Meena looked up at the clear night sky and sighed. Ah, bliss. Sometimes power cuts came with their own incentives. When else could you hang up your boots, forget about the internet, TV, and come up here on the terrace to enjoy the pleasant night?
She took a deep breath and walked lazily in circles, just soaking in the dry night air. Pleasant. It was dark everywhere, but she could hear merry-making in a few houses. She smiled. Rajeev had called earlier on to say he’d be late. But they’d made a pact that if there weren’t any mosquitoes tonight, they’d cuddle up on the terrace and perhaps even sleep up here. She was in fact looking forward to it. So far no mosquito had feasted on her. Not yet. She was tempted to check her mails on her cell phone but resisted. No Meena, just enjoy this – it doesn’t happen often. She went back to her childhood when the entire family slept o the terrace during summer. Oh, what fun. They’d pull one another’s legs, play all sorts of fun games, eat dinner, sip on the cool juice her mother would make for everyone – the fun never ended.
She wished all of them were here with her now. She wished…
Shit, something moved. There, there. Behind the parapet. Was it a monkey?
There had been sightings lately, and residents had been warned to arm themselves with something when they ventured out on their rooftops. Meena regretted not having got anything with her. She just had her cell phone. Fancy throwing it at the monkey. She shuddered to even think about it.
There, it moved again.
The top of its rounded head was clearly visible. Must’ve climbed onto the sunshade.
What do I do?
“Shoo, monkey...” She said, waving her hand frantically. Nope. The damn primate’s head was still visible. It was slowly moving sideways now. Meena stood still. Maybe it’ll just move onto the neighbor’s terrace. A moment later, the head ducked and disappeared. She waited, her breath arrested.
Nothing. Great, it must’ve gone.
She walked toward the parapet slowly. Ok, you ape, where are…
With a whoop, the form huddled behind the parapet leaped into the air; a short scream escaped Meena’s lips.
Where’d it go, where’d it go? - she looked around frantically. She bent down. Had it jumped down? Couldn’t be, they were seven floors up. She didn’t see the monkey jump to a neighboring building even. Then…?
Thud. Behind her.
She turned slowly, her lips trembling. The thing had jumped up and landed behind her.
And it definitely wasn’t a monkey. Monkeys were short. This thing was at least six foot tall, with hands and legs grotesque and hairy. It had no face – but a huge mass of, God knows what – Meena was beyond thinking now. She just stood there shaking like a leaf, eyes half closed.
God, let it go, please, please, please.
And then the creature suddenly vaporized into a huge ball of dark smoke and shot out at Meena.
A few minutes later, Rajeev stomped up the stairs and walked through the terrace door.
“Meenu baby, I’m here,” he said.
Meena was standing near the parapet, with her back to him.
She turned and smiled, her eyes shining like pearls in the dark.