A cold wind howled through the corridor , as Brian stood outside the huge , ornate door of the mansion. He shuffled through the pockets of his trousers ,till he found a large , archaic key and shoved it into the lock , twisting it. Having done so , he tried to push open the door , but to his utter disappointment , it didn’t budge .
He could feel the cold air whipping against him… As he looked around, he had an eerie sensation ,about the whole place. After about five long minutes of continuous thrusting and pushing , the dusty hinges creaked loudly and shrilly , and the large door , yielded eventually !
As Brian crept silently through the portal , he was greeted by a musty smell , that left a strange taste of iron in his mouth. He was amazed by the interiors of the sprawling mansion.
‘Oh my god !’, exclaimed Brian , his voice reverberating across the large vacant spaces . He stared at the wall coated in dirt and decorated , here and there , with matted cobweb . The long spiral staircase , looked even more ‘ghostly’ , under the silvery sheen of the moonlight . And Brian , stood there , half expecting to see a spectre walk down those winding wooden stairs.
Just then , in that very second , he felt a puff of warm breath on his earlobe. .. A shiver curled through the back of his neck , cascading down to his backbone …
His body went numb with fear , as the overwhelming odour of old walls and the bitter air seeped around him . An ominous darkness seemed to spread around in the room …. and soon it enveloped him….
Brian tossed about from side to side … pushing ,shoving ,kicking…. His body drenched in his own sweat , his heart pounding … and just when the weight on his chest became too much to bear , his eyes shot open wide and he bolted upright – frozen in fear , his heart still throbbing hard. He then stretched himself to his bedside , pulling on the bed lamp . And looked around frantically , and a sigh of utter relief escaped his mouth , when he realized it was only a nightmare !
How relieved was he to be back to the confines of his warm and cozy apartment . A sudden surge of joy ,washed through his entire body as his strained muscles began to relax . He got down from the bed , and peered outside the window of his first floor apartment . ‘Still dark !’ , Brian thought to himself , feeling a little unnerved at the prospect of returning to bed .
After spending a few minutes at the window , he quietly crawled back into the warmth of his comfortable bed.
Brian woke up the following morning feeling enervated , as if the ‘life force’ had been sucked out of him. For a few minutes , he just lay there , sprawled .. and then ,all of sudden , jumped out of the bed and bolted to the washroom .
Having finished with his morning ablutions , he stood in front of the mirror combing his hair, when the calling bell rang . Giving himself one last look in the mirror , Brian hastened towards the door . The bell rang , a second time , this time a little more persistent , now making him a little curious.
As Brian tried to open the door in urgency , he fumbled with the chain lock . Once the door was open , he peered outside . No one . ‘Strange !’ , Brian mumbled under his breath , as he gave the corridor , another careful inspection before shutting the door back.
As Brian , stepped back into the house , a sudden sense of foreboding engulfed him , but he quickly dismissed it and headed to the kitchen to prepare his breakfast.
Having finished his breakfast of poached eggs and toast , he began to get himself ready to go for work . Brian was in no mood to return to work today . But then , he knew that if he didn’t turn up , his new boss would happily replace him , with another ‘more efficient’ guy … and Brian needed this job !
In half an hour , Brian was out on the streets , struggling to reach his office on time . As he scurried towards his office , trying to avoid getting caught in the crowd , he bumped himself against a woman . Brian , shot up his hands in mid air , apologetically . She smiled , apparently amused .
Her deep , brown eyes were mesmerizing . Brian , lost his sense of time , as he felt himself hypnotized by the depth of her gaze . The blaring horn of a milk van, behind him , shook him out of his trance . He looked around …But she was gone……… vanished like the dew before the morning sun !
By the time Brian made his way out of his office , it was late in the evening . Trudging his way ,through the cobbled streets , recollecting the events of the day , he felt jaded .
‘THE ADAM COMPANY’ , the name of the advertising firm , where he worked , had never been his favorite place … but then , it had never been his least favorite either . Well that was ,until today. Ever since his new boss had taken over , things had gone from bad to worse. His work was never ‘satisfactory’ enough , and he was not spared even a moment’s rest .
But today was the height of all distastefulness . Mr Ronald ( his boss) , had humiliated him in front of the whole staff . In that moment , he wished he could just disappear into nothingness… just cease to exist…. He was sure no one would even notice his absence !
Now , as he hobbled along the half-lit alley way , feeling weighed down by his own miseries , he was determined never to return to that hell . But soon , better sense prevailed and he realized that , it can not be…. not until he found another job to take care of his finances ! With these thoughts , he was soon outside his apartment building.
When Brian , dragged his way up to the first floor , he saw that the corridor was in darkness. ‘Oh god ! that John guy hasn’t fixed the lights yet !’ , he grumbled , exasperated .
As he traversed through the narrow , deserted corridor , a queer , inexplicable sense of dread encased his heart and he cringed.
Once he reached his apartment and was about to unlock the door , he had the sharp urge to look behind , at the other end of the corridor . Under the pale moonlight , streaming in through a small square window , he saw a dark figure – the silhouette of a woman , standing there , in the far end of the corridor. Brian kept staring at it , paralyzed by terror .
Then , having regained his sanity , he somehow mustered the courage to call out ‘hello…’ . As he did so , his own voice seemed to him as hollow and weak , in the emptiness . He lunged forward to investigate , but the entity was not there any more….
Relieved , Brian went into his house and finished his dinner . He then , slumped himself on his bed and went to sleep immediately .
The next morning , he woke up invigorated . The sleep had done a whole lot of good to him and he was unusually bright and cheerful . Now , all ready for another back-breaking day at the office , he opened the door and stepped outside . As , he finished locking the door , he felt a hand on his shoulder …
Alarmed , he turned abruptly . It was John … ‘So I hope no more complaints , now that I have fixed the lights ?’ , his close set eyebrows now curved into a question mark . ‘Fixed !’ , repeated Brian , with tone of contempt in his voice , when his eyes unexpectedly wandered off , towards a row of lit light globes on the ceiling , in the centre of the corridor . Brian , stared at it , confused… and muttered.. ‘Yeah…but..err…’ . ‘You forgot to switch them off , once you were in ..!’ , exclaimed John , as if completing Brian’s sentence . But , ‘switching off the lights’ , was the least of his concerns right now , much to John’s ignorance .
As John walked way in the direction of the stairs , Brian kept standing there , looking dazed . It was then that he saw her. Those deep eyes , seemed to offer some solace , to his otherwise miserable life.
As she locked the door of her flat in the far left , he gazed at her disbelievingly .
‘You stay here ! how come I never saw you here before..?’ , he enquired inquisitively. ‘That’s because I am out most of the times !’ , she chuckled . ‘Oh , all right so where do you work ?’ , asked Brian . ‘At a fashion store , just two blocks way – ‘RENNAISANCE’ –you may have heard of it..? ’ ‘Oh , yes ! I have… it is on the way to my workplace ..’ , he replied , trying to hide the excitement in his voice. ‘So ,we can I walk you..err…’ , he asked , his face flushed , to a color of scarlet . ‘Of course , you can !’ , her face too changing hue to a corresponding crimson.
From that day on , Brian was a different man . After all , he had found his soul – mate , someone with whom to share his troubles , worries and joys too. In fact , everyone at ‘ The Adam’s Company’ , were a little surprised to see this new , rejuvenated man . Even Mr Ronald , seemed happy and satisfied with Brian’s performance at work . …Everything seemed to be going smooth..
Brian would have loved to enjoy Suzy’s ( that what he liked to call her . For some odd reason , she hadn’t disclosed to him , her real name ) company on his way back home too , but unfortunately her work extended beyond his , so he had to make do, by just waving at her , from outside the ‘ Rennaisance’. But , almost every time he did this , he had seen the store owner , a tall lady with a ‘botox-gone-wrong’ kind of face , rolling her eyes at him , in disapproval . In fact , some of Suzy’s colleagues also didn’t seem be amused by all the gesticulating , he did with Suzy , and glowered at him .
Even on their way to work in the mornings , whenever Brian slipped a hand into Suzy’s in an act of expressing his affections , or shared a heart laughter , many a passers by , would glare at him , amusingly . Perhaps they thought he was too old for Suzy…
But Brian was beyond all these trifling things , and they no longer affected him . He was in love… And so enamoured ,was he of Suzy’s beauty that the world itself seemed to him ,as more beautiful than it ever was.
The sight of her pleasant face , the sweet scent of her hair , the soft feel of her silken touch… .everything about her was so unpretentious , yet so mysterious , in a strange sort of way…
Days flew by and nights were spent in the pleasant memories of the days…
One fine morning , as Brian ( humming the tune of a love song ) , was busy locking up his door to leave for work , he heard footsteps behind him. When he turned he was greeted by an Asian couple , who were being led by John to the flat on the far left of the corridor. Brian soon caught up with John , and asked ‘ John…what is happening..? who are these people..?’ . John , looked at Brian quizzically and said , ‘ Why…these are the new tenants of this apartment. I got them to show them the house , before they shift here in a few days !’.
Brian felt the earth shift beneath his feet as he stood there slack-jawed. Enraged , he pulled at John’s collar and yelled , ‘Where is she..Suzy..she lives here. Don’t you know..?’ .
He kept staring at John wild eyed ,while the latter pushed him aside and straightened his collar . ‘Are you crazy..? This apartment has been lying vacant for almost six months now .’ he stated , matter of factly . ‘And who is this Suzy anyway..?’ he asked , as an after thought.
Brian stood there , more rooted to the ground than a tree. His moist eyes were now blood shot , as he made fervent efforts to reconcile with the situation. And then , all of a sudden , his expression changed , his face lit up as he bolted through the corridor and down the stairs.
Brian was on the street now…feeling exhausted , due to the sudden emotional upheaval , but still determined all the same.
He scuttled down the street and soon reached his destination – the ‘Renaissance’. Barging in through the open door , he looked around. Suzy was no where . The other women at the store ,were now staring at him and whispering among themselves. Just then , the tall lady , the owner ,appeared on the scene . Desperate , Brian rushed to her asking for Suzy.
‘Suzy ! we don’t have anyone by that name working here. !’ , she replied curtly , with a heavy French accent. ‘ Oh , yes ..of course..that isn’t her real name…’ , he exclaimed and started giving a physical description of the woman he was searching for. But neither the owner , nor any other staff seemed to recollect anyone by that description.
As he turned to go , he heard the French woman remark ‘ What a lunatic ! Isn’t this the same guy you complained about the other day? The one who kept making a pass at you..?’ . Brian turned to look at the other woman , but she wasn’t Suzy…Although he had seen her standing next to her , whenever he waved .
The sudden emotional turmoil and the resultant fatigue , now took their toll on him ,and he collapsed on the sidewalk, just outside the store….
The physician soon referred him to a psychiatrist , named Dr Jason. After studying Brian’s case history and repeated interviews with his subject , along with psychotherapy and hypnosis , Dr Jason , diagnosed Brian’s condition as Delusional disorder , a type of Schizophrenia..
After providing him with some Antipsychotics , Dr Jason , decided to continue treating him as an out patient .
Brian returned home after a month at the hospital . As Brian , sat on his couch , having his breakfast , the calling bell rang. Brian rushed to the door and opened it.
Suzy stood there , smiling ………..
AUTHOR’S NOTE : (As copied from wikipedia , for the benefit of the readers )
Delusional disorder is an uncommon psychiatric condition in which the patients present with delusions, but with no accompanying prominent hallucinations, thought disorder, mood disorder, or significant flattening of affect. Delusions are a specific symptom of psychosis. Non-bizarre delusions are fixed false beliefs that involve situations that could potentially occur in real life; examples include being followed or poisoned. Apart from their delusions, people with delusional disorder may continue to socialize and function in a normal manner and their behaviour does not generally seem odd or bizarre. However, the preoccupation with delusional ideas can be disruptive to their overall lives. For the diagnosis to be made, auditory and visual hallucinations cannot be prominent, though olfactory or tactile hallucinations related to the content of the delusion may be present.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) defines six subtypes of the disorder characterized as erotomanic (believes that someone is in love with him or her), grandiose(believes that s/he is the greatest, strongest, fastest, richest, and/or most intelligent person ever), jealous (believes that the love partner is cheating on him/her), persecutory(delusions that the person or someone to whom the person is close is being malevolently treated in some way), somatic (believes that he/she has a disease or medical condition), and mixed, i.e., having features of more than one subtype. Delusions also occur as symptoms of many other mental disorders, especially the other psychotic disorders.
FOR MORE SHORT STORIES FROM MY BLOG , PLEASE CLICK HERE
YOU MAY ALSO SELECT ‘SHORT STORIES’ FROM MY SUBJECTS (CATEGORIES ) , ON THE RIGHT HAND SIDE SLIDER………..