That autumn evening the air hung heavy with the promise of impending darkness, casting a pall over the very soul of Sibiu. The unexpected chill that dropped over the old town clawed at my skin like unseen fingers, sinking into my bones. It was as though the very air conspired to pierce through me, its icy breath a relentless reminder of the lurking dread that was said to permeate Sibiu’s labyrinthine alleys.
Fists pressing into my pockets I lurched onwards, sure of my shortcut.
Like the bow of a boat sticking out of mist, on and off, enigmatic roof windows blinked above and ahead. Like malevolent eyes. Watching me. The intruder. They seemed to harbour whispered secrets, their steady gleam hinting at concealed mysteries.
Beckoning. Challenging me to unravel their enigma. And warning me to stay away.
I had come here feeling an irresistible pull toward the city’s enigmatic “lucarne” the roof windows.
Be careful what you wish for.
I ventured deeper into the web of narrow streets, a ghostly breath escaping my lips, mingling with the icy air. On and off.
An oppressive sensation of being relentlessly scrutinized, from above, gripped me. Around me, only old houses. Stone buildings that stood like silent sentinels, their panelled windows shut away from this world. Mouths forbidden to speak. Secrets locked forever. Only their eyes observing my every move, with a sinister curiosity.
Those roof eyes.
Those half-moon windows like orbs heavy with sleep, half closed in slumber. Or death. Sending a chill coursing through my veins. In the fading light they seemed to come alive, their gaze fixed upon me. It was as if they held the secrets of centuries, their dark, inscrutable depths hinting at untold horrors and long-forgotten tales.
With each step I took the weight of their collective stare bore down on me, a relentless, suffocating presence that whispered of ancient malevolence. I couldn’t escape the feeling that they held the power to reveal the darkest recesses of my soul, exposing my innermost fears and vulnerabilities.
When had they ceased to be mere architectural features, transforming into sentient entities?
Their steady, dark gazes were now following my every move, no longer passive observers but judges of my presence.
I struggled to dismiss the unease as mere figments of my imagination, products of Sibiu’s storied past and of the tricks light could play.
But then, a haunting whisper echoed through the labyrinthine passages, an ancient and mournful tongue, incomprehensible to my ears. My heart quickened and a suffocating dread enveloped me.
Panting, I pressed on. Tripped over the uneven cobbled street. As I stumbled and looked back, the houses seemed to grow taller, their eyes now casting ominous glares. I felt utterly out of place under their watchful, disapproving presence.
Amid the deafening thud of my racing heart the voice eluded clear recognition, shrouded in an eerie ambiguity. I clenched my fists and with wet palms I scanned the rooftops for the elusive source, finding only those unyielding eyeballs that scrutinized me relentlessly.
It felt as though I had already stood trial. Had been judged, in silence, and condemned.
Desperation surged, and I hastened my pace, yearning to escape the stifling clutches of those peepers.
I needed open space. I craved the solace of a crowd.
Turning a corner, I finally encountered a shadowy figure under the feeble glow of a flickering streetlamp. Relief washed over me—a fellow human amidst the eerie spectacle.
The figure turned, its eyes mirroring those rooftop stares, penetrating my soul with a malevolent intensity that left me paralyzed.
Words were imprisoned within my mind, silenced by fear.
The figure approached, footsteps echoing like a sinister omen. A skeletal hand, skin-like parchment, nails like talons, pressed onto my shoulder with the weight of the world.
And then I knew. I remembered the past. I deciphered the secrets. They understood the imperative need for silence.
A cold tremor ran down my back. I snapped taught as if I was impaled.
With an insidious touch the figure left me trembling in the haunting silence of Sibiu’s ancient streets.
Only the gazes above remained vigilant, their secrets safeguarded by the city’s eternal phantoms, a haunting reminder of the dangers lurking within the heart of Sibiu’s past.
As I fled the enigmatic city, the memory of that harrowing encounter etched into my psyche. I couldn’t help but reflect on the ominous warning of those shadowy, watchful roof eyes: be cautious of what you wish for.
OCTOBER 2022 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH / 2022 AUTHOR OF THE YEAR at Spillwords.com
Novelist and poet Patricia Furstenberg has a degree in Dentistry and is the author of 18 books including DREAMLAND, 100-Word Stories, TRANSYLVANIA’s HISTORY A to Z, SILENT HEROES – chosen “One of the Five Books Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime”, and JOYFUL TROUBLE – Amazon Bestseller. Patricia Furstenberg’s writing focuses on people, on how history surprised them, and on the footprints they left, memories that should not be forgotten.