“This looks like it” said Darsh looking at the sign on the gate.
“Yep, Greenwood Acres it is. Sure sounds posh”, remarked Karan.
“Yea bro! Vansh sure does have a lot of dough. How else would he have such a bloody huge farm-house? Anyway, let’s get going. The gang will be waiting. I sure hope there is stuff left for us.”
“Hahaha! Yea, they better have. Or else somebody is going to die by my hands. There is no blasted signal here either. Can’t even let them know we have arrived.”
“Well, I do have a bit of a signal on my mobile. But my call isn’t reaching anyone else.”
“Probably, no one has signal over there. For now, let’s start walking. It looks like a long road toward the house.”
Darsh nodded in agreement. The gate was closed but not locked. Vansh had said he would keep it that way so that the both of them could enter when they arrived. He had added that since the farmhouse was in such a remote location, there was no real risk in keeping the door open.
“There are no people in the vicinity to rob my house anyways.” He had said.
Darsh opened the gate partially, enough for the both of them to pass through and closed the gate behind them. The road to the house was a thin, dusty one. It was illuminated by lamps placed at uneven distances along it. Karan assumed that they would be switched on soon, owing to the fading light of the evening.
“Let’s hurry it up. I’m starving.” said Karan, rubbing his tummy. “This bad boy needs some nutrition.”
“Speaking of bad boys, I hope that ass Atman is keeping his greasy hands away from Nisha”, Darsh muttered.
“Good luck with that. We all know how much of a flirt your girlfriend is.”
“Shut it Karan. I know you don’t like her. You don’t need to pass snide remarks on her all the time.”
“Okay, okay. Pick up your pace now, slow poke.”
The walk to the house ended up taking a good fifteen minutes. The amount of time taken had more to do with the fitness level of the two boys, than the actual length of the path. Their eyes finally fell upon Vansh’s house. The sheer size of the homestead left them with their mouths hanging wide open. It was pretty dark now but they could make out the brickwork on the walls. The French windows added elegance to the already awe-inspiring structure. The homestead was surrounded by a low stone wall and had one entry gate with a security booth right next to it.
“Whoa! The place really looks awesome.” Darsh said with his eyes gleaming.
“Yes it is. But, don’t you think it is a bit strange? There are no lights on. No music on either. It is a bit too quiet for our likes no? Knowing these guys, the music should have been loud enough to blast the glass off those windows.”
“True that. Maybe, they are all sleeping. You know, one of those hangovers. Or maybe the power is out. It is the countryside, after all. Let’s just go in and check.
The duo walked up to the security booth. Daily experience had taught them not to expect the watchman to be awake, but they had expected him to be present inside the booth at least. However, their expectation was not met. The booth was empty, save for a flashlight and a cricket bat lying on the stool.
“May be he went to relieve himself. It is a bit chilly over here.” Darsh said, offering an explanation. “Let’s just let ourselves in.”
Karan lifted the bat and flashlight.
“I know this bat. It belongs to Vansh. I have seen him play with it at cricket practice. I’ll return it to him. Hold on to this flashlight, Darsh. It’s getting dark and we might need it if they have lost power in there.”
Karan pushed the gate to check if it was locked. It wasn’t. It budged with a bit of an effort, making an eerie creaking sound as it opened. Both of them scuttled inside. Darsh switched on the flashlight. It helped them make their way across the unkempt lawn that lay between the gate and the front door, without stumbling or tripping on the uneven ground. They reached the front door and rang the doorbell. A series of gongs sounded inside the house.
“Well, at least we know that they have power.” Darsh smiled.
“But, that makes it weirder for them not to have even one light on.”
Five minutes and ten more rings later, the duo resorted to banging on the door.
“Just try the knob, will you?” Karan said, massaging his sore knuckles.
Darsh did exactly that, and to both of their surprise it turned and after a swift push at the door they were in. Darsh glided the beam of the flashlight around the door, looking for switches that operated the lights. He found them in a few seconds and motioned for Karan to switch the lights on. The lights to the main hall switched on, temporarily blinding the duo. As their eyes adjusted to the newfound light, they made their way into the hall. In the middle of the hall, they noticed the huge sofa and a person sitting on it with his back towards them.
“Yo Vansh! What’s on with the lights bro? You guys having a party in the dark?” Darsh said as he went towards their host.
Darsh placed his hand on Vansh’s shoulder.
“Yo! Are you listening? Or are you drunk?”
Vansh slowly turned towards Darsh. His skin facial skin gave the impression that the flesh was rotting. His mouth lay open. Crusted blood marked the area around it. With a glassy look in his eyes, he got up from the sofa. Darsh took a step back. With slow, jerking movements Vansh started moving towards Darsh.
“Bro, are you okay?” Darsh asked in a cracking voice.
Suddenly, Vansh lunged at Darsh. He managed to avoid Vansh in time and retreated towards where Karan was standing, clearly aghast. Vansh started moving towards the duo, making low moaning sounds as he approached. Karan did not wait for another lunge. He darted towards Vansh, or whatever that thing was, and whacked it with the bat he was holding. The duo heard the crunching of the skull as the creature fell down with a thud, blood spewing from its head.
“Let’s get the heck out of here.” Karan hissed with alarm in his voice.
Darsh needed no second telling. They dashed through the front door making their way across the lawns and finally arrived outside the creaking gate.
“What the hell was that? It sure resembled Vansh” Darsh said, gasping for air.
Karan was equally breathless.
“You know what it was – A zombie.”
“Now, how the heck would a zombie end up here?”
“I dunno. Why don’t you ask the writer of this frigging story? Anyway, we are getting out of here now.”
Darsh felt his breath returning to him.
“But, what if there are survivors inside. Our friends might need our help. Nisha might – “
“Zip it, Romeo. I have seen enough of zombie flicks to know that going back in never goes well. Besides, we have no guarantee that anyone is alive in there.”
Right at that moment, Darsh put his hand inside his pocket and removed his cellphone.
“Bro, Nisha’s calling.”
TO BE CONTINUED