There are no limits for human horror, all the wild imagination and unpredictive responses had made the conscious mind a clueless maze where everyone is trapped. Some people are able to free themselves by picking out the right signs, where many have failed to find the right conduct. Conduct, that is the word a person must live with. A code of conduct to live a life in society. Every time I hear a person say the human being is a social animal I hear the implied sentence, therefore you must live with a code of conduct. Because that’s what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Laws.
But what does a code of conduct has to do with human horror. To define horror in a very simple manner would be the inability to control something. That is when fear rises. When fear intensifies to form where there is no coming back, it becomes a horror. And human beings, following the code of conduct, set a lot of boundaries which in turn brings a vast area of inabilities. These inabilities leave a human being not being able to respond or take an action when needed. Thus leaving them with every horror imaginable.
It was on one such instance that I met an old man on a bus who looked too old for his age. He had a very distinctive feature. He talks. No matter what the situation was, or if nobody was listening to him he talked. Louder than normal men and words that made no sense. I grew curious about him but it became more irritable than pleasing. People made him get off the bus as nobody could stand him anymore. I felt sorry for him and wanted to apologise for the action of others. But like any normal citizen who follows the code of conduct, I remained on the bus.
Later I saw the news to find that he died from a car accident. His medical report stated that he had Somniphobia or the fear of sleep. The doctor stated that the man used to talk loud because it helped him from sleeping or even thinking about sleeping which could bring a panic attack to people who suffers such phobia. He was younger than me but lack of sleeping made him look older than his age.
That is when I noticed something, why people ‘do’ things. I came to the conclusion that everyone in this world or any other world had a single and foremost motive for doing things. It was not money or a more competent one, power. Neither was it to demand respect nor was it for their pride. The single most reason why every man woke up every day and worked hard was because of fear. Fear of getting lesser than others, becoming smaller than others, not having as much as others. We compare because we live in a society, which for example made me not to get off from the bus to comfort the old man, fearing that the people would not expect such things from me.
The fear has very peculiar objectivity of bringing a mindset into the people that failure of something would result in death. But death was not the sole reason for everyone’s fear or was their motive. Death was only a bi-product of fear. When fear intensifies it forms horror and to escape horror is to escape oneself. It may seem fairly possible from a distant view but getting closer these horrors keep everything running. From a government authority ordering their citizen to obey their rules to a school teacher who commands their students to do homework. It becomes impossible to overcome their horror. But on the contrary horrors and fears are very much reliable and more productive than other motives. Human civilisation was built on the foundation of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the untamed beasts that lingered in the darkness, fear of thirst, fear of hunger. These fears gave rise to a way of living, which now had been civilised to form a code of conduct. We live by a code of conduct, but the fact is, it is not the code of conduct that leads our life. It is the fear and horror of our own that guides our life through the treacherous paths.
Human horrors as I began this post with, on a wider angle cannot be called a horror itself, it is a lantern, a piece of our own that states what is right and what is wrong. To imagine a world without fear is to see a world of chaos. More than love and trust, fear could bring order from the chaos that had set itself in this world. Not on a fear of a person or an authority. On fear of oneself and fear of not being able to be productive. The fear that could bring love and compassion on to this morally and physically devastating world.
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.
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.
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.
The snow was covered in red hot blood, a sight, that was the most beautiful image a man can see and at the same time never wish to see again. It was beautiful and eerie. Gunshots filled the snowy plains, the sound of gunshots hitting the sandbags that shielded the soldiers was a nightmare that never should come true. Distant cry’s could be heard around the camp. Men fell to their fate, the air spread a nasty smell of fear around the battlefield. The Beymern border camp held 25 people who were facing their worst nightmare. But they welcomed it with a smile, they were doing this for a common reason, for their country.
The day was not the same two hours ago. At 6:00 am 32 officers in the camp fall in for their morning parade and following a football match within the camp. Lieutenant Hathra’s team won the match against Sergeant Vardhan’s team. The usual result as always. After the match Hathra came to Vardhan, they talked for a long time. Both of them were friends from high school, now joined the Beymern army and got posted at the same camp. Hathra always mocked Vardhan for becoming a Sergeant and him becoming a Lieutenant.
“I joined lately, If I was enrolled along with you I would have become the Captain,” Vardhan always replied the same. But that never stopped Hathra. It was just a usual day, a day that was cold but shiny. Snow covered the ground outside the camp. Four out of thirty-two men were sent out of the camp to their respected lookout positions.
It was almost ten thirty when the men on the lookout posts detected movement in the nearby forests. They could see the border between Beymern and Nortier, which was heavily fortified by using electric fences. There was no way there could have been any unknown entries from the other side. But officer Ray who was on the tower informed the men below. They all looked through the binoculars, but the forest interrupted the view. But the thermal scanners showed a huge troop hiding behind the trees.
Officer Ray, took out the radio to inform the base camp, but a sudden gunshot pierced the officer’s skull. The rest three men were alert of the troop’s position and fired back. They took cover. It was the Nortier army, they knew that from the blue uniforms that could be seen from the tree lines. The reply strikes were heavier than they could think. It was raining bullets. They hid behind sandbags which was laid around the watchtower. Officer Main took out his radio and alerted the base camp.
“The Watchtower is under attack. There has been an entry from the other side.” Lieutenant shouted from the communications room to his officers. The whole camp rushed into their rooms and took their guns and weapons. Everyone was equipped for a battle. But there was a war coming that they did not know.
“How many are there?” asked Vardhan, his face was red as an apple, he has been in a battle before and have won a silver medal from the President. It had been long since he had got into a battle. Now he had a chance.
“Close to two hundred and a tank.” Lieutenant Hathra’s voice felt heavy, there was no way thirty men could fight two hundred men and a tank. The news brought fear upon Vardhan, he was ready for a battle not for war. The lovely day seemed to be last day they would remember he thought. But Vardhan didn’t lose hope. He could feel his loyal friend being scared of his fellow officers lives. They could not retreat, it was not the right thing to do at this point.
“We will fight.” Said Vardhan standing upright with a puffed up chest. “Awaiting orders, lieutenant.” A sudden spark went through Hathra, he smiled. “FALL IN.” Hathra shouted.
Everyone in the camp stood before him, Sergeant Vardhan joined the others. Hathra looked at everyone, he knew it was the best men he could ever get to go for a battle. He was proud of them.
“There are close to two hundred men who are gaining onto our camp, we may be a few in numbers but we should let them know the strength of Beymerns. This country has always been strong and proud, so are we. We cannot let them pass these border. I shall die protecting my country. and I need men who would willingly die with me, who would walk with me to the gates of hell.”
“WE WILL!!!!!” the men shouted out, a new found energy covered the entire camp. Now it was time for war. Fifteen minutes was the maximum time they would get to be prepared before the enemies reach the camp. And not to forget they have a tank. Lieutenant laid out a plan, divide and conquer. The main target was to take out the tank. He employed two of the best men to go out of the camp and set up hiding place near the woods but within the range of the camp. They shall be equipped with the RPG 7 launchers which could take out the tank. Mines were dug outside the camp. Ten men stayed a hundred meters away from the camp inside the forest. Five snipers were set around the camp. The rest stayed inside the camp behind the sandbags.
Time flew by like a butterfly, men sat silently hidden from any eyes. The snipers above kept on giving information to the men below. And after what seemed like a minute or so, they heard something fly past them. A missile was launched from the tank that struck the camp. No one was injured but the impact shocked everyone around. The snipers were unable to take a shot at the upcoming enemies, they hid behind the tank and it didn’t look like two hundred people, maybe fifty or so. The tank stopped a hundred meters away. Fired another shot, no damages. But then gunshots were heard from the forest around. The Nortiers have used the forest to cover themselves. The ten men in the forest were now fighting against them. Several gunshots and explosions from mines and grenades were heard. The troops behind the tank appeared, they kept on shooting to the sandbags. The men behind sat patiently until the tank was destroyed.
The RPG was unable to be launched because the tank was out of their range. They had to move closer. As the troops came in closer to the camp. The snipers started firing, several of the enemies fell on the wrath of the snipers. Mines exploded as they started scattering from their troops and came closer to the camp. Sergeant Vardhan started shooting from behind the sandbags and took as many lives as possible. No matter how much they shot, the tank stood still and fired upon them.
Hours have passed many had fallen from the Nortier side, twenty men remained for the Beymern side. The ten men who were in the forest took as many lives as possible but had got no news from them for the past hour. Two of the snipers fell. A pile of dead bodies of the enemy soldiers lay outside the camp. The twenty men had no hope of surviving. Not less than a hundred men still stood on the Nortier side.
“Should we charge in?,” asked Vardhan to his lieutenant. Lieutenant stood silent. He had eyes on another target who came up with a grenade. Hathra’s shot pierced the man’s skull and the grenade accidentally fell among his own men and exploded. It was a ten kill on a single shot.
Several minutes passed and there was no more hope left. Less than fifteen men left on the Beymern side. A bullet shot right through lieutenant Hathra’s shoulder that caused heavy blood loss. Their medic was dead, not much could the men do to help Hathra, neither did he allow anyone to treat him.
“It’s not my life that is worth, we need to stop them that is all that count.” the lieutenant shouted to his officers. Sergeant Vardhan was busy shooting at the men who stepped over the camp gate. The sun was blocked by cold-hearted clouds, that almost made the midday a dark night.
The men kept chattering about doing something to escape that hell. It was more than anyone could handle. Until the reinforcement arrived there was no sign of victory. Suddenly one among the twenty men started to speak out. And everyone joined him. It was their army pledge.
To the people, I live among.
To the people, I serve.
To the people, I fight for.
To the people, I call brothers and sisters.
I shall die in honor of dying for my country,
for the land, I call home,
for the people, I call my countrymen,
for my mother and my father.
No one shall go past me,
take away my home from me,
burn my freedom away from me.
Dig my graves, my friends,
for today I shall die the heroes death,
and shall dine with our forefathers.
Cause today I die for my motherland.
When all hopes seemed far away, they heard an explosion, a sound that was much louder than before. Vardhan looked over the sandbags to see something they waited for long. The snipers radioed the lieutenant.
“The tank is down. I repeat the tank is down.”
Lieutenant was astonished to see the tank been demolished to pieces and killed half of the men near it. The two men in the woods occupied with the RPG’s went in closer enough to get a clear shot and they took it. But was spotted by the enemies, they put up a good fight before going down.
“Your plan worked. Shall we advance now?” asked Sergeant Vardhan, a big smile in his face. Lieutenant smiled back. “Let’s go kill them.” They all moved towards the enemy troops, Nortier was left with less than a fifty men, who now was shocked with the destruction of the tank. The Beymern’s had an upper hand and they took it.
The white snow floor was now a red blood river. The ground was so hot, smoke rose from the ground. Several of the men wearing green uniforms and blue uniforms went down.
“We can bring them down,” Sergeant Vardhan told Lieutenant Hathra. But hardly did he see that Hathra had taken several shots, he was slowly dying. The battle lasted for another hour. For their fortune, Beymern reinforcement reached the camp and took out what was left of the Nortier soldiers. Eight of the Beymern soldiers survived. Lieutenant Hathra died as soon as the reinforcement arrived. He had done his part. Never for one second did he allow the enemies to enter the camp or cross the gate.
“Oh! It is very much relaxing to lye down on the snow after a hard day, isn’t it?” Hathra asked Vardhan just before he died. Vardhan’s eyes filled with tears.
“Is it you crying or is it my mind playing with me?” Hathra asked, smiling at Vardhan.
“It is probably your mind, idiot” Vardhan replied.
Hathra smiled, “you are my junior, I am a lieutenant. You know that, right.” They both laughed. “I joined later, if I enrolled with you, I would have become a captain,” Vardhan said his usual reply.
“You will, I know. It was an honor to work with you” Hathra told Vardhan, “Send my love to my family, will you?”
“Yes, I will.” Hathra smiled and slowly went into the deep sleep he would never wake from. Vardhan pulled out Hathra’s gun and laid it on his chest and stood up. He was crying, he never has felt such sadness in his life. Then he rubbed away his tears and stood there looking at the distant land that spread around. The vast land which he called his motherland, his home. He saluted his lieutenant, his friend, a brave warrior who saved his mother nation.
The evening was perfect for the travellers who were in the Railgate city. The sun was bright, the wind was calm. The trees were gently moving to tunes of the wind. The city park was peaceful except for the laughing and giggling of the children playing around the pond in the middle. It was a weekend that every person desperately needed and it was the place to be on such an occasion. The travellers were taking photos, eating their snacks, boating in the pond and every single thing a normal person would do. But on a bench in a quiet end of the park sat a man of middle age yet he looked old in his brown overcoat. His once jet black hair started to become grey and the cute fair face that the women loved started to become wrinkled. But the subtle beard was able to compensate with the wrinkles. He wasn’t alone in the bench, a book he had been longing to read was accompanying him, taking him to places that he had never seen or meeting new people who were never real.
An inspector of the Railgate city should be on duty at this time, but he didn’t want to be on duty on such a beautiful evening. All the stress he had, all those sleepless nights, the tiring run behind an unknown person has got a hold on him. But all those could be kept aside for this evening. “The world doesn’t end tonight,” he told his assistant while coming out of his office early that day.
He wasn’t paying any attention to the surroundings but he was aware of a person walking up to him. It was a public park, there were hundreds of people around and many more would come eventually. But he was sure someone was coming straight to him. He just ignored that as he was deeply engaged in the beautiful romantic story he was reading.
“Good evening, sir,” a rough-voiced man stood beside the bench. The man was looking really old, older than the police officer. He wore an army green jacket which was muddy and looked older than him. The same colour hat was on his head, hiding his baldness.
“Can I sit here?” He asked very gently, his voice was clear and low but was holding a weight in it. Maybe of a tiring journey or of his old age, the inspector thought. He didn’t want anybody to disturb him that was why he sat at the back end of the park still an old man came straight for him and wanted to sit on that particular bench.
“Yeah, good evening. There are other benches in this park. You could sit peacefully there.” The inspector out of frustration raised his voice against him.
“Oh! I am sorry, sir. I am new to this city and I know nobody here. It was just I was scared to be left alone in this large place. You looked like a nice gentleman, so I thought I could just sit beside. So I could feel a little safe.” The old man said with his words stuttering in between.
His face looked helpless. The old man reminded him of his long lost father. For a second, he cursed himself for his misbehaviour. The old man kept smiling and turned back to move away from the bench.
“It’s all right, you could have a seat here,” The inspector smiled back at him and made room for the old man to sit. The old man’s eyes lit up, he slowly sat on the bench thanking the inspector. They both sat there for some time, nobody talked. The inspector honestly wanted to know why the old man was here in this crowded city all alone. That mystery kept him from returning to the books. But the old man was even anxious to start a conversation with the young man and he did.
“It is a lovely evening, isn’t it?” the inspector turned towards the old man. “It looks just like my village except for these cars and tall buildings.” The inspector felt very comfortable in the way the man was talking and he closed his books and thought of enjoying a real-life company.
“Oh! really, Its mostly like this in the spring season. But the summer’s could get even worse.” the inspector tried to give a good picture of how his city was but he wanted to know more about the old man’s life. “Where are you from?”
“I am from a village called Rimmerett. It is really far to the south of this city.” The old man got something to start his conversation with. “I am a farmer so was my father and his father. The village is a magnificent place to live in. Green hills and clear river valleys. You should come to visit one day.”
The inspector felt very happy for somebody calling him to visit his village, from what he said, he was able to feel the peaceful life the old man have. It must so great to be a farmer in such a place.
“Yeah! after I have finished some of my works I would definitely visit the place.” The inspector told the old man, he wouldn’t possibly visit the place but he didn’t want to tell the old man that. For some reason, he didn’t want to see the old man’s face go dull again. “Then what brings you here to this city?”
The old man’s eyes widened, his face became pale white. His forehead was sweating which he rubbed away with his wrinkled palm. Then slowly he returned to his normal state.
“Uh, I was here at the police station. I have a case filed here.” the old man stuttering throughout his words. The inspector was little amazed to see an old man far from south to have a case filed in this city. He wanted to know more, but the old man’s face left him in silence and thought of asking no more. They both sat quietly like fish in a pond searching through their minds for something they did not know. After some moments, the old man was humming to a song, it was rough and tough still it made the inspector feel happy.
“That is nice, do you sing?” the inspector asked the old man. The man blushed, nobody has told him that before, except for his lovely wife. He smiled and kept shaking his head agreeing but still not wholly agreeing.
“I used to sing while I was a child, but my wife writes poetry and I sing them for her,” He told the inspector.
“Oh! that is great. Then why don’t you sing one of her poems,” The inspector was trying to make the old man feel very free to talk. At first, the old man tried to get away from the subject but the inspector kept on asking him and finally, he agreed.
Long away, from the sea, I could see you on the tree. The west wind brought your cry, leaving the seas to dry. The seas raging and sore, my mind diving to its core.
It’s taking longer than I thought, but I will get there soon and soon.
Be with my child,
and take care of my heart. For soon shall I come and make a home again. Take care of your own, but none shall hurt you, I can’t bear to see, my home left all alone.
Stay strong my child, Stay with my wife, I will fly as fast, as fast as wings could take. I will bleed to death than see your broken heart. Make nicer songs, for your father to sing.
I will reach soon and soon, but no sooner than I thought. There is war before noon and I’ll fight with the rose I brought.
The old man’s eyes filled with tears as he finished the song. The inspector felt the pain in the song although he never liked poetry. But something in him just kept gnawing him.
“I am sorry, It is not that good, my wife, you know just writes the poems for me. So, it won’t be as good as the real poems you people read.” The old man was trying to make the situation lighter.
“Well, if this is not what they call poetry, then I am not going to read their books anymore,” the inspector and the old man smiled each other.
“My wife, she says it is about a father bird who goes far away to find a new home for his family which was destroyed by the attack some foul creatures. But you know, I think it suits perfectly for a man who is in the army, fighting a war, where he writes a letter to his family far away.”
The inspector smiled at how the old man had interests in his wife’s writings, “Its a poem, there are hidden meanings in it. Everyone would have different views on it.” The old man shook his head and looked at the sky which was now slowly getting dark. “So, why didn’t your wife join you here?”
The old man was not paying attention to the inspector anymore he kept staring at the sky for a long time and the inspector left him in his thoughts. Slowly he spoke in his stuttering voice.
“My wife has written thirty-seven poems so far. She never went to a college or got a good education. But she had a good heart which could give her the power to write good poems.” The old man looked at the inspector, with a face full of joy in it.
“I am sure she does have a great kind heart.” the inspector agreed with the old man.
“There was one occasion where she sang one of her poems at a wedding function in our village, there were so many people who loved to hear her songs. She was really nervous and kept asking me to join her on the stage and I did sing with her. Everyone stood up and applauded her when we finished.” The old man had a big smile on his face, his black eyes were glowing like the sun, he stuttered no more. The inspector listened to him very enthusiastically.
“Two days after the function, I was going to the market a little far from my home to sell the vegetables we farmed. She was writing a new poem which she promised would sing at another wedding which was a week later. It was raining and I had to take my brothers truck to the market. I could still see her standing at the doorways waving her hands at me.” The old man stopped, but he was looking at a tree far away like he was looking at his wife in his village. Then he continued.
“It took me some time to get the things sold and the rain was strong and roads were muddy and difficult to drive. I got home almost before lunch. But my home didn’t look the same as it used to be. The doors were wide opened and our garden in front was burned. I paced into my home looking for my wife. But all I saw was a motionless, cold white figure. The redshirt she was wearing was torn apart and I could see finger marks on her cheeks. She was strangled to death as the autopsy report said. She held a piece of paper in her hand which had a poem written on it. The one I sang to you now.” The old man started crying, he rubbed his eyes with his kerchief. The inspector was startled to hear the change of events, he was a police officer he wanted to know more about it.
“What happened? Who did that?” The inspector curiously asked the old man. It took a little while for the old man to respond to the question.
“The police said it was an attempted robbery, they believe there must be three or four people. My wife was a bold woman, she may have stopped her, and they have punished for what she did in the most brutal way.” The old man was crying again. The inspector moved towards him and put his hands over his shoulder and tried to comfort him.
“Did the police find them?” the inspector asked him just to find something to ease the pain out of his mind. The old man shook his head.
“No! they said they might have got into this city and I filed a case here three years ago and still nobody has found anything.” It was getting somewhat familiar for the inspector now, he remembers a case filed three years ago on a murder of a fifty-six-year-old woman at Rimmerett. He felt sorry for the old man, he couldn’t help him find justice.
“I am sorry, they will find the people behind it. Please don’t worry.” The inspector comforted the old man and he nodded and rubbed his tears with his kerchief.
Time past by, nobody talked to each other. It was getting dark, people were clearing the park and getting back to their burrows and nests. The old man broke the silence.
“You see, I and my wife were together for forty years and never had she ever complained me for anything. She always told me that God would take care of us. I was a practical man, God was just another word in the dictionary. But she prayed to God for me too. She always prayed for my good health, for my better future. But never had she prayed for herself. She knew, If I were alive and healthy I could take care of her. And her prayers were answered, God left me alive, healthy and strong, and for what. What is the purpose of this life if there is no one for me to live for? Sometimes I wish that she could have often prayed for herself than for me, then we both would have been alive and together. It is the philosophy of life, You can’t have everything in your life at once.”
“Everything happens for a purpose, we can’t change what happened. Sometimes the fate is cruel.” Said the inspector.
“It is getting dark. I have to get back to my village before morning. There is a lot of work to finish.” the old man slowly stood up from the bench and stretched his back and adjusted his hat. “You are right, inspector Sekar. Everything happens for a purpose.” The inspector was confused he never told the old man his name or he was an inspector, he was not even wearing the uniforms.
“Don’t worry, I know you are the inspector of this city, I have come to you several times. But you never had time to listen to me.” The old man smiled at the inspector. “I know why the Gods left me alive so that I could find the people who took away my wife from me. Let me tell you a secret, you need not have to look for the killers anymore, their business has been settled. I killed all of them just like they killed my wife. Actually, it was fun, watching the life squeezed out of their body. It made me feel like God. The same God my wife used to pray to.”
“I could arrest you right now. You know that, right.” said the inspector to the old man who turned out to be not the same guy he was talking to. The old man smiled.
“Yes, you could, inspector. you could. I really came here to kill you. I needed to confess everything to someone and I thought you would be the right person for that. Well, as I am finished I guess its time for you to join my wife.” The old man picked out a gun from his pocket. The inspector was really familiar with the gun, it was his. He had had it strapped to his belt. He searched the belt and the gun was missing. “How did it happen?” he thought to himself. And he found out that when he was trying to comfort the old man while he was crying he might have taken it from him.
“You are a clever old man.” the inspector frowned at him.
“My wife used to say that. But I still believe I am young. In my mind, I am still the young cool guy who used to roam around the villages with my friends. Well, you see I am really tempted to kill you, but I am going to leave you. Just because you liked my wife’s poem.”
The inspector laughed, he knew the old man was not as foolish as he thinks. “And you think you could escape?”
“I don’t think before doing. I just do things.” He took out a piece of paper and gave it to the inspector. That’s my address, I’ll be there when you wake up. You could come and catch me if you can. Remember, it is the philosophy of life”
“Wake up?” the inspector asked and suddenly his head banged into the bench and it all went black.
He was sweating, the heat was immense and his head ached. He slowly opened his eyes to see the bright sun and a number of joggers in the park. His senses returned to him and he stood up. Something was clenched in his wrist and he looked into it. That was a paper the old man gave him, it was written,
1125 road, East Remmerett village,
I will be waiting. I will not surrender. Come with your force to catch me.
The inspector smiled at the old man’s message. He could have gone after him. But deep inside his mind, he knew there was nothing wrong in what the old man did, he did what the police couldn’t and let the Gods decide what will become of him. It is the philosophy of life after all. He tore the paper and left it for the wind to play with.
“You’ve got 2 days,” the angry boss shouted at me. He frowned and waved his hand signaling me to get out of his office. I slowly collected the papers I gave him and walked out of the room. My eyes were filling up with tears. I could see my fellow colleagues, looking at me with sympathy. It was sure they were not that sad, they were just thinking how lucky they were to get a job here, that I was struggling to be on.
My name is Shirley, I am a trainee at the State Newspaper, one of the top newspapers of my country. It took me two whole years to find a job after graduating from college. At last, I got selected as an assistant reporter but I have to finish my training period of six months for becoming permanent. I was given an objective of submitting a story of social value and something that matched the level of this newspaper. I have submitted eight of them and every one of them was rejected by my boss. Now I have two more days left of my training period. I need to submit a story or I will lose the job.
Thima, One of my friend, who works as chief of the photographic department came to my desk. Her eyes were anxious to know what the boss told.
“What happened? What did he say?” she asked. The tears in my eyes were swiftly noticed by her. It was a great relief to have a person like her at the office. She was the only person I could rely on such a difficult situation.
“The same,” I told her and gave her the report that I submitted to the boss. At the bottom left corner of the page, it was written in red REJECTED. She patted on my shoulder.
“Don’t worry. I will talk to him. Let me see what I can do,” Thima, tried to comfort me.
“No, don’t. Its ok, I will find some other job. This may not be my field.” I said. So hard have I tried not to cry in front of her but I couldn’t. She embraced me.
“Go home. Just have a good sleep. It will be over. I am here for you.” She smiled at me. I thanked her and took my things and went out of that tremendously huge building. Why does a newspaper company want such a huge building? I’ve always wondered why.
It was way past afternoon. As I walked down the busy main road, I started to feel very uncomfortable. Something trying to squeeze the life out of me. I looked across the street and saw some children playing at the park with their parents. It was peaceful to watch. I walked across the street to the park. The place was such relief from this miserable city. I slowly walked down the pavement in the park, breathing some fresh air, syncing in with nature. But something else caught me. Near the trees, on the green grassy ground sat a young man with a guitar. He was playing it, I could hear the faint sound of its rhythm. I walked towards him to get a clear picture. It was sublime, the fast but melodious tune made my soul elevated. My body was now moving to his tracks.
Further, I went in I saw that there were no one around, just him. But hardly did I see, that he was not alone. Around him, in a semi-circle with him as the center sat many birds and rabbits, rats and squirrels and so many other creatures that I have rarely seen in this city. It felt really magical to me. These creatures around him had their eyes locked at him, moving to his tune. The sunlight struck his face making him look more majestic.
The music pulled me towards him, I was a little over ten feet closer to him. But neither he nor the creatures bothered to look at me. I waited there, closed my eyes and listened to it, going with the flow. Then suddenly the music stopped, I was in a beautiful world. It took me some time to realize that the music stopped. When I opened my eyes all I could see was the birds fly off, the rabbits and squirrels running back to their burrows and holes. The man was doing something with his guitar.
“It was great. Your music,” I tried to appreciate him. It felt awkward for me to start a conversation with a stranger who was not at all paying attention to me.
“Oh! you heard my music” he turned to me and asked doubtfully. His face became more clear now. Pale and skinny it was. He sported a goatee and a nice thick mustache. His dress looked like someone from a play. White button-downed shirt and a black overcoat with same color pants. He had a black bandana covering his head.
“Yes, I was listening to it. Sorry if I interrupted you” I apologized to him for intruding in.
“No, I am much obliged that you listened to my music. Not many people here could enjoy it,” he said with a smile that could light the whole park. I felt so impressed by the man’s words. He made me feel lighter and completely stress-free. His smile made me smile.
“Yeah, they don’t have time for these things. They are always running after something they can’t get.” I told him.
“You are not like them, I assume?” He asked me still sitting on the ground and tapping on his guitar.
“No, I am one of them. The same, who run after something I can never get my hands on.” I sighed, my mind went back to the boss and my job.
“I don’t think so. You are not one of them, fair lady.” He told me. It felt weird. His talking and dressing evoked some doubts in me. I nodded just to agree with him.
“Where are you from? You don’t look like a person from here” I asked him just to make my doubts clear. He smiled at me. His blue eyes twinkled like pearls in the light. The long skinny face looked like a piece of diamond. He held the guitar and started to play some notes. He was trying to hypnotize me or I thought so. I sat on the soft, cozy ground near him. He was murmuring something slowly, his melodious light voice echoed through the trees.
Where I come you ask,
thus where I come I shall tell you.
Between the green mountains and
above sundry rivers, I dwell
were all my folks are doing well.
Listen up to the woods that we do,
to look them up is what we need.
From the sky, we fly,
from the seas, we swam,
from the Earth, we grew and
to depths, we find the heart of our woods.
Still, where I come you may ask,
which I can’t tell.
Listen up, It lies far away,
to the east, you may look,
to the west, you shall find,
to the north, it lies,
from the south, you will go.
Thus where it is you shall find,
When my music shows,
my heart of earth and
the earth of all my heart.
I stop to leave it to your mind,
where you can find it for yourself,
tomorrow you will see,
or is it after-tomorrow
or in the tomorrow’s to come.
I leave you to your mind and my woods,
where you will find my place and what you seek.
He stopped there, I still was flowing in his soft melodious voice that I failed to decrypt most of his message. I found out that he didn’t want to reveal where he was from. But something in my mind told me to keep up with him. I found a fascinating story in him that I could write and submit to my boss. It may work I thought to myself.
“So, you live in a forest?” I asked.
“You may call me a forest dweller, where I live with my kin in the middle of my fellow trees. and I will call you city dwellers, where you fight with your own folks in the middle of earth eating structures.” He told me, his face started to become red. I was not sure if it was because I called him a forest dweller, I didn’t call him that anyway. Suddenly his face turned back to normal. A smile he gave me, that eased the tension.
“I see that you are not a city dweller.” He asked me. He started to lean towards me and stared right into my eyes. I felt that he was looking into my soul. There was a cool breeze, that went through me. I wanted to move away but I thought not to.
“No,” I told him looking back into his eyes. He smiled and lifted his hands. There in his right hand held a small green leaf or something that looked like one.
“What is it?” I smiled and asked him. There was something incredible with that leaf that made me want to get it from him.
“This is a Leaf of the Great Radhar tree, it is considered sacred by my kin. I gift it to you”. He held it with great pride and stretched it towards me. The man didn’t hand it to me. He slowly stuck it to my left ear. I felt completely embarrassed, but something in it made me sit still and wait for him to finish it.
He leaned back after that and smiled at me.
“It suits you perfectly,” he said. I was blushing. His pale face and blue eyes seemed to make a somewhat good image in me.
“How did you find I was not a city dweller?” I asked suddenly remembering where I left off. His smile widened, the blue eyes shining, going deeper into my soul.
“I can see it in you.” He slowly held my hand and placed his warm, softer hands on my palm. “Your hand, it shows who you are. I can feel the nature in you. The world in that you love, not this busy land. Somewhere in you lies a forest full of happy roses and gentle streams. I see it in you.” All this time, he was looking inside my heart. It was all true, I grew up with my parents in a village near a stream, they were farmers. I don’t know how he found it out, but I always loved to be in my garden full of roses.
Suddenly he started to stand up and strap the guitar on his back. It all happened in a second or two. I was stunned to see him suddenly recover from a position like it.
“Oh! You are leaving?” I asked him. I didn’t want him to go to be true, his diamond face, pearl blue eyes and his melodious voice all wanted me to make him stay.
“Yes, fair lady. I must be moving.”
“My mother calls me, there are woods
I need to see before going back into the depths of my land.
So many are the trees that I have to listen upon before I go back.
Fewer are the steps to the depths, still, it is the fairest you will see.
I must be going, there are woods I need to see before going back.”
He sang a song as a reply. What was he? I wondered. Still, I wanted him to be with me, telling me more of his stories, singing more of his land.
“What is your name?” I asked him. His smile faded, the blue eyes left lifeless, the pale diamond shape turned red. I wanted to take back the question, but he smiled again.
“No name of mine shall I tell you,
for you may call me forest dweller,
tree listener so can you call,
or a beloved singer, so and on.
Farewell to you, fair lady,
you’ve been nice to this lonely singer,
who listened to the songs which none did,
sooner we may meet, but no sooner I say.”
I knew he was saying goodbye to me, which he did and walked away without looking back again. Into the depths, as he said, he went. Well, the sun started to get low and I needed to get home but I didn’t want to go back into that four-walled cage of mine. There was a long debate between me and myself. And I decided to go back to my cage.
All the way, his music played in my head. Who was he? What was his purpose here? Was he a thief or someone who hypnotized people into liking him and rob them? No, I don’t think so.
It was getting very late, I failed to keep track of time. It was an almost dark night. I didn’t want to go back to my apartment. The guitar guy was all in my mind and my head. What was wrong with me? His music got a hold of me. And suddenly I saw a dark image of what looked like the guitar guy pass across the road. It was dark, I was not sure if it was him, but I wanted to find out.
I followed him through the paved silent path. Nobody was out and it was an uncomfortably cold night. I crossed the road and followed the black figure. It was him I was sure, same height and size. And now he was playing the violin, but no sound came out of it. Behind him followed some animals. Dogs and cats mainly. I kept a safe distance between us. He turned right into a narrow and dark gap between two buildings. I hid behind a garbage bin and peeped out. I wanted to call him but I waited to see what he was going to do.
Suddenly he stopped and turned back. My heart started to pound faster now. It was not a good idea I thought, but I waited there for something to happen and it did. One or two dogs started to bark. The sound of it started to grow as it was slowly moving towards my direction. I began to move away from my hiding and paced my way out of there. But as I looked back the dogs were now running towards me, in fact, three or more dogs and a countless number of cats were following me. They looked frightening. I ran from there. No one could be seen on the streets. What was happening? I thought. Suddenly, one of the dogs got hold of my pants and bit me. I felt no pain, was it because of the adrenaline rush I do not know. But many other creatures jumped on me. It scratched me, another one bit me on my neck and it bit deep. Blood covered my face and flowed on the streets. I cried out loud but only that no sound came from me. Slowly blackness covered my eyes. The only thing I had in my mind was why the man had to kill me? Was that because I followed him. But a familiar sound came into my slowly dying senses. A distant sound of a guitar. It was roaring in the silent night. The dogs and other deadly creatures on me scattered and ran away. My eyes were covered with blood, but I could see the face of the cruel guitarist before me.
“You?” I frowned at him. Only a faint sound came from me. But he looked like he heard me.
“It was not me. Come on I will take you somewhere else. It is not safe here anymore.” He told and lifted me up. He started to shout out loud and a white light surrounded us. I could not see clearly, but the white light seemed to grow every second. My Eyelids felt heavy, it slowly closed. It was the end I knew that.
“Stay with me. I’ll save you.” He told me, but I fell into a deep sleep.
The barking of the dogs was heard again and I woke up from my sleep. I looked around nothing looked familiar. My head ached and my neck hurt. I rubbed my eyes slowly and again looked around. A wooden cabin it was. A strange but mind-bending aroma filled the room and it made lose all my pain. I felt the bed, it was all leaves and some flower petals. It was soft and the most beautiful bed ever to be seen by a human being. I smiled and wondered where I was. A sudden cool wind blew through the opening in the right side of the room. That’s when I got a look of where I was. My eyes widened, I walked out of my bed to the opening. Outside it was all Yellow trees. Not yellow, more like Gold, it glimmered in the bright light of the sun. I was in heaven or somewhere better than that.
“I see you are awake and perfect,” a voice from behind woke me up from me wondering. The voice was familiar, I hesitated for a second, should I look back. Truly I wanted to but he tried to kill me. Anyway, I turned back to see a man, the same man with the guitar but now looked different. He didn’t wear the bandana, his long hair, black from the top but became gold and white while going down. It reached his shoulders. His beard as same as before had a slight gold color now. He wore a perfectly fitted white shirt and black pants, with a smaller guitar on his hands, it looked like some kind of a mandolin.
“Yeah!” I told him but for a second I was stunned, I wasn’t wearing the same clothes I did before. It was now a white long gown or something. “What is this? Where are my clothes?” I asked in wonder.
“Oh! yours were all blood and dirty, I had to put this on you.” He said smiling. I was bewildered by his reply. Did he put this on me, or someone else did?
“Don’t worry, It was not me. Mother put this on you.” He answered my questions. He did understand my heart. I smiled finding that it was his mother. Then I came back to reality.
“Where am I? What happened? Why did you try to kill me?” I shot out my questions one by one to him. His smile disappeared, but this time his face did not turn red.
“Come on out, I’ll tell all you want to know.” He told me and went to a door. It didn’t look like a door but a wooden wall that suddenly opened on his command. I walked out with him and my jaw dropped. Now there were trees with rose leaves all around us. The further I went out, I could see in the distance green, red, rose, yellow, white and gold-colored trees. The ground was all fresh green grass with white flowers blossomed. It was a paradise. He stopped at the middle of the ground and turned back and with great pride he said:
“Welcome to Lorkieda, My land.”
I looked back and saw a huge tree lying on the ground. I was sleeping inside that tree, and I guess he lives in it.
“Yes, I do live in that great tree.” He said answering to my thoughts. “It has been here even before I was born. My mother brought me here.” The place was a paradise, there were trees everywhere, flowers of all kind on it. The wind brought down a few flowers on them. I jumped out of joy, can this be real or am I still dead. Either way, I don’t want to go back. A few white rabbits ran towards the man and knelt and patted them.
“Can I?” I asked him, I couldn’t contain their cuteness. He smiled and nodded. I walked towards them but they didn’t want to come near me. The man kept a hand on them and spoke some unknown language to them and the rabbits came to me. I held one and others jumped on me. I laughed. They were so fun to play with.
“What is this place?” I wanted to know more about this place. He smiled and pointed up into the sky. A bright white light was seen, It must be the sun I thought, but it wasn’t. It was white and kept us from seeing anything more in the sky. Slowly, the light made way to the thick blue sky, there were so many other bright lights in the sky, like stars on a night sky. It kept me wondered.
“I know you would not understand anything. I may not have the time to tell you everything, but I will give answers to your question. But first, you must follow me.” He said. And I stood up from the green grass and walked after him. The rabbits were in my hand and some followed me.
We walked for a while, nobody talked. I was still enjoying the surroundings. This is not at all a place in my city or even my world. I was surely in some fantasy magical land.
“It was not me, you saw last night,” he broke the silence. He was still walking. I waited for him to complete it. We reached before a giant river that gently flows over green grassland. It was white and the clearest water I’ve ever seen.
“Listen, things you are going to hear are not meant for mortals to know. We should not talk with mortals and not ever bring one to our Land.” He said turning back at me. “So what I tell you must be kept a secret and protect it with your life, will you do that?”
“Yes, I will,” I agreed to him. No matter what happened I wanted to know everything.
“Wonderful,” he sighed, we sat by the river and he continued talking but I stopped him.
“Could you sing it for me”. He smiled and took his Mandolin and played a note.
“The land you see is the land I live,
from the trees up high to the ground down low.
See for you know its the land of Lords, and
Lords it is who lives down here,
for I am but a noble servant of them.
To look after the woods is all I do,
and listen up to them is all I need.
Could I see a tree life suffer,
no, I can’t and see a fair lady hurt,
that I will never too.
My job is to make things good for,
all life’s on the Earth.
To make a place like the Land you see,
and the land you see is the land I live.
Not just me are the servants of the Gods,
many such folks do what they should,
like the seaman who looks under the waters
and sky people who care the pure light
and one such was that you saw yestereve,
cruel he is not, but its what he does.
While I hear trees and cure the ill,
with the music, I’ve been blessed with,
just like all my folks.
Music, he does use to find the life’s
which, are ill that make our woods unwell.
He finds them, binds them and brings them,
to the Lords of doom, he sends them.
Time bought you to him,
or it was me some doubts,
Not some doubts, but it was me.
Apologize, I could, that is all,
a tree lover, a life saver, a noble servant do.
But you are in the Land you see,
the Land I live, from trees up high
and ground down deep my feet.
Angel among mortal you are,
for I am blessed to have met the
fairest of our enemies or what my folks say.
See our Land, fairest it is and
even fairer are my kin around.
The Land you see is my land,
The Land of Lords and Kings, and
The Land is Great Lorkieda.
The song kept echoing through the trees, the gently flowing river gave to support his music, and the wind played the best part of it. Making it more august.
“So, the other man who tried to kill me, he did so because he kills people who hurt the trees?” I asked curiously.
“Yes, he tried, but he couldn’t.” His face felt drooping. He was sorry for what happened to me and he blamed himself for it. “You remember I asked you “did you hear my music?” the first time we met at the park and you said “yes” ”
“Yes, I remember,” getting back the images of our first meeting.
“That is because my music can only be heard by the people who are trees in nature. People who give everything to others not bothering to get anything in return. The people who value other lives. People who love the Earth. And you heard it. Seldom have I seen people like you. And that is why I gave you the Leaf of Great Radhar tree. This leaf in your ear will stop you from hearing evil voices which dwells all around us and will help me to find you in need.”
“So, that is how you found me when I was being attacked.” I finally understood all the jigsaw puzzles.
“Yes, but you couldn’t hear the other folk’s music, could you?” He asked.
“No, It was all silence. Why was that? Was he evil?” I asked out of fear. I have seen evil humans but never seen an evil like that.
“No, he is no evil. But the music he played was not meant for you or people of your kind. But if he or the creatures possessed by him see any mortals around them. They won’t leave anyone to tell the tale. That was why they attacked you.”
“So are we safe now?” I enquired. His face had fear in it, the blue eyes looked confused.
“No, he will find us here. When he reach here you can go back to your land and that won’t be long” he raised his hands and felt the wind. He spoke something to the wind in an unknown language. “He is near, we need to find your way back ere he comes.”
“But, wouldn’t you be in trouble if they found out you brought me here?” I asked him, I didn’t want anything to happen to him because of me. He didn’t reply, I repeated the question, after a silence he spoke.
“I need to get you back safe first. My way, that I can find out.” That explanation was not good enough for me. But he didn’t care to tell me more. We stood up and walked and reached a place that was all white. Grasses were thick white. The trees had a brown trunk but the leaves were all snow white. It was not snow, but it was how it was.
“Where are we now?” I asked not seeing anything else around us. He had a big smile on his face.
“We are here to see my mother,” he said. I was excited to meet his mother, how lucky she would be to have a son like him, I wondered. The path led nowhere but suddenly he stopped and knelt. He plucked a small white grass and chanted a song in the unknown language. And a yellow light appeared in front of us.
“That is my mother,” he said. The yellow light stood straight to my eyes. It was just a light, as big as a pigeon. But to my surprise, it spoke.
“Welcome to Lorkieda, Lady Mortal.” It had an austere womanish voice. I felt it was staring at me. The one thing I loved was how they called me. Fair lady, he called me and now Lady mortal, his mother calls.
“You must not be here. This place will bring danger to you but I know why my son brought you here. I can’t stay here long nor can you. But I say one thing to you. Look after our trees. Because we were the one that planted all these even before the dawn of living creatures. Protect it and one day you can rightfully be here.” It said and slowly started to disappear. I didn’t ask him much and I think he didn’t want me too. He stood there and didn’t move.
The wind started to get stronger and mightier, a sense of danger grew around us. Is this the other man. I do not know but something was not right, I could see it in his eyes. He knelt near a white tree that looked fresh and young, he began to speak with it. The same unknown language but the tree now began to move to his pitch and so did the rest of the white trees, they all were swaying to and fro. Now he stood up and held his mandolin and started playing it.
The wind was stronger now, really strong. I was hardly holding on but he kept playing, harder and louder was now its sound. I turned back and saw another figure, the same person I saw other night, he was holding the violin. He came briskly towards us and was playing it. I couldn’t hear it like he told me, but from his playing, I could feel the rage in it.
I held on to my man’s arms but he was staring out front and now at the high voice he sang,
“Mother of mine and all my kin,
I plead to all my might and all the sin
to have a drop of your life on the fair lady,
my fair lady.
Open up her world, and let she be freed,
where she will look after what is ours,
and wait for you to take her to the Lord’s hours.
Mother of mine and all my kin,
I plead to all my might and all the sin,
let tomorrow be with her and in her world,
where she will be the angel you wanted me to be”
The bright yellow light appeared again and now bigger than me, it glowed, making the whole place yellow.
“GO!” He told me and looked back, the other man was running towards us with his violin.
“What about you?” I asked I would not leave him with the other man. I would never.
“Don’t worry about me, I will always be here looking after you, waiting for you to be here when my mother calls you.”
The other man was real close and the almost got hold of me then my man played a loud note on his mandolin and the other man was blown away. The wind became even stronger and mightier.
“GO NOW!” he shouted and forced me into the yellow light. He smiled and held my hand.
“Aarshan Shegar of the woodland clan, my name it is. You asked me once but I didn’t tell you. Farewell, my fair lady.” he said, tears filled my eyes, I saw the other man jump over him and the light went away and I was lying on a dark road. It was night and no one around. I was wearing the old dress that I did before and it was the place where the dogs attacked me. I knelt there and cried a lot not knowing what happened to him.
Days went on, I lost my job. I could have written the stories he told me but I wouldn’t, I promised him. Instead, I went back to my parent’s village, did farming and lived the rest of my days there. But that was not enough for me, I searched every kind of book and every source of knowledge to get more of the place I visited. But none could be found.
Slowly the memories disappeared and the leaf he gave me, I planted it on my farm. A rose flower grew from it, I was not sure how it happened but it was beautiful. Years and years went by and one day I heard the music of the man again. His soft, melodious voice with mandoline in the background, I knew he was out there looking over me. I would find him one day and together we will live in his tree home.
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.