I'm Robert and the girl beside me is my girl friend Margret. It is the second time in two days that we are walking along the forlorn, almost forbidden path to the dilapidated house. The chill breeze and the glitter of cold dew from the cold February night on the green leaves added to the mood.
Unlike yesterday, Margret came along silently and close at my heels. She is a bubbly girl, full of energy always chattering away but for today. Today, now, she's walking silently by my side. Why? I'll tell you as it happened:
‘Yesterday, as I was walking down this very same path for the first time, Margret who was trotting and humming beside me, stopped in her tracks, caught hold of my arm and turned me around to face her.
"That's enough Robert." She frowned at me. "You better break open your mind." She said. I remained silent. "If you don't spill your beans, I'm not taking another step." She blasted out.
It was the umpteenth time she asked me, so I agreed to her demand irritably. "It begins with my grand uncle. I was around 15 then. He was 75 years old. He had called for a family get together so urgently, that all important appointments had to be cancelled and all the members of our vast family were all gathered in his house. But he refused to state his reason to anyone.
It was dinner. Dessert was yet to be served. That's when grand uncle spoke up: "I called you all to share with you an adventure from my youth." He began. "I was in my late teens or early twenties. I don't remember my age correctly. There was a rumour about that deserted house by the corner of the country lane. If one calls out his name on 29th February when it comes on a Tuesday, they get to know the day and means of your death the following day. It was said that it works only if you call out your name at the instant when the hour, minute and seconds are identical as in 1' o clock, 1 minute and 1 second. I became curious and wanted to check it out.
Fortunately, the following February 29th fell on a Tuesday. So I went to the house with two other friends. As we neared the house, my friend developed chills. They stepped back and tried to obstruct my way. Pushing past them, I went by the door step of the house and saw my watch read 08:08:08 AM. Without hesitating, I called out my name. Then I waited for something to happen but nothing occurred.
My friends ceased the chance to pull me away from there. However, when we came to check the next day, there was a white envelope lying at the doorstep of the house. On it, in bold black were the words,
Who visited at 08:08:08 am."
When we opened the letter, there was a neatly folded letter written on a recycled paper with neat, curved writings in green colour. It read:
Who called out his name on the 29th February.
You shall die on one month after your 75th year; by your dog; surrounded by everyone yet no one."
He stopped there and took a sip out of his drink. He observed our patient faces and said, "Today is the completion of one month since my 75th birthday." He then smiled and said, "So I thought it would be nice to see all of you before my last breath."
The moment he completed, everyone blasted off trying to convince him by calling the note false, asking to discard the dog, suggesting a practical joke and so on.
As a result, no one noticed the cat that had strolled in behind the cook who brought in the dessert plate. Wishing to taste the cream or something, the cat tried to leap on to the table after the dessert. Unfortunately, she leapt onto the lap of the youngest and the most timid of the gathering: sitting to the right of grand uncle. At the moment, several things happened at the same time:
The kid gave a startled cry and jumped off his chair, toppled it over; people on that side rushed to his aid; the startled cat leapt over to the other side and ran along the length of the table toward Grand Uncle.
Just then, faithful Rover who happened to pass by the door way, paused at the commotion, spotted the wild cat, gave a loud bark making everyone except slow Grand Uncle to jump off their seats.
Before Grand Uncle could make a move, Big Rover leapt onto the table, slipped on the dessert plate and in an attempt to balance, bounced off Grand uncle's chest and safely landed on the other side as Grand Uncle landed head first on to the floor.
Pain shot through his split, bleeding head and as his vision clouded, he murmured, "Killed by my own dog. Everyone is around me but no one is near me. All are away from their seats, out of my reach. Funny, but all of it is true!""
Margret remained silent after I finished and she continues to be so even today as we walk up the dreaded path. Finally, we reached our destination. But there was no envelope at the doorstep. Margret heaved a sigh of relief. "No. Not yet." I said. "I didn't call out my name at the doorstep. I had ventured farther in." I explained and stepped into the deserted, run down room.
The Wednesday sun, low in the evening sky filled the room with shadows. Exactly at the corner of the room, where I had stood and called out my name yesterday -February 29th, was an envelope that read:
Mr. Robert who called himself Terb,
Who visited at 07:07:07 pm. "
Yes indeed, to verify the belief, I had given the wrong name ‘Terb' and I had called exactly at 7 hours, 7 minutes and 7seconds in the evening.
As I pulled out the neatly folded recycled paper, Margret crowded around and read over my shoulder. We saw the handwritten words in the neat, curved green colour (just as my Grand Uncle had said). It read:
Mr. Robert who called himself Terb,
Who called out his false name on 29th February.
You shall die on..."
The rest is better off unknown.