It was a large stall... a spacious steel enclosure... and inside that cage, on the bare stone floor lay Harsh, buck naked and limp...
XVIII. A Terrifying Shock
He had been roughly propped up against the rear brick wall, sprawled out... the head slumped to one side, the eyes glazed, staring ahead blankly... the mouth slightly parted, drool rolling down the corner...
There were tubes and wires attached to the body... Tubes running out of both arms and going up to pouches of clear liquid hanging from nails in the wall... and wires stuck to his temple, chest, shoulders, ankles... and there was another tube coming out of his flaccid, drooping penis as it hung low over the relaxed scrotum... leading into a plastic bag placed between his spread thighs, half full of a misty, golden liquid.
"HARSH!" Mayank cried out, gripping the steel bars, trying to force the door open. But it held fast, locked securely in place.
He rattled the steel frame, calling out, "Is anyone there? Someone please open this door..." But only the echo of his own voice answered him... the barn empty and silent.
"Harsh," he called the prone figure, "answer me Harsh..."
The boy lay still... his eyes staring back, unseeing... and as Mayank kept calling, pushing against the door in the desperate hope that it would give way and open, he heard that same sound, that suffle... and saw Harsh shudder... the body jerked by a sudden spasm, convulsing before going slack once more.
"Oh my God..." Mayank exclaimed, pulling at the door. "Harsh, can you hear me?" he asked, "Please answer me!" And then looking around in the darkness called out, "Please, is anyone there, please open this door!"
"It hurts, doesn't it..." said a sudden voice in the darkness, soft and low... oddly familiar, yet strange, "hurts when someone you love and cherish is suddenly snatched away from you."
Mayank spun around, peering blindly into the darkened belly of the vast building, "Who... who is it?"
"Oh, I know that hurt..." the voice continued, as if talking to itself, "how terribly painful it can be..."
"Who are you?" Mayank screamed, "What have you done to him?"
"Nothing at all," replied the voice floating in from the blackness, suddenly alive, calm, "yes, naked, he can be very enticing, but honest, I did absolutely nothing, didn't take any liberties even as he lay naked and helpless these past three days!"
"Open the door," Mayank demanded, his hands once more on the bars, shaking the steel frame. "I want to talk to him..."
"Why, don't you trust me when I say I haven't touched him? Besides, he can't talk..."
"Why?" Mayank questioned, once more staring into the darkness, his eyes blinded by the glare of the spotlight over his head, "wha... what have you done?!"
"Oh, nothing much, really..." the voice chuckled, "um, see those tubes running from his arms, huh? They are feeding him an extremely moderated dose of a very special concoction of certain potent drugs... something that I've perfected over the years..."
"What?!" screamed Mayank in alarm even before the voice could finish.
"Tsk, don't worry, it won't kill that boy," responded the voice, matter-of-factly, and as Mayank gasped in horror, continued, "these drugs aren't poison, just potent. They simply reduce the muscle contractility, decreasing muscle tone and relaxing them - both the skeletal and the smooth muscles; and of course, benumbing the nervous system."
"Oh my God," gasped Mayank, totally horrified, and then looking back at the prone Harsh called out, "Harsh... Harsh, please, answer me..."
"Oh, yes, he can see you and hear you, and he can understand everything that's going on, it's just that he is helpless to act, react or resist..."
Turning back to the voice Mayank pleaded, "Please, please stop it!"
"Relax..." the voice laughed, "as I said, I've perfected it over the years, I've tried it out on the horses, both young and old; tried out various combinations and dosage, and that boy will just be fine..." the voice paused, before adding, "unless, of course, you give me cause to make changes in the dosage..."
"Horses?! God," Mayank exclaimed in horror, "He... he's a human being, not a horse!"
"But aren't they all animals, huh," asked the voice with a chuckle, "man and horse?"
"Why, why are you doing this to him?!"
"Because I want him to suffer, suffer the way he made me suffer," the voice replied, venomous, "feel the same pain that he inflicted on me... feel the hurt that he gave me.
"But... but, what did he do? How did he hurt you?"
"I had warned you Mayank, told you repeatedly to let him go... but you didn't listen, and so he has to pay the price!"
"Who... who are you? What do you want from me?!"
"You do surprise me Mayank..." the voice let out a low laugh, "I always said I liked you because you were so refreshingly different, but you are also dumb, too dumb to be real!"
"You... you..." Mayank started to say, his mind reeling, everything suddenly seeming so unreal... his senses seeming to play tricks on him... His brain screamed, but his mind refused to accept. He didn't want to think, he didn't want to admit... it was so terrifying. And then another light flicked on... illuminating the seated figure at the far end of the dark aisle... making Mayank gasp in shock and pain... Stunned!
"Now what?" asked Lluis as they got down from the car, "This is the middle of nowhere!"
"You sure you dropped Mayank here?" Ali asked the driver.
"Yes, sir, this is where I dropped him, exactly this spot."
"Well, what do we do?" asked Milind, looking around, "Where do we go from here?"
"Do you know what was written in that note?" asked Ali once more. "Or which way Mayank went?"
"No, sir," answered the driver getting out and joining the group, "but yes, he said something like, 'white arrows?' after opening and reading that note, and then I left..."
"White arrows, now what could that mean?" asked Milind, perplexed.
"Well, that's the only clue we have," replied Ali, looking around, "just look around, see if any of you can spot any 'white arrows'.
"But where do we look?" asked Lluis.
"Tree trunks, the culvert... anywhere," shrugged Ali, and then turning to the driver added, "you better park the car under that tree and lock it, then come with us."
The driver nodded, getting into the car as the three young men began their hunt for a white arrow... spreading out around the culvert area, looking at the larger rocks and tree trunks when Milind suddenly called out, "Hey, Ali, check this!"
Both men rushed over to where Milind stood, just beyond the culvert, staring down at the narrow strip of earthen trail that led over the wildly overgrown field... and there, on the path was a clear white arrow, spray-painted on the ground.
"Yes, that's it," exclaimed Ali with excitement, "that's our clue, we follow it!"
"You sure?" asked Lluis.
"Well, that's the best, unless you can spot anything else," replied Ali, and then looking out across the open field added, "the arrow points straight, so let's follow the path, and keep our eyes on the ground... and Milind, you call your brother and tell him where we are, give him direction and tell him what to look for..."
"But how will he locate this exact spot" asked Milind.
"Simple, give him the car number and tell him it's parked under a tree, and also give him the number marked out on the culvert. Now, let's follow the arrow!"
And sure enough, after walking for about ten yards, there was another arrow - white and spray-painted. Ali nodded, "Yes, we are on the right track!"
The four men walked down the path right up to the overgrown hedge against the barbed wire fence... following the path as it meandered its way along the perimeter... a white arrow scrawled on the ground every ten or twelve metres, going on straight, till the path split... and on a hunch Ali turned left along the hedge, following the path... till the next arrow curved to the left, pointing to the spot where the fence had fallen over, "Um, guess we need to go in," Ali mused, leading the men through the gap.
And as they went in, Lluis stopped in mid-step...
"What happened?" asked Ali.
"I... I think I know this place..." he said, looking around.
"Ali, this use to be a stud farm, you know, horse breeding thing," explained Lluis, "my uncle use to work here and as kids we use to sometimes come here on Sundays. It closed down about five or six years back, the owners wanted my uncle to move to Bangalore, but he refuse."
"God bless you Lluis," exclaimed Ali, his eyes sparkling, "this is too much of a coincidence... and I have to be right. No, I AM right!"
"Mind clueing us in on it?" asked Milind.
"Later," Ali answered and then turning back to Lluis asked, "if you've been here and recognise the place, then you must know of the main entrance," and as Lluis nodded, Ali directed, "well, call Joki and tell him to come over immediately, tell him to take the main entrance and... oh, well, just tell him to reach the farm by the main entrance and we'll call him later and tell him where to meet us."
Lluis stared at Ali, uncomprehending, "And you," Ali added turning to Milind, "you call Nalin again, and tell him about the farm, tell him to come there directly, instead of following us. Lluis, please help Milind with the route," Ali instructed, hurrying down the path, a new vigour in his steps, "Please," he called out to the others, "let's keep walking, we have to hurry... Oh, and also ask them both to carry some blankets and water..." he added.
Both men nodded, reaching into their pocket and quickly making the calls, speaking urgently, while Ali walked slightly away and made his own call, "Kajol, did you get through?" he asked and then exclaimed, "Brilliant, so when will he be here?"
"Great... well, no, but we'll get there any moment, and yes, I'm sure both of them are fine... No, I can't talk any further; we're nearly there, bye and Kajol, pray with all your heart!"
"Okay, this is it, guys" he said, "I don't know how big this place is, or how much more we need to walk, and now, total silence!"
They followed the same path as Mayank had earlier that morning... going on, following the arrows till the final one pointed straight at the entrance of the huge barn. Ali stopped and pulling the men behind a tree whispered, "Okay guys, whatever there is, it's inside that structure. Lluis call Joki and tell him to come directly to the barn, and Milind, you call your brother and inform him where to meet us. And then, switch your mobiles to silent mode.
"And now, let's split... Lluis, you enter from that door; be careful and keep your eyes open. Milind and I'll go around to the back, I'm sure there will be some other entrance from there, we'll enter the building, separately..." and then turning to the driver instructed, "you wait here, we'll call you if needed, and once Mr. Pinto and the police arrive, tell them to come in."
All three nodded as Lluis headed for the open entrance, while Ali and Milind skirted towards the rear, hiding behind the bushes and grass...
To be continued...
a story by outlaw
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