Creepy Log # 4: A Voice from Odessa

a-voice-from-odessa

 

In 2004, I and two of my buddies were still relatively young, and reckless. We also had an ardent interest in the paranormal, and had, among our possessions, lots of gadgets supposedly used to connect with the supernatural.

 

Among those gadgets was an Ouija Board, and its accompanying planchette. We had had it for several months, but had never experienced anything particularly exciting with it, despite several sessions in which we asked it several questions.

 

But on New Year’s Day, 2005, something did happen:

 

The board spoke to us.  

……………….

For the uninitiated, the Ouija board is essentially just a square board, and on its surface, there are several writings. On the top left corner is the word “YES”. On the top right corner is the word “NO”. In the main, central region of the board are the letters A to Z, arranged in two rows of 13 letters each. And at the bottom, center of the board, is the word ” GOODBYE”.

 

The planchette itself is just a smaller, heart-shaped board, placed on wheels, such that it can move freely on top of the Ouija board. The pointed end of the heart shape is used to determine which word or letter on the board the planchette is pointing towards. Some planchettes have a pencil on this pointed end, for automatic writing, but ours didn’t.

 

With the above two gadgets, it is assumed that anything from the other world can be able to express itself fully to humans, by moving the planchette around on the board.

 

On New Years Day, 2005, at about 3 in the morning, I and my buddies placed the planchette on top of the board, and then held our hands together around it. Then, in a slow, clear voice, I said:

 

“Is anyone out there?”

 

For a full 30 seconds, nothing happened. We were almost giving up when, suddenly, the planchette slowly, hesitantly, moved upwards, and to the left of the board.

 

“YES”.

……………….

We were all startled.

 

We hadn’t really been expecting anything to happen.

 

We all looked at each other for moment. Then, turning back towards the board, I said, once again in a slow pace:

 

“Are you a spirit?”

 

The planchette didn’t move. It stayed right on top of the “YES”. Realizing that this wasn’t a clear response, I refined my question:

 

” Are you dead?”

 

And this time, slowly, but gathering speed, the planchette moved. And then stopped at the top right corner of the board.

 

“NO”.

 

By now, the three of us were trembling slightly. We were both terrified and fascinated by what was happening in front of our very eyes. And we decided to push on.

 

I asked:

 

“Are you in hell?”

 

At this, one of my friends turned towards me, and said:

 

” It can’t be in hell. It’s not dead.”

 

But as soon as he said this, the planchette moved. To the extreme left, top of the board.

 

“YES”.

………………….

This last response from the board puzzled us. But we continued.

 

I asked:

 

“Who are you?”

 

The planchette immediately started moving. No hesitations at all. Whoever… or whatever was controlling it, was clearly getting adept at it. The planchette moved first to the letter “M”, then “A”, then ” S”, then “H”, then “A”.

 

MASHA.

 

We had no idea what that meant. Couldn’t tell if it was a name or something else. But we pressed on.

 

I asked:

 

“Where are you?”

 

The planchette moved. “O”, “D”, “E”, “S”, “S”

 

ODESS.

 

The planchette stopped moving.

 

Once again, we had no idea what those letters meant. We glanced at each other, puzzled. Then I asked:

 

“Are you in this world?”

 

And we waited.

 

The planchette never moved again. It remained on top of the S.

 

I asked it several other questions, but it didn’t respond again. Not on that night, nor since then.

………………..

Still feeling a bit scared, we packed the Ouija board and the planchette into their respective boxes. Then we all spent the night together. No one was willing to go home alone, at that hour of the night, after what we had just experienced.

 

The following morning, we woke up to a bright and sunny day. The events of the day soon had the terrors of the previous night receding from our minds. What remained was a nagging feeling about what exactly we all, collectively had clearly seen. But we decided to keep the event among just the three of us.

 

Time moved on. Weeks passed. Months.

 

But two years later, in early 2007, I met MASHA.                         

…………………

I was idly surfing the internet, early one morning, in 2007, when two words suddenly leapt at me:

 

“MASHA”

 

“ODESSA”

 

It was the headline of a certain article in the Yahoo News webpage:

 

MASHA’S BODY FOUND IN ODESSA’S CATACOMBS

 

Feeling a bit sick, and starting to tremble a bit, I quickly scanned through the article.

 

Apparently, Masha used to be a Ukrainian teenage girl who had gone missing on New Years Eve, 2004. The background was that she, and her friends, had gone into one of the tunnels in the extensive catacombs of Odessa, in Ukraine. There, the girls had partied the whole night, and had got themselves very drunk.

 

Somewhere in the course of the partying, Masha must have left the rest of the girls, and wandered off into the tunnels, by herself. Perhaps she had gone to relieve herself. Or perhaps, in her drunken state, she had decided to explore the tunnels alone. Either way, she went, and never came back.

 

The catacombs of Ukraine are the biggest and most complex in the world. They cover more than 2,500 km in length. The maps that exist for them are very scanty on information, and some of the tunnels are not even documented. Even an experienced explorer, armed with maps and torches, can easily get lost.

 

So the moment Masha went away from the rest of the girls, she was doomed.

………….

The friends of Masha, upon realizing that she was no longer among them, went and reported to the authorities. Several search teams were organized over the next few days, in January, 2005. But after a week or so, everyone gave up on the search. There was no way that Masha could be alive at that time, alone, without food and water, and in the freezing temperatures of Ukraine outdoors.

 

It took two years before her body was finally found, by accident, eight kilometers from the place where the girls had had their party. Eight kilometers deep into the pitch black tunnels of the catacombs. To have gone that far, Masha must walked for almost three days, in the impenetrable darkness, alone, hungry, thirsty, and getting more and more desperate as the hours went. Finally, she must have started to lose her mind, and slipped into delirium, before collapsing onto the floor, and slipping into a coma, then death.

 

But clearly, before she had lost her mind, Masha had reached out, to us.

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Creepy Log # 3: Elevator

creepy-log-3-elevator

 

I probably should have known that there was something off with the elevator. The moment I entered it, I immediately started shivering. It was unusually cold. Which was strange, since the temperatures outside were fine.

 

But I drew my coat tighter, and pressed the button for the fifth floor, where our offices were.

 

It was 11pm.

 

I was doing the night shift.

 

………….

The ride up the floors was uneventful.

 

But for some reason, the hairs on the back of my neck kept rising.

 

Looking around, I could only see my reflection in the mirrors around.

 

The usual elevator music was playing.

 

The lights overhead were bright as ever.

 

Everything looked okay.

 

Except that it all felt off.                        

 

…………..

Eventually, the elevator got to the fifth floor, and stopped. The doors opened, and I walked out, and to our offices, down the corridor.

 

Mike, my colleague, was there, sitting at his chair, by the monitors.

 

The screens had feeds from the various CCTV cameras installed in the building. There were feeds from the corridors, the various offices in all the floors, and the elevators in all the wings of the building.

 

Our main job was to monitor all those feeds, and essentially report if anything looked strange.

 

…………..

So I went and sat down next to Mike.

 

And he immediately made an unexpected comment:

 

“She’s pretty. You should have come with her to this office.”

 

……………

I turned to look at Mike.

 

“Huh?”

 

And he responded:

 

“The lady in the elevator with you. She looked good.”

 

I stared at Mike for a long moment. Then I told him:

 

“Mike, I was alone in that elevator.”

 

……………….

It was Mike’s turn to look surprised. His eyes widened. He said:

 

“What the….?”

 

Then he turned towards the bank of screens, and touched a few buttons on a keyboard.

 

The central screen, much bigger than the others, began playing back the feed from the elevator.

 

I could see myself in the elevator, pulling my coat tighter around myself.

 

And behind me, leaning on the mirror at the back of the elevator, there WAS a woman.

 

A woman I myself hadn’t seen when in the elevator.

 

……………

I jumped back in my seat, in sheer terror.

 

“What the hell?!” I yelped. “Who is that?”

 

Mike looked at me, just as dumbfounded.

 

“Tell me you saw this woman in the elevator,” he pleaded.

 

And I said, in a shrill voice:

 

“That woman wasn’t there, Mike. I was alone in the elevator.”

 

Mike said:

 

“Well, clearly, you weren’t alone.”

 

………….

I got an idea, right about then.

 

“Mike, play back that recording to the end. Where did the lady go?”

 

Mike played the feed.

 

The screen showed the elevator getting to our floor, and I leaving it. The lady also followed me out of the elevator.

 

I shivered, seeing this.

 

Mike changed the central feed, to show the corridor, as recorded by yet another camera.

 

That feed had me strolling towards our office.

 

The woman was not in this feed.

 

She apparently had just disappeared between the two camera feeds.

 

Both of us shouted, almost simultaneously:

 

“WHAT THE HELL??”

………………

Fully terrified, both of us shakily stood up from our seats, and walked out of the room, to the corridor outside.

 

It was a straight corridor. With four doors -counting ours – that led to other offices. The elevators were straight ahead, on the other end of this corridor.

 

There was no blind spot, anywhere, for the cameras.

 

And there was no way that woman could have gone to the other offices without the corridor camera picking her up.

 

At that moment, the elevator opened, and then closed, as we watched it. No one came out of it.

 

We looked at each other, and silently went back to our office.

 

To the bank of screens.

 

And played back the recording from the elevator camera.

 

…………………

The woman was in the elevator.

 

Right in front of us, on the central screen, we could see her, in the elevator.

 

We both yelped in mortal terror.

 

And the woman, at that exact time, turned, and looked straight at the camera in the elevator. At us.

 

She smiled.

 

We yelped again.

 

Shortly, the elevator doors opened, and she walked out.

 

The camera on the ground floor, where she had exited the elevator, didn’t pick her up.

 

Once again, between the two feeds, she simply disappeared.

 

……………….

That night was one of the longest we ever had.

 

We didn’t dare leave our post, in that office, that night, for fear of meeting that ghostly woman.

 

We tried calling our boss, but his phone was offline.

 

So we sat there, shivering with terrible fright, and basically just replaying those two feeds.

 

By morning, the video clips were pretty much burnt into our memories.

 

As our shift came to an end, two other colleagues joined us in the CCTV room, and we handed them the recordings, and narrated to them the events of the night.

 

They immediately sat down in front of the monitors, and tried to play the clips, as Mike and I stood by.

 

All the feeds for the elevator and the corridor were blank.

 

Feeds that, less than two hours earlier, had contained glaring evidence for the paranormal.

Mind Flow: Part 6: A heart after my own

 

a-heart-after-my-own

I realized that we were destined for each other one evening, as you sat across me, in a restaurant. You stretched your hand to the table, and started tapping it with the tips of your fingers:

 

Tap.

 

Tap.

 

Tap tap.

 

Tap tap tap.

 

Tap tap tap tap tap.

 

And I, looking on, listening, suddenly recognized the pattern:

 

“Is that… that IS the Fibonacci sequence, isn’t it?”

 

You didn’t respond verbally. Instead, with the sweetest smile on your face, you tapped out the next number in the sequence:

 

Tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap.

 

I was taken in. Enchanted. Your smile was still glowing on your face. And as I looked at your eyes, I saw your pupils dilate, ever so slightly. And I stretched forth my arm, and cupped yours in mine, and continued gazing at your hypnotizing eyes. And for the longest of moments, the entire world came to a halt around us. Background sounds faded into silence. The lighting in the restaurant softened and merged into one omnipresent illumination. There was nothing else in the world, at that moment, except our gazes at each other.

 

We couldn’t deny it: Cupid had struck that night.

 

And now, years later, whenever I see Fibonacci patterns anywhere, I always pause, and reminiscence. For as it happened, we enjoyed many nights and days of blissful companionship, after that day in that restaurant. Days filled with sunlight and laughter. Nights filled with heart-melting intimacy and wines and idyllic sessions by the fireside. We’d both gaze at the flames, and see them leaping and dancing and cackling, and we’d see a million brilliant possibilities for our future together. But providence had other plans, and we eventually drifted apart, and eventually lost contact of each other.

 

Still, I live in a world of Fibonacci patterns. Nautilus shells. Fuchsia and lily flower petals. Coneflower seed heads. Pine cones. The mating patterns of bees. In all these, the Fibonacci sequence dominate. The sequence  determines the very curves of life. And I, whenever I see these patterns, I remember you. And I wish you well, wherever you are.

Creepy Log #2: The Face of Death

face-of-death

 

“You can see it, of course. Can’t you.”

 

“See what?”

 

“The anomaly with that photo.”

 

“The photo looks okay to me. Nothing out of the ordinary.”

 

“Look again. Look more closely.”

 

So I did. In the photo, there was a young man, probably early twenties, leaning on the ledge of a bridge, facing the camera. In the background, behind him, there was the outline of the distant horizon: mountainous, slightly bluish with distance. The sky depicted there was almost completely clear: only a few wisps of clouds were visible. The young man himself was wearing a checked shirt, and brown trousers.

 

And then I spotted the anomaly.

 

The young man’s face looked hazy. Out of focus. Which stood out, since everything else in the photo was in sharp focus. Right up to the buttons on his shirt. Even the knuckles of his right arm, resting against the top of the bridge’s ledge behind him, were all clearly defined. His left arm was in his trouser pocket.

 

“His face is out of focus.”

 

“Yes. Well, no. Technically, that’s the face of someone with less than two hours to live.”

 

Silence. I looked up from the photo, and stared at Rosemary. She didn’t seem to be joking. She shrugged slightly, and continued looking at me, across the table. So I sought more information.

 

“Huh?”

 

“That’s my kid brother. Less than two hours after I took that photo, he simply collapsed and died”.

 

“Whaaat?”

 

“After I took that photo, we continued on with our walk to the picnic site. There was no hurry. My brother looked jovial, as usual. We talked about all manner of things. I remember teasing him about his new girlfriend. He laughed, and teased me too, about you. But I noticed that every once in a while, an indescribable expression would flash across his face, before he transformed back to being jovial. This happened several times before we got to the picnic site.”

 

“Did you ask him about that expression?”

 

“I didn’t. Thought it was insignificant at that time. But a few meters to the actual site we were walking towards, he suddenly stopped on the path, looked at me in a strange way, and then his eyes rolled up, as he collapsed onto the ground. Dead.”

 

“That must have been terrifying.”

 

“I called my parents. They drove over, picked me up, together with my brother’s body, and we drove to the nearest hospital. Procedure was followed. Hospital. Post mortem. Mortuary. Funeral. Cause of death? Unknown. Only much later – weeks, actually – did I remember to develop the photographic film. And I discovered that hazy anomaly on his face.”

 

“What did your parents say about this photo?”

 

“Mom is… well, _spiritual_. More than dad, anyways. She told me that the face in that photo is invisible because my brother had already started to die, when I took the photo. That his soul had already left him.”

 

“Whoa.”

 

“Yeah. I don’t know what to think. But I also don’t have a better explanation.”

Mind Flow: Part 5: The Enchanted

mind-flow-9-the-enchanted

 

And unto your question of why I’m so enchanted by you, the following response suffices:

 

It’s the small things in life.

 

Such as standing out, in the night, and looking up at the sky, and seeing all those sparkling diamonds spread across the heavens. Each one of them is, in reality, just as big as our sun, but they look infinitely small from earth, due to their distance from us. And yet, from across trillions of miles, they deliver their pin-points of light to us, and twinkle and sparkle and paint tomes of poetry in the night. And if you listen carefully, you can hear them sing, over and over, about the beauty and majesty of the cosmos out there. And you can feel your own heart lift up, in unutterable joy and awe.

 

So it is between you and I. I look at your eyes, and see trillions of miles of history written between us. I see you through the distance of a trillion shared experiences, and a billion words spoken to each other. I remember a million laughs, a million hugs, and a million silences shared by a fireside. And I remember thousands of instances of missing you, even when you were there, right beside me. All these are tiny pinpoints of light, distributed all over my memories, and they twinkle and sparkle and light up all the isles of my history. And just like starlight, they too fill me with unutterable joy.

 

There are other times too, when it rains, especially after a long dry period. And I go to my window, and stand by it, and watch the hitherto dry ground gradually become wet. Billions of tiny drops of water falling from the skies, landing on the thirsty ground, and sinking in. Each drop catching a slice of sunshine, and splitting it into seven hues, even as the drop rushes towards the ground. And as the earth starts absorbing these guests from the skies, a sweet smell arises from the ground – the smell of freshly wet earth. Petrichor. It’s a scent hard to describe, but it is earthy, and highly enjoyable, and sometimes has notes of ozone within it.

 

And as I watch the rains transform the earth, my thoughts once again fasten upon you. And I remember how we transform each other, whenever we meet. I remember how my heart leaps in joy on sighting you. And I remember how your own face softens up and delivers the most heart-melting smile I’ve ever seen. And when we hug, I often feel your heart beating against mine, and a very unique scent rising up from your neck. An intoxicating scent – probably pheromones – that very quickly reduces me to a needy wreck. A wreck that just wants to keep holding you, forever. And you look up, into my eyes, and I can practically feel you touching my soul with your eyesight.

 

Some people have a label for all this. They call it love. They write poems about it. They compose songs about it. Me, I just walk out into the night, crane my head to the skies, and see all the poems and songs about us already written up there. And I wait for the rains, and let the wet earth blow the very scent of a million slices of you and I, right up my nostrils. It is intoxicating.

 

And it is all enchanting.