Uninvited guests

Our holidays had begun and we were excited. But our first meal at the home stay turned out to be super sinister.

We were watching TV when something caught my eye. I turned to look but there wasn’t anything there. The drawing room led into the dining room. The table was set for dinner and the butler was hovering around. Outside, the grey swirling mist had crept up from the valley and enveloped the house in its woolly blanket. It was twilight.

The perfect way to begin our holiday and relax after a long gruelling drive. The home stay was picturesque, set as it was atop a mountain. It had a large garden with trees in the periphery.

The butler came in and announced that dinner was ready and disappeared.

We took some time getting to the dining room — dragging ourselves out of the comfortable sofas, stretching, yawning and finally switching off the television. We walked into the dining room and were amazed to see that every plate around the table had hot piping food on it and it was fast disappearing. We could hear the soft clunk of cutlery, the sound of water being poured into glasses as soft whispers of polite conversation floated in the air. But there was no one sitting on the chairs. It was uncanny.

Unseen diners

“What’s happening?” I asked.

My father shrugged. “Obviously, the party started without us,” said my sister in her usual sarcastic, nonchalant way.

“I am not sitting on any of these chairs…oh…not chairs’ laps…”

My parents looked rather green and we thought it best to leave. We went up to our rooms to see what snacks we had left over from our car ride. After a measly dinner of crumpled egg sandwiches, powdered biscuits and a squished orange that the three of us fought over, we tumbled into bed. The good thing was each of had a room to ourselves.

I heard the sound of a motorcycle coming up the driveway.

The sound of the engine died away and there was a silence. Suddenly, all hell broke loose as the sound of gunshots, fired in quick succession, filled the air. A door banged shut somewhere. We charged into our parents’ bedroom. After a while, we crept downstairs.

Imagine our shock when we saw the state of the room. The plates were broken, the table cloth was slipping off and there was food all over…on the walls, the floor, the mantel…on every possible surface. But what troubled us the most was the fast spreading red stain on the carpet.

There was no sign of the butler. We called out to him but he was nowhere to be found.

The house was quiet and let out no secrets.

To be continued...

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 12:02:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/uninvited-guests/article31945934.ece

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