Mystery of the Deserted Station

This post garnered third most number of votes from amongst the 54 entries for Blog-a-Ton 15 and won me the Bronze Blog-a-Tonic of the Month aka BRONZE BATOM award. Click here to see the results page.
This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 15; the fifteenth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.


It was a lazy Sunday afternoon as Vikrant deboarded the Uttar-Dakshin Express. Despite the one day long journey, there wasn’t a trace of laziness in his stride as he marched towards the exit. He was beaming from within with an odd mix of anxiousness for what awaited in his new assignment.

One could easily make out from his demeanour that this was a man of strong will and he had established himself as one, fighting the hardened criminals in his last posting as an Assistant Superintendent of Police.

Lalitgarh was a new place and he had a new position to take over. He was joining its police department as Superintendent of Police, having climbed the rung much faster than others.

He had just moved some paces when he got thronged by a dozen men with garlands in their hands. It took him about half an hour to get through the sycophants and their hollow pleasantries before he could move to the awaiting car.

As the car moved towards the officer’s guest house, Vikrant was surprised to see the railway station, he had seen just a few kilometres before his journey to Lalitgarh had ended. When he had seen it just about an hour ago, he was amazed by the beautiful architecture. It was reminiscent of the British era, something that he had only seen in the cities of Mumbai and Kolkatta.

“How come we have such a beautiful station in this remote district?” he asked his subordinate.

“Sir, this is Herbert Station. It was commissioned by the Nawab in the early 20th century and designed by the British architect Sir Herbert Manning,” he replied.

“Well, that is interesting. But then how come it is deserted and I had to deboard at that shanty of a station in the outskirts of the city instead of here?”

At that instance, the driver chipped in nervously, “Sirji, there is a long story behind it. Let us pass through this area. I’ll share it with you later.”

*

Vikrant had been in the district for a week when he decided to make a surprise visit to some distilleries in the outskirts of the city. It was then that he saw the Herbert Station again and all of a sudden all those unanswered questions sprung up again.

“Listen Raju, you never told me the story behind this deserted station,” he asked his driver.

Sirji, its inauspicious to tell such a tale at the very place where it all has happened,” replied the driver, again trying to steer clear of the issue.

However, Vikrant wouldn’t take a no for an answer and asked again with a hint of anger in his tone.

Raju had to relent but only when they had driven past the station.

Sirji, as DSP sahib told you that day, this station was designed by a British. He was paid heavily by the Nawab and hence, he took great care in its construction too. On the ill-fated day of the inauguration, among the entire hullabaloo, the man of the day, Sir Herbert slipped from the platform. He fell on the tracks, his head hitting hard on the steel frame. Despite the best possible medical attention of the time, he lost his eye sight due to this incident.”

“Oh, that is sad. So, this station never got inaugurated. Such a waste,” commented Vikrant empathically.

“No, sirji. That’s not the issue. The Railway Station was fully functional after that day. However, after this mishap, Sir Herbert became very reclusive. He never went back to Britain. On his request, Nawab arranged for his stay at a luxurious cottage near the station itself. One day, his caretaker, found him dead at his cottage. He had consumed some poisonous herbs. It was a suicide or yet another misfortune, no one could tell. He is buried just next to that cottage behind the railway station.”

“Ah, so that’s when this railway station was abandoned. I don’t think such a great artist would have wanted his creation to be deserted like this.”

Sirji, even that’s not an issue. In fact, it was after this incident that the station got its name in memory of that man. No one even knew about this story until about ten years back. It was then that the first incident occurred.”

“What incident?” blurted Vikrant in a jiffy.

“It was a morning after the full moon. Just a day before that, the proposal for the renovation of the station was passed by the administration. It was then, that the Station Master’s body was found on the platform. His eyes had been gouged out mercilessly. The autopsy showed that he died of poisoning. Many investigations were carried out but no trace to the perpetrator could be found.”

“Oh, that’s terrible. What happened then?” he coaxed, fully engrossed in the story.

“Before the people could forget this incident, another body was found in the same condition. It was then that people started talking about paranormal explanation behind these happenings. The local newspaper came out with an article about Sir Herbert and gradually, a link was established between his misfortune and these deaths.”

“So, you mean to say, it is the angry ghost of Sir Herbert that is doing all this. What nonsense?”

Sirji, there can’t be any other explanation. Till now about a dozen people have died; their desecrated bodies found on the platform by the drivers of the passing trains. People have heard noises, they claim they have seen things. After another couple of incidents, even the station was abandoned and the new make-shift station was built.”

“What about the investigations. Couldn’t they find even a single clue in all these years?”

Sirji, one of the victim was an investigating CID official himself. There are things for which there can be no practical answer, you see. You may not believe in these things sirji, but remember, there is a big vacant space beyond our individual beliefs. Who or what resides in that void, no one can tell.”

*

Vikrant was pretty uneasy that evening. He had taken the customary shower and a drink upon returning from work. Usually, he just watched some news and waited for the dinner to be served. However, today he decided to go out for a jog. Maybe, a little fresh air will lighten me up, he thought. He decided not to go too far, the sky being cloudy; but lost in his own thoughts and jogging to the tune of the cool breeze, he didn’t realise how far he had jogged to.

It was then, that he saw that railway station again. It was across the fields with thick vegetation growing all around it. However, despite the dimming light, it looked magnificent. Someone else would have called it haunted, but at that moment he was just mesmerised by it.

It reminded him of his visits to his paternal village. There used to be a beautiful mansion there which was rumoured to be haunted. He always loved walking by it in the evenings while his cousins steered clear. It was only as he grew up, he realised, the mansion belonged to a rich influential family which now resided in the city and all the stories were just cooked up by the elders to keep the children away from it.

Suddenly, he had an urge to take a closer look. Aided by the full moon’s light, filtered and scattered through the clouds, he moved towards the station.

When, he had heard the story about Herbert’s ghost in the morning, he had been amused. If I meet this guy, I’ll surely compliment him for this beautiful architecture, he chuckled.

Upon reaching the station, he crossed the railway tracks and climbed onto the platform. He started walking on the platform enjoying the cool breeze and singing some old melodious song. It brought back the memories of his minor halt at another station while going on a trip with his college friends. They ended up making the life of other waiting passengers, a hell by playing antakshari whole through the night till the connecting train finally arrived around dawn.

Vikrant decided to enter the central hall which led to the main entrance and the exit. However, upon taking a glance, he realised there was no point exploring it as it was too dark inside. So he decided to go around by climbing a small wall which extended for some yards beyond the main structure.

Just as he jumped onto the other side, he could see a cottage on his far right. One could easily sense on seeing the courtyard that it had not been mowed since years. He got all the more excited on seeing a grave just next to the cottage. Though apprehensive at first due to the fear of any snake or scorpions, he decided to go and have a closer look.

Vikrant had always been adventurous. It was this love for adventure that made him opt for IPS  instead of IAS despite the grander status associated with the latter. He couldn’t see himself stuck with the files in an air-conditioned office. He always wanted to have a slice of the real action.

Just as he reached closer, he heard some ruffled noises. It made him freeze in his tracks. Upon concentrating, he realised they were coming from the wall behind the cottage. He moved towards it cautiously trying to find a spot from where he could see through.

Finally, he found a crevice in the wall and peeped through. It was pretty dark and he found nothing suspicious. It must have been some animal, he thought. Just as he was about to turn back, his eye caught something odd. For a moment, he didn’t realise what was happening. However, it just took some seconds to realise what lay in front of him across the bricked wall.

He stood there stunned. A drop of sweat slipped down his forehead as he reached for his revolver that was tucked in the holster below his tee. Usually, he never carried it during his morning exercises but it being evening, he had decided to keep it handy. However, standing there, he wasn’t even sure if he was relieved to have it.

There was obviously something sinister about this place. How else would one explain such stories, he thought. How could he be so naive? All this police training and on the job action and this is what I get stuck into, he cursed himself. Adventure was one thing but acting like a jerk, a different. He knew he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. He had to make his move quickly and quietly. He couldn’t just keep standing there. It was too dangerous.

He loosened his grip on the revolver and turned back. Concentrating hard on his track in the dark, he moved back slowly through the courtyard towards the wall. He was relieved that the overgrowth was cushioning any noise that his footsteps were making.

Despite the soup he got himself into, he humoured himself with the instance when he had walked unannounced into his elder brother’s bedroom while he was busy watching porn in the dark. He had tip-toed across the room to pick up his comics and moved back so stealthily that his brother didn’t have a chance to realise his presence.

Tip-toeing through the courtyard, Vikrant finally reached back to the wall adjoining the platform. Just as he tried to climb it, his foot gave away its grip and he fell down hard on his back.

*

Despite the heavy rains that had drenched Lalitgarh over the night, there was a lot of hustle and bustle around. For those who were surprised to see a sudden rush of police jeeps and other vehicles, the picture got clear as the evening newspaper reached their doorsteps.

It carried the following headlines.

Herbert Ghost strikes again - Body of new SP found with eyes missing.

The people were terrified upon looking at the picture that accompanied it. It took another month or two for normalcy to return to Lalitgarh. Investigations were held but as usual nothing suspicious was found. Meanwhile, the local community got a new tale to add to the existing tales of the haunted station. Vikrant, the illustrious police officer got reduced to a vignette in these never ending tales.

And yet again, the mystery of the deserted station remained a mystery.

***

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36 doses of compassionate comments received.:

Rumya said...

Marshy, that was a wonderful paranormal story (which I am reading in the middle of the night). But it was a fantastic one!! :D
Enjoyed it throughly!! It was very engrossing and I forgot the time part I mentioned earlier.

Vignesh said...

I expected you'd give an explanation through Vikrant but sad that he met the same end.. Good work weaving the Herbert mystery :)

The Fool said...

Spook seems to be the flavor of the season this Blog-a-ton. Could actually feel some fear reading it. Well written maintaining the suspense throughout, though towards the end I felt the suspense slackening a bit.

MAVERICK said...

I must compliment your task of carrying out a befitting tale of mystery fitting quite aptly to the picture as a subject around which it is build.
It clears one message for sure, no matter how adventurous you maybe, but you need to know when adventures become just too risky.
Gud Luck for BAT

Dil se said...

A really spooky one !!
But the way you painted Vikrant's character, I was really hoping he would get to the fact.
Loved it.

Amity said...

Quite eerie Vipul, especially when a mystery remains a mystery...

This is another creepy rendition I've read since this early morning...

Good luck! :)

RiikaInfinityy said...

Love the mysterious and spooky feeling of this wonderful work =D~ Kind of give me chills but I love this kind of thing ;D~

Lost in thoughts said...

Oh...the build up to the story was excellent...
The ending was a bit too mysterious..
All the best!
http://mangop.blogspot.com/2010/10/tale-behind-railway-track.html

Cherry Blossom said...

An excellent development of the plot to keep the reader's attention and curiosity intact till the end. The conversational patten resulting in the unfolding of the incidents is quite impressive. The best conclusion of a haunted attempt is to keep the imagination play on the wildest assumptions. An impressive entertainment. All the best for BAT, Marshall.

Someone Is Special said...

loved the story, mysterious plot, used well and it remains until the end..

With lot of luv wishing you a good luck for BAT 15..

--Someone Is Special--

Md. Muddassir Shah said...

It has a definite spooky feeling to it.
well written buddy :)

Brijender Singh said...

Dear Marshall
loved the suspense you so deliberately and beautifully created to keep us hanging to the edge of our seats right upto the end.
But to be honest, it wasnt fair to let Vikrant die such an inglorious death without being able to solve the case and being merely added to the roster of unremembered anonymousness that the mystery had sired.

Makk said...

the evening newpapers reached their doorsteps.



A small had a Evening newspaper. I am li'l surprised. :)



anyway A good one.

Keep Smiling.

Vikas Khair said...

Very Well written spooky tale .. but I concur with others you should have given at least a peek of what Vikrant saw. Still Very Very Good effort .. All the best for BAT-15

Vikas Khair - Station of my Dreams and Love

Shruti said...

Well to start off! Marshal, you decided to write a post, that too a spooky (nt ur kinda genre)???!! Am quite lil surprised to find this!

Coming back to your story, I don't expect less from the master story teller. You certainly churn out all those plots in a very interesting manner that keeps ppl hooked! Just teach me that art so that my blog may get some attention! :)

Interesting, Lovely and truly a Masterpiece Marshal!

Kudos :)

~Shruti

reetam said...

killer story! reminiscent on all those ghost stories i grew up on.

Viyoma said...

Gosh!! What an ending..you keep me gripped till the end!!

Debosmita said...

Vipul, firstly, thanks a lot for taking up my suggestion of a picture topic for BAT :-)

Your posts are always a good read. You created an air of suspense very well and the spooky ending came out well :-)

ATB and keep writing

Jayanta Deka said...

Marshal, u did it yet again.. Well done.. the end was "nice"..
All d best..

Vee... said...

i was hoping to read an investigation report behind the spooky story,but u left it spooky! :( nevertheless, a wonderful read Vipul :)

Bedlam said...

Its been a while I read something from you.. Nice one VG.. ATB for the BAT.. :)

Sadiya said...

hate to sound repetitive but i too thought there would be some kind of explanation at the end....so now im thinkin wat could have been the ending or likely endings rather when there actually isnt one :(

Sidra Sayeed said...

Mystery was a befitting theme for the image. We were still left guessing though, the unfolding bit is still a mystery!

*cheering for part 2*

Raksha Raman said...

Marshal,

Not fair at all! I read through with great curiosity to witness the mystery unfold but then mystery remains unsolved. Does that mean it is *to be continued*? I hope so.

'Despite the soup he got himself into, he humoured himself with the instance when he had walked unannounced into his elder brother’s bedroom .....realise his presence.' - I was caught unawares by that. Didn't see it coming.

Couldn't help but be thrilled :)

Cheers!

Raksha - Alston Station - A Life Relived

Zainab Urooj said...

We expect happy endings.. though they aren't in reality.. good that you kept it original.

Lolland said...

I sense a sequel.. It behooves you.
Cheers marshall and do leave your tippani at my blog as well.

http://lol-land.in/posts/view/144

Sweta said...

I was expecting that vikranth will be able to solve the mastery and there must not be any ghost or anything. But you proved me wrong.... Loved the narration... :)
Great story as always

Vipul Grover said...

Hey friends, its unlike me to let so many comments accumulate before I can reply to them individually. But I have my neck stuck into so much work these days that its impossible to communicate to you individually. For the same reason, I have not been able to visit your blogs, something that I really regret.
Anyway, I must thank you all for liking this post and even if u didnt like it tht mch, making ur reservations clear to me. Critics are the ones who help u write better in future. So thanks a lot.
Taking the gist out of most of the comments, let me clarify that the ending of this post doesn't prove that there was any ghost. It is kept open for ur imterpretation. Those who have read my Last Number Dialled must be knowing that I do not believe in paranormal stuff.
Anyway, at the outset I did want to give some plausible explanation to the events but then that would have been the normal course followed by any writer. Those who know me as a writer know the fact that I always like to give an unexpected ending. In this case, poor Vikrant had to die for the mystery to remain a mystery.
Though I'll admit that this also saved me from thinking of some plausible explanation ;)
But as most of you have demanded a sequel, definitely I'll come up with one if I get the right ideas for it in coming time.
Thanks a lot of encouraging me like this. Keep reflecting with me :)

Bhavya said...

HI Vipul,

Stumbled upon your blog....must admit..have been glued to your posts...must read all your archives...

Keep writing,
Cheers,
BA

Renu said...

I wish there was an explainations somehwere...

Vipul Grover said...

Hey Bhavya, welcome to this blog. Its a pleasure to read such comments.. Thanx a lot for appreciating my work. Its a source of great encouragement. Do read the archives and give ur worthy feedback there too.. Will be looking fwd to it.. Keep Reflecting :)

Hi Renu.. Even I wish the same. But was short of imagination u c :p

Pratul Bagri said...

Wow really great post . Kept me hooked. :P

Jisha Ashok said...

I do not know if it is the power of sixth sense, or some thing like that.. but the fate I had expected for Vkranth was the same..

But, anyway, I did expect you to tell what he saw there! Maybe my sixth sense failed to see that ;)

Thanks for this blog. It kept me thrilled throughout :)

Vipul Grover said...

@Pratul.. Thanks a lot :D

@Jisha.. I cant blame ur sixth sense on tht one.. U mst blame my laziness to think of a suitable justification :p
Keep reflecting with me :)

viva_andya said...

ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL masterpiece...till now i never used to read anyone's post completely no matter how good they write, but have got something very good attracting & charming skill embedded in your story which makes to go on & on ..

Vipul Grover said...

@Viva.. thnx 4 sch a nice compliment.. keep reflecting :D

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