Some old wives' tales are more than just stories.
Cycling down the lonely road on the outskirts of Panaji reminded him of the famous Robert Frost poem. The wheels crushed the dry leaves here and he wantonly ran over most of them enjoying the crunching noise it made. It was chilly but cycling warmed him and the wind in his hair made it all the more blissful. It was a bumpy road but being downhill, he didn't have to pedal. The cycle was very much on auto-pilot.
It was around 9pm and people had warned against taking this path back home after dark. But he was a child then and all the stories about the murders were just to scare him ofcourse. It took him a while to realize a lot of things were told to scare him, just so that he wouldn’t do it. Fear was just a shallow river made to appear as a deep one. He couldn’t preclude himself to take this road once he figured that out.
He was whistling his favorite tune when he saw a figure in the distance. It was dark and he realised it was a woman only after he got closer. It wasn’t a woman. It was a girl. A pretty girl of about fifteen. She had her Scooty parked and had her phone in her hand. A distressed look on her face.
“Hey!” He yelled.
The girl almost dropped her phone. Startled. She was clearly frightened over her situation.
“H.. Hi,” she said, still recovering from his sudden appearance.
“You know this isn’t a great place to be after dark.”
“You’re telling me. I lost my way, the GPS route told me that this was faster but it looks it’s acting up. I shouldn’t be here at all. I’m late already,” she cried.
He laughed and said, “Calm down, I’ll walk you to the exit. It’s right around that corner and then we take a left. Meanwhile, tell me about the “GPS” on that thing you’re holding”
She looked at him out of the corner of her eye. She laughed when he blinked back smiling.
She realized he was trying to lighten the mood and was grateful for that.
“You know it’s not really safe here at nights. You should have stuck to the road with the lights,” he advised.
“I know but I was late and really needed a shortcut and then I trusted this,” she said pointing to her phone.
He was quiet for a while. She broke the silence by telling him that she had pepper spray for safety. “Do you spray on the food?,” he asked, still trying figure out the purpose of such a spray.
She laughed but she did feel a little uncertain about his jokes now. She reached for her backpack and brought out the pepper spray.
“It burns the eyes pretty bad when you spray it. It’s a self-defence thing,” she explained.
He wasn’t listening instead his eyes were on her open backpack. “Hey, what is that?!” he asked pointing at something glinting from the moon’s glow.
“Oh, that’s an army knife,” she said proudly taking it out. Her posture becoming straighter. “My father is in the army and he makes sure I carry one.”
“Oohh! That’s pretty cool…! Let me have a look at it,” he said. Suddenly panting now.
He snatched it from her hand while she looked at him puzzled. The sweet, kind boy had become reckless
His eyes grew larger looking at the army knife. Drool spilled from his mouth. It met his t-shirt where it darkened the blue on it.
Something was wrong. It was blurry around the edges of his body. It seemed like his whole form was pulsing.
“A.. Are you alright?”
He looked at her, grinning innocently, like a child but the smile slowly started to lean towards scary. He was like a madman with goose-pimples suddenly popping up after all this time in the chilly night.
He slashed at her throat.
Warm blood seeped from the cut and ran down her neck. Some of it sprayed across his smiling face and then fell through him on the stones behind. There were no flashbacks of her short time on earth. All she could see was blood... Soon, her vision darkened as she hit the floor and she watched him walking away with his cycle, darkness swirling around him, whistling a melodious tune. It was his favourite tune again – a tune he had been whistling for a century now.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction and bears no resemblance to any real person or events.
Cover photo credit: igocycling.com