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Thursday, 21 December 2017

Holiday at Shiny Valley - Chapter 3

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Chapter 3: Things get exciting

The four decided to keep up the sinister appointment, wondering wildly who they would be meeting. They rushed through lunch, whispering all the while. Grandma thought it was curious that none of them asked for second helpings of anything. The children could hardly wait to go out!

At 3.30 they went to Grandpa to ask him for permission to go on a hike. Grandpa was half asleep and waved them away. They went to Grandma next and she was relieved that they would be out of the house. She packed them a little basket with sandwiches and cold lemonade, idly musing, ‘I wonder what they are plotting? Ahh, kids!’ “Don’t be too late children and be careful, will you? It looks like it might rain. Neel you are the eldest, so take care of everyone, alright?” 
Grandma wasn’t too worried; they lived in such a quiet and peaceful place. Shiny Valley had no scope for adventure or any kind of danger.

Soon the children were off on their mysterious rendezvous. They excitedly discussed all possible theories on who could have written the postcard. Hiking up the hillock, they reached their destination. It looked a bit different from the picture, but the girls insisted that this was the place. 
They waited with bathed breath a little way from the cave entrance peering through the tangled thorn bushes. They could see through the dark tunnel-like cave, the semi-circular archway of light at the other end. It was 4.10 and they were getting restless. Suddenly they saw a hazy figure at the arch; the figure waved. It felt weird but they waved back too. Goosebumps all over, they crept out and stood erect, waiting cautiously for the stranger to appear fully in front of them. 

The stranger disappeared into the dark cave and eventually reappeared with a wide smile and surprise on his face. 

It was Uncle Ray! He was puzzled to see the children here, and suddenly Mili and Reya burst out laughing! They were doubled up and clutching their tummies! Their father and the boys thought they had gone crazy. Finally Mili managed to control her laughter and explained that they had successfully pulled a prank on the uppity boys!

They had found the blank postcard on their last visit to the grandparents. The image had been painted by Grandma long ago and reminded them of this place where their father, botanist Dr Ray, came every day just about this time to collect samples of rare plants at the other end of the cave. They had successfully forged the shaky old handwriting on the card and placed it in between the comics, where the boys were bound to find it! Served the boys right for acting so snobbish with them all the time!

The boys were still rather stunned! But they soon came around, sheepishly apologizing to the girls for their behaviour. Everyone had a good laugh, the girls especially, and they all turned to go back to go home. 

Suddenly someone called out, "I am here." 
The boys turned to see who was calling. There was someone at the end of the cave waving to them.
"Girls! Who is it now?" Neel and Varun chorused. The girls and their father who were walking ahead looked puzzled, they hadn't heard anything, nor could they see anything when the boys pointed frantically to the cave!

“Come on boys, stop fooling around. It has started to drizzle and we’ll be drenched if we don’t hurry,” called out Uncle Ray.
The drizzle was becoming stronger, blurring their view and the sudden chill in the air, made the boys shiver. Frozen in horror, they watched as the figure continued to come nearer, waving all the while. Neel and Varun couldn’t believe that no one else could see it!

It was exactly 4.30 p.m.!!


Chapter 1: Cozy Nest >> Chapter 2: The Den >> Chapter 3: Things get exciting

Read other stories from Nina's World: Click on tag/label #NinasWorld 

Disclaimer: All the characters in the Nina's World series are fictional, any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental and unintentional.

­­Copyright © 2017 KALA RAVI

Holiday at Shiny Valley - Chapter 2

Chapter 2: The Den

The next morning they woke up to the loud chirrup of birds and the cow mooing from the shed. After a quick shower, pleasurably shivering in the early morning cold, they eagerly waited for breakfast. It was their all time favorite, piping hot pooris with alu sabzi and fresh jalebis! Neel and Varun made sure they gobbled up all the hot jalebis Bani had made, leaving behind only tiny scraps for the girls. Grandpa tut-tutted at the greedy boys and instructed Bani to make a fresh batch for the girls.

Breakfast done, the children were packed off to help Charan and Bani. Charan made the boys weed the garden and align the bricks in a perfect line on either side of the central cobbled path. The girls helped Bani collect fresh okra and legumes from the kitchen garden. She asked them to pluck some of the beautiful flowers from the front garden and arrange them around the house in attractive bunches. Chores done, they were free to do whatever they fancied until lunch.

They bounded up the wooden staircase to the den and fought over who would sit in the easy-chairs. Soon each of them found a book from the bookshelf and settled down. The girls got busy with old fairy-tale books having whimsical pictures while the boys found a lot of action hero comics that had the most amazing caricatures, way better than the Japanese mangas they were so crazy about back home. 

After a while, they decided to explore the contents of the large wooden trunk next to the bookshelf. It was a treasure trove filled with the most incredible knick-knacks! 
Old black and white albums, a large collection of foreign coins, a box of exquisite seashells and another box full of pebbles, a wooden doll house, a box full of screws, nails and other odds and ends. Then there was an array of forgotten board games to choose from. They decided to play them all. The boys beat the girls at all the games and laughed scornfully at them when the girls played with the doll house. The girls looked blankly at them when they mentioned they should have brought their PSP’s and that set the boys jeering at them again.

By now, the den was a mess with stuff lying scattered all over the place. Mili knew Grandma would be in a tizzy if she saw the mess. She said, “Listen guys, why don’t you two go down and get some snacks for all of us? Reya and I’ll put everything back in the trunk.” The boys masked their looks of relief at having escaped the clean-up chore and dashed off to ply Bani for snacks. Soon they were back with a tray loaded with homemade sweet and savory treats.

Neel happily sank into an easy-chair, a large bowl of treats right beside him and a thick stack of action comics he’d found in the trunk, on his lap. As he flipped through the stack, a card fell down from it. It was an old painting, a handmade postcard. 

It had a lot of greenery and a large cave like opening with a silhouette of a man at the center. He was just about to put it back inside the book when he saw something on the reverse of the painting that made him freeze. He couldn't believe what he was seeing!
The back of the card read:

How could this be? How were their names on the postcard? Who was this “I”? Where is “here”? And today was 21st July 2017! This was so freaky! Neel excitedly called his brother and soon both were whispering in a corner. The girls tried to edge in and peek at the card but the boys wouldn't let them. After a while, they realized they would have to let the girls in on the secret, they still didn't know where “here” was!

The girls in turn shrieked and exclaimed when they saw the front and then the reverse of the card. They knew the place! The girls informed them that the place was on a hillock a little way away, about 2 km from Shiny Valley. It was a large natural cave, centuries old. Its opening was nearly obscured by dense untamed foliage and creepers and people rarely went there.

Chapter 1: Cozy Nest >> Chapter 2: The Den >> Chapter 3: Things get exciting

Read other stories from Nina's World:  Click on tag/label #NinasWorld

Disclaimer: All the characters in the Nina's World series are fictional, any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental and unintentional.

­­Copyright © 2017 KALA RAVI