a fictional horror story set in Colonial India
The light had slowly begun to fade from the horizon. George slowly raised his old and frail body from the rocking chair he was sitting in. He groaned as his arthritis sent a branch of pain down his back. He sadly placed his hands upon the banister which ran along the periphery of the verandah. He then looked at the villa which lay empty and desolate in between the vast expanse of the once flourishing garden. He remembered the day only too well. How could he forget it? It had been branded into his memory like a symbol branded onto cattle skin. Indestructible.
The villa had belonged to Captain Smith. An officer in the Royal Indian Army. The officer had employed George. And had left 10 years ago when his regiment had been called out to suppress the mutiny. And for 10 long years George had faithfully maintained the grounds and house until he contacted the many ailments which came, package like, with the growing old age. George still remembered the Captain. Tall, broad and fair, he was often the centre of attraction to the ladies, and object of envy of the other officers at the mess parties thrown during the cool monsoon months. George also remembered the Captains last words before leaving. “When I come back, we shall sell this house and move to the hill station, I am growing terribly bored of this hot and humid place.” George had waited the ten long years for the Captain. He had waited faithfully, having turned down many other well paying offers; he believed that his loyalty would be rewarded by the Captain.
He averted his glance from the villa and turned to go into his cottage. He hobbled inside, locking the door to the verandah. He hung the key on the rusted nail beside the door and set about to making his evening round of hot water. While the water boiled, he sat on his bed and looked at the calendar on his bedside table. With a sigh he noted the day. Tomorrow would be the 10th anniversary of the Captains departure. The whistle of the tea pot roused him from his reflective reverie. Filling his hot water bottle he crept between his sheets to settle for a nights sleep.
He was awoken by the chime of the clock at twelve o clock. But on becoming more conscious he heard a rapping on the door. He fumbled out of bed, wrapping a shawl around him for comfort. He opened the door. Standing on the steps, in his full uniform, medals pinned to his chest, stood the Captain, looking not a day older than the day he had left 10 years ago.
Speechless at first, George cried out in happiness, “Sir, Sir you have finally returned.”
The Captain smiled kindly at George “Yes, I have returned, I see you have stayed on despite my absence.”
George bowed low despite his arthritis, surprising himself.
The Captain again spoke “I must reward you for your loyalty, come with me, let us pursue happier times and places.” He extended his hand and took hold of George’s thin hand. This surprised George even more because he felt no sensation in his arm. The Captain led George down the garden path to the gate. George suddenly stopped and addressed the Captain, “Sir, I wish to take along my coat, for I might need it further on”
The Captain raised his eyebrows “Are you sure?”
George nodded and moved towards the cottage, on entering he proceeded to his bed and began hunting for the coat. It was then that something lying on the bed caught his attention.
He was looking at himself on the bed, eyes closed and mouth open. He stood for a full two minutes before turning towards the door where the Captain stood. As if to answer the poor mans question, the Captain spoke. “George, my man, you have passed on. So have I. I passed on 9 years ago. My body still lies in a ditch. But as a reward of your loyalty to me, you shall accompany me wherever I wish to go.”
So saying, the Captain grasped George’s arm and led him away into the darkness.