I don’t remember when was the last time my cousin and my childhood friend came to stay with us. It was years before. Suddenly, it felt like a day of Christmas for me. We enjoyed this unexpected arrival together. Now, we both are having families and are busy, not like before. Anyhow, the whole day was fun and talking. When we got sometime of the night alone, we started talking about those glorious childhood memories and the days when we were so free and can do anything. We used to play, talk, or simply laugh at certain things that weren’t even funny.
In the meantime, a very particular memory jogged in of the travel to a hilly place to escape the heat and fuss of the city life. The city we lived in was very hot during the summers and that summer was particularly hot. Our school was prematurely closed because of a heatwave, as I remembered. The only thing to do at home was to tend to our vacation homework and just spend the time together.
“Do you remember in our time, we were given so much homework?” My cousin reminded me, “It felt like a hell lot of load being put on us! They were taking us as a mule; even mule is too sensitive to such a load.”
“Yup, nowadays they do the same with a Lorry or a truck, but wherever they are using animals, I suppose the routine must be the same with those poor animals”. I added.
Meanwhile our respective wives came back after putting the kids to sleep. They joined us and were interested to know about the trip we were talking about of our younger times. I and my cousin looked at each other cueing as to who should start. It felt like, I have been tossed the responsibility to tell them that story. I got back onto my seat, gulped last of my drink and started:
"Well, as I said, it was very hot that summer and everybody were so bored being caught up in the house. My family took the initiative and put the plan in front of my uncle and aunt to take both of the families to somewhere to escape this heat. After long discussions and planning, it was decided to spend at least most of this summer in some good place. Hearing that, we were jumping with joy.
We were excited like Mr. Bean in his Holiday movie. As the day of our departure was approaching near, our excitement was going off the roof, and right on the day, it developed into a commotion, more or less like a home alone movie, the difference being the weather.
Anyhow, we got ready in no time and started our journey in two Sedans towards our call of the wild, as we called it. When the road got zigzagged, we stopped at several places, because some of them were feeling sick. It took us several hours to arrive at our place of stay, which, if I remembered correctly, was just before the sunset.
To our disbelief, nobody was at the rest house. One of our eldest cousins, looked like the Buzz from the Home Alone movie, but with black eyes and hair, got out first and opened the front door of the house with a bang, of course.
Suddenly a grumpy, clumsy-looking man came from nowhere and asked what our business here was. Despite the shock of the door noise and the sudden appearance of the man, we managed to explain to him that we have booked this place for the summer. Our family is on the way from the foothill where we have parked our cars. I told him my name and shook his hand.
He came out to be a warm gentleman and welcomed us to the house. He told us that they have made everything ready for us. His voice was rather strange, sort of cranky.
My mum arrived at the scene and further explanation led to the resolution of all problems. The highlander had started the generator as there was no power for the last few days; due to a landslide. He was handy, he helped us brought all the stuff, helped my mum in the kitchen, and the rest of us, after having whatever is available for eating, went to our bed.
We were all very tired and didn’t even notice that the generator went out of gas, long before we were sleeping. But I got up in the middle of the night with a strange crackling sound. It was pitching dark except in the living room where a torch was on.
My heart jumped into my throat as I saw a long shadow rising from the coach. I was about to scream but the shadow spoke in the same cranky voice. I could hardly see his face but had recognized his terminator kind of smile.
He inquired as to why was I out of bed. I explained to him that I woke up because of some strange noise. He reassured me that it was nothing. I went to bed embarrassed.
The next morning we woke up late. Mum had made us some breakfast and she wanted to drive to the nearby town so that she could buy some of the most desired things.
I went with her while the rest were tasked to clean and tidy the place. We arrived there in 15 to 20 minutes. It was a small town. We have to wear full clothes even in the summer here. My mum parked the car and we went inside the only convenient store. She almost got everything. I didn’t forget to buy myself a torch.
My mum was relieved and happy to see that the place was now clean. We had brought some local food, and before we knew it, the plates were emptied."
My cousin’s wife interrupted me as she was curious, “what did you guys do for the power?”
“We had to rely on the generator, so we were careful not to waste the gas and only use it in the night,” I explained.
I continued, "After a good hearty breakfast, we started to explore the surroundings. The place was at the top of the hill and there was no way we could bring the cars up. We had to hike towards the town. There was no traffic on the road. I noticed a creek in the chasm, and then just as we were taking a turn, we saw a spring at the side of the road. We were elated and sat there to wet our feet and quench our thirst. The water was so pure and cold. I never had this feeling before of sweetness and freshness just like a morning breeze, my mum smiled and dad hugged her.
We arrived at the town in half an hour or so and explored some of the local shops. The people were very nice, but they looked different and mostly busy with their work. Place was buzzing with the tourists here and there. Some were buying the camping gear; others were just browsing like us. Some already found a place to stay and few had just arrived. A small number were hopping into tour jeeps to go to a nearby famous lake. Among them, some enthusiasts decided to hike there and were gearing up for that. They saw us and smiled back at us as we found them pretty tough and fascinating.
When we came back to the rest house, we asked our mums that we too wanted to walk to the lake. They didn’t say anything but told us they will inquire about it from the locals.
At those times, there was no internet or mobile, but luckily there was a working phone in the town. We were delighted to be staying at a place where there is no heat, school work, and the like of such things. The only trouble, though, was the electricity, which was going to be fixed, or so we were told.
That night, we decided to watch a horror movie, after which the generator was switched off to save the gas. We lit up the candles bought from the town and started talking. The highlander was not so clumsy after all; he sat with as to tell some fascinating tales about the place. There was a ghost of a young girl lurking here in the hills, as she was killed in a tragic accident days before her wedding. Nobody knew for sure about her death, but highlander told us that there was a landslide. She was going about her business when a landslide came and she was buried inside. They did recover her body later. He told us that his lover cried for her a lot. He buried the wedding dress and all her things with her. People have found him sleeping there at the grave. The story was centuries old and yet people can tell the graphical memory of it.
We went to bed as the candles were taking their last breaths. The night was a heavy one after watching such a movie and listening to terrified stories about the town.
Once more, I suddenly woke up from deep sleep by a strange sound coming from the kitchen. Everyone else was oblivion to the sound. I tried to ignore it, but it was getting louder and louder. I put on the jacket and with all my courage, I went to the kitchen tip-toeing, so I should not wake the care-taker, who was sleeping on the couch for guarding the place.
It was a strange sound, not loud enough to wake up other, but was not letting me sleep, as I was a light sleeper then. I was not astonished that everyone else was sleeping and I was the only one “facing the danger.”
Few of the thoughts of the ghost of that young girl who died tragically were lurking in my mind. According to Lucas, her spirit used to come every full moon and tonight was a full moon in the clearer of skies. Moonlight was coming through the windows as well, as I could see everything.
The rest house was an old resort and made up of Oakwood mostly. It belonged once to a wealthy man in the town but due to his mental illness, because of the loss of his young daughter tragically, he died and the place was left to no one and was put as a rest house.
My heart was pounding while all these stories were circling within my head, which was already spinning. Something was stopping me not to step inside the Kitchen or even go down. Somehow, the curious soul in me kept on going and finally, I was in the Kitchen without waking Lucas up.
The door was ajar and the wind was making strange sounds as it gushed inside. Oh, so that was it which woke me up in the first place. Then suddenly my eyes went to the stove, it was lit. How come Lucas let the stove running, I couldn’t believe it. I still remember that the scene was presenting itself to me as a horror movie. I did nothing to shut-off the stove, rather stepped out of the house through the back door in the kitchen. I looked up and couldn’t believe my eyes. Smoke was rising from the roof and was taking the shape of a young woman.
At first, my throat became dry, so dry that nothing came out of my mouth. I caught my breath and yelled with a full voice. I would say I screamed, as I was told, but I couldn’t remember now.
What I did remember was that I heard loud laughter. Lucas along with all of my family stood there and was laughing like paranoids. My mum was in on the plan but came forward to hug me and was reassuring me that it was just a trick. I was being pranked."
Everyone started to laugh when I finished my story. My wife asked though, “what about the young girl who died there”. She was in disbelief, “what about the ghost which you saw?”
“Ask him”, I pointed towards my cousin.
“Well, a good magician never reveals his secret”. He said getting up and yawning. “Save it for some other night”.