Updated: Sep 7, 2021
On Wednesday, the fourth of September, I received a call that woke me up from my haphazard slumber on my study table. The sudden sitting straight back up made me groan, and I realized the squid-like posture I was sleeping in. The phone was still ringing, I squinted my eyes to look at the wall clock opposite to me. I instantly regretted the foolish move, knowing that I could have checked it on my phone too. 4.18 AM.
Cursing under my breath, I finally answered. Heavy breathing. "I swear if this is your idea of a prank, then you better get some sense into your worthless little brain!", I grumbled into the phone. And right when I was about to disconnect the call, the person spoke, "Am I speaking to Dr. Dev?" The voice felt like it belonged to an old man, deep but shivering. Another pang of regret. "I am extremely sorry, Sir. I thought it was someone trying to prank call me. Yes, this is Dev." A sigh of relief. I could feel that the man was trying to find the right words. I wondered how big of an emergency this must be for him to have called me up at such an ungodly hour.
"Doctor, my daughter isn't keeping well. She has been having multiple nightmarish episodes lately. She used to have them once in a while, but since the last couple of months, she has been having the same nightmare every single time she sleeps, so much that she has actually stopped sleeping with the crippling fear that if she does, she'll end up in the same nightmare. Her mind no longer works the way it used to - it's as if she is not the same person anymore. Could you... Could you please come over and help her?" A pause. An anticipation of a positive response. "I am sorry, Sir. Unfortunately, I don't do house visits. I can send you the number of a brilliant coll..." "Doctor, I know for a fact that you are the only one who can bring her out of this misery. You helped my niece, Liza Shaw." I closed my eyes; Liza - a bright young girl, but a victim of a broken home, did things to bring justice to herself, but ended up in an asylum; she was getting there, the light at the end of the tunnel was pretty close for her, except that one night she took her life. I sighed. "Alright. I will meet her." The man gave me the address that was 5 cities away and told me that he would be sending his driver to pick me up on seventh of September.
On 7th, which is today, after crossing 92 traffic signals, a rather quiet village, and 11 bridges, we finally reached the destination late in the afternoon. The driver was eerily silent throughout the journey, and only spoke twice - both the times his response was "We'll reach shortly." As I got out of the car, and looked around, I spotted the old man's house. Or at least "house" was what I thought it was throughout the drive. Arching over a huge antique wrought iron gate, written in bold red letters on a black metal was "Beelzebub's Home for Lost Children". Beelzebub. "Huh! Strange." I wondered why someone would name an orphanage after Satan. That's when I felt a tap on my right shoulder.