A friend of mine emailed this short story to me titled “A Walk in the Woods” some years back and it has always stuck with me up until this very date. Unfortunately the first and last name of the author is unknown as it was posted online via anonymity under a username instead. At the time of receiving it, I saved it in my email archives and just recently stumbled upon it. I couldn’t help but share it here on the Peoplesbrain blog….
It’s one of the scariest, most bone-chilling pieces of literature I’ve ever read. I believe this story to be written by an Indian author. At the end of the story it leaves you in a surrendered state of suspense and wonderment. Hopefully you catch my drift after reading it…. if you liked this story I will be posting more of these! Enjoy folks!
‘A Walk in the Woods’ by Sapansaxena
“A few minutes more, before the town begins”, she told herself as she kept walking in a hurry. As she crossed the trekking paths, she heard a faint rustle of leaves behind her back. She turned around and saw a guy at some distance walking on the path with a backpack on his bags. She felt he looked at her and started walking towards her. She turned back and continued walking towards her cottage. After what seemed to be a minute, she again turned around and saw that the man had closed the gap between them and was fast approaching her. She turned back and further increased her pace. She was almost running now as she heard rustle of dried leaves which she had crossed just a while back. The man had increased his speed too. As she crossed a shade towards her left, she jumped towards the shade and picked up a small dried wooden stick lying near the pile of leaves. As Sumit approached the shades, where he had seen the girl jump towards, he stopped near the shades and started walking towards them. All of a sudden, Roshni jumped out of nowhere and started beating Sumit with the stick.
“Hey! Wait!”, he exclaimed.
“What are you doing? “You were trying to follow me”, she said as she kept beating him with the stick.
“Calm down, first of all”, he said, smiling. “That joke of a stick is doing no damage except tiring you off.”
“Why were you following me?”, she asked.
“I saw you walking alone, and just thought of helping you out.”
“I dont need your help. I can manage on my own”, she said, half out of breath. “You go your own way, and I will go on my own….”
“Listen, I am walking towards the town where I have a stay, and so are you.. We can walk together, it would be a good company for both of us.” “I dont need your company”
“Alright!”, he said, defeated.
“You walk ahead of me, and I will walk behind you. That way we wont be together, and I wont have to worry about you.” “You dont have to worry about me. I can manage on my own.”, she said and crossed him to walk towards the town. He started walking behind her.
“You live here?”, he said.
“I dont think I need to answer that.”, she said and kept walking. “And besides I dont want to talk.”
“Hey! Whats the harm in a little chat while we walk towards the town. Saves us from getting bored.” She kept quiet and continued walking.
“What’s your name?”, he asked after a few moments.
She didnt reply. “I am Sumit and I live on the other side of this hill. I came here alone for a short trek.”.She still kept quiet. “Whats your name?”
“And what are you doing here alone in the woods?”, he asked while increasing his pace and coming next to Roshni.
“I often visit these woods. I come to write poems here.”
“Ohh! You are a poet! Great! You can tell me some of your poems and we will be near town in no time”, he said as she looked back.
“My poems are not for others. I write them for myself”, she said looking away from him as she kept walking.
“You gotta be kidding me. Whats the use of writing, when you dont show it to anyone.” She didnt reply and kept walking.
“Hmm! If you dont want to tell them, its your choice. Now lets walk faster towards the town, and then I can drop you to your cottage before it gets too late.”
“The weather is so romantic today!”, she said as he looked over the horizon at the strings of trees in vicinity.
“You know whats the best thing about Darjeeling?”, he said. “No matter what the season is, the woods are always beautiful.” “And is that the reason you travel daily all across the hill to enjoy the weather in the woods? ” “Of course, Not!”, he looked back at her.”The reason is you. And, that restuarant near your cottage. The Kadhi Chawal is a killer” She smiled back at him.
“Hey! Roshni”, he faced her and held her hands. “Why dont we get married?”
“Sumit, its only been a month since we met.”
“Yes, I understand that. But, it happens when it has to, and no one cares about how much time two people have spent together. Dont you love me?” Her face dropped all of a sudden and she appeared sad.
“I do love you, Sumit. But…”
“What is it?”, asked Sumit.
“There is something I need to tell you.”
“Tell me, then. Who is stopping you?”
“That you may no longer want to be with me, forget even proposing me to marry.”
“How stupid would that sound. There is nothing which would stop me from being with you.” She still appeared sad and didnt say anything.
“Fine! If you dont want to talk about it, we can talk later. Totally up to you.”
She smiled and looked away from him. “Hey! Remember we met in the same woods almost a month back”, he said, trying to cheer her up.
“Of course I do!”
“And you tried hitting me with that small stick”, he said as both of them laughed together.
“I thought you were stalking me!”
“Well, I was actually!”, he said.
“What?”, she said looking at him with raised brows.
“Nothing! Just kidding!”, he winked at her. She looked at him for some time then smiled back at him.
“So, what shall we talk about?”, he said looking at her. “The weather, the mountains. the lake, the trees. Why, how come you are short of stuff to talk to me?” “Alright, lets talk about…”, he said and paused for a moment, when all of a sudden reached towards her bag and pulled out a blue diary, “your poems”.
“No! Wait! Give it back to me!”, she almost shouted as she tried to get the diary back from him.”
“I dont think so! Today your poems may get their first reader!”, he said as he pulled back and got up on his feet.He started to fiddle with the pages, as she got up and made a leap towards him.
“Hey ! Hey! You wont be able to win this back from me unless I am done with all your poems”, he said and started running casually towards the bridge.
“Give it back to me!”, Roshni shouted almost complaining and ran towards the bridge as Sumit had almost crossed and reached on the other side.
“So, the title of the first poem here is ‘Walk in the woods’. How apt!”, he said as Roshni tried to pace up, when her left foot got stuck and she tripped over. As she fell, her right leg. jerked forward and her right leg’s caliper sprung a couple of feet ahead of her, as it slide and reached near Sumit. Sumit stood where he was with the blue diary in his hands as he looked towards the stranded caliper lying near him. He looked up and saw a scared Roshni crying with tears in her eyes. He kept the diary in his pocket, and walked slowly towards the caliper as he picked it up. He was still searching for words as he walked slowly towards Roshni.
“Is this what…”, he said, almost whispering, as words came out of his mouth in irregular intervals,”you didn’t tell”
“I was in love with him!”, she shouted and started sobbing loudly.”Could have done anything for him, but he humiliated me for my handicap.”
“Who humiliated you?’, he asked, now more composed.
“There was a guy, had come from Mumbai on a trip with his friends. We met here, in these very woods, and we were so much in love. He had even proposed me, and before I could even tell him about my accident and my handicap, he came to learn of it when I slipped near the lake. He picked up the caliper in both his hands, and threw it over me. He kept spewing venom and I kept crying. I wasn’t even aware when he left, all I remember was a chilly dark night, and my walk back to town alone.”, she was shuddering as she cried and coughed in between.
“And, you thought I will also…”, he spoke softly but didn’t complete.
“Yes, I knew you would also humiliate me. I knew the day you will learn of my secret, you will despise me, hate me.”
Sumit picked up the caliper in both his hands, and kneeled besides her. She was still crying and looking at him with empty eyes. He offered to fix the caliper back her leg, and she extended her amputated leg towards him. He fixed he leg back, and hugged her, tears in his eyes.
“I am really sorry for whatever happened in your past. But now, you will never cry, thats my promise. I love you, and thats all what matters now.”, he said softly as she held him tightly. “I really hope this Tiger Hill is a nice place to get married.”, he said as she closed the door of the car. “Dont worry, I am sure you will love it. The first rays of sun falling on the mountain peaks. Its out of this world” “Any place with you, I love it”, he said and smiled as she smiled back. “We will need to get the tank full. Tiger Hill doesnt have much option of a petrol pump, and its a good distance from here” He nodded and started the engine. After a few minutes they were standing at the next petrol pump.
“Full tank, please”, Sumit said to the only attendant there. As Roshni reached out for her purse, Sumit stopped her.
“Its fine, I can pay this.
You already have paid for all the bookings, the arrangements, my suit, and everything. At least I can pay for petrol.”
“You forgot my dress.”, she smiled mischievously. ”
Of course, your dress. A special mention! See, the point is..out of us two, I am the one with ideas, and you are the one with money. The reason, we are a perfect combination. After marriage, let us buy one more cottage in Siliguri, or Kalimpong.”
“Of course sir, as you say! But, lets move fast as sun will set in almost an hour and it will be dark soon.”
“What the hell!!”, exclaimed Sumit. “Why? What happened?”, asked Roshni, coming out of the tiring slumber.
“Its been only two hours into our journey, and the tank is almost empty.”
“What? How is that possible? We got the tank full, right?”
“Exactly! And the fuel meter says its almost empty!”
“Did you not check it once during the drive? I think I slept the whole time.”
“No, it never occurred to me to check the speed with which fuel meter was dropping because we got enough fuel to last the entire journey. Not even when I stopped by to relieve myself.”
“You left me alone sleeping in the car? How careless of you, Sumit?”
“Hey! Relax! I kept the AC running, and I was near the car all the time.”
“You could have checked the fuel when you got back! Now what do we gonna do?”
“Relax! I can see some light at a distance. Seems to be some inn or a motel of some sorts.”
The car stopped near the shady guest house. Sumit got out first and opened the door for Roshni. They entered the dimly lit hall with one bulb hanging over a table behind which an old man was sitting.
“Excuse Me! Is there a petrol pump nearby? We are short of fuel”, said Sumit The old man looked at Sumit, then Roshni and then back at Sumit.
“No, sir! The nearest petrol pump is 10 kms away, and that closes in evening itself. We have very little diesel which we use in generators. I think that would fetch you no purpose.”
“Is there a room available where we can stay for the night? How much would be the cost?”
“We have only room here, sir. That costs 1000 Rs per night. The room has a small balcony and a bathroom attached. Payment will be made in advance.”
Sumit turned to Roshni,”1000 Rs please. I do not have much cash.”
Roshni opened her purse and gave him a 1000 Rs note, while Sumit filled in the details in the hotel register. Roshni entered the room first as her hand searched for the switchboard on the side wall. Sumit walked over to the opposite wall and switched the light on. Roshni looked at him, surprised.
“How did you know the switch was on the opposite wall?”
“I could see it when I entered the room.”
“The room is pitch black with darkness. I wasn’t able to see anything.”
“You must be kidding. There is some faint light from outside and I could see the switchboard, Anyways, how does it matter?”
“Anyways, let me ask the receptionist if there is something we can eat, and then get to sleep. The petrol pumps open up at 8 in the morning.”
“I need to go to the washroom.”
Sumit moved across Roshni and opened up a door on the opposite wall and switched on the light.”Here you are”, he said.
“How did you know the bathroom was across the room?”, asked Roshni, surprised.
“What else could it be”, smirked Sumit.
“There are three doors besides the main door, and you were able to identify the one to the bathroom. What if it was the door to the balcony?
“Then I would have tried the next door, sweetheart”, said Sumit assuringly.
Roshni still had signs of confusion on her face as she looked at Sumit. All of a sudden, there was a knock on the door. Sumit went and opened the door. There was the receptionist with a tray in his hands which seemed to have food covered by some old looking plates.
“Oh! I was just going to ask you for food. Great that you thought ahead for us.”
“That’s alright sir. I fear the food would be a tad too simple for your liking. Here is some hot Kadhi Chawal for you, sir.”
“Kadhi Chawal?”, asked Roshni, surprised again. She looked at Sumit,
“How did he know that you like Kadhi Chawal”
“Ohh! Come on Roshni”, said Sumit, growing impatient.
“How would I know how was he able to cook up my favourite dish? Maybe that was all what was left with him.”
He turned to the receptionist, his back towards Roshni,
“am I right, sir?”
“Yes, of course.”, he nodded and closed the door behind him….
Sumit went ahead and hugged Roshni,
“Roshni, why are you getting paranoid? Relax. I think this sudden halt at this place is wearing you out.”
Roshni hugged him back and nodded. She looked at the other two doors.
“The receptionist told one of them is balcony, what about the other one?” she asked. Sumit broke the hug and moved towards the first door. He tried opening it, but the door seemed to be lock.
“This could be the door to some private room. And the other one could be balcony.”
“It’s OK”, she said.
“Let it be.”, she said and slowly moved towards the bathroom. As soon as she moved in, Sumit picked up the receiver of the phone kept in the corner and dialed some number. Roshni wiped her face with the towel kept near the wash basin. She looked into the mirror and dabbled the corners of her eyes. All of a sudden, the power went off, and it was pitch black inside the bathroom.
“Sumit!”; she shouted stuck at where she was but no one responded.
“Sumit!”, she called again, this time louder, but was again met with complete silence. She slowly moved towards the door and tried to move the knob of the door, which seemed to be stuck. She panicked, as the very faint light from the window of the bathroom entered. She held the knob with both her hands and tried to push the door with all her energy. The door seemed to flinch a bit, but was still locked.
she shouted at the top of her voice, but no one responded. She stopped for a moment and then used every last bit of energy of her body to push, when the door cracked and opened up. There was darkness all over the room and Sumit, was not there. She slowly moved to where she had kept her bags, until she found them. She quickly brought up her mobile phones, which showed no signals. She activated the flash light of her phone and looked around. The front door seemed to be lock from outside. Feeling suffocated, she moved towards the third door and unlatched it. A very pungent whiff of air hit her hard as she opened the balcony. Covering her nose, she tried to adjust her eyes to the darkness and look for the source of the smell. After a few seconds, she saw what appeared to be chunks of unearthed soil bunked into huge heaps all over the ground. There were flies and other insects buzzing around the chunks.
“Shit!”, she exclaimed and closed the door behind her. She picked up the knife from the tray the receptionist had brought earlier. Panicked, she started shouting,
but no one listened…..
She tried to open the main door, but it was locked heavily from outside. She proceeded to the third door and tired to open it , when with a jerk, the door opened to another room. Surprisingly, this room had a small lit bulb and an wooden almirah on the side.
“Must be powered on by generator”,
she said under her breath and tried to calm herself, as she moved towards the wooden almirah and opened it with a sunken heart. There were almost a dozen caliper legs kept in the almirah, with a date tag attached to each one of them. All of a sudden there was noise outside, the light had came back as Sumit, unlocked the front door with his left hand as he tightly held a pistol in his right hand.
“Roshni!”, he called out, but she didn’t reply.
“Rohni! Sweetheart! Where are you?”,
he called again with a smooth tone, but there was no reply. His eyes met the third opened door, as he crawled towards it with the pisto placed in front.
“Come on sweetheart! Where are you?”
As he entered the room and took a few steps forward, Roshni jumped from behind and stabbed the knife into Sumit with all her might. A chunk of flesh alongwith blood spurted out as he fell on the floor.
“What the!!”, he exclaimed with pain.
“Have you gone mad?”
“You were trying to kill me! You knew this place! There are dead bodies all over the ground.”
“What dead bodies! Shit!!”, he exclaimed as he saw streams of blood running into his shirt.
“I went out to look for the cause of power outage!”, he tried to speak suppressing the pain.
“I saw a hound trying to break into the hotel, and shot him with my pistol. I swear I wasnt trying to kill you. I was cautious as I heard your scream”
“You are lying! Lying! Lying!”, she shouted hysterically.
“You are lying from the very first time you met me. I tried to ignore your lies but you kept on lying! You knew me before meeting in the woods didn’t you? You knew about my handicap?”
“No, Roshni! I swear!”, he started.
“Again you are lying! That’s what you thought, right, that’s what you do! Bring helpless people with calipers here and kill them and keep the calipers as a memento of your bloody victory.”
“Alright, Roshni! I was lying. I knew you before we met in the woods. I knew about your handicap. I still followed and tried to help you because I was lusting for your money. I accept that! But, I was really trying to marry you today and not kill you. God! Why would I kill you.”
“Liar! Pathetic liars! That’s what you men are good at. That’s what you men will always do. You are lying once again! You came here to kill me!”
, she said as the anger in her grew visually up. Sensing her anger, Sumit jerked all of a sudden and reached towards his gun. Roshni judged his intentions and stabbed Sumit once again in the chest.
“Why do you want to kill me, Roshni”, said Sumit, crying.
“I loved you. I was going to marry you.”
“Because…”, she paused for a moment…….
“You also wanted to kill me.”
, she said and stabbed him one final time. Sumit let out a hoarse cry as his lifeless body let out a final hint of breath. Roshni got up as the receptionist entered the room and dragged the body away. Roshni removed her caliper, attached a note to it, wrote down the date and kept it in the wooden almirah. As she crossed the bridge, she heard him call out for her. She increased her speed as she felt him fast approaching her. She turned all of a sudden as he was taken aback. “Why were you following me?”, she asked. “I saw you walking alone, and just thought of helping you out.” “I don’t need your help. I can manage on my own”, she said, half out of breath. “You go your own way, and I will go on my own….”