“Oh No. not again!” said one of them. “Raju, you stay here with them and rest of you, come along. We don’t have time to waste.” Leaving one behind rest of them rushed in the direction of the sound.
“What is all this? What’s wrong?” asked Abhi.
“Hmm” Raju sighed and spoke. “Nandan van is co located with the zoo but it neither comes under the jurisdiction of the forest department nor the zoo. That’s the reason why this place is so neglected. About a month back a group of three college going boys were reported missing in this area after which the search has been on. Last week two police constables came to Nandan van in search of the boys but they also went missing. When another search party came here, it was then that this beastly thing here came to notice.”
“Beastly!” Smita almost shouted with fear.
“Yes. There is a strange, God awful growth of bushes which has spread here or may be was always here which if you happened to touch or pass through, pierces into victim’s body and draws all the blood only to leave back the lifeless remains. These bushes are spotted at many corners of this forest. They have just multiplied and are everywhere.” Raju was trembling as he spoke about the secret of the deaths reported in Nandan van.
“Then why don’t you cut them all?” Abhi spoke after absorbing the truth.
“No one knew about them and therefore could not identify them. It was only today when one of the police constable reported back after escaping from this death ground that we could come here to try cutting them. But” Raju stopped.
“But what? Why that could not be done?” Smita was terribly scared and was sticking to Abhi.
“But these bushes can move.” Said a wide eyed Raju.
“What crap!” Abhi dismissed the whole story.
“Yes they can move and once they touch their prey, they don’t leave him, till they suck all the blood out. After that they multiply in their size and spread around more. Beni, whose cry you heard was trying to cut the bushes along with Kishori. The bushes moved their branches and encircled Kishori. And at the same time you people started running towards us. We ran to move out of the place and also to stop you from nearing any such bush. But we did’nt realize that Beni has been left behind.” Raju had tears in his eyes.
There was a deadly silence in the forest. Smita was sobbing at their misfortune for having stuck in a deadly place.
“Okay. Look, we are very sorry to hear all this but after we know about all this, can we move out from here. As it is we cannot be of any help to you.” Abhi was hoping a breakthrough here but before Raju could say anything, the men were heard to be nearing back.
“What happened, Shailesh babu?” Where is Beni?” asked Raju.
“We don’t have time for anything right now. We have to escape from here before it gets dark. Now we know that these bushes cannot attack. You will get stuck only when you touch them or get too close to them. We have to move out as soon as possible and get back tomorrow with more force. We will move out together so that no one is left behind.” Shailesh was confident of the escape plan and they all started moving in the direction led by him.
“But my bike is there.” Abhi pointed in opposite direction. “And we didn’t find anything suspicious that side. I think we all should move out from there.”
“No that’s the farther end and from here we will hit the highway faster.”
“But near the highway the forest is very thick. What, if we encounter those bushes that side?” Abhi was quite perplexed.
“You are right. Let us move out from there.” Shailesh pointed in the direction of the bike which pumped some confidence in Abhi as that way was known to him. Soon they were speeding out of the Nandan van. They were approaching the bike when there was another cry which echoed the forest.
“Help.” Someone was heard shouting...
Would love to see you back for the concluding Part of 'Love Blues'.