From the Frankly Spooking outtakes
They ate steamed corn and walked over to the main lounge on the second floor. It was a new mall; a lot of shops were yet to come up. The shape was a funny hexagon, and seemed like the shops would never end. But when they came back to where they started from, Deepa heaved a sigh of relief and laughed. Ashok shook his head too. “Phew.”
Just then tucked away between the wash-rooms and the audio shop, in an L-shaped corner, was another shop. Deepa craned her neck to see what it was. Looked like a garment store. Ashok was looking the other way, at the Apple store across the circular lobby.
“Baby, I’ll just step into that shop for a second?” She said, tugging at Ashok’s sleeve.
“Hmm? Oh, ok..I’m at that Apple store,” he said.
She smiled. “Okie dokie.”
Deepa pushed the glass door and stepped in. There was nobody in the store. Maybe they'd stepped out for a break. Deepa looked at the dresses on display and started browsing. Impressive. This was really good stuff. They were all arranged on stands in neat rows. She went on seeing, and after a while, it was like a maze. There were so many designs, so many colors, it blew her mind.
Wow..this is some collection.
She never realized the time. Oh, there was another room inside.
She stepped into that room and her jaw literally dropped.
Was this even possible? This was like a dungeon of dresses. How come they had such a humungous room here? She thought they were on the far corner, where at the most, the store front was all they could manage with that space. This was endless.
Deepa stepped in further, and several lights came on at once, bright and shiny. Automated lights. Not bad. She started walking along the rows of cloth-stands. She had never seen so many designs in her entire life. She considered herself an avid shopper. Even by her standards, these designs were all unique. She sighed. Oh, if only she had the dough to pick up everything. Like a school girl, she giggled and moved on inside.
She approached the end of a row, near the other end of the hall when the lights went out.
She waited for the backup lights to come on anytime now. That never happened. She let out a loud sigh.
“Hello,” She turned in the direction of the store front. Maybe they were back and would step in any moment now with some sort of a backup light and an explanation.
But nobody came.
Just then her phone rang. “Oh thank heavens,” she said out loud. It was Ashok.
“Where are you?” He said, sounding a little impatient.
“I…I’m right here Ashok. The damn lights’ve gone out. I’m coming out. You done?”
“Done? Deepa, it’s more than an hour since you went..”
“What? No, impossible. It’s just been like what..10 minutes?”
Ashok laughed. “Come on, honey.”
“No really. Ok, I’m coming out,” She said and started to make her way out, but she just kept on walking.
“Funny, I could’ve sworn the door of this hall was right here,” she muttered as she thought she’d approached the doorway. Ashok was still on the line.
“Any problem? I’m coming there,” he said.
“Yeah..could you please? Nobody was here when I came in. Please call someone and tell them the lights aren’t coming on either.”
“Hasn’t there been an outage?” Deepa asked, sounding a little worried now.
“Shit..something must’ve happened here then.”
She reminded herself not to step into a new mall, still half way in development.
She hung up and pointed the cell phone’s light at the rows of dresses, to make her way around. She could see the wall on the other side. Strange. The hall didn’t seem so large now. Maybe it was the semi-darkness. Maybe there were mirrors. She couldn’t care less now. She wanted to get out.
Ashok called again.
“Yeah,” she said.
“Where are you? Which shop is it?”
“Arre, the one beside the wash-rooms – It’s called..some “Mirage..something…you can’t miss it, sweety.”
“I’m standing right beside the wash-room area, Deepa. There’s nothing here.”
“No, no..that can’t be. It has to be there. Just ask someone around na?”
She could hear him asking someone. He came back online.
“What did you say the name was…?”
“Ashok, how the hell does it matter what name? The shop’s right beside…wait. I can see a light come on. I’m coming there.”
She found the door and walked through. The store looked different now, and the lights were still very dim. She found the familiar rows of dresses and started walking. She reached the front portion and let out a sigh.
“Ah, I’m here..see, I see you there. Come on in.” She waved at Ashok, who was outside the glass door and looking everywhere else but at her.
Ashok looked around, looked through her, and then back at something else.
“Arre, Ashok…I’m here,” She said and stepped towards the door. But there was none. It was all a glass wall.
What the hell was happening. She was getting irritated now.
“Where?” Ashok asked.
“Turn to your right.”
He turned at looked straight at her. She looked at him and waved. But he kept on looking through her.
“Ashok, you’re looking at me. Hellllloo..” She waved frantically. He looked puzzled.
“Where are you? I’m just staring at a wall here.”
Wall? Her heart racing, she slowly came to the glass wall and touched it. What the hell was Ashok saying? She was looking right at him. Why couldn’t he see her?
She called out to the store keeper. “Hello. Hello, I’m stuck here. Where are you?”
She looked back at Ashok.
“I…I’m right here, baby, please don’t say you can’t see me” she said. Her voice had dropped down to a whimper now.
“Sweety, don’t worry, I’ll get to you..just tell me where you are.”
“I’m right here, damn it,” She shouted.
“Hello?” Ashok said.
“Ashok…can’t you…can’t you hear me?” She said, tears welling up in her eyes.
“Hello?” He repeated, looking at his phone and again putting it to his ear.
She banged the glass wall, sobbing.
“Please…let me out of here…”
“Hello, Deepa..Deepa?” Ashok kept on saying.
Exhausted, she hung up and turned around. The walls of the store were now closing in on her and the lights getting dimmer. She turned to look at Ashok, who was still looking around frantically. He was talking to one of the house-keeping staff, pointing to where Deepa was.
But the other guy was shaking his head, as if to say, “No, there’s nothing behind this wall, no shop.”
And then, Deepa remembered the name of the shop.