The phone rang.
Reena picked it. “Hello.”
“I’m at the door.”
“Come to the door.”
“Who are you?”
The call clicked off.
Reena dropped the phone and stared at the door. She shifted her gaze to the wall clock.
It was 11:55.
Five minutes before midnight.
Who could he be?
She hadn’t recognised the hoarse voice and she was confused why anyone would be calling her so late at night. She stared at the TV screen which she’d muted to pick up the call. If she hadn’t been watching the late night home video, she would have been in bed now.
Was he really at the door?
She eyed the door again. Breathed more easily when r again. Breathed more easily when she noted the bolt was secure in its lock. If he… whoever he was, was there, then why didn’t he knock?
And how had he gotten her number?
It was a prank. Reena pushed off the old creaky couch but halted her next step as another thought hit. But who was playing the prank on her?
Tima. Definitely Tima. He was the most mischievous in their clique. The most annoying too. He must have disguised his voice somehow. He always did that.
She would slap him silly this time. Reena turned the key open and started to push back the bolt. Her hand, and her heartbeat, wavered.
No response came after her cautious call.
Reena tried again. “Tima? I know it’s you thinking you’re some kind of Hammer House of Horror actor, but it’s not funny when it’s this late and my hand smacking your silly face will make that clear to you.”
No response. No snigger. No… single sound.
“Tima?” Her hand felt damp against the metal bolt. “Tima, you better say something before I open this door! Or is that crazy Abe with you?”
“Guys, stop this!” She hissed at the eerie silence. “I was watching a really good movie and I’m going back to it if you don’t say something.”
No response came.
“Fine guys, I’m going back to my movie.”
She had taken three steps when Reena stopped and turned. The eruption of laughter she’d expected hadn’t happened and the bangs on her door she should be hearing weren’t echoing either.
They would call her coward and snigger and make fun of her for the rest of the month… until their next prank.
No, she wasn’t allowing that.
Reena strode back to the door, turned the key, drew aside the bolt and yanked it.
Then she gasped and dropped the hand she had raised and prepped to strike.
There was no one at her door. And everyone else’s door, in the long strip of the hostel building, was locked.
Reena stumbled back inside, slammed the door shut and locked it. Then a yelp tore out of her when the phone started ringing again.
Reena stared at it and then, at the wall clock.
It was 12:03 a.m. now.
Why would anyone be calling her at this hour? Why were they doing this to her?
She stormed to the couch and grabbed the phone. “Who are you and what kind of a sick game is this?”
“You opened the wrong door.”
“What?” Reena threw a glance behind her. Then around the room. “You… you saw me open the door?”
“You opened the wrong door. Don’t make that mistake again. Now, come open for me. I am waiting for you.”
The line went dead before she could complete her question.
Reena toed back from the couch and slowly turned around. She stared at the TV. The home video was still showing and Ramsey Nouah was on the phone.
She moved her eyes, blinked and stared at her door. That was the only door out of her self-contained student’s apartment. If he wasn’t outside of it, then where could he be?”
In her bathroom?
“Oh God!” The tear thumped on her hands clutching the phone and Reena whimpered. “No, it can’t be. There’s no one here. No one but me. It’s the guys… they are pranking me and… and I will see once I open the door.”
She crept, slowly and haltingly, to the bathroom door. And inhaling deeply to steady her hammering heartbeats, she stretched forward her hand and opened the door.
No one was there… and her phone started to ring again.
Reena stared at the phone in her hand.
Maybe she shouldn’t pick it.
Maybe she should…
She punched the answer key and yelled into the phone. “This is not funny, guys!”
“Once again, you opened the wrong door.”
“Stop it, guys!”
“You should not have opened the wrong door.”
“Stop it, I say!
“You should have opened the door for me, Reena.”
“Shut up! Shut up!” Reena yelled and flung the phone.
It landed on the carpeted floor and Reena pressed trembling hands against her face.
“You should have opened the right door, Reena.”
Reena slowly raised her head at the raspy voiced reproof. “Oh my God!” She breathed.
The black faux leather case of the phone was lying several feet to the right and the battery was at the opposite side of the phone’s face-down skeleton.
“You did not open for me, Reena.” The voice came again through the dismembered phone. “Now, I am coming for you.” A pause. “Through your door.”
Reena spun her gaze to her kitchen door.
It was creaking open… from the inside.
She tore around.
Her hands were fumbling with the bolt when the cold slimy hand closed around her neck.
Her wild scream woke everyone in the building.
They found her on her couch. She was lying across it, on her back with her eyes glued to the TV and her phone clutched in her left hand.
“It seems she’s not breathing.” Abe’s hand was around the wrist of the hand that clutched the phone.
“Reena?” Chima croaked.
Tima’s phone rang. He had a bad habit of going everywhere with his phone.
And a worse habit of picking calls, no matter the time of the day… or night.
“I am at your door. Come open for me.”
“Jesus!” Tima gasped.
It was Reena’s voice, quiet, husky… and amused.