The Haunted Ship: Pride of Raj
The Haunted Ship: Pride of Raj19 mins 165 19 mins 165
Mystery, enigma, fear, and general curiosity surround the legends of haunted shipwrecks all around the world. Many stories and legends are making the rounds in the seafaring community, shipping companies, passengers, and general people alike about encountering ghostly ships on the high seas, or beaches. Few instances, cases like the Ourang Medan, The Mary Celeste, Valencia, or even the most sighted and famous the ‘The Flying Dutchman’. Nobody has been able to explain the mystery behind these shipwrecks and unexplained encounters many years later.
My story is also based on similar lines where the wreck of a ship, thought long lost, is found off the coast of Andaman Islands. These islands are located at the southernmost part of India and are known for ideal beaches, tourism, various species of exotic marine life and flora and fauna, and of course, it’s Cellular Jail. It is here that the main character of the story, an experienced scuba diver, makes a startling discovery. This discovery leads him to become famous internationally; but also, it changes his life forever.
This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to real names, persons or places is purely coincidental.
Aditya Pratap Singh was a scuba diver of world-class renown. He had taken part in scuba diving expeditions in all the major seas and oceans of India, like the Bay of Bengal, The Arabian Sea, and The Indian Ocean etc. He had also been a part of international scuba diving teams on expeditions to look for ‘Atlantis’ and ‘Dwarka Nagari’ off the coast of Gujarat. So when he was invited by the state government of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in the Southernmost tip of India to promote tourism and travel, he readily grasped the opportunity, as he had never been to this part of India and wanted to explore the maritime life there also.
As for Aditya, as an individual he was an extremely handsome man and he was single despite his age well into the late 40s. So, naturally, girls and women swooned over him wherever he went. But he never was interested and was very happy with his work and status. Though he never was rude or impolite to anyone, he somehow did not want to be bogged down by any kind of relationship. So when he got the invitation he was very excited to go to Andaman & Nicobar Islands and explore the place fully. On his arrival, he was given a warm welcome by the authorities and locals there in the morning. In the evening he met various officials of the tourism ministry and they discussed various plans to promote the tourism industry there. Finally, the day came when Aditya set out for his first dive off the coast of Port Blair. The first day was okay, the stretch of underwater area that Aditya dived was devoid of much vegetation, except few clumps of seaweed and local fish. Though it was said that each area of this particular stretch of underwater was full of exotic marine species and rare marine flora and fauna were thought to be found there.
The next two days were also spent the same way and the officials were a bit disappointed as they were hoping to get some news for an exciting discovery that would bolster their efforts and also boost the industry. Aditya then thought of enlarging his area of dive territory and started making headlong dives into the depths of unchartered territory. It was here during one of his searches for exotic marine life that he came upon the sunken behemoth of a ship. Though it was dark and murky and too cloudy, still he could make out the name of the ship ‘Pride of the Raj’. From the looks of it, it seemed like a luxury yacht during the colonial times. Excited by the discovery, Aditya quickly swam upwards to give this news to the people on the shore. As he reached the shore he quickly informed the officials about his discovery and the natives of the area. Though the officials were as excited and happy, the natives were a bit nervous and apprehensive about the discovery. It was a day of celebrations and back at a party in the ministry, it was decided to bring the sunken ship onto the surface. The moment it was announced that the sunken ship would be brought ashore and kept for public display until further notice, there was much fear and tension among the local villagers and fishermen of the area. They voiced their concern to their pastor, Father Henry D’Silva.
Father D’Silva was also a tall erect man of 65 years. Still, he was a fit man and used to regularly go for jogging and exercises every day in the morning. So when he heard the villagers voicing their concerns about the ship, he could relate to it as he also was somehow connected to the fate of the doomed ship. So when he went to meet Aditya and told him about the concerns of the villagers, Aditya just looked at him incredulously and respectfully said “Father, I respect you, but I cannot believe that you are coming to me with all this mumbo-jumbo, just because some villagers are afraid that it might bring bad luck as it is said to be doomed” Father D’Silva just looked at him impassively and nodded his head. He knew that Aditya would not believe him but still tried to convince him by saying that “I implore you to stop this project as it will only bring bad luck to all those involved” Aditya, by this time was losing his patience and retorted “Father, you are a man of religion and I respect that; so, I would also expect you to respect my profession and judgement, and not interfere in my work as I am not interfering in yours”
Father D’Silva realized that Aditya was not willing to listen to reason and his objection to raising the ill-fated ship. Sadly, he apologised for taking up so much of his time and said “I am sorry to have wasted your time. In case, you want to contact me, here is my number.” With that, he gave Aditya his card and left quietly. Aditya just watched impassively as the father made his way out. However, there was something in the way the father looked back at him and at the house that made him wonder. It was kind of a haunted look. It gave Aditya the creeps.
Anyways, he had far more important things in mind. The next day was very important as the ship was about to be raised from the ocean floor and he had a lot of meetings lined up with government officials and interviews scheduled with the media. That night when after a hectic day, finally, Aditya went to bed thinking about the next big day; something strange happened. It was around 2:00 a.m. when Aditya suddenly woke up with a start as if he was dreaming something terrible. He was all covered in sweat and he was breathing heavily. It was in his dream that he saw the sunken ship and its passengers asking out for help. It looked as if all the people trapped in the ship wanted to get out all at once, and they tried to grab hold of Aditya as he swam towards them. The scary part of the dream was that all these people were just skeletons of long-dead people who had suddenly come alive and wanted to come to the surface. The strange part was at the same time Aditya woke from his dream, he could hear the tap running from his bathroom and water was flowing from an over flooded sink on to his bedroom. Naturally, he was surprised at this so he went and closed the tap and went back to sleep thinking no more of it. Though a small part of his brain still could not forget the way the father’s warnings and the way he looked at him and the house.
The following morning was very busy and hectic for Aditya and his team of fellow divers as they set the procedure of pulling the ship out of the water very carefully. It took almost half of the day and finally it was brought out on the surface and towed to the shore amidst full media blitz. Everyone was amazed at the majestic sight the ‘Pride of the Raj’ still retained, despite its erosion and rust underwater. Everyone was happy and there was a party followed by an interview with Aditya Pratap Singh, the man of the moment. Father D’Silva was also invited to this party and though he reluctantly came but looked very serious during the whole party. It was after the entire media blitz had been done and over with Aditya being the ‘star of the day’ moment, that he retired home for a much-needed rest.
Sometimes it happens that destiny chooses you for things that you haven’t even thought about in life. Now, that selection process by destiny is very random and it can happen to anyone; it might happen to you also, you never know. However hard you may try you will not be able to avoid this selection and would have to endure it, however odd and mysterious it may seem to you. This is what happened to Aditya also.
That day when Aditya went back to his residence dead tired he found a note from the father once again imploring him to destroy the ship by burning it. Aditya, by this time, was too drunk and tired so he tore the note up and went to bed. It was again around 2:00 a.m. that he had the same dream like that of the previous night; that is, the trapped souls were grabbing at him to get to shore. He again woke up with a start and again he found the tap water running overflowing in the bathroom and the bedroom. This type Aditya was sure that he had not used it when he had come back. Still, he went and closed the tap and was about to go back to bed when again the tap water started running. He was a bit surprised at this and he again turned it off.
One thing I forgot to tell you was that Aditya and the rest of the scuba diving team had taken a picture of the sip when it was brought ashore. It was printed; signatures were done, and were gifted to Aditya in a big frame. So he had carried it with him and kept it on the table. A few minutes later, there was something that happened which seemed very strange to Aditya. As he was about to lie down, he saw some bright and dazzling light and sounds of faint music coming from his living room where the photograph was kept. He was sure that he had switched off all the lights and there was no music system on at that time. So he went into the living room to check. As he made his way there he could not see anything and all seemed normal. He thought that it was a tiring day and his mind was playing tricks with him and to top it off, the cryptic note by the father. It might have been a combination of all three, though Aditya and again went back to bed. It was again the third time that the water in the bathroom started running all by itself and this time Aditya was spooked. So he decided that as it was around 5:30 a.m., it was no use to try to sleep and he prepared himself for the morning.
Meanwhile, on the very same night, as Aditya was experiencing all these strange things the locals also had a strange experience which was fatal for one of them. It also created a lot of fear and apprehension amongst the villagers and fishermen of the locality. One of the locals in the night had shown courage and boldly went into the ship all by himself, despite warnings from his friends. As this guy made his way through the broken hulk of ‘Pride of Raj’, he could feel that someone was constantly watching him. You know the weird sensation at the back of your neck at such moments. The moment when the hairs at the back of your neck stand up and there is a tingling sensation running all the way through your spine. Something similar happened to this guy as he made his way through the ship. Then suddenly he encountered something dark and vile that made him cry out in terror. He tried to escape that presence but could not as he was unable to move a single inch of his body. The next moment all his friends could see that he flew out of the ship screaming and landed at an angle that twisted his neck and killed him on the spot. As they neared him, they could see the inexplicable terror in his eyes.
Aditya was however unaware of this incident and he was planning to go to the ministry for some important conference when the police arrived at his residence. Aditya was surprised that why did the police come to his residence. It was when the Inspector explained the tragic events of the previous night that Aditya grew worried. He grew tenser when the police told him that they wanted to know if he knew this guy as the police had found a cryptic note in the guy’s hands. The note simply said “Get Aditya’’. So this news was very surprising and alarming for him as he never had met the guy and neither anything about the guy. The same night again Aditya woke up with the same dream and also with tap water running. This time when he closed the tap water he decided not to go back to bed and rather wait and see as to what happens next.
This time when he again heard faint music and lights coming from the living room he decided to tiptoe into the living room. What he saw there was something that Aditya could not believe and was terrified for a long time. He saw that his living room was converted into a grand ballroom and people were dancing and the music was playing. Everywhere people were happy and smiling and white dressed waiters and ushers were moving silently in between the dancing couple with drinks on silver trays. The whole atmosphere was so lively with little children laughing and playing, he could even see the dead guy beckoning him with a smile. When suddenly the captain of the ship makes a serious warning that they are facing a vicious storm and hurricane and it is better for all of the passengers to go to their decks. Hearing this, the people in the room all get nervous and make a mad dash for their cabins. He also sees the guy with abject terror in his eyes running for his life. All this is happening and Aditya is just a mute spectator when all of it suddenly stops and he could only hear screams of people drowning and this time he can visually experience the entities in his living room. All of this makes Aditya very scared and he rushes to his room and closes the door and starts praying continuously. After some time, everything is back to normal as if nothing happened.
This emotional and mental haranguing of Aditya Pratap Singh goes on for quite a few nights. Every night he experiences the same dream and the same visual encounters; this leaves him mentally and emotionally drained and tired the following morning. This has naturally made Aditya reclusive, with his eyes hollowed and sunken back into the sockets. He hardly goes out of his room, even in the mornings. Meanwhile, strange sounds are also heard aboard the ship at night and this makes the locals more scared and they dare not venture out in the night. Furthermore, the father is also experiencing some strange dreams in which his father is telling him about the ship’s history and its tragic end. This makes Father D’Silva dig up the library and research about the ship and its history. What he finds out is more alarming and terrible and he wants to contact Aditya immediately but somehow is unable to.
One day one of Aditya’s close friends Vishal Saxena, a journalist by nature comes and visits him. He was one of the journalists who had covered the bringing of Pride of the Raj to the surface. When he sets his eyes on Aditya, he is appalled at the sight of Aditya. He is looking worn, sucked out, a ghostly vision of himself and he is too paranoid of any noise, or anyone coming to see him. Somehow Vishal manages to relax Aditya’s frayed nerves and asks about all this as he was closely following the events following the discovery of the ship. When Aditya recounts the whole incident and the following aftermath, Vishal just looks at him incredulously and bursts out laughing. When Aditya looks at him and says “why are you laughing? Is something funny” Vishal quickly apologises and says that “I am sorry but the whole story which you have told seems like something out of a horror movie” Aditya, just looks at him forlornly and says nothing on this? When Aditya points out the picture to him and says “since the time this wretched picture has come into my life, my life has turned into a living nightmare” “And you are saying that it seems cinematic!” Vishal puts up his hands in mock surrender and says that “I am sorry and why don’t just go out for a walk; maybe, it will soothe your nerves” At first, Aditya is reluctant to go but Vishal somehow convinces him and also says that they will go out to a bar in the evening. Aditya reluctantly agrees but warns him not to go near that picture, to which Vishal readily agrees.
Now it may sound strange to you but when it hits you; it hits you hard. Something like this happened to Aditya. As Vishal was sitting on the balcony reading a book, he could hear some noises coming from the living room. So he thought that Aditya had returned so early? He went up to go and check. When he reached the living room, what he saw there was beyond any explanation and logic. It also was the last thing that Vishal experienced while he was alive. When Aditya came back from his walk he started looking for Vishal. When he got no response he thought that Vishal might have gone out for some work. Then his eyes fell on the door to the living room ajar which he had started keeping locked. Though this was of no avail and he with palpitation building in his heart tiptoed towards the living room. On entering the room he saw Vishal lying on the floor with all his clothes wet and his eyes with an expression of abject terror. He was also quite dead. Now Aditya had lost it and he was so scared that he somehow called the police and retreated into his room and started whimpering like a small baby.
When the police arrived they found him in his room and he was not ready to come out. It was with the utmost difficulty the police got some details from him and took the body for autopsy. The strangest thing about this report was that Vishal’s death had occurred by drowning, whereas his clothes were all dry. This led to suspicion of foul play but that was also ruled out as many witnesses came and reported that Aditya was out taking a walk at the time of Vishal’s death. Now as it is the mysterious death of the local was not yet solved and here another death had occurred. The irony of the matter in both the cases was that Aditya Pratap Singh was the main factor around whom the deaths had occurred. So this made him into a prime murder suspect but there was no proof or evidence for this line of investigation to move forward. So this was also baffling to the cops.
It is said that when everything looks bleak; it is then some miracle happens. Something like this happened next. When another local dies mysteriously near the ship and his neck also twisted unnaturally with fear in his eyes, it is then a famous paranormal investigator chooses to get involved in the case. As the cases of the mysterious make headlines all across the nation and the world, it catches the attention of famous paranormal investigator Dr Prashant Verma. Prashant Verma had been world-renowned for his investigations into the paranormal phenomenon and he had debunked many of the scores of cases. So when he comes upon this news he decides to go to Andaman & Nicobar and see for himself.
The first thing he does is try to get in touch with Aditya. Though it is with great difficulty that he meets up with Aditya, who is too terrified to even come out of his room, let alone talk to anyone. Somehow, Prashant manages to convince him and gets to know about the whole series of incidents following the discovery of ‘Pride of the Raj’. Next, he schedules a meeting with Father D’Silva, who was waiting for such an opportunity. When Father D’Silva explains to him about the whole history of the fate of the Pride of the Raj. It is then Prashant looks worried and apprehensive. Father D’Silva tells him that Pride of the Raj was doomed from the beginning as it had not been blessed during its maiden voyage. As it was custom those days that every ship had blessed before it made its first journey into the sea. The reason for this was that the schedule of the ships’ journey was already late and the captain of the ship was an impatient man. So he had started on earlier than the scheduled day of its maiden voyage with around 800 passengers. During the journey, the ship had encountered some violent storms and had drowned with all the passengers and crew members alike.
It was since that day that local fishermen had strange sounds coming from the spot where the ship had drowned. There were even some mysterious disappearances also attributed to that place and locals were afraid to go to that spot. Even stranger was the fact though the sea was full of exotic marine life; this particular stretch was devoid of any life. The paranormal investigator is surprised to learn that Father D’Silva’s father also had died trying to get to the bottom of this phenomenon. All this finally convinces Prashant Verma and both he and the father decide to end this once for all.
The most important thing for both of them was to enlist the help of Aditya, who was too terrified and was a nervous wreck himself. So both of them decide to go to his house and force him to help them. When Aditya meets them at the house and hears about the tragic history of the doomed ship; he further retreats into his shell and is unwilling to come out of his self –imposed imprisonment in his room. But this does not deter Father D’Silva or Prashant and they force him to take part in a ritual on the very same night. Though the dark entities and darkness itself try to prevent this ritual, Prashant and Father D’Silva manage to ward off the evil and force Aditya to torch the ship. Which he does reluctantly and the moment the ship is set ablaze, something strange happens. It seems that all the trapped souls now get salvation and they in unison fly off towards heaven, creating a bright dazzling light. Thus ends the reason for all those mysterious deaths, disappearances from the area and also the fears of Aditya Pratap Singh.
Since then the area has become brighter and the locals are now venturing out frequently emboldened by the fact that days of darkness are over finally. Though Aditya Pratap Singh gave up scuba diving altogether, he has also left the place and is now living somewhere else. But now he can move out freely and talk to people and regain some of the past personality of his though he has never forgotten about the harrowing experience he had all those years ago.