food, humour

Fish?

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Everybody knows that you don’t drink water after you eat fish! But nevertheless, the fish shall have its revenge. No matter what.
Let’s take fish fry for instance. It’ll go all the way to your stomach, and the food and water you gulped down with it, will be like doctors who say, “The patient is very critical now, he/she has sustained 89% burns.” And then, the nutrition you so rightfully deserve shall be snatched from you, and used up by the fried fishes.

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If you think that fish curry is safe… then nooooo. Think again – they are worse. They’re fishes in water! They race down your oesophagus, and once in the stomach, start partying. Party all night, party all night. Well, not all night – they drink,dance and make noise (that’s when your tummy vibrates).

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And when all the food is over, only still water left, they’ve had enough. They make whirlpools inside the stomach, hit the walls – till you feel so uncomfortable that it is all expelled out of your stomach and flushed down the toilet.

horror fiction

Candlelight Dinner

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Ding dong.
The bell rang, slicing into the silent night — announcing visitors. Red straightened her dress, and opened the door. Outside stood the love of her life, hand in hand with his girlfriend. They were engaged.
Jake and Sue walked into her house, and she clutched her dress.
Patience.
She managed to relax a little, and put on her smile – which he should have cared about. The three walked into the valentine themed terrace, lit just enough.
Red fought hard to stop the tear from falling off her lashes, thus revealing her true feelings. She turned around just in time to erase it off her eye.
What  is it? 
It’s Sue. I asked her out and she said yes! 
Oh. That’s…. that’s great news!
” Thank you so much for inviting us over for dinner, you have a wonderful place! “, said Sue.
” Ahhh.. well, that’s what best friends do, right Red?” asked Jake.
She simply smiled at him, and poured wine into their glasses. She went on to serve them dinner.

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What? You proposed to her?
I know right? She said yes! We are going to get married soon.
Wha-a? Why? I mean…, are you sure about this? 
Of course I am! You know what, I’m madly in love. So much that I cannot live without her. 
” I can’t believe that you made all this! Everything I just had was too tasty to have been cooked by you. When did this transformation take place?” asked Jake, patting his tummy.
Ever since I came to know you loved to cook.
” Jake! Come on, don’t be rude. She has put in a lot of effort to make it special for us.” scolded Sue.
Not for you, only him.
“No it’s fine, I’m quite used to his tantrums.” said Red.
Don’t worry Sue, I’ll take care of him for you. You just focus on having a good time, since it’s going to be your last.
“See, she doesn’t mind”, replied Jake.
Red stood up to get dessert, knocking over the bottle of ketchup – the red liquid staining Sue’s white dress. Sue feared the stain would be quite stubborn.
Red was in the kitchen. She apologised,” Oh no, I’m so sorry. The bathroom’s on the right.”
Phone ringing.
Jake! Where in the world have you been? I’ve been calling you for more than an hour. You were supposed to help me move into my new house, remember? 
What? Hospital? Are you alright?
Oh. Sue.
Is she fine? Nothing serious? Ok.
No, no. It’s ok. I’ll sort things out myself. Beep.
Silence.
Sobbing.
I can help, perhaps?
Silence.
Who’s there?
Red couldn’t see anybody in the darkness, but she could sense somebody near her.
That doesn’t matter. What matters is that I may be able to help you, though that was not my initial intention.
What do you mean? And what if I don’t want your help?
I mean I can help you get rid of her, your friend’s friend; Sue. And if you don’t want my help, then I shall be forced to get rid of you.
A thoughtful pause.
What do you want? 
Well, I require somebody young, around your age, to complete what I have begun.
It’s a deal.
” I’ll take you there Sue, come on. ” said Jake, holding her hand. They disappeared down the hall before Red could stop him.
Oh no. What have I done!
Can’t live without her? Why, what will happen to you? 
I would rather die than lose her!

Well then.

Die.

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horror fiction

Love Dale #2

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Ben had to ask around before he could finally find Love Dale. But as he neared the house, he saw another car, outside the gate. A bright red Ferrari, with a K near its number plate – and Ben could never forget this car. But what was Kyle doing here?

Ben had been casually browsing through radio stations when he heard Kyle admitting to proposing Hayley Smith, and that Mia was his ‘past’. He knew there was something fishy, and he never trusted the guy. But when he came to know that Mia had disappeared completely, without even facing the media, declaring it was all over, he knew something was wrong. And that was when he had called her up. And he had decided that he will give her a surprise visit.

But the fact that Kyle was here didn’t feel right – he definitely did not come to get her, or apologise to her. So he parked his car a few metres away and walked to the drive, without making any noise. He sneaked in and hid behind a tree, where he could see Kyle, and his companion. Kyle’s companion had a camera, and it was obvious that the guy was from some channel.

“This is the address, but the house looks empty.” Said Kyle.

“Yes, I think she has gone out. Anyways, just ring the bell.” Said his friend.

Kyle rang the bell, and after a while they heard some noise. A young girl opened the door, and said,” Browns residence, how can I help you?”

Kyle and his friend, both were quite taken aback at this. Even Ben doubted if he was in fact at the wrong house after all.

“Oh! I’m sorry, but I think there has been some sort of misunderstanding. I mistook this to be my friend’s address.” Said Kyle, and they left.

Ben was confused. Maybe it was the wrong house after all. I should probably call her up. He was about to leave, when he heard a noise – that of something falling into water. He rushed to the lake, but didn’t find anybody. He walked over to the ledge, to get a clearer view, when he saw something in the water.

When he realized what it was, he did not hesitate to jump into the lake.

The bright white light finally faded away, and now Mia could see the blue sky. And then she saw Ben’s worried face looking down at her. He helped to the bench near the lake, under the shade of a huge tree, and they sat quietly for some time.

Finally, Ben asked.” How did you end up in there?”

“It’s a long story.” Mia replied.

“Well, I’m in no hurry to go back.” He said.

“I don’t know Ben, what if you won’t believe me? You’ll most probably think I’ve gone crazy.” Mia said.

“Well, yes. I guess I might think you’ve gone crazy, believe me I already sort of do, after whatever just happened. But then, I’m your friend, and so whether I believe you not, I’m with you. Whatever it is.” He replied.

Mia took a deep breath in and let it out. “Where do I start…?”

After she was finished narrating each and every incident, she looked at Ben. He looked thoughtful. Thank god, I thought he will laugh at me. At least he is thinking about it.

“Well Mia, I’m not sure what this is, but we’ll find out. But before that I think we should get into some dry clothes.” He said.

He went over to his car, and brought it in and parked it near Mia’s car. Mia had opened the door and helped him with his luggage.

A few minutes later, Ben was on the sofa. Mia was making coffee in the kitchen. Ben didn’t know what was going on – whether all that she had said was true, or maybe she had really lost her mind. But he knew that she needed someone to be there for her, for support – and he didn’t want to make it worse for her. Mia handed over a cup to Ben and sat down beside him.

“So, how come you are here? That too all of a sudden like this?” Mia asked.

“Well, I wanted to give you a surprise, but then I was surprised to see Kyle over here.” he replied.

“Kyle?” asked Mia, astonished.

Ben did not notice the astonished look on her face, and he continued talking, “You know, I was thinking how he got your address, and I think it must be that agent who showed you this house.”

“But why?” she asked.

“Well, that letter you’d written to him, somebody leaked it, and it became breaking news. He came here with some reporter, which means he came here to do damage control – he didn’t come for you.” Ben replied.

“Ohh…I have been spending my day reading.”

“Well, even then, you’re lucky that the girl opened the door and –“

At this, Mia was totally confused, she interrupted him, “Wait! What girl? There is no girl here.”

“What do you mean? The girl who helps you out here? She definitely didn’t look like the owner of the house. And she opened up the door from inside.” Ben said. He was still not serious about this.

“Ben, I am all alone here, I had told you so over the phone that day. And I told you, I was about to go out, and I had locked the door.” Mia said in a grim tone.

“S…sooo… who was the girl I saw at your door?” Ben asked, his face pale.

“It must be her.”

Ben no longer had any doubts on whether Mia was imagining things. When Mia said she had locked the house and there was no girl – she was all alone- he didn’t know what to think. They called up Mia’s lawyer, to trace back its previous owners. By the time her lawyer would gather all the information, they thought- why not go to the library?

From what Mia saw that day, she was sure that it was around ten – fifteen years ago.

“Something bad happened here, and I’m sure it must have come in the newspapers. I know it is a little far-fetched, but let’s get out of this house for a while, it has started to freak me out.” Said Mia.

“Well, I’m not sure we will find anything in the library, but then we can give it a shot.” Ben replied.

They went to the library, and searched for around two hours – but they found nothing on the girl. Then finally they found something: a family was found dead in the lake. While it has not been clear what they were doing in Love Dale, but the house had been untouched. According to the investigation head, the driver lost control of the vehicle and it fell into the lake. Nothing more.

“How can this be? Nothing on that girl at all – it is almost as if she doesn’t exist.” Said Mia thoughtful.

“We don’t even have a name!” Said Ben.

“Wait a second, Ben – we do have a name. Remember what you told me? When Kyle came with his friend, the girl opened door and said something.” Said Mia.

“Browns residence!” They chorused.

Ben was about to type it in the search column, when Mia interrupted,” Wait a second Ben.”

The Browns, murder, Love Dale.

And what filled the screen was definitely not what they had expected.

Family found dead under mysterious circumstances – read the headline. There was picture with it, and Mia recognized the man from her vision that day. Near him stood, his wife, not much younger than him. And then there were two kids- a boy and a girl. The caption read: The Browns: Dr.James Brown, wife Ashley Brown, and children Daniel and Daisy.

But no sight of that girl. She was not part of that family. Maybe she worked there?

The Browns were found dead at their home, Love Dale, early morning on 17th February, by the newspaper boy. The police are not sure as to what happened, but they are trying their best to nab the murderer. Immediate neighbours claim they heard no noise whatsoever. The incident is believed to have taken place at midnight.

Dr.Brown’s body was found near the lake, while Mrs. Brown was found dead in the kitchen. The children, Daniel (17) and Daisy (11) were found dead in their bedroom. The incident has left the local police baffled, as nothing has been stolen.

“Do you think she did all this?” asked Ben

“I don’t know Ben, I thought she was the victim, but maybe I was wrong. Maybe she did. But we cannot be sure. Hey, look at this”, she said, pointing at a follow up of the murder.

The Browns did not have any domestic help at their house, and the milkman and the newspaper boy were the only two people who went to Love Dale regularly.

“Dr. Brown and his wife was quite well known and also respected by everyone in this neighbourhood. And the children were a quiet bunch. The whole neighbourhood is shocked as to who would do this to the family.” Says Mrs. Greggory, neighbour and friend of the Browns.

 The next article was even more surprising.

According to the post-mortem report, the killer hit the children with a blunt object, and they died within minutes due to their head injuries. The report also stated that Mrs. Brown was stabbed multiple times. The police have discovered the knife used to kill Mrs. Brown and the blunt object with which the children were murdered. The police could find only Dr.Brown’s fingerprints.

“How can this be? The whole family was there, and this girl is invisible? No one knows her, no records of such a girl at all? I don’t know what happened to her, but what if it happened before the Browns shifted into the house?” asked Ben.

“No Ben, that can’t be, because from what I saw that day, it is evident that she lived inside that very house, and the man talked to her. Whatever happened, happened after they moved in and before this.” She said.

“But –“started Ben

“Wait a minute Ben. I just remembered something. The man had said – if you want to be a part of this family. That means she was not a part of their family at all!  “She said.

“But then, who is she? How did she end up there with them?” asked Ben.

“I don’t know.”

They had dinner, and returned to the house. Mia didn’t have any plan in particular, but she knew that only the girl could tell her something. She was not even sure anymore, if the girl was in fact the victim or the culprit.

They had just entered the house, when Mia’s lawyer called.

“Well?” asked Ben.

“The Browns bought the house from the original owners. And around seven years ago, a businessman bought it, but he died months later. He stayed in the house only once – he was here on business. He sold the house to a doctor and his wife. The doctor killed himself, and the wife was under psychiatric treatment. The house then went to the bank. That’s it.” She said.

Mia slept in her room while Ben was given the guest room. Ben was fast asleep when the rain woke him up. He got up to close the window, when he thought he saw someone, among the trees near the lake. He looked carefully, but couldn’t see clearly. He took his flashlight and went out. He checked both the cars – locked and untouched. He aimed his flashlight at the trees – nobody. He went over to the lake, but didn’t see anybody. He turned around and stood face to face with the girl. Startled he fell back, but when he looked up again, she was gone. His flashlight fell down beside him, throwing light on something floating in the lake. He picked up the flashlight and aimed at it.

“Oh my God!” was all he could say, as he saw the body of Dr. Brown in the lake, his face twisted. He got up and went towards it- it was still there.

The night’s deadly silence was broken by Mia’s scream. He ran into the house, and searched for her in her room, and the drawing room but could not find her. Finally, he found her, in the kitchen – unconscious. The kitchen’ floor had a hole, and she had fallen into some sort of basement.

Mia woke up to the sound of the grandfather clock striking two, again. She walked to Ben’s room, but panicked when she saw blood flowing out from the room. With all her courage, she opened the door, but instead of her guestroom she saw two beds, drawings, books, and two children – a boy and a girl – lying dead in a pool of blood.

She ran away from there into kitchen, and drank some cold water. She had just put the water back, when she saw a lady leaning over the sink. As she went closer, she realized the lady had blood all over – probably dead. She knew this was all because of that girl.

“Where are you?” she said taking a step backwards.

“Why don’t you just show yourself?” she asked.

She heard a noise behind her, that of a door opening. And then, two small pale hands grabbed and pulled her into the floor. She screamed.

She saw the girl again, in the kitchen. She was weaker, and there marks all over her body. She was badly hurt, but was still made to do all the work all alone. Then the kids came in, angry.

“Where the hell is our juice?” Daisy screamed at her.

“But- but I am busy cooking lunch” she replied.

At this, the boy became even more furious, and caught hold of her hand, almost crushing her wrist.

“You better have my juice ready in ten minutes” Daniel said before leaving.

She walked into the drawing room where Mrs. Brown was talking into the phone. It was quite dark – all the windows were closed. Suddenly it became darker and darker, and suddenly she found herself in a room she didn’t quite recognize.

She saw a grandfather clock to her right, and a cot in front her. The room was small, with no windows or ventilation. Then she saw the girl climb down a ladder, entering through what looked like a trapdoor. She laid down on the bed and started weeping. She fell asleep a few minutes later. Mia looked at the clock – it was three in the morning.

And then everything just dissolved into blank space, and she was wide awake.  She realised she was in that same room. The trapdoor in the kitchen opened to this tiny space where that girl lived. Ben helped her get up, and they started looking around. The room was intact and dusty – nobody knew about the trapdoor.

She saw a small suitcase near the bed, it had the owner’s name in it – Lily. Mia opened the suitcase – a few clothes, a small teddy and a diary.  She had closer look at the diary – Little Angels Orphanage.

“Ben, come look at this.” Mia called out.

Ben and Mia were on their way to orphanage – Ben was driving and Mia was reading Lily’s diary.

“This is really bad Ben. She was adopted when she was eleven. For a year they stayed in the same town. Things were smooth – except for the kids. The kids were not happy with her entering the family. Then they moved into Love Dale, when things started to change. The Browns did not let her into the family – Dr. Brown said she had to prove herself. Do her chores, and fulfil her responsibilities. Slowly, anything and everything became her chore. Her sole responsibility.” Mia told Ben.

“But then how come no one came to know she existed?” asked Ben.

“They locked her up in the room whenever there was a visitor. Once she made some noise by mistake, and they bet her up bad for that. They even starved her. They even tied her up and gagged her, whenever there were important guests were coming over. Poor thing. I don’t think she got any time to write her diary after this last entry.” Said Mia.

There was nothing much left of the Little Angels orphanage. The two storeyed building looked older than it should and was in desperate need of complete renovation. There spotted an old lady speaking a young man. As she saw Ben and Mia, she excused herself and approached them.

“Yes, how may I help you?” she asked.

A few minutes later they were sitting in the lady’s office. She was the head matron.

“We lost quite some amount of data in a fire a few years ago. But I managed to find this picture we had taken on a Christmas before Lily was adopted. ” She said, handing over the photo to them.

“Lily was well behaved, and a quiet girl. She kept to herself most of the time. So, we were happy that she got a good family – the Browns. She was also very intelligent and wanted to study and become a doctor. I used to visit her, but then a year after she had been adopted, they moved into this beautiful house they had bought. Lily was very excited about it. But since then, I haven’t heard from her.” Said the head matron.

As Mia unlocked the front door, she and Ben were taken aback – it was not the same Love Dale they had left. Everything was so different. Old fashioned.

“Is it just me, or..???” asked Mia.

“Nope” replied Ben.

The house looked empty. They walked into the kitchen, where they saw Lily, and Daniel, down in her room. Daniel was clearly trying to take advantage of Lily’s situation, and misbehave with her.

“I have to finish my chores. Please leave me alone” she said trying to break free from Daniel.

But the grip only seemed to tighten. She tried to walk away, but he wouldn’t let her. Then suddenly it turned into a struggle between the two. She slapped him and ran away, to the ladder, only to see a furious Dr. Brown at the other end.

“How dare you!!” he shouted.

He climbed down the ladder and started beating her with his belt. She cried out loud but Dr. Brown was not ready to listen to her. She tripped over something, hit her head on the wall and fell down – blood all over the floor. Silence.

A few minutes later, Mrs. Brown, and Daniel were waiting in the kitchen when Dr. Brown came out of Lily’s room. It was raining heavily.

“Is she dead?” asked Mrs. Brown.

“No, not yet. There is little chance that she will make it. But for that we will have to hospitalise her. Otherwise she will definitely die. By the way, where is Daisy?” Said Dr. Brown.

“She’s asleep in her room.” Said Daniel.

“Well, anyways we can’t hide her here forever. We had to get rid of her one day or the other. Hospitalising her would be risky wouldn’t it?” said Mrs. Brown.

“Yes, it is. She will try to escape like before, and if she succeeds, then the respect and the status we enjoy in the society will be gone. And we will be in jail. It is better to get rid of her. But how?” said Dr. Brown.

They were standing beside the lake. Dr. and Mrs. Brown were standing on the ledge. They put Lily in a big heavy trunk, and added a few stones to it. And then, they dumped it into the water. They stood there watching the trunk sink. Ben and Mia also walked over to the ledge and watched in horror.

The clock struck two, startling all four of them. Dr. and Mrs. Brown walked into the house.

Suddenly Lily’s head popped out from the water.

“Oh my God, Lily.  I am so sorry. How could anyone be so cruel to a little girl? “Said Mia.

“For two years they tortured me, until they finally dumped me into this lake – alive. I couldn’t even run away, with the doors closed all the time, and the windows had grills. It was horrible.” She whispered in the rain.

“Is there anything we can do?” Asked Mia.

At this she looked up at them and smiled – and their hearts skipped a beat.

She caught hold of their feet, and dragged them into the water with her.

Mr. Brown woke up to the sound of somebody sobbing. He went over to the kids room following the sound. He went near Daisy’s bed, and put his arm on her shoulder. But when she turned around, he saw Lily. 

“Leave us alone !” He shouted, hitting her with whatever he could get hold of. 

Then he turned around only to her again. He hit her again. Harder. He closed his eyes and shook his head hard. He opened his eyes and saw his children dead in a pool of blood.

“Nooooooo…. What have I done!” He said.

He searched the house for his wife, and saw her dead in the kitchen. He pulled out the knife – she had been stabbed . He held her tight and cried. 

“Your turn” He heard her say. 

He ran out of the house, towards the road – and maybe get some help. He ran and ran. But he never made it.

horror fiction

Love Dale

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Mia sat down and took a deep breath in – she had been unpacking stuff all day. She had always wanted to buy a house by a lake, with a lot of trees around, but it all didn’t turn out like she thought it would. She had thought she could move into a big house, among the trees, near a lake and live with her fiancé, but all of that came crashing down. She had almost finalised a house, not far from where she had been staying, but she ended up taking a house far away – as far away as possible from him. But then, life hardly gave her any choice – she would just go wherever life would take her.

She was hardly seven when her parents died in a car accident. She was in the car with them, but death spared her. So at the age of seven she had become all alone. Of course she had an uncle and an aunt, but they were not ready to take her in, so she ended up in an orphanage. She did have to face a lot of difficulties but then she had a family there. Ben was her best friend, her partner in crime and life support system, but they had to part ways at the age of 18. He was very brilliant, and had received a scholarship from one of the best engineering colleges. He always loved machines, and Mia always encouraged him. He went away to pursue his higher studies, and Mia did her college. She had to work part time to make ends meet. She got only a partial scholarship, as she was not really that brilliant academically. But she loved to write and was pretty good at it. The two promised to stay in contact – and they did. As life passed by, the frequency of contacting decreased. And finally, Mia got to live her dreams – she became a songwriter.

Her debut song was a big hit, and that is how she had met Kyle – her fiancé, or rather ex- fiancé. He was a singer, and the duo was quite a big hit. She would write, and he would sing. It was this dream, where everything was so perfect. And Mia was absolutely in love with him – the happiest girl one could find. But like every dream that vanishes when you wake up, she too was forced to wake up one day.

The events of that heart-breaking day were still fresh in her mind. Things had not remained the same between them and she was disturbed because of this. She was listening to the radio – a live interview with Kyle. This was when the radio jockey asked him – “There are rumours that you have been engaged to Hayley, Harold Smith’s only daughter.”

To which he replied – “Yes, it is true. I proposed to her yesterday during dinner, and we plan to get married soon.”

At this, Mia was completely heartbroken and shocked. She didn’t know if she was more angry or sad. He always had some engagement whenever she wanted to go out or spend some time with him. But she never thought that he would dump her to marry Hayley. Of course Harold Smith was one of the biggest producers, and there was no better way he could secure his future – financially. But she had no idea that this was coming.

“But weren’t you dating Ms. Mia, the songwriter?”

“Well, yes. That is my past. But things did not work out like we thought, so we thought it was best to part ways.”

Kyle had never mentioned anything like this – though Mia did doubt he was hiding something from her. But she was absolutely not alright with whatever he had just done. He was in fact double dating her. He should have told her this long ago, why all this suspense and drama? Coward.

She thought and thought, and realised that all this while, Kyle had just used her, for publicity- and also her songs. She was disgusted at this thought and decided she didn’t want to see his face ever again. He was not even worth it.

She made call, and waited for an answer.

“Hello.”

Pause.

“Yes, about that house – I decided I don’t want to buy that. Do you have a similar house, or any house somewhere far away from here?”

Pause.

“Ok, that’ll do. No no, I don’t want to waste time going over there just to see the house. Just send the papers to my lawyer and if there are no legal complications – then I will buy it. I want it as soon as possible.”

Pause.

“Yes, you can send me a few pictures of the house. That would do. Yes, thank you.”

Mia went into the kitchen and prepared herself a cup of coffee. She went over to her balcony, and enjoyed the some fresh air. Her new house was so much more peaceful.

She had bought a house a week after the breakup, and moved in a week after that. She did not bother to tell Kyle about any of this, instead she wrote down one small letter wishing him goodbye:

Kyle,

You came into my life, just like that, without telling me – and now you are out of it, the same way. You have given me a lot of happy memories, but to think they were all lies – like that fake smile of yours. I sincerely hope one day I will be over my disgust with you and that I can put all of this behind me and maybe work with you – but you better have the guts to look me in the eyes.  Goodbye.

                                                                                                                        Not yours anymore,

                                                                                                                                                Mia

 

After finishing her coffee, she did some more unpacking, had dinner and decided to call it a day. She locked up all the doors and windows and climbed into her bed. It was a cold night, but a peaceful one – except for the trees, dancing with the wind.

She had not told anybody where she was running off to, there was no one she was so close to. She would have told Ben about it, but then they had fought over Kyle. He had hinted that he doesn’t trust Kyle, and like every girl who is madly in love, she over-reacted. And it hurt him, so he said he will not to interfere in her life ever again, and she had said that she was perfectly fine with it. But now she feels that was the biggest mistake ever. He was the only family she had, and now she was all alone in this house.

Love dale was a two-storeyed house that had a very antique look to it, which Mia really liked. It was 27 years old, but was still in a good shape – and after the recent paint job, it looked younger. The floors were all wooden, and there were trees all around. There was a lake a few metres away to the left of the house, and there was a long drive way from the main road, which isolated it from the world outside. Inside those gates were a different world altogether, and that is what Mia wanted.

Mia felt the cold breeze brush against her face, and water being sprinkled on her face, like Ben would do to wake her up when they were kids. She smiled in her sleep, but opened her eyes all of a sudden, and sat upright in her bed. It was just a dream. She covered her face with her hands, and realised that there was water on her face, which is when she noticed the open window. It was drizzling outside.

Once it had stopped drizzling, Mia stepped out for a walk. She went over to the lake and stood on the edge of the wooden ledge. She had been there only a while, when she noticed a small girl on the farther end of the lake.

“Hey”, she called out, gently.

But the girl just ran away, but before she could go behind the girl, the phone rang. By the time she turned around to look at the girl, she was gone.

“Hello?” she said.

“Hey, it’s me, Ben. Remember me?” said the voice.

“Of course I remember you, what kind of a stupid question is that?” she replied.

Silence.

“Just say it already – I told you so.” she said

“Well, though I DID tell you, I didn’t call you to settle scores. I called you to apologise. I shouldn’t have stopped talking to you and left you alone with that idiot.” He said.

They talked on for about an hour, catching up with all the lost time. Mia, finally felt she was not all alone, and that she can maybe after all get over this. Ben was her only family, and family never leaves you alone. They’re with you, always, no matter what

She spent the day reading a book, and just enjoying the change of atmosphere, far away from all the buzz. She was done unpacking the house, and had a quiet dinner, and went off to bed sometime after that.

Mia was near the lake, and she saw the girl again. The girl was kneeling, picking flowers. She looked around fifteen or seventeen years old. As she extended her hand out, she saw rusty coloured marks on her pale wrists. Mia went near the girl, but she still could not see the face, as it was covered by a hood. But Mia noticed her hair, a long tangled mess which reached her elbows. She extended the hand out to the girl, and she took Mia’s hand.

Mia woke up, sleepy, but she could feel somebody holding her hand, in the dark. As if someone was lying right next to her, holding hands. She suddenly jumped out of the bed, terrified and turned on the bed lamp. There was nobody. Must have been a dream- there is nobody else here. She was about to get into bed again, when the clock struck two. It rang twice, like the big grandfather clocks and its echo lasted for a few seconds. She was sitting on her bed, and reached out to switch off the bed lamp, when she froze.

The house does not have any grandfather clocks.

She took her phone, turned on the flashlight and slowly made her way to the drawing room. Step by step, she went into the drawing room and turned on the light – but there was no power. Then she heard a noise – that of someone walking around with chains. The noise grew louder and louder, as if that someone was walking towards her. Then it stopped, and she could hear heavy breathing behind her. She did not want to risk looking behind her, so she took a step forward, but tripped and fell down. Her leg was chained to something. She grabbed her phone, which was lying nearby on the floor, and traced the chain. On the other end of the chain she saw a pale leg, and water around the leg. Her scream broke the silence of the night.

The legs started walking towards her, and she started crawling backwards, still screaming. The water ran towards her, and touched her leg. She shivered – it was ice cold. She hit a wall, and couldn’t move backwards. The legs stopped suddenly, and she couldn’t take her eyes off the pair.

Suddenly somebody grabbed her from behind and pulled her in.  She was drowning, and it looked like the lake near her house. The water pulled her down, deeper into the lake, no matter how hard she tried resurface.

Mia frowned as the sunlight hit her hard on the face. She sat up on the bed, and held her head tightly, as if it was about to explode. She took a deep breath in and let it out. All this was just a dream. She moved the blanket and was about to get out of bed, when she noticed it. The mark on her left leg, the same leg that had been chained the night before. How can that be?

She thought of going somewhere else, where there were people around. Here there were no neighbours. The next house was around a kilometre away. There was no one around to help her if she needed immediate help, and after her weird encounter in the night, she didn’t feel very secure all alone in there. She wanted to tell Ben about all this– though she was not sure if he would believe her. But he did not pick up her call at all.

Later that evening, it felt weird for her to stay alone in the house. So she decided to go out shopping. She changed, locked the house up and went up the driveway to open the gates. Suddenly she heard a scream – It was a girl. It came from somewhere near the lake, and she ran towards it worried that someone might be hurt.

When she reached the lake, it was silent and there was no one around. She walked over to the edge of the wooden ledge, and was about to call out, if in case somebody was really hurt, when somebody pushed her from the behind. She fell into the water, and something was pulling her deeper into the lake. This time is was real.

She was struggling to overcome this force that would not let her go up, when she saw the girl. It was the same girl she had seen picking flowers. The girl was pretty with her long hair dancing in the water. But she had scars all over – her wrists, hands, neck and even one on her face. But her eyes longed for something. Suddenly Mia noticed the girl’s legs. She could not believe her eyes – her leg was chained. Yes, it was the same leg she had seen yesterday. But how can that be?

Mia felt her senses going to sleep, her surroundings were fading away. She reached out to the girl. But something pulled her away. She could feel something pulling her up before everything went black.

Maybe I’m just hallucinating. Maybe this is how I’m going to die.

Mia was inside the house, but it looked very different. There were old fashioned beds, decorations – the furniture was not hers. Then she saw that girl, moping the place. A tall thin man came up the stairs, and started shouting at her.

“Is this how you clean the house? Such shabby work!” he shouted.

“But Father,” the girl started, but the man raised his hand.

“Enough! I don’t want to hear a word. And, my family has a status, a reputation in this town, so I won’t let anybody ruin that. Especially not you. So if you want to be part of this family, then you better do everything I say.” He said.

Saying so, he left and the girl stood there weeping. She was shabbily dressed and looked very weak. Mia turned around to look at the man, but all she could see was bright light – all around her.

adventure

The Fifth

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It was a pleasant evening, and the Sinha family had gone out for a picnic nearby. At the park, five year old Arun spotted a Ben Ten watch, and fell in love with it instantly. He ran to his parents, who were sitting under a tree a few metres away.

“Mumma, I want that! I want that!” he cried out.

“Ok ok, I’m coming. Let me just organize this thing and I’ll be there”, replied Mrs. Sinha.

“Aw Maaaa….. Make it fast”, said Aditya, restless.

A few minutes later, Mrs. Sinha was finally happy with the way she had set things up. Yet, she was irritated with her husband, as he had brought his work with him – she could still hear him screaming over the phone.

“Arun?” she called out.

“ARUN!”

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Inspector Avni Kumar spotted a couple filing an FIR as she entered the police station. The woman was weeping, her face pale and her eyes swollen. Since what she was saying was not coherent, her husband did the most of the talking. But when she realised why they were there, she paused – their son had gone missing earlier that day.

Every time she heard about a kid going missing – her heart would stop beating for a second. Her heart would feel so heavy, and she would get transported to her past – a past deep buried within her. A past that changed her life forever.

Seven year old Aditya had made sure no one had spotted him enter the kitchen. He slowly walked into the kitchen, and stretched out to reach the cookie jar. He had almost caught hold of it, when someone else’s hand brought the jar down. For a second, he froze. He let out a sigh of relief as he saw his sister, standing right beside him, grinning.

“Oh! Avi di, It was you. You scared me”, he said.

“Aha! Eating up all the cookies by yourself huh? “, she teased him.

“Avni! Aditya! Where are you? Come on… or we’ll be late for the wedding” called out their mother.

Both of them stuffed their mouths and ran out. Their mother locked the door as they got into the car.

“Stealing cookies again?”, she scolded them.

The only thing the brother-sister duo liked about weddings was the food they got to eat.  Especially the dessert.

“Aww… Please please please… could you get me one more ice cream”, Aditya pleaded his sister.

“Ok ok…. But this is the last one”, warned his sister.

“Wait here, ok? I’ll be right back.” said Avni.

She went to the person serving ice cream, made a puppy face and managed to get one more scoop of vanilla ice cream. This was the third time she was doing this, but it was Aditya’s favourite. But when she returned with her ice cream, she couldn’t find him anywhere. She called out his name, but he was nowhere. Tears streaming down her eyes, she ran to her parents.

That was the last time Aditya’s family ever saw him. They searched for him, informed the police station and also advertised in newspapers. But all in vain. They never got him back – and that is when Avni decided who she will become when she grows up.

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Arun was waiting for his mom to finish her work, so that he could buy that watch. He couldn’t just wait to buy it. So he stood near to the guy selling them, and waited for his mother, who was busy, a few metres away. A man, neatly dressed, approached him and smiled at him.

“I see you have been admiring the watches. But then this guy doesn’t have much selection. There is a shop nearby, the shopkeeper is my friend. If you want I can get you a good deal. Your mom looks busy, we can return by the time your mom finishes her work.” the man said.

At this, Arun stared at the watch in front of him, trying to decide what to do.

“He has a larger collection, way better than this cheap stuff”, the man said.

At this, Arun finally decided to go check out the shop.

“Alright” he said.

“Come on”, said the stranger, and caught Arun’s hand. As they walked away, Arun turned around and caught a glimpse of his mother setting things up and his father on the phone.

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Avni had been transferred to another city, but this case brought back that painful past, a past she had not yet overcome. She would often dream of Aditya going to college, maybe having a girlfriend. It is not easy to grow up all alone, when you know your kid brother is somewhere out there. When you know in your heart that things should have been different – but they are not. But life had something different in store for her.

And she knew what Arun’s parents were going through- she had living this horror for the past so many years. She grew up seeing her parents crying over their lost son. And so she decided, that before she leaves this city, she will find that boy. There are a lot of gangs involved in the big business of child trafficking, and she would destroy some part of it. It might not affect the well-established system at all, but this is a place to start.

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Aditya was just 2 year old, and his mom was feeding him. It was a Sunday and her dad was reading the newspaper. Avni was seven, and she had just returned home from the playground. The phone started ringing and her mom went to attend it. Avni pulled Aditya’s cheeks and played with him for a few seconds. But she was tired from all the running around and hide n seek that she felt thirsty. She went to the kitchen, opened the fridge and drank huge gulps of water. She had just kept the water back was on her way back to where Aditya was, when she heard a crash, followed by Aditya crying loudly. She ran towards – he was on the floor, a shattered jug lay near him. But what most horrifying for her was the blood flowing – from him. Her parents rushed her to the hospital. He was quite serious, and had cut his hand quite bad. He had five stitches and she could hear him cry as she waited outside.

Avni woke up suddenly – she was sweating profusely. She could still hear him crying.

She took a deep breath in and let it out. That incident had left behind a scar on his hand, below his right wrist, near his elbow. He had been real lucky that he did not cut his face.

It had been almost a week, but still, she couldn’t find the boy. She wanted to find him before something happened to him. Her phone brought her back to earth.

“Yes. Tell me”, she said briskly.

“Mm-hmm… ok”

“Ok…”

“Inform our team”

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Everything had been well planned. They were waiting for their prey to walk right into their trap. They had been informed that children abducted from various parts of the state were going to be transported to a nearby state, and that Arun was one among the 25 children about to be smuggled. Over the years Avni’s hate for trafficking and traffickers has only increased. Her personal grudge catalysed the whole process. She was well aware that the traffickers would be prepared to face such encounters, but she was planned too.

It was past midnight and there were eerie shadows creeping around. Her team of sixteen officers stood scattered across the street, all in plain clothes but well-armed (Avni and her five trusted officers were in uniform). While some of them were under the streetlight, around a car pretending to be friends on a road trip, the others were hidden – including Avni. They were expecting a tour bus, with five traffickers, including the driver. They planned to shoot at the tire.

After waiting patiently for around an hour, one of the officers on lookout spotted the bus.  Another officer shot the tire (the gun had a silencer). The bus came to a screeching halt. Three of them came out from inside the bus, got down and started examining, along with the driver. The group of friends immediately became concerned citizens and went over to where the bus was.

“Hey, are you ok? What happened?” asked one officer. (In disguise)

“Yes, I-i .. I am fi-fine” stammered the driver.

“Oh looks like some high school tour. Are you all ok? That was crazy” said another

“Yes, I think your tire is punctured. Which school is this? “Asked another one

“Ummm… ya we are from the neighbouring state… and… we-ee .. We’re on our way back. Gloria Public School. “Said one of the traffickers pausing here and there.

While all this was happening, the rest of the officers were moving towards them, in the shadows. The fifth one was still inside, probably watching over the kids. He will have to come out when none of his friends turn up, thought Avni.

They grabbed the four from behind, gagged their mouths so that they would not alarm the fifth one inside. Their weapons had been confiscated. By this time, Avni boarded the bus and waited for the fifth to appear, near the driver’s seat. As the fifth one came out, one of his friends shouted out to him – as he was being tied up and gagged – “Take the bus and run”

All the officers were outside the bus and Avni was the only one in the bus. Both of them had a gun and he could have tried – to maybe push her off the bus or overpower her, and might as well have been successful in driving the bus for some distance – at least save himself. But he just stood there paralysed. He stared at Avni’s badge, which had her name on it, stupefied. Avni used this opportunity and kicked the gun out from his and pointed the gun at him. He was startled but didn’t react. Two officers immediately boarded the buses and brought him down. The guy was completely lost in thought.

As they were waiting for the van to escort the traffickers, one of them snatched an officer’s gun and tried to attack. Immediately Avni reacted and shot the guy – twice. He managed to dodge the bullet the first time but the second one hit him. The bullet that missed him hit the fifth trafficker and he too fell down. He groaned in pain. This was when she noticed a scar on his right hand, near the elbow. She knelt down to have a closer look. She could not believe her eyes.

“Av-v-avi di, you h-have always caught me red handed doing mis-chi-eeef” he stammered.

“No! No! No!  No! Noo!” she said to herself and cradled his head on her lap. He smiled at her.

“Why?”

Avni could hear the ambulance approaching.

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