It was close to midnight and the dance was finally over. It was an absolute success. As one of the organizers, I felt really proud of our work. I couldn’t help but gloat. This was without doubt the best dance ever in any high school. They are going to be talking about this one for years.
Few of the guys made plans to take the party elsewhere. Ideas for available locations were thrown around and it was decided that the woods at the edge of the town was the safest place to host a late night party away from the eyes of any adults. People piled into the cars and rushed to continue the dancing and drinking and everything else that ensued in any teen party.
The music was ready, someone had already got the fire going and all of us were ready to continue the fun into the next day.It was close to two a.m when everyone got tired of dancing. As we weren’t ready to go home yet we gathered around the fire. The topics of conversation kept changing. I must have fallen asleep for a while. When I opened my eyes again only six of us were left and the topic of conversation had reached that of the local legend which said these woods were haunted. All of us knew the stories, which varied from person to person, but the base line was some guy died here years ago and the legend was there was a curse on the woods that if someone dies here their soul gets stuck in limbo until someone else dies. He’s still supposed to be out there, trying to kill people. We regarded this as just a ruse to keeps kids away but the eerie silence, and the pale light from the full moon made it perfect setting to recount the old story.
It took a long time to finish the story because everyone pitched in with their own versions. it took everyone a while to notice but the silence had deepened and the temperature had dropped almost to freezing. Then the sounds started. It was as if the woods had come to life. Branches were breaking, the leaves were moving and it sounded like moving towards us. The first thought was it were the cops here to bust our late night bash. We waited minutes for them to come into view but no one did.
The sounds continued. All of us were terrified and visibly shivering from the combination of cold and fear.I started feeling dazed and confused and it was becoming harder and harder to think straight. All together we started running towards the highway.
We must have gone in the wrong direction, there was no sign of the highway and tempers were running short.Before we could make it out a fight broke out. Fists were flying and cries of those hit added to the sounds of the woods. I remember helping others to break up the fight but caught a hit straight on the face and went down. I remember weird noises and people running away. Just before my eyes closed I saw a figure coming towards me.
I woke up to the sound of people somewhere near by. Getting up was painful, I seemed to have landed head first onto a rock. It took a while for my eyes to focus; when it did I saw that the cops were here and one of them was carrying something. Then it hit me that it wasn’t something but a someone. There was no one near. I realized they were leaving me behind. Using whatever strength was left in me I ran towards them. Calling out for them to stop but no one heard me. I caught up to them just before the edge of the woods. That’s when the guy turned around and all the air left me. My legs failed and I fell to the ground. I couldn’t tear my eyes from the figure in his arms. It was me!.
I sat there, unable to move, while questions raced through my head. “No, It couldn’t be me. I must be still unconscious.” I got up and tried to move but try as I might I couldn’t leave the woods. After hours or what might have been days, the truth finally seeped in.Some legends were true. A soul once trapped in the woods will only be released when another takes its place. While my body rots and the memory of me disappears from people’s minds my soul is stuck in the woods waiting for the next victim to lift the curse. For all I know I could be trapped here forever!.
© Sunita Menon,2012