Burning Shadows – Chapter 2

Read Burning Shadows chapter 1 here ==> https://arunwrites.home.blog/2020/10/09/burning-shadows-chapter-1/

How can someone describe things that they can’t understand? Their eyes, face and emotions tell a better story than words. Disconcerted was how I would tell mine when I saw the Space communication and research facility at the west hill countryside. A giant research facility that stood at the dead centre of a sombre village town fenced off by electric wires with three large towers and a gigantic communication dish used for satellite communication that could cover the entire facility if put upside down. Half the residents engaged in farming and fishing while the rest fled the state in fear of the facility. When the call came to me early after Christmas night telling there was news at the west hillside, there was only so much one could hope from that place. I could have turned back when the guard at the gate stopped me from entering the facility, I could have. Yet I went on arguing with the him till an officer came by and asked me my ID.

“Shirley, from The Nation daily I see,” the officer said with a wicked grin lining his face, I was sure he knew me from television but not wanted to show it on his face. “We are not letting the medias in.”

I knew very well the facility won’t let anyone in without an authorization letter from the officials and I had none, but that couldn’t stop me. As I looked around there was a crowd gathered about the gate, mostly reporters and cameramen trying to gather whatever was going on from outside. There was no way I could get in if they can’t.

“We have witnesses stating that about seven ambulances rushing out of the facility early this morning to the State general hospital,” the info I got from the call that morning. His grin remained on his face, which slowly started to show a few of the white teeth underneath.

“Nothing fatal, there was a minor accident in the facility, nothing that needs to be worried about.” He said clapping his hands together as if things were as normal as before. But I needed answers.

“My sources find that the people who were taken to the hospital, some of them suffered severe injuries,” which was utterly fake, trying to bait the officer into giving up more than he intended.

“Then your sources must have been wrong, there were no such situations. The state would officially address the event very soon and then you will know the truth,” he said but the grin he wore now disappeared. He kept his hands at the back and walked to the facility. “Looks like your charm didn’t work this time,” someone called out from the crowd and I knew who it may have been. Being sure nothing much could be acquired from standing there I turned towards the crowd to search for the familiar face.

“Look who we have here, the Great Dev if not who,” I said as I saw him standing with his video camera a little away from the rest, the eyes of the crowd turned to me, some of them smiled some scowled, I get it, being better isn’t easy. He bowed to acknowledge my praise. I knew Dev from several years back when he used to work for the Nation daily, we started almost the same time, an energetic young man who always had the thirst for more. But the boundaries of a media company could only hold him for so long that he quit his job one day out of nowhere and went on to explore carrying his video camera as a freelancer. I always appreciated his effort and dedication but never his character. So if he was there filming, there was plenty wrong at the facility.

“I see that you are early,” he said, a half burning cigarette on his lips.

“Not early enough,” I said eyeing at the crowd of journalist waiting for the moment to burst out the question rolling in their mind. “What have you got?”

“Questions have been asked,” he said. I nodded realizing that he didn’t get anything better than I did. 

“I hoped to see you here today, inside the police car for breaking into the facility,” I said with a weak smile, it was true, I honestly hoped he would do that.

“I almost did that, but gave it a second thought,” he said cracking a laugh, “you’ve got anything?” I shook my head, it was a dead-end. Every case was until it wasn’t. “What could go wrong at a facility like this?”

“Everything.” We stood there till noon hoping someone would come out of the gate, to give away anything worth the wait, I almost gave a thought about slipping in but no the security was tighter than ever, chances of getting caught were higher and I didn’t have time to spare sitting at a police station. Dev proposed an idea to get lunch as I hadn’t had breakfast I jumped into going with him, also asking around a few of the residents would shed some light about the matter.

We chose a grey and shady restaurant a little away from the facility, the giant dish at the facility was visible through the window, much of the tables were empty, a middle-aged man worked the table. “Perilous business up at the facility, isn’t it?” Dev asked the waiter who came by the table. The man nodded, he was smiling not showing any sign of awareness about what was happening, “You’ve heard anything?” he asked again. But the response came from behind, an elderly man who sat with a woman eyed us from their table.

“Wicked things going up there, these godless man bringing destruction upon us,” the man said, his face reddened at the mere sight of the giant dish through the window, “First they took our land, now our lives, soon they will be digging our bodies from the ground that is if they could find them.” The woman next to him laid her hands on his shoulders trying to calm him up, which seemed to have some effect on him.

“You working for them people?” He asked, the wrinkled forehead narrowing down in disgust.

“No, we’re reporters. We heard something happened at the facility, thought about learning it, No luck yet.” Dev said, me waiting for him to work his magic, I was fully aware of his ability to make people talk.

“They won’t tell a thing, always been that way, those demons. The last seven days, I am telling you, there were unusual things about, our animals could feel that they are restless like they are going mad.” The woman whispered to the man trying to remind him of something he forgot.

“Yes, the sound. There had been these sound at night, deadly noise, like a siren. Nothing like I’ve ever heard before, trust me when I say that, I’ve been in the army and have heard all kind of alarms and siren. That is nothing as such. I can’t sleep at night, no one here can.” His hands trembled at the thought which he now tightened to a fist. “I don’t hope the government will do anything about it. They don’t even care about us.”

“I heard there was a lot of ambulance going this way today morning, some accident up there maybe,” I said trying to make him talk more about it.

“Accident? You think they cause accidents. Its devilry that’s what they are doing there. People have been going missing for the past two weeks. I am sure they must be doing some evil tricks on them.” Missing, that was something new. On one hand, people going missing from the village and the case of ambulances running out of the facility on the other, some part of my mind wanted to bring those ideas to a conclusion. But no, without sheer evidence those were just assumptions. But I wanted to know more.

“Missing? who?” I asked. He eyed me as if I asked something I shouldn’t have. He shook his head and stood up, “I have said more than I wanted to.” He gathered his belongings and walked out followed by the woman, “If you could do something, please make them stop the sound.” And they both went out.

Dev looked at me, a sceptic stare that shared the same questions as I did. The man may be exaggerating on somethings, the facility was made for satellite communication, not for human experimentation, but if people were missing there should be some explanation. My question was if the facility and missing cases were same or two widely different ones that shared no links whatsoever. I needed firm proofs to reach either end.

“How far is riverside,” I asked Dev, he was staring at the giant dish, “six or seven kilometres, probably half an hour ride, why?” he said without taking his eyes off the window. 

“I have a case I need to look into,” I said as I started to get up from the table and made my way to the door.

“Do you want me to join you?” he asked, I knew it wasn’t because of old times sake, it was pure professional interest if the case was worth his time he would work it out, but it would only hurt my ego. Moreover, the case came to me, specifically to me.

“No,” I said, “we don’t work together anymore, remember” I smiled as I went out of the door watching him nod his head in agreement.

Burning Shadows- Chapter 1

There are times when one must choose to give up or hold on, picking the right one is important because once taken there won’t be a turning back. Even after seventeen years of working as a journalist at the Nation daily, I must admit I never thought about giving up on a story but now I must. I should have said no when my boss asked me if I could spare a minute on the Christmas evening. Expecting treats and gift I was welcomed by a ragged man at the office shivering from the cold outside, his face pale and wrinkled. My boss gestured me to the chair next to the man, I barely noticed his eyes which were tightly shut, as if he was afraid to see me.

“He asked for you,” my boss told me as I sat down next to the man, “I am Shirley,” I held my hand out, he smiled and thanked me for meeting him. He introduced himself as Janak, told me he had seen me on television, his mother was a huge follower of mine, I felt proud of myself, but the face suddenly went grave his grip on my hands tightened, I had the urge to pull it back but his voice broke my thoughts.

“My mother is missing,” his voice shaking, each sound took a struggle to come out, when it did, it barely made above a whisper, I leaned in to listen. “She had been gone for three days,” he pulled out a photo of an old woman around ninety in a wheelchair, the man solely seemed above sixty and it was not the perfect age someone went missing. I looked at my boss, who had a foolish smirk on his face, he nodded me to continue, I turned to the man and asked if there were any daughter or grandchildren she could have gone to, but his response was simple, “No, I was all there was.” He assured me that all her belongings were at home, there was no way she could have gone without him knowing. He continued after a momentary silence.

“I live at the riverside, I went to the local police station but no one seemed to have an interest in it, they said they had more important jobs in hand and will look into mine when there was time,” tears rolled through his closed eyelids, he was shaking when he rubbed it with his hand.

“My mother and I would always watch your programs, when I had lost all my hopes in the police I didn’t have any other choice but to come to you. I know you are a good person always trying to find the truth, I even remember when you went against the government itself when all others hid under the tables afraid.” His smile grew wide; I could see that he had huge admirations for me as both his hands now held mine.

“I know that this isn’t the kind of things you go after, an old woman who went missing, who knows if she couldn’t take anymore from her son, cracked up and ran away,” his smiles turning to a thin line, “But I can promise you that was none of the cases, she loved me and I loved her back more, the only friend I had, she would never leave me even if I died she would come to my grave every day”

The police would not be interested in such petty cases, I knew, even though it was their job to find her, the elections were on its way and there were duties of national importance at hand under which the missing case was one they could simply put down as a woman who cracked and ran away. Which was the reason why journalists like me thrived in the country, doing the businesses of police, no wonder the man came to me when he had given up on them.

“Would you find my mother for me?” the man asked, hope shadowing his face, I could see he almost opened his eyelids to look but chose not to. With the elections coming up I was on a very busy schedule, sparing my time on a missing case could only result in me being pushed behind others who are racing to be the first. But the man came for me, asked specifically for me, he had put all the hopes on me and I couldn’t turn down an old man on a Christmas night. I agreed to follow the case and meet up with him very soon.

“I don’t have much money, but..” he started to put his hands to the pocket but I stopped him, after all those years of running after money I knew when to say no. I had made enough to last me a lifetime, that was enough. He smiled, tear rolls running down his cheek.

“What happened to your eyes?” I asked out of curiosity which I regretted as it came so hard it may have sounded rude to the other person, but he kept the smile as if it was not the first time someone asked him.

“I am afraid of shadows since I was born, so my mother taught me to close my eyes when I am afraid. I don’t open them when she is not around.”

The wind outside was chilling, the moon at its full shedding the lights out to the streets. I asked the man if he needed a ride, but he waved off the offer.

“It is a lovely night to be walking, I will be fine,” he said as he went out of the main door to the streets, he turned back one more time.

“Merry Christmas,”

“Merry Christmas,” I said, waving goodbye to the man as he walked through the paved road. My boss waiting behind, he had his doubtful eyes hanging on me.

“You sure about that, Shirley”

“Yes, you called me in.”

“Very well then, It’s on you, I won’t let you take off any time from the office,” He said and I nodded agreeing, “Strange fellow that man, put a bit of care on where you step,” he said as he walked into the building.

“I will,” I stood outside watching the old man’s figure fading in the black of the night. Unaware of the terrors that waited for me.

Case of Dead rats

If there are moments to cherish in life, hold it, treasure it because when things go downhill they will let pull yourself up. But there is only so much one can do to keep it sane. When the brisk monsoon comes calling the name of chilling winds of midnight, make sure to stay inside underneath your warm and cosy blankets or the dead rats will find you. To all the misfortunes I may have burdened myself with, no one had the mind to tell me that, if they did I would have stayed there. When a dead rat bathed in the crimson of what I could assume was its blood was found in the porch I choked on the coffee in my throat assuring me again that walking into one’s porch isn’t the best idea to do in the morning, try the garden, that would be better. Anyway, I had put down my cup of brewed coffee, slowly turning cold.

Picking up the remains was one thing and washing away the blood another. It took a considerable time of my lovely, engaging morning to dig a grave for a garbage rat who had the misery to be torn to pieces by a rowdy cat, which I now spotted strolling around my backyard watching me do the dirty business for him. Snow white with green sharp eyes, walking to a rhythm of its own. One rat could not make me late for the office, but the traffic did and I blamed the stinking cat for that.


There will always be a rising urge to do certain things that we promised ourselves not to do ever, at the least for me I didn’t have another choice but to walk straight into the porch the next morning where I was warmly welcomed by a severed body of a garbage rat, luckily I hadn’t taken the coffee early which saved me from puking over it. I must admit this one was a bit bigger than the one I found yesterday and the rowdy cat if not, a ruthless killer was doing a good job at that. I dig the grave near to the one found last day, hoping they both belong to the same family and wouldn’t want to put them apart in their final sleep. As before the cat walked in the distance watching me with its keen eyes. I couldn’t help but throw a stone at it to save me from its dreadful stare.


Let it go was my first thoughts when I was able to catch the rowdy cat in a netted basket the next evening, I would have if he didn’t put another ugly dead rat at my doorstep to the porch early this morning, three days on a row I have seen a dead rat to start my day, which I can guarantee did no help to make the day any better but only made it worse hour after another. But its sharp eyes were calm and pleading, its soft cry was enough to melt my heart to raise the basket and let it free. It ran faster that I couldn’t spot him when he rushed through the sidewalk. Last chance.


It truly was the last chance, when I sat in the car’s driving set ready with the basket on the backseat ready at my arm’s length, waiting for the cat to jump in anytime soon at the doorstep pulling the ugly carcass for me to see when I wake up as he did early that morning. A week, seven days in a row, the menacing cat left me filthy rats torn to pieces. This time I couldn’t let it pass by. I was determined to catch it red-handed and do whatever I had to make sure it didn’t repeat it ever. So I decided to stay up all night in my car, still and silent, except for the rain that made monstrous echoing through the porch. I cursed like never before on the cat for making me stay out in the cold night. Ones or twice I drifted off to sleep but made myself wake up, there was more pressing issue than one sleepless night.

It was nearing dawn, I could tell, the rain got even stronger as the night passed. The smell of wet soil brushed through my nose, making my already drowsy eyes weigh heavier, another ten different smells came with it. One particular made me nauseated, it took me some time to place the stinking smell, the dead. I could tell that because I have been seeing dead rats at my doorstep every morning for the last seven days I was more than familiar with the smell and there it came again. I leapt over my seat to have a good look at the outside where the cat must be, there wasn’t any however the stinking arose to a level that I wasn’t even sure if it came from the outside, anyway I chose to get my basket to ready myself to leap into the ground if I find the rowdy cat.

Fear always arises from questions when one can’t find all the answers and that is when it captures us. But it can only follow until we find the unanswered a logical explanation, for my knowledge was limited to find the answers that remained, moreover I couldn’t even find the right questions in the first place. My first and foremost question was Who killed the cat? As I looked back at the basket, inside the snowy fluffy cat lay in the pool of its blood. The sharp, uneasy eyes stayed shut, letting itself sleep through all the tortures it had gone through. My second question was How did a dead cat manage to get inside my car’s backseat? I was sure that the cat was not inside before and there was no other way it could have got in unless it learned to open the door and chose to die inside by gutting itself. It was enough questions for me to get out and run into the house.


The last part of fear comprises suspicion, we always try to tie in each event that we can’t understand to our fear, which rises suspicion over anything that happens to us, the dead rat that lay at the doorstep as I made my way into the house kept on feeding the fear in me. For everything that happened on that night and seven days before, I was convinced enough to shut my porch with brick and wood and bar my door hoping it would stop whatever evil that was in play outside. And I truly agree with the fact that it did help to keep the evil at bay, to an extent. Now, I find dead cats at my kitchen sink.

Yesterday Night- Part 2

This is the contiunation of the the story Yesterday Night. To read the part 1 :Yesterday Night – part 1.


“You there, get up” a hoarse voice startled Mahinder from his sleep almost jolting him down the bench, His head was ringing from the maddening sound inside his ears calling him awake.
“Go find somewhere else to sleep.” Mahi felt an arm fall upon his shoulder before he could respond to a major force made him consider his balance, slowly falling to the pavement. By the time he could manage to clear the head and look up, the City park Security guard had already made his way further the road.
Did I sleep here last night? Mahi asked himself, from what he saw the last night, nothing felt real anymore. Who knew his greatest fear would be seeing himself from a third-person view, repeating exactly what he did last night. Was it all real or just the brain damage, He kept asking himself the same question from last night.
Surely I didn’t sleep here last night, Mahi kept on thinking as he walked away from the bench. He met the main street that had rose even before him, now crowded with working men and women, children who were rushing to their school. Vehicles that raced through the black roads. He felt something eerie in the air, almost as if eyes were watching him. The feeling he had when the stranger followed him that night. Stranger? People shared their looks at him, the man who was cleaning his store, the girl who was waiting for the bus, the woman who held her bag tightly when he walked nearby. Why are they looking at me? I am overthinking, there is nothing unusual. I must have had a bad dream. Yesterday night must be a nightmare I had. But how did I sleep in the park? Everything felt real.
He tried to cross the street when he clutched onto his pockets finding his mobile vibrating. ‘Principal’ the caller was named, he made a run for the other end when the horns came from both sides.
“Where are you, Mahi?” a softer voice much better than the one that woke him in the morning. The school principal, why is she calling me now, he looked onto his watch, it wasn’t working, 5:47 the time as it got stuck. He checked his phone 10:13 am. He clenched his fist almost starting to bang it to the near post. He was late.
“I am on my way, Ma’am,” he said trying to keep his voice sane and composed.
“The meeting has already started and if you wish on keeping the job get here in 5 minutes,” the voice demanded. He had all the wishes in the world to keep on doing the job, not that he wanted it, but he didn’t know any other work he was good for. He went on to a sprint as soon as he cut the call agreeing to her demand.
Five minutes and forty-six seconds that was the time clocked when he reached the Principal’s office, where seven of the teachers who he was familiar with and another four of the staffs sat in a semi-circle centred by the Principal, a woman in her late forties.
“I am extremely sorry for being late, I had a rough night yesterday,” Mahi said as he went into the room.
“Sure looks that way,” a man sitting in the front row smirked. No one could complain him, Mahi looked that way, his clothes unkempt and hair untidy. He did a lot of running the past 12 hours. But Mahi’s mind only went into the people who surrounded him, he was searching for a familiar face, one he had known for a long time, his face. Has he came here, What if he comes here as I always do. Fancies.
“We can’t accept this manner of attire and your tardiness. This school has its rules and discipline. If the teachers can’t follow that how are you going to make the students do that.” The principal exclaimed.
“I think we could pardon him this time, Ma’am. He is just young.” The man who smirked from the front row said. Mahi’s attention was never in the conversation, although he was the topic of it. The meeting went on for another ten or so minutes and concluded that he was marked on leave that day so the day’s pay was cut. Mahi felt embarrassed when he walked out of the principal’s chamber. A wave of sudden anger flushed his mind, he could hardly contain it. When a soothing voice came from behind his ears, the science teacher, “it is your hour in the fourth standard.” He obeyed what the teacher said, suppressing the hate and fear within, walking into the corridor and onto the classroom that spelt four. The student’s welcome didn’t help him either, they were talking, some were shouting, throwing things around. He banged onto the table, twice, to let them know he had arrived.
The class went on for another half an hour, the rage he felt inside when the students kept picking on him asking questions playing with his patience felt very new to him, never had he felt that way. He stayed in the class, trying to calm his nerves when the students went to the playground for the break
A sudden glance at the gates made things worse. It can’t be, he thought. He looked again but all the things he told himself to believe otherwise were now shattered. Across the ground, near the gate stood a man, who wore the same dress as Mahi, looking straight back into his eyes. The same man he saw the last night, the man who went into his home, looking and acting just like him.
This has to stop. I must find who that is. Mahi walked out of the class. The students were everywhere on the ground, making it harder to find his way to the gate. He saw the man move away trying to hide.
I am not letting you escape, he went on to a sprint, making his way through the children around. He was closer, the man was right behind the gates now moving away.
“Hey!” Mahi called out trying to get the man’s attention. “Stop him” As if someone will care to listen and stop the man. Mahi had his focus on the man that he failed to see the obstacle that appeared before him, he stumbled down and rolled twice on the ground.
He felt pain rushing from his head, his veins were pumping blood faster, his heart booming at an alarming rate. He tried to stand up and a darkening hole appeared, spreading before him. Everything around him started to pitch black as he saw the last day.
This is all coming back, Mahi thought as he saw his body turn into gridlines, illuminating against the darkness.
“Sir,” he heard a voice as of a water drop in the distant, he turned back, the blackness slowly faded, his body returning to the way it was. He heard the voice again, louder this time.
“Sir, what did you do?” a boy cried out to him, Mahi couldn’t make much out of his yelling, he looked at the gates, the man was gone, he saw many more of the students running up to him the security guard following them closely.
“You nearly killed him,” the boy pointing toward another lying, his face half painted in crimson blood, Mahi froze, he choked, his eyes locked onto the red on the face. He saw the boiling eyes of students around him, some tearing up, others yelling. He was shaking, out of fear and remorse, Did I do that? How did I? Was he that I stumbled upon.
Soon came the teachers, some of them helped the boy carried to the school nurses office, while others kept complaining Mahi’s indiscipline and deranged mind, the teacher who smirked in the morning rushed to Mahi. He felt embarrassed and insulted before the students.
“You are mental.” The teacher called him out, holding Mahi’s collar, trying to overpower him.
“Do not call me that,” Mahi spoke out, freeing himself from the teacher’s hold. “It was an accident.”
“Slamming a child to the ground, you call that an accident. Running through the grounds like a mad man, You are mental.” The teacher pushed Mahi down to the ground. All the rage Mahi felt and contained from the morning came back seeking revenge, and this time he didn’t hesitate. He lept onto his feet and punched right on to the teacher’s face. Blood spurted from his nose as he slowly fell onto the arms of other teachers, Mahi felt a slight console that his anger washed away.
“You are absolutely insane,” the security guard, who was trying to help the teacher stand now rushed to Mahi’s side. He felt his adrenaline rush, faster as if he had no more control of the body. The students circled the scene not making any sense of what their teachers were up to. Mahi knew standing there would not help the situation, he had to go find that man, this could not be let to play anymore.
No more second thoughts, Mahi turned back pushing the children from his way towards the gate.
“Where do you think you’re going?” The security guard followed Mahi, but he went into a run that saved him from the guards hold.
“We’re going to call the police, you understood. They are going to take you,” the guard yelled at him, giving up the chase.
Mahi felt the world running faster, his eyes couldn’t focus on a single point. His heart booming faster and louder. He ran like a mad dog, letting his legs take wherever it went.
It felt like an eternity when he stopped. The sun has started to dim its light. As the sun dropped to its resting place, Mahi needed to stay somewhere, he was south of the city, an area he had less ventured to. Shops and houses all lighted and merrier, a warm feeling of being home. He stood there sulking in the scene. Why haven’t I ever came this way before? He thought.
He stayed long enough, that he no longer felt his legs. His hunger calling up to feed it. He must rest, stay low. Maybe the police were on the search for him. He wasn’t sure. He walked into a brightly lit restaurant packed with people. However horrifying the days have been for him, luck was still in his sides when he was able to find a vacated table at the backend of the room. He settled himself, no one came to take the orders and he felt thankful for that. He felt immense relief as his legs rested. The people, their laughter and giggling, how happier would the scene have been if nothing happened in the morning. A happy day and a lovely evening to hope for. He checked his phone, there were dozens of missed calls and messages from the principal and other teachers. There were other unknown numbers too. A message said the parents of the boy he hit had filed a complaint to the police. Also a complaint about attacking the teacher. There was also a call from his house owner, which meant the police were on him and have come to his house. There is no going back there.
A man came talking in himself, yelling and laughing at an imaginary friend or fiend in his mind. He joined Mahi in the table not at all bothering to ask Mahi’s consent.
Mahi put less mind in him, feeling the man would stop bothering. He kept his eyes on the tv away from the man.
“Checking whether your photo comes up on the screen. Are you?” He asked out. Mahi felt as if he was sinking into the armchair he was on. Was he asking me?, he thought and looked at the man, a man in his thirties kept staring right at Mahi, a funny smile in his lips. Mahi did not answer.
“Do not worry, it hasn’t yet,” he said again, thudding on the table to a rhythm in his mind. “How was your day then?”
The man asked as though he could read Mahi’s mind, is he drunk or designedly playing with me. Was he policemen?. The question raced at him one after another.
“Tell me what do you fear most?” The man asked. Mahi ignored the question, keeping his eyes on the television.
“Ah, the classic answer. I’ve known men who talked silence to me. It is quite enjoyable, I must agree. But now is not the time. Come on, shoot away one.” The man said, the same funny smile teasing Mahi.
“I don’t fear anything. Please mind your business.” Mahi said wishing he would stop, he tried to move his legs to get up but it was unresponsive to Mahi’s commands.
“Sit down, sit down” the man laughed and said,” don’t strain the leg too much. I can understand. This bloody leg, always keeping you seated at awkward places.”
“And how come you are at such a beautiful place and not enjoying the evening”. The man continued, “I know, right. A young man, tired and sweaty gets into a packed restaurant after a day’s running, not ordering a single cup of water, moving further into the shadows. How come, eh?”
“Please, just leave me in peace. Why don’t you find someone else to bother.” Mahi pleading, his patience running out.
“Can I? I like to talk to troubled minds and I can swear I have never seen a worse being than yours.”
“Just leave.”
“Or what? you’re going to call the police, no you are not. Because you can’t. Right?” the man thudding his thumb on the table faster creating a tension in the room.
“All right, I will leave you be, do you have some change to spare. Living is an expensive business. Care for some?” he held out his hand to Mahi. He sighed and checked his pockets.
“You could have asked for it first rather than making a show for it,” Mahi told from relief when he handed some changes to the man.
The man laughed. “You have to earn your money, right? Anyway the shows over. I have to make my way to my den.” The man walked off, at the door, he stared out through the glass door for some time and shouted.
“Life was meant to go in a path that was given to us, stray away there will be blackouts.”
Is he talking to me? What is wrong with this guy, it doesn’t make any sense, life was meant to go in what path, who chooses those paths? Mahi thought.
“You.” The man turned to face Mahi. “You, Mahi, next time you see “you” somewhere, surely will, say hello for me to him.” Then he walked out. It took a considerable time to understand the man’s words. His eyes lit up when he found out the sense in it. He knew, he really knew what was happening. How did he know my name?
A sudden strength pulled him up as he rushed out of the restaurant, pushing away whoever stood on the way, but the streets were packed with people. There was no trace of where the man went. He walked along the sidewalk, exposed for anyone who was looking for him to find.
He ran back to the city. The light of the sun had faded into the sheer darkness that now shaded the city. He walked the deserted roads and wondered. The streets were dense only an hour back, now a deserted graveyard, where the buildings reigned. He had to rest for the night, going home was not an option, sleeping at shop doors would be deadly. If humans succeeded on roads in the morning, dogs ruled them at night. Sleeping anywhere was good as dead.
He made for the city park, where he slept last night. If everything that happened was true and not a delusion he created, then he would be lucky to see himself next to the bench he was on. His eyes stayed open as much as it can, looking for the familiar face to appear but it slowly bought the darkness in when he nodded off into the sleep.
“Get up,” a monstrous voice screamed at his ears, a forceful kick at his knees threw him off the bench. “You people are everywhere, infesting the city. How many of you should I wake up? Get off!” He kicked Mahi again on the legs. The pain was overtaken by his feeling of loss in the middle of nowhere. It was the same guard who woke him up yesterday. What if the other guy is still around. Mahi got up and looked around. There was no sign of him other than joggers. He recalled the way he used the last day. I will find him in one of the places. Mahi knew. He went into the city. The crowd were the same as yesterday so has been before that. He crossed the street and reached the bus stop. The principal called him yesterday at the same spot. But the other guy was not here, the time was the same, he should have been somewhere around, but no. I have to go to school, he thought, Mahi knew it was as dangerous, the police could be around or one of the staffs or students could spot him. But he knew if there was one way of finding him that was it.
He made his way to the gates, sneaking and hiding behind whatever he could find, and peeked through the grills looking out at the building, the students were in the class, nothing must have happened yet. Class fourth was straight to the gate, he could make out someone sitting on the chair inside. Time went by as he stood there watching, waiting if the man would show up and the bell rang for the break. He knew the time has come, Mahi had to do exactly as the other man did the last day. Walk up to the gate and stare right into the class. Mahi walked slowly to the place where the other man stood and waited for him to get out of the class.
The man sitting on the chair stood up and walked out of the class, the light illumined his face, it was the teacher he punched on the face, now wearing a bandaid over his nose. This is not right. It must have been me, who should have come out. Is it not happening. Is it not repeating?. He felt someone grab his shoulder from behind and felt a hard hit on the side of his face.
The light passed through when he slowly tried to open his eyes. Several men towered over him, some wore police uniforms and others with familiar faces.
“Trying to sneak up on me, eh?” the security guard said, rubbing his knuckles.
“We are taking you under custody for several charges under your name,” The policemen held Mahi up and cuffed his hands. I should not have believed in it. They were right. I was being insane. It was reckless of me to come here for them to find me. At least I won’t have to run anymore.
Take me to a doctor before putting me in jail, could you?” Mahi asked when they seated him in the Police car joined by another officer. He remained silent, Mahi knew, if he was truly insane, they can’t punish him for the charges. The car went past the school and onto the busy street. Everything he felt from that night at his home were his delusions, hallucination his mind made up. Then who was that man who talked to him last night at the restaurant? Was he real or another imagination?
A dark spot appeared before him, it is not real, is it? Mahi held his hands out to touch it. The policeman closely watched him. The black spot grew, swallowing Mahi into the vast blackness as before. His body turning into gridlines.
“Stop! Stop!” the policeman screamed out. He looked ghastly, his face pale and lips shivering. The car stopped and the officers in the front looked back. They were dumbstruck.
“Where is he?” one of the officers in the front asked. The second one in the driver’s seat kept staring at the officer behind.
“Where did he go?”
“I don’t know,” the officer said, “he was right here, then he disappeared.”
When Mahi saw light again, he was back at the school gates witnessing the police arrest the other man and taking him in the same car he was in a minute ago. What is happening? It is not my imagination. Not my brain damage. I… I…. his thoughts stuttered. The world was spinning faster, there can’t be worse nightmares.
He understood the man’s question, his greatest fear was seeing himself in flesh and blood standing opposite to him and it had come to be true.
He ran, once again.


Thank you for reading. I will be posting the final part, Yesterday Night Part 3 shortly.
Thanks to Getthemysteriousblogger for suggesting the tag line. Cheers to you.

A.D.L’s Diary – A Story.

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Photo by João Jesus on Pexels.com

It was at midnight I surrendered to my friends who were forcing me to go with them to the Riverdown valley. After denying the previous six requests from them to visit the valley I, with half my soul still pulling me back to my study table, have decided to go out with them. Just for one night. I was always fascinated by the mother nature, sometimes of its beauty and sometimes of it hidden horrors that could swallow up an entire generation. The Riverdown valley was one such place I was intrigued about. That place was my “not to visit” categorised destination. A ghastly place, always quiet.  A place that was ignored by the vast number of civilised men who never would put a price on such land for a hundred years to come. But what made my friends attract to that lonely area was a big mystery that I never got the privilege to be answered. Such was my friends, while I understood the world from books and maps, they explored the world with their senses.

The journey to the Riverdown valley was a wish that I never asked for, mostly it wasn’t the destination that stopped me, it was the way of getting there. Sailing through the roughest rivers with no specific destination. Not only was the Snowflake river known for its size, but it was also famous for its strong current that could even take down a small yacht if not carefully mastered. The night was windy, cold and moonless. The winter was on the verge and I could smell it from the small boat I was in. One of my friend out of my four companions captained the boat while others kept a lookout. All I did was crouch at the backend of the boat and wait till I got home. After all, this was not my adventure I was just a boy out in the dark.

That was the day I found out my friend’s true courage and love to explore the world. The boat was tied on to the southern banks of the river. My captain didn’t cross the river, not because of a lack of trying. He was happy where he got. A desolate open land that showed no mercy to a person like me.  From the look of that place, I was sure no man has set foot on that land for the past decade, but I soon found out that I was wrong.

While my friends set up a camp upon the safest and warmest place they could find. I went back to the boat, just to make sure nothing was going to steal our boat, it was the only way we could get back, or that I know of. I switched on the torchlight on my mobile phone and took a nice look around. The darkness was growing around me. The only people I could reach out was my friends who were building the tents, and setting the fire. The closest settlement I knew was ten kilometres away. The only one I could ask to keep us safe was to my dear God who was up in the skies looking down to me. I closed my eyes and made a quick prayer. To show myself that nothing was wrong, I washed my hands in the Snowflake river. The water was colder than I have expected, the kind of cold that stabs you like a sharpened knife. I almost pulled back my hand but that was when I found something jammed under the boat. Our boat was pulled into the banks a little bit, and the thing was under the tip of the boat.

It took great effort for me to slightly move the boat, good enough to pull out the thing underneath. My friends thought I was crazy and was trying to sink the boat. A couple of them came to me, to check that I was sane enough. Slowly as they departed I took out the thing from under the boat. It looked like a leather book. It was heavy, hardbound. In the front cover, it was written in golden letters.

A.D.L’s Diary.”

That was someone’s diary. Then there was a train of thoughts going through me. Who came here to lose his diary down here? Why did he lose his diary? Where did he go? Is this a diary of some evil person? All the answers to my question lay in the diary. After a long battle with myself, I opened it only to see a map of the Riverdown valley and the forest that laid to the Northern banks and dark red paint at the end of the page that I soon found out was cold, dark blood. My heart was pounding faster than ever, I never liked to see blood, that was one reason I prefer to become an accountant rather than a doctor or a soldier who was likely to encounter blood in their career.

It took some time for me to convince myself that it was not blood, and just water that was mistaken for blood under my torchlight, even though it was not water. Then I turned the page and things were scribbled on the pages, mostly numbers and letters which made no clear sense to my brain. As I went on from page to page, I got into the real diary entries which could maybe answer my questions which have now doubled and desperately needed to be answered.

17th November 2004.

     The team of six led by R.V. have reached the destined location. The travel was harsh, the current was strong, our boat had swayed all the way and got hit at the North end. Very lucky were we to get to the Northern banks before the boat sank into the depths of the Snowflake river. Guess we have to find another way out when we are done. 

I was completely immersed from the first entry, something was mystifyingly horrific about that diary, that I hardly kept a notice on what was happening at the camp. I sat by the boat and continued reading.

18th November 2004

     We went into the Northern forest to investigate the radioactivity that was recorded five days back. Three members of my team are staying at the camp, one of them was severely wounded from yesterday. The further we went, the forest got denser and darker. Flashlights threw some light into the darkness. Our captain ordered us to keep watch for wolves and get the gun at ready if something jumps out. For me and my team’s fortune, no such wolves or other animals came out except for a group of wild rabbits which we had for dinner. I am really tired, had my prayers, looking towards tomorrow, need some shut-eye

20th November 2004

     Forgot yesterday’s entry, was completely drunk. Not going to repeat that because my head is aching still from yesterdays joy. Didn’t find any radioactive places or signals as told before. The winter is near, need to get back before December.

22nd November 2004

     I.D.L died yesterday after the injury from the boat wreck, buried his body near the banks. I really need to get out. R.V. contacted the main base and had requested for an evacuation. 

23rd November 2004

     There was immense heat near the camp, the whole forest was boiling, we went out to check, it was no forest fire, R.V and T.T.H are ailing of the heat. Do not know what is causing it. Was really cold yesterday night. Radio and other communications have gone out. The evacuation must be done really fast. 

25th November 2004

     The temperature has gone up. I did not get out of the camp, despite my warning, P.O.E and E.W.L went into the forest to find out the cause of heat. I was left to look after the ill. No sign of both of them. The area is just boiling. Hoping for the evacuation team to come by tomorrow. 

That was when I understood I was sitting right across the river where this A.D.L and his team camped, it has been fourteen years since the diary was written. The diary was pulling me back but my friends were shouting at me to join them for dinner. I told them “I would be there in a minute” and continued on my adventure. There were a few blank pages after the last entry, did he really omit those pages or was it unintentional? The next few pages had dark red paints over it, which I knew was cold blood but pretend to be just water in the darkness. After a few more pages of red blood, found another entry.

11th December 2004

     Rescue team never came, P.O.E and E.W.L didn’t come back. R.V died and I had to bury her. T.T.H was getting weaker every hour and I too was feeling the same. I vomited a lot of blood yesterday. The food rations getting lower. Need some help.

15th December 2004

     T.T.H died the day before yesterday. Heard a lot of dreadful screams from the forest. Ghostly shadows tend to surround me. I am going to venture out into the forest tomorrow morning. Need some help. 

I found out that the diary was almost over, a few more pages of his miserable survival journal was left. There was an odd feeling in reading another man’s dying words and to know that the men died right across where I was sitting. I went back to the remaining pages hoping that he survived.

17th December 2004

     Went into the forest, it was snowing very badly. The sudden change in the weather is making me weaker and weaker. Saw bodies of P.O.E and E.W.L ripped into pieces. Must have been wild animals. Rescue team never came. 

18th December 2004

      Went into the forest again and found out things that I know nothing of. Found another Sun inside the forest. It was white and glowing lit up the whole forest. And oddly the Sun that I know up in the sky was missing today. Did the Sun land up on the forest? Need to escape this place.

20th December 2004

     I don’t have pages left. And any more life. No Sun up in the sky. Temperature is at the highest. There is bright light from the forest. Lost a lot of blood. This will be my last entry. My dear friend, whoever is reading this, do not come back to this godforsaken place. I’ve seen shadows that are not mine around me, they are from the forest, from the Sun. They will take me. DO NOT COME BACK.

A.D.L.

The diary ended, the last entries could be hardly read. The handwriting was so shabby and untidy. My friends came in inquiring about me acting so weird. I showed them the diary and made them read it. They made me believe it was just a fiction of a mad writer who didn’t have a job for a living. So did I try to convince myself of the same excuse, but it didn’t help much. I went on to have my dinner with them. Every time I looked around I knew that we weren’t alone. There were distant shadows that didn’t belong to me or my friends on that moonless night.

I compelled my friends to not to stay for the night but hardly did I know that time was almost past 2’o’clock. So I had no choice but to spend the rest of the wretched night at that dismal land. Every time I closed my eyes I could see a skinny wrinkled man who was pale white of the cold, begging for someone to save him. A miserable creature who didn’t want to die in such a horrible place. Somehow I made it to the morning.

For my surprise and deep hauntings, I found out that it was pitch dark, even when my watch and the mobile phone said it was 8:00 am. I saw no Sun nor did I see any stars up in the sky. My friends shared the same mystery that I did. We packed quickly and made our way out. The boat was made ready for our journey back. I got my place at the backend of the boat. All the way back I gazed at the Northern banks, I was sure I was able to see light rising from the forest. Then I made sure that whatever evil was in work, I wasn’t going to bring it back with me. I placed the book where I found it. And made myself think it was all a bad dream.

Many questions remained with me, why there was no Sun? as my friend told me, It was winter, the sun comes up slower than usual. How did the man see the Sun up in the sky inside the forest? Probably he was hallucinating. Who was this A.D.L and why did he and his team come at first place? Why did no rescue come? Did A.D.L survive? and how did a diary that was in the Northern bank end up at the Southern bank? Both banks had a gap of more than 100 meters, no way could the weak man throw off such distance. Was A.D.L. really a human being or just an imagination of a mad writer? Anyway, I made no queries of that event anymore, I have completely forgotten it.

The reason I write this is, the Sun didn’t come up today. It is a mid-summer afternoon, no Sun has come out and it is pitch black outside. The news channels are going crazy about the event. So was A.D.L true? Did he see the Sun inside the forest? I will never know and I am not going back.

Shadows Of Sector 12 – A Short Story

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The thunderbolts pierced the dark night sky. The bright full moon hiding under the misty clouds. Raging storm shook the ground itself. Under the black clouds lay the Sector 11 of South River Railway track. A narrow and old track that had been there for over a century or two. Beside it stood an old lonely wooden cabin. It was as old as the tracks have been.

Inside the cabin, a man was asleep in his chair. His brown uniforms were cold and wet. Water dripping through his black hair and falling down into the wooden floor with a splash. The lightning and thunder couldn’t wake him, but suddenly he jolted up from his sleep when his telephone rang.

“Where are you, Idiot?” shouted a harsh voice from the other end as soon as he put the receiver on to his left ear. He was fully awake now.

“I was asleep,” He said to the other man. He rubbed his sleepy eyes and looked around. It was complete darkness, the only source of light was the lightning outside. When it flashed, it lit the whole room like a day.

“I don’t pay you to sleep there,” said the harsh voice who was possibly his boss. “There is trouble at the Sector 12, go and see what it is,” demanded the boss.

The man’s eyes widened. Fear went through his spine leaving him motionless.

“Haven’t you heard me, Ravi?” asked the boss again.

“Yes sir, but it’s not my area.” Ravi tried to slip away from the duty that his boss gave him. He knew it was of no use. Ravi had been a gatekeeper of the Sector 11 of South River Railways for 6 years but never had he crossed the borders to Sector 12. It held something terrible that no one could find out.

“I don’t care whose area it is, you are going to check that place out and report back to me. Understood?” The Boss ordered him. Ravi had no other option if he had to continue his job he would have to obey his Boss.

“I understand, sir” Ravi replied to the Boss in a low quiver voice. He slowly put the receiver back to the telephone and stretched his back on the chair.  The storm outside was strong and fierce. He closed his eyes to sync with the reality, find some courage and confidence. After a while, he opened his eyes. Darkness filled has filled it. He slowly stretched his hands on the table and found the torch and lit it.

The room was small and worn out. The roof was leaking here and there. There was nothing much in the room except a wooden table and chair. He took an overcoat that hung on his chair. It was wet and cold. Ravi wore it and opened the cabin door. Cold wind raced inside, the darkness seemed to spread everywhere. He walked out to find Manu sleeping outside covered in a woolen blanket that kept him warm and cozy.

Manu was more like an assistant to him. He was not employed by the Railways or by Ravi. On a cold unhappy night 5 years ago, when Ravi has just joined the Sector 11, he found Manu sleeping outside his cabin, cold and hungry. Ravi gave him food, a place to live. He was more like a protector for Ravi. Manu made Ravi feel that he was not alone here.

Ravi looked at Manu sleeping and called him.

“Wake up, Manu,”

Manu hearing his employer’s voice slowly woke up from his warm woolen blanket. He was about to ask some questions but Ravi sensed Manu’s doubts and answered him first.

“We’re going to check Sector 12. Boss called. He said there’s some trouble,” Ravi told Manu. He kept staring at Ravi.

“Don’t worry, it won’t be too long” Ravi comforted him. His hard manly voice gave Manu the courage to do the impossible. They both walked out into the tracks and went south to their cabin. The rain was stronger than before. The cold wind made them both very uncomfortable.

Ravi was not sure how long Manu had been around these Sectors but from the way he sleeps outside the cabin on such a cold night could say that he had been born in this place. Still, one thing that haunted Ravi was, if he was born or raised here why is he afraid of Sector 12.

Surely everyone was afraid of Sector 12. It was a railway gate where no man guarded it. Not because it was automatic, it was because no man who loved his life went there. The Sector 12 was covered by Dense forest where nobody inhabited. Ravi had heard of many stories of Sector 12. The rumor was that almost 7 gatekeepers had died there. They were killed by some unearthly creatures. Some said that it was the ghosts of people who suicided in the tracks. There were a lot of stories like these. Still, a job is a job. Ravi had to do it, whether he liked it or not.

They knew they were close to Sector 12 when they saw the forest around them got thicker and thicker. The darkness grew, their eyes could not see what was in front of them. Even the light from the torch was blocked by the darkness. Ravi was starting to feel the hidden fear inside him. What he feared he not know. Yet he feared something. He could feel that many a thing was watching him from the darkness. The cold black eyes were able to make Manu think about to take another step further. But he saw Ravi walk right to the Sector 12 and he followed his employer.

Now they were inside the borders of Sector 12. Both of them made no noise. Their steps were stealthy. They didn’t want to wake what dwelt there. From the light from the torch Ravi could see a small cabin, the same as his, in a distance. The only difference was that it missed a wall on one side. It was broken down into pieces. Still, the cabin stood upright. They didn’t go for the cabin, they just kept walking further on the tracks.

Then they saw it. The trouble they were sent to check out. A huge tree fell over the tracks. It was black, thick as five men and taller than a usual tree grew. Ravi sighed.

“It’s not our kind of problem, Manu. Let’s  go back and report the Boss.” Ravi told Manu. He was delighted that there was nothing they could do. Both of them had no tools even if they had them. It was of no use. Manu’s eyes glittered. The feel of exhilaration ran on his body. He smiled at Ravi but that smile faded away when he heard a noise from their right.  It came from the vast spread darkness. They were not sure where it came from, the forest or the cabin. But it almost resembled a sound of a tree falling down.

“It must be the storm,” said Ravi trying to comfort himself and his partner. “Let’s get out of here.” They walked faster now, back to their area. Manu led the way who wanted to go back to safety.

“WATCH OUT!!” shouted Ravi when he saw a tree, the same as the one that lied on the track, black and thick, fell just before Manu. Both of them stood petrified. They knew they were trapped. Manu slowly walked towards Ravi looking around him. Ravi kept glancing at all sides. Nothing could be seen anywhere. He knew they were being watched and there was no escape.

Suddenly Ravi saw something ran through the woods. It was dark, he was not sure. But he clearly heard the sound of the feet. undoubtedly it was not the rain. Ravi was thirty-three, he could easily pick out the sound of footstep and rain. He sensed that Manu was standing really close to him, he was cold and shivering. Ravi put his hands over his shoulders.

“Don’t worry we’re going to get out of here,” Said Ravi and started to walk forward but not so long before he sensed another figure pass over their back. He stood frozen and turned back instantly. Ravi was startled to see something impossible. The tree they saw that was lying on the tracks has now disappeared. He stared at the scene just to find out if he was looking in the right direction. Yes, he was. There was a tree before but now there was not even a sign of a tree. But Manu wasn’t looking at the disappeared tree, he was staring at something else. A bolt of sudden lightning lit all the area. Manu gave a cry and ran further into the Sector 12.

“Stop!” Ravi shouted but only in a lower voice. Manu did not at all hear him. He kept running until another lightning lit the Sector. Ravi ran after him and had almost reached Manu when he ran to the sideways, away from the track. There was no other way for Ravi but to follow Manu, maybe he knew a path to get out of this godforsaken place. Ravi could hear a lot of noises from behind, he could feel a bunch of things following him. They were near only a hand’s distance. Both of them was running through an unpenetrable forest. Suddenly Manu climbed onto a huge tree. He was so skilled in climbing than he looked to be.

Ravi stood under the tree looking at the pace Manu was climbing. He didn’t know how to climb but there were those creature-things on his back, there were no other choices. It took some effort to climb such a huge tree. They both reached almost the top. The wind began to blow even stronger than before, trying to bring them down. Ravi now noticed those things that were following him, did that no more. He looked around. All he could see was an ocean of darkness. They sat there on a long, strong branch for a long time.

The wind slowed down, the storm passed. The bright full moon came out of hiding, now lighting all the place below its vision. Ravi could see where they were. They have run a long way from their cabin. They were in the heart of Sector 12. There’s no going back. He looked down, there was nothing. Things that followed him was nowhere to be seen. But he could see that there were movements in the woods. It must be the things that followed him.

Ravi just went through what just happened. He remembered looking back at his followers just before climbing onto the tree. They looked dark and inhuman, they neither had any shape or color. It was like, looking right back at his own shadows, only that there were hundreds of them. He knew that there can only be shadows if there is any light. And there was no light at all, the only source of light was his torch that he lost while he ran from them. Then whose shadows were those. Were they just shadows without a body, like the stories of ghosts that haunted the area? Do ghosts hunt in a pack? He thought to himself. But he was sure that they were no such thing as a ghost or a human, they were shadows of Darkness.

Time passed by, they were sitting on top of one of the highest trees. Ravi looked at Manu, who was now deep in his thoughts, there was neither fear nor worries in his eyes. It shined in the moonlight. Glittering like the stars in the night sky. Manu looked back at him.

Ravi was feeling terribly cold, his uniform was all wet, he started to feel that he was not getting enough air to breathe. The cold and heights were stopping him from breathing. His eyelids were now heavy, not able to open it. Manu could see that Ravi was slowly falling to his deep sleep, where he won’t wake up again.

They both heard a noise from below, it sounded like a grumbling of a beast, yet it sounded deadly. There were many now, but none could be seen. Ravi’s heart started to pound. He was terribly shivering from the cold. Manu looked at him with care, his eyes were now sad, filled with pain.

“We’re going to die, Manu,” Ravi said patting Manu’s head. His silky smooth hair made Ravi’s cold hands warm. “Don’t worry, it won’t be late.”

Ravi looked down now, to his fate. There were two choices either die of cold, at the hands of nature or die at the hands of the shadows. He could see there were many of the shadow creatures lurking around the tree they were on. Many appeared from the dark forest. It was scary, it was death.

Ravi slowly tried to climb down. Manu caught his hands and made him sit where he was before. His bright shining eyes now stared at Ravi’s.

“There’s no other way, Manu. I am sorry.” Said Ravi, tears flowing through his eyes. “I am sorry, I brought you here. It was my fault.”

Manu barked now. A voice that was high enough for everyone around the area to hear. Ravi looked at him. Manu barked again. He was trying to get the attention of the shadows below. He looked down and now to Ravi’s eyes. Ravi was confused about his actions.

Manu then eyed towards the Sector 11 in the distance and back to Ravi and again to Sector 11. Then he barked slowly and looked down to the shadows. Ravi didn’t understand him first. Then he knew what Manu was trying to say. He wanted Ravi to make a run for Sector 11 while he will divert the shadows from there.

“No! No!” Ravi patted, disagreeing with Manu. “I am not leaving you with the shadows. We’ll die together”

Manu looked at Ravi, his eyes were now joy and happiness. He barked again.

Ravi could not control his emotions. Manu, his dog, he found him outside his cabin. He never looked him as a dog or called him a dog. For him, Manu was his best friend who loved him, cared for him, who was always there for him. Manu saw Ravi as his God, who raised him and gave him food and shelter. Now it was time for him to return his favor.

Ravi patted his smooth shiny brown hair and looked at the blue collar he wore. Manu walked to Ravi and licked his face. Then stared right at his eyes. He was trying to say his goodbyes. Then he swiftly climbed down the tree. On halfway he turned back and barked at Ravi, signaling him to get ready. Then he flew down to the shadows and ran as fast as he could, to the deeper forest. Ravi could see many a thing following Manu from every direction. The moon shone more brightly, giving Ravi a good view of the place he was in. There was no one around. He slowly climbed down and reached the surface. Ravi looked at the way Manu ran, he thought of following him but he did not. Manu risked his life to save him and he did not want Manu to die for nothing.

Ravi ran back the way they came and reached the tracks and from there he ran to Sector 11. After some time he passed the borders of Sector 12. His cabin was in his view. Just before he could reach there he heard a loud cry, it was familiar. It was Manu’s.

“Manu!” he kneeled on the track and cried. Then he woke up and walked into the cabin. He dialed his boss and explained everything to him. Later a team of police came and searched the area but nothing was found. They found no tree that fell over the track nor any traces of the shadow creatures. Manu was not found.

Ravi resigned after the event and went on to work at a supermarket, where he was not alone. Days past a new man was assigned at Sector 11. He was a young man who dared to take the adventure and he was alone. On his first night at the cabin, he heard a banging at his door. He, with some fear,  opened the door and found someone he felt very pleased to see. A dog with smooth and shiny brown hair and wearing a blue collar. It stared at the new man. He welcomed it inside and gave him food and kept him with him.

Days passed and he stayed with the new man, guarding him against the shadows of darkness, just like he did to his predecessor in his old lonely wooden cabin on the Sector 11 of South River Railways.

The Postcard Stranger – A Short Story.

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The evening was drawing near but they weren’t losing their hang of it. Marli with his friends was watching football in his home. His parents went to visit their relatives so his house became a fan park that day. The match was played by the local clubs and it was a final matchday. They could not afford to miss it. Marli’s football fever was intense, he used to play for their city club but he was ruled out for the tournament and they have reached the finals. So there in his home, he watched it with his friends, enjoying it. It was almost 6’o’clock when the match ended and Marli’s team won the match by a huge goal difference.

“Boy, that was a match,” Gono said to the group. Gono used to play for the college team but never made it to the Club. Marli was anyway happy for the result, even though he could not part with it.

“I forgot to ask, Raghu. Where were you last week? You didn’t come to play” asked Marli.

“Oh! I went to my grandfather’s place. It was fun and mysterious.” Said Raghu with great pride.

“Mysterious?” the whole group wondered at the same time. Raghu felt awkward hearing them say it together. But he smiled and said yes.

“What happened?” they asked again in the same voice.

This time Raghu told them everything his grandfather told him. His grandfather used to be in the police department. He was a fine officer and have received a gold medal for his valor.

“He told me about many of his investigations especially the case of the postcard serial killer”.

“Postcard?” asked Gono. “How can a postcard be a serial killer?”

“The postcard didn’t kill people. It was the name of the killer. He used to send people postcards before killing them. “

Marli was getting a little frightened. He was always afraid of thieves and killers. But was not ready to stop Raghu from completing the story.

“And the best part is he was never caught”. Raghu told with a big smile on his face.

“That would be enough” Marli stopped him. Everyone laughed. They knew Marli was afraid of all these things.

“Don’t worry, Marli. That was a long time ago. Even if he wasn’t caught, he’s probably dead by now” Gono tried to comfort Marli. But Raghu wasn’t ready to drop it. “but, you know, he may be dead. Still, his ghosts are lurking around.” Raghu laughed.

“Get out now” Marli became angry and kicked Raghu out of his house.

“Alright I will go, but be careful you are alone here.” Raghu kept tampering Marli’s thoughts. Marli searched for something to throw at Raghu, but by the time he got one Raghu and his other friends were nowhere to be seen.

“Idiots,” He told himself of his friends, smiling at his own fear. Marli slowly closed the door and locked it and went and lied on his bed with his cell phone in the hand. A little later he heard the doorbell or thought he heard one because he had his headphone on so he was not that sure. Anyway, he went to see if it was true, but no, there was nobody outside. Just his thoughts. But on the way back he saw a small yellow paper that resembled a sticky note. It was lying on the ground where they were watching football. He walked to it and picked it up. It said:

“Hello”

“what is this?” he thought to himself and turned it over and over. There was nothing else just the word hello. Marli knew it was Raghu’s play. He tore away the paper and went back to his bed but in front of his room, there was another card just the same paper he tore away. It said:

“Hello?”

The joke was going way too far. He tore it and walked to the front door and opened it. For his surprise, the door was locked. He tried the keys, but it didn’t open. Pushing or smashing was noway applicable as the door was made of steel. He could only dream of opening it with a push. The night had arrived and darkness spread over the world. Marli went to switch on the light. The light didn’t work.

“What is wrong with all these things?” he asked out loud for he was frustrated with all the jokes. Marli walked towards his bed to pick up his phone and call his friends. This time, on the bed there was a postcard, that was yellow, old and dusty. It bears the words:

“Don’t go out

Was that a threat he didn’t know. He turned it over and a sudden fear groped his soul and was slicing him to pieces. There were blood stains on back. He dropped it and ran out forgetting his mobile phone. Marli knew there was someone inside his home. Was it a prank or not? he was mentally depressed. He was sweating far greater than when he used to play football. His head was feeling dizzy, his hands shivering.

“THUMP!!!!” His heart started to pound even faster when a large noise like a plate falling on to the ground and breaking was heard.

It was surely from the kitchen because there were no plates anywhere else. He hid behind the door and peeped over the sides to have a view of the kitchen if someone comes out. A slight view of the kitchen was available from the room where he was now standing.

“THWACK!!!” another sound from the kitchen was heard, this time like a bang on the door or window. He hid behind the door and stopped peeping out. To his right, something peculiar stood. It was small and yellow. In a second it slowly flew to him and lied before his feet. He didn’t want to look or pick it up. But he couldn’t control his urge. In a swift motion, he picked it up. A dark fear went down his throat when he read it.

“I am not where you are looking”

He ran out to the door and tried to open it. Marli didn’t want to die today, not like this. He really pushed the door out. Nothing would happen, he knew that. Still, it was worth a try.

There was no other option for him. To pick up the mobile phone was out of the question. There was no way he would go into his bedroom. He ran straight to upstairs. There was just one bedroom. That had stayed locked for many years now. Nobody in his house went there. Nobody liked it, that was the truth. Like it or not, it was the only option he had.

He pushed open the door with all his power and it opened with a little creak. As soon as he got in he closed the door and locked it and sat at the far corner of the room. There was nothing else in the room except some old scraps and newspapers, a window opposite the door. Marli sat there for a long time. He was thirsty, but he would not go down. Hours past, the darkness got stronger. There was no source of light in the room. But he needed to try his luck and walked towards the switch, for his delight the light was on and he had a better view of where he was. He slowly came back to the place where he sat. Near him laid a bundle of old newspapers. Marli slowly pulled out a paper on top. It was really old, almost a century old. On the front page, there was a news headline that made Marli go mad. It said:

“The postcard Killing counts 127 and more!”

It didn’t end there, from the inside fell a yellow postcard with two words written in blood.

“Got you!”

Marli’s eyes were staring on to the postcard, his hands were shivering, his shirt was fully wet of sweat. He could have died of fear but his attention was taken by a bang on the door. A loud thumping continued for a long time. Marli knew he was trying to break in. There was nothing he could do to escape. The only thing he could do was pray to God for everything he got in his life. After some time the thumping stopped. Marli rejoiced, there was no more sound or any letters. He sat there for some more time. He thought he must now go to the room and get his cell phone. He slowly walked to the door, but suddenly the lights went out. Marli threw himself back into the newspaper bundle. He expected a blow from the door. But through the window on his back, a red face with black tongue appeared with an ax in hand and said in a devilish voice.

” 128 “

Marli knew what he said, he would be the 128th victim. He screamed so loudly that he fell to the ground unconscious.

It was all black.

Marli slowly tried to open his eyes and saw his phone ring. He looked around not knowing where he was, then it came to him that it was his room, there was a pale sunlight. It was evening.

“Oh! a nightmare” he said himself. He was sweating, utterly thirsty. His heart was beating faster than he had ever known. For one second he went back to his dreams just to make sure it was a dream. He again heard the phone ring.

Marli stretched his hands to take the phone and answered it.

“Hello,” almost a whisper. There came a loud voice from the other side, it was probably shouting.

“Where were you, I have been calling you for an hour,” It was his mother.

He slowly looked at his phone. Yes, there were 19 missed calls.

“Sorry, I think I was just having a bad dream,” he told his mother everything he saw and heard. He heard a mouthful for roaming around with friends like Raghu, he always heard that. His mother never liked Raghu, she says “he is an evil person. Anyway now he knows there was evil around and met him in person in his dreams. He sighed.

That night he went to Gono’s house and went back home only when his mother and father got back.