Anupam Rajak



Anupam Rajak




9 mins

The streets were completely deserted when I started from home. It was past midnight. Hence, it wasn’t any kind of surprise for me. My father said, “Mrinal! Should I accompany you?” To this, I said, “No need, Dad. I can reach the railway station all by myself. Why should you come with me? I am already twenty years old and can take care of myself. You should rather get some sleep before daybreak”. My father reluctantly let me go. He was a farmer. He had to water the crops before daybreak. Then, he would pluck the vegetables and board the local train at 6 o’clock precisely. If he escorted me now, he would wait till I boarded the train. That would cost him, at least an hour’s sleep, and he wouldn’t be able to sleep anymore. Moreover, the railway station was only a kilometer away. I would be there even before my father hit the bed at home. I knew, how hard working my father was. I lost my mother when I was only twelve. Since then, it was my father alone for me. He knew no pain, no sufferings, nothing of the sort. He had toiled along to bring me up all alone. After completing my schooling, I had cleared the entrance examination and joined the prestigious National Institute of Technology. I shall be reaching there tomorrow evening and put myself up in a hostel before beginning my first class in the Engineering College.

As I stepped out of the narrow lane into the broad highway, a few street dogs, probably aroused from their sleep by my foot steps, started yawning at first and then began barking at me. I wasn’t accustomed to dealing with them at this time of the night. So, I couldn’t figure out, whether to run or to remain steady at my post till their canine curiosity died down. There were six of them barking wildly at me as I stood transfixed at my position. I didn’t even dare to throw any stone at them. All on a sudden, all six of them took to their heels and ran away. I couldn’t make out what had scared them. However, I was relieved to be freed from the fear of being clawed and bitten by any of those deadly creatures. I started walking along the empty highway.

Few meters down the road, a police patrol vehicle accosted me. The officer hurled a volley of questions at me.

“Who are you?”

“Where are you going?”

“Why are you alone at this time of the night?”

“Why didn’t somebody accompany you to the railway station, if that is where you are indeed going?”

I answered him as confidently as I could, but, he wasn’t quite impressed. Finally, he said, “You get into the police van, and spend the night in the police station. In the morning, you will be free to go wherever you want. But, I doubt your intentions now. So, I can’t allow you to go anywhere, now”. I was baffled. I shall miss the train if detained. So, I opened my backpack and showed him the admission letter of my college. He read the letter pointing a torch at it. He was, most probably convinced of my genuineness. Still, he had some doubt. To clear it, he said, “O.K., My boy! You come with me. I will take you to the Railway station. You are such a small boy. It isn’t safe to let you walk alone all the way. Come on”. I had to obey his command. After all, he did not mean any harm to me. I stepped inside alongside him and he advanced. I looked back to see if the dos were still there. There they were, all six of them, looking at us from their hideouts. Their glowing eyes made me feel weird. I don’t know why, but, my inner instincts told me something was unusual. Everything wasn’t as normal as it seemed.

As the patrol van reached the Railway station, I alighted, pulling out my backpack behind me. When I turned around to thank the officer for the lift, the van was nowhere to be seen. Both the van and the officer had vanished into thin air. A chill ran down my spine as I tried to conjecture who had brought me here.

I approached the gate. I could not read the name of the Railway station glowing in the electronic board. Maybe, the letters were not visible clearly because of some electronic problem. A security guard stopped me and asked for my ticket. I picked it out from my shirt pocket and handed it over to him. He looked at it for some time, holding it close to his eyes. I was intrigued. I wondered, what could be there in the ticket to be seen with such intricacy? To my utter surprise, he nodded his head and returned it to me, saying, “This won’t do, my dear Sir. You go to the counter in front of the gate and get it verified. I was genuinely surprised at his uncanny behavior. I looked at the ticket once again. There was nothing out of the world in it. However, I stepped away from the gate and walked towards the counter as indicated. The man at the counter scrutinized my ticket, punched a hole in it and returned it to me. I took the ticket and could not see any difference except the hole he had punched. Anyway, I again approached the gate. The guard came up to me once again, saw my ticket, and allowed me in.

As I entered the platform, something hit me as grossly unusual. The normal hustle and bustle was missing. I could not find any other passenger. I was the lone person in the long well-lit platform. I found a clean seat and put myself in it. My train was expected within the next fifteen minutes. Suddenly, my name was announced in the public address system.

“Mr. Mrinal Seth! Please move to coach position 13 as your train is due to enter the platform number 1”. I looked up at the small displays marked along the length of the platform and found the number 13 displayed in one of them. I walked towards it. In about fifteen minutes, the train hurtled in at a vigorous speed. It didn’t seem as if it would stop. I was counting the numbers glowing on the sides of the coaches passing by. 9-10-11-12..A uniformed guard just appeared beside me and pushed me forward into the running train. I just saw the number 13 flashing on its side in a blink. I screamed out loudly, thinking I would be crushed below the wheels of the train moving at such a speed. But, nothing such happened, and the next moment, I found myself standing safely inside. A tall man, possibly the ticket checker, asked for my ticket and looked at it in a strange manner when I showed it. He pointed at a seat and bade me sit there. As I took my seat, an announcement was heard, “Welcome aboard, Mr. Mrinal Seth. This is the paramount express to Abracadabra. You will be reaching there at 6 o’clock in the morning. You can lie down in your berth comfortably. The guard will wake you up half an hour before you are to alight. So, enjoy your sleep now”. Strange! Where is Abracadabra? I am supposed to reach Rourkela in the morning to join my college, and where am I being taken to? I was visibly perturbed at such a sudden turn of events. My eyes almost welled up with tears. If I don’t reach my college in time, my future will be doomed. What will my father think? But, I could not keep myself awake any longer. Sleep took over my body and soul. I lay down on the berth and almost immediately, fell asleep.

I woke up to some unnatural sound. I heard someone was wailing. I got up from my berth trying to find what woke me up. The whole compartment was still except that shrill wailing noise. I looked around. The berths all around me were empty. Nobody was there. Then, I went along the aisle trying to locate the origin of the sound. It was highly disturbing. As I approached the end of the coach, the wailing increased. I stepped towards the end. Oh! My God! What was that? My blood froze as I saw the sight. A large man with very long teeth and still longer arms was gobbling up raw flesh from the large wound of a baby. The baby was in severe pain and was wailing incessantly, but, the man threw a deaf ear to its wails and continued devouring the flesh from the wound with relish. The very sight made me jump up in fright. I felt like puking there itself, but, the large built of the man scared me to my wits’ end. I wanted to turn back and run, but, not before the man had seen me peeking at his meal. He sprang up like a tiger and gave out a loud shriek. I ran along the aisle with the monster following me in hot pursuit. I cleared the first cubicle in between two coaches and tried to close the door behind me. The door luckily locked him out.

But, I was too scared to stand there any longer. I could see the monster punching the door wildly with his fists. I expected somebody from this coach to come to my rescue hearing the loud noise, but, nobody came. I decided to run farther away into the next coach, in case the monster succeeded in breaking open that door. I knew, I would lose all my certificates in my bag, which I had left behind in that coach, but, my foremost thought was to get away from the monster. Who knows, he might have taken me for his next meal! Before running ahead, I turned back to look at the door the monster was hitting so hard. It was buckling under his enormous strength. I had no time to lose. I started running. By the time I was past the next cubicle, I heard a loud crash signifying the monster’s success in breaking through that door. I quickly turned around and closed the door of the cubicle immediately behind me.

I was perspiring and panting standing there, when I heard a loud bang at the door of this coach. The train was at high speed. How could someone get there! Did it mean that the monster had, somehow, gotten outside the coach and was banging at this door! Not impossible for the immense strength that the monster garnered! So, I started running once again. But alas! The next cubicle was shut from the other side. I was trapped now. The monster was going to get me. He would simply need to insert his hands into my belly and pull out my intestines. How vulnerable I was! I thought of my poor father and the dogs near my house.

“Bow wow!”

“Am I hallucinating?” I thought. Then I heard a dog bark very near to me. God only knows, how sweet the bark felt to my ears! Then I saw it. The monster wrenched away the door of the coach and looked at me with glowing eyes. I almost fainted. Suddenly, something dark swished past me and fell upon the monster. It was a dog; a very large one, indeed. Both the dog and the monster fell through the broken door into the darkness outside. Then I heard more dogs barking wildly. I fainted. When I regained my senses, I was on the road and my father was with me. How relieved I felt on seeing him!

“Come!” he said, “I returned when I remembered that the cannibal monster will be on the prowl tonight”.

The END.

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