unless it is smuggled and he wants to hide it?’ ‘Luke! Go up to your room, NOW!’ My mind was set about the stranger and I refused to change it. One late night, I sat studying for my next day’s examination when I heard the soft creak of the front gate opening. I shot up from my chair and went to my window. The full moon silhouetted the dark frame of MR. Sylar in the dark.... From that night forth, I noticed him going out late after everybody was asleep.

When he didn’t go out I would hear him pacing the room above me. As days passed on, I was fully convinced that it was up to me to find evidence against the man. One night, I waited for MR. Sylar to go out as per his routine. When I was sure he was gone, I slipped out of bed and went up to the room. Everything was dark out there as I entered the room. I fumbled around in the dark for the light switch. I flicked on the dim light and looked around the room. But the inner room where we had put the cartons was locked. I didn’t have much time. MR. Sylar would be back soon. And I had no idea what I was looking for. I looked all around. Everything looked pretty normal but the feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach wouldn’t go away. I pulled open a cupboard and my breath caught in my throat. There were dark purple cloaks, fangs and strands of iron grey hair in glass jars, gross green slimes and other disgusting odds and ends. But the vials with the dark red liquid caught my eye. They filled at least three rows.

Each vial’s content was darker than the last. Was that my heart beating so loud? Yes – no, there was something else. They were – Footsteps! I hurriedly looked around me for a place to hide. I flicked off the lights and jumped into the cupboard and shut the door. I heard the front door open and MR. Sylar come in. The footsteps got closer and closer. "No, no, please don’t come here! Please don’t, no don’t!” Then the cupboard door flew open. ‘Luke! What are you doing in my cupboard?’ ‘Y...you are a vampire!’ I sputtered unable to control myself, ’you go out at night a...and-‘ ‘Whoa Luke, take it easy! You have misunderstood it all. I go out because the night has got a lot of ideas to offer to a budding horror props maker!’ I stared from the man to the cupboard then back again. That was when the cartons, vials and all the things, I had thought weird, made sense.

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Afrah Maryam Unity Public School