|Creative Writing Competition 2012 India|
|SETTING||Old Palace OR Bungalow|
|THEME||And He/She Changed Forever|
Ashkmeet Jarren was one of those rare breed of people who, despite being ignored and suppressed by the rest of the world, still manages to come out on top. Ashkmeet was the CEO of a major construction company in the region, with an annual turnover of a few ten lakhs. He was comfortably well off and a bachelor with a love for adventure and for cars.
Ashkmeet was driving to Trivandrum. An emergency meeting had been called by his company. A rival company apparently had registered a complaint with the court against them. He knew nothing more. It had come as an emergency and confidential text message on his mobile. He had started out late in the evening of that day, expecting to reach Trivandrum by early morning by driving throughout the night. The meeting was in the evening.
Ashkmeet was merrily whistling a tune. It was a little past midnight and he was driving his MPV through an unknown and rather idle looking neighborhood. Tall buildings rose like monsters into the night and abruptly ended. Not a single light was switched on any of the houses, let alone on the street and roads; completely dark.
“Oh…” mused Ashkmeet when he saw that the fuel indicator was pointing well into the red zone. As if on cue, a sudden sputtering emanated from the engine. Aksheet managed to get off the main road before the entire monstrous vehicle came to a grinding halt.
He silently cursed as he got out of the MPV. He took out his mobile. The screen lit up, showing the time as well past twelve thirty. He dialed his office to ask for an alternate vehicle. It would cost him time, but he had pretty much no other choice.
“Great” cried Ashkmeet. The mobile had absolutely no range in the region for the mobile. “How many places are left where mobiles haven’t yet established their supremacy and I manage to end up exactly in the middle of one.” He felt an intense urge to throw the device on the hard road and be done with, but decided, rather wisely, against it.
“Come on you stupid vehicle” he nearly yelled, in the middle of the night ,giving his beloved MPV a harsh kick, as if punishing a misbehaving schoolboy. It was racket enough and nearly all lights came on in a nearby house, but practically none in any others. This house was larger than others, more of an old palace or a bungalow more welcome looking, yet with a sinister air about it as if it had a great secret it wanted no one to hear of.
An old man, clad all in white, with an emotionless face came out the front door. He held a candle exceedingly close to his face, giving him the eerie look of a half ghost half vampire.
“Who are you?” his voice was soft, very eerily soft.
A woman, also clad in white, and by the looks of it, his wife, looked out the window.
“Oh..Hello. My name is Ashkeet. I am CEO of Aksash Enterprises and Builders. I was going towards Trivandrum for a meeting and my MPV ran out of diesel” he said, Putting out his hand in an invitation for a shake-hand. The man shook it, he was cold as ice. The woman had disappeared from the window and was standing in the porch.
The man lowered the candle from his face, giving himself a more humane appearance. His voice too seemed to rise to a humane level of warmth , but it was still very grave, cheerfulness far from it.“You must be in a good pickle. The wind had blown out all the lines. Till they come to repair it, we are absolutely cut off in terms of communication.”
Ashkmeet suddenly had a surge of courage, “Would you have…umm…can I stay somewhere here for the night?”
“Of course. You stay in my house.”
This was totally unexpected. Ashkmeet had expected the man to direct him to some nearby bus station or something, at best to a lodge, but asking a complete stranger who stopped in their neighborhood only because he ran out of fuel to spent the night in their house was completely beyond his understanding of modern day humans.
Ashkmeet managed to mumble a thank you as he locked his car and took only his mobile with him.
They walked together towards the porch. the man entered first and told the lady about Ashkmeet. The lady warmly welcomed him inside. The interior of the house looked very cozy and beautiful, much unlike the exterior. In a flurry of activity, the lady gave him a rather splendid dinner and apologized profusely for its non-lavishness. She was quite polite and always had a smile on her lips. they didn’t at all lokk like people who were woken midnight around by an uproar outside. After about an hour of refreshing himself, Ashkmeet was shown upstairs to a lavishly furnished room by the old couple. Ashkmeet took a few photos of the couple on his mobile.
“Good Night” they said in chorus, the two white clad people, “Pray to God and go to sleep.”
“Oh… I am sorry but I am an atheist.” Ashkmeet replied, sitting on the largest and softest bed he had ever seen. He had never ever hesitated about telling about himself to anyone.
“You must child. Or you will end up like us.” The man replied, in the same old whisper he had first used, as he closed the door. Ashkmeet could’ve sworn that he saw tears on both their pale faces.
Ashkmeet took out his phone. It was nearing two thirty in the morning. He took a picture of his room and the black night otside thorugh his second story window before drifting off to a short yet blissful sleep in that strange neighborhood.
Ashkeet was woken up by the old man early morning. After Ashkeet had refreshed himself, the old couple, still clad entirely in white, gave him a sumptuous breakfast.
Ashkmeet ate to his full. Though heavy hearted, he had to depart immediately in order to not miss the meeting. The old man had already told him that he had filled the MPV with enough fuel to reach the next gas-station.
“Thank you both for everything. Without you I don’t know what I would’ve done yesterday night. Thank you both. I can’t start to describe how grateful I am.” Ashkmeet thanked both plentifully for their hospitality.
“No need son.” said the old man as he opened the front door. Light streamed in, “We do not consider it as anything more than our duty to mankind.”
Ashkmeet thanked them both again, before leaving. In the daylight, both seemed a little transparent, physically, to Ashkmeet.
Just as he opened his MPV’s door, he realized something.
“Oh… wait” he said to the old man just as he was closing the front door. The lady stared at the outside world blankly from behind her husband, “I never asked you your names.”
The old man paused at the door, looking at him with eyes suddenly colder and harder looking than steel,, before answering in a gravelly and rather terrifying voice, “Cooomeeee baaaccckkkk tttooo ussss. Wweee… will teelllll youuuuu…..”. The door slammed shut.
“Weird people” ruminated Ashkmeet as he got into his MPV. Out of sudden impulse, Ashkmeet checked his phone. It seemed to have all the range in the world now. Ashkmeet started his car and drove out of the village. He looked back for one last time and saw the couple looking at him through one of the windows of their house, with a sort of hungry look in his eyes.
Ashkmeet drove on after filling his car up at a station barely two kilometers away from his place of stay of the previous night. It was nearly mid-day when his phone started ringing.
“Hello” Ashkmeet talked into his phone, driving at the same time.
“Ccoomeeee toooo usssss…..”
Ashkmeet threw his phone down when he heard that long droning voice. He suddenly was afraid.
“Ccccooommeeee……” the voice filled the car. Ashkmeet looked at it, lying near the brakes, with utter disgust and horror.
Ashkmeet looked up just in time to see the front of a lorry ram his MPV.
And from that day, the old palace was haunted by not two but three. Two Male, One Female.