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Other Names #11: Aul Singh

 

It was nine o’clock, while Aul Singh was having breakfast on the terrace of The Kumaon hotel under a bright sun, a large fold of the glacier in the Himalayas of the western Kuman region broke free and rolled down the mountainside, raising a white cloud of ice and rubble that blew across the valley where the hotel was located, with such force that it turned the great entrance window to dust. It was like dynamite exploding. Panic spread across all five floors of The Kumaon hotel. No one was seriously hurt except a few guests in the lobby who were cut by the hailstorm of glass. But when the crane picked through the rubble at a road nearby, they uncovered a curious object.

It was a seven metre long tear-shaped block of ice. When Aul Singh first saw the black and white grainy picture in the newspaper, he sensed a dark form inside. He had no doubt that it was protecting something inside. Since the beginning of adolescence when Aul Singh had begun to be aware of his premonitions, they would come suddenly in a wave of supernatural lucidity, like a momentous conviction, but even after all these years he couldn’t fully grasp them. On occasions, they were so natural that he identified them as premonitions only after they had been fulfilled. And the day before the avalanche he’d had one of those dreams.

He dreamed that he was getting out of bed, opening the door to an identical hotel room with the same bed with the same plank of wood at the head, the same wicker chairs, and the same picture on the back wall of the Himalayan range with all the distinct peaks marked and labelled. From that room he would go into another room that was just the same, the door of which would open into another that was just the same, and then into another just alike, and so on to infinity. He went from room to room as in a gallery of parallel mirrors until his feet could no longer keep up with the rising panic of being caught in an endless loop. He willed his feet to move faster but he looked down to find them stuck in knee-deep snow. More than an inch of snow had gathered on the same bed, the same wicker chairs, and on the thick wooden frame of the picture. That’s when he saw the man, or rather a shadow of a man just below a group of three peaks labelled Trishul. He had a staff and he seemed to be moving closer. Terrified Aul Singh tried to dislodge his feet. He dragged and clawed his way to the door and began to go back in reverse through the gallery of rooms, going back over his trail to the room where he started which he believed to be the room to reality. There he climbed back in bed and pulled the covers over his head. That is how Aul Singh found himself in bed, snuggled deep under the heavy quilt with a cold sweat that had permeated all the way through his clothes and onto the sheets.

Like on most occasions, Aul Singh didn’t know what to make of his all-seeing dream. He went over it in his head and then he remembered the man with the staff. With a small flutter in his chest which he shrugged off as just curiosity, he climbed up facing the back wall at the head of the bed. There it was, a dark fuzzy spot just under Trishul. For a breathless second, Aul Singh’s mind raced to find a rational explanation to the anomaly. On a closer look, he decided it was probably mould lodged between the glass of the frame and the print.

It was not until after breakfast, once the avalanche had deposited an inch of snow across the valley mid-summer, he realised with some horror that half of his dream, or rather his premonition had been fulfilled. The local news reported that the avalanche had in fact originated at Trishul along with a pixelated picture of the teardrop recovered at the road, not far from the Kumaon hotel. Aul Singh decided to take a nap with news of the incident fresh in his mind.

 

 

 

 


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