The Haunted House
The Haunted House9 mins 303 9 mins 303
It was a dark night. The silhouette of the trees could be seen in the distance. They looked like ghostly figures waving their hands, with their long outstretched fingers, inviting us. Occasionally the hooting of an owl pierced the eeriness of the night. The guttural croaking of the frogs, in unison, would disturb the baby birds in their sleep. The constant chirping of the crickets added to the din, and enhanced the spooky atmosphere.
We approached the blurry dilapidated house with trepidation. We had heard that it was haunted. It was because of this rumor, that my three friends decided that we should investigate, and find out what it was all about. I did not relish the idea much, but one does not have any choice when one belongs to a group, and the rest have decided on some adventure. So here we were trudging down the isolated pathway, to a creepy, deserted house, where perhaps, we would meet Mr. Ghost.
As we approached the house, dried leaves and twigs crunched, and crackled under our feet. Slowly the hazy shape of the house had become clear. All of a sudden an unexpected owl flapped its wings right over our heads in an emergency flight. The secluded habitat had been encroached upon, and it did not seem to like it. The bird gave out another sharp hoot, and melted into the darkness. As we neared, we saw a big crack on the discolored wall. Some of the panes on the windows were cracked too, and some were missing. A thick layer of dust had hardened on the glass. Weeds, and bushy foliage obstructed the entrance to the house.
With much reservation we peeped into the hall. The door was ajar, and creaked, as it opened, and closed erratically with every gust of wind.
As we stepped in, a mesh of thread-like cobwebs greeted us. The hall was covered with dust. We realized that no one had entered the house for a long time, as there were no foot prints on the dust.
Very gingerly we opened the door of the adjoining room. The room was stacked with huge transparent jars, filled with colured liquid or powder. On the unpolished shabby tables were kept beakers, boilers, blowers, and other equipment for scientific experiments. The room seemed to be a laboratory of some sorts. Our mouths opened wide with astonishment, as we did not expect to see this in the haunted house. Perhaps this was the house of some scientist, who used to live here. We looked at each other blankly, and shrugged our shoulders, as we could not make head, or tail of the whole affair. It was then that Renu whispered in a low tone, which was hardly audible, “Let us go to the next room, perhaps we will find something interesting there.” But as Dinesh moved forward, a big chunk of concrete came crashing down. He was lucky to have missed it by a small margin. Priyanka had pulled him on time, so that he got saved. She cautioned him in a low voice. According to her, by bringing down the concrete chunks on us, the scientist’s spirit was trying to prevent us from trespassing into his property. Then by mutual consent, expressed in gestures, we moved on to the next room.
We tried to open the door gently, and as noiselessly as we could, but it would not budge. We tried to push it, but still it remained adamant, and unrelenting. Then Pratibha had a brainwave. She whispered to us to look from the window. As the window was high for our eye level, we decided to help each other. Two of us were to bend low, so that the other two could get on to our backs, and be able to see inside the room. What Priyanka saw was so shocking, that she got unbalanced, and fell from my back. She came down with a loud thud. When Dinesh also jumped down from Renu’s back, we saw that he had turned ashen white. The only thing that he could say was, “Oh, My God ”! Filled with curiosity, I took my turn to peep inside. I closed my eyes in horror and started to tremble.
In the room was a big weather-worn arm chair on which a man was reclining. From his posture he seemed to be fast asleep. His hair was disheveled, and covered his head like an equatorial jungle. His skin was wrinkled, and face emaciated. His clothes looked as if they had not been washed for a decade. In his lap, he had a note book. Now we could put two and two together. The evil-looking man had deliberately spread the rumor, that the house was haunted, so that he would be left undisturbed, or the other way round, because no one came to the house, thinking it to be haunted, he made it his place of refuge.
In front of him were eight steel beds. On each lay a child, not very old, perhaps seven, or eight years old. They were all bandaged, and looked somewhat like the Egyptian Mummy. They were all tied up to their beds, so that they could not move. Each one had a pipe going through his mouth, and it went through his body. It was then connected to an elaborate apparatus on the other end. One could imagine how much torture and agony these small children were being subjected to!
On seeing this horrific sight, we decided that we had had enough. We would run to the police station, and report the matter. As we were running out in a highly excited manner, Renu tripped over, and fell prostrate on the hard cement floor. She shouted out with pain. Somehow or the other, we managed to calm her down, and helped her on to her feet. Then we started to run, as fast as our legs could carry. To our consternation we could hear the heavy footsteps of somebody following us. Had Renu’s shout as she had fallen down woken up the old man? We were so panic-stricken that we did not even look back.
We marched into the police station, very pleased with ourselves, that we were doing something worthwhile. We would be instrumental in rescuing small children from the clutches of an evil man, who was torturing them. It took us a long time to put in our complaint. To report a case, a certain procedure had to be followed, and one must wait in the queue. Then for the Department to take action, and get the men to go to the location of the crime, causes unwanted and frustrating delay. When we reached, after a prolonged period of five hours, another shock awaited us. The house was stark empty. There was nobody and nothing there at all!
We looked like imbeciles in front of the police, or perhaps they thought we were up to some pranks. The police made a thorough investigation, but they found nothing. Even all traces of the Laboratory had vanished. We were confused, and at the end of our wits. We were now doubtful. We had perhaps seen Spirits sitting on the chair and lying on the beds. Every detail had seemed to be so real at that time. They did seem to be living entities!
The police were very angry with us for bringing them out on a wild goose chase. They did not spare us to give a piece of their mind in the most objectionable language. They were seething with anger. They reported the matter to the Police Station and made preparations to leave.
It was then that we saw an old man coming from a distance. He must have seen the police leaving in the van, so he was frantically waving out. The police waited to hear what he had to say.
The man was visibly distraught and agitated. He introduced himself as Vinayak Pande. He was going to reveal all the secrets of a Pharmaceutical Company which had hired him. The Company had made a contract with him, that if he could formulate a tablet, which if taken, could eliminate the need to eat, they would give him Twenty Billion Rupees. Further, if he could also eliminate the need to depend on Natural water for survival, as currently there was a scarcity of it, he would get another Twenty Billion Rupees. As years progressed, both food and water would become rare commodities, so these inventions would sell at an exorbitant price.
Vinayak had been experimenting on the children we had seen. Water was pumped into their bodies through pipes which came out through another channel into an apparatus, where it was refined. The same water was pumped back into the body. In this way water could be conserved for the future generation, and no water would be wasted.
Another assignment, on which he was working, was to find out a way by which human beings would not age. The children in the Laboratory were more than forty years old, but they had remained at the physical age of seven. For this the Company had promised to give him a huge sum too. But now he had lost all faith in them.
As soon as Vinayak had come to know that the hub had been discovered, he had called the Company, and they had removed every article, and the children from there. They took this precaution, because if all the secret details, that they were experimenting on live human beings, had to come out into the open, all of them would be hand- cuffed, or given death penalty. But now Vinayak had decided to become an Informer, since he had come to know the actual motive of the Company; therefore the situation had changed since then. Vinayak had come to know all the secret plans of the Management. When the top brasses of the Company were talking among themselves, he eaves-dropped, and heard that they were planning to kill him, so that they did not have to pay him for the three inventions and formulas, which were now in their possession. It was because of this turn of events, that now he had decided to disclose everything, so that he could take his revenge on them.
The Police quickly wrote down every word, as confessed by Vinayak. They were very efficient in taking speedy action. The children were rescued from the shed, where they had been hidden. Vinayak had given them all the leads that were necessary. The miscreants were apprehended and sent to the Lock Up. The parents of the missing children were over-joyed to get them back after forty long years. Furthermore the two formulas which had been invented would be in great demand. The ladies would be more than happy if they did not have to eat, so they would be able to maintain a steam-lined figure. The elderly would pounce on the anti-aging tablets, as by having them, they could stop growing old. As for the Scientist, when the Police came to arrest Vinayak Pande, he dropped down dead. He could not endure the trauma, as his hard work and sacrifice of half a century, had been reduced to dust in a matter of minutes!