To say that I have traveled on the NICE Road connecting Bangalore to Mysore, Countless times, would be an understatement. Just out of college, I used to work for a Pharma firm which made me go to Mysore once a week to peddle their drugs. Half crazy and half enthusiastic, I used to take my Bullet 350 cc and zip through the fast lane, the wind hitting my visor with a faint whistle and the smile permanently etched on my face. I loved fast things.


The pharma job was not fast enough, and after three years of running helter-skelter trying to sell pills that cure Piles, I moved on to the much more lucrative industry of real estate. Bangalore had boomed, way beyond what everyone had ever imagined, but the real action now lay in Mysore, or on its suburbs, to be more precise. They had an airport coming, a couple of big IT companies had promised investment there to the Chief Minister in the last Tech Expo, and the land values were practically a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. It was fast money, and I liked it.


I was not a man who believed in things which I couldn't see. The church and Jesus's calling never interested me. I attended the occasional Sunday mass at my families behest, only to check out if there were any new Christian chicks up on the matrimonial market. I did find a couple of interesting ones, but they were not interested in an entrepreneur who held 5 jobs in the last 3 years and who was struggling hard to get a real estate firm up and running. No sirree. They wanted software engineers , a breed that Bangalore was famous for breeding.


I didn't believe in God, in Government, in Politics or the whole Educational system. Hell, I didn't even believe in some aspects of science. So it is safe to assume that I did not believe in ghosts, in supernatural beings, in floating ladies in white sarees out for you blood. I didn't at least till that incident last month.


I was driving back in my Bullet that fateful Friday, happy to finally close a deal after months of negotiations and countless trips from Bangalore to Mysore and back . A friend had suggested a small hillock that was literally unknown to the public and all I had to do was take a diversion at a village on the NICE road. He turned out to be right, and I saw a beautiful sunset after a short trek and clicked a bunch of photos for my Facebook page. I took a short cut back from the hillock which supposedly joined the NICE Road a couple of kilometres ahead, and, in hindsight, I think that's where I made my first mistake.


In my defence, I was ecstatic after the land deal and the sunset. In fact, I was so happy that I did not notice the starting trouble that the engine was facing after I stopped it at a couple of turns downhill and switched it off. The Bull had never given me problems before during its 3 years that I had owned it, and the previous owner had ridden it for 50000 kilometres without a glitch( at least that's what he claimed on OLX). So, when the bike sputtered and clanked about 80 kilometres out of Bangalore, I just dismissed it as little misbehaviour from a grown boy.


But 2 kilometres down the road, there was an audible wheeze coming out of the engine and the jerks between gear shifts got wilder and wilder. The bike died on me just a couple of minutes later. I would have been calm if I was in the city limits and there was a mechanic nearby. But this was practically in the middle of nowhere, in the foothills of a hill with forests around it, and not a vehicle in sight. Also, it was close to 11 in the night so once my lights were off, I was instantly launched into an abyss of pitch darkness. I could hardly see 10 feet ahead of me, and , in the abscence of a moon, darkness was going to be my companion for the night.


I cursed the bike, got down, put it in centre stand and took out my mobile phone. I switched on the Flashlight feature, and was soon inspecting the handle and other electricals where the cause of the problem usually lay. I checked the engine for oil level and the peg showed that it was at the requisite amount. I shook the bike a bit, kissed it on the fuel tank and started to kick it, saying a silent prayer after a long time. I did not believe in Jesus but if he was out there, I sure as hell wanted him to be on my side today. I did not want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere with a dead bike on a dark night like this.


After ten minutes of trying all my tricks on the bike, I reluctantly gave up. The beast needed a mechanic. I let out another snort of anger, picked up my bag, pointed the flashlight towards the road ahead and started walking. Half an hour to NICE Road, forty five minutes tops, I thought. It was pitch dark around, and the only sounds were those of my shuffling feet and the crickets from the trees around. The night was unusually dark, I thought. Maybe it was just the surrounding forest and the No Moon night combined, or maybe it was just my paranoid self who had never walked on an unlit road this late in the night.


After 5 minutes, I started to feel thirsty and took out my bag for my CamelBak bottle. It was almost empty. Damn! I thought. Could this day get any worse? I started again when I suddenly saw movement to the right side of me with the corner of my eye. The camera flash illumnated everything around me in a five feet radius, but it was useless beyond it. There was something hiding there in the trees. Something watching me. I hurried my steps, wishing I had remembered a prayer after attending all those Sundays in the church.


I had just walked for another 2 minutes when I heard the first scream. It was a woman, who was screaming someone's name as though the person was strangling her. The scream stopped instantaneously , as though the screamer was killed in the act. It came from the right, about twenty feet into the jungle. I was petrified by now, but I knew fear was useless in these situations. I saddled up my bag, said Jesus, save me, three times and broke into a run. The flashlight threw zig zag light in front of me but it was uselesss. I was practically running flat out into the dark night.


I stopped in my tracks when I heard the second scream . This one came just five feet behind me. I could feel the air getting colder and a distinctive sound of an anklet in the darkness behind me. It was a lady,of course. I turned off the flashlight and closed my eyes. I didn't want it to be easier for whatever it was to spot me in the darkness. I counted to ten, let my breath stabilize and turned around, bracing myself to spot horrors beyond imagination. I opened my eyes after turning a half circle and there it was... Nothing..


Darkness. Complete and utter darkness. I could not see the road on which I had run. I could not see the trees that dotted this road. I looked up at the sky and could hardly make out a couple of stars. It was as though I was standing in the middle of a huge dark pit. There was just me and nothingness around me. And then came another sound that almost gave me a heart attack.


"Oye dude, you look lost.. Over here!!" it was a mans voice.


I turned instantaneously, and there, ten feet in front of me, I saw a small fire by the roadside. Three men were sitting around it , and all of them were staring in my direction. The voice belonged to the guy closest to the road, and he was waving at me to come on over. I practically ran to them, and stopped only when they were close to me.


Three youngsters, all of them in their early twenties, were sitiing cross legged around the fire to form an odd shaped triangle. One of them was smoking a cigarette, and the other two were looking at me, surprised. I was panting, and held up my hand to let them know I wanted to say something.

"You see a ghost or something man? You look whacked?", the one closest to me said...


"Did you.. cough.. did you hear the screams.. There is someone out there", I managed to get the words out of me before going into a bout of coughing again. I was pointing in the direction from which I came, my hand shaking. This was by far the most scared that I had ever been. The guy closest to me peered into the darkness, and then turned to me.


"Relax bob. There is nothing out there. We didn't hear any screaming. All we saw was you , and that too for 2 minutes before you turned your flashlight off. Even we thought you were a ghost or something.

Just the night playing tricks man.. Calm down.. Take a seat.. Relax a bit."


My heart rate was returning to normal, now that I was finally with another human being. I plumped down besides the smoking guy, opened my bag and gulped the remaining water down in one go. I turned to my companions, all youngsters and all staring at me as though I was ill or something.


I am Vivek by the way. That's Nitin and the smoking dude is Deepak. So what's your name dude? And what are you doing in the middle of the jungle at 12 in the night? What's the scene Bob?" They were mostly in the twenties, college kids out on a drag race maybe.

I told my entire story, right from the time I took deviation on the NICE Road , to my bullet breaking down, to the ungodly screams that shook me to the core . They listened with rapt attention, and Vivek whistled when I told about the lady's scream getting cut mid sentence.


"Dude, dont want to spook you out or anything" said Vivek,", but it sounds like you don't know about that hillock you just climbed. Legend has it that all this land was once owned by a guard who worked for the Mysore Maharaja. He was a ladies man and apparently took women up there on a horse on nights like these to rape them. He would do his business, then poke a small knife into the woman's belly to make her scream. When they screamed the loudest, he would chop their heads off in one swift blow, just for the fun of it. He would then toss the skulls into the forest below, laughing as he did it. The hillock


is called Tale-durga, infamous for the skulls found in the forest surrounding it. The man was finally killed by the spirit of a witch whom he had killed. She tripped his horse when he was riding down the hill after he killed her, and the fall broke his head".


People say that the spirits still linger in the area, and all men trespassing the hillock are seen as the Guard. Once you climb that, more often than not, chances are you will  not make back home alive. Its usually your vehicle breaking down first, followed by a blow to your head in the darkness. The bodies are only found the next day, sometimes taken deep into the forest. I think you ran into one of them dude", Vivek finished, shaking his head.


I was numb. No words escaped me and my heart seemed to be slowing down. I was being chased by a headless ghost , and it was still out there, in the darkness. I turned around again, hoping there was nothing back there but darkness. This time, thankfully, it was just that. A dark forest and crickets in the background.


"Are.. you.. ssss..ssure about it".. I stammered. I have not stammered since I was a teen, and it just went to show how scared I was.

"Yeah dude, don't you read the newspapers. 45 deaths around here in the last 5 years. More than a hundred before that if you were to believe the locals. No one goes up there anymore. Atleast, no one in their right minds.


"Cars usually run off the road into a tree, and bikes usually break down before the riders heads are snapped inexplicably", it was Deepak, the Smoking Dude speaking now. " Even a couple of weeks ago, a guy was found with his head banged in". With that , he let out one small puff and threw the cigarette away.


"Oh man.. What do I do now?" , I asked looking around for help.


"You wait , and learn the important life lesson of not taking unknown roads", said Vivek glaring at me.


I heard the crickets more clearly now, and the wind made a few flames leap higher into the air. It was still pitch dark, so dark that I could hardly see the shadows of the three people sitting around me, the night engulfing us like an ocean in a storm. I made small talk to the guys just to get my head off the screams , and learnt that all of them were Engineering students from the city, out for a fun ride in the night. Their car had trouble apparently, and was parked ahead. They had a mechanic on the way, and had just camped on the road when they saw me running on the road like a crazy person. I started telling them about me and slowly drifted off into sleep. My second mistake...


I woke up to the first scream, an ungodly sound that jolted me awake, fully alert. I got up and got closer to the fire automatically, not minding the heat that was coming off the flames. "It's here, its here for me", I sceamed into the night, and Vivek started screaming himself.. It was only after a couple of seconds that I realized that it was a scream of laughter.


We got you dude, we totally got you ", screamed Vivek, rolling on the road as Deepak came out of the darkness from where the scream had come. " Man , you should have seen your face. Its here.. Its here to get me.. Ha ha ha ha.." Deepak was on his knees , unable to contain himself. I got up, irritated, my ego hurt more than my pride. These kids had managed to scare me by a cock and bull ghost story. But the screams.. What had caused the screams before?


Come lets see what's wrong with your bike..", said Deepak. " I own a Bull myself. Electra 350. Love that baby". With that, he took out a small light from his pocket, having the flashlight app on already. He walked in direction from which I came, and the other two followed him. Brave kids, I thought.


I tottered behind them, switching on my own flashlight as I caught up to them. I was not scared now, since I was with 3 guys, and to my surprise, Deepak had a really powerful light shining from his hand. "Which phone do you use, dude? Thats some really good flash". I asked , as we shuffled along.


"It's an imported model. I just got it. Not yet released here I guess", he said, and in the faint light, I thought I saw him turn to Vivek and smile. I was just hoping the boys would spare me another spook, for I was really at the edge of my nerves now and didn't need any more surprises.


After 5 minutes, we reached my Bike and Deepak instantly started inspecting the handle and the engine. He asked for my keys, which I handed over , and he used it to open the Battery case, on the right side of the bike.


"You have a fuse out dude, nothing else". He said, after 5 minutes. " These old bikes have ancient wiring system and there is a fuse mechanism to prevent overdose of juice to the main console. Yours is just blown. No issues. You had a spare one in there and I just switched it. Should be fine now", he finished.


"Thank God.. And thank you guy... "I stopped mid sentence, seeing the look on Vivek's eyes. He was staring at something behind me, and his mouth was agape. "DD..Duuu.. Duuuudeee", he said, pointing behind me. I turned around, and felt my knees go week in an instant.

About twenty feet into the jungle, there was a woman standing illuminated, staring straight back at us. She was wearing her wedding dress, had her hair down so that it touched the ground, grotesque round eyes and a tongue that was sticking out, dripping saliva... The scariest part of course, was that she held her head in her right hand, as it had been cleanly severed from her neck. She was pointing at us with the other hand, and the Head suddenly let out an ungodly scream...


"Run... Guys.. Run", I said, but these guys were way ahead of me, for they had already vanished into the darkness. I couldnt even see Deepaks light, and I think he must have dropped his phone as he ran.. I gulped, and turned to look at the lady again, who was now walking towards me, screaming loudly.

My legs seemed to be frozen to the spot, and I had stopped breathing. I would have died there, if it wasn't for the miracle which moved me. The bike, inexplacably, turned to life and the engine revved a couple of times. I turned around to see the road ahead of me lit brilliantly by the bike's front light.

Knowing what to do, instinctively, I jumped on and shifted gears. I accelerated and sped away, not


caring for where the boys went or what happened to them. I looked at my rear view mirror, and in the faint light of the brake light, I saw the woman standing where I had been on the road, two minutes ago. She turned , and walked back into the forest, mostly for the boys.


I had tears in my eyes as I thought of the boys and as I sped ahead, I saw that even the fire they had lit had gone out. Anyone would have been scared out of their wits by now, me included, but it was what happened next that really pushed me off the edge.

As I neared NICE Road, I saw flashing lights ahead and a crowd of people, my heartbeat finally returning to normal. It looked like an accident ahead, for a Scorpio was lying on its side in the middle of the road, shattered glass sprinkled around it. I slowed down, and parked my bike to the side to rest.

There were people gathered around the crash, and there was an ambulance, along with a police car. Thank God, I said out loud, as I walked towards the cops.


I heard murmurs of accident and drunk driving by teenagers as I parted the crowd to reach towards the cops. I reached the front of the crowd, and saw a constable trying to control the teeming mass of people. I was about to tell him about the three guys who needed help, when my eyes suddenly fell to the front of the car..


There, lay Vivek, his eyes open and his hand outstretched, as though trying to climb out of the doomed car. I could see only his one eye, for the other part of his head had been cut cleanly and lay five feet ahead, in a mass of blood and gore. I screamed, but no sound escaped my lungs. The last thing I remember was looking at the flashing lights as I passed out.


I came around an hour later, and the morning light was slowly upon us, as the darkness began to fade. The crowd had thinned and the Scorpio had been placed upright. Someone was sprinkling water on my face, and I faintly heard words like "Weak hearted people" , and " too much blood", and I slowly picked myself up. The villagers were kind enough to offer me shelter in their house till I had recovered fully, but I resisted, wanted to get back home as soon as possible.


I remember driving fast that morning, very fast, as though something was still chasing me. I got home, locked myself in the room, and passed out. I got up to loud knocks on my door, and was accosted by my mom for driving through the night. I didn't tell anyone about that night, nor do I plan to in the future. I checked the newspapers that day, and there, sandwiched between Mayor elections and a double homicide, was a small piece of article which said three engineering college kids had died in an accident on the NICE Road the previous night. The cause was attributed to rash driving, one of several on that stretch, and the incident had occurred at 7:50 p.m, at least 3 hours before my bike had broken down. The body of Vivek was found inside the car, and the body of two others was found ten feet into the jungle, presumably thrown out by the force of the crash.


I carry a picture of Jesus Christ these days , everywhere, and kiss my Bullet each morning after I get up. I attend the church mass on Sundays regularly, no longer caring for the chicks. I have started reading the Bible more, and everyone ask me what has brought about this sudden transformation. I say divine


intervention, for , if I tell people that I had shared a camp fire with the ghosts of three dead college kids, it may not go down well with them....

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