Sanjana returned from Aunty's house early in the morning and hit the bed soon after. It was only in the afternoon that she was able to open her eyes again. She sat upon the bed and pondered about the nightmare she had yesterday.
'Was it merely a nightmare or was someone really there in the house yesterday?'
A cold sweat ran down her face as she realized that she can't be sure of anything. She stood in front of the mirror and ran her fingers on her neck. Of-course, there were marks all around her neck as if scratched by fingernails. But that could be caused by her own nails while she was trying to defend herself during the imaginary struggle.
'But it felt so real!' She thought and that thought gave her goose-bumps.
She made herself a cup of coffee and brooded over the mysterious remarks that Saroj Aunty has made about Shveta's disappearance, while sipping it. She started to have a feeling that there was of-course something fishy in the whole affair. And then her thoughts wandered to those nightmares that she started having since she had landed up in the bungalow. She had a strong gut feeling that they had some connection with the past of this bungalow. She decided to search the entire house as she was sure there must be some evidence still lying concealed in some dark corners of the house. She thoroughly searched all the bedrooms one by one but had to draw a blank. Afterwards, while she was speeding to the kitchen, her eyes fell on a small door below the staircase which was tightly secured with a strong lock. She punched Ankush's number on her phone and impatiently scratched her head while waiting for him to pick-up.
"Hi Sanju, how....?"
"What is this room under staircase?" Sanjana pounced upon him without even letting him finish. "Why hadn't you told me about it earlier? And where is its key?"
"Relax Sanju, it's a cellar. I myself have not been there. As far as I know, some belongings of the former occupants are locked inside the room."
"I want the key right now!" Sanjana said in a nervous voice.
"Well, we don't have the key. You will have to break the lock."
The cellar was dark and damp. A few dusty iron boxes lay scattered here and there. Sanjana broke the locks on them and found them to be full of belongings of a lady - 'most probably Shveta's' - she guessed. She hurriedly pulled them out and found an album lying at the bottom of it. A chill ran down her spine as she opened it. It had the picture of the girl whom she had seen in the garden, in one of her nightmares. She was wearing a bridal attire while standing next to a handsome man in that picture.In the background, Sanjana noted a huge board which read - 'Shveta weds Aniket.'
"So it was Shveta whom I had seen the other night in my dreams!" Sanjana burst out. Suddenly, she felt as if she had seen a flash of a person by the half-opened door of the cellar.
"Who is there?" She asked as she ran towards the door.
As she found no one there, she ran towards the parlour. There she caught a glimpse of a white garment heading towards the garden. She ran after it but there was no one in the garden as well.
Sanjana was jolted by a sharp shriek that appeared to come from the well. She peeped into it and felt as if someone had pushed her from behind. She fell into the cold water and struggled to get out of it. The well was shallow and her feet landed on something that felt like a huge box. She drew a deep breath and took a dip into the water. She saw a huge trunk lying locked, inside the well. She decided to get some help to pull it out of the well. The sidewalls of the well had a few footholds. She grabbed them and got out of the well. She ran to the house and dialled Ankush's number.
"Hello Ankush..." Sanjana said, gasping for breath like a person who was at the end of his wits, "I need your help. Please come over here as soon as possible."
"What happened Sanju?" There was concern in Ankush's voice as he didn't fail to notice the anxiety in her tone. All of a sudden, Sanjana felt as if the whole house was whirling around her and darkness entering her eyes. She fainted and fell on the floor.
A little later, Ankush rushed into the house to find Sanjana lying unconscious on the floor. Her wet negligee was adhering to her svelte form. He picked her up and carried the stupefied girl to her bedroom. He gently laid her on the bed and sprinkled some water on her face.
"There is something in there, Ankush!" She said as she woke up with a start.
Ankush pulled the box out of the well with the help of two labourers. They broke the lock on the box and found a skeleton lying inside. Ankush called the police and they had it sent for the forensic analysis. Deep down, Sanjana had a strong feeling that the skeleton was Shveta's. And along with that she believed that the evidences which could probably lead to her murderer must be lying somewhere in the house. She searched the house once again but found nothing. She came out into the garden.There was a small out-house by the far end of the garden. She rushed into it and searched all the cupboards only to find them empty. But then her gaze fell on the attic. She climbed over it and searched the things that lay scattered over there.But there also she couldn't lay her hands on anything incriminating.
It was already twilight and she was exhausted both physically and emotionally. She heaved a sigh and leaned on the wall for support. In a split second, she felt that there was something amiss with the wall.She tapped on it with her knuckles and realised that it was hollow and was concealing a chamber within. She ran her fingers over it and found a small secret knob on it.She turned the knob and the chamber opened up.She found a small rusty box inside it which was laden with dust and cobwebs. She dusted the box with her hands and opened it. Her eyes popped out of their sockets as she saw a revolver lying hidden within a shirt and a trouser soaked with blood. She kept blankly staring at her discovery for what seemed to be an eternity. She was startled by the ring of her cellphone. It was Ankush.
"Sanju," Ankush said eagerly, " the Police has confirmed that the skeleton is Shveta's. They immediately arrested Aniket and questioned him. And you know what...."
"I have found out all the evidences against him. He had shot her with a revolver. I have that revolver right here with me along with his clothes soaked in her blood."
"But in his confession he has told the police that he had strangled her and then locked her body in a trunk and threw it in the well."
"No,that can't be!"
"Yes, the sub-inspector Mohit who is my friend has told me so. Aniket has confessed to the murder in his presence. Shveta had the habit of having a cup of coffee every night before going to bed. As Aniket was aware of it, he put some sleeping pills into it without her knowledge. And while she was sleeping sedated, he strangled her."
"Then..." Sanjana asked perplexed, "what about the pistol and the blood soaked clothes that I have found in the outhouse? Where did they come from?"
"A few years ago, we had rented the outhouse to a drama-troupe. I think those things belong to them."