Damnation

This is for the Picture Prompt competition. The story is about Ajith, a boy of 21 working in a NGO. He along with his friends take a visit to the exotic islands near Andaman for a capturing the beauty of nature. But, it is they who are captured.

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3. A death inciting discovery

 

Trudging down the long winding nature paved path was not easy, but that is the best we got. The trees as described by Raj were huddled together in clumps in the middle. The boatmen who also journeyed with us chronicled to us the tale of the island. He said that a tribe called “Dureins” had inhabited once this island. The neighbor tribes that surrounded this strip had coveted the resourcefulness and the lush uniqueness of the island as described by the islanders. Hence, they had struck a deal with the tribe leader for switching islands. However, the tribe members had not been happy with the deal and the idea of deserting the native place frightened them. They in order fire off the deal had assassinated the chief, without any prime dweller, the tribe in itself had crumbled due general chaos and paradoxes in opinion. The doom hammer came in the form of the other tribes who invaded the land and succeeded in the conquest. Only later did they realize, that the island was of the same nature as all, and all the bragging of the old dwellers were false. Disappointed and frustrated they had burnt all the bodies of the tribes and had boated out to their own islands.

I personally did not believe in the story, for it rung more moral than true. It held a banner calling down patriotism in a cinematic way, but I decided to keep my mouth zipped. We decided to camp near the saturate ring of trees and move into the clump in the morning. It would only do justice to say that Raj pitched the tent solo. We were amazed at his proficiency in these jobs, I had truly not expected a spiked Urban boy to do as much as fork a frond into ground without breaking. This lead to my doubting if we really were congenial friends, my first suspicions as to Raj’s origins were further festered by his astounding knowledge in trees. I still decided it was my imaginary portrait of him that was grounding doubts upon him, so I pushed them aside and took to enjoying the beauty of the island. In the half-dawned preset, the island looked thus: flakes of the sun piqued the sparkling moon dusted waters. The trees half veiled by the pervading darkness were basking in the half-lit sun. The spanning land was sure to be encrusted by animals, but the curtain of darkness shrouded them all.

The occasional hoot of the owl accompanied by the early morning mists gave the whole scene an eerie feel. We decided to salvage the light by lighting a campfire, but Raj said that it was time to sleep and hindrance of it would disturb the succeeding day’s shootings. I went back and couched in my bunker. Sleep was not easy to come, all the nights I had gone to sleep with the slightest of thoughts over its dawning for the atmosphere heralded nothing new. Had I ever been to a Scout camp, I would have known the macabre contraptions of sleep and one more thing: it never came in places you were physic was newlywed with.

I through open the flap and sat hunched for a few seconds, then I tiptoed to my feet. I flexed my muscles and walked out of the tent, the staccato bursts of sunlight had not yet fully pierced the sky. The grassy terrain coasting the ring of the chunk was a picture perfect prairie with few protruding rock-hurdles. The first signs of living had not yet arrived as the world was still blanketed by darkness, but the transition was underway. I decided to take a stroll along the parameter of the trees; I socked up and put on my boots.

The pleasure was intended to suck in a few whiffs of air, but I found myself brisk walking, a bane the flat land incurred upon me. The contagious chill caught first onto my ears then spread on. I let it, for it was none perturbing for me, the humid surface of the atmosphere was yet to come, the prolific rains yet to torrent, it was the brink of everything I was traversing, it had its own beauty.

I was about to traverse a corner, when light caught the periphery of my eyes from between the tress. Alarmed at the possibility of a forest fire, I devoted my full attention and I instantly knew that it was not. However, I could not determine the source of the light. I took cover at the tree that was at the edge of the curve and peered. Light was being evoked by woods as men pumped smoke out of their cigars. There were three of them, masculine, hefty fellows wearing half-sleeved shirts. I cupped my mouth and contemplated on who they were, I slipped behind the trees and started walking back to the tent. My previous steady stride was now replaced by a half run powered by alarm. I walked straight to what I thought to be Raj’s bunker and woke him up.

“Raj, wake up, wake up Raj”, to this there was no answer and my hurried tone intensified.

“Raj, there are other people here Raj, I don’t know who they are” to this there was instantaneous response as Raj threw away his blankets and stared at me, emotions were on their way I knew.

“What? Raj asked.

“I could not sleep, so I decided to take a watch by the beach, just as I was about to turn a curve, I saw them”,

Raj stared at me incredulously as if my proposition was insane, ‘I think too much travel has gotten into your head, go and have some sleep, we will check out in the morning”, saying this Raj resigned and put the blinds across his face.

I was desperate; I got up and walked back to my tent. The dread of reclusion took residence in me and the night was a nightmare personified. I would feign drowsiness and feed it to my mind, and just when slumber came trotting I would be vigil, woken up by some arcane force. I sat there raveled in the bed sheet introspecting upon what had happened. Finally, dawn did arrive at its excruciating pace and all did wake up.

We were about to breakfast and I decided to break the truth when the bang of a bullet ricocheted off the myriad tree walls, the echoes of it slow to die. That was when I realized the truth the men were poachers.

 

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