20 Tales of Terror – Day 16: Prophecy


Bashir fell to his knees and shut his eyes. He knew it was over. The man in the black cloak towered over him, boring into his soul with his dark, fathomless eyes. Death would finally claim Bashir, but he refused to face it. It wasn’t time yet.

Bashir woke up gasping for breath. He was soaked in sweat even though the sun had not yet risen and the air was still cool. His wife, Rukhsana, was fast asleep. Bashir got out of bed and went out into the courtyard. His goats were tethered to the tree that stood in the center of it, idling around.

For the third night in a row, Bashir had had the same dream. The same vision of death. It was an ill omen. The first time it happened, he told his best friend Farzan about it as they were setting up their stalls at the market. Farzan was troubled, but told him not to dwell on such dreams. Death would hardly announce his arrival, after all.

But the dream would not leave him. Whether it was a vision or just a nightmare, it snatched the peace out of Bashir’s mind. He hadn’t told Rukhsana about it, as he didn’t want to worry her, but he wouldn’t be able to hide his anxiety for long. Either death or madness awaited him. Bashir went back inside and lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling until the break of dawn.

That morning was one of the busiest Bashir had seen, as customers surrounded his little spice stall, haggling for the best prices on what they sought. It kept his mind occupied for a while. Bashir was pouring some ground cloves into a small bowl when he saw him.

A man dressed all in black, with a black scarf covering his face. His eyes, dark and fathomless, locked onto his, and he started walking towards him. Bashir panicked. His nightmare had come true.

His heart was trying to ram itself out of his chest as he ran from his stall. The man stopped, but his eyes followed Bashir. On every street, around every corner, Bashir could see those black orbs watching him. He ran, ignoring the pain welling up in his sides, until he reached his house. Rukhsana was feeding the goats and looked up at him, alarmed.

“Bashir! What are you doing home? What’s wrong?”

He stopped, doubled over, trying to catch his breath. In between wheezing gasps, he told Rukhsana everything about his visions and the man dressed in black who was after him.

Rukhsana listened to his tale in shock. She couldn’t believe that her husband was about to die.

“We cannot stay here,” she said, trying to remain calm. “We must leave. We will go to another village, where he will not find you.”

Bashir shook his head. “No…we – ”

Rukhsana took his face in her hands. “I will not let Death take you so easily, husband. We must go.”

Before they had a chance to move, they found their path blocked by a tall shadow.

Bashir fell to his knees and shut his eyes. He knew it was over. The man in the black cloak towered over him, boring into his soul with his dark, fathomless eyes. Death would finally claim Bashir, but he refused to face it. It wasn’t time yet.

“NO!” Rukhsana screamed. “You cannot take him! He still has a long life to live! He will be the father of my children! We have so many years ahead of us…please…you cannot take him…”

Death turned his head to gaze at her and spoke in a soft, clear voice that rose above the dusty wind.

“I have not come to claim your husband, child.”

Bashir’s eyes opened as relief slowly washed over him, but the knot in his stomach refused to untangle itself. Rukhsana was taken aback.

Death pointed a long, pale finger at her.

“I have come for you.”

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