It was midnight, when the train reached to my destination point. I stepped out from my couch on the platform. The temperature must be around 4 to 5 degrees and I was shivering inspite of my double layered jacket. Since last 8 hours I was traveling and my entire body was aching. I stretched my body a little to relax the muscles in my back.
Took a deep breath and watched on both directions of platform. Very few passengers get off on this station, were now moving towards the exits. I took my bag and started behind them. I passed the bridge and went down from the stairs towards the taxi stand. Only one taxi was there and my co-passengers were able to get it before I could reach. It left in front me. I shouted but it didn’t stop. I swore and sat down on the step. Except one gloomy street lamp everything around was in dark. Somewhere a dog started to bark and then the whole bunch of them joined in the chorus.
After some time they all fell silent. Except the chirping sound of the crickets the night was all silent now. The sky was not clear, a little cloudy. There was a chill in the air. I hate to travel by train and I parcularly hate a night journey when there are very remote chances to get a transport. And now here I am, at midnight 1’O clock, at a remote place hoping for a remote chance to get any kind of vehicle. I cursed myself again. I could have taken the bus instead. That one reaches in the morning. But there was a return ticket tomorrow evening with the kids and wife. The winter holidays were over. On Monday the schools are reopening after the Diwali holidays. It would have become too hectic to reach in the morning and again travel in the evening. I also have to report to office Monday morning. Hence I decided to take the train to get some rest in the night.
I was lost in my thoughts when I felt some movement behind me. I turned back and saw two bright yellow lights glowing in the dark behind the steps. Then they seemed to be contracted a little followed by a growling sound. Goosebumps rose all over my body. Suddenly my ears became hot in this cold night also. It was a dog growling on me. Normally you don’t see any expression in a dog’s eye but this one seems to be looking very angry. It moved, turned around from behind the steps and came to the bottom step.
I moved back, climbing backwards on the stairs, at the same time keeping an eye on the dog. I know how it goes. You try to run and then they chase you. The only way to get rid of them at night is to show them who is the boss here. But you need to have something, at least a stone handy. My bad luck that I moved back on the stairs. At least I should have grabbed one of the stone. Thoughts ran through my mind. I gathered my whatsoever-left-courage and bent down, pretending to pick-up a stone. I shouted hoarsely with a threatening action of throwing the stone. The predator stopped. My moral boosted a little. I stepped forward and shouted back, this time with an overpowering sound. The dog stepped back and moved in the other direction of the road, gone in the darkness.
My little heart was still racing and beating hard in the little cavity of the ribcage. In this short period of time, my body temperature must have gone up at least by 10 degrees. But it again started falling back and my body shivered. I sat down on the stairs. I took a deep breath to steady my nerves. It was again all silent now. I was able to hear my own heartbeats. And suddenly I started feeling very lonely. I looked into my wristwatch. It was 30 minutes past 1. Almost 30 minutes past since I get off the train and maybe 25 since the last taxi moved, leaving me behind for the sake of dogs. I decided to wait for some more time.
I came down on the bottom step and sat down. My heart was beating on a normal speed now. But the little battle with the dog made me extra cautious and I was looking everywhere to ensure there are no more dogs coming to get me. As a precaution, I picked up few stones and kept in hand. I waited for another 30 minutes, but neither the taxi came nor the dog. Now it was 2’O clock. I became sure that no more taxi is going to come now till morning. My in-laws house was just 2 km from the railway station.
So I finally decided to take a nice midnight walk. Maybe I will get some lift outside the station. That was one hope. So I got up and moved out of the station. It was the back gate of the station. I remembered there was one shortcut from this side. Perhaps I could save few hundred meters that way. I came to the point where I have to turn left to take the shortcut. There was two roads going on the left side and I was not pretty sure which one to take. I thought of the last time when I used this road. Only difference was that time I came from home to the station. I tried to figure out the map in my brain and fixed up the first left.
“This must be the one”, I said to myself and started walking ahead. I was walking and walking alone in the night. Now along with the crickets, there was sound of my boots. I must have walked at least half a kilometer when I first suspected that I have taken the wrong turn. The locality was receding now and very few houses were there on this side of the town. I had no intentions to go back again. I was hoping to get a connecting road that will take me to the correct route. So I kept walking. After the next 300 meters all the houses were gone. Few hundred meters before I was sure I had seen the lights of a colony. That was also gone now. Further it was completely dark.
I stopped. I was breathing hard and now I was frightened a little. I looked backwards. I think I saw someone under a tree. From here it was looking no more than a silhouete in the pale moonlight. I started walking towards him or her? Must be him. No woman would dare to wander at this hour of night.
“Hey you. I think I am lost. Can you please help me?”, I shouted from a distance. He (or she) did not answer. “Hey, mister. I have to go to the modern colony. Is this a correct route?” No answer again. I scared a little. Is it a ghost I am talking with? That thought made me jump. I startled a little. The Goosebumps rose again all over my body. I was frightened to death. Still I take a step further. There is no thing as ghost, I told to myself. I had the stone in my pocket. But is it helpful against a ghost? What else I am having. Nothing, If the thing ahead is ghost. I was thinking when suddenly I thought the thing moved. It raised one hand and I was fixated on the ground like a statue. I was not able to move.
In one of my nightmares, I had experienced this feeling of being freezed by some evil power. A feeling of complete helplessness. I tried to scream but nothing came from my throat, except a choking sound. It moved a step ahead. Was it a step? No, it was like gliding on the surface. It has no legs. It has no legs. Oh my God. I tried to scream again. No sound came. It again glided forward. It was now 20 feet’s from me. I was in complete terror. I could smell the decay, smell of the corpse, rotting beneath the damp soil from how many years? Don’t know. It was so pungent, I was unable to breathe. I thought I would choke to death. It started to move again, I thought I would faint. But suddenly it stopped and flinched backwards. I think I heard something.
A bell was ringing behind me. A Cycle bell. It made a growling sound. It was not a human sound. Not even animal makes such sound. Whatever it was, it was not human. I was sure now. The bell rang again. Now it shrieked in a high-pitched scream. It was in pain. The bell was causing the pain to it. It screamed again and then disappeared like a mist in the air. “Get out of here”, I heard a commanding voice from behind me. I was thunderstruck. I was familiar with that voice. “Go back. Go back. Go back.” The bell rang again. Then all fell silent. I looked back. There was nobody there. I moved further. There were fresh marks of a cycle tyre on the ground.
I ran backwards and did not stop until I reached to the main road. I was out of breath. I stopped and looked back. Nobody was following me. I stopped for few minutes to catch hold of my breath. Then I take the second left. After 15 minutes of walk, I came to my in-laws house. I rang the bell. My wife opened the door. I kept my bag inside and locked the door behind. My wife brought a glass of water. I drank and then I told her the story. She was completely terrorized. “Whom you spoke with?”, she asked finally.
“It was the old man. Your old man”, I said. Yes it was him. I was sure it was him. Dead from last 8 years, came to protect me…..