Short horror story based on a true incident
It was ten-thirty at night. I was riding shotgun in Arman’s car and three other friends, two guys and one girl, were seated behind. We had gone to a resort in the outskirts of town to have dinner and were returning home by the highway.
It was a dark, deserted road with no streetlights. Inside the car, the three friends in the backseat were constantly joking about how creepy the road was and how all of them had heard stories of some ghostly children who kept crossing the streets, running barefoot. I was enthralled by their tales but didn’t quite believe them for they were too over-the-top to be true.
Arman, though, was quaking in his seat, begging them to stop. I laughed and patted him on the back, ensuring him that they were only joking and there were no such things as ghosts or ‘evil spirits’.
Just then, as if to prove me wrong, three middle-aged men suddenly appeared, walking by the side of the road.
For the split second that I saw them, their features were imprinted in my mind. The one on the left was dressed in a maroon cardigan, the one in the center had a yellow turban on his head, and the one on the right had a black shawl wrapped around his shoulders. Their appearance was so sudden, that Arman swerved the car violently to avoid hitting them, causing us all to jump in our seats.
We crossed them, but shock was tangible inside the car, the laughter of seconds ago reduced to stunned silence.
It was too dark to make out where these three men came from, but if you were me, you would have sworn they appeared out of thin air. I was in the front seat, constantly keeping an eye out on the road. I would have seen beforehand if three men in such distinct clothes were walking right by us.
There was no banter now, no more ghost stories. We were too petrified to even make conversation. The girl in the back urged Arman to drive faster so we could reach home soon. My own heart was thumping hard, but I put on a brave visage and turned back to tell them that everything was alright; that those men were probably locals from the nearby village out on a post-dinner walk.
Just then, our car swerved violently again, skidding dangerously close to the divider.
I turned around, my hand on Arman’s shoulder to steady myself, and asked, “What the hell was that?”
Arman’s fists were gripping the steering wheel tight. His voice came out in barely a whimper.
“There were three men walking by. Those same three men we crossed five minutes back.”
I looked at him, my mouth agape in disbelief. “No, that can’t be,” I reasoned. “Was the man in the center wearing yellow headgear?”
“Yes, and the one on the left a maroon jacket. They were the same men, I swear.”
An irrational fear tightened itself around my heart in a vice-like grip. Finding my voice, I looked at the navigation app on my phone and said, “We have around one kilometer of this road ahead of us. Let us all keep our eyes open till we reach home.”
The highway was filled with potholes, but a terrified Arman drove as fast as he could and crossed the distance within ten minutes.
On the last stretch of the highway, just before the familiar lights of the town came into view, we could spot a single headlight in the distance. I grabbed Arman’s wrist in caution, as everyone else held their breath, not knowing what to expect.
And as we drove closer, we could see a broken down motorbike by the road. Three men stood next to it, waving at us, asking us to stop our car and get help.
These men were much younger, probably in their twenties. But the one who flagged us down was wearing a maroon cardigan.
And the one standing closest to the motorbike had a black shawl thrown carelessly around his shoulders.
We didn’t stop.
None of us uttered a word.
Arman stepped on the accelerator and sped past in a whiz.
I looked back, terrified that these men might follow us on their bike.
But all I saw was the darkness. The headlight that had been flashing just a few seconds ago had disappeared.
Where had it gone?
Neither Arman, nor I, nor the three friends in the backseat breathed until we reached the familiar entrance to the city.
It was then that all of us let out a sigh of relief.
What was it that had just happened? Who were those three men and what were they trying to tell us?
What would have happened had we stopped our car at their behest?
I still get goosebumps when I think of that fateful night. Them, and the chills that run down my spine every time the image of those three men flashes in my mind are the only evidence remaining now, evidence that whatever happened that night was real, and not a figment of my imagination.
(For the curious ones, this incident happened on the Silchar-Lumbding stretch of India’s National Highway 27, also known as the ‘east-west corridor of India’)
Author’s Note: If you liked what I write, you might enjoy my new novella — “What did Tashi do?” — a cybercrime thriller available exclusively on Amazon. Click here to download a sample and start reading today.