R pulled the car over on to the shoulder and turned off the engine. He didn’t forget to give me the ‘Its all your fault’ look. S had already gone pale and his silence made it very clear that he was panic stricken. Our phones had lost network coverage. R started getting slightly impatient and I could read that from his fiddling of the car keys. Dad shifted in his seat with his inquisitive eyes searching for signboards in the vicinity. Mom and kids were behaving well and didn’t bombard me with questions like how they usually do. I couldn’t have thanked them enough. In fact, they were excited to see the baby kangaroos up close and hopping around.
I mustered some courage and demanded that we take the route ahead of us. R and S threw glances at me which clearly said “Are you mad?”.
I wasn’t ready to go all the way back when we only had an hour or less left to the destination.
“Let’s go!” I shouted.
Reluctantly R turned on the engine. S kept saying that it isn’t the right thing to do as we are travelling with the boys. I checked the google map again to see a path through the forest to the other side on to the road. I pulled myself together and told R to drive without any confusion and I would guide him. S wasn’t very happy at this decision and he iterated that we still had time to drive back and reach home safely. But I paid no heed to him.
We cut through the muddy roads to nowhere. I kept praying silently and I’m pretty sure that everyone in the car was doing the same too. My gut said something wasn’t right and it was then I sneaked a peak on to the fuel meter. I almost fainted but tried to keep a straight face and looked at R helplessly.
“We don’t have a choice, now would you please keep quiet?”, he said. He didn’t want to instill fear in everyone.
I pursed my lips. A moment of silence followed by an uncontrollable shrill cry.
“Let’s go back!!!!”.
S sensed that it was a distress call and jumped off his seat.
“What happened?”, he asked.
“Nothing.. if we keep going without much clarity, I’m afraid we might run out of fuel”, R said. Everyone woke up from the state of trance and became more conscientious.
Darkness was slowly consuming the place. It couldn’t have been more deserted. I looked at the red ball of fire helplessly, which was slowly fading out of my sight. The zillion possibilities of one getting trapped or stranded in such places flashed through my mind.
You know you’re totally screwed when all the horror movies that you have watched start to give you ideas. And all you can do is to curse yourself for devilishly watching them. I could visualize ‘Wrong Turns’ & ‘Final Destinations’ materializing before our eyes . The thought of our car getting bogged in mud and we getting held up in that isolated farm freaked me out.
Cows and goats grazed lazily around us, with no annoyance shown to us, the intruders. Everyone yearned for human presence, at the least one good soul to help us with some fuel.
But rather strangely, I was a bit relieved as there were no ‘Jigsaws’ to be spotted.
‘What have I done to these poor souls! I couldn’t have risked it so much. My kids would never forgive me for this. Why couldn’t I get it into my head when S said we should be going back.’
I was perturbed. Pangs of fear engulfed me. I couldn’t contain my anxiety and fear.
“The nearest petrol station is only 150 kms away”, S added in sarcastically, like coal to fire.
Before I could even open my mouth, our car stopped again. And there was a huge gate in front of us which led to a private farm with a board which read..
to be contd….