Image by Reimund Bertrams from Pixabay

It was half-past eleven at night. The lights were off, and the curtains blocked the lights from the city or the moon, rendering the office dark and empty. However, there was a bubble of light at the far end of the room. Sitting on a rolling chair, Ajay Sharma was hunched over his desk, striking the buttons of his keyboard vigorously. The space echoed with the tapping of the keys, as well as his labored breaths. His eyes hooked to the screen occasionally moved towards the digital clock in the bottom right corner of the screen. Sweat trickled down his cheeks while his fingers quivered involuntarily. It had been hours since he started grinding himself down to exhaustion. His facial expression was filled with trepidation that said this was more than just the usual deadline.

As per routine, his boss and colleagues had decided to leave at six in the evening, but he insisted on staying a bit longer. While some looked at him with contempt and others were bemused, his boss gazed at him with admiration as he handed over the keys to the main entrance and wished him luck. Ajay rushed over to his workplace as soon as they left him alone. The guard was a bit annoyed, as he had to stay vigilant tonight. Nevertheless, he eventually fell into his deep slumber.

Ajay continued doing his job relentlessly on his computer. He glanced at the watch strapped to his left wrist.


It can’t be real! He thought, but what if it is?! I have to do it! I can’t lie to myself!

His mind wandered over the past.

What is it this time? The voice asked.

 If I don’t complete the tasks given by my boss today itself, then I die with a thousand cuts. Ajay chuckled as he made the absurd deal with his imagination.

As you wish, the voice inside his mind responded.

His productivity was commendable for most of the day until his boss came to his desk. “I have mailed you the details. I want the report within a week. No need to hurry,” he said with a smile. Ajay didn’t reciprocate his emotions. There’s no way he could complete this in one day.

You’re going to die!

You can’t lie to yourself!

You can’t back off now!

I am coming for your soul at the stroke of the midnight hour!

The voice screamed in his mind, driving him crazy. The more he tried to suppress it, the louder it became. Agh, alright, I would like an extension of a week in exchange for my car and property. How does that sound? Ajay tried to lure his mind.

The voice spoke rashly in a sinister tone, “I won’t be tricked this time! Those things will perish! All I seek is your eternal soul!

Ajay gulped at his rebellious thoughts that sounded too real. He was tired of playing this sick game. I’ll be waiting, the voice faded away with a wicked laugh. That was not me, Ajay thought, trembling in fear. I have played this game a hundred times before. It’s all in my head. But what was that? I have never had a conversation with myself like that before…

After an hour of dreadful contemplation, Ajay decided to take up the challenge and make sure he finished the task his boss gave him. Real or not, this seemed the only safe and correct course of action. However, as the hours passed and the room got darker, sitting alone in the empty hall became difficult. He felt intimidated by a menacing presence in with him, staring at him from all directions. He could see dark shadows move from the corner of his eye, but he dared not to look at them directly. He kept his focus on the screen as if his life depended on it. The ignorance somehow made him feel safer.

He looked again.


A chill ran down his spine as a peal of shrill laughter echoed in the back of his mind. His body screamed in pain from the non-stop torture of sitting in an unnatural position. But this was not the time to give up. He was almost done with the report. Only seven minutes more!

His head spun, fingers ached, ears ringed, and he felt the intense urge to vomit his guts out. He had not taken a single break for the last six hours. Not even a single stretch. Why am I doing this? This is ridiculous! His mind protested. It won’t hurt to have some snacks or take a power nap, right? Maybe take a stroll outside? Chat with the guard? 

NO!” Ajay yelped out loudly, shunning the thoughts that were trying to dissuade him from his mission. Without wasting any time, Ajay’s hands went on a typing frenzy over the keyboard. He didn’t even peek at the time anymore. There was no way he could lose now. As he finally hit enter and saved the file, he looked at the watch again.


He took a deep sigh of relief, realizing that he had completed a week’s work on a single day over something so stupid. A few laughs escaped from his mouth till his eyes fell upon the time stamp on the bottom right corner of his monitor screen.


Shocked, he returned to his watch.


He forgot! His clock was five minutes late!

As the fact revealed itself, a devilish cackle whooshed through the hallway. Ajay was sure it was not in his mind. He could feel the darkness around press on him. A deep sense of dread welled inside him as he couldn’t fathom the events happening around him. His body shivered while his mind tried to latch on to any sanity left. The brightly lit screen in front of him flickered and turned off, leaving him in complete blackness.

He immediately stood up and dashed towards the exit. He hit and stumbled multiple times until he reached down his pocket and turned on the flashlight of his smartphone. He could see the door. He ran towards it with all his might. Then it went all dark, even his consciousness…

To be continued...

Note from the author: This is a work of fiction, including the characters present in the story. Mental health is a serious issue and should be met with appropriate therapy and treatment as soon as possible. My goal is to pique the interest of readers, making them aware while being entertaining at the same time. Thank you for reading!

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