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The Journey

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The Landlord
Post time 2018-10-25 06:40:29 | Show the author posts only Reply Awards |Descending |Read mode
Bonfire Tales!
In-Game Name: iRunMan
Digital ID: 1377181
Server: Asia
Edited by sayCheez at 2018-10-25 07:22


After losing my first job as Indoor architecture designer in private firm Vishwas Bharosa Technopark Pvt. Ltd., it was very difficult to make both ends meet. I lived with my wife Divyanka and 4 year daughter Simi in a rented house in the city of Hamirpur. My wife owns a Confectionary shop but, the earnings were quite meagre and we could hardly pay our house rent on time. I felt very depressed and was in desperate need for job when the fortune smiled upon me and I got the much needed job of my life as Junior Architecture, Department of Housing Colony & Infrastructure Development. I was very happy so was my wife Divyanka.We could now support our family and fulfil our dreams together.

   Within a year I was transferred and posted in the remote area of small town called Ichahgarh, 417 Km from the city. I have been to that place once for the purpose of site inspection. The place has very less population density with most of them having migrated to the city in search for jobs. Our company bagged the contract to build housing colony in Ichahgarh in the auction organised by the state government and my seniors entrusted me with the task to supervise the work there. I felt like a benevolent person who would help people to settle in this new housing colony that was about to take shape and help reduce urban population slightly. Meanwhile, I also heard the rumour that if we complete the contract successfully, our company may be given priority in upcoming governmental projects and I would be given promotion and a new quarter with more facility. But, was it going to be that easy owing to the fact that the place was located in hilly region with rough terrain covered with dense forest? I was ready for this task with my firm determination and hardship to face any kind of situation for a better future for me and my family. I had too much expectations from this upcoming project.

   Anyway, it was Saturday evening, the day of my journey. I had began preparing for the journey a week ahead and had my rucksack ready with all the necessary items packed in. I was all set to go. Sadly, there were no connecting routes by train from Hamirpur to Ichahgarh and the only mode for transportation available was Bus. It would take almost 9 hours of tiresome journey by bus to reach my destination. I knew that I will miss my family a lot as I will not be seeing them any sooner. It was a heart-breaking moment saying goodbyes to my beloved wife and my sweet little daughter but, I consoled myself with the thought that this project was very necessary for a better future for my child and my family. I bid them farewell with a heavy heart and treading down the street I vanished among the crowd in no time.

   Since, the Bus station was located at the outskirt of city and I didn’t want to be late, I started well ahead to avoid the last minute rush and city traffic. I reached the Bus station by 6:25pm, there were just bunch of people here and there and the place was not much crowded as it used to be. The bus was supposed to arrive the station at 9:15pm and depart by 9:30pm. This is the connecting route so, bus just halted here for some time.This new bus station is still under construction but, had already started operating owing to the local demands, as it was the only means available for travelling far flung remote areas. I purchased my ticket from the ticket counter and sat on the bench under shed. I made an attempt to engage myself reading magazine under the lamp post by the shed but, had to give up the idea as the light was too dim and my eyes were straining. I plugged in my Walkman and started to listen music instead. I started exploring the place with my eyes- small group of people chatting, peddlers selling fruits, hawker selling comic books, magazines, a beggar begging for alms at the corner and stray dogs littering around. I felt sympathy for the people who worked hard for their livelihood at the same time I also felt pity for the poor beggar who had nowhere to go. It reminded me of my tough times which my family had been through. I was possibly too much lost in thoughts or maybe the soothing music relaxed my sub-conscious mind as I don’t remember when I dozed off.

My sub-conscious mind may be playing tricks or I really heard a loud thumping noise like something very heavy has fallen down and I woke up suddenly. The gush of chilling wind shuddered my body. It took me sometime to realize that I had eventually slept sitting on the bench. Although I couldn’t figure out the source that might have caused the noise. Was I still dreaming? I checked my watch under the flickering light of lamp post,it was already nine past ten which indicated I was sound asleep almost past 3 and 1/2 hour. Unfortunately, I had missed my Bus because I was sleeping like a Koala. I was at fault and couldn’t blame anyone for not nudging me awake to catch my bus, after all I was making this journey alone. The bus station looked deserted and not a single soul could be seen around, neither the usual beggar nor any littering dogs. I looked towards the ticket counter, it was also closed. There weren’t any auto which I could hire to return back home. Maybe I should call back home and make them aware of the present situation or get help from a friend. I took my phone out of my pocket to make a call but, to my surprise there wasn’t any network signal present. I picked my rucksack and with my arms raised high above my shoulders I started roaming around and tried deliberately to get at least one bar of that network signal or maybe I could hitch-hike or something.

   There was a pin drop silence. No sir, I couldn’t see any creatures of night prowling or hear owls hooting or leaves of the tree rustling. It was like the moment had come to a standstill. As I was walking, I could hear my own footsteps echo and I could literally hear myself breathing heavily and my heart pounding faster. I wasn’t afraid but, my body doesn’t seem to support my theory and was acting otherwise. All of sudden the temperature of the atmosphere started falling down and I was shivering and could feel my blood freezing dueto cold wind blowing. It was quite unnatural to feel Cold in this scorching month of May where the temperature has shoot to 40°C. I was so much obsessed with the network signal that I didn’t even notice that the area started to get engulfed in strange mist. I could smell something burning in the mist but couldn’t see anything that might represent flame or fire. My vision was obscured but, I felt I saw something in the haze of mist, particularly something big. I was shocked. The very thought that I wasn’t alone in the dark mist made my blood run cold. I maybe a person who’s afraid of his own shadow but, my instinct gave me the courage and told me to move forward and find what it was. With my fists clinched and my heart in my mouth I started moving towards that mysterious object. I was mentally prepared for whatever Iwas about to face, it may not all be true but, at least I was consoling myself with positive thoughts. I have seen action movies and I knew that I will go straight for the face and punch with all my might to whoever is causing such nuisance and playing this dirty prank.

   The closer I moved, the faster my heart started beating. I could see something shimmering in the faint street light. When I moved closer it appeared like a bus that was parked in the dark corner at a distance from the station. Was it a bus that I was afraid of? I asked myself. I heaved a sigh of relief and walked towards the bus. I came near the object that was shimmering in the faint light, it was the metal plate bearing the number of the bus. Sweet Jesus! I exclaimed with joy. It was the same bus which I thought I had missed. Bus number plate bear exactly the same number that was mentioned in my ticket. I was so thankful to the lord almighty. I hurried to the adjacent side of the bus looking for the entrance door.

There was a tall dark person standing at the door, blocking the path to my entrance. Although the night bulb inside bus was on, the light was so hazy that I could hardly see his face, I assume he was the bus conductor. I showed my bus ticket to the person so that he would let me in. He didn’t check my ticket, instead with a deep crackling voice he said, “We were waiting for you” and moved aside. I could feel several eyes staring me constantly as I moved towards my seat. I felt terribly sorry for the inconvenience I caused them and making them wait inappropriately. I felt so guilty that I walked with my head bent and occupied the empty seat. The journey had begun and the bus moved smoothly down the road. In the faint & dim light of the bus I could see people were awake but, they were hardly talking to each other. They were sitting still like some statue and hardly moving. After all bus has a confined space and I can’t expect passengers to jump around so, definitely I was overthinking. Maybe they were trying to sleep.

   It was a long journey and staying awake wasn’t a viable option so, I tried to sleep too but, the anxiety kept me wide awake. I was too bothered by the fact that I felt passengers in the bus weren’t sleeping. In a fit of curiosity I tilted myself and looked back to check the fellow passengers. A chill ran down my spine as I looked all those pale and horrified faces with sunken eyes staring me back. I turned back instantly and pressed myself against the window of the bus. If only I had the guts to jump outside the moving bus and fracture my bones and die. Oh God! What the hell did I see just now? With my eyes tight shut I began murmuring the Lord’s Prayer inaudibly. This can’t be true, I was just hallucinating or was it really happening? I was breaking out in a cold sweat. Maybe I would have felt more comfortable if had I accepted the fact that ignorance is bliss. Why do I crave for things out of my curiosity which I find unpleasant? I didn’t dare to look behind again to see those ghastly expression on the passengers face.

   Few minutes passed by, few hours passed by and nothing unpleasant happened. The bus continued to run smoothly without any bumps. This gave me enough strength to think that I was just making up things. I tried to sleep but, couldn’t do so, therefore I took out my phone, still no sign of network. I therefore started browsing the wallpapers of my daughter cuddling in her mother’s lap which I had shot with my phone. These were such sweet moments when I captured the photo. I was already beginning to miss them. I was startled when something hit my hand and I dropped my phone. I found it was a soft ball that hit me. A small girl that may have been of my daughter’s age was playing around with the softball in that odd hour. Why would anyone let their kid play during such late hours? Isn’t that absurd??

The girl picked up my phone and started watching my family photo which I was seeing earlier. I think I noticed a pale smile in her face. She put the phone in my seat and stretched her hands which I think was a gesture to get her ball back. In turn I picked up her softball and handed it over to her. She was lean and thin and her hands were damp. To my shock, on close observation I saw her arms were bleeding profusely and she wasn’t even bothered nor was complaining. I immediately raised an alarm so that her parents could know about the situation and she could get medical treatment but, there was dead silence among the passengers. What the hell! Hello anybody listening? I shouted. Nobody except the bus conductor responded to my call. The same tall dark person came near my seat and bent forward towards me and hushed me quiet. I became immensely terrified after I saw his face in the dim light for the first time. His lower jaws were ripped apart with bruises all over his face. He looked like an evil entity. There was a strong feeling of inhuman presence and too much negativity after which I dared not open my mouth again to disturb anyone. The conductor returned back to the cabin but, I mustered the courage somehow and decided to tend the injury of the little girl who was still standing with her softball, beside my seat.

   I quickly reached for the first aid kit in my bag without making any noise and wiped her arms clean of blood with cotton. I applied antiseptic cream on her wounds and tied her bandage. The bleeding stopped sooner than I thought. She looked me with pale thankful eyes and without uttering a single word she moved ahead and occupied the front row seat. My body had become numb and weak with all that strange things occurring around me. I wanted this nightmare to be over as soon as possible. I didn’t have slight ounce of energy left inside me to withstand the situation. I felt I was at the wrong place but, somewhere inside I also was deeply satisfied that I could help that little girl. I had too much of the weird experience for one night and I started to feel drowsy. I wanted to stay wide awake but, my consciousness eventually started to give up. My eyelids started to betray me and felt so heavy that I could hardly keep my eyes open. Despite knowing the fact that I was among weird strangers who pose me some kind of threat and may or can inflict me harm, I felt totally calm, peaceful and quiet. I surrendered myself to the night and slept like a log.

   I woke up when the bus stopped with a sudden jolt. I shivered with the gush of chilling wind. I realized that I was the only person sitting in the bus and nobody was to be seen around. I became horrified. I looked outside the bus window but, couldn’t find a single person as far as my eyes could see. How come I don’t remember where all the passengers got down? Perhaps they might have got down at their respective stops when I was sound asleep. I noticed the dimly lit board that mentioned the name Ichahgarh. The place was surrounded by the same strange mist with smell of something burning, only this time it was slightly different as it was accompanied by a stinking smell of rotten flesh. It became extremely unbearable to breathe in that foul air anymore. I quickly picked my rucksack and hurried to get down the bus. Thankfully! The evil faced conductor was nowhere to be seen and the door was wide open. I rushed outside and didn’t even think to turn and look back. The mist thickened as Igot down from the bus and walked towards the bench at fast pace. I felt relaxed once I reached the bench under shed and kept my luggage on the bench. I somehow mustered my courage and hold my breath as I turned back but, to my surprise I couldn’t find the bus standing. Gradually, the mist had started to wear off but,there wasn’t any sign of bus. I was damn sure I didn’t hear the bus engine revving while it departed. How was that possible? How could it disappear in thinair?? I was totally confused!!

   I checked my watch, it was ten past five. The dark hour had passed and I was witnessing the beginning of dawn. I checked my phone and it was having a strong network signal. I informed the driver that I had reached Ichahgarh and that he can come and pick me up from the Bus station. I could start to see few people on the road who were doing morning walk and jogging. I can’t describe in words how seeing normal faces around gave me sense of immense pleasure and satisfaction. The mere thought of the last night experience gave me goose bumps so, I stopped thinking about it and assumed that whatever happened previous night was just a nightmare. In a short while the car driver reached Ichahgarh bus station and we moved towards our quarter.


   I reached my quarter in no time. I unpacked my belongings and took a hot shower to feel refresh. I wanted to take complete rest and recharge before I meet the Company executives at noon. Nothing could be more refreshing than a sip of hot tea early in the morning. I placed an order with the room service to bring me a cup of hot tea and newspaper. In a while the waiter delivered me a cup of hot tea and daily newspaper and went. I closed the door behind him and took a sip of hot tea and started reading the contents of the newspaper. My heart skipped a beat and my eyes widened with fear and disbelief. I dropped my cup and spilled the tea all over the floor. My feet trembled with fear and weakness and I crumbled in the sofa like a dead leaf. It was the picture of severely damaged corpses beyond recognition of people and a little girl, who meet the ghastly bus accident, a day before yesterday, when the bus fell into the ravine. The rescue team engaged confirmed nobody survived the tragedy, and the picture of the remains of the bus and the number plate confirmed it was the same bus which I travelled last night….


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The Sofa
 Author| Post time 2018-10-25 12:59:18 | Show the author posts only
Hello guys!
although this is my entry for 'Bonfire tales' but, I would appreciate your feedback(not regarding contest) in general, if you liked the story.
Thanks
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The Bench
Post time 2018-10-26 00:11:07 | Show the author posts only
Creepy! Thanks for your story, I was thinking maybe he was only dreaming and would wake up on the bench he was sitting on but I guess he may have really encountered the souls of these passengers. We will never know what happened that night. **paranormal music intensifies**
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The Floor
 Author| Post time 2018-10-26 09:15:45 | Show the author posts only
Kloe replied at 2018-10-26 00:11
Creepy! Thanks for your story, I was thinking maybe he was only dreaming and would wake up on the be ...

Thanks! a lot.
Your feedback suggests it was worth spending my time on this story :)
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