Ok guys, as promised, here I’m with my next short story. Incidentally this one isn’t so short; hence I’ll be posting it in parts.
Lemme share a little background intro on how I conceptualized this one — The image below was sent by a dear friend with a challenge to write a story on it. And here’s the outcome of that challenge!
So the 1st part is served here, with a hope that it’ll tickle your thriller senses adequately.
“Not again. Not f**king again!” He swore aloud. Exasperated and tired beyond description, he slowly sank down on his knees; looked frustratingly at the dilapidated structure looming in front, and then fell back, his backpack hitting the ground with a thud. He leaned his head back, resting it over the edge of the backpack and stared at the bunch of vultures hovering overhead.
“Damn you! Waiting for me to go down, ain’t you; you bloody flesh plucking scavengers!” He whispered menacingly. He tried to straighten up but his dead tired limbs and aching body refused to comply. He’d already lost count of the days he’d been lost, wandering in this boundless wilderness, after having separated from his hiking group. All the rations he was carrying in his backpack had long been exhausted and he’d been living off the wild berries and twigs for more than a week.
A soft popping sound brought him out of his reverie. Two of the vultures had landed on either side of him, a couple of yards away. He tried to shoo them away, swinging his arms lethargically but the big birds just stared at him without budging an inch. When he stopped moving, too exhausted to even move a muscle, one of them gingerly took a step towards him. He looked at it from the corner of his eye, felt around on the ground for something, found a small pebble, picked it up and threw it on the approaching vulture. It missed the bird by more than a foot; however it stopped in its tracks.
Three more of them landed around him, encircling him. A putrid smell entered his nostrils, making him a little nauseous. He wanted to get up, to attack these flesh mongers, to kill them, to make them go away, to run away from there, but he had no energy left. All he really wanted was to let go, to close his eyes and drift into the calming abyss of a deep sleep.
‘Oh sleep! Sweet sleep!! I should close my eyes for some time, just for a few moments. These bird won’t attack me until I’m breathing. I can close my eyes…just for a wink.’ The thoughts forced their way into his mind and his eyelids started feeling heavy.
With half closed eyes, he glanced at the house he’d come across the third time since he’d been lost in this godforsaken jungle. A part of his mind told him that the house would provide him some safety, at least from these vultures. But there was something mysterious, something sinister about it he’d felt deep inside his heart even the first time he’d come across it. He hadn’t entered it, hadn’t even gone near it. Something had told him to get as far away from that wretched house as possible, and he’d followed his hunch.
After wandering for many days, he’d landed again in front of that house; maybe he hadn’t been very careful with directions and apparently had gone around in a huge circle to reach back the same place. But he had been very careful the second time; he had used all he knew about how to maintain a direction, using Sun’s position and various high peaks as landmarks, in addition to using the vintage magnetic compass he had carried in his hiking kit, to maintain his sense of direction. It was strange how he’d again landed up back there, in front of that jinx house. Though his cell phone having no signal wasn’t much surprising to him but his sat-com set going bad had been the main setback, and that implied that he couldn’t call for help.
A pull on his trouser bottom broke his train of thoughts and he opened his eyes to find an ugly looking bird pecking on his leg. Others were crowding around him, just a few inches away. Mustering each ounce of energy and willpower, he got up with a jerk, took off his backpack and swung it around. It hit two of them, making them go sprawling on the ground with shrill croaks and squeaks; a couple flew off to land a little away while others simply stepped back.
Involuntarily he staggered towards the house, keeping an eye on the croaking scavengers following him just a few steps behind. After a couple of steps, he turned to look in front to see where he was going, and his heart jumped to get stuck in his throat as he found himself hardly a couple of yards from the entrance of the house.
“How the hell did I reach so close to it? It was more than hundred yards the last I’d looked this way, and I’ve hardly walked a couple of steps.” He muttered, choking on his breath .
‘Or has the damn house moved towards me!’ The horrific thought knocked the remaining wind out of him.
He turned around to get away, and found himself completely surrounded by those greyish black birdies gawking at him, the number seemed to have tripled since he’d last looked at them just a few moments back. A strange sense of dread passed through him. He swung his backpack again to scare them away, but this time they seemed strangely determined not to get out of his way. May be they could sense that their prey hadn’t much fight left in him.
His head was spinning, his vision was going blurred, and he realized that he didn’t have enough energy to fight or outrun the vultures, and his consciousness probably won’t last for too long; and that’s what the damn vultures were waiting for. He slowly turned back to the door, weighing his options, his foggy mind unable to register that the previously closed door was wide open now.
He hesitated, his sixth sense trying to stop him from stepping inside, while a strange power trying to pull him inside. Instinctively he knew that something dreadful was waiting for him inside; but another unexplained sense was telling him that inside was his salvation, not just from the vultures. With the croaking crescendo of the vultures rising in the background, he raised his foot to step inside.
To be continued…
(Featured Image: Shutterstock)