Nestled deep in the old forest, stocked with towering trees of rare wood variety is an aged site for camping known as Vriksha Dera. Legend had it that a phantom army of the forest roamed there to disturb their slumber, but this never stopped some teenagers from pitching tents around the campfire.
To mention but a few, Aryan, an impetuous young man whose eyes exuded humorous attraction. The flames leapt and the shadows entwined, as Aryan told his companions stories of these acid grounds that they did venture on.
Legend has it- Aryan started, with a lowered voice for effect – that a century ago travellers camping here found a park of hidden treasure. Yet greed devoured them, and envy separated the rabbit twins; their shrieks reverberated in the night as each of them died at a time by turns.’
His friends listened intently. However, as the mid night approached inexplicable things came about. The branches of trees around stroked as if skeletal hands and shadows stretched they seemed to gain lives of their own. Through the darkness was a long hair-raising screech. A member of that group snapped to his feet with a look for answers, while more members all around stood in shock.
“It had to be spirits!” one of them shouted in panic.
On the contrary, though always a sharp-thinking fellow Aryan did open one shower onto a thicket in which not even the arrow of Bhima could have gotten through. No, it’s an ignorant creature – most likely some animal that got caught in the trap.” And so he lied; although his hair was standing on end and his teeth were chattering with fear, his voice did not tremble.
Though the friends recoiled with such an orientation, they believed in his soothing words. But as time went by one minute after the other, Aryan’s lie would be collecting more force like a cancerous tumor growing on their fear and getting deep-rooted in an invisible web of lies.
All of them trembling like a cornered rat and Aryan struggled futilely to shake off lingering shades of something even blacker— some evil that wasn’t just Mortal but not dead either. And with time as the minutes turned into hours, truth and lie merged in Aryan’s mind—and that of his friends—so a simple tale would have kicked monstrous evils onto their civilization.
As the night was growing longer, all across the campgrounds – dismal stilled to a dead silence– it seemed so densely saturated with fear and horror that this feeling itself might have sunk on everything like some real fog. Aryan was pounding on his chest as he looked very scared at the sight of exchanging panicked looks with his friends. Silently they were aware that whatever dwelled in the shadows of darkness, had to be encountered at all cost.
Armouring themselves with improvised weapons—a branch here, a stone there—they made their way into the black gulch of this dense forest; felted almost soundlessly by leaves that had fallen. With each crackle of the foliage, their spines tingled and every darkness seemed to throb with evil.
Next, they saw it—something covered in blackness with eyes that glowed as if from beyond their world. It hissed shrilly, lunging towards them with arms wide to reach.
The sounds of Aryan’s friends fighting back, their screams intertwined with the inhuman cries from this creature that escaped Death clutched at his heart fervently. However skilled they fought it, the beast appeared unstoppable; its enormity multiplied by their terror.
It was at that moment when all seemed lost, that Aryan recalled words of an ancient sage he had met once in the dark bowels of a forest—a mantra alleged to drive away evil spirits back into their underworld.
Summoning every ounce of courage, Aryan spoke the ancient words, his voice ringing out through the darkness like a clarion call. For a moment, time seemed to stand still, the air crackling with raw energy.
And then, with a deafening roar, the creature dissolved into a swirling vortex of shadow and light, vanishing into the ether like a wisp of smoke.
Exhausted but victorious, Aryan and his friends stumbled back to their campsite, the first light of dawn painting the horizon in hues of pink and gold. As they sat by the dying embers of the campfire, they knew that they had faced their fears and emerged stronger for them.
But deep down, Aryan couldn’t shake the feeling that the forest held many more secrets, waiting to be uncovered by those brave enough to seek them out. And as they packed up their belongings and prepared to leave Vriksha Dera behind, he vowed to return one day, armed not just with stories and lies, but with the truth that lay hidden within the heart of the woods.
By the end of Aryan’s dark story, I ask you to ponder on the fear that made its way into your heart with every turn. Did the campfire crackles and treacherous darkness of the woods make you feel scared? As Aryan’s lie continued burgeoning did it give you goosebumps when the half-truth grew larger and darker with every moment that passed? Take a moment to consider the lingering unease that clings to your thoughts, and ask yourself: Similarly, did the clutches of fear squeeze down on your soul as you walked through this macabre maze?
Thankyou for reading.
Prompts by Authorpod – A campfire, a scream and a small lie that gets bigger and bigger