It wasn’t a particularly hot or humid night in the city, but she felt a bead of perspiration roll down her spine; a cold sweat. She didn’t really feel like she was taking a casual midnight stroll in her favorite city, not with three men shadowing her while she walked at a brisk pace down a deserted road to nowhere.
Of the three shadows, there was one that lurked completely out of sight, unknown even to the other two. The big man with the backpack; the contents of which, looked like the working tools of a seasoned torturer. He could very well be the most dangerous of the three but, it wasn’t him that she was really worried about tonight. He was the known devil.
The other two were much closer, maintaining a constant distance, blocking every exit she could possibly take if she decided make a run for it back. They spoke to each other in whispers, with the occasional muffled laughter that sent shivers down her spine. The one that did most of the laughing reminded her of the hyenas she used to see on those wildlife channels, a predator. She would look back every few seconds to get a good look at them and he would smile at her. It was the most sinister thing she had ever seen, the face of a madman, with teeth that would probably bite the hand that feeds. The third man was the one that didn’t fit in the picture. He looked like a schoolboy, the kind that always attended class but never came out to play. He was the mouse that lived in the dark. He didn’t speak much but he never took his eyes of her, watching her every move.
The road ended at what looked like an abandoned mill, they where closing in on her. She ran into the abandoned mill and looked for a way out.. she didn’t find one. Panic gave way for cold fear that seeped into her very bones, her hands and feet were now shaking uncontrollably. She moved to a corner and she couldn’t bring herself to turn back and face her shadows.
Then one of them spoke.. “How are you feeling tonight?“
That did it, she stopped shivering, only to realize that she was now crying as a painful memory revisited her again like a reopened wound.
She was holding the bandaged hand of her elder sister who laid in the hospital bed of the ICU, her brother standing beside her seething with rage. He was still in his army fatigues and he didn’t look anything like the loving brother that celebrated Raksha Bandhan with them two weeks ago. He was now the angry, inconsolable brother and she was the helpless grieving sister. Their beautiful, soon to be wed elder sister was now battling for her life.
In a broken voice and in between labored breathing, she whispered to them ..
“He asked me how I was feeling at first, and.. then many times later that night. That’s.. all he ever said.. how are you feeling tonight”
She died two days later after succumbing to internal injuries
She was surprised at how quickly her anger helped her overcome her fear and replace it instead with courage. She wiped away the tears, reached into her bag, turned back, pulled out the gun and leveled it purposefully at the speaker, looking at him straight in the eye. It was the mouse and he certainly wasn’t expecting her to pull out a gun on him. He slowly raised his hands up. It was now his turn to cower in fear. The hyena was quick to realize that all her animosity was aimed at his friend and slowly took a few steps backwards but a pair or hands reached out from the darkness behind him and snapped his neck with a very audible crack. The known devil stepped out of the shadows as the lifeless body of the hyena hit the floor. The big man paused to break one of the two colorful sacred threads that was bound around his right wrist before pulling out a blowtorch and pair of handcuffs from his backpack.
The mouse now looked more confused than afraid as he looked at the big man who was walking towards him and then back at her.
“Dangerous” She said as she cocked the gun “I’m feeling particularly dangerous tonight“
**This story was inspired by recent events**