A short Story by Vasu Gangapalli
Vijay packed his bag and left to a quiet hill station by train. He wanted to spend some time with nature, which was his love. Besides, writing was his hobby since his childhood days. He needed peace and silence to concentrate and think. The pressure at work over last two months was too much. He definitely needed a break. He applied for two weeks leave.
He was reading the book ‘Tea for two and a piece of cake’ by Preeti Shenoi during the journey. He loved her other book ‘Life is what you make it!’
Finally, It was late in the afternoon when he reached the hotel on the top of the hill station which was surrounded by trees and mountains. The house keeping person, Ram Lal took his luggage to his room and handed him the key.
‘There is one thing I need to tell you.’ Ram Lal said, ‘Do not open the window. If you do, then don’t keep it open after the sunset.’ He said before taking leave.
‘May I know, why?’ Vijay asked. However, he got no response.
The room was nice and spacious. It had a single cot bed, ceiling fan, a writing table with a lamp near the closed window, and an attached bathroom.
Vijay pulled aside the curtains, and opened the window. It seemed as if it wasn’t opened for long time. He was amazed at the spectacular view outside the window. There were pine and oak trees everywhere. There was one huge oak tree among these trees at some distance from the hotel. The sun was about to set, and it turned the sky into orange from blue. The evening breeze was blowing into the room through the window.
Vijay stood there mesmerized at the amazing beauty of nature before him.
Later, he lied down on the bed, closed his eyes to have a short nap. A loud thunder storm with lightening nearby woke him up with a sudden jerk. It had become dark and was pouring down heavily outside. He had a glance at his wrist watch; it showed 12.30 am.
He got up to close the window. His eyes caught the sight of the huge oak tree. Something was swinging to and fro under its branches….He could clearly see that it was a body of a woman hanging from the tree. A rope oscillated in the strong breeze; he couldn’t see her face, as her hair was hanging loose, and it covered her face.
Vijay picked the torch and umbrella from his bag. He ran downstairs towards the huge oak tree. The path through the trees became slippery due to the rain. The huge oak tree stood on the grass land along with other trees. The strong wind blew his umbrella far away from him. Then it just vanished from his sight. He got completely drenched in the rain. He switched the torch on and flashed it on the tree. He was shocked as he saw no body swinging from its branches.
‘How could it be possible?’ He asked himself, scratching his head in disbelief.
‘Maybe, it was my silly imagination.’ He thought and went back to his room.
When he saw through his window once again, he saw the body of the woman swinging from the branch of that tree. This time, she lifted her face up and gave a wicked grin. It almost froze him in fear. Her sightless eyes sent a chill down his spine. Her hands and feet were limp. The body was turning round and round…
He gathered enough courage to close the window and pull the curtains down. He was very much shocked and scared after what he had witnessed just now. He had written ghost stories, but had never ever seen a ghost in his life before. He crawled onto the bed and pulled up the blanket. He started shivering in cold. He tried to sleep closing his eyes.
However, the image of the woman kept playing in his mind.
Something started pulling his blanket. He held it tight with his fingers and pulled it back. Then something started tickling his feet. He woke up with a jerk and found her standing near the cot. She was smiling wickedly, and he could see her white teeth clearly even in the dark. He gave out a cry as she scratched his feet with her long nails.
Suddenly, he woke up with a jerk. He was sweating in this cold weather.
‘Thank God, it’s just a dream’ He said to himself, getting up from the bed. It was dark outside. He glanced at his wrist watch. It showed 12.30 am. He looked outside the window and saw nothing unusual.
He sat down on the chair, switched on the table lamp on the table, and started writing the story which he just had in his dream. He had a smile of satisfaction after he completed it. He was so engrossed in writing that he didn’t notice that it had started raining outside. A sudden lightening made him to get up from his chair and look outside. Now, he saw the body of the woman swinging from the branch of the huge oak tree.
‘This can’t be happening…it’s just my silly imagination…’ He thought.
He wanted to confirm that it was just his imagination. So, he walked towards the oak tree with umbrella and torch in his hands….
Next morning, when Ram Lal knocked on his door, he was surprised to see it open. He came in calling his name, but didn’t find him inside.
‘I told him not to open the window…I told him…’ Ram Lal murmured, closing the window.
He took the papers on which he had scribbled something. Ram Lal didn’t go to school during his childhood days, so he didn’t know how to read and write.
He came downstairs and handed those sheets of papers to the receptionist, Rajeev.
‘I think he wrote a long suicide note and vanished like others…I told him not to open the window…I told him…’ Ram Lal said, and then went away visibly disturbed by what he had seen.
Rajeev went through the story which the writer had written. It had no title. He took a pencil and wrote on the top of the first sheet.
The Last Story by Anonymous.