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.