On the way back, there wasn’t a single streetlight since it was located at the outskirts of the village. To add to it,there were repeated turns every 10 seconds or so, making things difficult for Madhav-our driver- to handle.
He was negotiating one such turn when we were almost thrashed by a speeding truck from the other end….
But Madhav’s timely reflexes helped us out. The truck went past us and suddenly it stopped.
We stood still.
Amidst the darkness,we spotted a tall figure coming out of the truck,towards us.
Madhav turned on the Scooty’s headlight towards him.
A weak man,in his late fifties stood in front of us. He didn’t wear any shirt. A mud stained,worn out dhoti and a red towel tied on his forehead was his attire.
“Sorry for that negligence on my part ”,he joined his hands and asked for forgiveness.
We were taken aback a bit.
”The truck was going fine till the previous turn,but suddenly the brakes failed and I lost control of it..and mysteriously it was fine again after it crossed this turn..”,he explained.
How on earth could this be possible!?*
We didn’t give a reply to his explanation. We were lost in our own thoughts.
“You can go..it’s not your fault.
It’s ours.”,I let him go without any further interrogation.
We didn’t have time to do so.
“Your luck will be tested from now on my boy..for you have invoked the spirits..you know that..”,Mr. Raghav’s words ringed in my ears.
We have invoked the spirits for sure.
We didn’t want to invoke our parents anger by being more late, so we sped off.
On our way back we passed by the playground. The house stood there,the light from the candles piercing through the darkness.
Back home, we escaped somehow making excuses like “We were at Avi’s house since he had invited us to show off his game collection. ”
Good they believed. Viz’s Dad too didn’t ask much. All engrossed in the match.
We skipped the match and instead went to Madhav’s room in the first floor,the same place where we had seen the spooky green creature trying to attack us.I locked the door from inside.I didn’t want the elders to get a whiff of our plan.
Time for some serious discussions.
We sat silently, thinking about each and every point Mr. Raghav revealed about the story behind the house,which was kept under wraps till today.
Why did he keep it under wraps for so long?
The fear of getting caught and the promise given to an old friend does matter….
But why did he reveal the story to US! We don’t know him! Nor did he know us! Then why? Doesn’t he fear the fact that we can go and inform the police about the actual scenario and the happenings that took place that night?
Maybe he was perfectly trapped by us. Perhaps he couldn’t dodge our questions as he dodged the police’s questions two decades back..
And what next? What’s the plan?
Should we retry getting in although it means risking our life?
The Q&A answer session went for about an hour and finally it was unanimously decided that we would give it a try tomorrow.
THE NEXT EVENING:
It was a bad day on field for us,especially me. Scored just 10 runs in 3 games! Madhav too managed a lone wicket. Viz who manages to hit at least 5 sixes in a days play could just hit one six that day. Our minds were fixed on something else. The “haunted house” behind the ground never went out of our thoughts.
By 7pm we decided to leave.
The local guys were all chattering about the big match between MI and CSK. We too joined them.
Halfway through Madhav shrieked out.
“Where’s my bat Appu?”
“I gave it to Viz before leaving!”,I replied nonchalantly.
We all turned to Viz,who stood there trying hard to remember where he had exactly kept the bat.
“The banyan tree at the east side of the ground! Dammit! How can I forget that! Now run!”
We three bade the other guys bye and started on our mad run towards the ground.
“Good acting both of you! ”,I appreciated their skill.
“You too weren’t less either!”,Viz chuckled.
“Time to strike guys!”,Madhav reminded us.
After some minutes of continuous running, we reach the ground. Wasting no time, we go near the banyan tree to the east of the ground,only to find the bat missing!
“Crap! Where the fridge did you keep the bat Viz?!”,I and Madhav blurt out in anger.
“I clearly remember guys..I..I had kept it here..this..this very spot! ”,Viz tried his best to clarify.
“That was an expensive bat..we’ll have to find it somehow..but now we have to go there”,I pointed towards the “haunted house”.
Slowly we climb over the old broken down wall and reach near the door,which as usual was open.
Viz opened the door slowly and it
again opened with that cracking sound like the first time we opened it. But a bright light welcomed us.
We were welcomed by not one,not two,but three red candles!
All of them precariously placed on the ground facing the door.
As planned, without wasting time, we decided to go to the first floor of the house and not get distracted by anything that happens on the ground floor.
Viz and Madhav moved ahead, towards the stairs.
But I couldn’t.
My mind was transfixed on the three candles.
The spirits have been watching us all this while.
This is another sign from them.
A SIGN OF WARNING.
I was lost in such thoughts when I saw one of the candles suddenly went off!
Simultaneously,I felt someone behind me.
As I was about to turn, something hit me hard on my head.
I fell numb.
Everything started blurring out.