Friday, February 12, 2010

One Dark, Stormy Night...


A rather long time ago, in a distant land, one you can imagine as being obscured by the shadows of fog now and again, spooking every traveler that ventures forth over the great seas to visit the forbidding place, there flowed a great river- arising from the mountains on the isle, from the melting icecaps- carrying freezing waters to the warm sea. Near the fertile delta, a village was founded in the time of the great-grandfathers of our sires. A slow, quiet one it was at that; it hustled and bustled only in the mornings, as the Sun raised her flaming manes to look out into the world. Every morning- each and every you could say- a huge swarm of fishermen raced to the docks to catch silvery creatures that darted everywhere in the water alarmed and stricken by their horrible fate. And every morning, a little girl would rise earlier than even the sun, to watch them, and help them, if need be. Being not all that young anyway, she helped her mother catch fish and held their house boat steady as the woman reeled the full net in. Sometimes, it would not be so full, and they had to ferry people about the two banks of the river, just to be able to survive that day. But they were a happy duo as they loved each other, and so, they lived, hard-working and yet, content. Now, you would think that this means I have nothing more to say and the story ends here in a rather fruitless way. But would nature ever let that be? What jealousy she had, I do not know, perhaps of the harmony that existed between the mother and the child as doesn’t between Nature herself and some of us, but one cruel day fate bore down upon them.

It started out like a normal day, probably not a very good one, as they caught very few fish. The dreary cloud cover did promise rather dull sight as far as eyes could see. Anyway, it did not hinder the two as they set out on their usual fare, in search of passengers in a dangerous moor, rumored to be haunted by a spirit of its own. The hushed voices by the village square not infrequently discussed the bizarre "accidents" that befell the boats that wandered thither. But the mother and child were faring poorly, and never could afford to believe in fairy-tales; much less in goblin stories. Yet, halfway there, an angry streak of lightning scarred the sky and an eerie mist shrouded the river. A horrible wail, like the screeching of nails on a glass plate sounded all around them. The mother, scared for her child, anxiously told her in very beseeching terms to get inside the boat and stay safe as she managed it. But all too soon, the ugly face of angered nature turned its eyes on the poor thing and very dauntingly, so that the little girl was scared stiff and frozen to the marrow. The rickety old boat rocked forwards and backwards on the rough and uppity waves and was tossed about like a fly in French salad, for a much worse fate, however. And all around them, trees fell, surrendering to the will of the mighty wind, backs broken from the strain of holding out as long as they had. In all, the whole river seemed upset, and the boat wandered off course like a tipsy old man, who’s had much too much to drink. Even so, the mother tried, to steer the boat clear of treacherous areas and dangerous waters away from the jagged teeth of the rocks on the bank. Suddenly, like whip lashing on the poor family, lightning struck again, much too close, and an old banyan tree, swayed this way and that, about to shower its age old branches and young, green leaves on the small boat .
In a last effort to save her daughter, the mother turned the wheel with all her might to right and the boat steered violently away from the falling tree. But the ripples [if you may call them so, for they were much too huge to be categorized that way], struck the rim of the puny boat, and so it gave a vehement jerk and the poor woman was thrown off balance, into the dark waters that churned about in agony and swallowed her up hungrily. So, you can imagine the state of the young child; as young she was, to be left on her own in the middle of a stormy river and shocked, struck dumb and so on: for no words of mine could possibly describe her mind at that time. What would you and I do after such a traumatic experience? The first feeling on anyone’s mind would be that of disbelief, surely? And as it set in for the little girl, she frantically ran about on cold feet shivering calling here and there for her mother. Where was she gone? The dark woods on either side pressed on her and her little heat beat wildly against her chest. A long while it was, before she realized that no reply had come, and probably never would from that sweet crooning voice that used to sing her lullabies. It was lost in the sound of the gurgling waters, and drowned by the screams of the furious storm. For hours, she sat on the deck, drenched and freezing, hugging her legs in numb disbelief. What she thought, and felt, remains a mystery. But long she stared at the open waters, hopefully, for her mother’s return, until dusk fell and darkness engulfed the sitting soul, depressing her further still. The storm still, stirred somewhere high above, but the soft breeze reminded her of her mother’s words on a much similar night-“Go, inside, little one.” That brought on a fresh bout of tears and the little heart cried, and cried into the dreary night.
After sometime, the storm abetted and a hush fell, her sobs echoed in the dark moors and dripping water from the leaves fell like bullets of ice on her skin. A distant noise behind her awoke her from the nightmare. And she turned around, to face another one, just more horrible and frightening. Inside the small room they used as kitchen and bedroom, a light shone, and pots and pans clanked away as if someone was cooking something hot. An oblivious fire chattered away in the corner fireplace, when the little girl looked in, and a dark figure stood over it, bending. The sound of her soggy footsteps made the apparition turn around, and the little girl hardly believed her own eyes, as they fell upon her mother. Terribly beautiful she seemed, since death had taken her, and her flawlessly white skin shone like ivory with a luminescence of her own that had nothing to do with the fire. Was she an angel? wondered the child, speechless all the same. Very slowly, like testing faulty ground for dikes, she stepped forward almost into her mother’s outstretched arms. But should the evil lightning let that be? It struck out and in that light; the girl saw her mother’s true face and the cruel river’s doings. Her hair, that had once shined silky and smooth in neat buns, now fell lank across her face, which had become ghastly in itself in the most horrific manner. An empty socket stared at the girl where there should have been a clear, wise eye, and blood covered her clothes like the clouds now did the sky. A shrill shriek escaped her torn lips and wretched tongue as the girl ran out onto the deck madly, her mind, fear spun. The figured now appeared, quite wisely like most apparitions, on the deck, exactly where the girl had headed and there cornered, she fell on the ground, broken and betrayed. The apparition, looked at her now, an aura of fear and pleading about her, and crumpled to the ground, crying and moaning pitifully, for a while, as the child froze in her place, appalled.
A great roll of thunder started it, and in a flash, the figure was up, it raised a hand earnestly towards the child, and at the same time an enormous wave leaped up from the dark and hellish waters, a wave of blood it seemed, and drenched the two. Before she knew it, her mother was engulfed again and dragged away.
So, shocked was the girl, by the traumatizing appearance, that she little knew the reason for, she sat alone on the deck again, and fell asleep, very slowly into bad, disturbing dreams of green skinned, yellow toothed apparitions that cried all about her.
It was a jerk that awoke her. The boat had struck some sand near the beach of that island. The sky still fumed and dawn was a few hours away, and yet a large crowd had gathered, not too far off. Arousing herself, she left the boat, and found her way to the centre of the mob. What she saw there, well, is no surprise for me, but to her already shocked mind it was too much, you see. She ran away into the forests crying under the glades, where, they say, her voice still sounds mourning her loss, for eternity and ever more. For on the beach, it seems, all decked up in the golden sand, lay the body of her mother, her scratched arms and face wore a sickly hue and the drenched hair fell, lifelessly on her empty eyes, of which one was missing, leaving in its place nothing but a bloody and gaping hole. But that was probably not what stunned the little girl the most. Lying next to this unfortunate sight, blue and numb, frozen, lifeless, was the limp form of a little girl who had ventured out, one dark, stormy night…
-Me :)

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