Karthik was toying with the fidget spinner, hoping that Raghav would remove the blanket from his face anytime soon. It was freezing cold outside and the two hostel roommates had to go to the university library. “Let me sleep more Karthik, and stop doing that nonsense”, said Raghav looking annoyingly at Karthik from one eye.
“Yes, you have slept too much now, get up, or else we will be late” Karthik replied.
It was 11 in the night and the dense fog had started to envelop. Karthik and Raghav put on their jackets, mufflers, gloves and torch lights. They carried the torch lights because cycling through the long stretch of poorly lit road on a foggy night was quite risky. Moreover, both had heard rumors about ‘Jinns’ dwelling an abandoned well that lay beside the road, in the forest. The old watch man often used told stories about his paranormal experiences and strange voices which he told came from the forest. He told them that Jinns are creatures made out of fire, they have families, tribes and they usually inhabit desolate locations. He had also alerted them from visiting the forest alone.
Despite the freezing cold, dark night and haunted stories of jinns always running in the back of their minds, the boys were only focused about the exams. Low grades in the past were their biggest concern and they needed to score well this time. The campus library was the best place to study in peace and they had always preferred it to the hostel room. While stepping out of the hostel gate, Raghav was shivering with cold; he rubbed his hands and said, “Are you seeing the dense fog? It has never been like this all through the winters, let’s stay back”. “Yes I see, but we have few days left, I cannot stay, we will not be able to study in the room, so just move”, Karthik responded in hurry.
Raghav was reluctant to go, he was a lazy chap, but due to insistence of Karthik he had to change his mind. The boys had walked just few meters ahead and suddenly Raghav said, “Oh my books, I forgot them.”
Karthik annoyingly shouted, “What are you doing? You are so careless Raghav, just go back and come fast”. Moments after Raghav rushed back with the books and they continued their march. The cold wind was biting, birds were chirping from the branches hardly visible, the barking of dogs could be heard from a distance not so far. The visibility was null; every single bit was enveloped by the mysterious dense fog.
After fifteen minutes, they had reached the dark and scary road, the jinn horror was creeping forward.
Raghav said in a fearful tone, “I told you, we should have stayed back, but you forced us, this is such a scary place, it was your decision”.
Karthik responded, “Yes, it’s too dark, but you are too much frightened, let me light on the torch.”
In the torch light, the boys could see nothing except some dried leaves which might have fallen from the trees nearby, though Raghav was feeling that something had been following them.
He said, “Karthik is there someone following us, I am having a weird feeling”. Karthik halted, turned back and focused his torch light in the back. Surprisingly, it was a crippled dog at a few meters distance. Karthik laughed and made a joke out of it.
After some time amidst all the spookiness, they had almost reached the library, and suddenly Karthik saw that one of his shoe lace was open. He immediately stopped and asked Raghav to halt down until he could tie them.
But, before he could tie the laces, the mobile fell from his pocket and the screen took him by surprise; there were countless missed calls and messages. He was not able to check them as his phone was on silent mode. He instantly opened one of the messages which left him awestruck with fear.
The message was from Raghav, he had texted Karthik to come back in the hostel, as he had fallen from corridor stairs. Amidst bewilderment, before Karthik could lift his head to look out for Raghav, he had disappeared in the thin air leaving Karthik unconscious on the ground.
If Raghav was back in the hostel, who had been with Karthik all this while?
Was it the Jinn from the nearby forest? Who was he? The horror from the old man stories had come alive.
- Asad Waseem