A dark and dreary night it was, nothing could be forgotten or disregarded that day. I, a mere 8-year-old, yet remembers that eerie night at my cousin’s house on October 28, a few days away from Devil’s night also known as Satan’s birthday: October 31.
One of my cousins, neighboring my home town: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, invited my family to attend them during the summer holidays and so we accepted this as a “mini-reunion” for the sole purpose of enjoyment.
A twelve-hour drive in my family’s minivan. Sliding and jumping from one seat to the other, trying to release all the energy stacked up in us, we finally fell asleep half of the way through and turned our parents from furious, to calm and serene. Finally, our arrival was warmly welcomed by a bunch of shiny smiles and friendly hugs. We were then invited to the bright house ornamented with bright little candles and flower vases made out of paper mache colored in radiant red and green, a strong contrast blinding the eye. The dining table set up in a traditional manner, cups set aside plates, and the main vessels centered on the table, chairs decently tucked in and a large vibrant red carpet rolled neatly around the table. Everything was perfect and not a single item was out of place; a typical Saudi house.
My family all broke off into separate groups and merged in with my cousin’s family, my mom with my cousin’s mom, my sisters with my cousin sister, my dad with my cousin’s dad and me and my brother with my cousin brother. It had always been this way, not because it’s a tradition but because we all can get along easily since we share a lot of similarities between us. I, my brother: Azher and my cousin brother: Asad went upstairs through the corridor and entered a stereotypical male bedroom: clothes getting stacked on top of the other on the bed, all the toys accumulated in the corner, video game controllers hanging from the side of the T.V stand, and socks and under wears wrapped around the doorknob (taking temporary precautions to prevent intruders from opening the door), but all this was normal and nothing disgusted us at all. We sat down on Asad’s mini torn up couch gifted to him on his last birthday, thinking on how we were going to spend all this time. Most of the options like playing video games, setting up pranks or playing a good game of Nerf battle, were eliminating leaving us with playing either board games, cards, or a dynamic game. After a final democratic vote, I and Azher won on playing a hide and seek and since my cousin also needed some exercise to lose a bit of weight we found no reason to oppose this activity.
We started off with Azher being the seeker, and Asad and me hiding. Running upstairs as fast as we could, both of us hid in separate places and dared not to make any noise. Taking deep breaths in and out calming myself, I relaxed my muscles, which were in a tensed state and my mind started drifting off when suddenly Azher crept into the bedroom, caught me off guard and cupped up my mouth, but since I was used to all this I didn’t give away much reaction other than a tiny squeal followed by an unexpected moan. He then motioned me to “hunt down” and scare Asad real bad. I always went against my brother words and this was also the time I went against his word: motioning him to go search downstairs telling him he must be there, meanwhile, I kept on searching for Asad trying to warn him. As I silkily rushed from door to door, a strange figure caught my eye, sauntering backwards I saw Asad lying on the bed, his body tilted towards me and serenely smiling and displaying me his red flaring eyes. I couldn’t believe my eyes, were his eyes really red or was it just a nebulizer attack (I was a nebulizer patient and used this machine called the nebulizer to help clear the airway so that I can breath properly but if I don’t inhale my 5 minute daily dosage I could get hallucinations because of the insufficient amount of oxygen that I am inhaling). Just then Asad spoke to me in a deep tone with his voice cracking.
“I-I am o-over he-here.”
As I looked deep into his eyes, Asad tilted his face to the right not losing this eye contact, and then, all of a sudden, my eyes slowly started to burn as if molten lava was being gently poured onto my fragile little eyes.
Just then a scream of triumph could be heard from downstairs.
“Muhammed, I finally found Asad hiding in the shoe closet, let’s start a new game!”
Stunned, I slowly took a few steps back, gathered all my speed and sprinted downstairs, only to find Azher and Asad bored. Looking back upstairs I saw the exact same Asad I found in the bedroom with flame red eyes, waving me goodbye with his puffed up hands as he walked into the other bedroom. In shock, I turned around only to face Asad asking me.
“Anything wrong cuz, you look stupid with that look”
With that, I kept all this a secret to myself for all these years until it finally had to be let out.
This was a real story and nothing made up, where I attend my cousin’s invitation to spend the summer holidays at his house. This joyous moment is then turned upside down when my brother: Azher and my cousin brother: Asad start playing hide and seek. I find Asad in the bedroom but then soon find out that this Asad that I found earlier was either a devil in the form of Asad or just a hallucination. But because of my fear towards devils and demons, I kept this secret in me for years and years.
GIF source – https://gfycat.com/infamousreasonablehake