The girl awoke on the cold stone floor, disoriented. As her vision cleared she realised she was alone, darkness surrounded her. She looked into the solitary light that hung right above her illuminating a small circle with her at the centre. She tried to sit up but her hand and legs were tightly tied together. She started crying, what else could you expect from a 9-year-old?
She lay there unable to move, sobbing and occasionally crying out for help. There were no other sounds to end the frightening silence the darkness surrounding her accompanied. She fell asleep soon, her fragile mind refused to stay awake during this terrifying ordeal. She woke up a while later to find nothing had changed. She was hungry now, she could feel her stomach grumbling. But thoughts about food were the last thing on her mind, she missed her parents, her mother most of all.
The next time she woke up she imagined her father stepping into the circle of light to save her from this miserable place. The next time she imagined her mother sitting beside her, singing her to sleep. She saw these illusions regularly now, every time she woke up. But she was weak now, barely able to open her eyes. Her mind was just a jumble of memories and emotions now.
As she awoke this time she felt something she hadn’t for a long time. A touch on her cheek. She instinctively looked up not understanding what she was seeing. A man was crouched by her, examining her, speaking to her. She didn’t understand the words but she knew somehow that help was finally here. Tears fled her eyes as the man laid her back. He held her by the throat and plunged a knife directly into her heart as he looked on into her eyes, that were filled with tears but were otherwise blank. He shouted in anger. It wasn’t as satisfying as he had hoped it would be. It wasn’t satisfying at all. He stood there cursing himself for wasting the child. If only he had done away with her sooner, the pleasure of seeing the terror in her eyes as the last bit of her life ebbed away would’ve been his. He continued cursing himself for sometime until suddenly a calm took over him and he started cleaning up, knowing full well what he had to do. What he wanted to do.
Anita sat beside the campfire probing the embers with a stick absent-mindedly. Her thoughts were re-winding to the events that had unfolded in the afternoon. Anita, Her husband Shiva, their daughter Radhika and Shiva’s brother Sanjay were out camping in the woods. It wasn’t exactly the wilds, but it was a popular spot for people around the area to relax and enjoy nature at its best, and also the fact that it had huge trees that grew dense together and were ample enough to convince the sweet nine-year old Radhika that they were actually going to sleep in the ‘forest’ that night was the best part about it.
Things had gone smooth from when they had arrived up until just after lunch when they had run into another family, Constable Mani’s. Mani was in his late forties, a constable at the local station near their home from the time they had moved there. What was peculiar about Mani was that he seemed to have it in for Shiva. He used to stare at him and call him everything that rolled off his filthy tongue. Why? Anita had even asked him once, when she met him in the super-market, he had always been nice to her. The scowl he wore showed that he was thinking before giving her a reply which was on the lines of, “ I have had many years on the force dear girl. I’ve seen many things. I – I have a bad feeling about him, intuition. “
She had sincerely tried to change his intuition, but whatever she would say he would reply by just shaking his head. Things soon went downhill from there. Shiva grew angrier knowing constable Mani had it in for him all because of his ‘intuition’. They spun out of control when the constable flagged down his car and had him wait for nearly an hour which ended with them toeing the fine line between an argument and a fist fight. It wasn’t pretty at all but luckily Anita had managed to get between the two men and settle things with apologies and explanations.
Today was their first meeting after the incident. They started with something trivial and next thing you know they were hurling abuses at each other without a care that their wives and children were watching in horror. It took some effort but they were soon separated and sent on their way. Anita and Mani’s wife had stayed back to apologise to each other.
As Anita got back to their campfire, Shiva was getting ready for a walk. He said he needed to clear his head and allowed Radhika go with him partly because she was literally begging to be taken along.
Sanjay suddenly dropping down next to her brought her back to the present. She looked at him, he was a few years younger than her, shabby hair and an unkept beard highlighted with a pair of jeans that looked to be from the last decade and a black hoodie to top it all off. She had seen photos of him from earlier. He had been athletic before… before ‘it’ happened. Now he was just a fat man in his early thirties who never smiled and barely talked. The only one he really ever seemed to get along with was Radhika, she loved uncle Sanjay and he seemed to be closest to smiling only when she was around.
The ‘it’ that had happened seemed to be something right out of a horror movie. Sanjay had married his college sweetheart right after they graduated and had a daughter a little more than a year later. Things were moving along beautifully, with Sanjay jumping up ladders at his job, his wife Anjali and their beautiful little angel, Abhirami, as happy as can be.
‘It’ happened when Abhi was as old as Radhika is now. Sanjay had come home after a seemingly normal and tiring day at work to find his wife and daughter lying in a pool of their own blood in the kitchen. They never found who did it and this was how Sanjay had been since he came out of the depression he suffered from. He really didn’t do anything after, let alone go back to work. No one had the heart to blame him for not doing so. Shiva stepped in, being the good brother and took him in.
Sanjay sat there staring at the fire for a bit before getting up and walking in the direction Shiva had left in. “Going to join them.”, he said as he followed the path, leaving Anita alone at the camp. She just looked at him silently as he left, there wasn’t much of a choice when it came to Sanjay.
Hours flew by and Anita was getting a bit tensed now. They had been gone for a long time now. Too Long. She glanced at her watch for the thousandth time and looked up wondering if they were lost when she heard it. It was faint, the distinctive sound of a siren, from the direction they had left in.
She ran as fast as her feet would carry her. As she got closer she saw the blue and red flashing through the trees and the siren grew louder and louder until she started ignoring it. The police SUV stood on the other side of the clearing she emerged from. There were people everywhere. Uniformed police, men in casual clothes and even some women. Someone was shouting from near the SUV. She squinted to get a better look, shielding her eyes from the flashing red and blue, and gasped as she realised it was Shiva. He was being dragged away by a couple of policemen. “He..Bastard…Leave me” was all she could make out from this distance. She needed to get closer to him but as she took her first step she saw that there was some commotion going on at the centre of the clearing. Is someone lying there? She asked herself as she was stopped by Mani, “Dear don’t go there. Not now. “ She looked at him and felt every ounce of courage leaving her. He wore a sad expression and there were tears in his eyes. She had to know what happened. It was as if she wasn’t in control of her body anymore. She pushed aside Mani’s hands and made her way forward.
She saw Sanjay first. He lay facedown, a small pool of blood by his head. But her brother-in-law couldn’t hold her attention when just a few feet ahead her daughter lay motionless on the ground. Bloody, a knife sticking out her chest.
She rushed forward and nearly fell beside her beautiful nine-year old. She trembled placing her daughter’s head in her lap. She shook her. She had to wake the little one up, but little Radhu lay still, as if she was sleeping. Anita screamed in horror for what seemed to be an eternity. She didn’t know whether she had stopped screaming or whether she could hear him over it, but she would later distinctly remember hearing her husband’s voice screaming out, “ He killed her. That bastard killed her. My beautiful Radhu. Leave me.”
She heard what he was saying, but she was oblivious to it. She was oblivious to the world. Her daughter lying dead before her was the only thing that registered in her head. She knelt there blankly staring at the body of her child who was taken from her as a few feet away her husband was being arrested for the murder.
He kept screaming through his tears as they took him away. “You got the wrong man…My Radhu”. Someone pulled her away from the body, “evidence” or something like that , they said. She resisted at first, it was her daughter lying there and she needed to be with her. Whoever was dragging her away was strong enough to hold her in place until she eventually gave up and started crying as her emotions caught up to her.
Okay so as mentioned earlier, The next part of the series will be uploaded next Friday if the following conditions are met, since they are the first, i’ll keep them light:
- At least 10 WordPress likes
- At least 100 post views
So start sharing and please leave your comments as well.