The Winter Solstice | Saleen Marandi

The Winter Solstice | Saleen Marandi

It was a beautiful evening with the clouds coloured in pink and orange. The light and shivering cold breeze flew around the city. The sound of music and constant giggling filled the voids in air. The December carnival was everything a person could think of to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Among the crowd and near the food stall, four high school girls were enjoying their weekend. 

“Hey, let’s go to the giant wheel please.”  Ananya requested making a pouty face.

“You don’t have to beg, dummy.” Tanusha replied with a chuckle.

Weekends are always fun with friends, at least that’s what Tanusha thought. All four of them started moving towards the giant ride. Among the four, one of the girl named Raina felt weird with each stall they crossed. Tanusha was quick to notice her discomfort and held her hand.

“What’s wrong?” Tanusha asked.

“I don’t know, I just feel a little weird. Maybe it’s the food we ate.” She said.

“We can go home if you want.”

“No, no. I’m fine.”

Raina reassured her as she didn’t want to kill the fun. Raina kept her face straight despite she was very sure something’s wrong. As they crossed the final stall named ‘Wonder fortune’, Raina locked eyes with an old woman. The woman kept her eyes boring into them and suddenly started yelling.

“You filthy witch, you’ll burn into hell.” The woman started running towards the girls. Raina noticed her daggering gaze and held onto Tanusha’s shoulder. Security was quick to hold back the woman before she could harm the girls. The woman kept screaming at them resulting a huge crowd surrounding them.

The security dragged the woman towards the exit and the girls took a deep breath of relief. The woman kept fighting to freed herself from two muscular grasps. The girls were convinced that the woman was out of their reach now. But after a while they heard someone screaming and turned around. The old woman was running towards them with a knife. The sight was terrifying enough to make Raina’s feet glued to the ground.

“Die.” The woman shouted and jabbed the knife into the skin.

Blood started pouring from the wound and Tanusha held her stomach groaning in pain. Tanusha fell on her knees revealing a terrified Raina standing behind her. The girls started screaming and the woman raised the knife for another shot.

“No…” Tanusha woke up abruptly, breathing heavily and fresh sweat beads on her face. “Nightmare.” She rubbed her face and went to the washroom.

“Hey, sleepy head.” Tanusha’s brother, Shivesh said. “You look terrible.” His voice came out muffled as he shoved a piece of pancake onto his mouth. 

“Shut up, I had a nightmare.” She plopped down the chair.

“Again.” Tanusha’s mother asked from the kitchen and she hummed in response.

“Well you were born on the darkest day of the year.” Shivesh commented, air quoting the word ‘darkest day’.

“Mom.” Tanusha whined.

“Shivesh, stop teasing your little sister.” She pulled his cheeks and said. 

“I’ll be home late, I’ve plans with my friends after school.” Tanusha shouted as she stepped out of the house. 

“Bye… Miss Winter Solstice.” Shivesh commented earning a death glare from his mother.

Tanusha sighed loudly and went down the lane looking at the sky. The sun was covered with the clouds and there was an eerie silence around the city. The breeze was chilling just like in her dreams that sent shivers down her spine. Between the crowded street Tanusha slowly made her way towards the school.

“Hey, guys.” She tossed her bag on the desk.

“Hey, did you too had a strange dream? All of us had.” Priyal said with an excited tone.

“Actually it was a nightmare.” 

The class went on like a regular day with same boring routine and lectures. All four of them kept stealing glances at each other and giggled. And just like that 7 hours passed and the school ended and everyone left the campus.

“Change of clothes.” Ananya asked.

“Check.” Priyal replied looking at her bag, and other two girls nodded.

“Phone.”

“Check.”

“Cool, we’re good to go.” All four of them squealed in happiness and went inside a public restroom to change. 

“It’s weird.” Raina said.

“What is.” Replied Tanusha.

“The sun and the weather is creepy.”

“Yeah, I noticed that too.”

Ananya and Priyal came last and they left for carnival at the centre of the town. The same weird feeling enveloped them as they entered through the main door. The place was decorated the same way as Tanusha saw in her dream. 

“Woah, I’m getting a déjà vu.” Ananya exclaimed looking at the surrounding.

“It’s exactly like.” Priyal opened her mouth.

“Like in our dreams.” Tanusha completed her sentence and all of them nodded.

Despite of having weird feeling all four of them ignored the negative thoughts and carried on with their outing. It was all fun until Raina saw a stall named ‘wonder fortune’ and panicked. 

“Let’s go guys, I don’t feel right.” She said.

“Don’t be a mood kill Raina.” Priyal whined. “It’s just a coincidence.” She added. Everyone nodded at Ananya’s statement. She took a look around and pointed at the glass house.

“Let’s go there.” She said and dragged them along with her.

To say they were feeling uneasy would be an understatement, truth was all of them were terrified. Raina gripped Tanusha’s arm as they went inside the mirror house. Their racing heartbeat could be heard from distance. 

“Let’s go home.” Priyal turned and tried to open the door but it didn’t open.

“The exit is other way Priyal, we have to pass through this mirror lane.” Ananya said.

Their bodies were getting hot with the adrenaline and the layers of clothing. All four of them started to move forward hand in hand. Priyal kept chanting prayer continuously clinging onto Ananya. Suddenly the power broke down and lights went off, leading to the girls running on their own.

“Guys don’t run, we should stick together.” Raina cried standing on the same place like a statue.

By the time the lights came back, Raina was standing alone with her reflection. She was terrified to even move an inch and stood there motionless. She was shaking from head to toe and tears started flowing down her cheeks. Suddenly a loud screaming was heard that left goosebumps on her body.

“Priyal, was that you? Guys stop messing around.” Raina cried.

“Raina, stay where you are. I’m coming.” Ananya said. “Oh, no.”

“Ananya? What is it?”

“I…I don’t know but there’s blood everywhere.” 

“What? Priyal? Tanusha? Please respond.” Raina shouted.

“I’m…I’m here Raina, I’m fine.” Tanusha said from some distance. “I think I found the exit.” She completed.

“Where should I go?” Raina asked.

“Head towards the south, wherever the lane takes you.” Tanusha said.

Raina started moving to the south constantly calling out for her friends. Tanusha kept talking to her as she moved towards the possible exit. Raina noticed that it’s been a while since Ananya has responded and called out for her. Her voice was came back without any response but she found blood puddle in some distance.

“Ananya?” she followed the trail of blood and reached the dead end.

“Tanusha? I’m stuck here.” She cried looking at broken glass pieces covered in blood.

Raina tried to push the mirrors but to no avail and suddenly the temperature inside elevated. Raina took out her jacket but the temperature kept increasing. 

“Raina.” Tanusha’s screams filled the room and Raina realized there’s no way out and the place was on fire. The mirrors started breaking from the heat. Raina screamed on the top of her lungs until she could bear the pain of getting burnt alive.

“Oh no, call an ambulance.” A man came running towards a girl lying on the ground unconscious. “How did this fire start? Call a fire brigade.” He shouted lifting up the girl.

The man kept splashing water on her face until she gained consciousness and nurses took over after.

“Mam, are you alright.” The girl kept staring at the burning mirror house and nodded. “Can you tell me your name?” the nurse asked.

“Tanusha.” She replied.

“Okay Tanusha, we’ll inform your parents now okay.” Tanusha nodded and gave her the contact information. 

A woman was staring from distance, that didn’t go unnoticed by Tanusha. She looked at the woman, she was the same old lady from her dream. The woman was holding a knife on one of her hands and gritted her teeth. Tanusha looked at her and flashed a wicked smile before the ambulance door were closed.

“I won’t let your sacrifice go in vain, my dear friends.” She muttered under her breath and lied down on the stretcher.

The mirror house was consumed in fire and people kept talking about the unfortunate accident. Meanwhile Tanusha closed her eyes and went into a deep and calm sleep.


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