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30th April 2001 - Page 3

The Promise

I was alone. It was a moonless night and I was walking outside my teacher's quarters at Springdales School, Simla. In spite of it being summer, it was rather chilly and I wrapped my scarf snugly around my neck.

I was rudely awakened from my reverie by a blood-curdling scream. Thinking that somebody was in danger or in pain, I sped off in the direction of the sound. Making my way through the thick vegetation that covered most of the school bounds, I found myself in a part of the school I had never seen or explored. I saw a dilapidated old structure with an eerie glow coming from inside the building. My curiosity aroused, I tiptoed into the building and headed for the room from which the glow was coming. My senses working overtime, I was ready to run at a moment's notice.

I turned the bend and what I saw horrified me. There were five women in all. One was lying on a table in the middle of the room in (what seemed to be) a trance-like state while the other four surrounded her muttering strange chants. I leapt back and hid behind the door, all the time watching what was happening through a crack in it. Suddenly, a wave of recognition hit me. The woman on the table was Anne, a mate of mine at school. I wondered what such a harmless soul was doing in surroundings such as these. I couldn't help but feel sorry for her. Suddenly, there was a blinding flash of light and then there was absolute silence. I saw the women go down to their knees, bow their heads to Anne and cross themselves. It was only then that I realized that they were paying homage to a departed soul!

I was numb with shock and confusion. My head was swimming as thoughts whirled around in my brain as to how such a thing could possibly happen. I felt sick and just wanted to get out of this horrible, suffocating old building. Unfortunately for me, I blanked out right there.

When I regained conciousness, I found myself sitting in a chair. I wasn't tied up or anything, just sitting. With the four women staring at me. I felt strangely calm, like one feels just before taking an exam one hasn't studied for. One of the women came up to me and said, "Look, you've seen us doing something that we shouldn't have been doing and now we have to fix it, don't we? What do you think should be done?" Normally, I would have come up with a thousand solutions, but for once I was at a loss for words. I knew that I had to keep them talking to buy myself time. I asked them what Anne had to do with them. She replied saying that they were all witches and so was Anne. She had married a non-wizard and had been punished for it and now it was my turn to be punished for spying on them.

A split second later a streak of light shot out of her finger and…

I awoke, drenched in sweat but safe and sound in my quarters. It had all been just a dream. I felt really relieved. No life stirred. Thinking that fresh air would do me good, I got dressed. No sooner had I stepped out than I saw it - the lifeless corpse of Anne. I heard someone scream inside me. I realized that the promised punishment had been carried out as I slid silently yet swiftly into the waiting arms of death… 

Dhananjaya Chak XI-B

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