Barog - 2

 


As they walked in, Saurabh felt a strange burst of uncomfortable heaviness all around him. It was as if the air in the unfinished tunnel had become extremely heavy, almost to the point of being suffocated. And yet it was not suffocation; rather it felt that the body was all of a sudden wrapped, somewhat embalmed in something invisible. The light of the mobile phones doubling as torches also seemed to be somewhat bent, or was this a trick being played by the mind? Saurabh could not decipher this eerie feeling all around him. All of a sudden Adhir spoke up.


“Why are we standing here? Let’s go back!”


The three started to tread backwards, and soon, they were out of the tunnel. It was only now that they could see each other clearly, and there they spotted the same cloud of unease over the faces of the other two that perhaps was also present on their own.


“What the hell was that!?” Ranjan was perhaps the most freaked out, having nearly screamed out the question in a fit of anger. “Dare you take us into shitholes of this kind again Saurabh, I’ll kill you the next time you do this to us!”


However, Saurabh was perhaps not even paying attention. He stared in utter disbelief in front of him. The sight made no sense to him. 


“What are you looking at?” Adhir asked, and decided to join Saurabh in, before Rajan too stormed towards the group, only to look in the same direction and be stunned like the other two.


They were standing at the Mall Road of Shimla. 


“How is this even possible?” asked Rajan. “What the hell is going on?” 


There were a few European looking people strolling around, but they seemed to be somewhat oblivious to their presence. By and large, the crowd was nothing in comparison to what they had seen just yesterday.


Saurabh noted an even stranger thing though. The entire set of buildings looked very fresh and new, almost as if they had been built very recently. 


Nothing made sense to the trio. They were also continually just staring at the surroundings, trying to make sense. Did they just ended up traveling in time back to the Raj era? They had read about it, but Adhir had always pooh-poohed it, calling it a scientific impossibility.


And yet, they were here, standing at the Mall Road in person. 


The clock gong rang, which spooked them even more, since the clock gong was dysfunctional yesterday.


All of a sudden, they saw a man storm out of the Municipal building. Tall, European with a somewhat big hat, the man was in a mood that could only be explained as a mix of anger and morose. It was odd, as people stared at the man in obvious disgust and pity, as if he had committed some heinous crime. None dared to move towards him, even as the loud storming out had made many of them halt their milling around and stare at him coldly for a few minutes before resuming their business at hand. 


There was no reason, and yet, Saurabh felt like following the man. He started to gather pace to follow the Britisher, as he walked with long strides. “I haven’t done anything wrong,” the Britisher kept mumbling under his breath, perhaps unaware of three people following him. Adhir and Rajan too had joined Saurabh in chasing this man, who also seemed to be shedding tears in anger, a deep sense of humiliation writ large over his face. He kept walking angrily, and the three did not realize that they had reached a cottage. 


For some strange reason, they continued following the man into the cottage, where he sat down and started to wail loudly. There was none except a dog that tried to comfort him. And yet, all that made little difference to the eeriness of the situation. 


The man angrily started to tear up papers that were on the table, as tears continued to stream down his cheeks. After tearing up the papers, he opened a bottle and evidently poured himself some liquor, drinking it. It clearly had some effect, for he calmed down somewhat, and was merely sniffling mildly, even as the bemused dog kept whimpering. 


The man after a while stopped sobbing. And then, he opened the drawer of the table where he had been seated, and pulled out a revolver.


The three were aghast to see the revolver. Had he seen the three unlike the others, they thought.


The man positioned the revolver on his temple, and pulled the trigger.


The sound of the revolver somehow caused the impact of blinding the three with a brilliant light that they had not anticipated. Adhir, Rajan and Saurabh had all pulled up their hands to counter the light somehow, but everything began to fade into the light. 


Soon, it was replaced by darkness. 


Saurabh managed to open his eyes, only to realize that they were back in the tunnel.


Rajan and Adhir also gained composure, and were stunned to see themselves back in the tunnel. 


“What the hell?” screamed Rajan, and fainted. Adhir and Saurabh quickly picked him up, and moved out of the tunnel, towards the railway station. They found some water, and splashed Rajan’s face to wake him up. Even as his eyes opened, the face was devoid of any colour, pale out of an inexplicable fright. 


The three started to talk rapidly, and realized that all of them had seen the same thing, and experienced the same dreariness in the tunnel. Saurabh checked his mobile to realize that more than one hour had already passed. They had been inside the tunnel for more than an hour!

Unsure of the events that transpired, and scared out of their wits, they ascended the mountain as quickly as they could, and got seats on a bus. Evening had started to set in, and as they walked into the hotel, they heaved a sigh of relief, ordering some tea to sit in the lawn. 


Silence had marked the tea drinking session. Soon though, Adhir broke the ice. “Do you think that was real?” he pondered loudly, sipping tea from his cup.


The other two remained silent, staring into the space and contemplating what they had seen. They realized that another couple was seated some distance away, which was discussing the history of Barog. The man was telling his wife about the British colonel Barog who had committed suicide by shooting himself. The man had felt humiliated, after having been fined by the government for an alignment mistake that had happened.


Saurabh’s face became pale, as did the others.  They got even more horrified by another aspect that he had mentioned. 


The place where he had committed suicide was a cottage that was very close to their hotel. 


“Is it possible…?” mumbled Saurabh, as the other two stared at his face, fear written all over their face.


Just then, the sound of a gunshot pierced the air. The startled trio looked towards it. Soon, screams revealed that it was a tyre burst of a scooter.


Somehow though, as light faded to make way for darkness, Saurabh, Rajan and Adhir could not get that horrifying thought out of their minds.


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