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She lived in a large house by the river Lyson. The house looked in shambles from the outside. It kept annoying kids and teenagers at bay. From within, it was magnificent. The rooms were old fashioned with fading decor. The high ceilings demanded a chandelier in every room. The doors were wood, furniture was wood. The rooms were huge and the house itself was enormous for one inhabitant. It took her months of sleepless nights before she got used to the house. A timid maid, Leena, helped her keep it clean. As expected, the house gave Leena the creeps. She rushed in each morning, cleaned at a massive pace and ran out.

Shantha found Leena’s behaviour amusing. Old houses were always regarded as haunted. With creepers growing along its walls, the house looked like one from a horror movie. But from the inside, it was warm, pleasant and made Shantha never want to leave. A thin lane led her from her backdoor straight to the waters. She had placed a bench there to sit and watch the birds that came by.

She walked down the rickety path and relaxed on the bench as the clouds gathered above her. The formerly blue sky was slowly turning grey. Shantha ran inside for cover anticipating the rain. And the rain arrived minutes after she shut the door. The wind bellowed in the background. The sound of thunder drowned the whistles of the wind. For a few hours, the lightning and thunder exchanged limelight. She sat by the window and stared at the havoc being created outside.

When it died down, she ventured out gingerly. She was aching to see the river after that storm. She was riveted as she couldn’t believe her eyes. The river was parched. The grass in her garden was soaked but the river bed was cracked and resembled the desert. A puzzled Shantha walked closer to the edge and bent over. As she placed her hand out to touch the surface of the river bed, it opened up. Long, hairy, brown claws creeped up to grab her hand. She withdrew her hand hastily and ran back to the house screaming. She dialled emergency immediately.

Her house was kilometers away from all civilisation. By the time a rescue team arrived, the creature from the river would have consumed her whole.

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