“Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away.”
~ William Hughes Mearns (Antogonish, 1899)
“HEY ROCKSTAR” Amitava beckoned towards his cabin, “Get me a black, no sugar. I have something exciting for you.”
“Right with you”, Pari signaled, shoving her compact knapsack under her workstation.
She had returned to Bengaluru, after a weekend trip to Bhangarh. It was hectic juggling the job of a Content Manager at Why-Fy Media Labs a creative agency and lending time to her passion of ghost hunting as a senior member of the Paranormal Researchers of India.
Amitava Ghosh was CEO of the agency, and an alumnus of the prestigious St. Thomas School in Bengaluru.
“So how was the weekend boss?” she enquired, sliding him acup of black coffee.
“Good yaar. Cooked my favorite Italian grub and spend time with wife, kids and Netflix! Yours?”
“Bhangarh was fun.”
“Super” Amitava smiled. “Okay listen, I got a call from Pastor Alvin, from my alma mater. He needs us to do a website for them by this Sunday, to commemorate their cemetery’s 50th year.”
“Sure”. Pari was always delighted when it came to cemeteries, haunted places and old forts.
“I’ve emailed you the brief. Here’s the stuff Pastor Alvin sent me.” Amitava pushed the pile of papers and photo albums towards Pari.
“Gosh, is this the same St. Thomas Cemetery that that was in the news last year!”
“Yup. The cops never found anything except that three kids died of heart failure; the fourth chap is in a mental asylum since then. Sad.”
“Yes. Anyway, I better get to work. I’ll keep you posted on the progress.” Pari was excited to get her hands on the pictures of a cemetery with a recently notorious reputation.
Later that night, after dinner, she took out the old moldy photo albums. The pictures of the mass funeral of 2nd November 1997 caught her eye. Twenty four members of the parish had perished during a pilgrimage to Kerala. Staring at the tragic images her gaze fell upon the banyan tree behind the mourners; a strange apparition in a priest’s vestment was barely visible to the naked eye.
She flipped the pages. There it was again. Almost keeping watch like a sentinel, near the thick stone pillars that marked the entrance to the burial ground. The apparition was faintly visible in the pictures of funerals that took place November 1997 onwards, but in none prior to that.
“This is so cool”, Pari thought, as her excitement soared.
It was past midnight and too late to call up Amitava. She closed the back cover wondering if it was just exhaustion and imagination playing mind games, or was there something more to it. She had seen such sightings in photographs of locations known to have supernatural activity.
Her hands turned cold, when she noticed a picture of Father Thomas’ grave on the back cover. The epitaph on the headstone sent a chilling realization down her spine:
In Loving Memory
Father Thomas Jacob
6th February 1925 – 24 October 1997
Forever in Our Midst
This short story is © 2020-21 S. B. Ryder.
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