• anjali mohapatra

Alexa!


Anuj was quite happy being alone at home. Nobody was there to disturb him. His dad a software engineer went to Delhi to attend his meeting and his mom with two siblings had gone to their relative's house. And he grabbed the opportunity to stay back and prepare for his forthcoming exam. Besides reading engineering books, he was very fond of music, and thriller books. Dad had left home early so that he won't miss the morning flight. Being alone, Anuj packed his food from outside. After dinner, he started working on the computer. He planned to work overnight.

‘Alexa put the music in volume five,’ Anuj ordered and engaged himself shuffling his books kept next to the computer table. His feet tapped rhythmically with the music. A black pen dangled between two fingers swaying to and forth. It was 11:20 p.m. Suddenly the music stopped. Anuj turned his face from the book. His brows raised, eyes fixed on Alexa. The blue light was still flickering around the device. ‘What the hell Alexa! Why did you stop? Play the music,’ he grunted. The same music continued again. After a while, a sudden knocking sound on the door pulled his attention. He was surprised to see the time! ‘Now??! At this time?! Who is that, huh?’ he whispered as if it was like a bolt from the blue. He leaned backward from the chair, and shouted, ‘Who is it?’ There was no answer. When he screamed the second time, the response from the other side came- ‘Amazon parcel, sir.’ ‘Amazon?!’ His brows curled up, yet he trudged towards the door. ‘I didn't order anything!’ he said half opening the door. A tall, thin man with black jean pants, a full-sleeved white shirt, and a cap back side tossed on front stood there with the parcel. He glanced at the address and then handed it over to Anuj. ‘Mr. Amiya Shukla, right?’ Anuj nodded his head. ‘Yeah, my dad.’ The delivery man stopped further talk and turned around. Anuj felt a little weird. He opened the parcel curiously. When he saw all were crime and ghost-based novels, he was stunned! ‘When did Dad start reading these novels?! I have never seen a single ghost or crime novel on dad’s choice! Why did he order these now?’ Since it was a late night, he just sent a message: ‘Dad, did you order any book from Amazon?’ His phone blipped seconds later with a message: ‘No, never. I buy the books from the store. Why are you asking? What's wrong?’ ‘Dad, a parcel was delivered by Amazon and all are thriller books- crime or the ghost-related.’ After messaging, Anuj went back to studies, though his mind was a little intrigued by the novels. 'What?! Crime, ghost novels?! Did you pay him?’ Again Anuj’s phone flicked. ‘No- said pre-paid,’ shortly Anuj messaged. ‘Well, maybe some other parcel, delivered at our place by mistake. No worry- go, sleep. Already too late.’ Anuj messaged affirmatively and went back to study. He was deeply engrossed in his book. A faint scratchy sound again pierced his ears instead of music. He turned back to Alexa. ‘Alexa,,,, what's that sound? Who made it?’ ‘I don't understand,’ the answer came in a throaty voice from Alexa. ‘What?! Who stopped the music?!’ Anuj charged harshly. ‘I don't understand.’ The same answer repeated whatever Anuj asked. He was disgusted. He paid no attention to Alexa and went to study. It was not five minutes even, the light all over the house was turned off. Anuj was startled! ‘Hey Alexa, switch on the lights. Who told you to turn off?’ He demanded in a coarse voice. There was no response. ‘Alexa, I said switch on the lights,’ Anuj roared out of frustration. ‘Don't be so rude,’ retorted Alexa. But still, there was no light. He put on his mobile light and stared at Alexa. The blue light was still whirling around its base. First, he thought there might be some loose connection defect. He switched off the plug, stood there, and after a few seconds switched on it. Darkness still prevailed. He heard a knocking sound again. But this time he had no guts to open the door. Slowly the knocking sound became sharper and harder. ‘Someone is close to your doorstep,’ prompted Alexa instantly. 'What?! How do you know, Alexa?! I didn't ask you!’ This time Anuj’s heart missed a beat. All over his body goosebumps were erected. His heart started throbbing badly. Using his mobile light, he plodded throughout the rooms to check if some intruder had entered by any chance. To his utter surprise, the whole house was lighted again. When he came back to his room, he heard the slow music and the knocking sound too. The TV in the drawing-room was active. His favorite horror picture was displayed on it. He was aghast! ‘How come on earth is this possible?! I didn't even ask Alexa!’ His whole body shook like a leaf out of fear. Eye-lids wide opened and he was terrified. There was no more knocking sound! He switched off the Tv and cast a suspicious glance at Alexa again. Once he heard from his friend that Alexa becomes violent sometimes and behaves hazardously too. At that terrible situation, a slow jangling sound of the metal rings hit his ear. His eyeballs fully stretched at the scene- the curtains of the window curled up at both the sides automatically. Without a second look, he ran towards the exit door. With a trembling finger, he tried to send a message to his father. 'My goodness! No charge?! How?!,’ he yelled. ‘Something is wrong’ he thought to himself and twisted the knob of the exit door, but couldn't open it. He banged the door shouting, ‘Hello! Somebody is there?! Please help me. Help, help!’ The warm droplets trickled down from his forehead. No answer. Silence reigned over the whole building, including their common corridor. Continuously Anuj pressed the knob. Somehow the knob was slid keeping the door ajar. Anuj desperately ran across the corridor, and pressed the other two houses calling the bell. The bell didn't work. He ran to the lift but it was on the twentieth floor, so took time to land on his floor. Without any delay, he gushed inside and pressed the button for the ground floor. Only one person was inside the lift. Wearing black pants and a hooded black jacket, the man stood facing the mirror of the lift. Anuj had no time to see his face. A second later he looked in the mirror. The same man who delivered the parcel. The man darted a sharp look at him through the mirror. Anuj yelled, ‘You????! Haven't gone yet?!’ It gave Anuj an eerie feeling. He felt weird at his look. The lift was stuck on the thirteen floors. By that time, he was already drained out. He banged the lift door, and pressed the bell, but everything was silent. He screamed at the top of his voice. Nothing helped him much and suddenly the lift moved. Anuj fell in a jerk. The lift halted and the door opened as if someone pressed it before. Hunkering down, Anuj escaped himself from the lift. With a bated breath,, he ran here and there. When he cast his eyes all around he noticed a door half-opened. Without thinking he entered it and closed the door. He breathed heavily hunching over his knee. When he opened his eyes, he shrieked, ‘Noooooooooooooo. Not again!’ He entered his own house! With that horrendous anxiety, he broke out in cold sweat. Once again the slow music from his bed cum study room swirled in the air. Drawing room curtains were opened and closed in quick intervals. He stared at his room bug-eyed. He tried to open the main door, but it was locked. He was panicked and the next moment a sound came ‘boom’! ****** He was not aware how long he lay on the floor just in front of the door. His eyes slowly fluttered with a continuous heavy banging sound on the door. He heard faintly, ‘Anuj.Anuj..son, open the door.’ When he didn't get any response, his father searched for the spare key he had and opened the door. He saw Anuj lying on the floor unconscious. Somehow he took him to the sofa and sprinkled some water till he got back his sense. When he blinked his eyes, his father asked softly, ‘Anuj, son, what's wrong? Did anyone hurt you?’ Anuj pulled his dad's hand and cried like a baby. ‘Dad, I don't know. I am terribly scared, dad. Something has happened in this house. There is a ghost, dad! I’ll die. Help me, I won't stay alone ever,’ Anuj stuttered in a crying voice. ‘Ale- Alexa has become a ghost!’ His dad consoled him and gave him a sleeping tablet to have some sound sleep. A few minutes later Anuj started snoring. His dad went to check Alexa. After a thorough check-he understood what had gone wrong during his absence. Before going to Delhi, he fiddled with the chips inside Alexa which was auto connected to certain data. He forgot to fix it and went away in a hurry. That created the last night mess in the house!


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