Words. They can be your strongest friend or the greatest foe. They can help you and also betray you at a crucial point. Like now, I have to submit my new story to the publisher by this month and they are avoiding me. Eating french fries with the money already taken as advance for the story, I turned to a trusted friend for some valuable advice.
“May be a new place can cure your block,” my friend suggested.

The idea stayed with me. I searched in Google- serene, calm place for visit near Kolkata. A series of results reflected on the screen. Scrolling through the usual destinations, a particular image caught my attention. A white palace like building in Labhpur. The place was not very far from the bustling Shantiniketan, a famous tourist spot. But this place is quite secluded. It would be ideal for writing my story. I searched for reviews but sadly there was none. So I decided to call them.

“Hello, Garden Palace”, a girl answered.

If the image on the net had impressed me, this voice mesmerized me. I was dumbstruck. It was the sweetest, most captivating voice I have ever heard. After the initial fumbling I explained to her that I would need lodging for a few days and enquired about the payment method.

“Do not worry sir. No advance would be required. Please inform your time and date of arrival. Our car can pick you up from the station.”

It was getting better and better. I readily obliged and set off for Labhpur the next day.

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The train journey was refreshing. As the folk singer played his ektara singing “Moner moton pagol pelam na…duniya bhora nokol pagol…asol pagol khuje pelam na”(Could not find likeminded crazy…world is full of fake crazies…could not find an original insane), I dozed off. In my dreams I saw the white palace and a silhouette waving at me and that voice calling me from distance. The place was drawing me like a magnet. 

Finally my destination came. Getting off at the station, I could spot an old white ambassador car and my intuition told me that it was for me. My intuition never fails me.
The car journey was uneventful. The driver was either irritated or voiceless. All my attempts to start a conversation were replied with a nod or an “Hmm” that sounded more like a grunt. 

It was about an hour journey from the station through the red, bumpy roads. But the destination was worth it.

A huge white old fashioned bungalow welcomed me. The bright marble floors, the exquisite sculptures on the entrance door, life-size mirrors in the reception reminded me of fairytale. An old man was sitting at the reception. But my eyes were searching for the owner of the telephone voice. She was nowhere to be seen. As I was signing the register I had an eerie feeling that someone was keeping a watch on me. When I looked up I felt a shadow shifted. The receptionist followed my gaze and somewhat hastily said,” Your room is upstairs, sir. Our staff has put your luggage in the room. Please press the bell if you require anything.”

I took the beautifully designed spiral stair case and reached my room. The room looked even more beautiful than the pictures on net. I was really impressed. But somehow that unpleasant feeling did not leave me. Shrugging it off I pressed the bell to order lunch.

             ************************

After a royal lunch I sat with my laptop trying to start the story. Again I had a creepy feeling that someone was checking me out from the other side of the curtain. But no one was there when I checked. May be the exhaustion of journey was finally taking a toll on me, I thought to myself and decided to hit the bed. When I woke up, the sky was aglow with the last orange rays before twilight beckons the star. I decided to take a stroll to freshen up my mind. The neighborhood reminded me of the abandoned hamlets we read in stories. For miles no mortal being were in sight. As the evening grew darker I hurried my steps to return. I am not ashamed to agree, the quietness of the place was actually unnerving. 

When I reached the guest house, the uncanny feeling returned. Once and for all I decided to face it. I asked the receptionist, “Who else is staying here?”

The old man looked quite startled by the direct question.

“Currently we do not have any other guests. You see we do not get much visitors. Once in a while we get lucky and someone in search of serenity visits us. So it’s only me, you and the two staffs.”

I was tempted to ask about the girl who answered my phone but could seem disgraceful so I decided against it.

Still searching for the silent onlooker I returned to the room. And a fresh fragrance welcomed me. Someone had visited my room in my absence.

    ************************

My friend was right. Change of venue does help. And the ambience was perfect for me to pen a horror story. I was engrossed in my writing when a slight tap on my door startled me. The dinner was served at room. It was a delicious treat. And I took a resolution that once I return I will be the first reviewer on the site and give a five-star.

When the staff came to clean my room after dinner very gravely he bade me goodnight as if we will never meet again. I laughed and concentrated on my writing. Around midnight I dozed off.

I woke up again when the grandfather clock downstairs was announcing a time of 2am. Again I had that unearthly feeling of being watched and I looked up. She did not disappoint me this time. In the moonlight coming from the window I finally saw the shadow following me through the day. But I could only focus on the razor shaped fangs shimmering in the dark. In a moment my fate was sealed. I grasped for air as she sinks her teeth in my neck and let out a terrible cry but of no avail. It was true, my intuition is never wrong.

    ************************

“You were right father, these technologies are really helping me to quench my thirsts easily. May be we should advertise more?”

                                  -X-

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