The Kalwarvan Forest Mystery
The Kalwarvan Forest Mystery48 mins 682 48 mins 682
“Rachita Sheth?” a voice in her ear, woke her up from the sleepy slumber. It was a call from one of the lawyers that her uncle Mohit had appointed to look after his small stationary shop. He was fighting against the terminal cancer and knew one day he might not live for long. And he wasn’t in world anymore since two months ago.
“Yes?” Rachita asked, recognizing the lawyer Santosh’s accent. It was not difficult to recognize his accent since he had a cold and dangerous accent that could make your hair stand on end. It reminds unpleasantly of the ghost’s voice that you hear in movies.
“Your uncle also left you a letter with instruction to deliver to you after his death” Santosh said. “It had not occurred to me until now. My apologies for causing this delay. I have already sent by post and it should be at your place by today evening”
“Thank you, Santosh. It is okay. I know you had hard time trying to arrange my uncle’s will” said Rachita with a smile.
“My pleasure” replied Santosh. “If you have any legal difficulties, I am but a call away”
“Most definitely” chuckled Rachita.
“Bye, Take care, Rachita”
“Same to you” replied Rachita;
The call was cut off.
The Kalwarvan forest was a small forest in Maharashtra which was situated at the edge of thane belt and at the outskirts of Mumbai. It was also very secluded area, deep inside the rugged mountain terrains. It exists since centuries, perhaps was once heard as hidden place for Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the Maratha warrior during Mughal war. The Locals of the Kalwaran would tell you that this forest was full of trees stretching for miles to miles ahead. There was a folkfore that revolved about the place. It held one of lurking mysteries that would not go away. There were tales of beasts that once lived there. Some even told that ghosts once resided there. And some even went as far to say their great-great grandfathers have warned them not to enter the forest at any cost as they have witnessed dragons. None of them, however had a proof to show that. But as they gleefully pointed out, there have been a certain disappearance of people who went there, unheeding the advice of the locals.
The Kalwarvan locals lived in the outskirts of the Kalwarvan forest and their policy is to stay peaceful where they are. They prefer to listen to the mysteries of the forest rather to go in and verify the facts.
The age-old iron fence had been erected around the vast forest with the lots of sign proclaiming “Do not enter”. Any blind fool would be stupid not to see that.
The doorbell rang.
Rachita Sheth got up from her desk, where she was poring over the heaps of files. She let out a long yawn and sighed. Taking a sip of coffee from the mug she was holding, she walked slowly towards the entrance door.
She opened her door, revealing a postman before her and was surveying at her.
“Miss Rachita Sheth” enquired the postman, looking down at the envelope at his hands and glancing at the nameplate at her door. “Is that you?”
“Yes” Rachita replied.
The postman let a small smile, handing the envelope and the sheet to her, “Miss, would you be so kind as to sign the sheet”
“Definitely” Rachita signed the sheet and handed it back. “It is a lovely day. Isn’t it?”
The postman looked up, surprised that someone was making a conversation with him. He was quite used to non-committal nod and door usually closed in his face. “Err…Yes, it is quite a lovely day” He replied warmly.
“Thank you for the envelope” Rachita called as the postman, who was receding to the distance, preparing for another delivery.
In response, he waved his hand.
“Make sure the coast is clear,” Gangster Rajesh said to his subordinates. “This is an important work. Make totally sure. We can’t take risk at all. We are going to receive an important package” The leader looked at his subordinates with warning.
“Is that clear?” repeated gangster Rajesh.
The subordinates nodded “Yes, sir”
“What important package?” a short guy whispered softly.
The tall guy next to him shushed him with a wave “Don’t talk unless you have a death wish”
That shut up a short guy.
Plopping down the sofa, she gazed at the envelope letter,
Miss Rachita Sheth,
Lovely hills house,
124/003 Pali Street.
She ripped open her envelope, wondering at the contents of the letter. She recognized her uncle’s handwriting instantly. It was elegant cursive handwriting, written neatly, relic of British era. With the shaking hands, she opened her letter.
Hello, Rachita. If you have received this letter, then you might be knowing that I am no more in the world judging from the fact I have terminal illness. I hope you are fine and I hope you are settled. I wanted to write, in hopes that you will forgive me for the sins I have incurred. I could not bring myself to tell you for the fear you might judge me or even the fear of abandoning me. And thus, I didn’t reveal the truth. The truth is that your parents were murdered over your paternal grandfather’s heirloom which was your family possession. It is a heritage that everyone has laid their eyes and want it to be in their possession. It was not in the accident as you assumed. I am sorry to have told the lie that your parents have died in an accident but I need to protect you as you were entrusted to me by your parents. They also entrusted you to my care, swearing that they will come back and collect you after they have completed some adventure. Only I didn’t know that they were really going to Kalwarvan forest or else I would have strongly objected to it. They were searching for it and someone killed them over that heirloom. The Kalwarvan locals had contacted me after they discovered them lying almost in their death; having managed to escape from Kalwarvan forest. I rushed to see them and also took you, hoping that would make them hang on for survival. But when I met them at last, they couldn’t speak and they had passed the letter to me, telling me to pass to you when you are old enough to understand. And, they soon passed away. But I destroyed that letter. I didn’t want you to go to same fate as they went. They wanted you to go and get it. Personally, I strongly opposed to it and did not reveal to you till I am alive. I have done my duty to pass the message, though late it was. I believe in protecting you. I had debated whether to say to you or not. And after much of deliberation, I finally came to the conclusion that you need to know.
I hope, you don’t go looking after it. It brings nothing but trouble. Kalwarvan forest is very dangerous place, for I have heard, the people who went in never made it out alive. I hope you continue with your life as before. I know it is a huge shock, but it will be highly appreciated if you refrain from revealing your parent’s history to others. It is highly confidential and it is only known between you, I and the killer. I would advise you to be careful lest you bring it into attention to the killer.
I duly hope you might forgive me for the sins I have incurred.
Rachita blinked, startled at the contents of the letters. Never in her wildest dreams, had she imagined such a thing. Murder, for Christ sake!
Harish Yadav looked fondly at the news clippings of the fire fighters, the police bravery and the hailed saviours. He then glanced at his computer and the burrow formed between his eyebrows. He had some puzzle to solve. That very puzzle which eluded him for years on end. The television was running in the background playing the cricket match. He did not pay attention as the batter hit an opening ball with a six and the crowd roared in triumph.
A link had appeared on the website. He peered closely.
“The mystery of Kalwarvan forest continues to terrify locals. June 1955.”
His eyes lit up. He had finally managed to hack into the restricted section library and archives information belonging to the Mumbai Archives centre. Out of habit, He glanced at the photograph on his wall that showed the aerial view of the Kalwarvan forest. It had to be a happening news, he thought. 1955 was the year when bloodbath happened. His mouse hovered over the link, and with one deep breath, he clicked.
THE MYSTERY OF KALWARVAN FOREST CONTINUES TO TERRIFY LOCALS.
Kalwarvan, June 1955: It was an extraordinary day for Kalwarvan locals. Although they knew about the strange happenings inside the Kalwarvan forest, the recent happenings has brought the issue into fore. The locals heard the screaming from the forest and had rushed to the outskirts of the forest. The couple named Nikhil and Pari Sheth had emerged from the forest, completely drenched in blood. It was a sight that locals will never forget.
“They were drenched from their blood. They were trying to tell us something, but we could not understand since they did not have strength to talk. By the time, Pari’s brother Mohit Sheth came to spot with their daughter, they had lost lots of blood and died” a local said. There was a talk that eyewitness said that she saw Pari Sheth passing a letter to her brother Mohit. She reported that she did not know the contents. But it must be important letter since no one in their right mind would give a letter in their time of death.
“It is a sad day” one of the locals mourned. “But I am glad they didn’t take their daughter Rachita into the dreaded Kalwarvan forest. Pari’s brother Mohit was taking care of baby Rachita when he heard of shocking news. Their daughter is barely five years and such thing had to happen. Mohit Sheth has told that he will bear the responsibility of becoming become guardian of a 5 year old baby Rachita Sheth”.
It was not known why they went to the Kalwarvan forest despite several warnings by the locals. “City hunters, who think they can do whatever they want” one of the locals muttered sarcastically.
For all those who are ignorant of the Kalwarvan forest, here is a fair warning. It held dangerous mysteries that none dare trod. Legend folkfore have regaled stories of vampires, bloodthirsting monsters, ghosts and some of them even went as far as to say that dragons even reside there. There is no proof that such thing exists, but there have been stories of people who went there and never came back. Till date, there is no people who has made out of there alive and live to tell the tale of the mystery. The Kalwarvan forest will always be remain shrouded in mystery.
But visitors, you have been cautioned.
Harish blinked, after reading it twice. His eyes focused on a name that has become his centre of attention. Mohit Sheth and Rachita Sheth.
Below the article, there was a black and white photo of couple covered on blood and Harish sheth holding a crying Rachita. He recognized them vividly as if he had seen them yesterday.
“They passed the letter.” He said aloud, wondering what the contents of the letter was.
The telephone let a long shrill.
The burdened officer let out a long sigh.
“Yes, this is Kalwarvan records archival section”, He said in the long monotone sentence.
“Do you have the information about the certain Nikhil and Pari Sheth who died in June 1955 at Kalwarvan forest?” asked a voice.
“One moment please, sir”
There was a rustling of papers, and after five minutes of searching, he came back to the line. “Yes, I have the record. They died after returning from forest. They were attacked. Source of attack is unknown.”
“What about the certain Mohit sheth and Rachita sheth?”
There was a pause. Some more ruffling of the papers and noise from the keypad being pressed. The officer was apparently searching his computer database.
“As a matter of fact, I do have”, He finally replied after what seemed like eternity.
“Can you please provide the details of them as I want to be in touch with them? I am a distant cousin of Rachita”
“I only have one information, and that is, Mohit Sheth is a sole guardian of the Nikhil and Pari Sheth’s daughter. I have Mohit’s office phone number. Do you want it?” Officer replied and afterthought, asked, “Might I ask for your name?”
“Gladly. Please give his number?”
The officer gave Mohit’s number.
“Always welcome. Hope you find him. By the way, what is your name?” Officer asked again.
There was a laugh. “I will definitely find him”
The call was cut abruptly causing the officer to look at it with suspicion. Why hadn’t he said his name? He wondered.
The phone rang.
Rachita glanced at the telephone of her uncle’s office and sighed.
“Is this Mohit sheth?” a voice whom she didn’t recognized asked.
“No, my uncle died two months ago. May I ask who are you?”
“Then, you could be Rachita, no doubt?”
“Yes, who are you?”
“Friend of your uncle, my condolence for your loss” but it seemed that that voice was not sorry at all.
“Thank you”, but before she could speak, the line was dead.
She stared at the receiver, cradling at her telephone for a long time.
“Don’t go there” warned a local, when she asked him for the directions. “The Kalwarvan forest is a scary place”
Rachita peered at the local, leaned out of car window, pushed the sunglasses away from her eyes and looked curiously at him.
“Why is it scary?” she asked.
“Don’t you know? It is dangerous place. It is full of monsters”
She looked up and smiled. “Thanks for warning” And with that, she put her sunglasses back and accelerated her car.
Like I would believe. She chortled.
She was tired after long drive. Her legs were sore and her hands were numb from driving. She wasn’t used to such driving along the windy road that went on for miles and surrounded by wild fields. And, yet she had few kilometers left to reach there. But quest for answers was important. To her relief, she spotted the hotel a mile away. The Hotel had “Plazana” emblazed in the loud bold letters and it was a few minutes away from the Kalwarvan forest. She parked her car quite harpazardly across the road and closed her car door with the resounding clash.
She entered to the hotel, only to find it empty except for the grey old man behind the counter. He had the spare hair on his temples and his face were lined with wrinkles. She could surmised that he could be in eighties.
“Is the hotel open?” She called from the doorway. “Is it open for lunch even though it is nearly 5.30 pm?"
The Old man looked up and smiled. “Yes, it is open, Come in”
“Thank you. I haven't had lunch and there were no hotel for miles. What is there for the lunch, anyway?”
“You can find that in the menu” He pointed his hand on the table, in which the menu was placed.
“Thank you” She replied as she hoisted herself to the seat. Surveying at the menu, she said, “Tomato soup for starters, Vegetable pulav for main course and a lemon juice”
“Okay, madam”, He left to place an order in the kitchen.
She was watching some videos on her social media newsfeed in her mobile and browsing when she suddenly felt uneasiness crept over her; she felt she was being watched.
She looked up to find that old man was staring at her and had a puzzled look.
“Err”, she cleared her throat, “Did you get my order right?”
“Ofcourse, Madam” the old man smiled, seemingly realising that he was staring. He hesistated for a while, debating himself and then asked “Might I have a word with you?”
She gazed at him and laughed. “Sure”
“I felt that I have seen you before, you look like Pari sheth, my younger cousin. But again, she is no more in this world. Are you by chance related to Sheth family?”
The smile was instantly wiped from her face.
“You know Pari?” Rachita asked cautiously.
“Yes, you must be somewhat related to her? You both look similar.”
“Ofcourse! She was my mother. So yes, we are related?”
The old man was stunned. He opened and closed his mouth, apparently struggling to form words. Finally he spoke.
“Rachita? That small girl I held in my hands was you?”
“Yes” Rachita was pleased that she still had some family, but that begs an impertinent question, “Who are you and how are we connected?”
The old man took the deep breath and came to her table. He sat on the chair and surveyed at her for a long minute.
“Am I to understand that you have come here to search for the legendary heirloom?” He spoke quietly.
“Yes” Rachita mumurred. “I just realised they were murdered!”
“But I had made your uncle promise not to disclose anything to you. I will have him answer to me!” He looked visibly agitated.
“Two months ago” She spoke softly, “He had left for abode”
“He –”, his eyes widened, “Oh dear, I didn’t know”
“So that is a reason uncle didn’t tell me” she murmured to herself. “I am sorry, but you haven’t introduced yourself”.
“Havent I? Forgive me, but I got distracted. My name is Arun Yadav. Distant maternal cousin of your father. We are related. Pleasure to see you after long time”, he paused and looked at her shrewdly, “I can’t say if I am pleased for you if you have every intention of going to Kalwavan forest?”
“That is right!”
He groaned audibly. “You parents were stubborn and look what has gotten them into. They had believed that there really was family heirloom! Look what happened to them! I never had believed and even warned them. They were insistent! Kalwavan forest is the scary place. They also started because of my other cousin Harish.” He let a small scowl.
“Yes, Harish Yadav. I don’t know where he disappeared to. He had disappeared the same night as your parents died. Dunno, He may have died in the forest. No one knows for sure. He was crazy about treasures and had urged your parents to find out about their heirloom. I had advised them not to go looking for such a thing in the dangerous Kalwarvan forest. They didn’t paid any heed to me and look what happened to them!”
“But you believed there was heirloom?” asked Rachita, sipping her lemon juice. It was quite a lot to take in.
Arun looked rather beaten and tired from long years. He took the deep breath and spoke,
“According to our ancestors, mind you, that was many years ago. They had discovered some stones, priceless diamonds and they had made a beautiful heirloom and it was their proud possession. But they were invaded by some ghosts, vampires, beasts, dragons and goodness knows what else”, He let out a snort, “So they had to run away. I really don’t know if there was such thing like beasts, ghost exists or not. They could not take their heirloom and had to hide securely somewhere in ancient ruins in Kalwarvan forest to prevent invaders from taking it. Many of my ancestors had lost their lives trying to find the heirloom. Personally, I think it is waste of time and it is risky. I have never set my foot in that damn place and I am happy that I lived that long unlike my ancestors”
“I see” Rachita took her sips, her mind running. “Does that Kalwarvan forest really have ghosts, beasts and dragons?”
“Maybe. That is what the folkfore had regaled” answered Arun.
That is rubbish, thought Rachita, keeping her face bland. Nonsense rumors. There is no such thing like vampires or ghosts.
“I will keep in mind." She said finally. They spoke for few hours, catching up with each other on recent happenings on their family. She glanced at her watch and looked up surprised, "It is almost 8.30 pm. How time fly by. Nice meeting you, Uncle. By the way do you have available lodgings for one night” She glanced at her watch and sighed “It is almost night”
“Of course, we have super deluxe, deluxe, and simple room. Which one do you prefer?”
“Simple Room”, said Rachita, “What is the price?”
“It is free for you. After all you are my daughter. A distant relative, but nonetheless my daughter, Rachita.”
He refused to take a rupee, even after her protest.
“Why would I take money from my daughter? Don’t I have self-respect?” He said with the note of finality in his voice.
“But don’t go to the Kalwarvan forest” He warned again, lest she did not understand him properly.
She laid on her bed of her cozy room, staring at the ceiling, but her mind is going into different directions.
Hence, she could not sleep. Many people are advising her not to go due to some strange rumors.
She asked herself many times whether she should go to the dreaded Kalwarvan forest.
For some strange reason, she did not believe in those rumors. There must be another reason.
Her inner voice told her plainly:
Those tales are utter myth. There is no such thing like ghost, beast, or dragons. Go and unlock the secrets.
She got her answers. She will go on the next day and finally got much needed sleep after hours of turmoil.
Arun surveyed at Rachita, a worry frown marked in his otherwise serene face.
“Are you certain you want to go to Kalwarvan forest?” He asked again, “ I believe I have told you many times. It is your wish anyway.”
“I want to go there and I will not let my parents die in vain.” Rachita replied with half smile, “Nice to meet you, Uncle Arun”.
“The pleasure is all mine” Replied uncle Arun, and whispered, “Take care.”
The moment of understanding passed between them.
“Thank you” was a prompt response, as she accelerated her car and watched her newfound uncle in rear-view mirror. He waved at her, receding to a distance as her car sped along and she could swear she saw her uncle folding his hand and sending prayers to heavens.
The entrance of the gate of Kalwarvan Forest was full of the warning signs. Yet she ignored it.
She pushed open the entrance gate. The gate creaked open slowly. It has been unused for a quite long time. Walking along the curved of the path, she smiled at last. She will not let her parents die in vain. She want to get the heirloom that her family desperately wanted her to have.She walked for long time, jumping over the protruded roots and going deeper to the forest which now resemble a jungle. It was quite dark and the trees formed a protective cover so that sunlight could not penetrated through the canopy of trees. The air smelled of freshly soil and it was completely clean air. She could swear she could hear some scrapping noise but she could not be certain. Walking carefully as to not to arouse the resting animals, she finally reached the ancient ruins after searching for hours on end. She was stunned into silence as she saw the Ancient ruins that looked magnificent and basking in the gleaming sun. She laughed when she realised that there were no such thing like ghosts, dragons, vampires or bloodthirsty monsters. There was nothing to worry, She thought. All the nonsense stories are just a myth. And what a beautiful ruin it was!
It was a beautiful ancient ruins she had ever laid her eyes on. There was a giant stone in which the house was caved from. It was covered with the moss and the creepers grew and partially covered one wall. She supposed it was the same ruin where her ancestors used to stay before they had to fled for safety. She paused to relish the scene before her. But there were lots of weeds everywhere and it is hard to reach the entrance of the ancient ruins without getting rid of weeds. She ploughed ahead, breaking the weeds that had rose to her elbows. Thankfully she had razor, that she used it to weave her way. She reached the entrance of the ruins. The stone house was eroded due to the climate change and on some areas, it had shown cracks in the rocks. She finally reached the entrance, and she could see no doors. It looked like a big cave made out of mountain rocks and it was dark that she could not see the interior of the caves.
It was quite black and humid; but she came handy. She had packed all the essentials in her backpack; after some rummaging, she found a big torch. That should do it. Switching on her torch, she directed her torch inside, throwing otherwise darkened corridor in sharp light and peered inside. What she saw took her breath away; inside the stone ruins, there was a picturesque drawing on the rocks, depicting the ancestors in daily lives. A woman and a man were depicted as cooking together while a child was depicted as aiming an arrow to an animal- it looked a dog-she couldn’t be so certain. The drawing of the animal was blurred.
There were many twists and turns of corridors, that she did not know where to look. There were numerous corridors leading of out of main corridor. As she looked around searching for clues and suddenly she spotted a hasty written mark that look like a charcoal written on the stone. It was an arrow to left and something that was written under this.
“Follow the arrow and you will find the treasure.”
She looked to her left and sure enough there was a corridor in sight. Determined, she walked with stride and her excitement knew no bounds. She is going to find the lost long heirloom. She followed the arrows and took couple of turns as per instructions and finally came to face with a stone door. It had engraved markings of a peacock. This is it, she thought excitedly.
In her haste, she didn’t notice that there was someone already hiding in the ruins, watching her and waiting. She opened the door and it slowly paved a way for her to enter in. At first glance she thought there was nothing then her gaze was drawn to the right. There stood a big and very heavy box. That makes certain that even the truck would not be able to lift it. It looked like a treasure box, except that the box was barren and without a design. Approaching closer, she could make out that the box was sealed shut. The box had the 6 number lock. On the right of the box, there was an old piece of parchment. It was old and withered as if many people had used it many times. She opened the parchment slowly,
“Take what is rightfully yours.
This is heirloom has been belonged to Sheths family since centuries,
Born with the brilliant mind and shrewdness,
They have a knack in solving puzzles.
And here I give you a puzzle,
If you are rightful heir, you should be able to unlock it.
Read carefully for three wrong attempts can lock it for a month, and you have to wait for one month for it to get unlocked.
And here it is:-
There was a star that shone brightly and the gazer had wonderful three sisters. One of them had star diamond in her palms and another one had pyramid diamond in her hand. The third sister had a ball diamond in her hand and she was disappointed but did not say anything about it. There was a common interest between them and they like to count the points. The gazer had hexagonal diamond. And she said, “Let’s throw our diamond into the sea and stop the comparison. And they threw it to the sea. The sea swallowed it and become a giant round ball that bounced off into the space.
Solve the puzzle.”
She realized the only way to open the box was to solve the puzzle. She felt her excitement returning. She was fond of puzzles since child and that alone took her to great heights. She was told on the numerous occasions by her relatives that she had inherited from her parents who were gifted in solving puzzles. She read it many times before smiling. Count the points was the hint enough. The star had five end points. There was another mention of star which is five endpoints, the pyramid had 3 endpoints. The ball had no points which meant it is zero. The hexagonal meant 6 endpoints and the giant ball also meant zero. So the number will be 553060. With trembling hands, she dialed 553060 into the lock and pressed an old button.
For a moment the lock did not respond, and she thought she got her answer wrong but then there was a loud whirling noise and the lock creaked open.
“I have got it” she triumphed. “Cracked it”
The box opened to reveal the big heirloom. It was a long chain sparkling with the big glittering diamonds and gold. It was also studded with different stones. It was really beautiful. She surmised that that is worth crores of rupees. She could only stare. “This is our heirloom,” She thought with a gasp.
She picked it up and could only look at it with dazed expression.
“Congratulations, you finally solved the mystery I have been looking for, Rachita” drawled a voice behind her,
She swirled. There stood a tall man, brandishing his pistol directing at her, “Don’t run or you will be dead. Now, would you be kind enough to hand that heirloom to me”
“Who are you? Why should I give you? It belongs to me and my ancestors” replied Rachita sharply, caught off-guard.
“Am I right? Are you Rachita Sheth?” the guy asked.
She hesitated before she nodded.
“I thought so. I am Harish Yadav. I must say you are brilliant in solving the mystery. I have mulled over it for years on end but couldn’t get the answer” He looked at her curiously, “What was the answer?”
She didn’t say anything and was staring at him “Uncle Arun said you had disappeared and assumed that you are dead…but why are you pointing the pistol on me? Aren’t you our relative?” She asked in confusion.
Harish gave a low and shrill laugh.
“Let’s say the last person your parents had seen was me. I am sorry to have killed them.”
“You killed my parents? Why so?” asked Rachita, shocked.
He waved his gun.
“Well, your parents weren’t that interested to finding the heirloom. I had to urge them to take an interest. Still, they didn’t even paid attention to me. The only thing left for me was to blackmail them. I had the video of them in compromising position and had to threaten them with dire consequences. That did the trick. So we all went to the forest and after lot of searching, we found this place.” He paused for a while.
“Then they found the heirloom just like you have, except that they changed their mind. They did not want to give their precious heirloom to me. They somehow tricked me and escaped from me, but not long before I caught them. And I realized after catching them that they had decided to keep it back to the box instead of taking it with them. They refused to tell me the code to open inspite of torture I had inflicted on them. They again, somehow manage to escape but not before I managed to kill them. But I had run out of luck as some locals heard the commotion and had to run away. I am so glad that I hurt their throats so that they could not be able to speak and more than glad when they succumbed into death. I feared they may survive but so glad they could not made it. So my secret is safe with me but there only thing is that I lack is brains. No matter what, I couldn’t solve the puzzle. Unless you hand your heirloom over me, you will be next.”
“Are you insane? Why would you kill your cousins? And this heirloom necklace is rightfully mine” she said.
“You need not to bother over with the righteous. The world isn’t full of bed and roses” he said with a laugh. “It is all over”
Rachita had a quick mind. She was trained in martial arts and knew how to catch the Harish off-guard. With a sudden movement, she knocked his hand away with her leg and the gunshot was heard as the trigger was pulled. But the bullet went through the ceiling instead of her and with her elbows, she knocked the gun out of it before he could pull the trigger again. She knew that man is very sturdy build and would easily overpower her so she did the only thing- She ran away, with her hands clutching the heirloom.
Sprinting, Rachita bursts through the quiet of the shadowed forest, she blazes through it with a remarkable speed from the sprint. She manoeuvred between the slippery grass and the half plants, ducking low from the gunshots. She weaves between the moss covered trees that rise above. Her goal of the road within sight. Every twig that snaps as she steps upon it seems louder to her than the ones before. She trembles and gasped for air, looking from side to side. Her heart thuds within in her chest, the blood traveling to her ears, it mutes the sounds of the forest. A sharp pain runs again along her side: her elbows and finger scraped as she brushed against the sharp jutted branches. Her fingers was dripped with blood which splatters on the ground. She paused, her hand on the branch and listened keenly. There was a deadly silence as if the forest was watching her every move. Then the loud footsteps could been heard. Panicked, she inhaled a mouthful of air and set off for a run. Following the narrow mud road that can guide her back to the outskirts of the forest, she clenched her mouth so that she would not scream. She dearly wanted to scream, from her elbow wound that hurt her terribly. Her right hand clutched protectively around her heirloom. The footsteps behind her grew louder. Perspiration lined on her forehead. She ran as fast as she could muster up.
She spotted the cluster of rocks surrounded by the dense plants and the idea came to her mind. Panting, she tiptoed around it so as not to make any noise and found a perfect hiding place. There was a narrow space between the long rocks and it was covered with the creepers and plants. Pushing herself, she went deeper inside the plants and found a big rock enough to hide her. She stood below the rock and hid herself. No one would be able to see her.
The footsteps came alarmingly close and she knew her killer had come here. She waited with a bated breath. She could see him narrowly through the thick bushes. But the other side could not. The killer paused to the halt and was surveying at the surroundings.
“Where the hell has she gone?” He roared.
For a heartbreaking moment, she thought she was caught as his eyes snivelled to her direction but then the killer straightened up and sped in the opposite direction.
She wasn’t caught afterall. Her gaze lowered as she let a long drawn breath.
I will stay here for a while, she thought with a shiver, that is until the coast is clear.
She stared at her heirloom necklace in which she had grasped it tightly. Gingerly, she put her heirloom inside her backpack and exhaled a long drawn breath.
With almost a laugh, a local chortled, a glass bottle in his hand, He crowned with inebriated state, “The Politician Gokale was bluffing for vote bank”
The Kalwarvan locals stood around the glowing bonfire, which was crackling with fire and just a few walking distance from the entrance of Kalwarvan forest. There were bottles scattered around. Evidently, they had been drinking for a while.
The people around him cheered, “That is true, Never have had any done work. Our Kalwarvan area is not progressing well as we all had hoped. Why, He had promised to build a school five minutes from here but I don’t see any school in sight...”
They cheered and clattered with their glass, they all gulped in one swallow.
“Did you hear that Delhi Chief minister Mahesh Wahane was missing for past two weeks? The Delhi police said, they could not find him. Do you think he was kidnapped?” A young man gossiped.
“The Chief Minister Mahesh kidnapped in the heavily armed security? It is impossible! And why the heck would anyone would kidnap him for?” Another local asked.
“Host of reasons, they could use him as leverage? Blackmail? Trade secrets? Whatever, it is none of our business” He took a sip, “By the way, my wife is pestering me to buy dress, honestly do you think I grow money on trees---“ He stopped abruptly, his ear alert, “I hear some voice”
“My wife expect me to treat her to any international trip! How can we afford with our meagre salary- Hang on, even I hear something! Shh, Keep quiet, Let me hear more clearly.” The man with greying hair named Kalpesh spoke as his ears perked up.
The locals lowered their voice and their glass; listening keenly.
“Help” the shrieking voice rose high in the air, causing the locals off-guard.
“Help” the voice grew into loud yell.
They had finally located the direction the voice had issued from.
“Is that voice from the Kalwarvan forest” asked a local, gazing at each other. “Who would be so foolish enough to go to that place despite several warnings?”
“Should we help?” asked Kalpesh worriedly, “We can’t go inside if rumors about monsters are true”
“HELP”, the voice grew louder.
“Perhaps we have a look from outside but would not go inside” suggested another local, his eyes on the entrance of Kalwarvan forest. “I see something movin-”
He need not say anymore.
A girl had burst out from the forest, the twigs and branches breaking out as she tumbled out of the forest. Broken twigs latched on her hair and her elbows were covered with blood.
“What the-”gasped Local staring at her, bewildered.
“She had escaped from the monsters, probably a first person who came out alive.” Commented a local.
She didn’t stop running until she reached them.
“Call the Police” she panted, “There is the killer on loose”
The locals exchange a look.
“Have you seen a monsters, ghosts or dragons?” asked Kalpesh eagerly.
The girl turned a blank expression at him and laughed.
“I have been in this woods for nearly 5 hours and I don’t see any creatures. But a man who killed my parents decades ago and was after me.”
“No creatures” asked Kalpesh aghast. “The story is untrue then?”
She shrugged, “Check for yourself. But only after you catch the killer. He is on loose. But he can’t harm when we all go in together”
“How did the killer kill your—”
She sighed, “Call the police” she repeated, and “I will tell you everything”
The police inspector Sanjay looked at her with interest. The locals were seated inside his cabin. If this is true, this is going to break the mystery surrounding Kalwarvan forest.
“Are you sure?” he asked for the umpteenth time after hearing her story.
“Definitely. There is no such thing like monsters. The only animals which I saw were peacock and a rabbit”
“Did you see werewolf…that is human that turn to wolf or something like that?” asked another local.
“It rise on full moon day. Today is not a full moon day” another local snapped, “I don’t believe in werewolf myth anyway”
“I don’t see any creatures!” cried Rachita staring around with exasperation.
The locals turned to Inspector Sanjay and asked him.
“What must we do?” asked Local leader Saurabh.
Inspector Sanjay looked thoughtfully at her for a long moment and then finally holstered up his gun,
“She came out alive and she hasn’t seen any creatures. Perhaps the story was myth. I think it is the time we are about to find out the real story behind it”
The locals looked at each other, the strange expression on their face.
“Give us a moment” the local leader Saurabh said, turning to face his troupe. They all was huddled in group
“I will be taking 25 police in my team. It would be nice if you could join us. More people, the stronger we are” The inspector added.
“Alright then, those who are in favour of joining with police, Raise your hands”
Kalpesh looked at his local leader Saurabh for a long minute, swallowed audibly and nodded. “I am in”.
One hand shot up in air, soon followed by many other hands.
“Agreed,” Saurabh, a local leader, exclaimed after counting, “we all will go in the Kalwarvan forest and find out.”
“If it is a myth,” Saurabh added, “We will be breaking the myth and our future generation would thank us” He broke into an uneasy grin and his friend Kalpesh nodded grimly.
The gang watched fearfully as their leader loaded the gunny bag. Something was moving inside the bag but they dare not ask for the fear of being dead.
“Is that a human or an animal in the bag, Akshay?” whispered the short man, gazing at it.
“Help!” the voice startled them but the leader appeared unfazed,
“Human” whispered Akshay. “Keep quiet.”
The gangleader Rajesh turned to them, “As I said, guard the Kalwarvan forest as always. Make sure the coast is clear”
“We have an important guest” he said looking deadly in their eyes.
His eyes narrowed at the bag and he let a small smile.
All eyes followed his eyes and looked at the bag.
And the gummy bag stood violently as someone trapped inside was struggling to come out.
The police force comprising 25 people and the locals of around 25 people finally entered to kalwarvan forest, the Police had their guns ready and the Locals had their knife and sticks. They were highly strung out with nerves. Rachita thought it was too much for on man on loose, but still as the inspector said, “It is better to be armed”
“This way” Rachita whispered and she tiptoed around the bushes silently and looked around. “That was the last I saw him”
“We will have one hell of day” chuckled Kalpesh, trying to ease the tension. “So far, I don’t see any monsters,” he jumped as something touched his feet. “Oh, that scared me…it is only a rat!”
After two hours of searching, Rachita suddenly whispered, “There he is, drinking water from the river”. Sure enough they could see their quarry quenching his thirst. “He is probably searching for me”
“Let’s stay in bushes, hidden. We will lay a trap and catch him…”
To his delight, Harish, the killer came to their direction, unsuspecting that he was going to be ambushed any time.
No sooner did he came to the bushes than the police and locals closed in on him and caught him!
“We did it” exclaimed one of locals. “We did it!”
“There is no monster or such thing”
“But there is something dangerous in the forest. There is a gang...” Harish tried to say but then cloth covered his mouth by a police
They tied his hands with handruffs. “We don’t want to hear any nonsense story ever again” snapped Inspector Sanjay.
A local knocked him unconscious with stick and smiled with satisfaction. “In this way, he won’t run away from us”
“Bad idea” the inspector Sanjay reprimanded, caught off-guarded. “Now who will tell us the direction out of the forest?”
“Oh” the man said with horrified whisper, “I didn’t think of that”
Inspector Sanjay merely rolled his eyes.
“I think we have lost our way” said Rachita sheepishly…I only followed the sunset and escaped the place. But it is night and I don’t know which direction.”
“Oh dear” Kalpesh ploughed down, tired after walking, “I am so hungry after walking for long time”
“I want to –um—take a leak.” Rachita suddenly spoke and caused everyone to look at her awkwardly. “Give me a few minutes. I will come back”
“Okay, make it real quick” said Inspector Sanjay.
Treading on the untrodden path, she searched for the bushes in which she can take a leak, unseen by all.
Once done, she exhaled a sigh of relief as was about to leave this place when she heard some muffled voices.
Following the voice, she came to the small clearing and stared at the five people at the bonfire and one gummy bag shaking violently.
“Help” it called fruitlessly and in subdued voice.
“There is no one here for miles” crackled a young short man. “This place is haunted according to the locals. Werewolf! Monsters! For Christ sake…You know how to sprout this tale well enough so that no one dare to come this place”, He poked his friend in the ribs.
“I merely carried it out. The story was told by the ancestors of our leaders in order to protect their area. We just kill anyone who come here and fuel the rumors that monsters are there and no one has ever come out alive” He let a shrill laugh.
“They must be someone...” the voice was more subdued as if recognizing the defeat.
“Don’t aggravate our leader unless you have a death wish. I would keep my mouth shut if I were you” the young man said, “Don’t disturb him, as our leader is sleeping.”
Rachita had heard enough. She now knew the reason behind the myth. There was a gang that resides there.
She receded slowly, treading softly, her heart hammering. She went back to her team who was waiting for her.
“Took you long enough” Inspector Sanjay smiled. “Let’s go”
“Wait, lower your voice” Rachita said with a whisper.
“I just saw something” she whispered and told them what happened.
“So there is a gang staying here and murdering people who come here. And fueling the rumors that monsters exists so they can occupy the area. This has cost lives.” The locals were livid.
“They were armed. They might have kidnapped someone. Someone was inside the gummy bag, literally asking for help and they had a cold laugh” Rachita whispered.
“Then we have our duty. We will have to catch them” The inspector Sanjay nodded. We have 50 of us and they are merely 5 people. We will defeat them no doubt”
“Lead the way, Rachita”
Rachita looked up at the determined eyes of the inspector Sanjay, swallowed nervously and nodded.
She slowly directed them to the clearing.
“Hide in the bushes,” the Inspector Sanjay whispered, “We must remain unseen”
By that time, they saw that the gang leader fast asleep and this team had also slipped to sleep. The victim inside the gummy bag continued to wail softly, and the fire peppered out, devoid of any resource to keep it crackling.
“Good, that is good sign” the Inspector Sanjay whispered, “They are unarmed. They have abandoned their guns and went to sleep”
“We have to catch them off guard” said the Inspector Sanjay. “10 people will trap each one of them”
“On my command, go”
They all sprinted to run and caught them before they could open their eyes.
“What the-” gulped one man in surprise.
The gangster Rajesh woke up to find himself tied in the back.
“Oh, I recognized you” the inspector Sanjay smiled, surprised. “You are Gang leader Rajesh and you are wanted in 10 states.”
Gangster Rajesh cursed, “You people” he directed to his gang members, and “You don’t know how to guard this place”
“Enough yelling” the Inspector Sanjay smiled, his gun on the Rajesh's temples, “Would you be so kind as to direct the way out of kalwarvan forest. I had one hell of day”
“No, I won’t” the gangster Rajesh snapped.
“So be it, I can ask your gang then, while I finish your life. It would have been a shame to lose your soul”
He raised his gun to gangster Rajesh’s head.
“No wait, don’t kill me, I will show you the way” the gangster Rajesh said.
The inspector Sanjay smiled satisfied.
“Let’s get hell out of here”
All eyes turned on their own accord to the bag.
“What about the bag,” asked Rachita. “Should we open it?”
“Yes, We can,” the Inspector Sanjay nodded, “I have been wondering that myself”
“Stand aside” Inspector announced, “I will open it myself”
With a deep breath, He gave his gun to his junior, folded his sleeves till his elbow and set to work on unknotting the thread that sealed the mouth of the bag shut.
“Don’t move,” ordered Inspector Sanjay, “Don’t move and we can open it”
Suddenly the gummy bag was very still. A voice murmured “Do it fast then.”
It was a few minutes of unknotting before they managed to loosen it. “Here we are” He let out a long breath. “You can come out. Don’t attack us. We are police and we come in peace”
“I figured that one on hearing the commotion” was the sarcastic reply.
The bag was opened and the team peered closer at the bag’s opening mouth. A man came out of the bag, his hair jutting out at the odd angle. He had a rugged beard which show he had not shaved for a while.
A local leaped back in horror on recognizing him and let out a gasp.
“What the shit-”, gasped Kalpesh, shell-shocked.
“Mind your language” snapped inspector, staring at old man, his jaw dropped in astonishment, “You don’t say.”
All were staring at the man open-mouthed. Some, however looked at him curiously.
The man was wearing rather expensive dress, but now was in the dilapidated condition as he was inside the gummy bag for long time.
“Hang on” Saurabh the local leader said, looking between the man and the Inspector Sanjay, his brows frowned as he racked his memory. “He seem familiar”
“Delhi Chief Minister, Mahesh” a local man finally found his voice, after opening and closing several times, “is that you?”
This time, there was a stunned silence as everyone suddenly recognized him on hearing his name.
“Yes” he replied weakly, his eyes blinking against bright light of torches that was beamed on him. He was in gummy bag for so long that sight of the light hurt his blue eyes. “Will you put your torch away from my face” He whispered.
“Oh sorry” The police replied, lowering their torch.
“I remembered reading the newspaper that he had gone missing. Never thought I will find you here” remarked Saurabh looking at him disbelievingly. “Luckily enough we found you”
“Thank you” he weakly whispered before he passed out.
MYSTERY AROUND KALWARVAN FOREST HAS BEEN SOLVED!
Rachita sheth has been hailed as the heroine. The local reported that she was brave enough to go the Kalwarvan place. She revealed that it was not a place where monster or anything resides in that, but a gang that have been staying. It was reported that leader’s ancestors used to stay in that place for long time, developing it as a secret hideaway for kidnapping, smuggling, making illegal arms and they used to kill anyone who dare to come. They fuel the rumors of monsters and ghost to keep wanderers at bay.
“I knew it” cackled one lady. “I had told them so, but they didn’t believe me. Actually I was thinking that there must be something fishy going on with the disappearance of people. But I didn’t think that the gang would live there.”
But the most extraordinary thing was that gang had Delhi Chief Minister Mahesh Wahane in their hold and Locals were luckily enough to discover it. It was not clear why Rachita had gone there. The Delhi official had thanked the Kalwarvan police and locals for saving their chief Minister. Inspector said, “The Locals will never forget this day for eternally. The myth has been broken.”
Meanwhile, they still haven’t solved the Stonehood mystery…..
At the far end of the Stonehood clearing, unseen by all, the dragon who was quietly sleeping woke up at last. The spell that lifted after 100 years.
He did not age at all.