The following story is written in response to Kreative Kue 281. Keith Channing is a self published writer. If you hadn’t had a chance to acquaint yourself with limericks checkout Keith’s amazing blog!
“Walk fast, run if you can!” Vibha urged Anu as she took a glance at the sky. The clouds were hurrying above their heads. It could start raining anytime soon. Trudging through the chocolate coloured mud, both girls sighed at the scene of an old castle. The rains of previous night had turned their trek into a disaster. They had some food and basic trekking equipments, but they needed a strong shelter above their heads. Last night was a great lesson for them.
“How far is the railway station from here?” asked Anu.
Vibha checked the paper map, “It was about 4-5 kilometres from the base camp. And we have been walking from past one hour which means it should be around 3 kilometres from our present location. We are pretty close to it.”
“And what’s our present location?” Hey! There isn’t any castle on the map!!” Anu exclaimed.
Vibha checked the map thoroughly. Nowhere on the map there were any markings indicating the presence of a castle. No one ever mentioned about it at any point of time during their trek. The girls didn’t had the slightest hint of the presence of a castle on their way back home.
“We started the journey from national highway no.36 and here we are on the opposite side of national highway no.35, I guess this is the reason we didn’t come across the castle while heading towards the base camp.” Vibha tried to reason out. “I hope we are not lost!”, gulped Anu.
In a matter of seconds the rains started pelting down. Heavy rains washed every rock and pebble. Both the girls rushed towards the castle for shelter.
The castle was in ruins. The Keep was partially shattered into pieces. The stone bricks layed scattered around. The moat just looked like any other trench. The curtain walls however looked pretty intact. The girls took shelter under one of the wooden roofs. The wooden roofs were were suspended from the main entrance of the castle with the help of iron chains. It was puzzling to see those wooden roofs at the entrance. This arrangement didn’t bother the girls as long as they stopped them from getting drenched. It seemed as if the castle was never completed in it’s time.
“Should we go inside?” Anu asked. Vibha tried to pump in some false courage and blurted, “Yes sure, we could light a small bonfire below the gatehouse!”
The moment they stepped a foot inside the castle, a ferocious sound of thunder caused a shudder in their bodies. It was an absolutely scary moment.
They had some twigs, old newspapers and matchsticks. The matchsticks were safe in a plastic box but the twigs and newspapers had dampened. The rains had darkened the atmosphere. They still had four more hours of daylight. For now they could survive without a bonfire, unless they were planning to spend their night at the spooky castle.
Half hour passed and the rains continued to pour with all their strength. Excitement replaced by anxiety. Anxiety was soon replaced by hunger. They gobbled down some roasted peanuts and some leftover sandwiches. Quenched their thirst with some lukewarm water they had filled with at the base camp.
“Did you hear that sound?” Anu asked.
“Yes I did” Vibha acknowledged.
The sound came from the woods. It seemed like someone was cutting logs from trees. The voice of the axe lashing on the trees was audible even in the torrential rains. The girls wondered who would want to cut logs in such heavy rains?
“A man with an axe” said Anu.
“There could be more than one man” concluded Vibha in a warning tone.
“I think it’s time for us to leave this place”
“Yeah it’s better to get drenched then get in trouble.”
The girls packed their bags, put on their raincoats and begun leaving the gatehouse in a jiffy. The spine chilling sound of the axe grew faster and louder. As if the axe was aimed at the girls! They ran faster. They ran for their lives. Their gumboots were not helping them in any way. And yet they ran in those incredibly heavy rains. As if the sound of axe was not petrifying enough, the girls heard one more sound. Sound of the falling trees.
“Don’t look behind” Anu warned Vibha.
“I can hear the sound of trees falling on the ground.” replied Vibha.
“Yes they are falling indeed, I hope they don’t fall on us”.
One after another the trees started falling over each other. Tall trees fell straight on the ground. Shorter trees were uprooted from the soil. The creepers had begun foraying through the uprooted trees. Trying to block the girls way back to home. Greenery begun showing up all around. But it wasn’t a pleasant one. It seemed like the soul of the trees turned dark and cold. The trunks of the trees transformed into human face like structures. Their eyes conveyed ill intentions. The branches were transforming into greedy hands made of bark. Trying to get hold of the girls. The branches intertwined with the roots to form a cage around the girls. It seemed like the woodland would end either in heaven or hell. The sound of the axe intensified.
“I can’t run anymore!” said Vibha breathlessly.
“We either run or we die!” Anu fumed with anger and courage at the same time.
“I would prefer death over this endless running! Anu we are caught!”
“Vibha just stop it! Less words and more run!”
The terrain was completely covered with growing creepers and roots. It made running more difficult.
They were approaching the narrow escape created by the sprawling branches. The ghostly branches could trap the girls inside the woodland if they didn’t run faster. Just as the girls were about to make it through the narrow escape, a sudden strong beam of light passed through it, hitting straight in their eyes. Tumbling upon the maze of roots and creepers, the girls got trapped into the cage of branches.
The world around them stopped at once. The narrow escape was gone forever. The branches ruled all over the woodland in solidarity with a creepy and misty silence.
“Wake up Anu, it’s time to leave.” Anu heard a familiar whispering voice. “Wake up princess we have a long way to go.” she heard once more. Anu thought, to go where? Heaven or hell? She slowly tried to open her eyes. But the sunlight wouldn’t allow her to open at once. She flipped her body on the other side and tried opening her eyes. She saw her friend Vibha backpacking. Anu was still inside her tent, in her sleeping bag. Sunlight passed through the tent flap. The woods on the outside stayed silent.
“We might have to start the journey from highway no.36”, Vibha informed Anu.
It was a dream, Anu hoped that wouldn’t come true.