Eight, a work of fiction was imagined during a trip, a ghost trip I would say because of the uncanny feel a place gave me. It was located far away from the city. I squeezed in some true events to make that trip appear even more interesting. Eight is one of the latest additions to our fiction corner.
Hope you thoroughly enjoy reading “Eight”.
Eight – A Ghost Story
“How far is it?”
A pissed off Jane looked sideways at her husband bored of the trip already. They were supposed to have fun and for the past one hour, they had been driving continuously.
“We are almost there!”
Harry replied calmly. He was keeping his eyes open for any kind of surprises.
It was raining. The windshield wipers were on. They were driving through the woods. The road was deserted. It was already getting dark.
“Didn’t the map say eight kms more? It is almost ten, I am guessing.”
Harry chose not to reply. In the back of his mind, he was wondering about that himself.
“I don’t like this place. It gives me the chills. Anything could happen to anyone here, and nobody would know. I just hope we don’t have to drive back home when it’s dark. That would be insane!”
Jane said as she snuggled up in one of her blankies.
Harry noticed her getting uncomfortable.
“Do you want me to switch off the AC?”
“No, it’s better this way.”
She replied with a grin.
As they drove on they finally saw the board of “Adventure X” show up.
Harry replied relieved at the sight of their destination.
Jane remarked sarcastically. She wasn’t amused.
As they made their way in, Harry realized there weren’t as many people as the place used to have. It could be because of the season they had chosen to show up. Also, many people had stopped coming owing to the distance and the unavailability of shops and provisions around the place. And then he had also heard some rumours he chose to ignore.
But that’s what he really wanted. The quiet. He didn’t want anyone to bother his serenity. He remembered himself showing up at the “Adventure X” two years ago before he had met Jane, and how he had absolutely loved it. In the backdrop, people had chosen to rush in for Adventure sports, while he had opened a book and sipped on his coffee right outside his tent. It was a pleasant view. The mountains were the calmest. Such beauty they exhumed! They iced his perfect winter.
Harry turned around to peek at the mountains through the downpour. He could make out the silhouette since it was dark already. He hoped it was still there, still the same. Unmoved.
At the Reception
As they made their way to the reception, Harry got busy in confirming about the availability of tents and provisions. He gathered that they were going to light up the bonfire soon after which the food was going to be served at a common dining area. The receptionist added,
“Since it’s raining outside we have arranged tents indoors. It would be the same.”
Harry looked at him and replied,
“It wouldn’t be the same.”
Jane was freezing and she wanted to change at once because they had got soaked while making their way in. The receptionist ordered one of his attendants to show him their room which was next to the reception area only.
They peeped in to find two tents arranged adjacently. There were fans, lights and everything they could have possibly needed to stay the night. Harry shut the door behind him as they changed into something comfortable. They walked out as Harry tried to locate the toilet. It was to their left. He didn’t like how they had chosen to make it a common washing area. It was accessible to everybody, from the receptionist to the attendants to whoever who walked in the front door.
As Harry came out from the toilet, his stream of thoughts was broken by Jane when she said,
“Come! Let’s go to the bonfire.”
As they ran towards a large open area, ran because it was still raining, they came across the bonfire place. It was covered by a huge shed, with benches all around they could pull. The same attendant was busy throwing in some sticks in there, making the arrangements.
Another family joined in soon as the fire danced. They came from another set of rooms that were placed diagonally opposite to the main entrance. Such set of rooms were everywhere and all of them housed tents indoors since it was raining cats and dogs outside.
“We should have come during the winters.”
The family head said aloud. He was somewhere around forty and probably the only other friendly face they had seen there so far. He had a grown up kid and a quiet wife who were busy mumbling about something. They were completely drenched. They were trying to dry themselves up and were awfully close to the fire.
“I am sorry?”
“It used to be fun then. I remember the time we had our tents outside. Nights never used to be this gloomy.”
“Exactly! That’s exactly what I was telling Jane, my wife here. She doesn’t seem to be impressed so far.”
Jane cut in to be polite,
“No! It’s great. I am impressed.”
The man continued,
“The rain has taken away the fun. We should have planned this trip properly.”
“You got that right.”
After a while, he introduced himself,
“Dr. Isaac Jenkins.”
Harry nodded and introduced himself and his wife. They came to realize they were the only two families that had showed up that day. They talked for a while before their chatter became family-mumble again.
The Horror Story
“Do you know any horror stories?”
Jane tried to break the monotony. Since they were coiled up around a bonfire that’s the only thing she could think of.
“Oh no! Jane! What’s with you and horror?”
Dr. Isaac tried to say,
Harry was adamant,
“No. No. It’s not. She listens to these stories, and then she keeps me up all night. Please don’t, even if you know one.”
Jane tried to defend herself,
“Oh Cmon! Harry. I will not. I promise.”
Isaac looked at his family for a second and then said,
“I can tell you the one about this place if you want.”
Jane’s eyes widened. Harry wondered if he was talking about the rumours.
“You want to know why people have stopped coming to this place?”
Isaac’s wife intervened,
“Oh Cmon honey! You don’t believe that baloney. Do you?”
Isaac replied calmly pointing towards Jane,
“I am just saying. The girl wants a story.”
Jane’s heart skipped a beat,
“What happened? Please tell me.”
Isaac looked at Jane gravely then said,
“Mass murder. Last year. Eight people killed. A psychopath. He dragged them to woods one by one. Killing them in different ways as they wailed in pain into the starlit sky. Nobody came to help. The authorities didn’t know what to do. When help arrived it was too late.”
Jane had her hands over her mouth.
She was shocked to hear that. Harry had heard the rumours about eight murders but had assumed them to be just rumours.
“They finally got him. It’s weird how people get unhinged. The damage they bring in the wake of their insanity, you can’t escape from that. But all you could do is hope, hope that you don’t end up getting stranded in a wrong place at the wrong time.”
Jane was speechless.
“That wasn’t bad. Was it dear?”
Isaac drew himself closer to the fire. His eyes shone with the reflection of the fire as he continued,
“Here comes the biggy. Every night since then people have claimed to witness ghosts. Ghosts of all those who were brutally murdered that night. They come out seeking solace in this ghastly place. They are all over the ridges, the hills. You pay attention enough and you will be lucky to see one yourself, or unlucky.”
Then he ended it with a “Boo!”
Jane felt a choke in her throat. She was terrified to the core. Isaac was really intense.
Just then the dinner bell rang and everyone trembled to the clanking sound it made.
Isaac and his family left, as Harry asked a nervous Jane.
“Are you alright?”
“I can’t believe you brought us here to a God forsaken place that had a frigging history. Eight murders here.”
“Oh Cmon! Jane. Every place in the world has a history. They are just pages we paint over. It’s not like our home wasn’t a graveyard once? Isn’t a whole civilization trapped underneath us? Wherever we walk? What about dinosaurs?”
Jane was mad,
“Oh please! Save me all the philosophical bullshit. Eight people died here, and it’s not even an year since.”
They stood up and walked down to the common dining area, where Isaac and his family were already gorging upon some chicken.
“Oh! Good. We have you for dinner.”
Harry mocked Jane pointing at the chicken. She wasn’t amused.
The food was really scrumptious. Harry ate a hefty dinner for he hadn’t eaten anything during the whole trip. He was really tired and wanted to retire soon for a promising day of trekking ahead.
Retiring to their Room
They went to their room once they bid night to Isaac and his family.
Jane mad, as she was, chose to sleep in her very own tent despite the fact that a tent was big enough for two.
Her mind constantly wandered as Harry snored heavily in the backdrop. They had shut their door tight, but Jane chose to keep one dim light switched on.
The floor was wood. So, anyone who walked in through the entrance, their footsteps would be loud and clear even though they were in a separate room.
Jane couldn’t sleep. She was listening to the sound the floor made. It thumped every now and then as if someone kept entering and leaving the adjacent hall area where the reception was. She assumed it to be the receptionist or the attendant who might have been using the bathroom or something. Though she wondered why it was so frequent, and non-stop.
The noise never stopped, and Jane, despite her best efforts, could not sleep. The tent was a tight space. She wasn’t used to it. Also, since they were in a closed room, it was getting kind of hot even though the fans were trying real hard.
Jane dreaded that moment when she would be forced to go to the loo, and it was imminent. Very soon she felt like it, and she came out of her tent, tugged at Harry who was fast asleep.
“Harry! Wake up. I need to go to the loo.”
The snoring stopped but he didn’t budge. She tugged at him again.
He finally woke up. He was really tired.
She pointed her pinky, as Harry gave him an unbelievable look.
He woke up sluggishly came out of his tent still drowsy and dreamy.
The constant thumping and movement were still there. Jane hoped that she would find someone right away as soon as the door would open, but when it did the noise simply died.
It was completely dark outside. The light from their room lit up the reception ahead. There was a man sitting in a chair there. He was facing the opposite direction. Probably asleep.
Must be the attendant, Jane thought.
Harry assured Jane that he would be standing right at the door as she made her way to the toilet swiftly.
She came back soon and found Harry where she had left him. He was trying really hard to keep his eyes open. She pushed him in and turned around to close the door. Her eyes caught the chair. It was empty.
“Where did he go?”
Jane was convinced she had seen a man.
“The man, the man who was sitting on the chair.”
“I didn’t see anybody.”
Harry went inside his tent.
Unable to Sleep
Jane was confused but more scared. She decided to sleep in Harry’s tent. She forced her way in, next to Harry as he grunted.
The noise returned. The floor spoke once again in loud thumps. It seemed as if someone was running, someone falling.
“Do you hear that?”
Jane asked Harry. But Harry didn’t care, he wanted to get a good shuteye.
“Sleep detective. Sleep. We need to wake up early. We go trekking early morning.”
Furious she turned around lying on her back looking at the zipped open tent. It wasn’t possible for any sane man to sleep with that chaotic noise in the background. Or was it? She was thinking too much after all. Probably the reason why her mind was playing tricks on her.
Somewhere, lost in her thoughts, her eyes closed for a minute or two. But they would flicker open every now and then. Harry’s snoring went in the background invariably. It felt like a song now with a constant monotonous rhythm. She swayed to it. Her blinks became heavy. She was drifting towards sleep, finally.
Just then her eyes flickered open once again but this time to a man standing at the entry of the tent where she had been looking all this time. He was peeking in at them.
Shocked Jane shouted at the top of the voice waking Harry up,
“What? What happened?”
She was crying now. She managed,
“There was a guy standing right there.”
Harry couldn’t believe it. He said,
“What? What guy? We are in a room. There’s nobody here.”
He came out of the tent switched on all the lights to show Jane that there wasn’t anybody around. She was all teary-eyed. He pitied her, at the same time he was really pissed off for her wanting to listen to horror stories before going to bed.
“I swear I saw someone. He was right there!”
She was crying now.
“I have told you so many times not to listen to or even watch horror stories before going to bed, but you never listen.”
Jane couldn’t say a word. She was perplexed now. She had distinctly seen a man staring at them.
“He was right there.”
Harry gave her an impossible look.
“There’s no one here. Look!”
Harry was now at the door and was unlocking it trying to console her.
On Opening the Door
As soon as the door opened, they witnessed that same pitch darkness ahead. In that darkness stood a man or rather a silhouette for it was hard to make out a face.
Both of them stared at him speechless for a second.
“Hey! Hey! Mister.”
Harry tried to call him out. But he ran towards the reception table and jumped across it like a monkey and tried to hide behind it. Harry found the switch and turned it on.
The hall was lit now. He went to the reception to see the stranger, but as soon as he peeked, he found nobody there.
“What the hell?”
Jane was in too much of a shock to speak.
“Where did he go? He was right here.”
Harry was asking Jane who couldn’t even move now.
“Jane you saw him too right?”
Jane nodded. She was trembling.
Just then his attention went to the entrance. A face was peeking at him from outside.
And Harry went running outside only to realize there was no one out there. The slow pitter-patter of rain fell on the galvanized shed outside. That was the only noise out there.
Jane was already packing. It was too much for her to handle. She shouted,
Harry was confused. He made his way back to Jane who looked as if she was about to have a nervous breakdown.
“Let’s get the hell out of here!”
Their bags were packed. And they were ready to leave. When they headed out, they bumped into the attendant outside who was carrying a searchlight in his hand.
“All good? You need something?”
Harry was furious.
“What the hell is this place? We just saw a man who disappeared behind the desk.”
The attendant seemed disinterested. He probably might have heard it a dozen times.
“You are not the first person to say that.”
Harry caught him by the collars,
“You should have said something before, if there was something going on here.”
The attendant quickly retorted,
“What and miss on a thousand bucks?”
Harry was more enraged by his answer,
“Look at my wife!”
He brushed him against the wall,
“If something happens to her, I am going to shut this place down. Do you understand? Do you?”
The attendant nodded meekly. Jane insisted Harry to leave him alone. So he did.
Remembering Mr. Jenkins
Then as they decided to head out, Harry turned around to ask the attendant about the room of Mr. Jenkins and his family. He wanted to make sure if they were alright.
The attendant started laughing when he asked that question.
“I knew you were mad. There’s no one named Jenkins here. You are the only family that checked in today.”
Harry was in shock now.
“It’s not possible. We just….we just…we had dinner together. They were sitting with us….”
That did it for Jane. She started running towards their car. Harry followed.
“Jane! Jane! Stop.”
As he followed her, he heard the attendant laughing like a mad man behind. His laugh echoed in his head, as Harry ran towards the car.
Jane quickly got in. As Harry was about to get in, he noticed there was a security guard standing near the main gate of Adventure X. He wasn’t there when they had driven in.
As they drove past him, Harry glanced at him only to find him without any eyes. There was blood dripping from where there were supposed to be his eyes. He just stared at them go from right to left, as if he could see.
Jane dug herself inside Harry’s lap crying as he rubbed her saying,
“We are out of here. Don’t worry.”
As they drove on, the woods wasn’t less scary. Scarier made by a girl who showed up out of nowhere. She was walking down the lonely road. When the lights hit her she turned around to show her hand. They were red, painted in blood.
“Don’t stop! Oh please, don’t stop!”
Harry looked furtively in her direction as she appeared to be beseeching for help. He got this urge to stop, but Jane insisted him to drive on. Soon he started feeling guilty.
“Jane, let’s think rationally. She looked like a child. What if she needs our help?”
Jane went nuts.
“After what you saw? We are not having this conversation. You just keep driving until we reach home.”
Harry tried to let that thought slip. But he couldn’t.
“Jane. I am just saying….”
“I want you to listen to me. You are not stopping the car anywhere. Alright?”
Harry was about to say something when the same girl appeared on their next turn. The headlights hit her once again as she pointed her bleeding hands at them.
Harry dabbed the throttle as hard as he could and they passed her for good.
They had covered a good distance when Jane felt relaxed. It suddenly clicked Harry that there were eight ghosts in total. He spurted out loud,
Jane gave him a puzzled look.
“Eight? What eight?”
“Eight murders remember? She was the eighth one I think.”
Jane realized that too but asked him not to remind her. They felt safe again when they found the shimmering lights of the city searing through the night.
Jane smiled as he looked at Harry who was still busy concentrating on the road.
“For what it’s worth, I am impressed.”
A bemused Harry glanced at her, their eyes met and they both laughed.