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The Shapeshifter

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

In a world filled with pragmatics, it is often unbelievable if someone claims to have seen a supernatural creature on a killing spree. The thought of conceptualising is itself complicated, and facing it is surreal.


“The Shapeshifter” by Swayam Rout deals with this idea by introducing a shapeshifting killer into the real world and making him meet a family with nothing attractive or groundbreaking going on in their day-to-day lives.

 
Illustrated by Nandini Jalan

Archana, a girl in her twenties, returned after an exhausting day at work. This was pretty much how most of her evenings were, but all she needed was one hot cup of coffee and a hot shower to reset her mind and state. Opening her door, she heard the television in the main hall, separated by a partition and presumed it was her mother. Not wanting to bother her, she walked straight into her room as calmly as possible. She took a warm shower, and when she opened her phone returning to her room to dress up, she saw a couple of texts from her brother, Arun.


Not believing what she had read, Archana called him, and he just mumbled something so quickly that she did not even comprehend him. She asked him to take a deep breath before asking him to repeat. Following her suggestion, her brother took a moment to stop panicking and then stated, “On the news, they say there is a shape-shifter on a killing spree. The police have at least found seven people dead by now…”


To which Archana shrieked, “Are you serious?”

Her brother, rather than answer her, shouted, “Maa, you are not going anywhere! There is a killer on the loose.”


There was a moment of silence before Archana realised she was in trouble. She could faintly hear footsteps on the other side of the partition, so she whispered, “I am not alone.”


The sound of footsteps grew louder when the television was muted, and Archana heard her brother command, “Archie, lock your door!”


As Archana approached the door, she could finally see the monstrously tall foul creature she presumed was her mother standing upright, holding a butcher's knife. On its face was a creepy smile, its eyes looked fierce, and there were strands of hair hanging down her forehead.


Noticing Archana, it started running towards her as quickly as possible. Luckily, Archana could lock herself in the room, panicking, she dropped to the floor and picked up her phone.


When she placed her phone near her ear, she heard her brother telling her to hang in there as he was on his way with the police. Meanwhile, Archana could hear a slight knocking on the door, but with each second, the knocking grew increasing. The knocking did not stop; it grew louder and louder and louder and louder till Archana let out an ear-screeching scream, unable to take it anymore. Everything became silent until Archana heard her brother coming into the apartment shouting, “Archie!”

She heard him barge into the apartment with the spare key, and a minute later, Archana heard the sound of someone being hit by the metal rod. While she gasped, fearing for her life, from the other side, Archana heard the voice of her brother assuring her, “It's alright, Archie! I knocked it off.”


Taking a deep breath and feeling glad listening to the police sirens approaching the apartment, Archana opened the door only to see her brother lying on the floor, bleeding. Before she could fully process what could have happened, Archana saw the terrifying creature before her smile for one last time, holding the metal rod.

 

Credits

This flash fiction was reviewed by R. S. Chintalapati, edited by Aastha Agrawal, proofread by V. K. Telkepalli, & illustrated by Nandini Jalan.


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Oct 18, 2023
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.

Loved it ❤️

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