Every tenant in my constructing has a storage space within the basement. Mine’s fairly beneficiant however it’s dank and gloomy. I don’t sit up for visits. There’s just one dim little bulb to mild up an space the scale of a modest storage. To show the bulb on, I’ve to step into the darkness and pull on a dangling twine. Which is terrible. As a result of the factor I’m afraid of in the dead of night isn’t ghosts however creepy-crawlies.
Sure, it’s irrational. And so what? Numerous individuals consider within the afterlife and that’s irrational too. Anyway. In the present day, mid-afternoon, I’m going right down to the basement as a result of I’m satisfied that every part I can’t discover upstairs in my residence is definitely hiding within the basement. When the variety of issues I can’t discover upstairs grows bigger than my unwillingness to face the creepies, I pressure myself to enter the basement.
So. There I’m, entering into the dungeon-like darkness, reaching for the dangling twine with my enamel clenched when, out of the nook of my eye, I see a motion. Then I flip the sunshine on, and there it’s once more: A twitch in mid-air, the place no twitch must be. I’m completely calm. As a result of? It can’t probably be a creepy-crawly. Which suggests it must be one thing supernatural. Which suggests I’ve nothing to concern. As a result of I don’t consider in it.
Evidently, my physique pays no consideration to me. Goosebumps, cold-chills, hair standing up on finish — the entire parade of EEEEEEK!!! signs. However I’m not scared, proper? So I flip in direction of the bizarre twitching phenomenon and say, “Howdy?” Whereupon it says again to me, “Hellooooo?” And it sounds so ghastly that my absolute lack of perception within the supernatural shatters proper then and there. The goosebumps morph into full-grown geese. My enamel chatter. My hair stands up perpendicular to my scalp.
A pale-blue spiral of mist rises up from one of many cartons of books I’ve saved down there. “Too dangerous you don’t consider in me,” says the factor. I need to ask why however can solely make gargling sounds. My tongue has became a moist rag, blocking up my mouth. “We may have a lot enjoyable collectively!” continues the spirit. “All you want is religion. And afterwards, if you die, the infinite actual property of Heaven awaits you! As many ice cream sundaes as you want!”
“Nah,” I lastly say, in a croaky voice. “Perception isn’t definitely worth the hassle. And in addition to —” I pause to catch my breath. My pores and skin and hair flip again to regular. “Have a look at the terrible issues that individuals do within the title of religion! This Supreme Court docket nominee, for example: Such steely resolve, so little compassion.” As I communicate, the wraith begins to fade. “I’ll have religion when so-called believers place compassion above dogma,” I say, because the spirit vanishes. “Good riddance!” I smile. Then I flip off the lights and return upstairs.
Manjula Padmanabhan, creator and artist, writes of her life within the fictional city of Elsewhere, US, on this weekly column