The Hour of the Dead - XTales (Dark Fantasy, Dreams and Illusions, Psychological, Ritual, 10-20 min., Creepypasta)

A woman learns about a ritual to communicate with the dead. She decides to use it to bring back a lost family member.
Reading time: 17 minutes.

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The Hour of the Dead XTales xtalesnet beastboysuraj suraj singh sisodia


A jeep rapidly advanced on the moonlit lonely road in the dead of the night. The winds were calm and cold, whispering a melody. It was a serene night, waiting for something to happen. The driver, a young woman named Meghna or Meg, stared at the empty path that seemed to be endless. Her mind harboured a chaos of endless thoughts and memories. A single drop of tear slid down her face while she tried to contain the raging storm in the ocean of her mind.

'Tonight's the night,' Meg thought. She had been waiting for this night since she learned about the ritual. ‘Tonight—I'll see if it works. I hope it does.’

Meg had left the city far behind her. Now, her jeep was tracing its way on a single-lane road in the middle of a desert. There was not one—not one living person for miles in any direction. Yet, she didn’t seem to stop or slow down. What was she looking for in this vast barren desert?

A few minutes passed or maybe an hour, but Meg didn’t slow down the jeep. Half of her moonlit face radiated determination, while the other half was in the dark. But both her eyes were streaming hot fluid.

'I have not cried for five months,' Meg thought. 'Why am I crying now? It’s not like I miss her now more than before. She had not vacated my thoughts even for a minute in these five months. Is it because I’m getting closer to seeing her again? Is it?’

As if the empty, endless road had her hypnotised. She was blankly staring at it, but her mind was somewhere else. The old days came crashing into her consciousness like floodwater. No matter how hard she tried to keep herself in the present, it didn’t work. As if the lonely, silver road led to her very past. The desert was gone in a second, and so was the crescent moon and the silent night. The sound of the engine faded next, and Meg saw a face.

It was a beautiful face, smiling affectionately at Meg. An angelic grace exuded from this face. Then, the face said something, a name maybe. The voice was like a song of a thousand nightingales.

Meg couldn’t stop but smile back as she started crying like a child. No—wait! She WAS a child, running around in a garden with half-dead plants and dried flowers. She ran as fast as she could, but that angelic voice followed her everywhere with crackling laughter. And then, someone picked her up.

“Ah, gotcha!”

Meg cried with laughter. She tried to free herself as she said, “Again!”

“No,” the sweet voice replied. “It’s time to go home now. We’ll come back tomorrow. Okay?”

"No, again, Mom! Please?"

“Mom’s tired, honey! And don't forget— we still have to finish that ice cream. So what do you say?”


“That’s my love! Let’s go”!

Meg’s mother looked just like her, only older. She kissed Meg all over while she carried her towards the exit. Meg threw one last look at the park. She felt that she had left a piece of her childhood there. It would always be there, buried like a treasure in the past.

Meg only went to that park just one more time.

The next time Meg saw that park, it had been completely transformed. Meg wasn’t a little girl anymore. She had grown into a young woman. Her mother, on the other hand, had turned grey and feeble.

“Careful,” said Meg, helping her mother. “Slowly...slowly...yeah, that’s it. Here we are.”

Meg helped her mother sit on a bench. She then sat next to her. The old, bald woman looked all around, trying to identify everything. Meg felt like her memories of the past came flooding back and swept her away with them.

“Do you remember you used to take me here to play?”

“I do,” the mother said softly. “But it was not like this.”

“Oh, yeah. The committee took great care of it. I never saw it that green.”

“They fixed the swings. You wanted to go on them so bad.”

Meg chuckled. “But I never got to,” she said. “I wish I could be a little girl again.”

“So basically,” the mother said jokingly. “You just want to undo the years of hard work I put into raising you.”

A crackling laughter echoed just like it did all those years ago. Meg’s eyes were closed momentarily when her mother’s eyes closed forever. The feeble body of her mother fell to the side. It took a few seconds for Meg to notice that her mother had stopped moving. As if she wanted to see the place where her daughter grew up one last time.

When it occurred to Meg what had happened, her heart stopped for a second. The sheer horror on her face was evidence that she knew her mother wouldn’t speak to her again. Her entire world came crashing on her. Her will to live had left her, and it hadn't returned since.

The jeep came to a screeching halt. Meg stepped out and looked at the infinite ocean of sand on the side of the road. A whiff of cold wind blew her hair while she stared at the crescent moon, thinking about something. Then, she stepped into the sand.

Meg walked further away from the road with each step. Her journey, it seemed, had not come to an end yet. She walked and walked until she could no longer see the road. Her feet dug into the sand, and she struggled to walk further. The deafening silence of the grim night screamed into her ears. The winds whispered the tales of moonlit desert, but she didn't stop at all.

The moon slowly crawled across a clear sky. Meg had no idea how long she had been walking or how far. When she couldn't see anything but sand or the direction she had come from. When it occurred to her that she had finally arrived at her destination, she stopped.

Meg closed her eyes and waited. The calm night and the soft winds washed Meg’s agitation away. She became one with the night. And then—


Meg's eyes searched for someone who wasn't there. She looked all around, eagerly searching for something. “MOM!” she called out again but received nothing but silence.

Meghna had not cried once since her mother passed away. She convinced herself that she needed to be strong. Five months had passed without her breaking even once. She had turned into a machine, carrying out her work and living without feeling anything. She held strong for too long because it was time.

“MOM! WHERE ARE YOU?" Meg screamed, breaking the silent symphony of the night. "WHY AREN'T YOU ANSWERING ME? IT'S YOUR DAUGHTER!"

The cold winds ruffled some dust, and that was it. Nothing else happened. The desert fell dead quiet again. Meg’s knees gave up. She slumped in the sand like a heavy puppet whose strings got cut. Her hair covered her face, her shoulders moved as she started whimpering. Faint, little, but frequent sobs added a sombre rhythm to the winds. A few drops hit the dry sand and got soaked up immediately.

A woman sat in the middle of nowhere, crying alone in the dead of the night. There was no one for tens of miles to see or hear her.

Then, as if the floodgates were opened. A sad, painful, low-pitch wail disturbed the dead. Meg started bawling. She knew no one could hear her, so she didn't care. The poor woman cried her eyes out while calling for her mother. She howled as loud as her pain demanded and wailed as long as her weary corpus allowed her. Finally, her head gave up, too. Before she could control it, her forehead struck the ground, and her nostrils filled with sand.

‘It should work,’ Meg thought. ‘Why isn’t it working? Sheila said it would work. I have followed everything exactly as she had told me.’

Meg tried to remember if she had missed anything for the ritual to work. In the dead of the night and middle of nowhere, surrounded by an infinite ocean of sand—she sat on her knees, half passed out and with her head buried in the sand. With one eye, she peeked at her wristwatch, which showed the time eighteen minutes past three.

‘Did I miss something?’ Meg asked herself. ‘I made sure to follow the one and only rule Sheila said was essential.’

"The hour of the dead?" Meg had asked rhetorically on the afternoon of a busy day in their office. “Could they have put a little more thought in the name? I mean—the hour of the dead? Really?”

Sheila leaned back to look at Meg from her cubicle. She looked annoyed when she said, “I’m trying to help you. If you don’t wanna listen, fine with me!”

“Sheila, that’s not help! It’s mockery! You are basically making fun of my situation. Dead don’t come back! She’s gone! I'll have to learn to live without her!"

“If only you could,” Sheila quickly replied. Her face changed and now carried worry and pity. “Don’t act like I don’t know. Your landlady has told me everything. She has seen you alone on the balcony in the middle of the night. If therapy didn’t help, I don’t see any other option. I learned about this ritual from a friend of a friend, who read it in an ancient book. Something about it made me feel uneasy. It’s different from all the hoodoo stuff that we know is a scam. This feels like a message from beyond. Just listen to me once, and if you don’t feel it, then, we can both forget about it."

Meg wanted to throw another sarcasm, but Sheila looked very serious. Even if the ritual was fake, she believed it to be true. It was enough for Meg to care about it. “Fine,” she said. “Let’s hear it.”

Sheila slid her chair closer to Meg. Her voice turned to whispers, and her eyes popped out. “There’s this secret library where all the hidden knowledge of the world is kept. The people who guard the library call themselves the Keepers of the Knowledge.”

Meg rolled her eyes. “Can we get to the point?” she requested.

Sheila seemed hurt, but she kept going. "Anyway, the ritual I'm about to tell you is from a book that was stolen from this library. It’s believed that the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest for about an hour or so in the night.”

Meg was sceptical until now, but something about Sheila's ridiculous story slowly started to affect her. As if she was being hypnotised by the very mention of this book.

“...and it’s possible for us to crossover to the other side and communicate with the dead.”

“How does the ritual go?”

Sheila was taken aback for a moment by Meg’s sudden interest. She smiled and said, “That’s the part which made me believe it’s the real deal. There's no actual process, no evil incantation or some dark magic stuff required.” She paused for a dramatic effect without even realising it. “There’s just one rule.”


“You have to get as far away from the living as possible. Get so far that you don’t see anything but horizon all around.”

“Is that necessary?” Meg asked. “The horizon part.”

“Yes, it’s essential.”

“That’s two rules, then.”

“Is it, though? Think about it?”

And Meg had thought about it—a lot. She finally understood how these two rules were just one. It was clear to her that the ritual wouldn't work in a forest if it ever did. She couldn't take a boat all alone and travel to the middle of the ocean. Hence, there she was, in the middle of the desert on a cold, quiet, and dead night.

Meg had thought the ritual would work. She believed it with all her heart. Her face was still buried in the sand, and her eyes were constantly streaked with tears. She didn't realise how loudly she was crying, but no one was around to hear. The only witnesses were the stars and the moon, as far away as her mother was.

“Mom?" Meg asked as soon as she stepped into the house. "Mom, where are you?"

“I’m here in the kitchen.”

Meg threw her backpack on the couch and ran straight into the kitchen. Meg’s mother was cooking while listening to the radio.

“Mom, I won,” Meg announced excitedly. “I won. I am now the fastest girl in the school. They are gonna give me a trophy, and they have invited you. I can’t believe this. I won!”

“Take a breath, honey! Slow down and come here!”

The mother clutched Meg in her warm embrace. Meg still didn’t stop jumping on her toes.

“I have never won anything in my life. I am gonna carry that trophy everywhere and show it to everybody.”

“Only after I’m done showing it to everyone at my office,” replied the mother as she let go of Meg. “Sorry, I got flour on your dress. I’ll clean it up. Congratulations, dear. You are my hero. Now, go change, and I’ll fix you something to eat.”

It must’ve taken Meg quite a long time to change because a young woman came out instead of the little girl. Meg searched everywhere in the house but didn't see her mom. She stood all confused in the living when the doorbell rang. Meg ran to open the door.

“Hey,” said Sheila, who jumped on Meg as soon as the door opened. “Did it work?”

As if some memories flooded Meg’s mind which were not her own. She still felt like she had lived those memories. She clearly remembered driving in the desert and walking through the sand. “Of course, it did. Thank you, Sheila. Thank you for telling me about that ritual.”

“Oh, come on.” Sheila hugged Meg tightly as she dropped a single tear. “So, where is she?" she asked, letting go of Meg.

"Don't know. She was here just a minute ago. Mom?"

"Hey, Auntie! It's me, Sheila, your other daughter."

“Mom? Where are you?”

The echoes of Meg’s voice rendered her deaf. As if the voice struck the sky and returned. The living room into a dead, dark cemetery. The grey sky appeared closer than it was. Meg turned around to look for Sheila, but she was gone, too. Meg was all alone on this rotten land, covered with unmarked graves. Were they graves? Or were they—

Meg's heart jumped, and her eyes opened wide. She was still lying in the sand. ‘Where did these trees come from?’ she thought. And then, one tree moved.

Meg’s heart stopped pumping oxygen into her brain when she realised those trees were actually people. An unimaginable fear gave back her strength. She jumped and stood upright. Her heart, pounding inside her chest, could be heard clearly. The shadowy, hooded figures stood silent. They were in numbers, covering up the entire desert it seemed. As far Meg could see, these figures stood with their covered heads hung low as if in prayer.


A sweet voice called Meg with love. It came from behind her. The song of a thousand nightingales washed away the fear. Meg turned around and immediately started crying.


Meg almost ran to hug her mother. The woman with angelic grace also held her in a warm embrace. She looked as young as Meg herself. Both women cried their hearts out while the cloaked figures stood unmoved, un-phased. Their heads remained hooded and bowed as if in a silent prayer.

“Meghna, dear, what are you doing here? Are you dead? Please, tell me you didn’t kill yourself to meet me?”

"No, Mom!" Meg replied, half crying-half smiling. “I found another way. I have come to see you." She hugged her even tighter. "Oh, Mom, I missed you so much!"

“Oh, my child.” The mother held Meg’s face closer to her. “Let me look at you as long as I can. It already feels like I left you ages ago.”

“Mom,” Meg just couldn’t let go of her mom. “It’s been so lonely without you. I don’t know how I’m even alive. Nothing makes sense to me, ma. The world, its rules, or the people—nothing makes sense without you.”

“Sshhh...stop crying, dear. It’s okay. You’re here now. Do you wanna meet Nanna?”

Meg’s eyes grew almost double in size with astonishment. “Nanna is here?”

“Everybody’s here, honey. Come with me.”

The mother started making her way through the silent, cloaked figures, and Meg followed her. While the mother walked carefree, Meg was a little scared.

“Who are these people, mom?” Meg asked, whispering to her mother.

“Just ignore them, honey.”

“Are they all dead people?”

“Sshhh...let them be, come on.”

The mother walked for a few minutes and arrived at the base of a humongous tree. Meg gaped at it and wondered how she missed a tree that big. It almost appeared out of nowhere. The trunk of this tree was broader than a house. Then, she saw that it was indeed a house.

“Is this...?” Meg didn’t know what to ask or how.

“Yes, dear,” said the mother, pointing at the base. “That’s where I live.” Then she looked up the tree and pointed at the lower branches. “Ma! Ma, look who’s here?”

Meg’s heart jumped when she saw another woman peeking from the branches. In an instant, the woman climbed down the tree and tightly hugged Meg.

“Nanna, how are you?” Meg said with her eyes filled with tears.

“Oh, my little princess! I missed you a lot, my child!”

Meg couldn’t contain her overwhelming emotions. How could she? She was looking at her family that she thought she had lost. How could one even begin to grasp this situation—having lost someone forever and then meeting them again.

“How did you get here, honey?” the mother asked. “You said you found some way.”

"Yes," said Meg, finally letting go of her grandmother. "Let me explain."

Meg narrated the chain of events that led her to the desert. Meanwhile, more members of her family gathered around her. Most of them, Meg had never even met or seen except in pictures. She couldn’t contain her tears of joy. It felt like the time had stopped because she talked to them what felt like days. Finally, her mother brought it to her attention.

“Meg, dear, I think it’s time you head back. You said that you only had an hour, right?"

“Yeah, but I don’t know what happens if I stay here over more than that.”

“Whatever it is,” Meg’s grandmother said. “It can not be good.”

“We shouldn’t take any risk,’ said the mother.

“You’re right, mom. Let’s go.”

Meg grabbed her mother’s hand and tried to walk away, but her mother didn't move. She looked at Meg with confusion. Meg turned back with the same confusion on her face as well.

“What are you doing, honey?”

“What do you mean? Let’s go home. You don’t have to stay here anymore.”

Meg’s mother quickly pulled her hand away. “I’m not going back,” she declared.

“What? Why not? That’s why I came here. To bring you back.”

“I don’t WANT to go back.”

Meg couldn’t find words to express herself. She couldn’t believe her mother didn’t want to come with her. She struggled to contain her emotions. “Mom? What are you saying? I can’t leave you here. Please, come with me.”

“No, I can’t leave MY mother. I waited so many years to be reunited with her. I want to stay with her.”

“Then bring her with us, too.”

“I am not going back,” Meg’s grandmother quickly replied. “I have nothing there. My entire family is here. I won’t leave my parents.”

Meg’s head started spinning. She didn’t feel her legs. The world didn’t make sense, the living or the dead. She was so happy only until a moment ago. Now, her heart ached with the pain it had for five months. It only occurred to her that she was on her knees when her mother kneeled right next to her.

“Meghna, my dear,” the mother said. “We are all happy here. There are no troubles or any pain here. It's a beautiful world. We lived a lifetime there to finally get here. We have lived our share of life. Who would wanna go back there?”

Meg stared at her mother with agitation. "Well, then I'm not going, either," she said like a little girl throwing tantrums. "I will live here with you. Now, there's nothing for me there.”

The mother hugged Meg to console her. “Don’t say that, honey. You still have a life full of promises and dreams ahead of you. You can come here, but you have to earn that.”

“NO! I said I’m not going.”

“But we don’t know if you can stay here. You are not dead.”

“I don’t care. I will kill myself if I have to.”

Meg’s mother looked at Meg with love and pity. She had tears in her eyes that she was trying to hold back. Her voice quivered when she said, “Please, don’t say that, my child. You are my hero, remember? You never give up.” She lifted Meg’s face up to make eye contact. “Please, promise me that you won’t give up.”

All that Meg could force through her lips was, “Mom...” The tears blurred her vision. Her mother’s face started glowing hot red. She hugged her mother tightly, never letting her go, but she slipped through her arms like sand. And then, it was all over. It was all gone.

Meg was lying in the sand, clutching herself tightly. The sun was peeking from behind the horizon. The rays seeped through her half-opened eyelids. A single tear rolled sideways from her eye and dropped in the sand.

Meg sat upright and stayed there for a long minute, sobbing and wiping her tears. She looked at her watch. It looked like the sun had risen early because it was only half past five. ‘I have to get back,’ she thought. ‘To the living.’

She stood and dusted her clothes. Then, she tried to find the right direction. The desert was due west of the city, so she had to walk towards the sun.

The sun had climbed up high when Meg arrived at her jeep. She had thought she’d be happy on the way back, but her mind harboured the same chaos it did the previous night. A thought, however, had been added to that chaos. ‘What would I say to Sheila?’

Meg was right. The first thing Sheila asked when she met her was, “How did it go?” She had been waiting for Meg outside their office. They both entered the campus while Sheila eagerly stared at Meg.

“I didn’t work,” Meg revealed. “Not in the sense you are thinking, but it helped. I understand the point of the ritual now.”

“What do you mean?”

"The ritual is not for talking to the dead, Sheila. It doesn't work. It is for dealing with your trauma."

“I don’t get it. How does it help if it doesn’t work?”

Meg and Sheila passed a security check. They both scanned their IDs and entered the main building. They walked silently to the elevator. There was no one else around, so Meg looked at Sheila.

“Why do you think the ritual requires you to distance yourself from the living?”

“I thought it was because you communicate with the dead. It made sense that you had to be as far from the living as possible.”

“It was to distance yourself from everyone else, so you could communicate with yourself.”


The elevator bell chimed as the door opened. The people inside walked out, and Meg and Sheila stepped in.

“You are in your company—” Meg said as the door closed. “—when you are truly alone.”

An expression of understanding appeared on Sheila’s face.

“I was in the middle of the desert. I knew no one could hear me, so I cried. I wailed as loud as I could without worrying about anything or anyone. I screamed and processed my emotions. I cried all night until I passed out. Then, I had a dream. My mind created a happy place for me in my imagination. My conscious brain created a therapeutic device for me to finally be able to move on."

Meg looked at Sheila, who was also in tears. They gently hugged each other.

“I’m just glad you are back,” said Sheila.

The first voice Meg and Sheila heard as soon as they entered the office was of their boss.

“OH, LOOK WHO DECIDED TO SHOW UP!” the boss shouted so the entire floor could hear. She gestured at Meg and Sheila to come closer to her. Then, “Long weekend, ladies? Couldn't find your keys? Hmm?”

Meg looked confused, and Sheila looked guilty.

“What happened, ladies?”

“Uh—I was just...,” Sheila tried to explain. “I was waiting for Meg outside the office. It was very, very important, boss.”

“That so? And why were you late, Meg?”

Meg was even more confused than ever. “What do you mean ‘late’? We are way early. It’s only eight fourteen.”

"It's nine fourteen! Is this an act, or can't you watch the clock now?"

“No,” Meg argued, lifting her arm up. “It’s eight fourteen, look.”

The boos pointed at the clock behind her without looking. Sheila stared at Meg dumbfounded while Meg peeked at the clock. It now showed eight-fifteen. She then looked at her wristwatch. The four turned into a five in front of her eyes. As if her brain stopped working. She blankly stared at her watch showing eight fifteen while all the voices around her faded away.

In memory of my mother, Suman Lata (1975-2021)

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