Two Short Stories by Shaurya Arya-Kanojia


Blink of an Eye


There can only be one of two explanations. I’ve either slipped into an alternate dimension, or this is a dream.

Things changed in, quite literally, the blink of an eye. One second, I was out on my evening walk in the park, the sun gliding towards the western horizon, spraying a blast of orange across the sky. And, in the next, a darkness I can attribute to nothing but an indescribable phenomenon cast its shadow over my surroundings. The people in the park had magically vaporized, like some invisible hand had come down and, before I could even start to wrap my head around what had happened, swept everyone up. The sky had as if metamorphosed into a chilling, malicious dark blue. The grass all around, though still technically green, was devoid of its earlier colour, of its vivaciousness.

The path in front of me had cowered in the shadows of the trees overhead. I looked up, and could only see the silhouettes of the leaves as they held absolutely still. Not a leaf moved.

I took a step forward, my shoe grinding the loose dirt underneath. The crunch was like a gunshot in the absolute silence. I could even hear my breath, the beating of my heart. I took another step forward, and then another. Gradually, I started walking. A dream or not, I realized staying put wouldn’t serve any purpose.

Crickets started singing their irritating creek-creek in the distance; and then, abruptly, stopped. A bird flew overhead, crying a shriek. It startled me. I stopped, pulled in some air, blew it out, let the dark world I had fallen into come into perspective, and moved.

I knew the way around this park like the back of my hand. Over the years, new features – including a cemented basketball court, modern swing sets, and an expansive flower bed – had been added to the park, but the graveled path remained the same. No one had thought of paving it with tiles. After rains, water clogged it in patches, inconveniencing strollers like me.

I also knew that, a hundred meters ahead, I would need to take a right. And, after a few more paces, a left. That would open into the west side of the park, where the basketball court was. At this turn, behind me, would be the lonesome house I have, in my evening strolls, found myself being fascinated by. A hand pump stood atop a wide platform in the large veranda outside. Around the house, a staircase opened into the terrace above. Next to the verandah, a curved walkway led to somewhere out of sight. I know that was an exit, but for reasons beyond me I don’t go there.

Straight ahead was the gate that led to the neighbouring colony. I decided to exit from that gate instead, which, though held by a rickety chain link, could open just wide enough to let a skinny man like me sneak through.

Even with the darkness still hanging about, I could make out the bend a few steps away. I rounded the corner, my feet now more confident. Just a few more steps, I reassured myself; and started walking faster. My head felt lighter. I took a deep breath, calming myself. The next turn was maybe a few meters ahead. By now, I was rushing towards it.

But something – an invisible force is all I can describe it as – in the darkness was clinging to the back of my neck; and, no matter how much I wiped my hand at it, it stayed.

Even though just a few steps away, I couldn’t get close to the turn I had to take next; it was like walking on a treadmill. My feet were moving, but I couldn’t get nearer. Something was pulling me as I tried pushing ahead. The anxiety was creeping its way back in me. I could imagine its slimy antlers on my skin, pushing themselves within. The air I had been breathing didn’t come as freely now. I gasped and, then, started running; my feet eager, the crunch on the gravel more urgent.

The turn, still visibly a stone’s throw away, seemed farther than the moon.

A sound, of something creaking, came from my right.  I turned, and, in the distance, saw the house.

It was bathed in a gorgeous, magnificent light. Such was its brightness I had to shield my eyes at first glance. As my eyes adjusted to its glow, I saw the door opening; and, from within it, someone – a silhouette at first – walked out.

A boy, no more than ten years old, wearing a blue t-shirt and red shorts.

He extended one arm, beckoning me.

“It’s okay,” he said. “He won’t hurt you anymore.”

I wanted to pretend that I didn’t understand what he meant, but I couldn’t. “You promise?” I asked him instead.

In the bright light, I saw his head – cast in a golden light from an unidentifiable source – move. He nodded. I wondered if the boy was playing a trick on me; that he was the Ghost Man from all those years ago. The creature who had come into the house and robbed my family before killing them and escaping; as I, a ten-year-old dressed in a blue oversized t-shirt and red shorts, was crouched behind my bed, crying but not daring to utter a word. Sometime in the night, I must have passed out. Because the next morning I found myself in the police station.

“A robbery gone wrong,” was how the inspector described it. “Your mother woke up as he was closing the cupboard. Don’t worry, we’ve apprehended him.”

But he – he who I started recognizing as the Ghost Man ever since – didn’t leave my thoughts for years; tormenting me, anguishing me.

“You promise?” I asked the boy. “You promise?”

He nodded.

As I neared the few stairs leading to the house – ­my house – the boy turned and went inside.

And I followed him.


Yellow Fear


Corrine Bailey Rae knew what she was saying when she sang, “The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same.”

Sure, I’ve grown up. Crossed the line into adulthood and become the man I am today. And, believe me, I’m happy. But there’s something that still lingers, refusing to escape even as the years roll by and old memories and experiences get whitewashed with new ones. Something that either you are too scared to let go of or that it’s too strong that you just can’t.


Monsters under the bed. Monsters watching you from behind the curtains. Monsters in the shadows.

Monsters living within you.

Today, while taking my evening walk, I slipped into a hole – metaphorical, but every bit real – where I confronted a monster I thought I had left behind years ago. Beside the track I walk on is a patch dominated by bushes. I heard a couple of kids giggling there, and a faint snatch of “I don’t think he can find us.” One of these kids, a boy, brought up his head from behind the bush and looked around. His eyes met mine for a second, but, in that fleeting moment, I found myself sliding through the tunnel leading to my monster.

The same monster I had met as a kid playing hide and seek with my friends in a park just like this. I had decided to hide behind a bush and find a place to sit against the ten feet wall that separated the park on one side and the neighbouring locality on the other. Faint music floated from there; a disco tune from the 80s my mum loved.

A lamp glowing behind me allowed me to make my way through the bushes. Finding my way was difficult; I had to do it silently. The crunch of the leaves on the ground as I stepped on them was audibly loud. Even though it was only 5:30, it was almost dark. A couple of times, something – a thorn is the most logical guess – pricked by thigh, and I think I yelped.

But I still made it to where I wanted, and sat down. The light from the lamp ended a little further away, affording me unnoticeability. I was on my hunches, my back against the wall. After a minute, shifting my weight from one leg to the other, I moved my foot; crunching a leaf underneath it. The disco track behind me ended, giving way to another.

I felt a prick at my neck. I slapped it and wiped whatever it was away. It felt moist. Ugh. I rested my head against the wall, and…

I must have dozed off. I think I heard a voice from somewhere far away. My eyes flew open. It took a few seconds for the world around me – the sound of the crickets, the thump of the disco – to fill my mind.

And, with it, came a fear as sharp as an icicle.

I lifted myself a little, enough so my head poked out of the bushes. There was no one in sight. I started deliberating if I should call out to my friends. I had left my wrist watch back home, so I had little to no idea what time it was. The last of the colour had left the sky, and I was terrified. Surely, I remember thinking, the park was closed for the day by now. My friends were naturally not able to find me, and had to give up eventually. They must have told my parents.

But what if… No one was looking for me. What if my parents were happy I was lost? A week prior, mum had said, no doubt in a fit of rage, what a bad son I was when she discovered I had stolen money from her purse. I knew she was angry, but was she angry enough to wish I would go missing?

An urge to scream was forming inside me. It began as a tiny bubble, and started expanding, gaining mass; until it became too big to be contained within.

“Help!” I cried out.

And help did come. I heard footsteps further ahead, away from the cone of light the lamp was casting. I could make out an outline. I wanted to call out, but only managed a feeble, barely audible whimper. “Help, please.” His footsteps were slow, deliberate. Just as he was a step away from the cone of light, I saw, or at least I think I saw…

Were those yellow balls of light where his eyes should have been?

“Arayan!” I heard my mom cry out. I whipped my head, and saw my mother running towards me from the far right. The pink robe she loved as dearly as the 80s disco flapped about her. I felt a jolt of happiness and relief wash over me. I stood up, and ran out from the thick bushes; scratching my thigh as I did. But the pain didn’t matter then. When we met, she lifted me in her arms, and we both cried tears of joy. I told her I was sorry, and she said it was okay.

I turned my head, and, as I had expected, I saw the man with the sick yellow eyes. He stood beside the lamppost now, conveniently away from the light; just a shadow in the envelope of darkness.

Except the eyes. They were looking at me.

Half an hour later, I was in my bed, a cup of cocoa in my hand. My mum sat at the foot of the bed, looking at me. Into my eyes.

The eyes behind which the image of the monster burned.

The same monster I would see years from then – on an ordinary evening when I thought I had cast those silly childhood fears away.

How wrong I was.

The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same.


Shaurya Arya-Kanojia is the author of the novella, End of the Rope. He likes sports (cricket, mostly), eating out, and watching reruns of The Office and Everybody Loves Raymond. He tweets @shauryaticks and is on Instgram @main.hoon.ek.sharara 

More about him can be found at


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