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After hours in the local cyber cafe, I finally knew enough to tackle the midnight man and find out Rennie’s location. Or, at least I hoped I did.
The process of befriending the Creator was, of course, still going on simultaneously. She seemed to be a nice person for the most part, except for the part where she’d killed my parents as a means of ‘character development’. And the part where she’d basically messed up ‘Grey Earth’ for her ‘dystopian YA sci-fi fantasy’, as she put it. It seemed absurd to me that an innocent-looking girl could be the monster at the end of the book, quite literally.
I’d also checked into a room at Hotel Parth Paradise (as I’d told the Creator) after all, since I had to stay somewhere.
I’d sold a couple more gold coins at a jewellery store and bought a hydraulic press from an online shopping website. I’d stocked up on salt, bought silver knives and learnt the number sequence from the Korean elevator ritual by heart. With luck, my plan would work.
It was 11:50 in the night when I started this so-called ‘game’. As I’d learnt from countless internet forums, people were actually willing to play this game, and that too for fun. For fun. Most of them, I was disappointed to learn, were around my age. If ever there was such a thing as a peak of stupidity, it was dabbling with the dangerous for entertainment.
But of course, I had no choice. I sighed and wrote my full name on a piece of paper, wounded my left pinky finger with a knife and spilt the blood on the paper.
I felt stupid. Who knew whether it would work? It was something people played on Halloween parties over here. In my world, it would work, maybe, as it had done for Rennie, but here, I wasn’t so sure. But it was all I could do.
I turned off the lights, drew the curtains and placed the blood-soaked paper in front of my room’s door. I lit a white candle and placed it on the paper, watching the wax melt and turn translucent. I checked the time. It was 11:59.
Here goes nothing, I thought. I started knocking on the door slowly, counting the knocks in my head. As my watch struck 12:00, I knocked for the twenty-second time and, blowing out the candle, opened the door. Something whooshed past me. Either the ritual had worked and it was le midnight man himself, or it hadn’t and it was just the wind. I relit the candle anyway.
It seemed it had worked, after all. As I turned around, it seemed darker than it previously was, and my backpack was thrown on the floor. More than fear, it was the relief I felt. Those hours at the cyber cafe hadn’t been wasted.
My relief was short-lived, though. My candle blew out and I was conscious of a blackness- an extra blackness apart from the general darkness of my unlit room- surrounding me. I could hear a low whisper, but couldn’t make out the words.
I was trembling. Not because I was afraid, but because I was extremely cold. It was as if someone had shoved me into a refrigerator. Fumbling with the lighter, I relit my candle and the blackness disappeared, at least for the moment.
I cautiously took a step forward in the direction of my bed. My sole aim was to lead the midnight man there, where a devil’s trap drawn in chalk underneath was waiting for him. I’d found the sigil online, and it was claimed that it trapped all sorts of demons (which the forum said the midnight man was) and rid them of their powers while they were in it.
I climbed on to my bed and my candle blew out again. But this time, I made no attempts to relight it. I simply waited for ten seconds and then, fishing the salt shaker out of my pocket, started drawing a circle of salt around myself while mouthing the numbers from the Korean elevator ritual. “Four-two-six-two-ten-”
The salt shaker was knocked out of my hand before I could complete the circle. The blackness started circling me rapidly, the effect of its normally cold presence amplified by the wind it was producing. It spoke in an angry whisper. This time though, I could make out the words.
“You think you can trap me, you hairless little ape?” A part of the blackness took a finger-like form and got into my throat. Not through my mouth- I hadn’t opened it- but through my skin, just like that. Like someone had stabbed my windpipe with an icy knife, but without drawing any blood.
I could feel something choking me- something like sulphurous smoke, causing me to cough so violently I was afraid I’d tear my larynx or something. Then suddenly, sulphurous smoke abandoned me. But that was no good either. Now the blackness was filling my insides, almost liquid, and I could feel myself starting to pass out.
“I’m no demon, you stupid little meat sack,” it said hoarsely. “Your little art project won’t work on me. I am the lord of the dark- ”
His voice was getting fainter by the second. The last thing I heard before I passed out was someone yelling ‘Hey’.
Don’t go away just yet. I’m finally finished with my exams (and that’s why you got KTC today) and I have one very important thing- well, two very important things, out of which one is more- oh what the hell, just read the post I publish after this.