Short Story: The Bet

“Bet is a bet and you have to do it,” snapped Abraham.

“Yes, you are doing it Peter, there is no second thought about it. This time we will be the spectators!” joined Bharat, Kamal and Vaishali.

“But why it is me? I’m not doing it,” I replied.

“We all have done this many times and this is your turn to do this. Come on be a man”

I was very much speculative about this idea. I had no intentions to do this. When it comes to friends, we always have to obey group etiquettes. So I agreed.

“So who is going to come tonight?” I asked.

“Anjali” came the swift reply from Vaishali.

“Time……”

“12.00 Midnight sharp,” we overheard them from the hostel balcony.

“OMG!!! So you people have been there to the girl’s hostel, haven’t you guys?” I was awestruck.

“No, Vaishali was there in the hostel balcony and overheard them,” replied Kamal.

“Yes, I was just taking stroll in the balcony.” Vaishali was excited, “though I don’t stay anymore there. But I like sneaking into the hostel balcony when the lady warden is fast asleep”

So Anjali is today’s scapegoat for the girls! I quickly looked at my watch. It was already quarter to 12.00. Night was chill. The thick marshy area followed by the sparsely grown trees behind the hostel gave a perfect pseudo setting of a forest. I was wondering why did the college authorities chose such a place to build the girls hostel. I quickly changed to my jeans and Tees.

●●●

Anjali came out of the hostel enclave, walked towards the hostel backyard and kept the small thing secure in her jeans pocket and the tool in her hand. Her walk was swift. The cool breeze was freezing the nerves. The dark sky was hollow and the full moon was the only source of light.

She could hear a dog barking at a far distance.

I was waiting for her near the tree which she was about to cross. When she crossed me, I silently followed her footsteps waiting for the right moment.

She was wearing a sleeveless white top which was shining bright with the moon light. It helped me to follow her. She was slim and well contoured at appropriate places. I didn’t want to do this to her but bet is a bet as my friends said. We were the only souls walking in the lonely forest. It was almost a twenty minute walk into the darkness. I felt the time nearing for me to do it.

Her pace suddenly slowed down. After a second of quick thought, she located a tree which was quite big and had a well grown trunk. The barks of the tree were little wet as it rained last night.

Now it is my time to show my action, I quickly walked back to the other side of the adjacent tree and was waiting patiently for her. She neared the tree trunk, inserted her finger inside her jeans pocket and took out the small thing from it.

It was a long nail with a well filed flat head. She would have picked it up from the carpentry tool shop from the college workshop. Engineering girls are weird these days. They are having all weird stuffs with them.

She quickly placed the sharp pointed end of the nail on the tree trunk and started hammering it with the hammer which she had tucked behind her back.

The first hit was slender. The nail drifted inside the bark few inches down. I came out of the tree, behind which I was hiding and slowly walked towards her. I reached right behind her back and now I’m all set to show my guts. My only responsibility was to tap her shoulder.

Yes, just a tap on her shoulder!

Before I could make up my mind she had hit the nail thrice and the nail was well screwed and the tree was hard enough to hold the nail intact in its trunk.

She quickly took out her ID card and suspended it with the help of the tag. Now the ID card was hanging in the nail which she just hammered. I was wondering what else she is going to do. But I remembered my job. I extended my hand to touch her shoulder. I was well at a safe distance from her behind. Before my hands landed on her shoulder, she took out her iPhone and quickly took a snap of the hanging ID card. It was a black iPhone. I too had one in my room.

I realised that she has done with it. When she was about to pick the ID card from the nail, I stepped forward without taking my eye off her shoulder, leaned forward to touch but before I could reach her shoulder, there was a gentle windy air and her open hair started fluttering randomly in all direction and the tips of the hair strands reached me nose. Before I could realise what was happening, the tickling sensation in my nose invited heavy spasmodic exhalation.

As you all know, it is bad manners to sneeze on someone, I quickly moved to the other side and held my breath inhaled as how everyone does before sneezing. It was instantaneous. Three shots. I was done with my sneezing. I turned back towards the tree and there was no one.

Anjali was gone!!!!!

●●●

“Yaaaaaay!!!!! I won the bet. I won the bet. I hammered the nail on the tree trunk right at mid night, that too alone, inside the forest!” Vaishali could hear Anjali shouting in her room and other roomies cheering her up.

“You have done it Anjali,” patted one of Anjali’s roomie.

“So there is no ghost in the forest behind our hostel, ugh” excited Anjali.

“Yeah, great job Anjali. Tomorrow as promised it’s my treat,” said one of her roomie.

Vaishali was all red in rage. Damn this Peter, can’t he do this simple task of frightening someone? Shame on him. Not worthy to be my friend. He is not eligible to be a ghost. He has brought shame to our ghost community. We have been feeding fear to all those hostel inmates all these years. Now he has spoiled everything. How will we scare people now! *sigh*

She wanted to spit on Peter’s grave and mock him of his naivety so she started to leave. A wisp of air swished the window swaying the hostel curtains high and the inmates could feel the gush of air dashing out of the window.

THE END


Photo Courtesy: Google Search

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