THE SECRET OF THE WOODS


The darkness of the night closed in on Aryan. The sole source of light was the streetlight ahead. A cold wind blew and the trees beside the road rustled. It seemed as though they were whispering and murmuring amongst themselves. Aryan was getting more pensive by the minute and the eerie atmosphere around him did nothing to soothe him down. But he had to go on; he had work to complete tonight. His heart thumped wildly with fear, his fragile chest begging him not to go. Fear had wound its way through his heart like a creeper. His legs felt heavy beneath him, as though aware of a forthcoming doom and reluctant to carry on. This moment would not have come to him had it not been for the incident that took place two days back. His mind pleaded him not to go ahead, but somewhere deep down, he knew there was no turning back now...

Aryan had gone out to the woods- his favourite place, for a walk. What started out as a completely normal walk on a totally normal day ended up becoming anything but normal. He had encountered upon a new path in the heart of the woods. He hadn’t noticed that before. He decided to go along that path. After a few minutes, he came to a clearing. He sat on a rock and looked around. He saw something red jutting out from behind a tree. “That’s strange”, Aryan thought and went on to explore. Deeper into the woods he saw a kind of warehouse nestled among bushes, conveniently hidden from prying eyes. “Who would build a warehouse in the middle of nowhere? Maybe someone had used it a long time back and now it’s deserted”, Aryan thought. He wasn’t surprised to find the door locked, but he saw something else that baffled him. The lock on the door looked brand new and it wasn’t old and rusty as he had expected it to be. It meant that the warehouse was still in use. He moved towards the other side of the warehouse. It had a tiny window. Aryan peeped in. He caught a glimpse of a few wooden crates lying on the floor. Precisely at that moment, he heard voices coming from the porch of the warehouse. Aryan quickly hid behind the bushes. He heard two gruff voices nearby.

“Have the goods arrived?”, enquired the first voice.

“No, there’s a rumour that that the police have become suspicious. Any chances of us getting caught?”, said the other voice.

“Not at all. We’re shipping the crack the day after tomorrow hidden in an ingenious place. No one can find the stuff at all.”

“Are you sure that they won’t check inside the toys? What about this place? Do they have any clue about this place?”

“Of course not. They wouldn’t imagine this place as our hideout even in their wildest dreams!”

After that both them went inside the warehouse. Aryan didn’t dare move. He couldn’t believe what he had just overheard. This was way too incredible for words. A drug racket? That too in a small place like Malvar?(Crack is the slang for cocaine). He decided to leave after the two men left. After waiting for what seemed like ages, the two men came out of the warehouse and walked away. Dusk had fallen by then. Using the darkness as cover Aryan made his way back home. He was too excited to think what his next course of action should be. He decided he would go the police immediately and recount the whole story. He ran the rest of the way and by the time he reached the police station, he was panting and completely out of breath. He entered the police station and saw a lone police sitting there with a bored expression on his face. Aryan pitied him. Malvar isn’t exactly the kind of place where you can expect to become a hot-shot police officer; but the news he had with him could turn things the other way round.

“I have something really, really important to tell you”, Aryan said.

The inspector raised his eyebrows in disbelief, but said nothing. Aryan recounted the whole story and then waited to see the Inspector’s reaction. Instead of getting excited as Aryan had expected, the Inspector bellowed at him, “Get out of here you scamp!! I’ve had enough of you youngsters coming up here with bizarre cock and bull stories to fool me! Not another word, get out!” Before Aryan could say another word, he was chased out of the police station. He was feeling helpless now. There was no one he could turn to. But if he didn’t take any action, the cocaine would go out of the place without anyone knowing. He had to stop those two men somehow and he would have to do it alone. What if there were more men back there at the warehouse? He would not be able to tackle them on his own. But there was no alternative. He decided to set out at night the day after tomorrow.

Aryan reached the forked path that led to the warehouse. He could see light coming from the window. So, that meant the men were still there. He crawled past the house and hid himself among the bushes near the window. He peered in through the window. He saw the two men busily packing something into the crates. At that moment, one of the men suddenly looked at the window and saw Aryan. Horrified, Aryan quickly hid himself among the bushes. There was no use running away now, he would definitely be caught. He hid among the bushes desperately hoping that they wouldn’t be able to find him. The two men had come out of the warehouse and were frantically looking for the person whom they had seen peeping through the window. They heard a shuffling sound coming from the bushes along the window. They found a boy hidden among the bushes. Aryan looked at them with petrified eyes. They dragged him into the warehouse. Aryan knew it wouldn’t be worthwhile to resist. Inside the warehouse, he was bound up and gagged. In the light, he saw the two men clearly. One was short and plump with a hideous scar across his cheek and the other cheek and the other was tall and robust.

“Prying on us, weren’t you, Mr. Nosey Parker? Now we’ll teach you what happens to people who poke their noses in others’ business!”, said the short man.

The tall man looked at his watch and barked out an order to the other man. Both of them went out and locked the door from outside. Aryan was deeply in trouble with a capital T. “There has to be some other way of escaping”, thought Aryan. But it was obvious that the window was the only way of escape. He tried to undo the ropes that bound his hand, but it was in vain. Thank God his legs hadn’t been bound! He walked to the window and to his relief saw that it wasn’t locked. He used his head to bang against the window. It opened easily enough. He slithered through the window and fell into the bushes outside. He smiled gleefully when he thought how shocked his captors would be when they saw that he had escaped. Now the most important thing was to get his hands untied. He would have to do it fast; the men might come back any moment. He looked around for something sharp. At last, he found a tree with a thorny bark. He rubbed the ropes against the bark. Slowly, he felt the grip of the rope loosening. He prised his hands out of the knot. At that moment, he saw a beam of light coming from a torch nearing the warehouse. “It must be the men”, Aryan thought. He looked around for a place to hide. He wouldn’t hide in the bushes this time. He quickly climbed up a tree nearby. It was at a perfect spot. He could see what was going on at the warehouse clearly. He was right, the men had come back. They let out snarls of anger and astonishment when they found that their prisoner had escaped. They looked around for Aryan. The first place they searched were the bushes. Aryan heaved a sigh of relief; thank goodness he hadn’t hidden there , it would have been back to square one again. The men looked around for some more time and then went back into the warehouse. Aryan quickly climbed down. The lock was still in the latch; he quickly locked the door. Now the men were trapped. He didn’t have to worry about the window, the men were too big to be able to escape through the window. He ran to the police station. Fortunately, he found a different officer sitting there. He told the officer the whole story and begged him to go with him. The officer called a few more officers and set out with Aryan. Aryan led them to the warehouse and the two crooks were arrested. The police were astounded to find crates full of cocaine in the warehouse. The whole lot was estimated to be around worth millions. The policemen patted Aryan on his back and thanked him profusely. They asked him to go back home now and they would let him know of any further happenings. Aryan reluctantly left for home. He was thrilled that he had overcome his fear and had helped to bust a drug racket (well, at least a part of it). He went back home and directly headed for his bed. He was really tired and before he realized it, he was in deep slumber.

Aryan was awoken the next morning by knock on his door. He opened the door and saw the police officer standing outside. He let him in. The officer said, “We’re ever so grateful to you for helping us. Without you we would have never even guessed that something like this was going on in a place like Malvar. The gang brought in the cocaine and hid it in the warehouse. From the warehouse it was transported to Oyster Rocks which is the nearest port town. It was then shipped off to foreign countries. The police never found out anything because while being transported from Malvar to Oyster Rocks to foreign countries, the drug pouches were hidden inside the toys. We have so far captured most of those involved but we still hve to catch the big masterminds of this ring. In appreciation of your bravery and presence of mind, the government has decided to give you a handsome reward. Well I should be going now. Bye.”

Aryan had never felt so happy for a long time. He went out to the woods again; one never knows when something interesting might turn up…

 

Written by- Shreya Bhattacharya

Class – X

Mharishi Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School