Cottage Number 13



Two young YouTubers go on a life-changing adventure to a haunted cottage in a forest where they get trapped until a mysterious saviour arrives.
Reading time: 17 minutes.

XTales.net xtalesnet beastboysuraj Suraj Singh Sisodia Cottage Number 13


Chapter One — Poking Around Dead Things


"Hello guys, welcome back to our channel Mid-Night Mysteries," said Tammy, pointing the camera at himself. "As you can see, we have finally arrived at cottage number 13. Phew! Honestly, guys, it wasn't easy; the travel alone was exhausting. Back there, you can see Ash unpacking our bags. We are gonna take a good nap before we set up our equipment, but before that, let me show you guys around." He stood up and started pointing his Handycam all around the cottage.

It was an old cottage. The dust had covered everything, including the floor and the wooden furniture. The lanterns on the walls were evidence that nobody had rented this cottage for quite a long time. Ash was now lighting up those lanterns while Tammy walked out.

"Let me take you outside. I know, a lot of you guys would be thinking, 'how do we know it's the same cottage?' so, here." He pointed his Handycam towards the faded number thirteen painted on the door with yellow paint.

"Tammy, don't go too far!"

"Don't worry! I'm just walking around the cottage."

It was a cold afternoon in November. The clouds blocked almost all of the light; the trees did the rest of the job. It was getting even darker every passing minute as the night was approaching.

Tammy circled the cottage once and got back inside. "So guys, that's it for now. We are gonna start investigating tonight, but not before we take a good little nap, so bye for now. We will keep you posted. Be on your guard, night's approaching." He stopped the recording, put the camera on the table, and turned to Ash, who was now laying the sleeping bags next to a battery-operated lamp. "Oh, not so quick. First, put the video up."

"I'll do it later," Ash said lazily, getting inside his sleeping bag.

"Oh, come on, man, I am tired too. I still recorded this."

"And I swept the floor and lit up lanterns and made our beds; besides, we don't have wi-fi here. We'll have to go back to the reception to upload the video, so let me sleep, and you take some rest too," replied Ash from inside his sleeping bag.

Tammy opened his mouth to say something but thought better of it, and he too got inside his bag, and within minutes, they were both fast asleep.

Ashish and Tanmay were childhood friends. They had been together for about fifteen years before they went to college; they took different classes. Ash chose mathematics and science, and Tammy decided to study art, literature and history. They were also managing a YouTube channel named 'MidNight Mysteries'. Tammy created the channel because he was obsessed with ghosts and spirits. He talked about mysterious events happening all around the world. Ash joined later to put a scientific view on the subject. The contrast between their opinions became the highlight of their channel, and they managed to get about a few hundred thousand subscribers.

This year, when they graduated, they decided to take a trip to any of the haunted places of the country. They discussed every possible destination. They left out the most popular places like the haunted fortress of Bhangarh, the haunted village Kuldhara, and many more across the country, mostly because they had become mere tourist spots. Finally, Tammy came up with this haunted cottage in the mountains that rarely anybody knew about. There had been a few cases of missing people and the death of an archaeologist. Ash and Tammy announced it on their channel and finally reached there. They had brought EMF devices, motion sensors, and night-vision cameras with them. It wasn't all; they also packed an Ouija board. They were sure that this journey would take their channel to the mark of a million subscribers.

But there was something that they didn't know about and were going to find out very soon.

They woke up in the middle of the night. After a snack that they had packed, they decided to upload the video that Ash had recorded that afternoon.

"Turn on the laptop," said Ash. He picked up the camera and switched it on, except it didn't turn on. "Dude, did you exhaust the whole battery in one recording?" he asked.

Tammy looked at Ash, trying to understand, then he clenched his teeth and looked guilty. "I might have left it on."

"Doesn't matter. It automatically turns off after five minutes of inactivity."

"Then I really don't know."

"Just hand me the other battery. We'll go to the reception and charge it back again. We have to go there anyway to upload the video; there's no signal here. Let me edit the video, and then we'll go."

Tammy took a new battery out of the bag and handed it to Ash; then, he took out the laptop, pressed the power button, but he was interrupted by Ash, who shouted at Tammy.

"Dude, did you even charge the batteries?"

"What? What happened now?"

"It's not turning on."

"Is it broken?"

"Well, you tell me. You are the last one who used it."

"It was working fine. I even left it on."

"Then you forgot to charge the batteries like you always do."

"Oh, and you do your job perfectly," Tammy was now pissed. "Did you charge the laptop?"

"Yes, I did. I unplugged it in front of you right before leaving."

Tammy remembered and was now concerned. "Yeah, yeah. I saw you. Then why isn't it working? What is happ—" he stopped abruptly. He just had a crazy thought. He looked up at Ash, who was looking at him with confusion. "Do you think—? Could this be—?" He was looking at Ash while being as dramatic as he could.

Ash looked at him for a second, and then he realized what Tammy meant. "Oh, come on," he said. "You are not serious, are you?"

"What else could it be?"

"Wait a minute." Ash had a different thought. "Is this some long, pre-planned prank? Did you do this on purpose? You drained the batteries, didn't you?"

"What are you talking about? Why would I do this?"

"You are trying to scare me; this is a prank, isn't it?"

"No, it's not a prank, Ash. I think it's real. It could be a ghost."

"Come on! Ghosts aren't real. You know that."

Tammy was taken aback for a moment. "What?" he said, looking at Ash. He looked hurt. "You don't think ghosts are real? What about all that stuff you say during our videos? And why are you here then?" He didn't notice that they both had started shivering from the cold.

"For our channel, why else? People like to hear that kinda stuff. I thought you knew this."

"I can't believe this. So you were lying to me all this time."

"Well, I thought you knew."

"So you don't believe in ghosts?"

"Tammy, I am a student of Science; how can you ever convince me about the existence of ghosts?"

Tammy didn't get a chance to speak because the lamp next to Ash started flickering. They both jerked their heads towards the lamp. It was flickering violently. They both exchanged scared looks, and that's when they noticed that the room was freezing. They could both see their frozen breaths in the air. They dashed towards the door together as if they were communicating through their minds. Ash tried to open the door but couldn't. It almost seemed as though someone was pulling the door from the other side. They both tried to open the door together, but it didn't budge. Then suddenly, they both felt a massive wave of force which threw them across the cottage. They fell on the wooden floor and stayed down because they were so terrified that they couldn't even move. They were both shivering, not just because of the cold but also fear. Ash started crying. Tammy was shaking violently, and then, they both saw it.

About half a dozen grey, translucent figures appeared in the air, hovering above them around the cottage. Ash let out a terrified scream. Tammy put a hand on his mouth. They both crawled into a corner right next to each other. The figures were floating in the air. Some of those would flow through a wall and later appear out of another wall. Ash and Tammy were now so scared that they couldn't even scream for help, and as if it wasn't enough because another tall, grey, translucent figure appeared in the centre of the room. It was a man in his forties. He was wearing old clothes, his face covered with a beard. Tammy recognised him despite being terrified. He was the ghost of the archaeologist.

He was not hovering in the air like the others, nor was he moving at all. He simply stood in the middle of the room, turning his head left-right as if he was looking for something.

Ash now totally lost it. "Oh no, no, no, oh god please no, please no." He looked dreadful.

Tammy was shaking so horribly that he couldn't even pray for his life, but he didn't need to because someone had arrived just outside the cottage.

Ash and Tammy heard heavy footsteps outside the cottage followed by loud banging on the door.

"Help, we are in here, help us!" Ash bellowed.

Whoever was outside the door was trying their best to open the door, but when nothing seemed to work, the person started kicking. The first kick did nothing, but the second one knocked the door off its hinges. The person entered the room, but Ash and Tammy couldn't see him because he threw something on the floor with all his force that exploded into a thick cloud of dust and smoke which filled the whole room.

When the dust settled, the smoke cleared, and when Ash and Tammy stopped coughing, they looked up at the tall figure standing over them. At first, they thought it was the ghost of the archaeologist, but it looked solid, and when the lamp stopped flickering, they saw a man with a big square face with small eyes and stubble. He offered his hand, which Tammy grabbed and stood up, then helped Ash get back up. They were still shaking a bit. The room was still cold, but just the usual November cold, not the ghost-chilled.

"You guys alright?" the man asked. He had a gentle but strong voice.

"Yeah," replied Tammy trying to catch his breath, "Who are you?"

The man looked at them for a second before answering, "Name's Arjun."



Chapter Two — Things not to Play With


Ash and Tammy were still shocked by the events. They noticed a glowing ring in the index finger of Arjun's right hand as if it was burning. The glow disappeared after a few seconds, and then they looked up at him.

He was wearing a blue-white checkered shirt, dark-coloured jeans, either blue or black; it was hard to tell in that light, and a pair of leather shoes.

Ash was still looking around. He was scared that he would see those figures floating around again. "What was that?" he asked.

"I think you know," Arjun replied.

Ash gulped. "It's not possible. It's not real. Can't be. It's not real. Tell me it's not real."

"What did you do to them?" Tammy asked, ignoring Ash. "What was the thing that you—"

"That was a Salt bomb."

"A what?"

"These ghosts—they can only interact with the physical world through a projection of them along with telekinesis, pyrokinesis, things like that. These manifestations are nothing but electromagnetic waves. They interfere with electronics like lights and gadgets and with signals. Any salt or a pure ferromagnetic metal can absorb these waves, so they kill these projections instantly."

"I'm sorry," Tammy was confused, "Salt? As in salt salt?"

"No," Ash spoke up finally. He was still in shock, but maybe he understood what Arjun had said. "Salt is a class of chemical compounds, as in acids, bases and salts."

Arjun looked at Ash. "Exactly, but it's only temporary. They can only be killed when their remains or host or whatever is tethering them to this world is destroyed. They'll come back, so let's get out of here. Get your packs; you won't be returning."

Ash and Tammy packed their bags as quickly as they could. They noticed that the camera and the laptop had started working now. Arjun picked up the lamp and walked out of the cottage to lead the way. They were walking through the forest back towards the reception.

"So, Arjun, is it?" Tammy asked. "What do you do? Are you some kind of a ghost hunter?"

"Close, I'm a researcher, but I encounter monsters and other things too, so yeah, sometimes it gets ugly," Arjun replied.

"Wait a minute," Ash interrupted. "Monsters? What kind of monsters?"

Arjun turned his head towards Ash and said, "Every kind from freaky and scary to creepy and disgusting."

"And what about that glowing ring of yours?" Tammy asked.

"Yeah, it glows in the presence of spirits, and it also protects me from ghost possession."

"They can possess people," Ash looked at Tammy. "That ghost was gonna possess us."

"Yeah, I think so. It was the archaeologist."

Arjun stopped and turned back. "Wait, you know him?"

"Yeah, that was the ghost of the archaeologist Dr V S Muarya," said Tammy. "He was the first case. He died here thirty years ago."

Arjun started walking again, and the boys followed him.

"Tell me everything you know."

"Um—he came here looking for something, I don't know, but um—he spent the night and the next day, he was found dead. Reports said that he had a heart attack, but his eyes were wide open, and his face had an expression of fear. That's when all this started; people started going missing, and nobody could ever find them. That's it, that's all I know."

"I know about the missing persons. There are cases from even before the archaeologist, not just from the cottage but all around the forest. That's why I came here."

"How did you find us?" Ash asked.

"Mid-Night Mysteries."

"You watch our videos?"

"Yeah, I have to keep tabs on kids like you. I spend most of my time on the internet when I am not—you know."

"I don't get it, though," Tammy said. "If the archaeologist was the first case, then how were people going missing before that?"

"Maybe he wasn't the first case. Maybe he was just another victim. Maybe all those ghosts were actually trying to protect you from whatever is out there."

Ash and Tammy didn't speak the rest of the way. When they got back to the reception, Arjun asked them to take the first bus and return home.

"What are you gonna do?" Ash asked.

"I have to take care of this," Arjun said as he took his phone out and looked at it. "I have to go further ahead; there's no signal here. You two travel safely." He walked away towards the nearby town.

"Thank you," Tammy shouted.

Arjun waved his hand in the air without looking back.

About half an hour later, he was in the town. He dialled a number as soon as he received a signal.

"Hello," said a young female voice from the other side.

"Woah, you picked up on the first try."

"Yeah, not working today. Didn't feel like being trapped in a basement all day."

"Well, you might have to go down there. I think I'm onto something, need your help."

"You are on a case? You didn't inform me?"

"Yeah, I had to rush."

"Alright, so what is it?"

"See what you can find out about one archaeologist V S Muarya."

"Wait, I have heard that name before."

"Great! Should be easy then. Also, find out what we know about missing person cases in Shimla."

"Shimla? It's a big city."

"Try the mountains near the town of Shanan."

"Shanan? Wait, a witch trial happened there about two hundred years ago. I have to go down to find out more. I'll call you back."

Arjun hung up the phone, and as he pulled his phone from his ear, he saw a notification on the home screen which read 'MidNight Mysteries uploaded a new video'. He clicked on it; Ash and Tammy were speaking about recent events. They looked pretty worked up and tired. They showed the video Tammy had recorded earlier that afternoon. When they spoke about a mysterious saviour Arjun, it brought a smile to his face. He hoped that the kids were wrapping up before leaving, but then they announced that they were going back to try to capture ghosts on camera.

Tammy was speaking, "—like that strange man Arjun told us, I have table salt, and Ash got an iron bar for our protection. If anything comes up, we can easily chase it away. We'll be right back at the cottage in a few minutes. Unfortunately, we don't have wi-fi there, so we won't be able to do this on live, but we will be back, I promise—"

"Oh shit!" Arjun barked. "No, no, no, no! You kids!"

He ran back towards the cottage as fast as he could.



Chapter Three — A Little Help


Arjun soon went out of the coverage area. He knew that he wouldn't receive any calls, but he decided to save the kids first. He will come back to get the necessary information, and then he will see what to do about that witch. He was running without even stopping to breathe. Running up the slope made it more difficult. He crossed the reception, nobody was there, but he didn't stop to look, he kept running.

He finally stopped. He was out of breath; he was sweating and gasping and kneeling with his hands on his knees. He barely had caught any breath when he heard a scream. It was probably Ash; he had heard him before. He dashed towards the voice.

"ASH! TAMMY!" he shouted.

"Help! We are here! Tammy is hurt!"

Arjun reached the cottage, and there they were, just outside the old wooden door with number thirteen painted on it. Tammy was on the ground, and Ash was helping him. Arjun grabbed Tammy's hand, and Ash helped him get up.

"You idiots!" Arjun cried. "Why did you come back! Quick, get inside. What's happened to you?"

"We were just coming back here recording the whole way when suddenly everything stopped working, and someone or something pushed us. We fell, and Tammy broke his ankle, I think—"

He stopped talking and looked over Arjun's shoulder with horror on his face. Arjun didn't need to look behind, but he did. A dark humanoid shadow stared back at them. What scared Ash and Tammy was the in-human fashion in which this shadow was moving towards them. Arjun pushed the kids towards the cottage. Their safety was his only concern.

They got inside the cottage and shut the door. Ash helped Tammy on a chair.

"It's dangerous out there. What were you thinking?" Arjun scolded both of them. They didn't say anything back, not because they were feeling guilty but because they felt it.

Someone or something that pushed Ash and Tammy was right outside the cottage. They could all feel it circling them. For some reason, it could not come inside and then they saw why. Half a dozen grey translucent figures appeared in the room. They were hovering in the air just like before. The temperature of the room fell. A tall figure joined the hovering ones. The ghost of V S Muarya didn't stand in the middle of the room this time. He walked up to the door and pushed his hands onto it because whatever was on the other side of the door was eager to come in. It was beating the door viciously. All three occupants of the cottage could hear it growling as if it was hungry for blood.

"These spirits will protect us, but I don't for how long," Arjun said

"What's out there? Is it another ghost? Is it a monster?" Ash asked.

"It could be a witch."

Tammy jumped from his chair. "The witch?"

Arjun turned his head towards Tammy. "You know about this?"

"I've heard stories about a witch, and that there used to be a village here." Tammy was speaking while the struggle between the ghost of the archaeologist and the witch was growing violent. "and about a witch trial—"

"Two hundred years ago?"

"Yes, two hundred years ago. People of the village–they burned her alive. After that, the whole village was cursed, so they left it, migrated to other places. You think it's the ghost of the witch?"

"There's a witch out there?" Ash interjected.

"I don't understand how it could be a witch," said Arjun. "A witch's spirit is very powerful; it knows dark magic. It can possess anything, any object, animals, even dead bodies. How these ghosts can hold it back, unless,"—Arjun looked up in the air at nothing, thinking and speaking very slowly and carefully— "she wasn't a witch. What if she was just an innocent woman that the people of the village burned. It wouldn't have been the first time. Women had been burned alive in our country for centuries. She was just one of those innocent women, a victim, and now its angry spirit is seeking revenge." He was talking to himself. Ash and Tammy were looking at him without blinking. The skirmish at the door was raging now. "But if she was burned, what is tethering her to this world?" Then he looked at Tammy again. "Tammy, could there be anything left that belonged to the woman? Anything at all."

"Um—I don't know, she used to live outside the village, people dragged her out of her house into the village to burn her, and later they all left the village, so I guess they didn't do anything about her—"

"Her house," Arjun completed his sentence. "Where could it be? Where her house could b—of course," he hung his head down. "The cottage."

"What?"

"WHAT?"

"This cottage used to be her home. I have got an idea. Ash, get ready. Help Tammy. I am going to open the door."

Arjun reached into his pocket and took out another salt bomb. He signalled Ash and Tammy and threw it on the floor as hard as he could. It exploded, and the room filled with dust and smoke and warmth.

"Go!"

Ash and Tammy quickly got out of the room. The salt bomb seemed to have cleared the ghosts on both sides of the door. Arjun knew it wouldn't be too long before they would appear back, so he quickly grabbed a lantern off the wall and smashed it on the floor. He didn't stop just there; he took another one and ran out. Flames started rising inside the cottage. Arjun threw the second lantern on the number thirteen painted on the door. Within minutes the flames were reaching the sky. Then a woman screamed. She screamed as if she was being burned alive. Her blood-curdling screams echoed through the forest. When they stopped, something else chimed.

"Hey, our camera is working again," Ash said. He pointed his camera towards the burning cottage. Then he thought of introducing Arjun and turned his camera around. "Hey, Arjun, why don't you intr—"

Arjun was gone.





When Ash and Tammy uploaded their new video, they didn't have much evidence to support their story. It was one hell of an adventure and a life-changing experience for them, but rarely anybody believed them. A few days later, Ash found something.

When he was unpacking his bags, which he hadn't touched since they had come back, he found a black card. It was blank. Ash looked at it but couldn't understand what it was, so he just placed it on his nightstand. Later that night, when he was going to bed and turned off the lights, he noticed that the card was glowing. He picked it up. There was a phone number written on it. The digits were glowing with an orange hue as if it was burning. Ash smiled, put the card in the drawer, and went to sleep.





That night after burning down the cottage, Arjun had left right afterwards. There was no danger anymore. He was on his way back when his cellphone rang. He answered it.

"Hey!"

"Where were you?” It was the same female voice. “I have been calling you for an hour now."

"I know, I know. I'm sorry, but everything is good; I figured it out. Got a little help."

"Phew! I was worried."

"Did you find anything interesting, though? Anything about V S Muarya?"

"Yeah, I remembered where I had heard his name. He was a keeper too. The best, in fact. My dad used to tell me stories about him."

"Oh, well, I'm sure he's resting now. I'm heading back."

"No, don't come yet. You have to go to Metro City."

"What? Why?"

"New case. A couple of bloodless bodies have been discovered. We are not sure yet, but it looks like the work of um—"

"Of what?"

She took a long pause, and then she said, "Vampires!"



Followed by: The Krovosos Family — Arjun, the monster hunter, tries to solve the mystery of bloodless bodies, which everyone, at first, thought was the work of vampires but turns out to be something else.

(Click here to see Arjun's whole chronology.)

Also, read the story of the vampires, The Bloodsuckers.

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