Delivery Man

The moon shone wearily, it seemed as if it had lost its charm. Everything you heard about the moon would be utter lies if you saw how it looked that night. Pale with no radiance whatsoever, ever seen a torch bulb grow dim when on low battery?
The man was disappointed. He had to cross the forest and he was banking on the moon to show him the path. The parcel had to be delivered. The laddoos were important for the wedding. After all his mother had put in so much effort and how shamelessly he had pleaded the grocer for some besan on credit. All for a stupid cousin, who was finally getting married. "Family" he said and shrugged. The route looked challenging.
Nevertheless, he trudged his way through the foliage, battling creepers and ignoring the eerie noises that his footsteps made as he walked. Twigs broke under his weight and the owls hooted when they saw him.
The usual calming evening breeze had ceased to blow. It was unnatural he thought and shrugged his shoulders. He could hear the river flowing nearby, the hissing sound of the water made him thirsty. He made a move in that direction but stopped midway. Tales of the hunting expeditions rang in his ears. River banks were the perfect spots to hunt down animals as they assembled there at night to quench their thirst.
Thanking God for gifting him with a sharp memory, he heaved a sigh of relief and continued walking. The sounds in the forest are disturbing especially if you can’t figure out the sources. The man was now frightened. The stories that they narrated at the chowk, always seemed fascinating to him and he always dismissed them. But now he was beginning to lose conviction in himself and in his rational behavior. Could the stories be true?
Was there a old man with a lantern really walking behind him? Haria had said that if you looked back, you would be burnt alive. There was no amber glow anywhere but still he increased his pace. Then he remembered what his mother had told him, were there corpses really hanging down from the trees all over the forest? The shapes on the banyan tree, could they be dead people? He was sweating profusely now. Wiping his brow with his kerchief, he muttered a prayer and continued to walk.
There was no end in sight, he could feel his calves cramping but he did not dare stop. When, suddenly he heard his name being called, he almost tripped in his tracks. He couldn’t place the voice but it was strangely similar, he cursed his memory and felt a hand on his shoulder. He shut his eyes and started chanting the chalisa, “Vishnu!” he heard it again, the fingers dug into his flesh as he felt the grip tighten; there was an urgency in that voice.
He slowly turned around expecting to see the old man with the lantern. Haria wasn’t lying after all. But instead he was met with the bushes. There was nobody. Fear conquered his heart and he could feel it beating in his abdomen. He wanted to scream but he couldn’t. Goosebumps were all over his body and a cold wind had started to blow. He could feel himself shaking. Beads of perspiration were running all over his face and his shirt was damp, the wind making him cold.
Just when he realized what had just happened, he heard it again. “Vishnu!” and the hand was on his shoulder. Holding on tight, as if challenging him to turn around, this time, he had lost all his courage. Clutching the dabba, he chanted all the prayers his mother had made him recite, but the grip didn’t loosen. He was shaking now, uncontrollably, tears welled up in his eyes and he was certain, his heart would give up. He could feel it. Death was on its way, there was no oxygen in the air. He choked and the dabba fell on his leg. With great struggle, he picked it up and turned around to face death.
This time it was no different. There was nobody, the grip on his shoulder had vanished. Stunned, he stood there for a moment. And then something rustled and the forest air resonated with his name. “Vishnu!!” It was his cue, before the hand gripped him again, he dashed off. He ran, he ran for his life, quite literally. His name echoed in the night but there was no stopping. He could feel his dhoti growing damp and warm at the same time. But it was not the time for embarrassments or hygiene.
His lungs were giving up and his legs were weak. He could feel his will break but then he saw the lights of the village. He sprinted and reached the clearing of the forest. And then came the calm. The wind was soothing and the moon glowed. The stars twinkled and he could hear the din of the wedding house.
He could barely manage to stand up straight but unsteadily he made his way to his destination. The next day, Vishnu lay in bed battling hallucinations and a high fever, but the laddoos had made it to the wedding and appreciated by everyone. Vishnu had completed his task and had a tale to narrate at the chowk.


Ani said…
Eerie \m/
But, seriously, amazing style man.
Zaheen said…
Rushikesh, I'm floored. You've presented the scene so well!

And the best part is, how you executed the "show, don't tell" part of describing scenes. Instead of using complex words, you've used simple writing to express great emotion. Respect.

I'm a fan.

(BTW, yes, the plot, specially the climax, could've been better.)
Rushikesh said…
Hey Zaheen!

I am honoured. This was my first attempt at spooky writing and a fan already? Thanks so much.

I hope I can manage to come up with a better plot now. It was very impromptu writing you know. Thanks so much for the kind words and the feedback.


P.S: Btw how did you come across the blog?
Zaheen said…
My friend, Delshad Fitter gave me the link. Since I write fiction too (very medicore), she thought, I'd like it... And Damn I did.

I suppose Delshad and You go to the same college.

:-) Keep writing!
Rushikesh said…
Yeah I thought so! seen your name on her profile, I would love to read your work.(link?) Thank you again for the kind words and I will, I am sure with such encouragement!

You too keep writing!

Zaheen said…
Well, I don't keep a blog. Since I won't be able to justify it... Though I write stuff and post it as Facebook notes. Added you as a friend. Check it out if you like. :-)
Rushikesh said…
Will do! Keep writing and reading ;)
sacred chaos! said…
The narrative was good but was expecting a certain element of surprise at the end maybe a shocking revelation about the character! *expectations damn em* but it was a plausible story exciting and kept me reeled in.
Cheers! Keep at it!
Rushikesh said…
Yes I will try to work on the plot more from now on. Thanks for the feedback ;)
Pritish said…
Nice one, Rush!
Except, you know, it all ended too fast you could've added some more lines to describe the deadly silence of the forest or the journey of the man through the forest, which could've been more treacherous which would've added to the chill.

Overall, its a great first! Looking out for more!
Rushikesh said…
Hey Man,

thanks, will keep that in mind ;) thanks so much for reading!
Siddhi said…
wooooah! Creeped me out! You built up the effect quite well! Keep it coming, man!
Rushikesh said…
Hey Bling Woman!

thanks a ton and you too! Don't stop. You can write. Well!

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