Imran lay in bed.
It was 3 AM. He couldn't sleep (he took sleeping pills but they didn't work). He was thinking of Fatin. Thursday night they had partied together. Tonight she was buried in Banani graveyard. It wasn't fair. She was so young. So beautiful. She had had her whole life ahead of her.
Imran hated himself for all the times he had been an asshole to her. She had wanted to get married. He said later as he wasn't sure (he thought maybe he could find someone better than her). He shouted at her. He threatened to break up with her. He cheated on her with other girls, even though she loved him with all her heart.
Imran wished he could go back in time. He wished he could take back all the hurt he had caused her. He wished he could have given her more love. But she was g--
“Imran,” a voice spoke. It was young woman's voice, hollow but sweet.
Imran sat up.
"Imran," the voice called again. It was coming from outside.
Imran got out of bed. He stepped out of his room, walked down the flat, opened the door, and stepped onto his roof. He saw a thick mist swirling beyond the railing – the side that looked over Gulshan Lake. Imran stepped toward the railing. Something began to emerge from the mist. A dark shape.
It was Fatin.
She was floating beyond the railings. Her arms and legs were wading the air like it was water. Her white burial shroud was wrapped around her nude body like a saree, its achol blowing in the wind. She had never looked more beautiful. Her lips were full and red. Her skin was as white as a Rajanigandha flower and as smooth as marble. Her eyes glowed silver. Imran couldn't look away.
“Oh Imran,” Fatin said. “How I've missed you. My darling.”
Her voice sounded musical. There was a pull to it. Imran shambled toward her.
“Let me in,” Fatin said. “Let me in. And we'll be together. Forever.” She opened her arms wide.
“Come in,” Imran said. His voice was flat and monotonous, like someone under hypnosis.
Fatin grinned, revealing needle-sharp fangs. She flew over the railing and landed in front of Imran. She reached for him with her long, sharp nails. She turned his head to the right to expose his jugular vein.
Then she saw the gold oval pendant hanging from a chain around his neck.
The pendant was inscribed in tiny Arabic script. It was Surah Ayatul Kursi (the Verse of the Throne) from the Quran. Imran's mother had given it to him when he was seventeen. It was supposed to protect against evil. Imran wasn't religious. He didn't pray five times a day. He didn't fast during Ramadan. He drank alcohol and had sex with women before marriage. But he did believe in Allah and that the Ayatul Kursi pendant would protect him.
And it did.
Fatin hissed and leaped back. Imran came back to his senses. Fatin glared at him with her silver eyes, fangs bared, claws splayed. Imran was terrified. He suddenly felt a pressure in his bladder and tried not to pee in his pajamas. He had never felt such fear in his entire life. He knew he was going to die.
Then Imran remembered his Ayatul Kursi pendant. Fatin had flinched at the sight of it!
He removed the chain and brandished the pendant. Fatin gave an unearthly shriek and stepped back. She turned and jumped over the railing. Imran ran into his apartment and locked the door. His eyes were wide and bulging. His face was covered in sweat. His heart thumped so loudly he could hear it in his ears. He struggled to breathe.
He turned on all the lights. He rushed to his bedroom and opened his wardrobe. He took out his licensed Beretta and sat on the bed with the gun in his hand.
He didn't sleep.
An excerpt from N.N. Talukdar's second novel A Vampire in Gulshan has been accepted for publication by Caliburn Press, USA.