‘The Ten Commandments of Evil’ (Readomania) - the cover says it all… hinting at stories that pulsate with evil, a reversed ‘Z’, a demonic baby with a glinting eye and words scratched out in a frenzy! What sends a further chill down the spine is the suggestion that these could be “horror stories based on actual events?” The question mark at the end offers no comfort at all.
The horror begins from the first story itself, ‘Twins’ which hints at Satanic events leading to an absolute catastrophe. What is so sinister about a pair of twins? As the mind reels, ‘Shades of Odour’ describes ten-year-old Reeha who experiences phantom smells which ‘unwrap the reek of people’s souls’. Will she be able to unravel the mystery behind the mysterious deaths that she witnesses?
“Death has never been mellow.” Shekar, the psychopath, is surrounded by speaking walls that bring him to the brink of hallucinations, “his soul releasing the captivated ghosts of his past’. Why does he prefer death to the present life that he leads?
If I had to choose one of my favourite stories, the next one would probably be it. ‘The Guest’ reveals the mindset of a murderer who openly avers that “the rodent enters the house to create some permanent damage”. Even as he carries out his gruesome task, the denouement of the story is mind-blowing.
‘Unknown’ is another chilling tale with psychological undertones meshed with superstition and possession. How does Govind, a meticulous scholar in parapsychology, view the events that take place in his village and how far does he believe in the supernatural story that is being bandied around by the villagers?
Most of the stories in this anthology bring out the fact that truth can often be stranger than fiction. If ‘An Affair’ hints at paranormal haunting and telekinesis, ‘Fallen in Love with You’ highlights how the mind can conjure up strange delusions that can appear eerily real.
“Demons are pure evil. They like darkness. The only way nature exhibits darkness even during the daytime is through shadows.” When Satvi, who has an overactive imagination, faces betrayal from those closest to her, there is only one avenue of closure – that of darkness, and ‘Shadows’, which is also the title of the story.
‘Sunstra Pakpao’ begins with a doctor trying to bring an estranged couple together by ‘reigniting a lost love’, and just when she feels that she has shown them the way towards reconciliation, the horror descends, ending in a gory finish. The last story is named aptly ‘Scarier Than Death’ and deals with the predicament of a rich industrialist who turns into a helpless wreck after a car accident. What are the repugnant phantoms that assail him with spooky manifestations? Is it the fear of the unknown or are his past sins catching up with him?
All the stories reveal the quagmire that the human mind finds itself in through hallucinations, delusions, psychic appearances, astral projections, macabre materialization and paranoid schizophrenia.
Vignesh Sivasankar does not believe in mincing his words. These tales are dark and gritty. They are not a pleasant easy read. They reveal unspeakable evil, the language used reeks of evil and is raw and unvarnished.
Readers who savour the genre of horror would find this book right up their alley.