It was a rainy afternoon and the clouds were about to burst into tears. Logan Pereira looked for shelter around and ran towards the entrance of an old building. The building had an old-world charm and seemed to have been constructed in the late 19th century. He saw a flight of stairs ahead of him that ascended into darkness and to the right of the stairs was a passage that lead to a tinge of brightness. He saw a few electric cables above him to his left, nailed on the damp wall and followed it upstairs as it ran into the darkness. His journey upwards was like that of walking through a dark tunnel, and he climbed the wooden stairs that creaked along with his old knees. He took the support of the wooden railings on his right which was shaky but somehow helped him reach the top. He felt like he found a light at the end of the tunnel. His sense of vision was amplified and walked towards the iron railing that overlooked the large inner quadrangle of the building. Buildings of those times had an inner quadrangle like they use to have in old homes where big families lived together under one roof. Like in traditional homes it had Tulsi pot made out of stone at the centre of the courtyard which had a Tulsi plant that was dancing to the raindrops falling on it. The size of the raindrops was like the balls that hang on Christmas trees. He looked up and saw the rain gradually falling in the courtyard space, it felt like a curtain of beads trying to cover the other side of the building. He turned to his right and saw an old man squatting outside a door that was a few steps away from him. He waved at the old man who quickly turned his face towards the small drain hole next to him and spat into it. His precision was flawless and not a tiny droplet fell outside. The old mans confidence made Logans legs shiver and set dark-clouds on his vision, about to faint and fall he got a grip on himself and he bent down to walk towards the door. The floor had colourful tiles laid to form geometrical shapes. At every step, his right foot fell on a yellow tile which was of the shape of a kite and as he progressed looking at the floor his vision started becoming brighter. He reached the door with a signboard that read ‘Clara Pereira, MDS’ and wanted to try one more time to get the old man’s attention but had no hope as the guy was busy staring at the open drain near him and enjoying the sight of a tiny cockroach struggling to break through the clog of hair and make its way out of the drain. Mr. Pereira turned his vision away from the old man and entered the room of white light.
The room was exceptionally bright. The walls, floor, and ceiling were all white. The ceiling fan, the couch to his left and right, the artificial flowers, and all posters that hung on the wall was bright white. One of the posters that had a picture of a smiling woman showing her pearly white set of teeth was bright enough to pierce and hurt his eyes. He quickly covered his eyes and walked carefully through a door that took him to another room. This room too was bright but in a sober way. He saw a lady in a white coat wearing a mask and a head cap. To the right, there was a set of gleaming tools that were sterilised and aligned in a systematic fashion on the kitchen platform. The white curtains did its dance as the rains lashed outside. He went closer to the doctor who was peeking into the patient’s mouth. The patient was not visible from where Mr. Pereira was standing so he moved ahead to get a clear picture. He tapped at the back of the doctor and she turned. Blinded by the light from the head torch he covered his eyes. and slowly peeped through the gap between his fingers. The doctor turned off the torch and he could see her eyes. Her eyes made him calm just like an oil lamp brings to dusk. She removed her mask and smiled at him. Her beautiful face amplified his vision and his heart was leaping with joy. But the smile on her face turned into laughter and at first, he wondered what it was all about but then her laughter did not stop. He was confused and remembered he wanted to look at the patient and turned to find an old woman whose body did not look human. Her eyes were hollow and dark which scared him he could feel the cold sweat behind his neck. The body texture was of plastered ash that seemed to break into powder and kept falling on the seat and the floor of the clinic. She had a golden crown on her head and a few gold bangles on each hand. She had a golden wand in one hand and a few coins in the other . The gold she wore and her disintegrated body looked like two extremes meet each other to form a devilish creature. She had her mouth opened which was toothless and dark like a tunnel. Mr. Pereira wondered what toothless person was doing at a dental clinic. With each breath that she took, her rib cage that could be seen, reduced to ashes, and fell on the floor. Ash came down from her withered and hollow face like eroded soil from a mountain with each breath she took. As he looked at her chest breaking and ash falling through her sleeves, he noticed the pattern on her gown and found it similar. Hearing the sudden cracking of bones from her back he looked behind her and found a pair of delicate gauze nets stitched to her gown that had holes in some places and the outer linings were bent at certain areas. So loosely knit he feared that it would fall of with her next breath. She looked like a mummified version of an old woman with wings on the back and a wand in her hand. She wore a string of teeth around her neck that thumped on her rib cage to the beats of her heart. The internal organs of her body were clearly visible now after the gown broke into pieces and powdered to ash, Mr. Pereira did not know what to make of it. He did not feel alright. He looked at the doctor’s beautiful bright face for solace but she was wildly laughing at him. The dentist seemed to be Pereira’s daughter, Clara. Suddenly Clara stopped laughing and her face was filled with pity and sympathy for someone. Mr. Pereira was confused at the sudden change. The old woman with broken wings raised her wand to point it to Mr. Pereira’s right and as she did a few bones from her fingers and palms crushed and fell down on her lap leaving a cloud of ash slowly settling down. Mr. Pereira looks down to his right and finds a little girl in a white frock smiling at him and rocking herself as she stood with her hands clasping the frocks. The girl is pretty in her white dress with flowers worn on her hair and ornaments worn on her hands and just being a joyful life. It was like an anchor of hope that Logan saw in the little girl to shield him from the dark being on the chair, but that did not last long when the little girl showed her teeth as she smiled. He found a hollow space where the bunny tooth should be and it looked like two dark tunnels joining together. He could hear the sounds of wailing as if it came out of the tunnel. The little girl broke into laughter and the wailing increased, and to his horror the being on the chair and his daughter- the dentist gave the little child company in laughing. Mr. Pereira felt wetness in his pants and thought he peed in them. Darkness clouded his vision as he saw the old winged being on the chair being reduced to ash with each bout of laughter and the ash choked him until he woke up coughing on his bed.
Logan Pereira sat up looked around his bedroom and realised it was a dream. But…?! He suddenly looked down at his crotch and found a few broken pieces of plaster and paint peels on his lap, some of it fell from his shoulders and head. The curtains were doing their dance as it rained outside. He coughed looked up to find a leaking roof and a few drops of water on the verge of falling on him. He dusted himself and walked hurriedly out of the room as though searching for something. The rain from the window and the plaster from the roof together rubbed on his face made white patches. He stood at the door of a room and slowly peeked in careful not to make a noise. There was no one on the bed but just a few toys strewn here and there. Logan Pereira looks down in confusion and goes on his knees to look under the bed, when he hears someone say “She has gone to school. Do you know what the time is??”. Logan Pereira, surprised looks up to his wife Joana who has her hands on her hips and her huge body almost covering the frame of the door behind her. He noticed her hands and her gown had flour powder on them. “The gown!!” he says to himself. He shamefully looked at the clock that showed 30 minutes passed 12. “Did you…?” before he could complete Joana nodded ‘affirmative’, still standing in the same position. It was this pose of hers that he feared for the last 33 years of their marriage. There was no measure to the uncertainty on the other side of this silent but intimidating demeanour of hers, and even if he has faced it all these years he still couldn’t guess what was going to happen next. “And Clara ??” he asked on purpose to cool the tension between them. “What about her??” she asked. “Did she go..?” Joanna knew he was scared so she decided not to scare him further “She left for work at 10 like every other day” she replied. Logan looked around here and there not knowing what to say next. He remembered his encounters with his mother as a child when she caught him red-handed while playing mischief and there would be a lot of silence and uncertainty in the air. Joanna nodded and smiled out of contempt “Will you ever learn to keep your word? At least with your granddaughter. Don’t you how anxious she was when her tooth fell yesterday, wailing the entire night. When I checked under her pillow early in the morning and found it empty, I wanted to pour hot water on you!!” “Why do you make promises if you can’t keep them? I knew you would forget, so I woke up early to see if you have kept anything under her pillow.” Logan looked down in shame like a kid. “Don’t you remember yesterday night, the way she cried thinking she was going to die because her tooth fell. It was you who told her about the tooth fairy and then composed her to sleep!” Logan knew if he just stood there for long the lecture would turn in to a one-sided argument. “Joana, I was worried!!. I am sorry I overslept like every other day but today I saw a nightmare at day time, and it was horrific. I saw Clara, our granddaughter, and the graveyard watchman, that nasty fellow he was sitting outside the clinic, they all were at Dr. Gaitonde’s clinic!! And you know what, even you were there!! You were the tooth fairy in my dream and you are the tooth fairy in real life.” Logan smiled coyly and wanted to come forward and wrap his wife in his thin arms but Joanna stopped him with a raised finger. “What was the horrific part then?” Joanna asked. Logan thought he dare not describe how the tooth fairy in his dream looked like. “I don’t remember darling but you saved us all!! I think we should call the priest tomorrow for a prayer meeting, may be my room has some evil spirits roaming. I’ll go and buy some pork, and you make your special pork vindaloo for tomorrow. I’ll ask Clara to take a leave tomorrow and let Clarice take an off from school. We are going to celebrate this tooth fall” said Logan with arms in the air. “I am going to plan this.. let me write it.. where is the pen and paper ahh there it is!!” and went to the next room to escape his wife’s shadows.. Joanna stood in the same posture and knew he was trying to change the topic and Logan too understood from her expression that she knew he was changing the topic. After a long pause, he peeped from the other room and gave her a shameless smile and asked, “What’s for lunch today ?”
Dinesh Mohan is a freelance writer who is exploring the genre of fantasy. This story had been previously published in his hitrecord account.