OCD: Obsessive Collector's Display

Abstract Dec 23, 2019
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We looked at the tall castle in front of us. Deserted and yet, surprisingly, immensely clean. We start off by unlocking the huge gate that guards the castle and enter it, which has a creaking door. We climb up the eerie-looking wooden stairs and start to look around. There are 5 master bedrooms, 2 rooms, one kitchen and one living room. The place is a little dusty but has no cobwebs or bats flying and that’s very unusual for a place that has been uninhabited for over 200 years.

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We begin what we’re here for. No, it isn’t ghost hunting. My elder brother, Ray and I are real estate agents of castles, mansions and cottages. It’s been a tradition to stay over at these places just for a night to make sure they’re not haunted.When we’re almost settled, Ray finds something shocking. It’s a towel that is wrapped around 3 living kittens, almost as if a bouquet. On one of the kittens, there is a yellow post-it note that says, “Welcome.” If this is the ghosts’ way of saying welcome…
Being non-believers, we don’t want to admit that there is a possibility that this castle is, in fact, haunted.
Just then as we get out of the room and move towards the living room, we find three dogs, lined up, barking wildly outside. As we go outside, they stop barking and become statues. We find another similar note on one of them that says, “You’re next.” We shiver in our spots. Somehow, we head back inside.
I realise now that there is a pattern of threes being followed. Three kittens, three dogs… I think, if the note said we are next, there should be three people and we are only two of us. Just then the doorbell rings. Our hearts are racing and neither of us is willing to open the door. Ray musters up the courage to open it and we heave a sigh of relief to see that it is our grandma. She has always been a lover of old castles so she decided to surprise us by coming here. Then it dawns upon me, now we are three…
Later, out of the blue, there is a shattering of a window heard upstairs and we all rush to see what happened. A tall man dressed in all black has broken into the castle and knocks us unconscious.
When I wake up, I see that I’m in a room. I can’t move, I’m tied up with my brother and our grandma, who are still unconscious. I look around. I see all types of living insects, reptiles and birds displayed on the shelves in groups of three. Since he had dogs and kittens too, I guess we were his last i’s to dot to complete his collection of living beings. I hear footsteps and immediately pretend to be unconscious. He gets closer to us and whispers something under his breath but I can’t understand what it is.  He shouts and instructs someone that we be taken to the dungeon downstairs. Oh, so we are still in the castle.  We are put into a jute sack and carried away somewhere. I open my eyes and try to see through the sack. I see us going very close to the library and stopping near a book shelf. Suddenly, the shelf starts moving away and reveals a secret room, a gateway to the dungeons. Ah, the beauty of old castles. I knew we shouldn’t have thrown away the blue print and tried exploring on our own. As we entered the secret room, I could see newspaper cut-outs stuck very neatly on the wall. Arranged in a particular order. And then the man who kidnapped us walks in, neatly crosses out one newspaper cutting with a bright red marker. I look at the wall again… He’s on a mission. I squint my eyes to read his only unmarked newspaper cutting. It says, “Kill them all.” That means us. I start to panic but there’s no time for emotions ruling over now. It’s time to get out of here. I wake Ray up and we come up with a plan. The man is about to open the jute sack now that means we have to act fast lest we get caught. As he opens the sack, my brother jumps up at him while I wake my grandma up and run with her. Once I make sure she’s safe and out of the castle, I come back for Ray. When I reach the library, I forget what I have to do. Was that one book supposed to be pulled or pushed? And which book was it? I look through the titles and find one very odd book. That’s my best guess. I pull it and voila! I run inside and help my brother tackle the man who kidnapped us. When he’s unconscious, we make the run. We run out and lock the secret shelf door by removing the book and throwing it away to another corner. We sprint to our grandma and head to the nearest police station. We narrate the entire incident to them and we are told they would look into it. They immediately rush to the castle while we are made comfortable at the police station. We are then offered a ride home which we gladly accept as we want to run as far as possible from the man and the castle. Later we are informed that the man was an internationally wanted serial killer who had been on the run for the past 10 years and had never been caught. He would follow the same pattern of threes in different countries and run away. But finally, this time, he was caught and we were promised he would serve enough time in sentence for all his wrongdoings.

Shikha Punjabi

DJLIT Editorial Co-committee member