The Darkness Giant

By Mozhgan Mahjoob

On weekends, after a stressful week at the office I often went to the park with my close friends, Asma and Helen. Asma was the finance manager in an organization and Helen studied business administration at one of the private universities. I worked in a telecommunication company as a shop manager in one of the flagship stores. We went to one of the well-known parks in Herat, called Takht e Safar. It was the most beautiful park in the city with tall pine trees, small streams, colorful flowers, and forests at the highest place of the city, exactly on a mountain. The pine trees grew all over the mountain and we could see the entire city from the top of the park.

Besides having food shops, coffeeshops and a restaurant it had an amusement complex that I liked the most. There was a big ferris wheel, a swinging pendulum, a rotary octopus, flying chairs on cables, self-controlled planes, some carousels for kids, bumper cars, and what I loved the most, a big pirate ship in the shape of a gondola that we called The Dragon Ship. Among all, The Dragon Ship was my favorite ride. Every time I rode on it I shouted with happiness and excitement. When it swung back and forth I could see everywhere and I could touch the green tree leaves. I always sat in the last seat of The Dragon Ship so that my seat went the highest. It was uniquely exciting for me, especially when there was a pleasing loud song.

Although my friends were scared to ride on it, I wasn’t scared at all. It always gave me a kind of relief from the tensions of work. We often went there in our free time, so we could forget our life difficulties for some time. On one visit, as we sat eating chips looking and enjoying the happiness of small kids riding the carousel, a young and beautiful woman came up to us. She was different from others. She had black skin with green tattoos on her forehead. She was tall and slim, wearing a brown scarf and dress, and her ears were covered with several earrings. On her wrist were handmade bracelets, and her long fingers with red polished nails had many rings. She wore a tear-drop blue ruby necklace and carried a large red purse.

“May I tell you your divination?” she asked.

“No, thanks,” I said, “I do not believe these things.”

But Asma insisted. “Come on! Darya, let’s try it. It will be fun,” so I agreed. Asma asked her to go ahead and tell us Asma’s future.

“Give me your hand,” said the fortune teller. She looked at Asma’s hand and told her, “You will be married soon, and you will have five kids in future.”  Then Helen held out her hand, and the fortune teller looked at it and said,” You will become rich.” Then she beckoned me.

I looked at Asma and Helen, and they said, “Go ahead Darya let her see what will be in your future.” I gave her my hand and she looked at the lines for a while, then she became silent.

She looked at me again, then looked at my hand and said, “You are a kind and hardworking girl. Your heart is as pure as your name, Darya, and soon you will be promoted. You have enemies at work and you have really struggled a lot. You will have a trip ahead but wait…that trip is not safe for you.”

“What? “Why is it not safe for me?” I asked.

“There is darkness. You should not go on this trip.” I was silent and confused, because there was no trip planned for me and there was no chance that I would get a promotion.

Both Asma and Helen were dumbfounded, but we paid her and she went away. Asma said, “Girls do you really believe what she said, that I will have five kids? Who can believe that?”

I laughed. “Of course not, but it’s fun to imagine you with five kids one day.”

Helen also laughed and said, “you’re right, but that is the fortune teller’s job, and if she does not say such things then how can she earn her money?”

Asma said, “Okay guys. Let’s ride on the Ferris wheel and not think about it. I will go buy the tickets.” Suddenly there were black clouds and it started drizzling. Helen joked, “If she was a real fortune teller she would have told us about today’s unexpected rain.”

“Let’s go home now.” I said. Everyone rushed toward their cars and the rickshaws outside the park, then we got a taxi and came back home.



Despite all the difficulties, negative competitions, false issues, and tensions that some general and senior managers created for me in the office, my boss was a very kind person and he always supported me. He often surprised me with some rewards. On the Wednesday after it rained in the park, I received a call from Farid, who was my supervisor in the company.

“Hello, Darya? Congratulations, you finally replaced me.”

“What?” I asked “How did I replace you? I don’t get it.”

“Check your emails. Boss has sent an introductory email; he selected you as the new operations manager.” Farid said.

“But what about you, Mr. Farid?”

“Nothing. He has fired me. He thinks that what I could not do, a girl would do better. “Farid replied.

Although his taunt bothered me, I kept calm and told him, “I am not aware of it, but I will reject the offer and talk to the boss, so that you can continue your job.”

“No, you should not.” Farid said. “What’s done is done. He’s the boss and it is his decision by the way. I already have some job offers and will select one of them.”

Farid was right, and I could only agree. “Okay. As you wish.”

I checked my emails. I’d received two emails from our boss who was in Canada. I had been promoted as the new operations manager and I was responsible for managing all flagship stores, customer services, and operation teams all over the country. He sent the announcement to all our operational team members, finance, HR, and the regional managers. In another email he asked Farid to hand over the tasks officially to me. I was surprised and could not even believe it.

Farid’s accepting attitude had been a mask. He got angry and removed all the data from his laptop, then he went away without helping me learn the tasks. Our boss sent me a follow-up email that there was an annual meeting in Kabul, and he was expected to come from Canada to attend the meeting. He mentioned that I needed to prepare the last-year’s sales report, based on the monthly targets and achievement of flagship stores, and write my plan for the upcoming year, identifying key issues and their solutions. I had one week to complete it and then present it to him and others at the meeting.

I prepared the presentation based on his requirements. I was happy that I could participate in such an important meeting and that my boss and other directors, heads and senior managers of the company, could see my presentation and would know about my performance and plan. The finance manager sent me my air tickets. He also reserved a room in Kabul in one of the best and the most expensive guest houses, one where it was safe for girls and women. He told me that he booked my room there based on the recommendation of my boss who thought that the guest house was better than a hotel because of the facilities and the safety for female guests.



When I reached Kabul the company driver picked me up and drove me to the guest house. It was located in one of the nicest neighborhoods in Kabul. Behind two tall black iron doors there was a lady guard who checked and scanned the female guests. Tall walls made of stone surrounded the courtyard. As I entered I saw there were jasmine flowers as well as pink and purple roses. There were some small dandelions growing in green grass, and two iron chairs with a glass-top table under a big, red umbrella. The courtyard was wide, with jujube, willow, and pine trees. The building itself was stone and two floors high. I was so excited that I had come to such a beautiful guest house.

The security guard told me to go inside to check in. I walked into a very big hall with several rooms opening off of it. There were stairs on the left to reach the second floor. A big and bright lamp hung from the ceiling above a long red carpet. The wall color was golden. Two big decorated golden vases with red, brown, and golden color leaves were set near a long couch. An LCD on the wall showed the views of security cameras on the first- and second-floor hallways, as well as outside of the guest house. Behind a wooden receptionist desk sat a boy wearing a blue suit. “Welcome Madam. How may I help you?”

“Thank you,” I said. “My name is Darya and I have a reserved room here.”

He checked a notebook and answered, “Yes, please give us your ID, so we can scan and register you.” I gave him my ID card, which he scanned and returned to me, adding, “We have many facilities for our guests. You can eat dinner and breakfast in our dining hall on the first floor on the right.” He pointed toward a large nearby room that was closed. “Tea and refreshment for guests are free, on the tables on each floor.” I saw there was a table near the dining room that had some cups with milk and coffee. “Weekly one of our female cleaners will collect and wash your clothes, too. Here is your key: room number 21, on the second floor. Amin,” he called to a short, middle-aged man standing behind him who had a scar on his face. “Please carry madam’s bag to the second floor!”

This older man, Amin, was silent and he stood still, as if he hadn’t heard. He stared forward, not looking at the receptionist. “Please show her the room!” the receptionist said again. Amin did not speak but took my bag and led me toward the stairs. He stopped and pointed up, allowing me to go first. I looked back to smile and thank him, when I saw something down the stairs below us.

It was a dark and deep basement with narrow stairs going down. It startled me, so out-of-keeping with the warm welcome and light of the guest house. I wondered why it does not have a door, why there is no light, or why it is not kept out of sight, but Amin did not look up at me. He kept on walking, and I had to move on, ahead of him. I felt strange. I paused and looked back again when Amin spoke up, “Ma’am, let’s go!” he said. “Your room is upstairs.”

We reached the second floor with its long, red-carpeted hall. There were several rooms. Each door had a number on it and We went straight until we reached room number 21 which was on the far right corner, away from the rest. Amin set down my bag and stood back. I tried to open the room with the key and heard him speak in a whisper from behind me, “Some doors are like one-way roads, Ma’am. It is dangerous to go in, and there is no chance to come out.” He pointed straight toward the door. I looked back at Amin.

“Excuse me? I don’t understand what you mean.” Amin leaned toward me, but then stepped away suddenly as a young man hurried down the hall toward us,

“Hello, Ms. Darya. Welcome to our guest house,” he called from halfway, rushing and smiling, “My name is Jawad, and I am the guest house manager.”

“It’s nice to meet you Mr. Jawad,” I said.

But he had turned away from me to direct his employee. “Amin, please go to the kitchen and help the cook!” Amin bowed slightly and left us “Water, tea and coffee are over there for guests,” Jawad said, pointing to a table in front of my room on the other side. A refrigerator was also there, and some chairs with a small table between them. “If you need anything please call the receptionist,” he finished, pushing the door to my room open and withdrawing. I thanked him and he went away.

There was a bed inside the room, and a small table was near the bed with a phone on the table. Air conditioning was built into the wall, and a big LCD hung on the wall across from the bed. The LCD remote was on the table and the room was covered with red carpeting. It was indeed a fine, comfortably appointed guest house.

I went to the windows, which were thick glass and locked from the inside. Looking down I could see green trees in the guest house courtyard and the street outside the walls. It seemed so high up, I thought if I fell down I would die, and I had a dizzy feeling, so I pulled the curtains shut and sat on the bed. I thought about quiet, short Amin and the few strange things he said. Then my mobile rang and it was my dad, calling to ask if I had arrived, and was my room comfortable? I said yes, grateful to hear his voice, but suddenly very tired. “I will call you through the video later on,” I told him and we hung up.



It was around 4:00 PM. I napped and then got fresh so that at 8:00 PM I was ready to go back to the first floor where dinner would be served. It was in the large room to the right of the receptionist’s desk. The food was served as a buffet on a long table where the guests stood in line chatting. The savory smell made me very hungry.  I saw rice mixed with raisins and narrow carrots, a delicious dumpling called manto, with sides of peas kurma, all decorated with coriander, green chilis, and dry mint, a dish of vegetable soup, fried grilled salmon with fresh lemons, a mixed salad, and my favorite dessert, ferni, with small pieces of pistachio. On a smaller table, cherry and mango juices, mineral water, apples and oranges were set with extra bowls, spoons, forks, knives and cups.  There were several girls and women sitting in the hall on the right and some of them were taking food. As I got into line the two nearest me stopped their conversation and greeted me, asking if I would join them.

I took some mantos and a bowl of soup with salad to the table where this pair, a young and beautiful girl and a middle-aged woman, sat down with me.  The young girl’s name was Sara. She worked in an NGO as an administrator. She had come to Kabul from Mazar province for training. Like me, she worked to support her family. “When did you come to the guest house?” she asked.

“Just today, in the afternoon.” I replied. “How is the guest house, do you think is it better than a hotel? Are you comfortable here?”

“Yes, I like the high security. In the past I used to stay in a hotel, but then our management team received the advertisement of this guest house and they booked my room here. It can be really difficult for us girls and women to find safe accommodation when we have to go on work trips, but I feel comfortable since I came here.”

The older woman’s name was Zainab. She came from Bamyan and worked as a clerk in one of the governmental offices. “Sara is right,” she agreed. “This place is like a palace for ladies, I feel so happy to come here. I do recommend it for lonely girls and women who come from other provinces.”

I agreed, “yes, it looks like a fantasy guest house and it has delicious foods too.” They made me feel at ease, but I also grew tired and distracted, knowing that the next day I would be facing my boss and all of the company’s directors and senior managers. I ate quickly, listening and laughing to their clever remarks. When I had finished my ferni I said, “You two enjoy the dinner, I need to go back to my room. I have a presentation tomorrow and I need to review it.”

Returning to my room I locked the door. It was sound proof, so the room was completely silent, good for focusing on my office tasks and fulfilling the company’s requirements, since they’d spent a lot on my accommodation. My boss really counted on my abilities, and I wanted to show him that I could cope with the tasks better than Farid. Then I remembered to call my dad, so he and my family would not be worried about me. I had a video call with my parents and sisters and showed them my room. After that I reviewed my presentation. The driver was supposed to pick me up from the guest house at 9:00 AM.



It was 11:00 PM. I turned off the light and fell asleep. Unexpectedly, I woke up when a black creature began to strangle me and I could feel its long, black hands on my throat. That creature or darkness was over my head, and I wanted to move my hands and feet but I could not. Neither my hands nor my feet moved at all. I tried to shout but I couldn’t, as my voice did not come out and everything was black. I could only see the darkness and a big, black creature with long hands and sharp nails that was trying to kill me. My tears fell on my cheeks but I could do nothing. Then I started praying in my heart and asked God to save me.

I felt the darkness leave my throat and slowly, slowly it disappeared from my head. Now I could move my hands too. I stood up and turned on the light. I looked everywhere, even under my bed, but no one was in there. I called the receptionist several times but no one picked up the phone. I looked at my watch. It was 1:30 AM and I did not know what to do. I had not imagined it. That creature was real, and something really was there. I decided to go out of the room and drink a cup of water to dispel the suffocation I felt. I tried to open the door but the key did not work, and it got stuck inside the keyhole. Then I heard a loud whoosh and looked back. The curtains had blown into the room and the windows were all open. A strong wind rushed through the room. I could not even believe that the windows that were closed from inside could open easily, so with shaking hands I went to close them again. Outside it was so dark, and the wind was blowing in the trees. The tree leaves were shaking. Suddenly I felt someone pushing me down, trying to force me out the window.  Half of my body was hanging out the window and half of me was inside the room. I knew that I couldn’t last much longer, so I started shouting. “Help! Help me!” But no one heard my voice. No one was there. I pushed back and looked into the room and said, “Who are you? Why do you want to kill me? What do you want from me? Please leave me.” No one replied and my hands were slipping from the window sills. It seemed that my hands were not in my control at all. Then I closed my eyes and started reciting and praying to God, out loud. After a while I was thrown back inside the room and the room was turning around my head. I rushed toward the door without delay and this time succeeded at opening it.

I ran toward the stairs and as I reached the first stair everything turned black. I could not see anything—only darkness. Despite where I had started, I felt that I was going down into the basement. The stairs were not the same ones that I had walked up before, and everything got dark and darker. I took my hand from the stair-railing and closed my eyes to pray again. I put my right hand over my eyes and did not stop praying. Something was chasing me all the time and it was still there. I kept reciting and praying. It was there behind me and I was too scared to open my eyes. Finally, I decided that no matter what happens I need to open my eyes, I need to see again, even face it, and when I felt strong I slowly opened my eyes and saw the light. From the darkness I had reached the light.

This time I was on the first floor. I ran to the reception desk, but no one was there. All the doors on the first floor were closed, and I tried to go out of the hall to inform the security guards but the entrance door was locked. I looked at the dining hall, but it was closed too. I looked at the clock on the wall. It was 3:00 AM. How did it become 3:00 AM when it was 1:30 AM in my room? I looked at my watch and it showed 3:00 AM, so I sat down on the couch and tried to keep my heart from racing. I took long and deep breaths.

For a moment I thought maybe I had died. Or, maybe nothing is true and maybe it’s all just an illusion? I remembered the events of the day:  entering the guest house; then Amin, seeing the room; the dinner with Sara and Zainab. I knocked on the table and heard its sound, so I knew that I was still alive because I could touch and feel. I could not look at the second floor, but covered my face with my hands. There was no way to go out. I could not sleep at all and just counted each second to pass on, so that I could find a way out of there in the morning.

At 6:00 AM one of the doors opened. I looked back in fear and saw the receptionist, the same boy in his blue suit, coming out of the room. When he saw me he was also scared, “Is everything okay, ma’am?”

I looked at him and shouted, “Okay? Nothing is okay here. What is wrong in this guest house? You should know that very well.”

Then Jawad and Amin came out of their rooms. “What has happened?” Jawad said, and I told them about the dark creature and the incidents in the night. Jawad and the receptionist seemed to roll their eyes as if they did not believe it. “It is an illusion Ms. Darya,” Jawad said. “Believe me, there is nothing wrong here. As you saw, we have many guests but none of them had such a complaint or experience.”

I replied, “if that’s so then let’s check the CCTV cameras.” He went behind the receptionist desk and found a small, white remote control to review the cameras, but surprisingly the footage was not available from the first and the second floors between 1:00 to 3: 00 AM. It just showed me reaching the ground floor, but before that it was not available. “Can you explain why there is no recording between 1:00 and 3:00 AM?” I asked.

“Perhaps the power was disconnected,” he guessed, “so it did not record.”

I said, “then how about the windows in my room? When I did not open them, how did they open?”

He said,” let’s go upstairs and check them.” We went to room number 21. The door was closed. Jawad opened it while Amin stood aside. I looked at the windows and all of them were closed with the curtains back in their places.  Everything seemed normal.

Jawad said, “Ms. Darya, these windows cannot be opened from outside. You have to open them from the inside, which is not really that easy. I think you just had a bad dream, and you are scared; otherwise, there’s no explanation; nothing is here.”

“No?” I complained. No? Maybe nothing is here for you, but what I have seen and gone through was not just a bad dream. It really happened and it was real, indeed real, so I will not stay here anymore.”

He said, “we will change your room.” But I did not accept it.



I packed my bag and gathered my things in fear while the door was kept open and I came out of the room. Some guests also came out of their rooms and asked me, “what happened?” but I did not talk to anyone. Then I saw Sara came from her room on the first floor and she asked me, “is everything fine?” I said, “all I can tell you is that the guest house is not safe at all. It is not the beautiful fantasy that it looks like because everything is messed up here, even the time. This is a haunted place.” She was upset and astonished hearing this, but I came out of the guest house.  Amin carried my bag and we stood together waiting for a taxi.  He leaned close again, and he said quietly, “Ma’am, what you said is correct. Whatever you saw and happened all are true. You are the first guest who came out of that room alive.”

I looked back, startled, and asked, “how?”

Amin said, “that room was closed for several years because any guests who went to stay in it during the night found either death or paralysis before the next day came. The cause of death was always a heart attack. Many times, we also heard noises from that room during the night, and the lights turned on and off in there. It seemed as if someone walked in that room and sometimes the stones from the first floor dropped to the ground. When we looked there was no one. But I knew that this is the black shadow, and it is still here in the guest house. Our old manager knew about these incidents, and he closed that room forever. But since the new manager was assigned he said these stories are nonsense, and he re-opened the room. You are the first guest who went to stay in that room after all these years because all other rooms in the first and second floors were taken.”

“How horrifying!”

He said, “unfortunately it is.”

“Why were you silent?” I asked him. “Why didn’t you tell all this in front of Jawad?”

Amin went on, “Because he would fire me. I wanted to let you know yesterday, but he warned me and the other staff that if we talked to any guests and spread such rumors about that room he would terminate us. None of the guest house personnel can talk about these incidents.”

“But what is in that room?” I asked.

In a low, frightened voice he said, “the darkness giant who haunts any guests that went in there. Once someone enters they won’t come out alive. Room number 21 is one of those that should be closed forever. “As he was whispering this to me, the security guard beckoned him to come inside because the manager was calling him. A taxi pulled up, I got in and gave him an address. We drove off and all the way I was thinking about what happened in that room, then I was reminded of what the fortune teller had told me in the park, what Amin said before, they all echoed in my head and in my ears. Again, I recalled that dark basement that I walked through during the night. I put my hands over my face and shouted, “No!!!”

“But it is the address that you gave me madam,” said the taxi driver. When I looked outside the car, it was stopped in the flowers street, in front of a hotel.

26 January, 2023