It was quite late. She hardly ventured out in these hours of the night. Alone, never. This was her first. She confidently set out till she reached the main road across her block. She noticed someone standing there, some way ahead on her path. Standing still, motionless looking across the road as if to cross, but on the wrong spot. Her feet slowed down on their own. A slight fear took over her heart. She walked slowly trying to see who it was. But it was too dark to make out , besides he was dressed in a long black jacket, hooded cap and she couldn’t make the face. He looked over in her direction. Blank. Expressionless. Her heart jumped at the consistent gaze that followed her slow steps nearing him. She did not stop, even though she was scared, she kept walking on. He stood as he was. Motionless, just his head turned towards her, watching her. She couldn’t take his gaze for long. She froze.
Walking alone in the midst of a dead cold winter night, what was she thinking? Going out alone! This is what they all talk about. The city was abuzz with weird things happening since past year. She didn’t concern herself with it. She hardly set foot outside her room after her friends had gone off, said their goodbyes. She was still getting accustomed to the new culture of this foreign land. She came in here last year as a student. Campus, classes, her dorm, and the market nearby were all she had let herself familiarize. Once or twice, she had gone to the city tour, and some sport with her classmates. She had fun. She wondered why she never went out again. Some past months, there had been incidents. Strange, troubling and nerve wrecking cold. The city people were concerned. Everyone at the campus was talking about it.
Students were disappearing. Leaving no trace or trial behind.The campus had regular visits from the detective sergeants but so far nothing had surfaced that could prove useful. First the jerk in her class had vanished. She hated him but now she felt sorry for him. Then the blonde twin sisters went off trace. Three people had gone just like that in 6 months and no one had heard from them ever since. It was tense in the campus. A spooky affair that engulfed people more and more with time. An eerie calm prevailed at the campus. the night life whatsoever had not stopped earlier but ever since the twins disappeared, it has come to an abrupt end. No one goes out past midnight. It is as if the entire campus sleeps at eleven. No one dares to venture outside.
I will be the fourth one to disappear, terrified at her own thoughts, she could imagine the headlines in the post. Her picture would appear on the first page, big bold letters would read , One more joins the Disappeared. She got creeps at the word disappeared. She quickly shrugged off the thought. She looked ahead. He was still there, his eyes paralyzed on her. If he would only move or appear to do be doing something, she would not be so scared. But the man was still, his feet jammed on the edge of the pavement, his hands in his pockets and eyes on her. She was nearing him. She took in a deep breath. It is just fear getting better out of her, she thought. If she didn’t look at him, and brisked past him, it should all be fine. It would, she assured herself. She just needed to keep her eyes down and not look at him. However she wanted to be on guard ,of his movements. What if, he had a weapon concealed in there, her thoughts raced again. She could hear her heart beating fast, faster by the second against her chest as she walked slowly towards him. She averted her gaze, looked ahead of him, and almost ran past him. While he stood there, paralyzed to the ground.
She was past him. She let out all the air she was holding inside. A deep sigh. Relieved.She could feel his head turning on her side. His eyes still fixed on her. She heard something. Was he just typing on his phone, she dared not to turn back to meet his cold eyes again. She got scared again. What if he follows her. What if he has some gang waiting round the corner that he just sent a message through. Coast Clear or something like the prey is on its way. Her heart pounded again. What the hell was she thinking to be out all alone. It wasn’t safe with two, and here she was, the stupid daredevil on a night troll.She cursed herself. She saw a light in the corner. Headlights. A Car. Oh my God! She came to a halt, determined to run back to her room. She was not that very far. If she ran quickly, she could fleet back in no time. She turned around and bumped into someone. She screamed. It was him. She screamed harder. He was taking out his hand from the pockets, she could hear the car door opening. She thrust him aside with all her strength, that hardly made him budge from the spot. He is too strong, she thought.
Hey! He calls out. Wachya doin that for?
Another door opens, footsteps.
She kicks him on his leg and this time it works. He tips off, more from the abruptness of her hit then her strength.
She runs, as fast as she can.They are after her. Running faster to get hold of her. Her breathing gets heavier and heavier. She hears footsteps closing on her. Closer. They are on to me. They will get me. She runs harder, panting heavily. Her strength was giving in. Her knees were crushing down, her feet wanting to stop. She looked around for help. There was no one in sight. It was pitch dark. The only light was that of the street lamps dimly reflected by the muddy snow that still remained beneath the trees in some places. She tried hard, it wasn’t that far.
Suddenly a car stopped right in front of her. She bumped straight into it, hurting her legs against its bumper. A tall man came out, gagged her mouth while another man, the one behind her, twisted her arms into a knot. He finally caught on her chase.She heard someone shouting behind them. A distant sound, feeble, far away.
Hey! Stop. Wachaya doin with the girl? Stop!
She turned around to see the man, running towards them. His hands flashing up in protest, shouting at them.
The taller man ducked her into the car. She tried to fight, but she was not strong enough. She kicked and turned until he slapped her across the face. He thrust her into the backseat, took a rope, tied her feet and slammed the door. He sat on the front and they drove off. Behind, she could see a faint shadow running in the distance. Tears rolled down her face. It is a nightmare. It cant be true. She wriggled, tossed and turned while the men paid no heed to her. Like she was not there, like she did not exist. She, like the other three, vanished into the night, disappeared without a trace.
Inside the campus, near the fountain stood a memoir for the four students that disappeared that year. It led to an outcry that mellowed down the years. The case remains unsolved to date. Four children, four college students that never came back, no one ever heard of again. No one knew what or why it all was.