“Tharpa, I have been putting off telling you some unpleasant thing considering the many years you have been with us. The weekly has not been doing well and with the advent of internet our circulation has plummeted down” the editor of the ‘Your weekly’ paused. I kept quiet not knowing what to say and worried why he was telling this to me.
“If the circulation does not pick up, we may be compelled to down the shutters. There is nothing happening in this town and readers are no longer interested in run of the mill stories. We have to make them sit up and get excited .I am adding a blood curling spooky section. I want you to go around and get some real stuff that would scare the people out of their wits. I want your first one in three days time to catch the press for the Sunday edition. I need hardly tell you unless we do something dramatic, we may have to find new openings” the editor concluded before he bent his head on some manuscript before him. I was not worried unduly young and single as I was. But still I had my pride to rise to the occasion.
I took the car and drove to a nondescript village that had fallen into bad days with most of its inhabitants having migrated to cities. I had seen there once an old dilapidated but a big mansion from a distance. I thought it may provide a good material with some imagination for a new blood chilling story. The bungalow was on the outskirts of the village. As I climbed down with camera in hand, an old farmer who was walking along the deserted road said “Why are you going in there? No one lives and people say it is haunted. Stay away if you care to listen to me.”
“Thanks. Just click a few pictures for my magazine. Don’t you worry” I said and walked in through the broken wooden gate. The pathway was littered with dry leaves and broken twigs. Some windows of the mansion had come of the hinges and weakly clinging to the frame. The door was closed and I knocked the door rather loudly but skeptically. After a long time the door to my great surprise opened and I saw a small man, obviously a servant, looking at me from his deep and sunken eyes with wonder as If I had strayed to a wrong place.
“Is the master there?” I asked
“Sure. Please come in and be seated. Does he know you? What shall I tell him/”he asked in a squeaky voice.
“I doubt. Just tell him Tharpa from Your Weekly for an interview“I replied as he led me to a large hall. Reeking of stale smell with cobwebs hanging all around and scattered leaves fallen through open windows, it showed no evidence of human habitation. As if he guessed my thought, he said “We have no servants and days are hardby.Please be seated. I will tell him of your arrival. He will presently come down.” As he disappeared I heard some rustling of leaves and saw a chameleon moving. As I surveyed the hall, I saw a huge portrait of a heavily built man with long mustache dressed in rich finery with a sword and a spear in hand looking at me. I averted his gaze thinking he must be one of the ancestors of the master. The portrait was just over the door I had entered. As I stealthily looked at the portrait again, my hairs stood on their ends when I noticed the lips parting and mouth opening. I was overcome by fear and wished to get away. I called the servant and said loudly ”Hey, I cannot wait any longer. Let me out”
It was then I found the figure in the portrait descending and the full figure standing across the door looking at me menacingly with one hand on the sword. I was scared to death and the sweat drenched my clothes on this hot day. The only exit was blocked. My throat was parched dry when I shouted “Hey, come quick “The words hardly came out when I heard the servant telling that master has already come down to meet me.
I looked hither and thither for a way to escape as the figure ambled towards me. It was then that I heard a squeaky crackle and turned towards the direction. I saw the servant not as I saw him when he opened the door but a skeleton dangling his arms and letting out loud laughter. The figure had already crowded in when I fainted.
The Sunday edition of Your Weekly carried the following headline and a detailed report
“Reporter found dead in mysterious circumstances
We regret to announce the sad and unexpected demise of our intrepid reporter Tharpa in the most mysterious circumstances in an old mansion that people suspected to be haunted. He had evidently gone there to collect some material for our new column on spooky stories. A villager who had seen him enter the bungalow waited long for him to come out. When he failed to turn up, he gathered a few more to find him lying on the floor of a large hall in the mansion. There was no evidence of presence of any other person. The local doctor pronounced him dead due to cardiac arrest though the villagers ascribe it to ghosts.
Mr.Tharpa was one of our best and fearless …………………….”