The man without earsI could hear something breathing heavily, maybe an animal. ‘Roll up the windows,’ the man said, his voice barely above a whisper. I fumbled for the button, my hands shaking.
It was the kind of stormy night that made your skin crawl and the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. I was driving down a deserted highway, trying to make it home before the storm got any worse. That’s when I saw him, a man without ears. He was standing on the side of the road, drenched from the rain but seemingly unbothered by it.
I slowed down and rolled down my window. “Do you need a ride?” I asked. The man looked at me with piercing blue eyes, his face expressionless. “Yes,” he said in a monotone voice. I unlocked the door, and he climbed into the passenger seat. I couldn't help but stare at where his ears should have been. It was like they had been sliced off, leaving nothing but two smooth patches of skin.
“Where are you headed?” I asked, trying to break the silence. “Anywhere,” the man replied. I turned up the heater and tried to make small talk, but the man didn’t seem interested in talking. That's when the lightning struck, and the power in the car went out. The car came to a screeching halt, the headlights flickering.
“Damn it,” I muttered, trying to turn the key in the ignition. The man remained silent, staring out the window and into the darkness. I could feel the tension in the air, like a coiled spring waiting to snap. That’s when we heard it. A faint scratching sound came from outside the car. I leaned forward, squinting into the darkness. It was too dark to see anything, but I could feel something scratching at the windows.
“What the hell is that?” I muttered, my heart pounding in my chest. The earless man didn’t answer, his eyes still fixed on the darkness outside. The scratching grew louder, more frenzied. I could hear something breathing heavily, maybe an animal. “Roll up the windows,” the man without ears said, his voice barely above a whisper. I fumbled for the button, my hands shaking.
As soon as the windows were up, the scratching stopped. But I could sense that something was close to the car. We sat in silence for what felt like an eternity, the darkness and the storm pressing in on us. Finally, the power came back on. I quickly turned the ignition on. The man got off.
I didn’t waste any time getting out of there, leaving the man behind. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off about him. His eyes, his lack of emotion, and the strange incident with whatever was outside the car all made me feel uneasy. I tried to put it out of my mind, but the image of the man without ears haunted me. I couldn’t get him out of my head.
A few days later, I was driving down the same highway, my thoughts far away, when I saw him again. The man was standing on the side of the road, his eyes fixed on me. I tried to ignore him, to keep driving, but something inside me compelled me to stop. I pulled over to the side of the road, my heart pounding in my chest. The man climbed into the passenger seat, his face as expressionless as ever. “Thank you,” he said in a flat tone. I drove him to the nearest town, my mind racing with questions. Who was he? What had happened to his ears? And why was he so damn creepy? When we got to town, the man climbed out of the car without a word. I watched him disappear into the crowd, wondering if I’d ever see him again. Days turned into weeks, and I had almost forgotten about the man until one night when I was home alone.
I was watching TV, trying to forget the strange encounter when I heard a knock at the door. I got up to answer it, peering through the peephole. It was the man, his piercing blue eyes staring back at me. I hesitated for a moment before opening the door.
“What do you want?” I asked, trying to keep my voice steady. The man didn’t answer. He just stood there, staring at me. That’s when I noticed something strange about his eyes. They seemed to glow in the dark like two icy blue flames. I tried to step back, but the man without ears was already inside, moving with a strange, fluid grace. He didn’t say a word; he just stood there, watching me. “What do you want?” I repeated, my voice shaking. The man finally spoke, his voice low and hypnotic. “I want to tell you a story,” he said. I felt a chill run down my spine as he began to speak, his words like a hypnotic spell. He told me about a man who had lost his ears in a terrible accident and had become obsessed with hearing the sound of his own voice.
The man spoke with a strange intensity, his words laced with sinister energy. I tried to interrupt him, to ask him to leave, but he wouldn't stop. As he spoke, I began to feel a strange pressure building in my head, like something was trying to break free. It was like he was drilling into my mind, searching for something. Finally, he stopped speaking, and the pressure in my head subsided. The man looked at me with a strange, almost pitiful expression. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I had to know.” I didn’t understand what he meant, but before I could ask, he was gone, slipping into the night like a ghost. I never saw the man again, but his strange visit left me with a feeling of unease that I couldn’t shake. I tried to forget about him, to go on with my life, but the memory of his piercing blue eyes and hypnotic voice haunted me.
Years passed, and I moved on, but still his memory lingered in the back of my mind, like a nightmare I couldn’t escape. Then, one day, I was driving down the same highway where I had first seen him.
As I drove, I saw something on the side of the road, a flash of blue. I pulled over, my heart pounding in my chest. It was the man, standing by the side of the road, staring out into the distance. He looked different– somehow like he had aged. I got out of the car and approached him, my heart in my throat. “What do you want?” I asked. The man turned to me, his piercing blue eyes meeting mine. “I want to tell you something,” he said. I hesitated for a moment, then nodded. The man began to speak, his voice low and hypnotic. He told me about a world beyond our own, a world of darkness and shadows, where the lost and the forgotten wandered for eternity.
As he spoke, I felt a strange sense of recognition, like I had heard this story before. Then I realised why. It was the story he had told me all those years ago, the story about the man. As he finished the story, he looked at me with a sad expression. “I’m sorry for what I did to you all those years ago,” he said. “I had to know if I could still make someone listen, if I could still be heard.” I didn’t know what to say.
Part of me wanted to forgive him, to let go of the fear and anger that had been building inside of me for so long. But another part of me couldn’t forget the strange power he had over me, the way he had invaded my mind and made me feel like I was going insane. “I don’t know if I can forgive you,” I said. “But I can try to understand why you did it.” The man nodded, a grateful expression on his face. “Thank you,” he said. “That means more to me than you can know.”
With that, he turned and walked away, disappearing into the distance like a ghost. I stood there for a moment, watching him go, before finally getting back in my car and driving away. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something more to his story, something I was missing.
One day, I received a package in the mail. It was a small, unassuming package, wrapped in brown paper and tied with twine. I opened it up and found a cassette tape inside, with a note attached. “Listen,” the note read. “and maybe you’ll finally understand.” I hesitated for a moment, then popped the cassette into an old player I had lying around. The tape began to play, and I heard the man’s voice once again, telling a story. But this time, it was different. This time, he told a story about a man who had lost his voice and had become obsessed with his own voice through his ears. As I listened, I felt a chill run down my spine. It was like the man was trying to tell me something, trying to show me a truth that I had been too blind to see. I listened to the tape over and over again, trying to decipher the hidden message, until finally, I realised what it was.
The man had been searching for something, something that had been taken from him long ago. And in his search, he had found a strange power, a power to make others listen, to make them hear what he had to say. In the end, I realised that the man without ears had been more than just a strange encounter on the highway. He had been a messenger, sent to teach me a lesson, to show me the power of words and the importance of being heard. And even though he had disappeared into the shadows, I knew his message would stay with me forever, like a guiding light in the darkness.
Upreti is an aspiring writer studying psychology at Tribhuvan University.